Statement In Response to the President's Radio Address on No Child Left Behind

September 8, 2003

Today the President used his weekly radio address to praise his education bill, No Child Left Behind. Behind his glowing rhetoric is an unfortunate reality: Another broken promise by this President, who has broken his pledge to fund the statute's new demands, creating crushing burdens for local school boards and teachers throughout America. The funding is simply not there, and local leaders already burdened by widespread federal program cuts and strains created by mismanagement of the economy are struggling to find new resources to pay the bill. All too often, the only solution is to raise property and state taxes, giving lie to the notion that this President is a tax cutter. He is simply a tax shifter.

Secondly, we all applaud the notion of accountability, but the methods in NCLB to measure accountability and promote reform are dangerously flawed. Schools from Texas to Colorado are being forced to dumb-down their tests so that they can ensure “progress” from one year to the next. This is a sham, and a disservice to our children. Worse still, in too many places, struggling students are reportedly being held back or even pushed out of classes and schools in a tragic game to boost average tests scores. Meanwhile, to help schools actually improve, the Administration provides rhetoric without resources.

It's time we had school reform that works and really does close the achievement gap not empty sloganeering that burdens our schools and sticks local taxpayers with the tab.

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