CHICAGO, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- U.S. President George Bush used an appearance Monday at a Chicago elementary school to urge Congress to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act.
In an appearance at Horace Greeley Elementary School, the only one in Chicago to be declared a Blue Ribbon school by the Department of Education, Bush said he will stand behind the law with or without congressional support and pledged to veto any reauthorization bill that "hamstrings" the act.
The measure was signed into law six years ago and mandates periodic testing with a goal of making sure all students perform at grade-level or above.
The White House said the Nation's Report Card released this fall shows across-the-board improvement in fourth and eighth grade reading and math nationwide since the law was enacted in 2002.
"Obviously we think we're on the right track," Education Secretary Margaret Spellings told reporters en route to Chicago. "We've started to close the achievement gap."
In an op-ed piece in Monday's Washington Post, Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., agreed and urged Congress to draw the proper lessons from the results. He said attention must now be turned to mentoring teachers and stemming the dropout rate.