October 16, 2007

NCLB Veto Threat

During a speech in Arkansas yesterday, President Bush threatened to veto any “weakened” version of NCLB. Read the excerpt below or click here to see the speech in its entirety. (Note: the NCLB comments were in response to an audience question.)

“There's a lot of objections to No Child Left Behind -- I understand that. People say, how dare you measure? My attitude is, you got to measure. To solve a problem, you got to understand whether or not we have a problem in the first place. People say, well, they're just teaching to test. Uh-uh. We're teaching a child to read so they can pass a reading test.

I happen to believe this piece of legislation is an important piece of civil rights legislation. If you're interested in making sure our society provides hope for everybody, then you want to make sure every single child in America has the capacity to read, write, and add and subtract at grade level. That's what you want if you're interested in having an America that holds out its promise for every single citizen.

And that's the basis of No Child Left Behind. I believe in local control of schools. That's up to you to chart the path to excellence. But it's up to us to make sure your money is spent wisely. You know, we have an achievement gap in America, and that means our -- the white kids are reading at a certain level here at -- in the 4th grade, and African Americans or Latino kids are reading down here. That's not good enough for our country. And that achievement gap is beginning to grow. It's amazing what happens when you raise standards and hold people to account.

And so my -- any effort to weaken No Child Left Behind Act will get a presidential veto. I believe this piece of legislation is important, and I believe it's hopeful, and I believe it's necessary to make sure we got a educated group of students who can compete in the global economy when they get older.”