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What They're Saying

On November 17, 2004, President Bush nominated Margaret Spellings to serve as the nation's eighth ed

Margaret Spellings/FAST FACTS

Date of birth: November 30, 1957

Education: University of Austin, bachelor's degree in political science and journalism

Career highlights: Assistant to President Bush for domestic policy; Senior advisor to Texas Gov. Bush; Political director for Bush's 1994 gubernatorial campaign; Associate executive director, Texas Association of School Boards; Director of select committee on education for Texas Gov. William Clements Jr.

Career related: Hosts online interactive forum Ask the White House

Awards: Named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Washington, Washingtonian magazine, 2001

Karl Rove, the president's political strategist, was quoted this fall as saying Spellings is "the most influential woman in Washington that you've never heard of."

"Margaret Spellings ... believes that every child can learn, and that every school can succeed. And she knows the stakes are too high to tolerate failure."

--President George W. Bush

"Margaret's natural style is that she doesn't seek publicity. She just tries to get the job done."

--Robert Spellings, husband

Spellings is "a capable, principled leader who has the ear of the president and has earned strong, bipartisan respect in Congress."

--Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass.

"The NEA is hopeful that [Margaret Spellings] understands the vital role teachers play in improving student achievement, and will work with the National Education Association to make public schools great for every child. ... We look forward to finding common ground with Ms. Spellings in her new role."

--Reg Weaver, president, National Education Association

"She is a multitasker."

--Mary Matalin, Republican political consultant

"She is very practical and full of common sense. She has known the president for so long that she can talk straight to him and have fun with him. She tells him exactly the way it is."

--Sandy Kress, Austin lawyer who worked with Spellings at the White House drafting the No Child Left Behind act

"We fully support Ms. Spellings' confirmation in the Senate and look forward to working with her to achieve our mutual goal of raising student achievement for all students in all schools. ... Ms. Spellings played a pivotal role in the creation of No Child Left Behind and as a result has had in-depth discussions with teachers, administrators and school board members about school reform and the federal role in education. We look forward to working with her in her new role as education secretary to improve No Child Left Behind so that all children benefit."

--Anne Bryant, executive director, National School Boards Association

"This is a city where influence depends on how close you are to the president, and nobody is much closer to the president than Margaret."

--Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. (served as education secretary for 18 months under President George H. W. Bush)

"While [Spellings] is not well known in the education community, those who know her and have worked with her find her intelligent and willing to listen.

The fact that she is an architect of NCLB can cut both ways. It means she has a deep understanding of it and attachment to it but many hope she will be willing to work with the education community to see that its flaws are fixed so that it can achieve its noble aspirations.

--Paul Houston, executive director, American Association of School Administrators

"I don't like to be in the limelight," she once told a reporter. "I like to be under the radar."

--Washington Post