Study: Bush's 'No Child Left Behind' Scheme is a Miserable Failure

USNewswire: "Children's reading scores have stalled or declined in the nation's largest states since Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, according to new data released by governors and state school chiefs. Traveling the campaign trail, Bush frequently reiterates support for his controversial 'No Child' school accountability reforms: 'We're making progress. We're closing the achievement gap.' Yet many states have now released trend data, tracking children's progress in acquiring basic reading skills through last spring's exams. Since passage of Mr. Bush's signature education policy, student performance leveled-off or fell in 11 of the 15 states participating in the study, according to researchers at Stanford University and the University of California. 'We could not detect any consistent gains in children's reading scores since passage of Washington's No Child Left Behind reforms,' said Aimee Scribner, spokesperson for the university team."

Bush Has Abysmally Failed US School Children - Especially the Neediest

When Bush bragged he was the 'Education President,' he must have meant the 'Education for the Wealthiest' president. His track record shows he has dismally failed all schoolchildren, but most of all, the poorest. Here are a few sad facts: The White House's 2005 budget request is short $7.2 billion on the promise to poor children, preventing about 2.8 million children from getting the help they need... The White House's 2005 budget request fails to provide 3.5 million students with disabilities the needed services; [overall] the Administration shortchanged students with disabilities by some $11 billion from what was promised; If elected, Bush will next year cut $340.2 million in help for poor kids nationwide, ending services to 200,513 children. A clear pattern has emerged in tracking Bush's record: He makes promises, which are touted by the media - then quietly breaks them, either eliminating promised funding or slashing it - all while the media looks the other way.

Unprecedented Bi-Partisan Mobilization against Bush's Miserable Education Record

Common Dreams: "As Bush touted his education policies [on Sept. 22]. tens of thousands of people gathered in communities across the country to hold the White House and Congress accountable for breaking their promises on education and to make providing great public schools for our children a top priority." Concerned citizens gathered in every state - "From a chapel in Maui, Hawaii to a brewery in Cape Cod, Mass. to bilingual homes in Miami, Fla. and San Antonio, Texas, concerned citizens met to discuss the successes, challenges and opportunities facing public education and how they can work together to create great public schools for every child. "Republican or Democrat, people in our community are concerned about our children's education and our future," said William Innes, a teacher who hosted a group of Republicans at his house. "The folks who met at my house believe...that a good public education is a priority that transcends party lines."

Children's Defense Fund Blasts Bush's Flip-Flop on Disastrous Federal Testing Scheme

"Bush recently called for exit exams for all high school students despite contradictory statements by his own campaign. [We urge] the President to clarify his position and actively oppose the implementation of this unwise, high-stakes testing proposal. Instead of mandating exit exams, we should ensure that all children have the resources they need to succeed in high school and rely on a broader range of academic indicators in measuring high school students' achievement." CDF says "if the current testing policy is adopted nationally, we will see higher dropout rates, higher rates of student disengagement, and an inordinate amount of classroom time spent preparing for the exit exam - especially for low-income minority youth. This is the wrong direction for America's students. An overwhelming body of research suggest that a single test should not be the sole determinant when making important decisions about students. "

Bush's Call for a Federal 'Pass or Don't Graduate' Test Will Hurt Kids but Enrich His Schemer Brother and Pals

St. Petersburg Times warned in 2003: "The testing mania may not be helping students, but many Republican insiders are profiting from it. Neil Bush, the younger brother of Bush and Gov. Jeb Bush [and the guy who defrauded thousands in the Silverado banking scandal] is the CEO and founder of a company that designs computer software aimed at helping students pass tests such as the FCAT. Other industry officials also have ties to Republican insiders. Uhlfelder's law firm represents the test preparation company Kaplan in K-12 matters and also represents Pearson Education, which administers the FCAT." Now, fast forward to Sept. 2004: Dubya has called for a NATIONAL version of the FCAT. Who will lose? Kids whose parents can't afford overpriced testing packages and tutors. Who will win? Bush's "get-rich-quick" schemer pals and brother Neil.

Maryland Student Launches Hunger Strike to Protest Outrageous Hikes in Tuition

Under Bush, tuition across the nation has soared, while federal aid $ has plummeted. The end result: a huge bonanza for banks raking in all those billions in student loans. The banks, of course, being among the GOP's staunchest contributors, and thus recipients of the biggest payoffs at students' expense. Few places has tuition climbed more than in MD. GOP Gov. Bob Ehrlich, a good pal of Bush and a particularly scaly character, scooped up brownie points with voters earlier by vowing to propose tuition caps. Bushily, he recently vetoed a bill to cap tuition. In response, UMD student leader Aaron Kraus is holding a hunger strike on the State House steps. Ehrlich's response: Kraus's "antics" won't change anything. Typical.

Send George 'the Education President' Bush Your Student Loan Bill!

Here's a snippet from an anti-Bush ad that features a parody version of Laura Bush: "I'm Laura Bush. Education is very important to my husband. That's why he wants you to pay thousands more for your college loan. You see, if your education costs you more, you'll value it more. We're compassionate like that. Big banks helped our campaign so much, and they're expecting a big return. That's where you all come in. Everyone knows the kids in my family don't even have student loans like you do. And besides, it's not like you're going to send us the bill." Wanna make a bet, lady? Here's how you can send the Bushes your bill!

Lynne 'Stand by Your Men' Cheney Insults American Educators, Says Bush Knows Best

John Kerry is man enough to admit that American educators - you know, those folks out there in the trenchs every day - have a better idea of what the system needs than anyone inside the beltway. So when they say the No Child Left Behind law is an underfunded failure designed largely as a PR ploy by Bush, he believes them. Not Lynne 'Stand by your Men' Cheney. Singing to her ever-narrowing choir, Cheney bitched about Kerry to the conservative New York-based Manhattan Institute. She defended the No Child program, implying Bush knows more than tens of thousands of American educators. And then, in a stunning insult to educators still teaching in crumbling schools without adequate basic supplies, she said: "Money is not the be-all and end-all in education." Yeah, let 'em eat cake!

Number of Parents and Educators Against No Child Left Behind Law Has Tripled in One Year

While Bush this week is disseminating smear-ads on Kerry's positions on education, the nation's parents and teachers are growing angrier by the day at Bush's abysmal failure as the so-called "education president." A new poll shows that the number of people who oppose the No Child Left Behind law has tripled in just a year. "Three-fifths of voters say the level of funding from the federal government for public schools is not adequate to ensure quality. They believe resources must go to methods that really work to improve student achievement such as smaller class sizes, early childhood education, and incentives to attract and retain teachers. As the findings of this poll and others suggest, the more the public learns about how No Child Left Behind affects them on the local level, the less they believe it can work as currently crafted."

Hillary Clinton Blasts Bush's Abysmal Record as 'Education President'

Hillary was the keynote speaker at the NAACP's annual Freedom Weekend dinner in Detroit last weekend, an event attended by over 10,000 people. Reports the Times-Union: "Clinton accused the Bush administration of 'walking away' [i.e. going AWOL, as usual] from the goals and promises that the Supreme Court decision [Brown vs. the Board of Education] created. While claiming that he supports education, Bush has failed to adequately fund his No Child Left Behind Act, Clinton said. 'We have to get real about what it is we are going to do make our children successful in the future,' she said. Among the guests was Paul Fletcher, 56, of Largo, Fla., who was in the first group of school children allowed to attend public elementary school in Topeka, Kan., after the Supreme Court forced schools there to integrate."

Bush 'Anti-Furriner' Policy Costing US Colleges Hundreds of Millions in Lost Revenue

"According to the Council of Graduate Schools, there has been a decrease in applications from international students in 90% of [US graduate] schools this year. The master's and PhD-level schools enroll nearly half of all international graduate students in the US [there are over 100,000 international students in the US]." A key factor is what is seen as the US's hostile policy toward incoming foreigners, which now forces all foreign students to submit to US-VISIT: the new electronic entry-exit system that will collect and share information, including biometric identifiers. The result - colleges are losing hundreds of millions of dollars in tuition and compensating with raised tuition for US students. Meanwhile, communities lose the revenue brought in by foreign students, who often have significant spending power.

Republican Superintendent Wants to Eliminate Evolution from Georgia's Schools

"Georgia students could graduate from high school without learning much about evolution, and may never even hear the word uttered in class. New middle and high school science standards proposed by state Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox strike references to 'evolution' and replace them with the term 'biological changes over time,' a revision critics say will further weaken learning in a critical subject. Outraged teachers already have told the state it is undercutting the science education of young Georgians... Prof. David Bechler said he was stunned to learn that evolution was not in the final proposal. 'Whether you believe in creationism or not, evolution should be known and understood by the public,' he argued. A spokesman [for Cox] issued a statement Wednesday that said: 'The discussion of evolution is an age-old debate and it is clear that there are those in Georgia who are passionate on both sides of the issue -- we want to hear from all of them.'"

Va. Seeks To Leave Bush Law Behind

The Republican-controlled Virginia House of Delegates sharply criticized Bush's signature education program Friday, calling the No Child Left Behind Act an unfunded mandate that threatens to undermine the state's own efforts to improve students' performance. By a vote of 98 to 1, the House passed a resolution calling on Congress to exempt states like Virginia from the program's requirements. The law "represents the most sweeping intrusions into state and local control of education in the history of the United States," the resolution says, and will cost "literally millions of dollars that Virginia does not have." Leave BUSH Behind!

Teaching Commission Scheme Will Reward Teachers in Wealthy Schools, Penalize Those in the Poorer Districts

"If a new commission of government, business and education leaders has its way, all teachers will find a significant portion of their raises tied to progress by their students," reports the San Diego Tribune. This scheme is the brainchild of the "Teaching Commission," an outfit founded by ex-IBM Louis Gerstner Jr, whose board includes a posse of ex-corporate CEOs and former first lady Barbara Bush. (see http://www.theteachingcommission.org/about/commissioners.html) The NEA does not support tying teacher pay to student scores, because the plan ignores performance that won't show up in test scores, such as a teacher who prevents a child from dropping out. In addition, the scheme will obviously hurt excellent teachers in the toughest inner city schools, while teachers in wealthy white suburbs will have a much easier time getting pay raises.

Bush's Education Policies Aim to Undermine Democracy and Dumb Students Down

Allen Snyder writes: "Here's how the voucher scam really works. First, conservatives continually bemoan the sorry state of public schools, blaming it on everything but lack of money -- money the corrupt and stingy GOP-controlled Congress refuses to cough up for anything save war. Then they claim vouchers are the only way to 'escape' those schools and do right by the children (it's always the children with them, isn't it?). Parents then pull their kids out and send them to private religious institutions; traditional bastions of discipline, conformity, and conservatism... Vouchers kill two birds with one cynical BushCo stone -- they significantly decrease the heavily Democratic pool of public school teachers while unconstitutionally diverting funds to religion-based schools that each year crank out another dangerous flock of conservative Bush-loving Christian drones."

Why The Right Hates Public Education

"Republican strategists want to privatize education because: a) Education is a multibillion dollar market, and the private sector is eager to get its hands on those dollars. b) Conservatives are devoted to the free market and believe that private is inherently superior to public. c) Shrinking public education furthers the Republican Party goal of drastically reducing the public sector. d) Privatization undermines teacher unions, a key base of support for the Democratic Party. e) Privatization rhetoric can be used to woo African American and Latino voters to the Republican Party. f) All of the above. OK, I admit it, the answer's obvious: all of the above. But in the debates over education policy, the Republican political agenda (see d and e) is often invisible." And there is one other reason -- the Right wants to proselytize future generations of voters with their own network of schools.

Bush Funds Rightwing Takeover of Public Schools

"When Arizona schools superintendent Lisa Graham Keegan and a group of predominantly conservative educators launched the Education Leaders Council (ELC) in 1995, their proclaimed goal was to upset an educational establishment long dominated by the Democrats and left-leaning teachers unions. Nearly a decade later, Keegan and her allies have become the establishment - and the left is crying foul. People for the American Way, a liberal advocacy group, recently released a report depicting Keegan's group as the center of 'a network of right-wing foundations' that have received more than $77 million in U.S. Department of Education funds to promote their 'school privatization' agenda. The report noted that a co-founder of the council, former Pennsylvania education secretary Eugene W. Hickok, is now the second-ranking official at the federal department."

Bush's 'No Child Left Behind' Scheme Penalizes the Most Diverse Schools

"Thousands of schools are falling short of Washington's new standards, not due to faltering achievement overall, but because their student diversity triggers federal sanctions more readily than schools serving less varied children, according to a new study by PACE at Stanford U. In CA. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, more than 3,000 of California's 7,669 schools were deemed 'needing improvement' by Washington this fall. But the new study reveals that schools serving more than one student subgroup -- whether in suburban or urban areas -- face longer odds in reaching federal growth standards, even when achievement levels are identical. Middle-class high schools serving just two student groups, such as white and learning-disabled children, were one-fifth more likely to meet growth targets than schools serving two additional groups. Overall achievement levels were quite similar between the two sets of schools."

Voters are Noticing that Bush is Leaving EVERY Child Behind

"Bush's No Child Left Behind education program - acclaimed as a policy and political breakthrough by the Republicans in January 2002 - is threatening to backfire on Bush and his party in the 2004 elections. The signature education plan is pledged to improve the performance of students, teachers and schools with yearly tests and serious penalties for failure... [But] Bush is being criticized in swing states such as West Virginia for not adequately funding programs to help administrators and teachers meet the new, and critics say unreasonable, standards. Bush hoped to enhance his image as a compassionate conservative by making this education program one of the first and highest priorities of his administration. But he could find the law complicating his reelection effort, political strategists from both parties say, as some states report that as many as half or more of schools are failing to make the new grade and lack the money to turn things around promptly."

123 Million of World's Children Out of School as Education Year Starts

"Some 123 million children are being left out as classrooms around the world open their doors for the start of the new school year, the United Nations Children's Fund said today. UNICEF said that in sub-Saharan Africa, 46 million school-aged children have never stepped foot in a school, a figure that has risen steadily every year since 1990. Another 46 million South Asian youngsters are not in school. These two regions account for three-quarters of the world's entire population of children who are not in school. Two per cent of the global out-of-school population, about 2.5 million children, live in industrialized countries. 'Ignoring the children who are not in school translates into huge losses in this generation and the next,' UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said. 'Far beyond the child losing the direct benefits of an education, absence from school puts children closer to the threat of disease, abuse and sexual exploitation. This is especially so for girls.'"

Bush's So-Called 'Texas Miracle' was Completely Bogus

"As with Enron, [Houston's] school system has kept a set of books that has absolutely nothing to do with reality. Some high schools reported absolutely no - that's zero - dropouts. That these schools were in impoverished areas made the figures either preposterous or a miracle. The school system - not to mention George Bush - preferred to see a miracle. The so-called Texas Miracle is precisely why Rod Paige was named secretary of education. He was Houston's school superintendent before joining the Bush administration, and was chosen, the president said, because Paige knew that 'accountability is the true foundation of education reform.' Paige had the numbers. But some of the numbers were bogus. Worse, they were plain unbelievable. Schools simply concocted numbers to please headquarters. Dropout rates went down to zero; every high school student was heading off to college, even those in schools where most of the students failed to take the SATs or, when they did, scored dismally."

Branding Our Kids: Coca-Cola's Chief Lobbyist Joins Nat'l PTA Board

"In July, the Coca-Cola Company publicly vowed to roll back all of its marketing efforts to children under 12.... But Coke has not disappeared from the lives of schoolchildren. In June, consumer groups and some parents were dismayed when Coca-Cola Enterprises became an official sponsor of the National PTA. What was not widely known at the time was that the PTA had also given John H. Downs Jr., the bottler's senior v.p. for public affairs and its chief lobbyist, a seat on its board. The PTA says that its ties with Coke help pay for its programs and that Mr. Downs's appointment will help its marketing efforts. Both moves have outraged some parents, who say their children have been put up for sale. 'The National PTA has a wonderful history in protecting and advocating for the health of children, and now it is part of the Coke marketing machine because Coke literally helps to run it now,' said Gary Ruskin, the executive director of Commercial Alert. 'It's a massive conflict of interest.'"

The Bush Legacy: Public University Education System Collapsing

From a NY Times editorial: "Public colleges and universities, which grant more than three-quarters of this country's degrees, have been steadily undermined by state budget cuts and a mood of legislative indifference. They have responded by raising tuition beyond the reach of many poor and working-class families. Now, faced with less and less state support, some universities have begun to cannibalize themselves by increasing class size and cutting course offerings, making it difficult for students to find the courses they need to graduate. This downward spiral began in the 1980's, when many state legislatures began to back away from their commitments to public higher education, leading to higher tuition rates. Federal and state financial aid to those who cannot pay has failed to keep pace. This has increasingly discouraged the neediest students from applying to colleges at all."

Joe Klein asks 'Who Killed Teach for America?' - Take a Wild Guess

TFA founder Wendy Kopp "was optimistic that TFA, one of the flagship AmeriCorps programs, would have a future in a Bush Administration. Indeed, Kopp was invited to sit in the First Lady's box at Bush's first budget message to Congress in February 2001.... She says she was assured by John Bridgeland, the Bush voluntarism czar, that TFA's annual grant from AmeriCorps was safe. On July 11, however, a form letter arrived in the Teach for America offices.... 'We regret to inform you,' it said, 'that your application was not selected for funding.' ... 3,200 TFA members recruited so far who will not be receiving scholarship money this year. More broadly, AmeriCorps itself faces a reduction from approximately 55,000 to 35,000 members. Just before the summer recess, the Senate passed a $100 million appropriation to restore these cuts, but House majority leader Tom DeLay - who has made no secret of his desire to kill AmeriCorps - blocked the money.'"

Bush Refuses to Turn over Documents on Gutting of No Child Left Behind Act

The National Education Assoc. has gone to court to force the Dept. of Education to comply with the Freedom of Information Act. On April 10, the NEA requested all written material detailing why the Dept. of Ed. retreated from its previous interpretation of a provision of the reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act, better known as the "No Child Left Behind" Act that states that school improvement and corrective action cannot override the rights of school employees under federal, state, or local laws or collective bargaining agreements. "By law, the Department of Education was required to deliver these documents to NEA by May 8, or else explain why it could not comply. The department missed the statutory deadline, and despite repeated attempts by NEA to obtain the documents, and multiple promises by the department that it would cooperate, the documents have yet to be released."

Republican House Passes Bill to Undermine Head Start

NY Times reports: "The House passed a bill to overhaul Head Start by the narrowest of margins early today, and the Senate appeared increasingly unlikely to adopt the House's controversial blueprint for handing over control of the program to eight states. The bill passed 217 to 216, with 12 Republicans voting against it and no Democrats voting in favor. Two Democrats, Representatives Ed Pastor of Arizona and Richard A. Gephardt of Missouri, who is running for president, missed the vote, while Republicans brought in Representative John Sullivan of Oklahoma, who had been in a car accident on Wednesday, to reach a majority... Under the House bill, eight states could take over Head Start as part of what the bill calls a demonstration program... The bill has come under fierce attack from Head Start parents and providers around the country... They contend that the demonstration program would ultimately dismantle Head Start's elaborate system for ensuring quality."

Sallie Mae Profit Soars with College Costs

"The soaring cost of college, while alarming to many parents, is not bad news for everyone. Executives of SLM Corp., the giant student-loan company known as Sallie Mae, said higher costs will swell its bottom line for some time to come. It reported sharply higher second-quarter earnings yesterday. Education finance is a hot, 'one might say, exploding, business at the moment,' Sallie Mae chief executive Albert L. Lord said in a conference call. Not only is the number of college students climbing, adding new potential customers for Sallie Mae, but the tuition increases of recent years require more students to borrow money for their education. The trend is 'just beginning to create borrowers from students who were formerly non-borrowers,' Lord said. The tuition increases are particularly large among public colleges, Lord noted, referring to increases of around 20 percent in Virginia and Maryland and, by Sallie Mae's calculations, an average nationwide increase of about 12.5 percent."

Bush Presses with Plan to Undermine Head Start

AP reports: "Critics say the administration's plan would leave states unaccountable to the federal performance standards for Head Start. Opponents fear that a declining federal role will lower the standards and that the program will lose its comprehensive mission of health, nutrition, and parental involvement. 'The president's plan would bring about the demise of one of the best federally supported early-childhood programs,' said Representative George Miller, Democrat of California and the senior Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee. 'It would bring about the end of high-quality federal standards and comprehensive services that have helped low-income children become better prepared to start school.' Opponents also worry that states will cut state preschool funding. 'States could cut off services to 3-year-olds, shorten hours, increase class size, ... and still draw their block grants,' said Representative John M. Spratt Jr., Democrat of South Carolina."

Oppose Taxpayer Subsidies for Religious Schools

From the ACLU: "The proposed DC voucher program would offer only the illusion of 'choice' for the vast majority of DC public school students. At best, the program would provide only a handful of children with still-limited educational options as participating private schools would still retain their right to choose which children to admit and which to reject. Private schools would be given the privileged position of siphoning desperately needed funds from the public school system without offering the equal access that is the hallmark of public education. Congress must not divert funds to a voucher program that is designed to help only a few students, leaving the vast majority behind... This legislation is only the first step -- if we fail to stop Congress from approving this plan, there will be little hope of preventing passage of a nationwide program. Urge your Representative to Oppose a DC Voucher Plan!" Send a Fax!

Change in Aid Formula Shifts More Costs to Students

NY Times reports: "Millions of college students will have to shoulder more of the cost of their education under federal rules imposed late last month through a bureaucratic adjustment requiring neither Congressional approval nor public comment of any kind. The changes, only a slight alteration in the formula governing financial aid, are expected to diminish the government's contribution to higher education by hundreds of millions of dollars, starting in the fall of 2004. But they will also have a ripple effect across almost every level of financial aid, shrinking the pool of students who qualify for federal awards, tightening access to billions of dollars in state and institutional grants and, in turn, heightening the reliance on loans to pay for college. How much more money this may require of students and their parents will vary widely... Some families may be expected to pay an extra $100 or less each year, while others may owe well over $1,000 more."

House G.O.P. Drafts Bill to Overhaul Head Start

Diana Jean Schemo writes: "Over the opposition of Democrats, Republican lawmakers drafted legislation today to overhaul Head Start, the national day care program for poor children, ending a 38-year history of bipartisan consensus as old as the program... But in criticism reminiscent of that against No Child Left Behind, advocates of the current Head Start program complain that the bill's high ambitions are not matched with the money to meet them. The advocates and Democratic lawmakers also contend that they had not seen the bill under discussion until Wednesday evening, not leaving enough time for study and debate. On Wednesday, the National Head Start Association sued the Bush administration, saying it had violated First Amendment rights of Head Start providers. The administration has in recent weeks written to providers to warn them that the Hatch Act bars using federal money to lobby Congress. The Head Start Association accused the administration of trying to muzzle criticism."

Florida Rally Protests Head Start Proposal

"Bush is proposing letting individual states take over the program, now run by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Bush says the program needs better coordination with existing state-sponsored preschool programs and a stronger emphasis on reading and math. But parents and community leaders at the rally said they fear the proposed changes could spell the end of the program if it is forced to compete against other state programs for money. In Palm Beach County, 2,051 children are enrolled in Head Start, which provides meals, immunizations, parenting classes, vision and hearing tests and dental exams, in addition to giving preschoolers a jump start on schooling. 'This is not just a Florida thing. It's not just a Palm Beach County thing. It could affect the whole nation,' said rally organizer Terri Rose. 'Go back to your centers and talk to your parents, talk to your senators. I think parents are hearing this, but they don't understand the urgency of it.'"

Bush To Head Start Backers: Shut Up!

Michelle Goldberg writes for Salon.com: "On May 8, the Bush administration sent a letter to Head Start programs nationwide warning them in chirpy, bureaucratic language to shut up about the resident's policies toward the early childhood program. The letter, signed by Windy Hill, associate commissioner of the Head Start Bureau in the Department of Health and Human Services, was a response to a campaign by the private, nonprofit National Head Start Association that urged Head Start parents and employees to write or e-mail their representatives to protest what they say is the resident's dismantling of the program. 'Your political activities are governed and, in many ways, restricted or limited by federal law,' Hill's letter said."

Save Head Start!

"I am writing to you to express my opposition to any proposed changes to Head Start that would dismantle the program. I am urging my Congressional delegation and Governor to speak out in favor of preserving Head Start as it exists today. I do not support turning over Head Start to the states at a time of record budget revenue shortfalls that are leading to deep cuts in state government support for early childhood education and development programs. I will not be fooled by word games. I do not believe that you can 'improve' Head Start by breaking it up and diverting its funding to the states for use in untested and unproven programs that may not survive deficit-driven state budget cuts over the next few years. I intend to stay informed about this issue and hold accountable every elected official who casts his or her lot with those threatening the services provided by the Head Start program." Sign the letter!

Fooled On Schools! A Bracing Report in the Washington Post Gives the Lie to Twenty Years of School Bashing

From the Daily Howler: "For a must-read piece from the Post op-ed page, see Gerald Bracey's April 25 report, '20 Years of School Bashing.' As readers know, our pundit corps loves to attack American public schools -- sometimes with a political agenda, and sometimes from sheer dumb-ass cussedness. Bracey's piece reminds all readers to be careful of such school-bashing work. Are America's schools an international joke? Are American students the dumbest around? We get this impression from press corps rants. But in one part of Bracey's piece, he discusses a 35-nation study whose results were released just this month."

Voucher Students Do No Better Than Public School Students

AP reports a recent study of Cleveland's school voucher program "shows no difference academically between public school students and those who attended private schools with state-paid tuition vouchers" even though "black and poor students are underrepresented in the voucher program compared with their proportions in public schools." The state-commissioned study followed students from first grade through third grade. "The goal of Cleveland's voucher program was to give students an alternative to city schools with high failure rates. The US Supreme Court ruled last year that the program is constitutional. The finding that there is no measurable difference in academic performance 'tends to negate the selling point of the voucher program,' said William Phillis of the Ohio Coalition for Equity and Adequacy in School Funding. The group has won three Ohio Supreme Court rulings in five years that say public education is inadequately funded in the state."

Just Imagine School Vouchers, Growing Wild Like Kudzu

"You know the old saying about the camel sneaking his nose under the side of the tent. Once he gets his nose inside, next comes his head, then his neck, his hump and so forth, until the camel has accomplished what he never could have done by trying to march in through the front. That's what is going on in Florida with school vouchers - the idea of using taxpayer money to send children to private schools. If some legislators in Tallahassee have their way this spring, Florida would embark on a dramatically broadened transfer of public money into private hands. The camel's nose in the tent in the late 1990s was that we would 'help' only those students who were in 'failing' schools. We would use standardized tests to figure out which schools were 'failing.' We would give tax dollars to parents of kids in those schools to send them to private schools instead..."

Bush's Education Cuts will Leave All Military Children Behind

AP reports, "School officials nationwide are criticizing a proposal in Bush's budget to stop compensating them for teaching children of military personnel who are not living on bases. School administrators say the plan is particularly galling because Bush also is asking some parents of these kids to get ready to go to war with Iraq. 'We've got bases that are deploying troops and if these children go unfunded, as opposed to no child left behind, we'll be leaving all military children behind,' Robert Edmonson, controller of the Copperas Cove, Texas, school district, said Thursday. The federal government helps fund public school districts that educate children who live on military bases, making up for lost local taxes. Bush's proposed budget, submitted this week, envisions eliminating children of military personnel who live off base from the funding formula used to calculate the in-lieu-of-taxes payments."

Bush Funds Black Voucher Front Group

The BlackCommentator reports: "The Bush Administration is directly funding a media campaign by the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO), the school vouchers propaganda outfit created by the far-right Bradley Foundation. The blatant political nature of the gift could not be plainer. 'We want to change the conversation about parental choice by positively influencing individuals who are resisting parental choice options and get them to reconsider their outlook,' said Undersecretary of Education Gene Hickok, announcing a $600,000 grant to the BAEO....Through the efforts of Bradley-funded think tanks like the American Enterprise Institute and the Manhattan Institute, the illusion has been created of a Black grassroots movement for vouchers. Federal dollars will now magnify the lie, for public and media consumption.... A phony 'movement,' invented by rich, racist white men in Milwaukee, is being foisted on a Black and Latino public, paid for with the people's tax money."

Bush Budget Leaves the Kids Behind; Democratic Senators Respond: 'Show Us the Money'

Earlier this week, Senators Lieberman (CT), Bayh (IN) and Landrieu , along with thirteen other New Democrat Senators (John Breaux (LA), Jean Carnahan (MO), Tom Carper (DE), Hillary Rodham Clinton (NY), John Edwards (NC), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Bob Graham (FL), Tim Johnson (SD), John Kerry (MA), Herb Kohl (WI), Blanche Lincoln (AK), Bill Nelson (FL), and Debbie Stabenow (MI) sent a letter to Mr. Bush reminding him, in effect, to "leave no promise behind" in the drive to radically improve public schools. "Our insistence on accountability" for schools, said the Senators, "would ring hollow if we failed to put our money where our mouth is. Unfortunately, your fiscal year 2003 budget falls short of the promises made under the No Child Left Behind Act -- $7 billion short, to be specific." The Senators also (criticized Bush) for failing to redeem his 2000 campaign promise to make Pell Grants for low-income college students keep up with the rising costs of colleges.

Scrub-a-Dub (Ya) Can't Leave Any 'Bushically Incorrect' URL's Behind at Department of Edukashun

Education Week reports: "The Department of Education is in the process of a massive overhaul of its Web site to make it easier to use and to remove outdated data - and ensure that material on the site meshes with the Bush administration's political philosophy. The department will strip its ed.gov site of thousands of files, many of them old and inaccessible from the site's home page. Sometime this fall, the new Web site will be unveiled, with special sections for teachers and researchers, parents and policy wonks. But some researchers and government watchdogs say the department's decision to scrap some information based on whether it comports with Bush administration initiatives could set an unsettling precedent... A housecleaning is overdue, said Mr. Bailey, a Bush appointee.... Some of the problems with the site include... information that... 'does not reflect the priorities, philosophies, or goals of the present administration.'"

Constitution Day Irony: Can Bush, the Appointed One, Be Trusted to Teach Civics and US History to Your Children?

Yahoo.com reports: "Bush denounced disturbing gaps in schoolchildren's knowledge of civics Tuesday as he delivered a vivid demonstration of modern-day politics, raising $1.1 million for a man he drove out of the 2000 presidential race... The White House assembled a series of patriotic events to coincide with Constitution Day Tuesday, the 215th anniversary of the signing of the Constitution. 'In recent events our children have witnessed the great character of America, yet they also need to know the great cause of America,' Bush said in a Rose Garden ceremony before he took off for Tennessee. 'They are seeing Americans fight for our country. They also must know why our country is worth fighting for'... The White House said the administration would try to bolster civics and history instruction with a new grant program, an initiative to send such treasures as the Constitution and the Emancipation Proclamation to classrooms and a February 2003 White House forum on civics and history."

House Dems Force Republicans to Pull Bill Providing Vouchers for Private Schools

"Under immense Democratic pressure, House Republican leaders today halted consideration of their education tax bill, which contained tax deductions that were essentially vouchers for private elementary and secondary schools. As an alternative, Democrats had offered a proposal by Rep. Charles Rangel that provides $25 billion in interest-free bonds ... for local communities to repair or replace existing public school facilities. 'Today was a victory for public school education in America,' said House Democratic Whip Nancy Pelosi . 'We had a clear choice to present to the American people: Pass a proposal that gives nothing more than a promise for private school vouchers, or pass a real bill that will give $25 billion real dollars to our local school districts. 'The Republicans opted not debate these bills today because they knew that their plan to diverted scarce resources to private schools could not win against a real and serious education proposal.'" Go Dems!

BushPaige Illegally Crams Phonics Down the Throats of America's Children

WashPost reports, "For decades, educators have been embroiled in a fierce debate about the best way to teach reading. The tension has been between proponents of phonics, which teaches reading skills before moving to literature and comprehension, and whole language, which teaches skills through literature. Many educators now say a combination is necessary but that different approaches are needed for different children... Yet some educators say the Education Department is making clear that it will provide new funds only for programs that explicitly teach phonics, and that the department views as successful certain phonics-based commercial programs that give teachers highly detailed instructions to follow each day. Prominent among these are the Open Court Reading and Direct Instruction programs, both published by SRA/McGraw-Hill, owned by New York-based McGraw-Hill Cos." Once again, Bush is putting PROFITS before PEOPLE. Impeach Bush Now!

Putting People Last: Bush Cuts Training Program Producing High Paid, Skilled Workers

ABCNews.com reports: "Most of the professor's students, training to become systems administrators, come from minority and underprivileged communities in the San Jose area. For many of them, the training means the first chance at a professional career and the promise of a financially stable future. In fact, 24 of this summer's crop of 25 students passed an industry-recognized exam, which employees already in the tech field usually take after a year or more of work experience... Just as the government-funded technical training program is taking off... Bush has pulled the plug... But even as the Bush team has ordered the cut, the Labor Department's Web site still touts the program's 'much needed skills training.' 'So when the resident said to them, find me a place to cut,' said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-CA, 'they picked that one and they forgot to ask the Department of Labor.' Boxer has heard from scores of Silicon Valley companies in her state protesting the cancellation of the program."

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. Calls for Constitutional Amendment for 'Equal High Quality' Education

Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. said, "The school voucher debate has long exploited the legitimate concerns of parents, students, and educators. Our system of public education does not need a debate about public funds going to private schools. It needs a debate that will spark the political will to guarantee every student a clean and safe learning facility, with smaller class sizes, well trained and properly compensated teachers, and the tools to keep pace with the demands of the future. The question at the heart of the voucher controversy is... how to provide a public education of equal high quality for the more than 50 million children in 85,000 schools in 15,000 school districts.... I have proposed a [Constitutional] amendment (H.J. Res. 31) that guarantees every student a public education of equal high quality. No matter where an American lives, who their parents are, what they look like, or how they worship, they should be entitled to a high quality public education."

A 'Uniter, not a Divider'??? Bush Pushes for More Single Sex Classes

"Leave No Child Behind" -- we keep hearing that from Bush. Now in another outrageous proposal as Kelly Wallace from CNN writes, "The Bush administration is pushing rule changes to encourage more (and funding more) single-sex classes and schools, marking a significant change in the U.S. government's 30-year policy prohibiting gender discrimination in public schools." Doesn't this sound a lot like what they do in Saudi Arabia? What's next, the girls will be forced to wear chastity belts until they are married?

Bush's Budget : 'No Money Left Behind for Education'

Noy Thrupkaew writes in the American Prospect that the Bush budget proposal comes "in $90 million shy of the commitments the education-reform act set forth. His Democratic partners on the legislation have rallied furiously in response. [Senator Kennedy asked] 'Will the president [sic] fulfill his promise to the nation to truly leave no child behind?' [Congressman George Miller] has attacked [Bush's] proposal as the 'No Money Left Behind for Education Budget'... Bush rode into the presidency on his education-reform platform. It was the linchpin of his successful effort to package himself as a 'compassionate conservative' and to gain the support of white, moderate suburbanites... In all, Bush's budget axes 40 education programs to the tune of more than $1 billion; 26 of those programs are part of the No Child Left Behind Act."

Bush's Tax Cuts Force Republicans to Cut College Student Loans

"The Bush administration is seeking to ease its budget shortfalls by squeezing $1.3 billion from a huge federal student loan program... The proposal would prevent millions of college students and graduates from consolidating their education loans to lock in low interest rates. It was made this week [by] budget director, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., as a way to deal with shortfalls throughout the budget that are expected to push the federal deficit for this year to more than $100 billion. Democratic Congressional leaders are expected to fiercely oppose the move, which is projected to save an estimated $1.3 billion for the government this year, as unfair to the millions of Americans who depend on federal student loans to help pay for their educations... The White House proposal would end a program that has allowed... students and graduates to consolidate their student loans at a federally subsidized, fixed interest rate and take up to 30 years to pay them back." Repeal Bush's tax cuts now!

Jim Jeffords (I-Guts) on the 'Underfund and Test for Failure' Education Bill That Bush Recently Signed

"I fear it will not provide the assistance — both financial and technical — that schools will need to meet the goal of having every student reach their full academic potential. Education budgets throughout this nation are facing severe cuts, due in part to the recent economic downturn, but also due to the high costs associated with providing students with disabilities with special educational services...[Early last] year, during Senate consideration of the ESEA bill, this body unanimously passed the Harkin-Hagel amendment that required Congress to fully fund IDEA through progressive annual increases. I am extremely disappointed that the final product...does not include this critical amendment. Without inclusion of the Harkin-Hagel amendment and without sufficient funding for the programs outlined in this bill, I am afraid that this bill may actually do more harm than good...[and] we will still only be funding less than half of the children who qualify for the Title One program."

Bush To Sign Education Bill; Jim Jeffords (I-Spine) Speaks Out

Bush is expected to sign an education bill that has passed both Houses. "Since its introduction last winter, the bill has enjoyed bipartisan support. But a few lawmakers, including Sen. James Jeffords, I-Vt., have complained that the $26.5 billion plan falls short by not giving enough money to schools, especially for costly programs to help disabled students. Jeffords, who headed the Senate's education committee until he left the Republican Party last May, said the shortcomings make the bill embarrassing. 'I believe it is better to approve no bill rather than to approve a bad bill,' Jeffords said…The bill is also opposed by school board and superintendents' groups, who say state and local education budgets will be strained by its demands." So the bill will underfund schools, and then test for failures. If they fail, they will either be restaffed, or perhaps this will open the door for vouchers or charter schools.

Alert!: Rightwing Bible-Thumpers Mount Aggressive Campaign to Push Religion in Nation's Schools

The People for the American Way, a group dedicated to defending democracy and the constitution, has issued an alert to parents and teachers: "As a new school year begins across the country, parents, students, teachers and school officials in many districts will find themselves confronted by right-wing efforts to violate religious liberty in public schools. These efforts include promotion of improper "Bible as history" classes or Bible classes that present the Bible from a religious perspective. In particular, a private, religious-right affiliated group called the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools (NCBCPS), based in North Carolina, is on a mission to get schools across the country to adopt just such improper courses. While it’s permissible to teach about the Bible in public schools if the Bible is presented objectively, courses that teach the Bible as true or from a religious perspective violate this fundamental constitutional rule."

National Education Assoc. Report Reveals that Bush Tax Cut Will Slash K-12 Funding by at Least Half

To fund the estate tax cut (which benefits mostly the wealthiest Americans), Bush plans to steal from children 5-18 years old. The National Education Assoc. says that the tax cut will shrink state revenues by more than TWICE the amount allocated for K-12 funding under Bush's silly putty budget. "The federal government is providing money with one hand and taking it away with the other," says NEA Pres. Bob Chase. But Bush has never had any intention of giving money to public schools. He wants to keep the cash for his richest friends and turn education into a freemarket "business opportunity" for other entrepreneur cronies. Btw -his $1,500/yr educ. vouchers are an insulting joke; the average private school's annual tuition is $5,000-$10,000.

Is College Worth It? A Growing Number of Dillusioned Young People Are Saying 'No!'

A recent survey shows that fewer than half of all college students complete their studies and receive a degree. Most drop out and head off into the "real world." Why? Could it be that colleges are becoming mere reflections of corporate America - all hype and no real substance, high cost versus little return? Worst of all, has the entrenched and top-heavy administrative sector of the system caused the academic end of things to languish far behind the ever-changing, fast-paced "real world?" Here with some interesting insights on the question "Is college worth it?" is Wayne Laughesen of the "Boulder Weekly."

FUQ: Diagnosing Bush: Is There is a Root Dysfunction that Explains His Presidency?

Insight can come from the most unlikely sources. There may be a great deal to learn about George W. Bush's "personal style" and his policies for education by considering Thom Hartmann's book on Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder -- ADHD: Help for Your Family at Home, School and Work. To use Hartmann's provocative language, could Bush be a hunter in a world dominated by farmers?

Teens Want Smaller Classes

"Bush believes national testing is the ticket to improving America's schools. But students give a better grade to former President Clinton's focus on smaller classes. A survey released Tuesday suggests that high-school students see reducing the number of pupils in each class as the best path to better schools... The gauge of adolescent attitudes and expectations is based on a telephone survey of 1,014 13-to-18-year-olds conducted in May by pollster Peter Hart... [Remarkably,] Three-quarters plan to go to college right after high school. 'These young people are very directed, very serious, very motivated,' Hart said. 'This is going to be a remarkable generation if they continue to follow the path they've been talking about.'" Let's make sure these terrific teens are registered to vote - and know which party favors smaller classes!

New Report Shows School Voucher Movement is Fueled by Handful of Ultra-Wealthy Donors and Conservative Front Groups

If anyone has the idea that the push for school vouchers represents some sort of "grass roots" movement, think again. A new report by the American Assoc. of School Administrators finds that just three bigshot donors and 9 foundations (many of them conservative agenda front groups, like the Scaife Foundation) are behind the movement. The report concludes: "The public ballot initiatives for publicly-supported private school vouchers are financed primarily by a handful of very wealthy individual donors." Funds are channeled mostly into the foundations, "each of which advocates for the voucher cause and spreads its message via the Internet, media campaigns, listserves, court challenges and action networks. Given the wealth behind each voucher group, we can expect the voucher movement to continue to prosper." At the expense, of course, of the average American child.

SAT Tests Dropped in Alabama Due to Low Scores and Conflict with State Graduation Testing

Educators in Alabama are trying to balance the demand for endless tests against teacher time - just opted to drop the SAT. Between the graduation test and the SAT, testing was taking up two full weeks of class time. The decision was logical - the graduation test "counts" more, because if you don't pass, you don't graduate. However, the SAT is a measure of how well students have learned to THINK and is a better gauge how well they will do in advanced studies where "testing tutors" are not coaching them. Tellingly, SAT scores have dropped as the emphasis on "graduation tests" increases. The same thing has happened in Texas under Bush's testing plan - while students do better on state test, teachers say their ability to think critically and problem solve has declined. The emphasis should be on TEACHING, not testing. Having tests that students and teachers can coach and prepare for is not a real test of learning progress - it is a way to fudge learning progress.

Fertile Ground for Rightwing History Rewrites: 1 in 5 U.S. Teens Don't Even Know What Nation America Fought in the Revolutionary War

At least one in five U.S. teens does not know which country America fought in the revolutionary war to gain its independence, while 14% believe the colonies declared independence from France on July 4 1776. One in 10 does not know that the first president was George Washington, while 25% cannot correctly name the two sides in Civil War - 13% of these think it was a struggle between the US and Great Britain. "When you look at these numbers it means that more than five million teenagers don't understand the true meaning of Independence Day," says Colin Campbell, president and chairman of the Williamsburg Colonial Foundation. Is it any wonder Bush has had so little trouble fooling some of the people ALL of the time?

Appeal to Democratic Party by Milwaukee Mother to Support Educational Choice for Black Parents

"Here we are in 2001 and the question is still being asked: Who is in charge of the education of blacks?" So writes black parent Jeanette Mitchell in a Milwaukee "Journal Sentinel" editorial. "Isn't the Democratic Party supposed to be representing and protecting poor, black parents and their rights? As blacks, we have fought for our freedoms, particularly in education. It distresses me that black politicians are a part of shutting down a program for poor children in the name of democracy when the program supports one of the key democratic tenets of this country, self-determination.

Ted 'The Heart Of The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy' Olson Pushes The Supreme Court To Take On School Voucher Case

"The Bush administration urged the Supreme Court to take up school vouchers Friday, arguing that an Ohio school choice program does not violate the Constitution's ban on government promotion of religion. In a friend of the court brief, Solicitor General Theodore Olson…asked the Supreme Court to hear three appeals that offer an opportunity for a broad ruling on the constitutionality of private school vouchers. By filing an uninvited brief to the nation's top court, the Bush administration is signaling its intention to press the case for programs that allow tax dollars to be used to pay student tuition at religious schools…Congress rejected vouchers when it recently passed a sweeping education reform." Through Federalist Society member and Get-Clinton mastermind Ted Olson, the New Right is pushing their theocratic goals. The New Right backers include Heritage Foundation board members such as Richard Mellon Scaife, the Coors, Amway's Van Andels and DeVos, and Wal-Mart's John Walton.

Hoover Institution (the Tank that Thinks for Bush) May be the Education Reform Force Behind 'Oz's Curtain'

We suspect that the nation's new test or shut down education scheme is being directed from behind "Oz's curtain" by the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace. The education scheme of the HI (Bush's favorite rightwing "think tank" after the Baker Institute) calls not just for testing, but for discouraging critical thinking and indoctrinating students with a 1950s-style concept of patriotism. Their website's latest "Essay of the Week" is on testing - and how it is oh, so much more "cost effective" than raising teacher salaries or reducing classroom size. But HI is all about replacing the federal government with private enterprise - just take a "cruise" around their site. Two of the biggest wheels on HI's board of overseers are Donald Rumsfeld and Richard Scaife, while as an HI "scholar," Condy Rice's position on Chevron's board of directors is listed as a big feature of her "curricula vitae." Newt Gingrich is also listed as a "visiting fellow."

Conservative Guiliani's Solution to School Crime Akin to Blowing Up Your Own House to Kill the Rats in the Cellar

A few years back, violence in some inner New York City schools had gotten out of hand and something clearly had to be done. However, with a conservative GOPer (Guiliani) at the helm, the solution was so reactionary that it may even have made things worse. Now over-policed schools have assumed a gulag-like atmosphere. Students go to schools with metal grates on the windows, steel doors, and surveillance cameras. When suspected of breaking a rule, they're held by officers, detained, and interrogated in rooms the students call "the cells." Worse, crime has not improved - sexual assault is actually on the rise. The net result: no change in safety, but a total erosion of quality in the learning experience. When will the GOP ever learn that if you have rats in the cellar, you don't respond by blowing up your house!

Senate Knocks Down Bush Voucher Scam To Fund Far Right's Own School System

"The new Democratic-led Senate rejected a bid for private school vouchers Tuesday as it neared passage of a White House-backed bill to upgrade schools…On a 58-41 vote, the Senate defeated an amendment that would have provided $50 million to help up to 10 cities and three states create a pilot private school voucher program for students of low-income parents...Democrats and some moderate Republicans argued the vouchers would take needed funds from cash-strapped public schools, leaving countless youngsters behind...Bush had wanted included in the education bill a private school voucher initiative, which would have given students in failing public schools up to $1,500 in federal funding to help them pay for private and religious schooling [the States would have to make up the difference?] But both the House and Senate rejected it. Instead, a compromise would allow students in failing schools to use federal funding to pay for private tutoring or transfer to other public schools."

School Testing Reaching Epidemic Proportions in Some Districts and Will Get Worse Under Bush Regime

Standardized tests of students in the fourth, eighth and highschool grades are already required by most states. But some schools go for broke and test in every grade - even kindergarten. What does the testing approach to education do to students - and to the nature of learning? In this article on the pros and cons of testing in a Rochester, NY paper, the photos speak more eloquently than the words. In one shot, an overwhelmed-looking little girl struggles with a test, while in another, a classroom bears a disturbing resemblance to a sterile office complex, complete with cubicles.

Texas High School Salutorian Forbidden to Give Speech Critical of Education System

Joanna Li didn't plan to use obscene language in her graduation ceremony speech. She didn't plan to tell off-color jokes or make radical statements. All she planned to do was tell the truth as she saw it: That the grades-first system had come close to killing her love of learning and reading and that school had come to feel "like one giant pressure cooker." But Principal Terry Ingram forbid Li to give the speech, claiming it had a "negative tone." Can he do that? Yep - because under George Bush, Sr. in 1988, the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment rights of students in public schools don't have to be honored. And now, under G. W., neither do their opinions.

USA Today Denounces Tuition IRA's

USA Today rarely takes a progressive stance. But they sure don't like the Tuition IRA's the Republicans snuck in to the tax bill. "The savings accounts are an expensive benefit for the middle class — costing $6.3 billion in revenue during the next decade — that could sidetrack plans to reform public schools... The savings accounts ... provide no incentives for school reform. Unlike the new testing requirements for public schools, which are currently working their way through Congress, there's no accountability that would follow these education IRAs. Instead, they are a giveaway to parents whose kids already are in private schools. Moreover, they help the comparatively well-off: The savings accounts don't begin phasing out until the income for joint earners passes $190,000. And they offer nothing to low-income parents who don't pay income taxes, yet are far more likely to have lousy schools in their neighborhood."

Bush Cuts 'Reading is Fundamental' by 70%

Reading Is Fundamental, the nation's largest children's and family literacy program, gives free, new paperback books to low-income children. Laura Bush claims to be a big advocate of the program. But Bush plans to "eliminate about 70 percent of the program's budget, which was about $23 million this year."

The Heartbreaking Plight of Homeless Students - Widening Cracks Loom Beneath Them in Bush Plan

The number of homeless students in America is growing. In Jefferson County KY alone, over 3,200 homeless students attended the county's 122 public schools this year - nearly three times the number in 1993. How do these students fare? "If you were looking for a place to sleep and food to eat, would you be thinking about school?" asks Mary Marshall of the KY. Dept of Education. School officials in KY and across the nation expect the problem to grow worse. Yet the Bush education plan focuses on testing and not on the most critical needs of learning: a full stomach, a secure roof, a decent school, and a small enough class size to allow teachers to identify and address the needs of students at risk.

House GOP Gang Ambushes Education Bill, Pulls Plug on Desperately Needed School Repairs, Smaller Classes, and Special Ed

In what has become their favorite tactic - a sneak attack (you know, the kind preferred by weasels)- a handful of GOP leaders hijacked a bipartisan education bill aimed at improving everyday life for students and teachers. The bill would have insured needed school repairs, was ambushed and destroyed. Worse yet, the news of the ambush was blacked out. We saw a news release Wed. or Thurs. night on the school repair defeat that appeared, then disappeared within the same hour of its release from the wire service. National Education Association President Bob Chase is outraged. "A handful of House Republicans turned their backs on children and public schools." We suspect that the GOP is punishing cities, where most of the the overcrowded, crumbling schools are found, because urban areas were overwhelmingly pro- Gore. But, we challenge the GOP to answer: What kind of wimps take revenge on children?

GOP Sends Message: Testing More Important than Safe Decent School Building and Manageable Class Size

The GOP voted down the Democrat's push, led by Tom Harkin of Iowa to earmark funds to repair the nation's dilapidated schools. Earlier in the week, the GOP defeated a Democratic initiative to reduce classroom sizes. So here's the deal, the GOP wants 30 or 40 kids to be crammed into a crumbling room in a soon-to-be-condemned school building. Not to worry - they WILL take lots of tests! Wow - so this is the stuff rightwing think tanks come up with!

Republicans Defeat Funds for Reducing Class Size

All 50 Senate Republicans voted against funds earmarked to hire more teachers in order to reduce class size. But Senate Democrats have won major increases in education funding, including "$130 billion over 10 years for Title 1 financing, which goes to the nation's poorest children. They also won approval to send $120 billion over 10 years to children with physical and learning disabilities; the federal government has repeatedly failed to finance its share of these programs." Republicans recognize voters want more money for education; even so, Trent Lott is promising to cut these funds during the appropriations process.

Unified House Democrats Make Private School Vouchers Unlikely

President Bush's school voucher plan suffered a near-fatal blow Wednesday when 5 Republicans joined 22 Democrats on the House Education and the Workforce Committee in a vote to strip the proposal to allow the use of federal tax dollars for private school tuition from education legislation. Democrats and the White House remained at odds over funding for the reform efforts. Democrats will force a series of votes to increase spending for programs for disadvantaged children and for Democratic-sponsored initiatives to reduce class sizes and rebuild crumbling schools, according to Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA).

Is There A Hidden Bush Agenda For De-Funding RIF?

"Bush, who [was] in Houston [Thursday] to help his mother raise money for child literacy, wants to kill funding for a 35-year-old book program for poor children. Among the leading supporters of the program, called Reading Is Fundamental, are the president's mother, former first lady Barbara Bush, and his wife, Laura Bush." Nevertheless, "Lindsey Kozberg, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Education, disputed critics' claims that Bush is being hypocritical for trying to kill the RIF funding." Said Kozberg vaguely, "Results show that reading performance has been flat, while federal investment in reading has gone up and up and up. If we know how to teach children to read, it's not reflected in the classroom." Ironically, the Bushes were serving as emcees for the Barbara Bush literacy foundations that night. Perhaps there is another Bush scam...er...scheme...afoot to replace RIF -- with dear ol' Bar running a new "faith-based" reading program with lots of fed funds to milk?

Bush's School Reform: Socioeconomic Caste System Disguised as Education

Conservative school reform really means bringing prayer back into the classroom, cultivating a non-questioning "love it or leave it" concept of patriotism, and replacing understanding with test results. To right-wing "free market" education reformers, family values really mean business values. These reformers believe some students - minorities and the poor - are simply born to be low-paid workers and are determined to make sure they fulfill their "destinies." From kinder and gentler (the empty promise of George Bush, Sr.), our children now face a future of cold social Darwinism where survival depends entirely on the fitness of their parents' wallet.

Bush Breaks Promises On Education Spending -- Deceptions Continue

"On Feb. 21, President Bush told teachers and students at Townsend Elementary School in Tennessee that 'in the budget I submit, the largest increase of any department will be for the Department of Education.' Six days later, Bush told Congress that '[t]he highest percentage increase in our budget should go to our children's education'…But when Bush's budget was released this week, the Education Department did not get the biggest proposed increase, even though CNN and the Associated Press both reported that it did. the biggest proposed [percentage] budget increase (13.6 percent) went to the State Department... [in dollars] the biggest proposed budget increase ($14.2 billion) went to the Defense Department...[$2 million of the Education] money was spent before Dubya moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, making it entirely ludicrous for Bush to take credit for it. The real budget increase Bush is proposing for the Education Department is $2.5 billion, a 5.9 percent increase. "

Big Bush/GOP Donors Want - And Expect -- School Privatization

"And many of the biggest shareholders of those [for -profit education] firms invested heavily in Bush, who pledged to provide $3 billion in federal loans for new charter schools and to offer subsidies for students to attend private schools." School privatizers and big Bush/GOP donors include the Gap's John Fisher and financier John Childs (Edison Schools); Amway's Rich DeVos, David Brennan and Walmart's John Walton (vouchers); Theodore Forstmann (Capella Education); Credit Suisse Boston 's John Hennesy and venture capitalist Kevin Compton (Advantage Schools). Another Republican contributor is JC Huizenga, cousin of long-time Bush backer Wayne Huizenga. JC has poured $50 million into National Heritage Academies. Leading the effort has been New Right powerhouse the Heritage Foundation, especially through Bill Bennett and Nina Rees -- now a Bush team member. Along with reaping profits, their goal is to create their own school system to proselytize future generations of voters.

Turning Schools into Educational 'Factory Farms' Meets Resounding Defeat

Privatizing schools (i.e., turning them into bottom-line-driven business ventures), handing out vouchers, teaching "tests" instead of knowledge... This is the Bush vision for American education. However, it is now very obvious this is not America's vision. An effort to privatize five failing schools in New York City was rejected by an 8-2 margin by angry parents. Now Mayor Rudy Guiliani (R-NYC) thinks the answer is to just sell schools out to the highest bidder, and tell parents AFTERWARD. How Bushy!

Centrist Democrats Reject Education Vouchers

Ten centrist Senate Democrats offered Bush a deal on education reform – but drew the line at vouchers for parochial schools. The Democrats want $7 billion more in educational aid over five years, especially for the Title I program targeted to low-income neighborhoods. The Dems oppose vouchers for parochial schools, but offered a compromise on vouchers for after-school tutors. They also oppose Bush's plan to close failing schools, insisting instead on an emergency rescue plan, including hiring a new staff, converting the schools into charter schools and allowing students to transfer to better-performing public schools. An alliance of religious right groups like the Christian Coalition, anti-union foundations like the Heritage, Olin and Bradley Foundations, and individuals like Wal-mart's John Walton have been pouring tens of millions of dollars into promoting vouchers for parochial and for-profit schools. In addition to shifting public funds into their coffers, the Far Right wants their own school system for proselytizing future generations of voters.

Bush Announces Minimal Increases For Education

Bush's education plan will increase spending next year by 11%, or $4.6 billion -- compared to $10 billion proposed by congressional Democrats. On top of that, Bush is using "fuzzy math" to puff up his figures, since $2.1 billion of Bush's $4.6 billion would be enacted anyway under an agreement signed last year. In stark contrast to Bush's plan, President Clinton had called for a 56% increase ($9.6 billion) for this year. Although Americans rank education as the number one spending priority, with tax cuts far down on the list -- Bush plans to spend only $47.5 billion on education over 10 years, or just 3% of his $1.6 trillion "feed the rich" tax plan.

Democrats Challenge Bush on Education

Education Secretary Roderick R. Paige told the Senate that the Bush administration has yet to develop a budget for its education reform plan. Bush wants to force testing on every student in grades 3 through 8, and punish failing schools by issuing $1500 vouchers to the students - for private and parochial school slots that either cost much more, won't take them, or don't even exist. If the Bush administration fails to pay for the testing program, it will violate the "unfunded mandate" policies adopted by Congressional Republicans under the Clinton administration.