Bush makes the grade

Su Kemper is the president of the Nevada Federation of Republican Women

When George W. Bush became our 43rd president after a stressful and very historic election, there was some concern as to what kind of a leader he would prove to be. In the 11 months since he took office that concern quickly evaporated. He proved more than capable in facing the usual burdens of the job and then, suddenly, taking on the management of what has been described as “the first war of the 21st century.” He has grown rapidly, displaying outstanding ability and commanding the respect of one of the largest number of constituents in the history of these United States.

Early in the year, the new president brought forth many policies to be considered by Congress, such as his promised tax relief package. It was soon passed, and the checks were distributed. But undoubtedly, President Bush’s most admirable move is his support in the area of education. During his campaign for president, he announced the “No Child Left Behind” program. Republican women rallied the troops in support for the reform of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

In essence, “No Child Left Behind” is a seven-prong program that stresses the closing of the achievement gap with accountability and high standards for states, school districts and schools. Annual academic assessments in reading and math will help in providing parents the information they need to know about how their children are doing in school. And there will be consequences for schools that fail to educate disadvantaged students.

Literacy is a No. 1 priority, since it has been shown that nearly 70 percent of inner-city fourth-graders are unable to read at a basic level on national reading tests. First Lady Laura Bush, a former librarian, has championed the literacy problem and actively promotes reading in general—emphasizing early reading for children as young as six months. States establishing comprehensive early reading programs based on scientific research will be eligible for grants under a new Reading First initiative.

Other aspects of the plan call for expansion in the flexibility of using Title 1 (government subsidy) money to improve the quality of entire schools. For states, there will also be rewards for successful efforts to narrow the achievement gap. States could have their federal funding reduced if they do not meet their performance objectives and demonstrate results in academic achievement.

The plan also calls for more promotion of informed parental choice and improved teacher quality, along with a strengthening of math and science education. It even moves toward making our schools safer in the 21st century.

Our children are our future, and here in America, they should be receiving the best education available anywhere. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. We find high school graduates having to take remedial courses just to enable them to take basic college courses. We know this a major problem nationwide. Bush’s "No Child Left Behind" program is all-encompassing, and our school systems will be on a better track because of it.