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President Bush and Laura Bush Visit Ohio Elementary SchoolAired February 20, 2001 - 10:45 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: And we go live now to this -- Columbus, Ohio: President Bush and Mrs. Bush today appearing at Sullivant Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio; 350 students, this school evenly split between black and white children -- the Bushes on the road today as President Bush pushes his proposals for education reforms -- also, his -- his budget priorities as well.
Let's go ahead and listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
... we assess our students, not to see what is taught, but to see what was learned...
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There you go.
DR. ROSA SMITH, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, COLUMBUS, OHIO: ... in order to know how to inform our teaching.
And this evening, our board will be considering a plan which addresses the lack of improvement for our 22 lowest performing schools, which has a lot of support, so we can erase all the excuses -- school excuses -- for no success. And then for those schools that do not improve over two years with this support, then there are alternative consequences. So we are aligned with the things you have in your plan.
BUSH: Well, thank you, Rosa.
As I mentioned, I had the honor of meeting Rosa last summer. And to show you how powerful she is, she said, "You need to appoint Dr. Rod Paige to become your secretary of education."
Well, six months later I did.
SMITH: Well, thank you very much. Superintendents and educators all over the country thank you.
BUSH: There you go. MARIA STOCKARD, PRINCIPAL: I think it's really important to hear a teacher's perspective. Maicie Glover is a third and fourth grade reading teacher in our building. I'm sorry to say that this is her last year. She will be retiring and will be sadly, sadly missed. She has impacted the lives of many, many children along the way. And I don't know what we'll do without her.
But I think she has an interesting perspective on assessment and what exactly that means. It means different things to different people. So I think it's important to hear a teacher's perspective of that.
MAICIE GLOVER, TEACHER: Thanks, Maria.
We believe that assessments are a very, very effective means by which we gather data so that we can further plan for the instruction of our children in order that they can be successful, so that we can determine their weaknesses and their strengths, so that we can not only make plans for the children, but it's also a very resourceful tool for teachers so that they can plan and generate whatever is necessary to meet these needs.
We want our students to achieve, so assessments are very, very valuable tools to gather data for that purpose.
BUSH: I think that's important for people to hear. The assessment system is never meant to punish. It is meant to provide a useful tool to both teacher and specialists and principals and superintendents to determine what works.
There is a lot of discussion about parental involvement in schools. There is nothing that will make a parent more involved than to know whether or not his or her child is learning.
One of the things that in my state we did when I was the governor was encourage there to be open transparency when it came to performance so everybody knew, everybody was aware of whether or not their school -- a lot of parents think their school is doing just fine until the results are posted, and we've got a parent here that I can't wait for you all to hear from. I got an earful behind the scenes.
A positive earful. Tell us your story, Brenda.
BRENDA SEFFRIN, PARENT: Well, you know, first of all, I think parents need to be held accountable also. I mean, it starts at home and that's what we have to realize. Yes, the schools can be held accountable, the teachers can be held accountable, the students can be held accountable, but we have to get involved, we have to be accountable at home for our children. We need to get parents more involved.
My son, in the first grade, we found out he was learning-disabled and the first thing they wanted to do was put him in special ed and I was, like, "There's no way. He can be taught just like any other normal kid."
GLOVER: He didn't go here.
SEFFRIN: No. No, not at Sullivant, he did not. But we found Mrs. Stockard, we found this school. She got him a tutor. They're saying by sixth grade he will not need a tutor any longer, he will not be learning disabled. He's making his own grades. He's one grade away from the honor roll here, doing his own work. And it's amazing. This school is amazing. And I owe it all to this school.
BUSH: You were going to tell me something?
QUESTION: Why are you putting me on the spot?
BUSH: Well, join the club.
QUESTION: I just was wondering if you could recommend any programs for our school to help encourage children -- and this if for you, too -- to write books, as well as read books. If there was anything that we could do.
BUSH: My recommendation is you tell Maria that.
The truth of the matter is, the best way to achieve objectives is to empower people at the local level to make those decisions. That's why a good principal, like Maria, will encourage parental involvement, so she gets feedback from what parents would like to see their children doing.
Part of the problem is Washington -- people look at Washington and say, well, we've got all the answers up there. And the truth of the matter is, we don't -- particularly when it comes to education. We may be able to provide some funding, so long as that funding is not so prescriptive that it hamstrings the ability for people to make decisions necessary, because I can assure the schools in Columbus, Ohio, are really different from Laredo, Texas. The children are to be loved, but we've got different challenges in got different challenges in different parts of the country.
KAGAN: We have been listening in to President Bush as he pays a visit to Sullivant Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio. He is the road today. The president and Mrs. Bush, they are pushing their education and budget priorities. From here it is off to St. Louis. We'll follow the president as he has his travels throughout the day.
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