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Inside Politics

Bush has chosen education nominee, official says

Margaret Spellings is longtime policy adviser to president

From Jennifer Yuille
President Bush and domestic policy adviser Margaret Spellings leave the White House in this photo from May 2002.
George W. Bush

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Bush has tapped domestic policy adviser Margaret Spellings to be the next education secretary, replacing Rod Paige, a senior administration official told CNN on Tuesday.

The formal announcement of Spellings' nomination could come as early as Wednesday, the senior official said.

Spellings has served as a domestic policy adviser since Bush took office in 2001, with issues such as education, health and labor in her portfolio. She was also a key figure in drafting the president's "No Child Left Behind" education initiative.

The No Child Left Behind Act, passed in January 2002, requires each state to demonstrate that it has developed challenging standards for students in reading and math and, in future years, science. Each state must annually test every child's progress in reading and math in third through eighth grades and at least once during 10th through 12th grades.

Some critics have complained that the program is underfunded, while others say it is too ambitious.

In a speech at the Republican National Convention, Paige lauded the measure, saying "All across America, test scores are rising; students are learning; the achievement gap is closing; teachers and principals are beaming with pride."

Before coming to the White House, Spellings worked for six years as a senior adviser to Bush when he was governor of Texas, where she was also responsible for developing education policy.

The nation's largest teacher's union, the National Education Association, which had a frosty relationship with Paige, called Spellings' nomination "a great opportunity for the administration to change the tone of its discourse with the education community."

"We look forward to finding common ground with Ms. Spellings in her new role," the NEA said in a statement.

Earlier this year, Paige called the NEA a "terrorist organization" for its opposition to No Child Left Behind. The union called on Bush to sack Paige, who later apologized.

Paige's resignation from the Cabinet was announced Monday. He said he plans to return to his home state of Texas.

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