Published October 2003 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd A Blue Ribbon for Classroom Excellence
A blue ribbon is the symbol of excellence and success -- the mark of a job well done. Since 1982, the Blue Ribbon Schools Program has highlighted many of America's most successful schools. It supports and promotes improvements in education by recognizing schools that demonstrate a strong commitment to educational excellence for all students and that achieve high academic standards.
One does not need to attend the fanciest school to receive a quality education. The quality of teaching and the commitment of parents also are critical to a student's accomplishments. While the seed of intelligence may be planted at birth, it requires cultivation, care, and hard work to blossom into culture and wisdom.
Many schools in West Virginia have adopted that attitude and instituted programs to instill a passion for education in students. Recently, two West Virginia elementary schools received national recognition for their achievements with the' Blue Ribbon Award -- the top award given to a school --from the U.S. Department of Education. Steenrod Elementary School in Ohio County and Kenova Elementary School in Wayne County have been awarded this prestigious honor.
I congratulate the teachers, administrators, students, and parents at these schools on their hard work in achieving this recognition. The Department of Education noted that Steenrod and Kenova have made significant progress toward meeting the challenging academic goals established in 2002 in the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
However, much work still remains. Too many schools are struggling to meet the significant mandates of No Child Left Behind without any new resources. While President Bush signed the act into law with great fanfare, he has not backed the funding necessary for more schools to achieve the successes of Steenrod and Kenova.
On more than one occasion, I have offered proposals in the Senate to fully fund programs to support the nation's elementary and secondary schools but, at each turn, the Bush Administration has opposed my efforts. Despite the setbacks, I remain committed to the task. We cannot afford to fail. The country's future depends in large part on the education of our young people. We need to take the necessary steps, which include providing adequate federal funding, to ensure that every child is placed on a path of lifelong learning.
Again, I applaud the accomplishments of Steenrod and Kenova elementary schools. Their success can serve as a model for all West Virginia schools as they strive for excellence and prepare our young people to lead the state and nation in years to come.
October 22, 2003