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President Bush Defends 'No Child Left Behind' In Greensboro

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — President George W. Bush has North Carolina on his mind again. The president was at Fort Bragg in July, and Wednesday, he is visiting Greensboro.

In perhaps a once-in-a-lifetime chance for children, Bush came to Greensboro to congratulate Falkener Elementary students on a test score turnaround. Bush used the school as a backdrop to urge reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act and to defend the controversial national testing and standards law.

"I think it would be a huge mistake for the United States Congress not to reauthorize this important piece of legislation," Bush said. "And the reason I say that is because it's working. We have achieved concrete results."

Many local and state educators have been critical of guidelines under which a few students' performance can cost a school federal funds. Still, June Atkinson, state superintendent of public instruction, was quick to join the president in crediting the success of teachers and students

Later, Bush visited the

Victory Junction Gang Camp

for critically ill children. NASCAR driver Kyle Petty and his wife, Pattie, created the camp in memory of their son, Adam. Adam Petty was killed six years ago in a racetrack crash at age 19.

Bush will wrap up his visit Wednesday night at a Republican National Committee fundraiser, a private event at a Greensboro home.

The president is no stranger to North Carolina. In July, he praised service members in a speech at Fort Bragg. He also told a crowd that U.S. troops will overcome persistent violence in Iraq.

Bush used a similar theme during a speech at a community college in Charlotte in April. He defended his war strategy, saying Iraq is the central front in the war on terrorism.

An Elon University poll last month showed a recent rise in Bush's approval rating in the state, but more people -- 48.5 percent to 45.2 percent -- said they disapproved of the president's performance.

Noticeably missing on Bush's North Carolina itinerary were campaign stops with Reps. Charles Taylor and Robin Hayes, a pair of veteran Republicans facing spirited Democratic challenges that could help tip the balance of power in the House. He didn't go near their districts.

Rep. Howard Coble, who represents the district that includes the children's camp, told the News-Record of Greensboro this week that he wasn't sure what the political value of the visit would be.

"I'm not uncomfortable having him here," Coble told the News-Record of Greensboro. "I don't know that it helps. But it doesn't hurt and it might help. There are a lot of his supporters who are simply not happy with Iraq. I'm not happy about it. But that doesn't mean I dislike my president."