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A Qualified Teacher in Every Classroom

March 23, 2004

Re "Wrong Education Reform," editorial, March 18:

The policies we announced address the legitimate needs of schools -- particularly those in rural areas -- in finding, training and retaining highly qualified teachers of science or multi-disciplines. Our new policy better matches the process of finding and keeping highly qualified teachers with the circumstances of local needs. Under the president's new budget, federal support for education increases to more than $57 billion, a 36% increase since 2001. More than $5.1 billion will be available for teacher-related programs, including training, professional development, recruitment and retention. And we will hold states accountable for making sure children are taught by highly qualified teachers.

This is the first school year since states put their education reform plans into place, as required by the No Child Left Behind Act. In other words, there has been a little over one semester of solid implementation of this historic education law. Issuing new policy much faster -- before we could observe how states were implementing NCLB -- would have resulted in decision-making in a black hole. In other words, fine-tuning the law has always been anticipated, long before state legislative sessions opened. Our goal remains a highly qualified teacher in every classroom. The new flexibility in our policies does not compromise that standard. Actually, it helps us meet it.

Rod Paige

U.S. Secretary of Education

Washington

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