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Secretary Spellings Touts Lousiana’s Progress Under No Child Left Behind and Announces Hurricane Recovery Funds at Lousiana State University


Baton Rouge, LA — U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings today traveled to Baton Rouge to recognize efforts in Louisiana to improve student performance by strengthening achievement standards under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and to announce the award of $30 million to Gulf Coast higher education institutions directly impacted by Hurricanes Katrina or Rita during a seminar with business leaders at Louisiana State University.

Visiting Westdale Middle School, a magnet school focusing on core academic instruction and foreign language immersion through innovative programs and teaching methods, Secretary Spellings joined Louisiana Superintendent of Education Paul Pastorek to visit classrooms and meet with teachers and administrators. Secretary Spellings congratulated them for their success in achieving Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) every year since NCLB was enacted, and underscored the need to continue holding schools accountable for students’ academic success by reauthorizing NCLB this year.

“I’m encouraged that schools like Westdale are making progress under No Child Left Behind—but without a doubt, we have significant work ahead to get all children in Louisiana and throughout the country reading and doing math at grade level by 2014,” Secretary Spellings said. “As Congress moves to reauthorize the law this year, it’s essential to preserve the core principles of the law that hold schools accountable for achieving results. Now is not the time to roll back the clock on Louisiana’s students.”

Following her visit to Westdale, Secretary Spellings joined Louisiana State University (LSU) Chancellor Sean O’Keefe for the university’s fourth-annual “Louisiana Looking Up! 2007,” business seminar to discuss the important role and vested interest of the business community in helping to strengthen our nation’s K-12 and higher education systems and ensure our students are prepared for college and the workforce.

“No one understands more clearly than the business community the competition our nation faces in the knowledge-based, global economy. In this fast changing economic landscape, education must keep pace and equip our children with the necessary skills to compete and thrive in the 21st century,” Secretary Spellings said.

On the heels of their activities in Latin America, where Secretary Spellings led a delegation of eight university presidents seeking to strengthen international student exchange and find new ways to improve education for all our citizens, Secretary Spellings and Chancellor O’Keefe also highlighted the importance of strengthening higher education and providing opportunities to make it more affordable and accessible to all students.

While at LSU, Secretary Spellings announced the award of more than $30 million for Gulf Coast colleges and universities, over $18 million of which is awarded to eleven Louisiana institutions to defray expenses for lost revenue and tuition and constructed costs resulting from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. LSU’s Health Sciences Center in New Orleans will receive nearly $700,000. Funded by the Hurricane Education Recovery Awards (HERA) program authorized by the Higher Education Act, grants will also be given to six postsecondary institutions in Mississippi, four in Texas, and one in Florida.

“Two years after the hurricanes, help is still needed for the colleges, universities, and other postsecondary schools in Louisiana and throughout the Gulf Coast that were forced to close, relocate, or significantly curtail their activities due to damages inflicted upon their institutions—and these grants will contribute to the vital rebuilding process,” Secretary Spellings said.

Secretary Spellings also noted the progress being made in Louisiana and vitality returning to the Gulf Coast region. Since the hurricanes of 2005, the U.S. Department of Education alone has allocated more than $1 billion to Louisiana to help assist with recovery efforts.


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