Bush Brings Smiles to Children During Philly School Visit

President Bush makes final policy speech as commander-in-chief

Talk about show and tell!

President Bush and wife Laura brought a lot of smiles and praise to the students of Kearny Elementary School in Northern Liberties.

The kids say the visit was aces.

"It makes me feel life someone really cares about me getting a good education about me going to a nice school and getting a good education," said 5th grade student Laruen Pettaway.

This school is a standout. Students have met state benchmarks in reading and math for six straight years. The gains are consistent with improvements made by the entire Philadelphia School District.

President Bush says it's all thanks to the No Child Left Behind Act, which requires students to meet statewide academic standards.

"This is my last policy speech as President of the United States. What makes it interesting is that it's the subject of my first address which is education and education reform," President Bush said.

He touted the gains of No Child Left Behind to a packed auditorium at Kearny, filled with students, educators and some familiar faces, like the Reverend Al Sharpton, Supt. Arlene Ackerman and Sen. Arlen Spector.

“The most important result of the NCLB is this: fewer students are falling behind and more are achieving higher standards," said President Bush

Fourth graders earn the highest reading and math scores in the history of the test.

He said the most important aspect of the act it that it's closing the gap between Caucasian and minority students, like those at Kearny where most of the schools 400-plus students are economically disadvantaged.

But there are some critics, like those who worry standardized tests are getting in the way of real learning.

"I know a lot of teachers who have had trouble teaching to the test here and there and I think that definitely the next administration should look at it," said Colleen Nagurney, who is in the education field.

But educators say the No Child Left Behind Act is a step in the right direction. One thing everyone can agree on -- today's visit made a lot of little ones feel big.

“He made me think that I can be whatever I want to be when I grow up and the sky is the limit to learning," Pettaway said.

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