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Bush Asks Congress to Increase Education Spending - 2003-01-04

President Bush wants Congress to increase U.S. education spending by more than $2 billion. Mr. Bush is beginning to outline his legislative agenda as Congress prepares to return to Washington with Republican majorities in both houses.

President Bush is marking the first anniversary of his education reforms with a request for more federal money to help states and local governments improve reading programs and help children from low income families.

"Across America, states and school districts are working hard to implement these reforms," the president said. "They are developing accountability plans and beginning innovative tutoring plans. The path to real reform and better results is not easy, but it is essential."

The reforms passed last year include more local control over spending, higher teaching standards, and mandatory testing for children in grades 3-8.

In his weekly radio address, the president said he wants this year's budget to reflect the priorities of those reforms including $1 billion more for programs targeting children from low income families.

He is also asking Congress to boost funding for the Reading First program which is designed to have every American child reading by the third grade. He wants more than $1 billion more for that program, an increase of $75 million over last year's funding.

The changes allow parents to move their children to better public schools or receive funding to pay for after school tutoring or other academic help.

"No parent will have to settle year after year for schools that do not teach and will not change," Mr. Bush promised. " Instead of getting excuses, parents will now get choices."

Unlike his last few weekly radio addresses which have focused on conflict with Iraq and North Korea, President Bush used education reform to return to domestic issues as he prepares for Republican majorities in both Houses of Congress.

Mr. Bush will unveil an economic stimulus plan in Chicago Tuesday which is expected to include faster income tax cuts, lower taxes on corporate dividends and tax breaks for new business investments.