George W. Bush 2000 On The Issues
Governor Bush will reform the nation’s public schools, as he has in Texas, which is one of two states that have made the greatest recent progress in education. He will close the achievement gap, set high standards, promote character education, and ensure school safety. States will be offered freedom from federal regulation, but will be held accountable for results. Performance will be measured annually, and parents will be empowered with information and choices.
Governor Bush’s Principles of Reform
Achieve Equality: The Clinton-Gore Administration has failed to narrow the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their peers. Governor Bush is committed to closing this gap nationally, as he is doing in Texas.
Promote Excellence: Governor Bush believes that schools must have clear, measurable goals focused on basic skills and essential knowledge. There must be regular testing to ensure that the goals are being met. Tests should be developed by the states themselves.
Stop Funding Failure: Failing schools will be given a finite period to change; if they fail to do so, children of low-income parents will have the option of transferring to another public school or using their share of federal funds to pay for another option (tutoring, charter school, etc.).
Restore Local Control: Accountability must be accompanied by local control. If schools are to be held to high standards, they must have the freedom to meet those standards.
Give Parents Information and Options: Governor Bush believes that only the power of informed parental choice can change the status quo.
Ensure that Every Child Can Read: Nearly 70 percent of 4th graders in our poorest schools cannot read. Governor Bush believes reading is the gateway to learning and will ensure that every disadvantaged child can read by 3rd grade.
Improve School Safety: Juvenile gun laws will be enforced; children trapped in unsafe schools will have the option of transferring to a safe school.
Governor Bush's Reform Proposals
Governor Bush’s education reform plan has 6 basic objectives:
1. Close the Achievement Gap between Disadvantaged Students and their Peers:
- Empower low-income parents of students stuck in persistently failing schools with the option of transferring to another public school, or using their share of federal funding to pay for another option of their choice (including tutoring, a charter school, or a non-public school).
- Fully fund the Pell grant program for first-year students by increasing the maximum grant amount by more than 50 percent, to $5,100.
- Offer enhanced Pell grants (an additional $1,000) to low-income students who take rigorous math and science courses in high school.
- Establish a $1 billion Math and Science Partnership for states, colleges and universities to strengthen K-12 math and science education.
- Establish a $3 billion Education Technology Fund to ensure technology boosts achievement.
- Increase federal funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities Hispanic Serving Institutions.
2. Strengthen Early Learning:
- Establish the “Reading First” program by investing $5 billion over five years to ensure that every disadvantaged child can read by third grade.
- Reform Head Start by making school readiness –pre-reading and numeracy – its top priority.
3. Raise Standards through Local Control, Accountability and Choice:
- Restore local control by combining more than 60 federal programs into five, flexible categories; Have states establish accountability systems, testing every student in reading and math.
- Demand results by establishing a $500 million fund to reward states and schools that improve student performance, and by withdrawing a portion of federal funding from states that permit student performance to decline.
- Help districts meet school construction demands by allowing state private activity bonds to be used for school construction and repair.
4. Give Parents More Options from Kindergarten to College:
- Publish school-by-school report cards on the Internet to arm parents with information.
- Double the number of charter schools through a “Charter School Homestead Fund” to provide $3 billion of loan guarantees for start-up and construction costs.
- Expand “Education Savings Accounts” by increasing the annual contributions limit from $500 to $5,000, and allowing funds to be withdrawn tax free to pay for expenses from kindergarten through college.
- Establish a $1.5 billion “College Challenge” grant to cover one-third of state costs to establish a merit scholarship program for students who take an advanced or recommended curriculum.
- Makes it easier for parent to save early for college by granting complete tax exemption to all qualified pre-paid and tuition savings plans.
5. Improve Teacher Quality and Increase Resources:
- Consolidate and increase funds for teacher training and recruiting –a $2.4 billion fund for states to enact teacher accountability systems.
- Expand loan forgiveness from $5,000 to $17,500 for math and science majors who teach in high-need schools for five years.
- Increase funding for the Troops-to-Teachers program to $30 million to recruit former military personnel to America’s classrooms; and establish a tax deduction for teachers to deduct up to $400 dollars in out-of-pocket classroom expenses.
6. Restore School Safety and Promote Character Development:
- Require states to measure and improve school safety; provide students in persistently dangerous schools with a transfer to a safe school.
- Establish “Project Sentry” to prosecute juveniles who carry or use guns and the adults who provide them.
- Improve discipline by requiring schools to enact a zero-tolerance policy on classroom disruption; enact a Teacher Protection Act to shield teachers from meritless lawsuits.
- Triple federal character education funding, and expand the role of faith-based and community organizations in after-school programs.
The Texas Record
Results of Governor Bush’s Education Reforms:
- Greatest Progress in the Nation: Texas is one of two states that has made the greatest recent progress in education, according to the Congressionally-mandated National Education Goals Panel.
- Minority Students Rank Highest in Math: African-American 4th graders in Texas ranked 1st in the nation in math. Since 1992, African-American 4th graders in Texas have made the greatest gains in math, and Hispanic 4th graders have made the second greatest gains.
- Students Score First and Second in Writing: African-American and Hispanic eighth-graders in Texas ranked 1st and 2nd in the nation in writing. Texas eighth-graders as a whole ranked 4th in the nation.
- Students Improve Every Year on State Skills Test: Under Governor Bush, the number of students passing all parts of the state skills test (TAAS) has increased by 51 percent. The number of both minority students and economically disadvantaged students passing all parts of the TAAS increased by 89 percent.
- First in Teacher Quality: Texas ranked first in the nation in teacher quality, according to an independent evaluation by the Fordham Foundation.
Governor Bush worked with the Texas Legislature to enact bipartisan reforms to raise standards and demand results:
- Set Clear Goals by cutting the number of state education goals from 48 to four: excellence in English, math, science, and history.
- Toughened Accountability and Ended Social Promotion. Every child is tested every year; schools are held strictly accountable for results; teachers intervene early to correct learning problems, when they’re easiest to fix.
- Increased Funding for public schools by $8.3 billion. State funding per pupil has increased 37 percent.
- Increased Teacher Pay by 33 percent, resulting in an average salary increase of $8,232.
- Launched Early Reading Initiative by appropriating $82 million to establish “reading academies” within Texas schools; established a reading diagnostic to help teachers detect reading problems early; supported intensive teacher training; committed more than $200 million for intensive reading intervention programs – after-school, summer school, or in-school reading instruction.
- Promoted Early Childhood Education by making the largest investment in early childhood education in Texas history; appropriated $200 million for early education programs for low-income preschoolers, and $17 million to improve reading-readiness and Head Start programs – the first Texas investment ever in Head Start.
- Restored Local Control: reformed the Texas Education Code for the first time in 50 years and slashed the number of state education rules in half.
- Gave Parents Choices by providing grants for students in poor-performing schools to transfer to another district; authorized creation of charter schools (now numbering 168), and schools for “at-risk” youth.
- Supported School Construction by allocating almost $1.7 billion to help local school districts build more than $5 billion worth of new classrooms.
Source: George W. Bush for President 2000 Web Site