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President Bush Addresses Griegos Elementary School

Aired August 15, 2001 - 14:24   ET

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


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: We brought you President Bush's comments a few moments ago to Griegos Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is now taking questions from some children, so we wanted to listen to the questions and the answers.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... issue to burn somebody who's trying to talk about Medicare. But I guess I must think I've got an asbestos suit on, because I'm going to talk about the issue until we get it fixed. It's an important issue to get it reformed.

And I believe we can make some progress. I've met with both Republicans and Democrats on this issue and there seems to be a desire and a will to make sure Medicare is responsive. And so I think that's the most important thing we can do pretty quickly for the olderly.

(APPLAUSE)

Yes?

QUESTION: Were you a good student in fifth grade?

BUSH: In fifth grade?

(LAUGHTER)

I'm glad you qualified that for fifth grade.

(LAUGHTER)

Yes, I was a good student in fifth grade. But I do want to remind you that I went back to my alma mater, which was Yale University, and I received an honorary degree, and I was giving -- I gave a few remarks there. And I said, "To the honor students, I say congratulations. And to you C students I say, you, too, can be president."

(LAUGHTER)

(APPLAUSE)

But I like to read, I liked to read when I was in the fifth grade. And I still like to read. I read a lot. BUSH: And it's important to read. It's really important to pay attention to your moms and dads and your teachers, who are all encouraging you to practice reading.

Yes?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

BUSH: She's asked about the teacher shortage. There are some programs -- targeted programs, to try to recruit people. One is the Troops for Teacher Program I mentioned, where we provide teacher training money for people getting out the military to get back in the classroom. That's a place where my wife is focusing, to encourage those who may have had another career to get back in the classroom.

The truth of the matter is, most incentives, however, are developed at the state level. One of the things that the people get a little mixed up on is they insist upon local control of schools, but expect the federal government to, you know, pay teachers, for example. But that's not the federal role.

The good folks of New Mexico have got to figure out whether or not you want to pay your teachers more. One of the most important pieces of legislation I signed as the governor of Texas, we paid each teacher a $3,000 increase in my third term as governor, with the attempts to make sure we retained our teachers and kept our teachers in place. I noticed they worked on some health insurance during the last legislative session. The states are responsible for making sure the teachers are well-paid.

Now, the federal government, by giving maximum flexibility to monies coming back to the state, will help states prioritize, will help states have extra money, for example, if we can have -- let me put it this way: By having flexibility, it lets states set the priorities necessary. And if a priority for New Mexico is the recruitment and retention of teachers, flexibility will help you do that.

And so, there's some things we can do; there's some grant programs. But mainly, it's up to the states to recruit.

Now, one of the things that Laura can do and I can do as well is encourage people who are trying to pick out a career to go to teacher college and to become a teacher. And so, we're going to spend time doing that as well. One of the things we've got to make sure of, however, is that our teacher colleges teach teachers how to teach by using curriculum that works. And that's a very important part of...

(APPLAUSE)

ALLEN: President Bush taking some questions from the crowd there, taking some student questions as well at Griegos Elementary School in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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