Bush proposes education package

After labeling the Clinton years an “educational recession,” President Bush has proposed a new education plan with the motto “No Child Left Behind.”The main goals of this plan are to improve literacy, promote parental choice, close the achievement gap, reduce bureaucracy, administer rewards and sanctions, improve teacher quality, and make schools safer.Bush has issued a $5 billion initiative towards intensive reading programs in school as well as in summer and after-school programs to ensure that students are reading at their age level by third grade. First Lady Laura Bush will be assisting him with his literacy program as well as early childhood education, which will be promoting programs like Head Start.

The purpose behind rewards and sanctions is to promote high standards for all students. This means that public schools can expect an increase in standardized testing.

An advocate of local control, Bush encourages each school district to design their own tests, though the must be in the areas of reading and math.

Rudy Gordh, current professor of math for the elementary teacher, is hesitant to support this practice, though he does feel it can be beneficial to have clear standards.”I hope a middle ground can be reached so that teachers and students can be creative and have fun while still learning the necessary basics.” He believes that students who once enjoyed subjects such as math often lose their enthusiasm after “being beaten down by tests.”If these tests show a school to be “failing” after three years and the school does not improve through government assistance, parents have the option of using a Title 1 funds for their child to receive tutoring, attend after-school programs or transfer to a private school.

Use of these funds is commonly referred to as a voucher, by far the most controversial issue in Bush’s education plan. Supporters of vouchers argue that this system is a way to help low-income students receive a better education and will hold public schools accountable for adhering to high standards. Families who use the system have agreed that private schools are helping their children in ways the failing public schools did not.

However , Title 1 funds are supported by taxpayers and many feel that it is unconstitutional for tax dollars to support private institutions and is even a violation of church and state since many private schools are of religious nature. At the same time, public schools lose money because these funds are the source for their improvement as well.”I don’t understand how you help something by extracting from it,” said sophomore Education major Trisha Matthew. “There are still going to be a whole bunch of kids left in the public schools; who is going to take care of them?”

Other areas of Bush’s plan are less controversial on the surface, but have many liberals questioning how he will implement them. One way in which he pledges to make schools safer is through character education. Character education is essentially teaching good citizenship in the schools as a way of promoting moral development.

“I think [character education] is important,” said junior education major Maya Burlingame, “but I’m afraid he will use his own religious views as the main basis for developing morals.”

Burlingame voiced similar reservations about his goal to improve teacher quality. The country is basically waiting to see how he will unpack the intentions he has carried with him into office.

In the meantime, more information can be found at http://abcnews.go.com/sections/politics/DailyNews/bush_education010123.html.