Published Online: October 12, 1988

Bush Plan Asks Young Americans To Help Out 'Where the Want Is'

Vice President George Bush, the Republican Presidential nominee, last week unveiled a proposal aimed at encouraging high-school and college students to participate in community volunteer efforts.

Youth Engaged in Service to America, or yes, would be a federal challenge-grant program designed to build upon existing youth-service programs and spur the creation of new ones, the Vice President said.

Mr. Bush outlined the plan in an address to the Sacramento Comstock Club, a business and civic organization, saying the federal government would provide $100 million to be matched by private funds.

He would personally chair the volunteer board of directors, he added.

Mr. Bush said the proposal is one example of what he means when he says he wants a "kinder, gentler nation."

"I want young men and women of our tree-lined suburbs to get on a bus, or the subway, or the metro, and go into the cities where the want is," he said.

"Think of the children you know," he continued. "They're not the hollow-eyed children of the ghetto. They live in warm, well-lit homes and they have clothes to wear and more good food than they choose to eat. Some--perhaps many--have $40 jeans and $50 sneakers."

Mr. Bush said the emphasis of the program would be the development of school-based volunteer programs to enable students to give service while maintaining their studies and other activities.

Eventually, Mr. Bush said, he would like to see academic credit awarded for students' efforts in volunteer projects.

'Noblesse Oblige'

Peg Rosenberry, executive director of the National Association of Service and Conservation Corps, warned that while it is positive to have Presidential candidates talking about youth service, it is not appropriate to encourage service for only one part of the student population.

"The only problem I have with what I've heard so far is the overtones of 'noblesse oblige,' or 'Let's go help the needy on the weekend,"' Ms. Rosenberry said.

She said that groups affiliated with her organization have found that the disadvantaged can benefit from being involved in public service as much as being the recipients of public service.

"You shouldn't draw lines between the middle class and the poor," she said. "You shouldn't designate one as the resource and the other as the client, but rather encourge all to become involved in community service."


In another speech last week at Arapahoe High School in Littleton, Colo., Mr. Bush briefly outlined a comprehensive program "to invest in our children."

The program includes many of the education and child-care plans he has already proposed, but he also outlined some new initiatives.

For example, the plan calls for the creation of a "nationwide parent-locator system" to track down those who are delinquent in child-support payments.

It also suggests making some of the costs of adoption tax-deductible and making adoption a focus in family planning. The plan would also expand Medicaid coverage for children from families below the poverty line and include requests for "sufficient funding" for child-nutrition programs.

Mr. Bush proposed spending $10 million to help states test schools for radon. A similar proposal is now pending in the Congress.

He also said he would "finish the job" of cleaning up asbestos in schools, houses, and public buildings.

Overall, the package, including the education and child-care initiatives, is estimated to cost about $3 billion in the first year.

Bush campaign aides said last week that it had not been determined which other government programs Mr. Bush might cut to fund these new initiatives. The Vice President has repeatedly said that as a part of his "flexible freeze" budget plan he would offset any new programs with cuts in existing programs.


Meanwhile, Gov. Michael S. Dukakis of Massachusetts, the Democratic Presidential nominee, last week announced a $15-million proposal to improve science teaching.

The "national science teaching partnership" would fund efforts to bring working and retired scientists and engineers into elementary- and secondary-school classrooms, according to a campaign aide.

The scientists could serve as part-time instructors, "mentors" for teachers, or teacher's aides. Retired scientists, or those willing to take leaves of absence, could become full-time teachers.

The program would also forgive the federal loans of graduate science students who agree to teach.

The Dukakis plan calls for "three-way cost-sharing" between the federal government, school districts, and the private sector, the aide said.

On the campaign trail last week, Mr. Dukakis cited statistics on dropout rates, test scores, and illiteracy in warning voters that their children may not be able to achieve a standard of living as high as theirs.

He also visited an elementary-school classroom in Hartford, Conn., where a 4th grader gave him a sterling opening for a one-liner.

The Governor asked the children to name some "bad drugs," and one student added Mr. Bush's name to a more conventional list.

"Is George Bush a drug?" Mr. Dukakis replied. "Does he put you to sleep?"


Lauro F. Cavazos, the new Secretary of Education, did some campaigning for Mr. Bush recently in his home state of Texas.

Mr. Cavazos appeared with President Reagan at a Republican fundraiser in Houston, where the Secretary led the gathering in the Pledge of Allegiance.

Mahlon Anderson, an Education Department spokesman, said the Bush campaign asked Mr. Cavazos to make the appearance when it learned he was planning a visit to Texas. Mr. Cavazos attended homecoming festivities at Texas Tech University, which he headed before accepting the Cabinet post, and tied up personal loose ends, Mr. Anderson said.


Mr. Cavazos' predecessor, William J. Bennett, also continued his rhetorical efforts on behalf of Mr. Bush.

Mr. Bennett told reporters in New Orleans, where he addressed a National Alliance of Business conference, that the Vice President supports teacher accountability and Mr. Dukakis does not, "because it is controversial."

He claimed the Governor vetoed a bill that would have allowed some Boston parents to send their children to suburban schools because the Massachusetts Teachers Association opposed it, adding: "George Bush is willing to disagree with special-interest groups on education; Mike Dukakis is not."

At the conference, Mr. Bennett reportedly advocated tough, state-mandated graduation requirements. Last month, he had attacked Mr. Dukakis on the grounds that his state's government has too much control over local schools.

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