- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 9, 2002

MILWAUKEE (AP) Looking out at 100 children in red T-shirts, President Bush asked a question yesterday that echoed across the Clarke Street Elementary School gymnasium: Who's going to college?
Nearly all raised their hands.
"That's good news. See, that means you've set a goal," Mr. Bush said.
Only about a third answered when Mr. Bush asked how many read more than they watched TV. The president raised his eyebrows briefly and comceded that is a reality he hopes to change now, years before any of these children sit for a college entrance exam.
"If you raised your hand and said you wanted to go to college, practice your reading. Make sure you make the right choices," he exhorted. Borrowing former first lady Nancy Reagan's famous plea, he continued: "Tell them 'no' when somebody tries to say drugs are cool or alcohol is good. You'll be in college, and that's what we want."
Mr. Bush took his "leave no child behind" education tour to Wisconsin, trying to raise grass-roots awareness of the school changes he signed into law this year. He rained praise on the teachers and students at Clarke, Rufus King High School in Milwaukee and Logan High School in La Crosse, all of which have been cited for academic excellence.
Officials at Logan were so focused on achievement that they ordered students and teachers back to their fifth period classes after the president had left.
"The truth of the matter is we're not educating every child right now. We're letting a lot of them just go on through the tough-to-educate," Mr. Bush said. "If you don't speak English, or the mothers and daddies don't speak English as a first language, let's just move them through. That's going to quit, as far as I'm concerned. That's not the America I know."
Mr. Bush talked about an aspect of the new law under which students would be allowed to transfer if their school fails to meet state education standards over two consecutive years. According to the White House, that would affect nearly 70,000 students in 116 Wisconsin schools.
"It's amazing how many parents say 'everything's going just fine in my child's school' until they see the results," Mr. Bush said. "Let them see whether or not their children are learning, relative to the school across town."
Education Secretary Rod Paige, traveling with Mr. Bush, said he plans to convene a conference in Washington in July to address issues associated with implementing school choice, such as providing transportation for students who transfer.
While Mr. Bush asserted on the road that plenty of Democrats support the new reforms, Democrats complained back in Washington that he has failed to allot enough money to implement the changes.
"I am happy to see the president talking about education and reading to schoolchildren, but the fact is that his rhetoric is not matched by resources," said Wisconsin Rep. David R. Obey, ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee.
Mr. Obey released a report yesterday that said Mr. Bush's proposed budget will fall short by $4.7 billion in Title I, the federal program aimed at helping low-income students improve academically, and by $400 million in teacher training and class-reduction initiatives.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, chairman of the Senate education committee, said Mr. Bush has run counter to the intentions of the No Child Left Behind Act by failing to put in extra money for teacher training. He has proposed a $750 million increase for teachers last year, and an additional $2.5 billion over five years.
"The administration's budget denies that down payment for teachers and places schools in bankruptcy," Mr. Kennedy said.


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