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3 Cheers for Iowa Governor!!
Don't Leave Any Kids Behind, Governor Says
By Derek J. Fuchs
December 19, 2003
Iowa Gov. Thomas Vilsack, who grew up in Squirrel Hill, said Thursday that changes should be made to the No Child Left Behind Act.
"I think it is focused on failure and funded for failure," he said.
The act measures students' success largely through standardized assessment tests. Schools that fare poorly on those tests are penalized by having to pay to send students to better-performing schools.
"You can't have a single assessment tool," Vilsack said.
He pointed out a friend from his days at Shady Side Academy as an example -- someone who had poor grades in school. Because of those grades, no one imagined that he'd end up getting into Harvard Law School years later.
Vilsack, a Democrat, is pushing for universal preschool. "We have to understand that to leave no child behind, we have to have no child start behind," he said.
Vilsack, who graduated from Shady Side Academy in 1968, addressed about 50 political and business leaders at a Greater Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce breakfast at the Duquesne Club, Downtown.
He was elected to the Iowa Senate in 1992 and was elected governor in 1998. Re-elected in 2002, Vilsack is incoming chairman of the Democratic Governors Association, and was eyed briefly as a potential Democratic candidate for vice president. His first foray into politics was a successful one as he was elected mayor of his wife's Iowa hometown.
Vilsack said that government, through tax cuts and other incentives, should encourage parents to get their children through preschool. Iowa has a program with the goal of getting 90 percent of young children to go to preschool and 90 percent of high school students to go to college. The agriculture-heavy state has trouble attracting and retaining college students -- less than 30 percent of Iowans in the work force have attended college.
Yesterday, he focused primarily on his universal preschool idea, saying it was important to him personally.
"I want to supply them with what I missed, which was a childhood," Vilsack said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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