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Special Event

Bush Discusses Education Plans at Washington Summit

Aired January 11, 2001 - 8:37 a.m. ET

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

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: And right now, we'd like to take you back to the Blair House across the street from where Eileen was just standing, where President-elect George W. Bush is taking some questions now on his ideas and his forum here regarding how to reform public schools.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... there was no other criteria for evaluation by which to judge the children. When children are socially promoted without accountability and before the reading next level, the impact on that is the children at every grade level never get caught up because teachers have so many children at the low grade level that they have to, in effect, grade on curriculum. So the children at grade level, they suffer because you're teaching through an inferior curriculum and the children below grade level never get caught up.

We're strong advocates of posting the test for the school, but also aggregating the data by groups because a lot of times it's important to see how individual groups are doing so that you can take the appropriate steps to evaluate the data.

We also believe that the money also should follow the children.

In Chicago, while we are strongly supportive of our parochial and private institutions, we've actually supported, in Springfield, funding for parochial and private schools, we're also one of the biggest charter school districts. And we are always looking at ways of expanding options for our children.

We're also one of the biggest charter school districts. And we are always looking at ways of expanding options for our children.

So in Chicago today there is great mobility within the district. So if you're in a high school that's under-performing and that high school is put on intervention or put on probation, that high school student has an option to move to another school. You're not confined to that school. So that's created an environment of competition.

But you've got to have testing. You've got to have high standards. You've got to have testing. Make no bones about it, you've also got to have the support.

And I think one of the reasons, President-elect Bush, that you were as effective as you were in Texas was because you were not only a strong supporter of standards and accountability, but you also increased funding for those schools.

While we are raising standards and demanding accountability for everybody, we, at the same time, are saying that we're going to provide you with the resources and the support for you to hit those higher standards and to be accountable.

On the other hand, you cannot continue to reward non-performance. You've got to give children the option to move to other schools, to other venues, and you have got to let schools know that there's going to be a consequence for failure.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT-ELECT OF THE UNITED STATES: Right. Thank you. That's why you are where you are.

One of the things that we did interesting and that was very effective in Texas is that we encouraged the business community to become involved. I hope that really at the local level that you all continue to remain involved.

On the federal level, we only spend 7 percent of the money. It probably will require about 60 percent of the paperwork, by the way, and that's going to change.

Charles Miller from the great state of Texas really helped form coalitions necessary to not only encourage the state to develop strong accountability, but to hold the line. You see, some folks are going to say testing is too intrusive, other folks will say testing is racist and, by the way, what's racist is not testing. What's racist, really, in my judgment, is just to move kids through, because I understand who suffers when they can't read.

Why don't you share with us how you put together -- the kind of the strategy and what you did, Charles.

CHARLES MILLER: Thank you, Mr. President-elect. It was your focus on education that allowed it and gave us the credibility to do that. We have an old saying in Texas, folks from Texas Rangers, one ride, one ranger.

BUSH: Was I the ride or the ranger?

(LAUGHTER)

MILLER: The business community encourages people like me and others of us, and we had a good number of people step up and help and support us, and we have broad business community support.

And because the governor said this is my number one priority and stayed with it throughout his time there, and repeatedly did that -- he used the bully pulpit -- we were able to get things going that might not otherwise have been able to do.

And we were focused on it continuously, through the legislative session, at local elections, at the state level. And we were able to create a major reform to get quality to the local level. Accountability and choice was an example that we just discussed in Texas because we have that accountability system that measures results. Urban school districts allow maybe a quarter of their students to have a choice -- charter schools, or moving from one school to the other -- but the two are connected, because accountability allows people to make the move, but also to see what the results are when they make the move.

And that's the private sector helping with the public sector.

LIN: You are listening in on a public forum there that President-elect Bush is holding with business leaders, primarily, around the country on different ideas on how to reform public schools. And so far, the dialogue seems to be focusing on ideas about school choice, creating competition between public schools for the best students as well as creating more flexible plans in terms of when to hold students back and when to advance to the next grade depending on performance. They talk about that as being accountability, both by the student and the teacher for teaching them.

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