Says It's Time To Make Educatioin Reform Law Work
February 25, 2004
"I was shocked and felt the remarks were not appropriate and were disappointing. I'm happy his written apology came out so quickly. The remarks certainly were not representative of the Secretary I came to know last year," said Murkowski, who traveled with Paige for four days in May 2003 as she escorted the Secretary on a tour of Alaska's rural schools that included stops in Bethel, Tuntutuliak, Savoonga and McGrath.
Murkowski was reacting to Paige's comments before the National Governors Association meeting in Washington that the NEA was "a terrorist organization" concerning the association's reaction to the No Child Left Behind education reform act of 2001. Paige quickly apologized for his "inappropriate choice of words" and said "as one who grew up on the receiving end of insensitive remarks, I should have chosen my words better."
Murkowski said she is working closely with NEA-Alaska officials in an effort to implement the act so that it works in Alaska. "All I can do is relate to my dealings with NEA-Alaska and I know they are working extremely hard to make the No Child Left Behind law work for Alaska's students. We all are working to identify the parts of the law that are working and those that need more work. I can only commend NEA-Alaska for their work on the issue," said Murkowski.
She said she is working with the state and with teachers across the state to craft clarifications in the act to gain flexibility to make it work for both rural and urban schools. Those changes must be submitted to the federal Department of Education later this spring.
"What we all need to do is focus our attention on making the act work so that all of our children receive the best education possible. That is what we should be concentrating on," she said.
In his apology for his remarks about the NEA, U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige on Monday said, "It was an inappropriate choice of words to describe the obstructionist scare tactics the NEA's Washington lobbyists have employed against No Child Left Behind's historic education reforms. I also said, as I have repeatedly, that our nation's teachers, who have dedicated their lives to service in the classroom, are the real soldiers of democracy, whereas the NEA's high-priced Washington lobbyists have made no secret that they will fight against bringing real, rock-solid improvements in the way we educate all our children regardless of skin color, accent or where they live. But, as one who grew up on the receiving end of insensitive remarks, I should have chosen my words better."
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