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Special Event

Gov. George W. Bush Delivers Remarks on Education in San Diego, California

Aired September 15, 2000 - 12:04 p.m. ET

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

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN ANCHOR: George W. Bush, the Republican nominee, is speaking today in San Diego, California at a school there about his education proposals. Let's check in on that campaign stop.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Elaine, thank you very much. I'm so honored to be here. Obviously we came here to herald success.

First, I want to thank the mayor and I want to thank the superintendents. Alan (ph), I appreciate you a lot. I appreciate you shifting careers. It's -- there's nothing like a little fresh blood into a system. And I realize that some maybe have felt that you have pushed the envelope too far, but pushing the envelope too far on behalf of children is never too far.

I appreciate the school board members here. The toughest job in America is to be a school board member. If in fact the government closest to the people is that which is most effective and that which generally receives most of the complaints, that's a school board member. But thank you all for having me.

I want to thank the teachers who are here. Loving teachers are what's going to make America hopeful and open to promise.

I want to thank my friend the mayor. She was telling me last night that the mayor has collaborated with the school districts on a "six-to-six" (ph) program, recognizing that our school buildings can be used for more than just education institutions, that education is not only reading, writing, adding, subtracting, but education is to welcome community-based programs and after-school programs to help children understand right from wrong and somebody loves them and somebody cares.

And so, Mayor, I appreciate that initiative so very much.

I -- first of all, let me just say to you, I don't think education is political. I think good education is important public policy that transcends political party. I know I'm seeking office, but I'm here to really share with you a vision that dovetails with this school, a vision that starts with understanding every child can learn. Now, that sounds like a simple statement, but unfortunately oftentimes in public education, I know I found it in our schools in Texas, some believe if you're got the at-risk label by your name that you can't learn.

And the easiest thing to do is just to shuffle children through the system. The easiest thing to do is ask the question, How old are you? Oh, if you're 10 we're just going to put you here and if you're 12 you go here and if you're 14 we're just going to put you there; as opposed to asking the fundamental question, What do you know? And if you don't know what you're supposed to know, we're going to make sure you do early before it's too late.

One of the reasons this school is successful, and one of the reasons many schools in my own state have become successful, is because we started asking the fundamental question to our children: What do you know? What do you know? Which means that there has to be a sense of accountability in the public school system.

I know you subscribe to that, Alan. I do, too.

One of the cornerstones of reform in my state of Texas -- by the way, reform that has been embraced by both Republicans and Democrats -- is to measure, is to say we want to know. But the accountability systems are not meant for punishment, they're meant as diagnostic tools, they're meant as ways of determining how our children are doing.

The third component for success is not only high standards -- and by the way, one of my favorite phrases in the campaign is, Our nation must challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations. I happen to believe...

(APPLAUSE)

Thank you.

If we lower the bars and expect, you know, low -- bad results, mediocrity will be pervasive, and that's not acceptable. I know it's not acceptable to anybody in this room.

Secondly is to measure. Now, I don't believe we ought to have a national test, because what I'm about to tell you is a national test will undermine the third principle for success, which is local control of schools.

I believe the superintendents...

MESERVE: George W. Bush speaking out in San Diego, California about the needs for standards and accountability in public education. California, of course, the biggest electoral prize in this election. Polls right now show Bush lagging behind Al Gore in that state.

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