Education Secretary Spellings Holds Roundtables with Alabama Governor and African American Leaders
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and Alabama Gov. Bob Riley today hosted an education policy roundtable with state legislators, educators and business leaders at the Alabama State House in Montgomery to discuss how the federal government can partner with the state and districts to support innovation and get every child on grade level or better. She also talked about the President’s 2009 Reading First budget request and Congress’ significant cuts to the Reading First program--cuts representing a 61 percent overall decrease in funding for 2008 and a loss of more than $10 million for Alabama. In addition, she met with African American leaders at a roundtable meeting hosted by 100 Black Men of America to discuss raising student achievement in Alabama.
Secretary Spellings commended Gov. Riley for Alabama’s student achievement under No Child Left Behind and for making education a top priority during his administration. Prior to No Child Left Behind, Alabama did not have a strong assessment system, Secretary Spellings noted, but now Alabama is ahead of many states in having its assessment system approved, thanks to the dedicated efforts of state education leaders. Student achievement is on the rise, and 83 percent of schools in Alabama have made adequate yearly progress (AYP).
At the roundtables, Secretary Spellings also discussed a new tool recently released by the U.S. Department of Education, “Mapping Alabama’s Educational Progress 2008,” which provides a comparative look at the state’s key No Child Left Behind indicators. Alabama is making gains under No Child Left Behind, with an increasing number of students proficient in math in grades three through eight. The recent Nation’s Report Card, or NAEP, shows Alabama’s fourth graders showed their highest gains ever in math and reading, and eighth graders achieved their highest math scores in NAEP history. The state is one of only nine to reduce the White-Hispanic achievement gap in math across all grades three through eight and high school.
Secretary Spellings also noted opportunities for improvement that could help build on Alabama’s progress, such as the need to improve the number of students who take AP exams, raise graduation rates and increase the number of students who take advantage of choice and supplemental services. In addition, Alabama is one of only 10 states with no charter school law.
“No Child Left Behind has been part of an historic grassroots movement, supported by a unique alliance to equip every child with a high quality education,” Secretary Spelling said. “The law’s core principles now guide our conversation on education. It has changed the education game in this nation, and we can be proud of where it has brought us. Now, all 50 states and the District of Columbia have assessment systems, report disaggregated data and target federal resources to serve their neediest students. We can’t stop there. It’s time to continue building on the momentum that No Child Left Behind helped to generate.”
Several weeks ago, Secretary Spellings marked the sixth anniversary of No Child Left Behind with President Bush in Chicago, where he asked her to visit as many states as possible to discuss how the federal government could help them move forward under No Child Left Behind. In addition to Alabama, she has visited California, Oregon, Washington, Florida and Louisiana to continue the dialogue on No Child Left Behind and priorities for 2008.
During her roundtable with the 100 Black Men of America, Secretary Spellings praised Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) for the work they have done in the effort to better prepare minority students to succeed in today’s global economy. She also encouraged these fine institutions to keep up the momentum. Secretary Spellings cited increased funding for HBCUs, including $170 million over two years to help increase their capacity in critical science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, and foreign language education.
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