Monday, January 31, 2005

Spellings Promises to Push Bush Agenda

Mon Jan 31,11:35 AM ET White House - AP Cabinet & State
By BEN FELLER, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON - Margaret Spellings, a loyal adviser to President Bush back to
his days in Texas, was sworn in Monday as secretary of education and vowed
to "stay the course" on the president's school reform agenda.

Spellings pointed out that she's the first mother of school-age children to
lead the Education Department. Bush said that gives her a personal stake in
the state of the nation's schools.

As Bush's domestic policy chief in his first term, Spellings helped write
the demanding education law known as the No Child Left Behind Act. The law
requires yearly gains among all students, regardless of race, income or
English ability. Schools that receive poverty aid face penalties if they
fall short.

Many education leaders say they struggle with the law, from getting top
qualified teachers in every class to finding room for students who are
promised transfers.

Spellings said the law has been a success, with test scores in reading and
math on the rise.

"When you signed No Child Left Behind into law three years ago, it was more
than an act ˜ it was an attitude," Spellings told the president after she
took the oath of office. "An attitude that says it's right to measure our
children's progress from year to year so we can help them before it's too
late. An attitude that says asking children to read and do math at grade
level or better is not too much to ask.

"We've learned a new equation ˜ accountability plus high expectations plus
resources equals results," she said. "We must stay the course."

Bush said Spellings was "instrumental" in helping to get his signature
education reform passed and will help extend accountability standards to
high schools.

"Today only about 60 out of every 100 students entering our public high
schools ever make it to graduation four years later," Bush said. "Margaret
understands that is unacceptable."

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