Bush Highlights School Safety Agenda
In the third major education policy speech of his campaign for next
year's Republican presidential nomination, Gov. George W. Bush argued
last week that schools receiving federal money for safety and anti-drug
programs should be required to demonstrate results from their
The governor of Texas outlined several proposals in a Nov. 2 address in Gorham, N.H., that focused on school safety, discipline, and character education.
He said the $600 million Safe and Drug- Free Schools and Communities program—which is administered by the Department of Education—lacks sufficient accountability measures. "Nobody really knows how the money is spent, much less whether it is doing any good," Mr. Bush said.
He also said students at schools that were "persistently dangerous" should be allowed to transfer to another school. And school districts that receive federal school safety funds should be expected to enact a zero-tolerance policy for persistently disruptive behavior, he added.
Mr. Bush delivered his first education policy speech in September. It focused in part on helping disadvantaged children. In an October speech, he proposed ways to prod states to raise the academic achievement of all students. ("Bush Outlines Broad Testing Plan for Schools," Oct. 13, 1999.)
In last week's address, he spent considerable time discussing character education and proposed tripling federal funding for such programs from $8 million to $25 million. While stressing that character-building should begin with students' parents, Mr. Bush said "parents should expect schools to be allies in the moral education of children."
Mr. Bush said that charities and faith- based organizations should be allowed to participate in federally financed after-school programs, and that students should be permitted to make voluntary expressions of religious faith at school. "Schools must never impose religion—but they must not oppose religion either," he said.
Mr. Bush also said that, if elected president, he would propose a Teacher Protection Act that would shield school officials who take disciplinary measures from "meritless federal lawsuits when they enforce reasonable rules."
He called for stepping up the enforcement of federal laws that prohibit students from bringing guns into public schools, and he said that any juvenile found guilty of a serious gun offense should be barred for life from purchasing or carrying a gun.
—Erik W. Robelen
Vol. 19, Issue 11, Page 33