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Special Event

Bush Visits Harrison Primary School in Peoria, Illinois

Aired August 22, 2000 - 11:17 a.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Now, in race for the White House, election 2000, Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush, today, finds himself in Peoria, Illinois, as we speak in fact. Governor Bush in Peoria, participating there in a leadership forum on education. He is at Harrison Primary School.

Just a few moments ago, the Texas governor was talking, a quick sample from what we heard a short time ago in Peoria.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This nation of our must challenge what I like to call the soft bigotry of low expectations. We have got to recognize that when you lower standards and sights and lower expectations, children are going to be left behind, and that is unacceptable in America.

It is unacceptable for a lot of reasons. It is unacceptable because, as the economy changes, the danger is we can have a two- society America, and that is really unacceptable. It's unacceptable because our education system holds out such promise and hope, and yet low expectations diminishes that promise and hope.

One of the reason we picked this school, it is a school of children that, in some people's minds, are children who are supposed to fail, after all they don't come from the best neighborhoods, and housing conditions aren't perfect. Mom is working as hard as she possibly can to get ahead. I can't wait for you to hear Tiffany's story.

We believe something differently, the principal and I, and I hope everybody else in this community of Peoria understands, every child can learn, every child can learn.

It starts with raising people's sights, and raising expectations, and refusing to yield, refusing to accept a curriculum that won't work. One of the important points that will come out of this discussion is that there are some things that works when a teach -- comes to teaching to read and some that doesn't. And our society must focus on those curriculum that work, phonics works, phonetic awareness is incredibly important to making sure children learn to read. It is a fact.

And one of my hopes, should I be fortunate enough to become the president is to have a national reading program, $5 billion program, $1 billion a year to encourage reading, but starting with making sure that schools use the right kind of curriculum.

Secondly, teacher training is incredibly important. If a teacher does not have the skills and a curriculum that works, it is going to make it awfully difficult for the teacher to impart her love and knowledge at the same time. So teacher training should be a part of a good reading program component.

It is so important to have good diagnostic tools available, particularly for youngsters, K through 2 students, so that -- and a simple tool that any teacher can use to be able to determine whether or not a child is short on different components necessary to become a good reader. Because if you do not diagnose, you cannot cure.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HEMMER: Again, the Texas governor speaking to a group of educators at a primary school in Peoria, Illinois, as election 2000 rolls on, again, three months, two weeks away from November 7th, the Texas governor there a short time ago.

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