AUSTIN (KXAN/AP) — Former President George W. Bush closed a three-day civil rights summit in Texas by saying education is the key for opportunity for poor and minority children and that he fears what he calls the ‘soft bigotry’ of low expectations is returning 50 years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act.
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Bush signed the No Child Left Behind law in 2002, which expanded the federal government’s role in public education.
He said Thursday the law helped close the achievement gap between white and minority students. He criticized efforts to weaken the law, saying the federal government has a role in demanding school accountability.
Bush said that while education in America is not still legally separate, it is not effectively equal.
On the final day of the summit, Former Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings also said the number one need in education is expectation.
“That is the expectation of every single school… every single school in this city or any other, that every school is an excellent school,” Spellings said. “And that we can do that and we will do it.”
President Bush turned to a phrase he used during his presidency.
“I fear that the soft bigotry of low expectations is returning and for the sake of America’s children, that is something that we can not allow,” Bush said.
The president of the LBJ Foundation says the library will be working on making a record of three-day Civil Rights Summit available as soon as possible.
The Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library hosted the summit.