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George W. Bush Holds Education News Conference in Austin, TexasAired August 28, 2000 - 2:32 p.m. ET
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GEORGE W. BUSH (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: ... once in the fourth grade and once in the eighth grade. This is the equivalent of a business releasing its earnings report only once every three or four years. It also means Vice President Gore could be president for four years without parents ever knowing how their students were doing on his watch.
Without comprehensive, regular testing, without knowing if children are really learning, accountability is a myth and standards are just slogans. Without real accountability, children will be shuffled through schools. They won't learn how to read and they'll be left behind. And recent studies show us children are being left behind under the Clinton-Gore administration. Without school-by- school report cards containing test data, without giving parents information on student performance, accountability rings hollow.
Secondly, my plan focuses on reading, the most important building block of good education. My goal is to ensure that every single child in America can read by the third grade and continues to read on grade level throughout their entire career.
We will fund reading diagnostic tools for children K-2, and special help for those who need them. We'll fund training for elementary school teachers for reading preparation, and we'll test children do see if they can read 3-8. The states will design the tests, the local jurisdictions will administer the tests.
Seven years in office, my opponent presides over a national tragedy: 70 percent of fourth graders in our highest poverty schools still cannot read, and he's offered little to do anything about it.
Third, my plan gives states and local schools unprecedented flexibility in exchange for measuring results and making them known to parents. My opponent's plan is locked in the old ways: regulation without results, smothering the creativity that will improve American education.
Fourth, my plan reforms Head Start, giving even the youngest children prereading skills. My opponent doesn't support any further reforms in Head Start. He misses an important opportunity to bring our highest hopes to the youngest children. Science proves that children can be learning so much more than they are today, and it proves how critical these early years are.
Fifth, my education plan emphasizes not just the basics of reading and writing, but the basics of character and discipline. We triple the funding for character education and protect teachers when they enforce discipline in the classroom. My opponents offers only vague promises, no specifics and no meaningful requirements for classroom discipline.
Sixth, in my education plan, parents are given real options when schools don't work and won't change. And this gives parents the standing and the clout to make the public school better. A parent with choices is a parent with freedom, a parent with influence to make their children's school better. I also support expanding education savings accounts so parents are encouraged to save for their children's education.
My opponent leaves low-income parents without these choices and is adamantly opposed to the expansion of education savings accounts, something his own running mate supports.
And finally, I have a record of results here in Texas with these ideas in working with both Republicans and Democrats. We've got a good record, achieved the greatest gains in the nation in overall students achievement and in social promotion. African-American fourth graders and eighth graders rank number-one in the nation in math and writing. Hispanic eighth graders rank number-two in the nation in writing. We've increased funding for public schools by 37 percent per student and increased teacher pay by 33 percent per teacher. We've restored authority to teachers to enforce order in the classrooms.
We're first in the nation for teacher quality. We've authorized the creation of charter schools, which now number 168. We've launched the early reading initiative with reading academies, intensive teacher training, reading diagnostic and reading intervention programs. We made the first Texas investment in Head Start. We made the largest investment in early childhood education in Texas history.
Many have noted Texas's achievement: the Rand Institute, the National Education Goals Panel, the Fordham Foundation and the General Accounting Office.
And my opponent has a record, too. Nationwide, we are spending more on our public school, but the achievement gap between rich and poor, minority and non-minority, has remained the same or grown worse. The most recent NAPE study just released last week is an indictment of the status quo and of the last seven years of neglect for our public schools.
The Education Trust, a nonpartisan organization said -- and I want to quote to you all -- "you might call the '90s the dead-in-the- water decade as far as closing the gap is concerned."
The federal government has turned a blind eye to the gap and to students who most need it by failing to require gap-closing as a condition of the receipt of federal funds.
Vice President Gore offers more of the same, he will not end the status quo because he is the status quo. He offers...
LOU WATER, CNN ANCHOR: George W. Bush in Austin, Texas at the governor's mansion, calling for high standards and accountability on a many-point plan for education that he has. Among the major points, the testing of students, reward for success, consequences of failure, reading priorities for kindergarten through second grade so every student in America can be reading by third grade, state and local control -- an emphasis on that -- reform Head Start, establish the basics of character and discipline, and reinforce the parents' clout and an education savings account -- establishing an education savings account. He cited much progress on the Texas education system as his credentials for being able to reform the nation's education standards.
George W. Bush in Texas, who also will give his first online interview with CNN.com. You can follow it live this Wednesday beginning at 9:10 in the morning. That's George W. Bush on CNN.com.
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