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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
May 7, 2002

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at Senate Spouses Luncheon
As Delivered

Thank you very much, and thank you for the wonderful gift.

So much has happened since we were last here together for lunch, and these moments spending time with friends and enjoying good company over lunch are important.

I share the podium today with the 2002 Children's Hope Medal of Honor Awardee, my friend Mattie Stepanek. Mattie continues to teach us much about courage and hope. His poetry inspires us to open our hearts and savor life's journey.

President Bush and I often talk about the journey that America's children take through school and life. We want our schools to do a good job of educating children; we want our teachers to teach them well; and we want children to learn welland that begins with learning to read.

The No Child Left Behind Act, which became law in January -- thanks to the hard work of many of your spouses and my spouse-- is a positive step towards meeting these goals. Every child deserves the opportunity to live a life that, like Mattie's, is full of words, books and knowledge.

Last year I hosted the White House Summit on Early Childhood Cognitive Development at Georgetown University. We heard from some of America's most respected and innovative researchers in the field of cognitive development, as well as from those who have put that research into practice with great results.

Because of nationwide interest in early childhood development, someone from the Summit suggested that I take the show on the road, so to speak. This year I've traveled to some of your home states including Ohio and Arkansas for regional summits on childhood cognitive development.

Representatives from surrounding states attended the regional summits, including Kentucky, Indiana, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Oklahoma Mississippi, Missouri and Texas. I look forward to the next regional summit, which will be in Boise, Idaho next month (June 10th).

While we face a challenge of making sure children are ready to learn to read when they start school, this challenge is not insurmountable. By working together, we can make sure that our children have excellent teachers and a quality education. This is their birthright.

Thank you for your leadership in your states and for your efforts on behalf of America's children. Thanks also to the associate spouses for your continuing support.

The journey isn't always easy, but as Mattie says, "There's a lot of learning to do while we are growing up and a lot of teaching and a lot of learning while we are all grown up." With your leadership, and a big dose of Mattie's optimism, I know we can make a difference. Thank you.

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