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Bush Touts Education Reform Policies - 2004-01-06


Unlike the Democrats vying for their party's presidential nomination, President Bush faces no major challengers in the Republican ranks. That is a big advantage for the president.

While the Democrats debate in Iowa, and campaign in New Hampshire, President Bush can make his case to the voters simply by doing his job and putting his accomplishments before the public.

On Monday, he did just that. He traveled to the state of Missouri to call attention to his education reform policies. Mr. Bush went to a high-performing urban school in St. Louis where he was photographed chatting with children and receiving praise from teachers and parents. "Making sure every child learns to read and making sure every child is educated is the number one domestic priority of this country. It is essential that we get it right," he said.

It has been about two years since Mr. Bush signed legislation making his education reform program the law of the land. It is called the No Child Left Behind Act, and it sets tough standards for schools, teachers and students.

Opponents say it relies too much on testing, and complain the president did not request enough money to fully fund the program. Mr. Bush denies that is the case, and says when communities, teachers and parents all get involved even children in the toughest low-income neighborhoods can learn.

He cited the school he visited in St. Louis, the Pierre LeClede Elementary School, as a good example. "LeClede Elementary School shatters stereotypes. It shows that we can have excellence in every single classroom across this country, that it is not just suburban America where we find excellence," he said.

Later this week Mr. Bush will deliver a similar message at a school in the state of Tennessee. And in Tennessee, as in Missouri, he will pair an education event with a campaign fund-raiser. In St. Louis, in one evening, he raised $2.8 million. "It lifts my spirits to see so many people here. It gives me great confidence that we are on the path to victory," he said.

The president has long passed any of the Democrats seeking the White House in terms of raising campaign money from contributors. Because he has no serious opposition for his party's nomination, Mr. Bush can hold most of his campaign contributions in reserve for use after the Democratic Party chooses its nominee.

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