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Bush Campaigns for Education Reform

President Bush is on the road, campaigning for his education reform plan. He is visiting schools in the state of Florida and putting pressure on Congress.

The President's public appearances for the rest of the week will focus largely on one issue: improving the nation's schools. In Jacksonville, Florida he met with students, teachers and parents. He talked about the need to teach children to read early and well.

Mr. Bush said reading is not a partisan issue. It is an American issue. He said, "Reading is essential. And we have got to get it right as a nation."

Congress is now wrestling with the federal government's role in education. Schools in the United States are controlled at the local level. But Washington can set certain regulations and standards, and provide extra money.

The White House says improving education is a priority for the President. But his push for reform comes at a time when the economy is slowing, and lawmakers are fighting over the federal budget.

In his public appearances Mr. Bush is seeking the moral high ground on the issue, saying America must invest in its children. "America will be a much better place when we teach - not if, but when we teach - every child in this great country to read," he said.

Democrats in Congress say they share the goal. But they wonder aloud if the nation can afford to pay for increases in the two top items on the president's agenda: education and defense. And they are challenging the Republican Bush White House to come up with new budget figures that will enable the nation to pay for both during a time of declining federal revenues.