Statement on the Anniversary of 'No Child Left Behind'

Fargo, ND, January 5, 2004

FARGO-In a town hall meeting here today, Democratic presidential candidate Governor Howard Dean, M.D., criticized the President's failure to follow through on the promises of “No Child Left Behind”:

“Today, the President is visiting a St. Louis area school to celebrate the second anniversary of the 'No Child Left Behind' act. Following his speech he will attend a fundraiser where he is expected to raise $2.5 million. Less than 30 miles away, the Northwest School District in Jefferson County is awaiting a February vote on whether to increase property taxes in order to generate $2.4 million to help cover school budget shortfalls of $4.8 million.

“Increased property taxes are just one example of the 'Bush Tax,' the amount that ordinary people pay in increased property taxes and higher payments for services to cover President Bush's misplaced priorities. President Bush had no problem finding money for lavish tax breaks for millionaires, or over $150 billion for his misguided war in Iraq. But when it comes to fully funding his NCLB mandates, schools are out of luck.

“Nothing illustrates the President's misplaced priorities better than the his actions today. Instead of trying to solve problems so that government works for the people again-so that the Northwest School District doesn't need to raise taxes by $2.4 million-the President has illustrated his true priorities by attending a fundraiser where he will raise $2.5 million for his campaign coffers-for a primary in which he faces no opponent.

“The Northwest School District is not the exception. Districts across America have been forced to increase taxes or lay-off teachers, increase class sizes, and consider closing school doors. Many communities have made these sacrifices and have still been forced to raise taxes.

“This year we have the power to change our system, so that it works for the people again. By reclaiming our democracy, we can tell the politicians in Washington that our children matter more than fancy fundraisers and special interest money.”

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