Romney Embraces No Child Law
Mitt Romney, a man who took liberal stands on gay rights and abortion while running in Massachusetts but has adopted more conservative ones in pursuing the GOP presidential nomination, is not known for taking unpopular positions. But in Keene, New Hampshire on Sunday night, the former Massachusetts governor seemed almost eager to defend a law that has become a popular punching bag on the left and the right, No Child Left Behind.
"I know a lot of people aren't wild about No Child Left Behind," he said in response to a question on the law, which requires yearly testing of students and assesses schools' performances based on those tests. "But I like the fact that we test our kids so we can tell which schools are good and which are not. I like state control of the process, but I do like testing."
He went on to boast about his role in getting Massachusetts to require students to pass tests in math, reading and science to graduate from high school. To say the least, this was not as big as applause line as when Romney called for illegal immigrants already in the U.S. to learn English as part of staying here. There was virtual silence in a room of more than seventy.
Education has not been a major issue in the campaign, but the former Massachusetts Governor is virtually alone in his defense of a law that President Bush touts as one of his biggest accomplishments. Former Tenesseee Senator Fred Thompson has openly criticized and called for the repeal of a law he voted for while he was in Congress, while former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee has wondered if high-stakes testing has gotten in the way of music and arts education. The leading Democratic candidates, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Bill Richardson, have also all attacked the law, although only Richardson has called for its outright appeal.. Edwards has suggested changing the way schools are measured so it fewer are defined as "failing" under the law.
--Perry Bacon Jr.
November 26, 2007; 9:47 AM ET
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