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Special Event

Bush Helps 3rd Graders Celebrate Black History Month

Aired February 9, 2001 - 10:21 a.m. ET

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

DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: We want to show you the scenes we were talking about earlier today. President Bush visiting the elementary school, Nalle Elementary School.

This is part of Black History Month, and Mr. Bush is being introduced to the children.

Let's go ahead and listen in.

TEACHER: (JOINED IN PROGRESS) here in our classroom. And each book, we write the title and the author. And we would be honored if you would join us in our reading chain by adding that book to our reading chain.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will do that. Thanks for letting me do that.

(CROSSTALK)

BUSH: It's good to see everybody.

Right here?

TEACHER: Yes, sir.

Thank you, and we'll add that to the...

BUSH: I'm going to leave here for you, too. It's a gift.

TEACHER: OK, thank you.

BUSH: Thank you.

TEACHER: All right, thank you so much.

BUSH: Thanks, I appreciate it.

TEACHER: And we'll add this, boys and girls, to the end of our chain. And the president has signed it, "More Than Anything Else."

BUSH: How about that? It's pretty nice isn't it?

STUDENTS: Yes. BUSH: Thanks for having me come. One of the reasons I came is that I think it's important for the Capitol to say focused on public education and public education reforms. And one of the key ingredients in our package we sent up to Congress is a reading initiative.

I'm so impressed about what Ms. Dobbins is doing at this school and what the superintendent is insisting upon, an accountability-based reading system.

And she told me that they've got a collaborative effort here with the National Institutes of Health, which is to develop curriculum based upon the science of reading. And it's impressive that the school and the District are willing to set high standards and ask the fundamental question, what works in education, are willing to implement curriculum that works, and then are willing to be held accountable for implementing the curriculum.

And thank you for letting me come, and I appreciate you coming. I'll be glad to answer a few questions.

QUESTION: Would you be interested in establishing a panel along the vein of what President Johnson did to look into racial profiling or perhaps considering an executive order banning racial profiling?

BUSH: I'll look at all opportunities, starting with the gathering of information where the federal government can help jurisdictions gather information, compile information to get the facts on the table, to make sure that people are treated fairly in the justice system.

QUESTION: Mr. President, do you have any -- of agreeing to the Pentagon's request that you increase your defense spending, your defense budget or give a supplement for 2000?

BUSH: I have sent the message that I think it's very important for us to not have an early supplemental. Secondly, there is -- Secretary Rumsfeld's beginning a review of the defense -- a top-to- bottom review of what's happening in today's military, reviewing missions, reviewing opportunities for change, beginning to look at the transformation policy. And I will look forward to finding out what his report says. I will be traveling the country next week, talking about some increases in the defense spending, along the lines of what I promised during the course of the campaign, starting with better pay for the men and women who wear the uniform.

QUESTION: But they're saying it's going to affect military readiness. Are you not concerned about it?

BUSH: What's going to affect military...

QUESTION: They're saying they need more money on this. They're not going to be able to be prepared for...

BUSH: Well, that's part of the review process. There's a lot of voices on a lot of subjects regarding the budget. We have yet to submit our budget. I will later on. But I have said during the campaign, I have said since I've been sworn-in, it's important for us to do a top to bottom review to review all missions, spending priorities. And that's exactly what the secretary of defense is going to do. And before people jump to conclusions, I think it's important to get that review finished.

QUESTION: What about the Justice Department, are you asking for specific cuts in that...

BUSH: We're out looking at all. We've asked our secretaries on all Cabinets to take a review of their full budgets, and we'll submit a budget here later on.

QUESTION: Mr. President, on the subject of that AIDS office, there is still some misunderstanding about whether there's going to be an AIDS czar like there is currently.

BUSH: Well, there's going to be a focus on AIDS. And people can apply any title they want, but there's going to be a person in my office who has got the responsibility of coordinating AIDS policy throughout the federal government.

STAFF: Thank you all.

QUESTION: What did you say to Mr. Arafat?

BUSH: Oh, I had a good talk with Mr. Arafat. I've also had talks with other leaders throughout the region, and I urged calm. I said it was very important to give the newly elected leader of Israel a chance. A chance to form a government, and a chance to do what he said he wanted to do, which is promote the peace in the region.

And I certainly hope that people recognize that change does not necessarily mean that the peace process won't go forward.

And I think we ought to take Mr. Sharon for his word. And that is, he wants to promote the peace in the Middle East. And I look forward to watching him putting a government together and then fulfilling what he said he would do.

QUESTION: Are you concerned about the violence yesterday, the bombing?

BUSH: I'm concerned about all kinds of violence. But I firmly believe that the best policy is to encourage leaders to just remain resolute in their willingness to promote the peace and give the Sharon government a chance to form a government, and then to be able to do what he said he wanted to do, which is to promote peace in the Middle East.

QUESTION: Thank you.

BUSH: Have a good weekend, everybody.

KAGAN: A few questions there for President Bush at the end of his visit at Nalle Elementary School. He arrived there to speak to third graders -- to read to third graders at this elementary school.

This is all part of Black History Month. And it's also Mr. Bush's way of encouraging a reading program that he's been pressed with.

At this particular elementary school, each week at the school, the children will read a book either that is by a black author or a book that is about a black person. And once the book is completed, it performs a link in their reading chain.

And we also had a chance to see the president form his little link in the reading chain, as well.

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