- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 15, 2009

I believe we can judge a president by what is not said about him.Americans complain - rightly - about politicians who break their campaign promises, waffle and stick their wet fingers in the wind. None of these charges could remotely describe President Bush.

Mr. Bush promised to overhaul our nation’s public schools. He also pledged to provide a prescription-drug benefit for Medicare recipients. He also assured every single American who paid taxes that they would get tax relief.

Done, done, and done.

As a friend and fellow Texan who was proud to serve as domestic-policy adviser, I will never forget the first frantic days of the administration.

During our first week, we convened a round table with experts on reading. Science guided our efforts to find out which research-based practices worked the best in the classroom. It became a major component of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Eight years later, reading scores for fourth graders, including black and Hispanic students, are at record highs, according to the Nation’s Report Card (https://nationsreportcard.gov/). Students with disabilities have made a 23-point gain in reading since 2000. How many young lives have been changed for the better?

While Mr. Bush may not have been the leader everybody wanted, I believe he was the leader we needed.

I saw it when he passionately spoke about ending the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”

I saw it when he rallied the nation to freedom’s defense after the worst terrorist attack in history.

I saw it when I looked in the eyes of children in Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as well.

The bottom line is that this is a man who saw wrongs and sought to right them. He did so with great passion and good cheer, without a single ounce of hate in his heart.

That’s the kind of person he is, and the president he became.

- Margaret Spellings, U.S. Secretary of Education.

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