Speaking to the nation for the first time as president-elect, Gov. George W. Bush of Texas pledged Wednesday night to unite Democrats and Republicans in the mission of improving America’s schools.
President-elect George W. Bush identified education as a top priority in his Dec. 13 address from the Texas State Capitol in Austin.
“Together, we will work to make all our public schools excellent, teaching every student of every background and every accent, so that no child is left behind,” Mr. Bush said in his address from the chamber of the Texas House of Representatives.
He cited education as one of several major issues in which there was “remarkable consensus” between his priorities and those of his Democratic rival, Vice President Al Gore.
“We have discussed our differences; now it is time to find common ground,” the president-elect said.
During his campaign, Mr. Bush’s education platform combined a demand for greater accountability for student achievement with calls for more flexibility in the use of federal education aid. Mr. Gore also stressed accountability in education. One part of the Bush plan that drew strong opposition from Mr. Gore proposes giving federally funded education vouchers to students in chronically failing schools that receive Title I aid.
President-elect Bush’s Dec. 13 speech came one hour after Vice President Gore conceded defeat in one of the closest presidential elections in the nation’s history. The outcome was not resolved until 36 days after voters went to the polls Nov. 7. A U.S. Supreme Court decision handed down Tuesday night effectively ended Mr. Gore’s challenge to Mr. Bush’s certification as the winner of Florida’s crucial 25 electoral votes. That gives the Texas governor 271 votes in the Electoral College, one more than the required majority.
Republicans will now control the White House and both houses of Congress for the first time in nearly half a century. The Senate will be divided 50-50, but Mr. Bush’s vice president, Richard B. Cheney, can be called upon to break any tie votes, in accordance with his constitutional role as the body’s presiding officer. The House is expected to be divided 221-212, with two Independents.
Check Education Week on the Web later today and in the coming weeks for additional coverage of education-related developments in the presidential transition.