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Bush Promotes Education Reform in Key Campaign States - 2002-05-08

President Bush continued to campaign on his education reforms Wednesday. Mr. Bush is visiting three U.S. states this week that are crucial to Republican prospects in November legislative elections.

With polls showing more Americans again concerned by domestic issues, President Bush is increasingly speaking about more than the war against terrorism or violence in the Middle East.

In the Midwest state of Wisconsin Wednesday, it was education reform at a rally championing a law Mr. Bush signed earlier this year requiring annual testing of math and reading skills for children between the ages of six and 13.

The president gave a similar speech in the state of Michigan Monday and will visit Ohio on Friday. Along with Wisconsin, the states are key to Republican hopes of maintaining its majority in the House of Representatives and regaining a majority in the Senate.

Reform is the centerpiece of a 25-city tour organized by the Department of Education to champion the "No Child Left Behind Act." In Wisconsin Wednesday, Mr. Bush continued his call for more parental involvement in school decisions and better teacher training.

"Teachers, upon graduation, must be able to show, pass an exam in their specialty. I think that is important," the president said. " Particularly for teachers who are now in the classroom who view their profession rightly so as professionals. We want to make sure that others joining your ranks upon certification are able to pass an exam in the course in which they are supposed to be teaching."

The new law makes states responsible for setting academic standards for what their students should know in reading, math, and science.

It also gives parents more access to information on how their children are performing in school and greater freedom to move their children if that performance is not up to standards.

In Wisconsin, for example, the new law means that nearly 70,000 students who failed to meet state education standards for two years in a row will have the option of transferring to a better public school for the next school year.