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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 6, 2003
President's Radio Address
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. This month, as students across the nation are starting a new school year, parents, teachers and principals are starting to notice a difference in America's schools. The No Child Left Behind Act that I signed into law last year is raising standards for student achievement, giving parents more information and more choices, requiring more accountability from schools, and funding education at record levels.
The premise of the No Child Left Behind Act is simple: all children can learn, and the only way to make sure our children are learning is to measure their progress with tests. So the No Child Left Behind Act requires regular testing in the basics of reading and math for every child in every school, starting in the third grade. And the law sets a clear goal for American education: every child, in every school, must perform at grade level in reading and math, which are the keys to all learning.
To meet this goal, all 50 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have designed accountability plans that have been approved by the Department of Education and are now being put into effect in America's schools. School districts across America are now providing parents with lists of outside tutors who can give extra help at no cost to low income children in under-performing schools.
Those parents also have the option of transferring a son or a daughter out of a school that is not doing the job to a better public school or charter school. And soon every community in America will have report cards on every local public school, so citizens can measure progress and push for reform.
While we're demanding excellence from schools, we're also giving them extra resources to succeed. Since this new law went into effect, 40 states have received a total of nearly $1.3 billion in grant money, to support scientifically-based reading instruction in kindergarten through the third grade.
My budget for next year includes more than $1.1 billion for effective reading programs, four times the amount we were spending on these programs when I took office. And overall federal spending for elementary and secondary education is higher than ever before. My budget for next year boosts education funding to $53.1 billion, an increase of nearly $11 billion since I took office.
Schools are getting the federal resources and help they need to improve, and parents are getting the information and options they need to support reform. And we're just beginning. This new school year will be a year of challenges and hard work and great progress. And through it all we will keep in mind the focus of all our efforts -- our children, who deserve an education worthy of this great nation. Together we will make sure that every child learns and no child is left behind.
Thank you for listening.