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pd13ja03 Letter to Congressional Leaders on Continuation of the National...


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were here today. They've got other business. One Republican is here, and 
that's Senator Judd Gregg from New Hampshire, who is the author--the 
Senate author on the Republican side.
    This was a art of what is possible in Washington. It was a 
legislative victory on behalf of the children of America. And it showed 
the American people that when people set aside this needless partisan 
bickering, we can get some positive things done.
    So, a year ago we signed the piece of legislation that I'm 
absolutely confident is going to change our schools for the better, 
change the whole structure of education for the good. But it also was a 
signal to those who love to divide in Washington, DC, that when we put 
our minds to it, when we focus on the greater good, we can get a lot 
done.
    So I want to congratulate the members of both political parties on 
this anniversary for working so hard to accomplish a significant and 
meaningful piece of legislation. And now we've got to get to work. Now 
we got to do the job that's expected.
    We can say that the work of reform is well begun. And that's--that's 
a true statement. The work will be complete, however, when every 
school--every public school in America is a place of high expectations 
and a place of achievement. That is our national goal.
    And there are a lot of good people working on that goal. We've got 
good people here at the Federal level working on it--no better advocate 
than--excellence in public schools than Laura. She was a schoolteacher. 
She's a schoolteacher. She's a reading expert. She is a public school 
librarian. She's very knowledgeable, and she is passionate. And so this 
year she's going to spend a lot of time working with the local folks to 
achieve excellence for every single child.
    And so is our--so is Rod Paige, who is running the Department of 
Education. I like to tease Rod a little bit. When I was looking for 
somebody to run the Department of Education, I wasn't interested in 
anybody who was good on the theory. I wanted somebody who was good on 
actually doing the job of being a superintendent of schools. And he ran 
the toughest school district in our State of Texas, which was the 
Houston Independent School District. And he did a great job, because he 
believed in high standards,

[[Page 40]]

accountability, and local control for the schools in the district. And 
Rod is the right man to be the Secretary of Education at this time in 
our Nation's history, and he has not let us down.
    Secretary Paige. Thank you.
    The President. Appreciate you.
    If you follow schools and if you follow public education, you know 
that you can find excellence in schools where you've got a good 
principal. Obviously, it requires good teachers. But if you've got a 
good principal, an innovative, smart, capable person who is motivated 
and dedicated and who believes every child can learn, you'll find 
excellence in that particular school. And we've got eight such 
principals with us today. And it is my honor to herald them.
    Bernice Whelchel, who is the principal of City Springs Elementary 
School right here in Baltimore, Maryland, or right close here in 
Baltimore, Maryland. I want to thank you.
    Mary Ann Hawthorne is the principal of the Samuel Gompers Vocational 
and Technical High School in Bronx, New York. Appreciate you, Mary Ann. 
Thank you.
    Keith Owens, who is from Beulah Heights Elementary School in Pueblo, 
Colorado. Keith. Yes, thank you.
    Keith Posley is from Clarke Street Elementary in Milwaukee, 
Wisconsin.
    J.R. Guinn, Del Valle High School, El Paso, Texas.
    Lorraine Fong, who is the principal from Kew Elementary in 
Inglewood, California. I appreciate you, Lorraine. Good to see you 
again.
    Patrick Galatowitsch, who is the principal of Rolling Hills 
Elementary School, Orlando, Florida.
    Beth Hager, principal of the Whitney M. Young Middle School in 
Cleveland, Ohio.
    I appreciate you all. I'm glad you're here. I want to thank you for 
standing up here with Laura and me and Rod. It is a chance for us to 
remind our fellow citizens that when you find a good principal, thank 
him or her from the bottom of your heart for doing one of the toughest 
jobs in the country. But I hope it's one of the most rewarding jobs for 
you. Because, after all, you're achieving what a lot of people say can't 
happen, and that is you've taken some tough schools and converted them 
to little centers of excellence. And you can truly say that because of 
your efforts and your love and your energy, no child in your school is 
going to be left behind. Thank you all.
    Today I had the honor of meeting members of the President's 
Commission on Special Education. I want to thank you all for your hard 
work. We will be reauthorizing IDEA * this year with Members of 
Congress. I know Senator Gregg holds this issue close to his heart. I 
think you'll find that the reforms suggested in the Commission's 
findings is going to be a great place for you to start, and hopefully 
finish, Mr. Senator. [Laughter]
    * White House correction.
    I also want to thank the education officials from five States, which 
I will be naming a little later, officials who are on the leading edge 
of education reform. I'm not going to tip my hand as to why you're here 
yet, but thank you all for coming. [Laughter] I know that many in this 
room have devoted your entire lives to bringing a spirit of high 
achievement to education in America, and I want to thank you for that. 
You understand success. You've seen success firsthand--and 
unfortunately, too many instances you are aware of the persistent 
problems in our schools.
    Perhaps the biggest problem is that we have passed children from 
grade to grade, year after year, and those--child hadn't learned the 
basics of reading and math. That says to me that somebody somewhere 
along the way believes certain children can't learn, so therefore, let's 
just shuffle them through.
    Many schools in our country are places of hope and opportunity. 
Eight such schools are here; many schools in the five States represented 
are places where people can feel hopeful for the future. Unfortunately, 
too many schools in America have failed in that mission. The harm has 
been greatest in the poor and minority communities. Those kids have been 
hurt the worst because people have failed to challenge the soft bigotry 
of low expectations.
    Over the years, parents across America have heard a lot of excuses--
that's a reality--and oftentimes have seen little change. One

[[Page 41]]

year ago today, the time for excuse-making has come to an end. With the 
No Child Left Behind Act, we have committed the Nation to higher 
standards for every single public school. And we've committed the 
resources to help the students achieve those standards. We affirm the 
right of parents to have better information about the schools and to 
make crucial decisions about their children's future. Accountability of 
results is no longer just a hope of parents. Accountability for results 
is now the law of the land.
    In return for receiving Federal money, States must design 
accountability systems to measure whether students are learning to read 
and write and add and subtract. In return for a lot of money, the 
Federal Government, for the first time, is asking, ``Are we getting the 
kind of return the American people want for every child?'' The only way 
to be sure of whether or not every child is learning is to test 
regularly and to show everybody, especially the parents, the results of 
the tests. The law further requires that test scores be presented in a 
clear and meaningful way, so that we can find the learning problems 
within each group of students. I'll show off a little bit--it's called 
disaggregation of results. [Laughter]
    Annual report cards are required to grade the schools, themselves, 
so parents can judge how the schools compare to others. Excellence will 
be recognized. It's so important for us to measure, so that we can 
praise the principals and teachers who are accomplishing the objectives 
we all hope for. And at the same time, poor performance cannot be 
disguised or hidden.
    Schools that perform poorly will be noticeable and given time and 
given incentives and given resources to improve. Schools that don't 
improve will begin to face consequences, such as that parents can move 
their child to another public school or hire a tutor or any other 
academic help. We will not accept a school that does not teach and will 
not change.
    Schools have a responsibility to improve, and they also have the 
freedom to improve in this law, and that's important. I can assure you, 
I haven't changed my attitude about Federal control of schools. When I 
was the Governor of Texas, I didn't like the idea of Federal control of 
schools. I felt we were pretty competent in the State of Texas to run 
our own schools. I still feel that way, now that I've been up here for 2 
years. I believe in local control of schools, and this principle is 
inherent in this bill.
    The key choices about curriculum and teaching methods will be made 
at the State and local level. Input will be given by parents and 
teachers and principals who know the local culture best. Parents and 
educators will not be bystanders in education reform. As a matter of 
fact, in our view, they are the agents of education reform. And this law 
upholds that principle as well.
    Across America, States and school districts are working hard to 
implement these reforms. Today Secretary Paige is approving the first 
five accountability plans, hence the five folks I've invited here. 
[Laughter] The first five accountability plans have been approved, and 
they are from the States of Ohio and Massachusetts, New York, Colorado, 
and Indiana.
    Their plans are rigorous, and their plans are innovative. They are 
also varied, reflecting the different strengths and challenges within 
each State. One size doesn't fit all when it comes to public education. 
What counts are results. What counts are the fact that the schools will 
be teaching the basics and children learn how to read and compute. These 
States recognize that.
    I want to thank you very much for showing what is possible, for 
being on the leading edge. The plans show the kind of energy and 
commitment and good faith that education reform demands. These leaders 
who have prepared these plans show us that high standards are not a 
burden to carry. They show us that this a opportunity to seize. The 
leaders also show a faith and confidence in their students, a belief 
that every child can learn.
    Children respond to an atmosphere of high standards. As teachers and 
parents can tell you, children love to learn. They just love it. And 
they sense when we have faith in them, and they love to justify that 
faith. And that's what you all have shown, faith in every child.
    The main reservations we've heard in the year since we passed the 
reform have come from some adults, not the children, who say

[[Page 42]]

the testing requirement is an unfunded mandate on the States. Well, 
that's not true. We put up $387 million to provide for testing, to pay 
for the testing in this year's budget. I intend to ask for the same 
amount next year. We demanded excellence. We're going to pay for the 
accountability systems to make sure that we do get excellence.
    Some have claimed that testing somehow distracts from learning. I've 
heard this excuse since I was the Governor of Texas, ``Oh, you're 
teaching the test.'' Well, if a child can pass the reading test, the 
child has learned to read, as far as I'm concerned.
    Other critics worry that high standards and measurement invite poor 
results. In other words, ``Don't measure. You might see poor results,'' 
I guess is what they're saying--that they fear that by imposing clear 
standards, we'll set some schools up for failure and that we'll identify 
too many failing schools. Well, the reasoning is backwards, as far as 
I'm concerned, and a lot of other good people are concerned as well. You 
don't cause a problem by revealing the problem. Accountability doesn't 
cause failure; it identifies failure. And only by acknowledging poor 
performance can we ever help schools to achieve. You can't solve a 
problem unless you first diagnose the problem.
    And so the accountability schools understand--the accountability 
rules understand that schools can achieve. And that's why these eight 
are up here with us. And I want to cite two examples. One, Beulah 
Heights Elementary in Pueblo, Colorado--the proportion of fourth graders 
reading at or above proficiency has gone from 50 percent, which is 
clearly unacceptable, to 86 percent in 3 years.
    How do we know? We measured. He wouldn't be standing here if we 
didn't measure. We'd be guessing as to whether or not--and we'd find 
out, unfortunately, after the 50 percent that couldn't read graduated 
from high school and still couldn't read. Accountability helps address 
problems early, before it's too late. Accountability gives us a chance 
to praise a principal and thank your teachers, too.
    At Del Valle High School in El Paso, less than half the children in 
that high school could pass an Algebra I exam 2 years ago. See, we 
measured in Texas. We wanted to know. This year, the number has risen to 
74 percent.
    I want to tell you what J.R. Guinn has said. He said, ``You have to 
make the expectation of success part of your belief system.'' We're 
raising the bar, and we expect success. And J.R., you're getting 
success. Thank you for your leadership. Good job.
    All these school leaders understand it's not easy to turn a school 
around. They know that. It's hard to go from frustration and despair to 
achievement and pride. Yet these principals and the teachers have made 
the effort, and they're seeing the results. And it must make you feel 
great.
    This administration is committed to your effort. And with the 
support of Congress, we will continue to work to provide the resources 
school need to fund the era of reform. This school year, we're providing 
more money than ever before to help States and school districts. The 
Federal Government is going to spend $22 billion this year. Over the 
last 2 years, we've increased funding for elementary and secondary 
education by 49 percent. That's a large increase.
    It is not enough to spend more on schools, however. This issue is 
not just about money. We must spend money more wisely. We must spend 
money on what works. And we must make sure we continue to insist upon 
results for the money we spend.
    The priorities of the No Child Left Behind Act will be reflected in 
the budgets I submit, as long as I'm working here. This year, for 
example, I'm requesting more than $1 billion for the Federal reading 
programs in next year's budget.
    Now, I want you to know something about reading. Laura and I share a 
passion for reading. We want to make sure every child learns to read by 
the third grade. However, we will not fund reading programs which do not 
work. My friend Reid Lyon is here, from the National Institute of 
Health. Reid is a reading expert. He understands the science of reading. 
He explained to me a long time ago, some curricula work and some don't. 
He understands what works. Again, I repeat, we're willing to spend more 
money. We're not going to spend money on curriculum that will not teach 
our children how to read.

[[Page 43]]

    But we are willing to spend it, because we understand that if you 
can't read, the science programs don't matter, it's hard to excel in 
math. Reading is the gateway to knowledge. Reading is the true civil 
right of the 21st century, as far as I'm concerned.
    And we're proposing more money for Title I students as well. We're 
going to ask for the '04 budget a billion-dollar increase, up to $12.3 
billion for Title I students, because one of the goals in this Nation 
has got to be to close the achievement gap.
    That starts with having high expectations. You see, I want to repeat 
what I said earlier: I believe that too many of the adults figure 
certain children cannot learn. And they just say, ``Heck, let's just 
move them through.'' So we not only need to make sure the money is 
there, but we've got to make sure the attitude changes. And the 
accountability systems within the No Child Left Behind Act insist that 
we have an attitude change in America. That's what this says.
    One year ago, we met the first challenge of education reform. We 
passed the law. And now we've got another challenge, and that's the 
implementation of this law. Today we honor five States; there are 45 
more to go. Some of the education leaders of those States are here. We 
look forward to seeing your plans. We look forward to seeing the spirit 
of the No Child Left Behind law in your plans. We look forward to strong 
accountability systems. We look forward to seeing the implementation of 
curricula that works. We look forward to the hiring of principals who 
know how to lead a school. We look forward to rewarding teachers who are 
not only lending their hearts but their talents, to make sure no child 
gets left behind. We look forward to a culture in America that 
understands every child can learn. And we look forward to the day that 
no child in this country is ever left behind.
    Thank you all.

Note: The President spoke at 1:46 p.m. in the East Room at the White 
House. In his remarks, he referred to Keith Owen, principal, Beulah 
Heights Elementary School in Pueblo, CO; and G. Reid Lyon, chief, Child 
Development and Behavior Branch, National Institute of Child Health and 
Human Development, National Institutes of Health. He also referred to 
the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (Public Law No. 
91-230); and Title I of the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 
(Public Law No. 103-382), which amended Title I of the Elementary and 
Secondary Education Act of 1965 (Public Law No. 89-10).


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