Tags: Bush | Presses | for | Education | Bill

Bush Presses for Education Bill

Monday, 10 September 2001 12:00 AM

"That is a tactic of the past in Washington that has neither worked for our country, nor, more sadly, for our children," Bush said in his weekly radio address, which he also used to plug the first lady's opening of the National Book Festival in Washington.

"As a former teacher herself, the first lady is a passionate advocate for reading," said Bush, who called the book festival on Capitol Hill a chance to "highlight the importance of reading and libraries in our national life."

Bush's focus on education in the radio address marked the opening of weeklong White House effort to highlight the issue.

First lady Laura Bush plans to appear next week before the before the Senate Education Committee to testify about early childhood development of learning skills. And the president plans to stress the White House's focus on education Monday and Tuesday, when he visits Florida schools in Sarasota and Jacksonville.

Earlier in the week, Bush told Republican allies on Capitol Hill that he wanted education and the economy to top the fall agenda for the administration and Congress.

It remains unclear when or in what form an education bill will reach his desk. Different versions of the legislation passed in the House and the Senate sit in a joint conference committee that has yet to hold hearings.

"Both the House and the Senate have passed good bills that hold schools accountable and expect results," Bush said. "The hardest work is behind us. We have a chance now to pass education reform based on good principles. When the Congress sends me that bill I will sign it, and I urge the Congress to send it quickly."

The argument between Democrats and Republicans on the education bill hinges on funding.

According to an analysis prepared by Republicans, the Senate bill, favored by Democrats, would cost an overall $27.7 billion in 2002, a 57 percent increase from the $17.6 billion Congress spent this year and above Bush's $19.1 billion request. The House bill, favored by Bush and Republican lawmakers, would increase that spending to around $11 billion next year.

But the largest changes in the both pieces of legislation revolve around a new policy: mandatory student testing in reading and math in grades three through eight, a concept championed by Bush in on the campaign trail and embraced by the majority of Democrats.

"Earlier this year, tests showed the almost two-thirds of African American children in the fourth grade cannot read at a basic level, and reading performance overall is basically unimproved over the past 10 years," Bush said, calling such statistics evidence that "the system has failed the child."

Bush said he would work to implement education reforms that would ensure that every child could read by the third grade.

"The methods we use to teach reading are critically important," Bush said. "First, we will have diagnostic tests to identify early reading problems in grades K through 3. Second, we will correct those problems with intervention to give children the best possible help. Third, we will support reading instruction based on sound research, with a central role for phonics. And we'll make sure that every teacher is well-trained in these proven methods."

Copyright 2001 by United Press International.

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That is a tactic of the past in Washington that has neither worked for our country, nor, more sadly, for our children, Bush said in his weekly radio address, which he also used to plug the first lady's opening of the National Book Festival in Washington. As a former...
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2001-00-10
Monday, 10 September 2001 12:00 AM
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