WASHINGTON, D.C. – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (MD) released the following statement in response to President Bush’s visit to a Knoxville elementary school marking the two-year anniversary of the signing of the “No Child Left Behind Act” (NCLB):
“The No Child Left Behind Act was a bipartisan domestic policy success. Both Democrats and Republicans worked to pass a law that would better target federal investment in our schools, in return for greater accountability and higher standards. And Democrats continue to want this measure to succeed.
“The prognosis for this important achievement was rosy at the Rose Garden signing ceremony two years ago. However, since that day, President Bush and Congressional Republicans have repeatedly reneged on their commitments to funding and nurturing this initiative.
“I welcome the president’s announcement today that he will seek $1 billion in increased funding for both special education and low-income school programs. However, that will still leave the president and Congress many billions of dollars short of our commitment to America’s schoolchildren.
“In addition, the president’s past record has not shown him willing to expend the political capital necessary to get the rest of the Republican Party on board with spending what it takes to achieve the goals of this bill.
"The facts are these: the President’s own 2004 budget moved to slash funding for No Child Left Behind by $1.2 billion below what Congress appropriated in 2003. And, he again demonstrated a lack of compassion for our most needy children by cutting funding for programs that help low-income and disabled students by hundreds of millions of dollars.
“President Bush and Congressional Republicans talk often about ‘leaving no child behind’ so why do they refuse to fully fund the program that bears the same name as their campaign slogan? If the President is dedicated to improving the plight of the smallest in our society, I ask him to join Democrats in fully supporting this bill in the 2005 budget he is poised to present next month.
“Our schoolchildren shouldn’t have to settle for lost opportunities. I look to the President for a new leadership on fulfilling the promises of No Child Left Behind in 2004.”