Education is deservedly becoming one of the most prominent issues of the 2000 election. Each party and candidate has proposed its own version of education reform. However, both differ in many ways. The Republicans advocate a localized education system and increased choice for students and parents. In contrast, the Democrats prefer a bloated bureaucracy to control the education of our children, and they continue to insist on limiting school choice.
The Republicans and presidential candidate George W. Bush have solid goals to reform America’s educational system. First, standards must be raised through local control and accountability. Governor Bush has proposed the establishment of a $500 million fund to reward states and schools that improve student performance. Also, local control must be restored through combining more than 60 federal programs into five flexible categories.
Second, the achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their peers must be closed. Low-income parents must have the option of transferring their children to another public school or use their share of federal funding to pay for another option of their choice. Governor Bush has advocated school choice for students of failing schools, and he has slated $1 billion for a math and science partnership fund for states in order to boost K-12 math and science education in low-income areas.
Third, Governor Bush intends to improve teacher quality and the resources teachers need for their classrooms. He proposed $3 billion for an Education Technology Fund to ensure the highest levels of technology in America’s classrooms. Also, he intends to put $2.4 billion into a fund for states to train and recruit teachers.
These are just a few of Governor Bush’s goals to improve the nation’s public schools. For those who doubt his goals, one just has to look at what he has achieved in establishing a better education for students in Texas.
oTexas ranks first in the nation in teacher quality, according to an evaluation by the Fordham Foundation.
oState funding per pupil has increased by 37 percent.
oIncreased funds have been allocated for school construction.
oGovernor Bush has given parents a choice by providing grants for students in poorly performing schools to transfer to another district or attend a charter school.
oEarly-reading initiatives have been launched, and tougher accountability has been placed on the schools.
As a result of these reforms, education for all students in Texas has improved. For example, African-American and Hispanic eighth-graders ranked first and second in the nation in writing, and eighth graders as a whole ranked fourth in all subjects. While the Clinton-Gore administration has failed to narrow the gap between disadvantaged students and their peers, Governor Bush has succeeded in doing so in Texas.
With regard to higher education, Vice-President Gore advocates a college tax credit that leaves out most of the college students he intends to help. His plan denies relief to 29 million low-income families that do not pay federal income taxes. Also, his tax credit is only available for one child per family, and it penalizes families that save for college in an Educational Savings Account. Governor Bush will ensure that Pell Grants are not cut and that the annual contribution limit for Educational Savings Accounts will increase from $500 to $5,000. Also, he will allow these funds to be used tax free to pay for expenses from kindergarten through college.
These proposals and evidence show that Governor Bush and the Republican party will in fact leave no child behind and will ensure that every American has the opportunity to receive an exemplary education.
-The writer is chairman of the GW College Republicans.