Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Maryland, criticized the Bush administration yesterday for its support of the No Child Left Behind education law, saying it forces teachers to "teach to the test" instead of focusing on student needs.
"Good idea, poor execution," Steele said during a Prince George's County news conference at which he introduced several broad education proposals. "While the goals of No Child Left Behind are on target, and Maryland has certainly benefited from NCLB funding, talking to the students, talking to the teachers, you find out that the program itself has fallen short of expectations."
Steele, who was urged to run for the Senate by many top-level Bush administration officials, also chided Bush for attempting to abolish the Perkins Loan Program, which provides low-interest loans to needy students.
"It was wrong of President Bush to call for eliminating this program, and Congress will make, I think, a very serious mistake if it fails to reinstate those funds," he said. "For once, members of Congress and the White House should listen to the families and the teaching professionals who rely on loans like Perkins to empower themselves and their futures."
Steele was joined by Largo High School Principal Richmond Myrick and Assistant Principal Clinton Shands, who endorsed his candidacy.
In a brief speech to a few reporters, and as many supporters on a parking lot at Prince George's Community College, Steele said that Congress should reinstate and then increase Pell Grant funding, which was eliminated in the president's last budget. Steele also advocated tuition waivers and tax credits for teachers who opt to become certified in difficult subject areas.