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Statement by U.S. Rep. John Boehner on Second Anniversary of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Education Reform Law

Location: Washington, DC

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Rep. John Boehner (R-OH), chairman of the House Committee on Education & the Workforce, today issued the following statement regarding the two-year anniversary of President Bush's signing of the No Child Left Behind education reform law (NCLB). NCLB was signed into law by the President on January 8, 2002 at Hamilton High School in Hamilton, Ohio.

"The simple fact is that as a result of No Child Left Behind, the public education system is focusing on disadvantaged children like never before.

"Across America, teachers and principals and superintendents today are working with unprecedented determination to show they don't subscribe to the view that some children should be written off. Some are outspoken in their support, like the many African-American and Latino educators who have written to leaders of both parties to reiterate their support for the accountability provisions of the law. Others are confirming No Child Left Behind's principles simply through their actions, giving special attention to children who would once have been viewed as a drain on the system.

"A great deal of confusion over No Child Left Behind seems derived from one common misconception - specifically, the erroneous notion that the law seeks to 'punish' schools identified by states as needing improvement.

"In reality, No Child Left Behind calls for extra help for such schools - not penalties. Under the law, when a school is identified by its state as needing improvement, both the school and the parents of children attending that school qualify immediately for extra help. For the school, this extra help can take the form of everything from additional federal funding to technical assistance - whatever the state and district deem most needed to turn the school around. For parents, this extra help can mean the ability to get private tutoring for their children or to transfer them to a new school, including a charter school.

"The leaders of the Democrat party have demonstrated incredible hypocrisy through false attacks on President Bush suggesting, incredibly, that the No Child Left Behind Act-which has resulted in a massive increase in federal education spending during a time of war-is somehow inadequately funded. Every penny promised by President Bush and congressional Republicans has been delivered, and then some. When they controlled Congress and the White House, Democrats routinely appropriated less money for education programs than they authorized, yet not a single Democrat accused President Clinton of 'underfunding' education.

"Some states have also erected roadblocks that have hindered implementation, attempting to make No Child Left Behind the scapegoat for virtually every challenge they face. State officials in at least three states-West Virginia, Tennessee, and Missouri-have criticized President Bush for allegedly 'under-funding' No Child Left Behind, only to recently admit they've been sitting on millions in unspent federal education funds for as long as three years. The truth is, the federal government has been increasing education spending more quickly than states can spend it. The United States already spends more money for education than any other nation on Earth, yet student scores continue to lag behind those of other countries.

"Overall, the law is working very much as envisioned. There has been predictable grumbling by the education establishment as it has gradually realized the Bush administration has no intention of watering down the law through regulatory waivers, as the Clinton administration did with its own education plan. But virtually no one has suggested we should return to the days in which achievement gaps were subsidized and hidden from public view. And most important of all, disadvantaged children are finally getting the attention they're due. This is a bipartisan achievement we should build on as a nation in 2004 and beyond."

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