George W. Bush on Education

Soft bigotry of low expectations encourages failure

Q: What is your education plan?

BUSH: I believe accountability encourages parental involvement. We need to say to people that if you cannot meet standards, there has to be a consequence, instead of the soft bigotry of low expectations. One of the consequences is we allow parents to have choices.

GORE: I see a day where there are no failing schools; where the classrooms are small enough so the teacher can spend one-on-one time with each student. That means recruiting teachers. It means hiring bonuses to get 100,000 new teachers in the next four years. It means helping with interest-free bonding authority, so that we can build new schools and modernize classrooms. I want to give every middle class family a $10,000 deduction for college tuition to send their kids to college. If a school is failing, we work with the states to give them the authority and resources to close down that school and reopen it with a new principal, a new faculty.

Source: St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

Blueprint: parental options; promote savings; zero-tolerance

Source: Blueprint for the Middle Class Sep 17, 2000

Move Head Start to Education Dept., teach all kids to read

Bush promoted his initiative, “Reading First,” a $5 billion that will help states teach every child to read by the third grade. States that elect to participate will have to meet criteria including offering reading diagnostics and training for kindergarten to second grade teachers in reading preparation. Bush will move Head Start to the Department of Education. “I am committed to giving every American child the best possible shot toward the American dream by teaching every child to read.”
Source: Press Release, “Help Disadvantaged Children” Sep 1, 2000

Poor kids can’t read; now is the time to teach them

Bush: “Seven out of 10 fourth graders in our highest poverty schools cannot read a simple children’s book. Millions are trapped in schools where violence is common and learning is rare.” Bush: ”Now is the time to teach all our children to read and renew the promise of America’s public schools.“
Source: Television advertisement script, “Education Agenda” Aug 21, 2000

End the soft bigotry of low expectations in our schools

Too many American children are segregated into schools without standards, shuffled from grade-to-grade because of their age, regardless of their knowledge. This is discrimination, pure and simple -- the soft bigotry of low expectations. And our nation should treat it like other forms of discrimination: We should end it.
Source: Speech to Republican National Convention Aug 3, 2000

“Silver Scholarships” for kids from seniors who volunteer

Under Bush’s “silver scholarship” program, senior citizens could volunteer as tutors in after-school programs in exchange for $1,000 educational scholarships. Seniors who volunteer at least 500 hours a year would be eligible for the scholarships, which they then could pass on to their children, grandchildren or other children in need. Bush said, “Today’s elderly are the best-educated generation of seniors in history,” and many are eager to help. The pilot project would be limited to 10,000 volunteers.
Source: Richard T. Cooper, L.A. Times May 20, 2000

Character education grants & American Youth Character Awards

Bush supports funding for character education grants to states and districts to train teachers how to incorporate character -building lessons and activities in student coursework; Governor Bush will require federal programs affecting young people, including juvenile justice programs, to teach character education; and he will establish the American Youth Character Awards to honor young people who distinguish themselves by their character.
Source: Press Release, Temple TX Apr 20, 2000

‘Reading First’ confronts a national emergency

Source: Press Release reprinted in “Renewing America’s Purpose” Mar 28, 2000

Freedom & flexibility in return for high standards & results

Q: Should federal money be linked to how well students perform on national or statewide tests? A: As president, I will fundamentally change the relationship between the states and federal government in education. I strongly believe in local control of schools and curriculum. We will grant unprecedented freedom and flexibility in return for high standards and results. In my administration, federal dollars will no longer follow failure. We will ask states and local school districts to set their own standards to achieve excellence in the core areas of math, English, science, and history, and hold them accountable for results. I oppose a national test because it would undermine curriculum developed at the state and local level.
Source: Associated Press Feb 23, 2000

Zero toleration policy for discipline problems in schools

We will have zero tolerance for discipline problems in our classrooms. We must assure our teachers they are allowed to teach and guarantee their right to learn without disruption or fear of violence. But we can’t just throw discipline problems out on the streets, so that is why I want a new kind of school, tough-love academies, and boot camps and, as the last stop, more beds in our juvenile justice system.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 30-31. Dec 9, 1999

If poor kids don’t learn, give school funds to parents

If the federal government spends money, say on the poorest of the poor children, we need to ask a simple question: What are the results? Are the children learning? And if they are, we ought to give bonuses to schools for the poorest of the poor. But if they’re not, if the poorest of the poor remain in trapped schools, that money that would go to the school should go to the parent so the parent gets to make a different choice.
Source: Phoenix Arizona GOP Debate Dec 7, 1999

Leave no child behind: reform Title I & Head Start

These reforms [will] set high standards, achieve real results, and make sure no child is left behind. “An ‘age of accountability’ is starting to replace an era of low expectations,” Bush said.
Source: Press Release, “No Child Left Behind” Oct 15, 1999

Evolution & creationism both valid; let states decide

On teaching evolution in schools, Bush believes both evolution and creationism are valid educational subjects. “He believes it is a question for states and local school boards to decide but believes both ought to be taught,” a spokeswoman said.
Source: Bruce Morton, CNN Aug 27, 1999

Teachers’ unions obstacle to school innovation

Bush said he would use the presidency to spur competition and innovation in the schools and said he believed teachers’ unions represent an obstacle to those efforts. ‘Yes, I do,’ he said.
Source: Dan Balz, The Washington Post Apr 25, 1999

Teach values and moral responsibility in schools

Our children must also be educated in the values of our civil society. Some people think it’s inappropriate to make moral judgments anymore. Not me. We must be willing to draw a clear line between right and wrong. Those clear lines must be supported by political leaders, public schools and our public institutions. Educating our children about their moral and civil responsibilities will serve them-and the nation-every bit as well as the academic learning they require.
Source: Powell Lecture Series, Texas A&M Univ. Apr 6, 1998

George W. Bush on Accountability

TX test score improvements not reflected on national tests

A new report by the Rand Corporation, a non-partisan think tank, challenges claims by Bush that education in Texas has vastly improved under his watch. The report finds that advances in reading and math have been only modest. Although students did much better on the state-administered TAAS test in 1998 than in 1994-giving rise to the idea of a “Texas miracle” in education, a centerpiece of the Bush campaign-those improvements were not reflected when students took a national test. And while the racial gap shrank dramatically in the state test, giving Bush reason to boast, the gap between white and minority students grew slightly in the national test.

Bush aides denounced the study as an “opinion paper” and called the findings “highly suspect,” pointing to a three-year Rand study released last summer that showed Texas test scores had dramatically improved between 1990 and 1996.

The new study analyzed a different set of data, which focused on the time Bush had been governor, 1994 to 1998.

Source: Anne Kornblut, Boston Globe, p. A25 Oct 25, 2000

Federal role is funding & accountability; local innovation

Q: Is it possible to improve education with a little money? BUSH: Let me give you a story about public ed. It’s about KIPP Academy in Houston. It’s one of the best schools in Houston. The key ingredients are high expectations, strong accountability. As a result, these Hispanic youngsters are some of the best learners in Houston. Laura and I sent our girls to public school.
    Here’s the role of the federal government:
  1. to change Head Start into a reading program.
  2. to say that if you want to access reading money, you can get it.
  3. we’ve got to consolidate federal programs to free the schools to encourage innovators.
  4. we’re going to say, if you receive federal money, show us whether or not children are learning to read and write and add and subtract.
  5. And, if so, there will be a bonus plan, but if not, instead of continuing to subsidize failure, the money will go to the parent so the parent can choose a different public school.
Source: Presidential debate, Boston MA Oct 3, 2000

Focus on responsibility and parents, not on federal spending

Source: Boston Globe, p. A24 Oct 3, 2000

Improve education with local control, accountability

“I believe every child can learn and I refuse to accept excuses when they don’t. My plan will renew parents’ faith in the schools their children attend. I will insist on accountability, local control and the importance of teaching every child to read.’’ Bush proposed a $47 billion, 10-year plan that would boost spending on literacy programs, college scholarships and give extra money to states that improve pupil achievement. He also wants vouchers that poor families could use for private-school tuition.
Source: AP Story, NY Times Sep 25, 2000

Hold schools accountable and teach character

Bush’s education plan calls for education standards and a testing regimen for public schools. The federal government’s role should be limited. If poorly performing schools do not effect a marked improvement, they’ll have their federal money yanked away. What would have been destined for schools would then be turned into education vouchers for parents. Bush would lead an effort to develop charter schools, and he has also called for tripling federal funding for character education.
Source: Ian Christopher McCaleb, Sep 11, 2000

If you get federal money, you must return measurements

Any time the federal government spends money, we ought to expect accountability. We ought to expect a return on our dollar spent, which says, if you receive money, we expect you to measure on an annual basis. We want to know whether or not the children are learning to read and write and add and subtract. So step one is, in return for money, there’s accountability. Step two is, in return for success, there’ll be bonuses. And step three is, in return for failure then something has to happen.
Source: PBS Frontline interview, “The Battle Over School Choice” May 23, 2000

Test every grade every year & publish results

Source: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ Apr 2, 2000

Link block grants & vouchers to student testing

In Bush’s model schoolhouse, every student would have to sit for an annual state test, and those students whose schools consistently failed to make the grade would be given a government check that they could use to attend a parochial or other private school. Bush favors block grants to states, but would [link them] to annual tests for elementary and middle-school students -- although the states would write the tests and decide what constitutes improvement.
Source: New York Times Feb 29, 2000

State should enforce standards, not micromanage schools

The need to align authority and responsibility is a fundamental management principle.. When you give local schools and teachers the responsibility for teaching, yet try to have a distant authority dictate how they do so, you have defied this management principle and created a convenient excuse for failure. There is a role for the state, but it is not to micromanage local districts. The state’s role is to set clear standards, hold local districts accountable for results, and measure progress.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 28 -29. Dec 9, 1999

Develop tests locally - no national tests

I don’t believe in national testing. I believe that local folks ought to develop their own tests and their own standards because I strongly believe in local control of schools. I also believe in charter schools. I believe in education savings accounts to give parents a $5,000 per year contribution to be able to save for their children. My plan says less power in Washington, not more.
Source: Phoenix Arizona GOP Debate Dec 7, 1999

Help failing students pass - without social promotion

Bush’s Texas proposals included making sure all Texas children read by the third grade; helping students who fail with in-school, after-school or summer programs; and ending automatic social promotion of students.
Source: Michael Holmes, AP Mar 2, 1999

George W. Bush on College

$25B over 10 years for reading, Pell Grants, & charters

Source: Boston Globe, p. A24 Oct 3, 2000

$1.5B for state merit scholarships to college

As President, Governor Bush will establish a $1.5 billion “College Challenge” Grant. This federal funding will cover one-third of state costs to establish a merit scholarship program. States will have freedom to design their own scholarship program, except for baseline course requirements. Participating states would also have the incentive to make available to all students courses in the recommended curriculum. The total cost of this proposal would be $1.5 billion over five years.
Source: Press Release, “$7B for College Access” Aug 30, 2000

$275M for pre-paid college tuition tax credits

As President, Governor Bush will grant complete tax exemption to all qualified pre-paid and tuition savings plans and extend coverage to independent prepaid tuition plans. Currently, they are not recognized as qualified plans by the IRS and, therefore, do not have the tax and other benefits that state pre-paid tuition plans have. This proposal requires the IRS to enable parents to invest tax free in them. The cost of this proposal would be $275 million over five years.
Source: Press Release, “$7B for College Access” Aug 30, 2000

$1800 more for Pell Grants; make college affordable

Bush called for an education package designed to help low- and middle-income families send their children to college. “College is every parent’s dream for their children, and we should make this opportunity available to all students. It’s the path to achievement.” The plan calls for an increase in the maximum federal Pell Grant available for first-year college students from $3,300 to $5,100.
Source: Story on Aug 30, 2000

$1.3B to help students in college-prep math & science

Bush proposed a $1 billion fund to pair states with universities in an effort to strengthen math & science education, and a $1,000 increase in individual Pell Grants to encourage high school students to take advanced college preparation courses in both subjects. “There’s no reason for us to be next to last in the world in math. There’s no reason for us to be last in physics,” Bush said. He’d offer $345 million in added incentives for math & science majors to teach in schools with low-income students.
Source: Patricia Wilson (Reuters) LA Times Jun 20, 2000

George W. Bush on Education Spending

Feds give 6% of money; but 60% for “paperwork-filler-outer”

GORE: [Bush’s voucher plan] drains more money out of the public schools for private school vouchers than all of the money that he proposes in his entire budget for public schools themselves.

BUSH: I have been the governor of a big state; I’ve made education my number one priority. That’s what governors ought to do. They ought to say this is the most important thing we do as a state. The federal government puts about 6% of the money up. They put about 60% of the strings, where you got to fill out paperwork. [A teacher] has to be a paperwork-filler-outer, most of it’s because of the federal government. What I want to do is to send flexibility and authority to the local folks so you can choose what to do with the money. One size does not fit all. I’d worry about federalizing education, if I were you.

The federal government can be a part, but don’t fall prey to all this talk about money here and money there because education is really funded at the local level; 94% comes from the local level.

Source: St. Louis debate Oct 17, 2000

$310M for “impact aid” schools near military bases

Bush proposed adding $310 million to the “impact aid” program [which gives federal money to schools near military bases], increasing the budget by more than a third. “Our men and women in service put their lives on the line to defend our freedom,” Bush said. “We have a special obligation to rebuild the schools that educate their children. As president, I will ensure that this obligation is met. This funding means that thousands of students who are dependents of military personnel and attend public schools located near or on military facilities around the country will learn in better school environments.“

The justification for the program has always been that school districts need compensation because the children of federal workers and people who work on military bases attend public schools that are supported by property taxes, but the federal government does not pay local taxes. But for decades, budget experts have put the impact aid program in the category of pork barrel politics.

Source: David Rosenbaum, NY Times, p. A19 Aug 21, 2000

$900M to improve Indian schools

Bush unveiled a new education initiative today, a call to spend more than $800 million to repair crumbling schools on the country’s Indian reservations. He would spend the money on the 185 schools on tribal lands throughout the country. His proposal calls for an additional $126 million to replace the system’s six worst schools. It is largely through education proposals that Bush has styled himself as a so-called compassionate conservative, and staked his claim to the center of his party.
Source: Michael Cooper, NY Times Aug 20, 2000

$400M more for after-school programs, via block grants

Bush called for a $400 million increase in federal aid to after-school programs. He proposed [that the funds] be made available through current block grant programs. The money would be made available to low-income parents to defray the cost of after-school programs. The federal government “shouldn’t fear faith and love. We should welcome faith and love” in helping the country’s youth, he said.
Source: AP article in NY Times Jul 14, 2000

$5B reading program; mixing phonics & literature

The centerpiece of Bush’s education plan has become a $5 billion reading program--the most costly if his school proposals, though campaign aides say more are coming. It takes as its model a state program, now in its second year, that Bush created as Texas governor.
As a federal program, it would provide school aid in the same way that Democrats traditionally have despite Republican objections. It is narrowly targeted, not just to disadvantaged students, but to children in kindergarten through second grade who have trouble learning to read.
And it includes federal mandates: States that accept the grants must give diagnostic reading tests in those grades, must provide tutoring to students having difficulty, must use a “balanced” curriculum that combines phonics and literature, and must train teachers how to teach reading.
Source: Kenneth Cooper, Washington Post, p. A6 Apr 2, 2000

$2B for teachers; mandates are optional

Bush favors converting most federal school aid into block grants, including $2 billion that would support various teacher training and recruitment activities. “It’s impossible for the federal government to dictate reform,” he said. “Reform happens from the bottom up.”
Asked to reconcile that with his reading program, Bush said that states “don’t have to take the money, and the mandates are part of an overall strategy. There’s a structure to it, but a structure based on reasonable practices.”
Source: Kenneth Cooper, Washington Post, p. A6 Apr 2, 2000

$400 deductible when teachers spend own money on classrooms

Bush’s other major proposal is a tax deduction for teachers who buy school supplies with their own money. Both national teacher unions supported the proposed $400 deduction, about the average that teachers spend from their own pockets to outfit their classrooms.
Congress is already moving to grant such a tax break. In February the Senate approved a $100 tax credit, 98 to 0, and Republican lawmakers announced they had introduced similar legislation on the same day Bush made his proposal.
Source: Kenneth Cooper, Washington Post, p. A6 Apr 2, 2000

Expand Education Savings Accounts to $5000 per year

Source: Beth J. Harpaz, Asoociated Press Oct 5, 1999

Other candidates on Education: George W. Bush on other issues:
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Dick Cheney
Al Gore
Bill Clinton
Jesse Ventura
Ross Perot
Ralph Nader
Pat Buchanan
John McCain
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