President Bush visited New York City yesterday to encourage Congress to reauthorize his No Child Left Behind program. Bush gave a speech at the Harlem Village Academy school and praised its founder, faculty and students and emphasized the importance of the NCLB Act. Bush made it a point to visit all eight classrooms and shake every student's hand, prompting one student to tell the Sun, "I think it was the best day of my life," and a teacher to ask Bush for more money to be added to NCLB.
The President also joked around during his speech when he discussed Representative Charles Rangel and Schools Chancellor Klein:
I want to thank, again, Charlie Rangel. He is the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. (Applause.) You can imagine what it's like traveling in the presidential limousine down Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard hearing Rangel say, I was raised over here, and here's the hotel I worked in when I was a boy. You know, the people in Harlem have got a fantastic Congressman in Charles Rangel. He cares deeply -- (applause.) He can agree with me a few more times, but -- (laughter) -- I don't expect him to. But I do expect him to do what he does, which is work for the good of the country. And I'm really proud to be with you. Thanks for coming, Charlie. (Applause.)...
...You talk about a guy who has taken on a tough job, and in my judgment, my humble judgment, is doing it with excellence, is Joel Klein. (Applause.) As a result of that endorsement, he may never find work again in New York, but nevertheless -- (laughter.)
Rangel is wildly popular in Harlem, while Klein might be the most hated Department of Education figure to parents and teachers. And notably, Rangel, no friend to many Bush administration policies, said he would help the president pass the act.
WNBC's Politics to Go has some video of the visit, as well as context about the criticism with NCLB Act. amNew York had some good reactions to the speech, including those from HVA students, the Granny Peace Bridge and one from a parent whose son attends public school in the same building at Harlem Village Academy: "[President Bush is] only here to help the kids at the charter school; he's not helping my child. Get them computers; get them a music teacher, and art."
And before arriving in NYC (touching down in Central Park), Bush gave a "mixed view of progress in Iraq."
Top photograph of Bush with Representative Rangel by Gerald Herbert; lower photograph of Bush with firefighters in Central Park by Kathy Willens/AP