President Bush has signed legislation that could have a dramatic impact on public schools across the United States. The education reform bill holds schools accountable for the performance of their students and is designed to make sure all American children get a good education.
The president said thanks to this legislation no child will be left behind. "From this day forward," he stressed, "all students will have a better chance to learn, to excel and to live out their dreams."
He signed this bill far from official Washington, in the auditorium of a high school in the town of Hamilton, Ohio. Mr. Bush noted there was no better place to turn this bill into the law of the land. "Most bills are signed at the White House," said Mr. Bush. "But I wanted to sign this bill in one of the most important places in America - a public school."
The president signed the legislation with the flourish of a pen before an audience of students, teachers and parents. He told them America's public education system will never be the same. "As of this hour, American schools will be on a new path of reform and a new path of results," he said.
The bill sets up a national testing system to make sure children meet basic learning levels in reading, writing and arithmetic. Schools with poor marks will get help to improve. If they still fail, they will lose federal funds and parents will be given other options to help their children learn.
The legislation was the result of long months of negotiations involving members of Congress from all points on the political spectrum. President Bush, now facing a heated battle with lawmakers over the economy, said the education bill shows what can happen when lawmakers put the needs of the people first. "We made it [we got this bill] because proud members of the House and the Senate, loyal to their parties, decided to set partisan politics aside and focus on what was right for America," he said.
To underscore his call for continued bipartisanship, Mr. Bush staged a victory tour for the legislation, visiting the home states and districts of lawmakers who played a key role in drafting the measure. He signed it in the Ohio district represented by Republican John Boehner, the Chairman of the House Education Committee. Also on his itinerary is a stop in Boston, the home of the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, Massachusetts Democrat Ted Kennedy.