Federal

Bush Marks School Law’s 2nd Anniversary

January 14, 2004 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

President Bush celebrated the second anniversary of one of his signature domestic achievements last week, as he trumpeted two schools he believes have begun to live up to the promise of the No Child Left Behind Act.

The events came as attacks on the law—signed on Jan. 8, 2002—have become more widespread in some circles, including among the Democratic candidates seeking to replace the president next fall. (“‘No Child’ Law Faulted in Democratic Race,” this issue.)

“I’m here to congratulate this school and to really hold you up for the nation to see what is possible when you raise the bar, when you’re not afraid to hold people to account, when you empower your teachers and your principals to achieve the objective we all want,” Mr. Bush told an audience at Pierre Laclede Elementary School in St. Louis. “And that’s to make sure no child, not one single child in America, is left behind.”

Meanwhile, the president last week also offered a glimpse of the education spending request he’s planning for fiscal 2005. A White House fact sheet issued Jan. 8 said he will seek $1 billion more for the Title I program for disadvantaged children—the flagship program in the No Child Left Behind law—and an additional $1 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the main federal special education law.

President Bush also used last week’s school visits to respond to criticism of the No Child Left Behind law, such as complaints that its heavy reliance on standardized testing punishes schools and children.

‘It’s Not to Punish’

“The test isn’t a punishment, you know; it’s not to punish anybody,” Mr. Bush said during the Jan. 5 visit to Laclede Elementary. “The test is to determine who needs extra help. And that’s exactly why Laclede is doing well, I’m convinced, or one of the main reasons why.”

Recent state testing data for the small, K-5 school in St. Louis suggests that it has made remarkable progress in several categories, including reading. The proportion of 3rd graders who achieved the “advanced” or “proficient” rating in reading climbed from about 7 percent in 1999 to 82 percent this past year. The school last year had 226 children, all of whom were identified as African-American and eligible for free or reduced-price lunches.

The president also addressed the law in his Jan. 3 weekly radio address and in a visit to West View Elementary School in Knoxville, Tenn., on Jan. 8.

Democratic presidential contender Howard Dean used the second anniversary of the No Child Left Behind Act to attack Mr. Bush.

“President Bush had no problem finding money for lavish tax breaks for millionaires, or over $150 billion for his misguided war in Iraq,” Mr. Dean said in Fargo, N.D., on Jan. 5, according to a Dean campaign press release. “But when it comes to fully funding his [No Child Left Behind] mandates, schools are out of luck.”

At a debate a day earlier in Iowa, Mr. Dean called the law an “unbelievable, intrusive mandate.”

But not all Democrats last week expressed such sentiments.

“I think the act is actually doing pretty well,” Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., and a principal architect of the law, said in an interview. “I don’t want to pretend for a moment that it’s easy to implement, easy to make these changes, ... but it’s making a positive change for a lot of children and a lot of families who weren’t part of the education equation [before].”

He added: “It would be a lot easier if the president would keep his part of the promise [on funding].”

Mr. Miller and other Democrats argue that President Bush and congressional Republicans should back funding for No Child Left Behind Act programs equal to the authorization levels set in the law. For fiscal 2004, which began Oct. 1, the law authorized $18.5 billion for Title I, and for fiscal 2005, $20.5 billion.

The president’s planned Title I request for 2005 would bring total spending for that program to $13.4 billion— an 8 percent increase—for the budget year that begins this coming October. State grants for special education would increase to $11.1 billion, a 10 percent rise.

Rep. John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, the chairman of the House education committee, countered the funding criticism, noting in a press release that federal education spending has climbed dramatically the past few years.

“When they controlled Congress and the White House, Democrats routinely appropriated less money for education programs than they authorized, yet not a single Democrat accused President Clinton of ‘underfunding’ education,” Mr. Boehner said.

History’s Wrong Side?

Also last week, Secretary of Education Rod Paige touched on the No Child Left Behind law in remarks at an event tied to the upcoming 50th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which struck down racially segregated systems of public education.

He compared opposition to the federal law signed two years ago to the defiance that the Brown decision encountered.

“No Child Left Behind is a powerful, sweeping law,” Mr. Paige said at a Jan. 7 event sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington think tank. “Because of the powerful sweep of this change, this revolution, there are some who resist. That’s to be expected. The resistance to Brown was massive and sustained over generations.

“Those who fought against Brown were on the wrong side of history,” he said, “just as those who fight No Child Left Behind will be judged so.”

A version of this article appeared in the January 14, 2004 edition of Education Week as Bush Marks School Law’s 2nd Anniversary

Events

English-Language Learners Webinar Helping English-Learners Through Improved Parent Outreach: Strategies That Work
Communicating with families is key to helping students thrive – and that’s become even more apparent during a pandemic that’s upended student well-being and forced constant logistical changes in schools. Educators should pay particular attention
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Addressing Unfinished Learning in Math: Providing Tutoring at Scale
Most states as well as the federal government have landed on tutoring as a key strategy to address unfinished learning from the pandemic. Take math, for example. Studies have found that students lost more ground
Content provided by Yup Math Tutoring
Classroom Technology Webinar Building Better Blended Learning in K-12 Schools
The pandemic and the increasing use of technology in K-12 education it prompted has added renewed energy to the blended learning movement as most students are now learning in school buildings (and will likely continue

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Schools Could Count Nonbinary Students Under Biden Proposal
The Civil Rights Data Collection for this school year could also revive questions about inexperienced teachers and preschool discipline.
6 min read
Image of a form with male and female checkboxes.
iStock/Getty
Federal 'Parents' Bill of Rights' Underscores Furor Over Curriculum and Transparency in Schools
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley's bill highlights how education issues like critical race theory will likely stay in the national political spotlight.
7 min read
Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., speaks during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the conclusion of military operations in Afghanistan and plans for future counterterrorism operations, Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., says "it's time to give control back to parents, not woke bureaucrats."
Patrick Semansky/AP
Federal Opinion It’s Not Just the NSBA That’s Out of Touch. There’s a Bigger Problem
Those who influence educational policy or practice would do well to care about what parents and the public actually want.
4 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Federal Dept. of Ed., Florida Continue to Battle Over Ban on School Mask Mandates
Federal officials say they’ll intervene if the Florida Dept. of Ed. goes ahead with sanctions on districts with mask mandates.
Ana Ceballos, Miami Herald
2 min read
Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran speaks alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, rear right, Fla. Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., left, state legislators, parents and educators, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran speaks alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, rear right, Fla. Sen. Manny Diaz Jr., left, state legislators, parents and educators, Tuesday, Sept. 14, 2021, at the Doral Academy Preparatory School in Doral, Fla.
Wilfredo Lee/AP