Recent polls put education at the top of the list of voters’ concerns this election season. Naturally, politicians, reacting like weathervanes, are airing more than the usual number of television commercials about schools, teachers, and kids. Some want prayer in school and the federal government out. Some use teachers to testify to their educational bona fides, while others use them as a punching bag. Here are some of their solutions, in 30 seconds flat.
George W. Bush
Governor of Texas
“I’ve set the most clear and profound goal I can think of, and that is for every single child in the state of Texas to read by 3rd grade....Today, too many kids are automatically moved to the next grade level even if they can’t do the work. We’re going to test our children to make sure they can read. If they can’t, we’ll give them extra help to catch up. And we’ll give them more chances to pass the test, but we’re putting an end to automatic promotion. I know with high expectations, the children of Texas will soar.”
(Narrator) “When it comes to education, Senator D’Amato knows the liberals are wrong. Our public school system isn’t working because liberals have put union demands ahead of our children. Al D’Amato wants to change that. It’s time to expel violent, disruptive juveniles so good kids can learn. It’s time for merit pay. That means more for good teachers and getting bad teachers out of the classroom. And finally, it’s time we told the teachers’ unions to put our children first.”
Governor of Pennsylvania
(Narrator) “Low expectations, low standards, values taught at school, not home-that’s outcome-based education. A fuzzy, feel-good program that lowers education’s standards... That’s when Tom Ridge went to work, set tough new standards: Emphasize math, reading, science. Today, Ridge’s new Read To Succeed program will make sure every child can read by the 3rd grade, give special help to those who need it.’'
(Ridge, to a group of students) “Dream big dreams and never, never, give up.’'
Florida gubernatorial candidate
“Three years ago, I helped start a new public elementary school because I didn’t want to just talk about education. That’s why I’ve visited more than 150 schools to talk with teachers and kids about what works and what doesn’t.”
(Turning to a child) “What do you think?”
U.S. Senate candidate from New York
“When Al D’Amato attacks good teachers like these, he forgets they’re part of the solution to our education crisis. I’ll work with parents and teachers-Democrats and Republicans-to improve our schools. It’s a matter of raising standards so a diploma means something. And making sure deserving students can afford college by making all tuition tax deductible. Senator D’Amato, playing politics with our schools is a mistake-that’s a lesson you just haven’t learned.”
Governor of Michigan
“What’s it take to get the best schools in the world? It takes a safe, disciplined environment. Where violent students are removed. We’ve stressed putting teachers in charge, getting the parents and the community involved. But still we can do more. I’ve launched a reading initiative to make sure that every child in Michigan is a good reader by the time they’re done with the 3rd grade. My goal is to have every child prepared to be able to go to college or to go into the work force. And if we continue to build on the foundation we’ve put in place, Michigan truly will be first in the 21st century.”