This Wednesday, President Bush visited King of Prussia to discuss the No Child Left Behind Act. As a dedicated Bush supporter, I was of course excited to see him speak; but what made this event really interesting was the affirmation, by fellow educators who were seated
with Bush, that the No Child Left Behind Act is succeeding.In fact, Bush?s educational record is pretty good all around. It wasn?t your typical stump speech, because Bush basically sat down along with a handful of local principals and teachers, who highlighted the success of the NCLBA, contradicting the bias it has received. The president of Montgomery County Community College was also there to thank Bush for his increased funding in the development of community colleges, while the principal of a local elementary school thanked him for increasing education funding for special education by 75 percent.
There was even a gentleman who spoke about his success as a Puerto Rican immigrant who went through American schooling and eventually went to college and became an educator.
The citing of these educational achievements amazed me. Educators ought to take another look at George W. Bush and seriously consider his policies, instead of giving into the rhetoric that Bush is “out to get teachers” because he supported a pilot voucher program which they might disagree with. Essentially, Bush has been teacher friendly.
One example is the Crayola Credit Act. In 2002, President Bush and fellow Republicans created an above-the-line tax deduction for school teachers to help relieve the cost of out of pocket classroom expenses. According to the Committee on Education and the Workforce, the Crayola Credit covers up to $250 of out-of-pocket expenses that a teacher can claim.
On the issue of education overall, Bush has a really good record. Consider that the No Child Left Behind Act is the most significant reform in education in 40 years. You might not like it, but at least it?s something to work with. No Child Left Behind is a fairly bipartisan law supported by many Democrats — including Senator Bush demands accountability, schools push to see that every student is proficient in reading and math. Even in higher education, Bush has a record of achievement. The Pell Grant eligibility has been extended to high school students who take challenging courses.
Bush has even expanded the number of Americorps scholarships to 75,000. Americorps is an organization which supports a student in graduate school or paying college loans in exchange for a dedicated period of community service. Bush also proposed extending the federal student loan limit for first year students from $2,625 to $3,000, giving students and colleges more flexibility during that tough first year of college. Pretty interesting, eh? Even we college students are Kerry. The NCLBA challenges the soft bigotry of low expectations in public education. As Bush said, it?s a positive first step towards improving public education. It promotes growth in education, not diminution. I don?t know how anyone could come to such a pessimistic conclusion.
Since President Bush signed the NCLBA into law, each state has formed a specific plan to ensure that its schools develop. I don?t think a fair judgment can really be made on the No Child Left Behind Act until we have seen it in action for a few more years, but results look good so far. Fourth graders in urban schools are showing strong gains in both reading and math. Minority children are showing improved test scores and they are narrowing the achievement gap. As President being helped out in some way by Bush?s fiscal policy.
In listening to Bush speak last Wednesday with others, it amazed me that in midst of an election largely focused on foreign policy (and he did discuss Iraq and the War on Terror eventually), that President Bush has remained passionate about the issue of education since he first ran for president in 2000. Honestly, when November comes around, the issue I?m mostly voting on is foreign policy. However, I?m more convinced now after hearing the president?s education policy that this is the best man for the job. Four more years!
Anthony Maalouf is a junior majoring in Political Science with a minor in Spanish.