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Statement by Secretary Spellings Following the Congressional Black Caucus Education Summit


Following her participation today in the Congressional Black Caucus Education Summit, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings made the following statement:

Today, I was honored to join the Congressional Black Caucus for a vital discussion on improving education, particularly for Americaís low-income and minority students. And I applaud Congressmen Bobby Scott and Danny Davis for their commitment to educating our nationís young people.

No Child Left Behind has been a game-changer for American education. Gone are the days when kids were moved from grade to grade without holding schools accountable for their progress. Today, thanks to this law, Americaís minority and low-income students are visible and accounted for ― and most importantly, theyíre doing better in school and the achievement gap is closing.

We still have far to go to reach the goal of grade-level success for all students by 2014. But itís achievable, and itís what this nation ought to expect from our schools and students.

Despite successes weíre seeing after five years under No Child Left Behind, some would have us believe the goal of grade-level success is unattainable ― that itís unreasonable to think all of our poor and minority students can achieve at grade level. I flatly reject this notion.

We must expand our focus to improve our nationís high schools and combat a growing dropout crisis that keeps half of African American and Hispanic students from graduating with their peers. As a nation, as communities, and as parents, we ought to be both troubled and outraged that many of our high schools have been reduced to dropout factories. Itís time to make important changes on behalf of students trapped in these environments.

Education is the new civil right. We have both a moral imperative and an economic imperative to improve our nationís education system and give every child a high-quality education ― for their own futures and for our own. Todayís flattening world is growing increasingly competitive, and we ought to be raising standards ― not lowering them ― to ensure our next generation of leaders is prepared to compete.

As we move forward with reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, we must remain vigilant against provisions that water down the ability of poor and minority students and ensure their progress toward grade-level success. We canít afford to back away from that goal. I look forward to working with Representatives Scott and Davis and other members of Congress to strengthen No Child Left Behind this year and support further progress on behalf of our nationís minority students.


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