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Former President George W. Bush / Getty Images

The president who signed the "No Child Left Behind" law is defending the federal role in education.

George W. Bush, appearing at a civil rights summit at the Lyndon Johnson library, said too many people are backsliding on the commitment to close reading and math gaps in education.

"No law is perfect," Bush said. "Every legislative instrument eventually requires adjustment. But the problem comes when people start to give up on the goal."

Bush said that "some have ideological objections to any federal role in education," while others "are too comfortable with the status quo."

Both are misguided, he said.

"The alliance between ideology and complacency seems to be getting stronger," Bush said. "I fear that the soft bigotry of low expectations is returning. And for the sake of America's children, that is something we cannot allow."



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