- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 9, 2001

Lawmakers should stop stalling final action on the administration's education plan in their bid to increase school spending, President Bush said yesterday. Such efforts, he said, are a fruitless "tactic of the past."
The president's budget, however, does not provide the money needed to improve education and meet the expectations raised by his education package, said the National Education Association, the nation's largest teachers union.
Mr. Bush opened his weekly radio address by praising the efforts of first lady Laura Bush, a former school librarian, to promote reading at the first National Book Festival, held yesterday at the Library of Congress.
"She and I and my entire administration believe that teaching every child to read is critical to making sure every child has the opportunity to realize the American dream," the president said.
The book festival and the radio address marked the opening of an administration effort over the next few days to highlight the importance of reading skills, advance the president's plan to toughen classroom standards and push his education bill to final passage.
Mr. Bush planned to renew his education message in appearances tomorrow and Tuesday in public schools in Jacksonville and Sarasota, Fla., joined by Education Secretary Rod Paige. On Thursday, Mr. Bush will address the White House Assembly on Reading at the Library of Congress.
Other Cabinet members are traveling around the country in support. On Tuesday, Mrs. Bush will testify before the Senate Education Committee about the development of early childhood learning skills.
In the radio address, Mr. Bush deplored test results released earlier this year showing inadequate reading skills among black fourth-graders and essentially unimproved reading skills among all students over the past decade. Mr. Bush's budget for the federal fiscal year beginning Oct. 1 includes $5 billion over five years in an effort to ensure all children are reading by the third grade.

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