Sec. Spellings: The Battle Over No Child Left Behind

Posted: Apr 13, 2007 2:10 PM
I talked to Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings last week about her side in the coming battle to reauthorize No Child Left Behind, which is facing opposition from conservatives in Congress who say the good parts of the program have been eclipsed by heaps of bureaucracy and federal paperwork:

At any rate, she comes across, like any good principal, as a woman not to be messed with. But this is Washington, and here, everyone gets messed with. Right now, Spellings and the president are facing conservative opposition to the renewal of the No Child Left Behind Act—a national accountability program for public schools that the president calls a cure for the “soft bigotry of low expectations” and many conservatives call a hard boondoggle of big government.

Five years into the program, Spellings said it has given America a benchmark for success it’s never had before.

“Without assessment, we don’t know where we are… We’ve tried the ‘pass the money out and hope for the best’ strategy,” she said. “Now, you can use the information to improve and manage the system. We can be precise about the cure.”
In the column, I outline some of the problems conservatives have with NCLB, highlight some parts of the conservative alternative (A-PLUS), and I ask Spellings about those concerns. And, don't miss the last question in the interview. I couldn't resist, and the Secretary was good-humored about it.