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 Home > News & Policies > November 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 17, 2004

President Bush Nominates Margaret Spellings as Secretary of Education
The Roosevelt Room

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11:07 A.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Please be seated. Good morning. I'm proud to announce my nomination of Margaret Spellings to be the Secretary of Education.

I've known Margaret Spellings for more than a decade. I have relied on her intellect and judgment throughout my career in public service. As governor of Texas, I called on her to serve the children of our state as my chief education advisor, a job she carried out with conviction and great results.

Margaret Spellings, Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy, makes remarks after being nominated to the position of Secretary of Education by President George W. Bush during a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room at the White House on November 16, 2004.  White House photo by Paul Morse When I was elected President, I asked her to serve as Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy. I've benefited from her knowledge and experience on many issues -- from health care to immigration to job training. I'm now calling on this energetic reformer to serve the children of America by continuing our vital work of improving our nation's public schools.

Margaret Spellings has a special passion for this cause. She believes that every child can learn, and that every school can succeed. And she knows the stakes are too high to tolerate failure. She believes in high standards and improving the resources necessary -- and providing the resources necessary to meet those standards. In Margaret Spellings, America's children, teachers and parents will have a principled, determined ally in my Cabinet. She has my complete trust and she will be an outstanding Secretary of Education.

With the Senate's approval, Margaret Spellings will continue the work of a fine educator and leader, Secretary Rod Paige. As Secretary of Education, this humble and decent man inspired his department and implemented the most significant federal education reform in a generation. Today, thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, students of every background are making hopeful progress in reading and math. The nation's schools are stronger because of Rod Paige's leadership. I'm grateful for his friendship; I'm grateful for his years of service.

We've made great progress in our schools, and there is more work to do. Margaret Spellings and I are determined to extend the high standards and accountability measures of the No Child Left Behind Act to all of America's public high schools. We must ensure that a high school diploma is a sign of real achievement, so that our young people have the tools to go to college and to fill the jobs of the 21st century. And in all our reforms, we will continue to stand behind our nation's teachers, who work so hard for our children.

The issue of education is close to my heart. And on this vital issue, there is no one I trust more than Margaret Spellings. Two decades ago, as a young aid in the Texas state legislature, Margaret dedicated herself to strengthening public schools. She went on to help lead the Texas Association of School Boards, to advise two governors on school reform, and to serve four years as my top domestic policy advisor right here in the White House. And now her talent and idealism have brought her to the highest education office in the land. Through it all, she has kept her good humor and her perspective on life. She is a devoted, loving mother to Mary and Grace, and Laura and I are proud to count her and Robert as good friends.

I urge the Senate to promptly confirm Margaret Spellings as America's eighth Secretary of Education. And I look forward to having her in my Cabinet. Congratulations. (Applause.)

MS. SPELLINGS: Thank you, Mr. President. I am joined today, as you said, by my husband, Robert, and our -- two of our four children, my daughters Mary and Grace LaMontagne, who get to miss school to be here. (Laughter.) On behalf of myself and my family, thank you, Mr. President for this opportunity not only to serve you and our country, but the children of America. I am humbled and honored by your confidence.

More than 10 years ago, you gave me the opportunity to work with you on improving Texas schools. You said then that the government should do a few things and do them well, and that one of those few things is educating all children. I share your passion for education and your commitment to seeing that each and every child has the skills and qualities necessary to realize the American Dream. Our schools must keep their promise to all our children. And I pledge to do all I can to ensure that no child is left behind.

It has been a privilege to serve as your domestic policy advisor for these past four years. I have mixed feelings about leaving this White House and will miss all of my wonderful friends and colleagues here: our great Chief of Staff, my wonderful Domestic Policy Council staff, and of course, all the great Texans who have been at your side for more than a decade.

One of those great Texans is, of course, Secretary Rod Paige, who distinguished himself as an educator and has served admirably as your Secretary of Education. He has laid the foundation for leaving no child -- leaving no child behind, and I pledge to honor his lifelong commitment to children by continuing the good work he started.

To you, Mr. President, and to Mrs. Bush, who shares your commitment to education, thank you. I am a product of our public schools. I believe in America's schools, what they mean to each child, to each future President or future domestic policy advisor, and to the strength of our great country. If confirmed by the Senate, I commit to work alongside America's educators and my new colleagues at the Department of Education to make our schools the finest in the world.

Mr. President, thank you for this opportunity and for your continued trust and confidence in me.

THE PRESIDENT: Good job. (Applause.)

END 11:13 A.M. EST