MAY 11, 2004 - Posted at 2:02 p.m. CDT
VAN BUREN, AR - President Bush told an Arkansas audience today that his No Child Left Behind program has brought a new accountability to public education.
Speaking at Van Buren's Butterfield Junior High School, the president addressed criticism of the program, including the assertion that children are being taught so they can pass standardized tests. Bush said the test require children to master basic information, which is important, and positive test results show that children are learning.
Bush noted criticism that the program puts unfair pressure on schools with high proportions of minority and non-English speaking students, and said the criticism misses the point of the program, to keep children from falling behind.
He said the program is geared to identify students with problems early on and address learning difficulties.
Bush flew to Arkansas on an official visit as president, not a campaign appearance.
However, Arkansas is among the states critical to the outcome of the election. Massachusetts Senator John Kerry will make his first visit to the state tomorrow as the likely Democratic presidential nominee. He was planning a fundraiser in Little Rock. Bush carried Arkansas four years ago against Al Gore.