Published for Time Magazine Ideas, January 12, 2012
No Child Left Behind turned 10 this week, and former President George W. Bush, who led the effort to enact the landmark federal education law, marked the anniversary with an exclusive interview with TIME education columnist Andrew J. Rotherham. Bush discussed the law and its legacy, criticized both parties for trying to walk away from its hard-nosed accountability efforts and called on President Obama to resist “the temptation to take the easy path.”
Mr. President, 10 years in, what’s your take on No Child Left Behind?
First of all, I am extremely proud of the effects of No Child Left Behind. For the first time, the federal government basically demanded results in return for money. It started by saying, We expect you to measure [student performance]. As a result, there has been a noticeable change in achievement, particularly among minority groups. And I’m proud of that accomplishment and proud of the fact we were able to work with people from both parties to get it done.
When I think back about No Child Left Behind, it’s one of the really positive things our Administration accomplished along with Congress. So on the 10th anniversary, it’s time to celebrate success, but it’s also a time to fight off those who would weaken standards or accountability. I don’t think you can solve a problem if you can’t diagnose it, and I don’t think it is fair for parents or students not to be informed of how their schools perform relative to other schools and how their children perform relative to other children. So I’m pleased with the progress and concerned about efforts from people in both political parties to weaken it.
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Published for Time, December 15, 2011
George W. Bush is writing a sequel to his big education act. The No Child Left Behind law was signed almost a decade ago, with overwhelming approval from Congress (384 to 45 in the House and 91 to 8 in the Senate). Now, amid a bipartisan effort to gut its accountability measures, the former President is quietly pushing new education-reform initiatives aimed at improving and empowering school principals, who too often lack the training or authority to effectively run their schools. And once again, he’s approaching this massive education problem by blurring political lines.
I was invited in my role as TIME’s education columnist to sit in on a small meeting this week that Bush organized in New York City, and I was struck by the roster of advisers he had assembled to guide the George W. Bush Institute’s education work. The group included some big names in the education non-profit world as well as leaders of traditional public schools and charter schools. But by my informal count, most of the 10 people around the table were Democrats, including Clinton and Obama administration alums. “He cares about education deeply, and he gets it,” one staunchly Democratic education consultant, who now works with the institute, told me. The former President has already recruited officials from his administration as well as liberal stalwarts like Amy Wilkins of the Education Trust and Democratic education leaders like former North Carolina Governor James Hunt.
Education has long been a personal priority for Bush, who has said he ran for Texas governor in large part to improve the schools there. Now his institute is fighting hard against America’s complacency about our schools. This fall, for instance, it released a Global Report Card showing that even the wealthiest districts in the country, including Palo Alto, Calif., and the suburbs surrounding Washington, score no better on math, science and reading tests than average schools in 25 developed countries. The institute is looking at complicated and controversial issues such as education finance, teacher pensions and middle schools. These are genuine — and generally overlooked — problems.
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Published for Foreign Policy on November 3, 2011
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sat down for an extensive interview with Foreign Policy as part of the rollout of her new book, No Higher Honor. Rice criticized the notion of “leading from behind”; called for a return to a focus on human rights in foreign policy; lamented the downfall of democracy in Russia, calling Putin’s likely return to power a “terrible turn of events”; and contended that George W. Bush’s administration, despite avowals by the current White House to the contrary, had always intended to negotiate an extension to the agreement that required all U.S. troops to exit Iraq by the end of this year.
On the contentious subject of Middle East peace, Rice fully endorsed the U.S. decision to withdraw from any U.N. organization that grants full membership to the Palestinians, as UNESCO did this week. “If the U.N. wants to go down this road, let them see how well they do without U.S. support,” she said. Rice also said that by initially pressuring the Israeli government to accept a settlement freeze, Barack Obama’s administration had “put the Palestinians in a position of having to be less Palestinian than the United States,” forcing them to adopt more extensive demands.
The edited transcript follows:
Foreign Policy: The terminology that many people use to describe the Obama administration’s foreign policy is this phrase, “leading from behind,” which is now confirmed to have come from a White House official. Does that accurately portray the Obama administration’s foreign policy?
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Published for Glamour, October 31, 2011
When Laura Bush left the White House in 2009, she could have quietly retreated to her Texas ranch. Her twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara, could have launched lucrative careers or slipped back into private life. Instead, with little fanfare, this trio have become hugely powerful advocates on behalf of women, children and the world’s neediest. “We haven’t seen anything like this before,” says First Lady historian Myra Gutin. “They’re using their celebrity and credibility as a springboard for lasting good.”
It all starts with Mrs. Bush. “In Afghanistan she’s like Mother Teresa—a saint to women,” says political consultant Mary Matalin. Since 2001, when the then First Lady preempted her husband’s radio address to warn about the Taliban’s oppression of Afghan women, she’s been a driving force behind girls’ schools and women’s empowerment programs there. And building on her groundbreaking breast cancer work in the Middle East in 2006, Mrs. Bush just started the $75 million Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon campaign to offer cervical cancer care and breast cancer care in sub-Saharan Africa.
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