By HENRY C. JACKSON
Associated Press Writer
INDIANOLA, Iowa (AP) - Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton criticized the No Child Left Behind education program Saturday, saying its emphasis on testing puts American students in danger of losing their creative edge.
"I think that we are in danger of narrowing the curriculum and leaving children behind," Clinton said Saturday. "That's the very opposite of what they said would happen."
Clinton voted for No Child Left Behind, President Bush's signature education policy, in 2001, but has since been a sharp critic. She said the program's emphasis on testing is diluting resources from other valuable areas of education.
That will be a problem for the country going forward, she said.
"Part of the reason America was always in the forefront of the World Economy is that we're the innovators ... it's because we have creative learners, we have people who learned to get around obstacles, they didn't go in a straight line."
Clinton spoke at a campaign event in Indianola, where she helped raise money for state lawmaker Sen. Staci Appel. At the end of the event Appel, who is serving her first term in the Legislature, said she was endorsing Clinton's presidential bid.
Clinton gave a version of her stump speech before taking a handful of questions from a crowd of about 300 people.
One woman, a college student studying music, asked Clinton what she would do to ensure there was room for music education in public schools. Clinton said she was a big supporter of music and other creative venues in school.
"Anyone who's ever heard me sing, knows, I can't sing," she said. "It's a shame. I always sound great to my ears. ... But I love music, and I cherish music, and I think back to my own years at school when the music teachers would come into our classroom."
Clinton said music and art can help unlock hidden potential in some students.
"Music and art, and exposure to different set of cultural experiences can ignite such a creative passion and imagination in some people," she said. "I worry that No Child Left Behind with its emphasis on tests ... is going to weed so many kids out."
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)