Testing Bush's Educational Performance

When he released his brand spanking new federal budget this month, George W solemnly declared that it "sets clear priorities," including "making sure our children get educated."

Since Bush is Mr. No-Child-Left-Behind, we should expect a big boost in education funding. But sleight-of-hand has become George's chief presidential legacy, and if you actually look at the budget numbers, you'll see a paucity of support behind his rich rhetoric.

His centerpiece educational effort, the Leave No Child Behind Act, requires every local school to meet Bush's educational testing standards, and it's already under severe attack because it mandates new state reforms without funding them. Indeed, since it was enacted with great White House fanfare, Bush has quietly shortchanged the program by $17 billion -- and his new budget falls another $9 billion short of the funding he agreed was necessary when he got Congress to pass it.

Another educational problem is the rapid deterioration of America's school buildings. A third of our schools need major repair or replacement, and $268 billion is needed just in repairs to bring existing schools up to basic standards. Bush's budget authorizes a pathetic $54 million -- two-one thousandths of a percent of the need.

Then there's Head Start, a program that is enormously successful, yet it receives only enough money to cover half of the pre-kindergarten children needing it. Bush's budget leaves these children behind, providing such meager funding that Head Start won't even keep up with inflation, effectively cutting its existing budget. Full funding of Head Start, by the way, would require less than half of the money that Bush's tax giveaways will bestow on millionaires.

Vocational Ed, Dropout Prevention, and Students with Disabilities are among dozens of other educational programs cut or grossly underfunded by Bush. To get information, call the Institute for America's Future: 202-955-5665.

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