The Bush administration’s failure to fully fund reforms for early grades and to focus on higher education could leave the United States behind in the global economy, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., said last week.
In a Jan. 12 speech at the National Press Club in Washington, in which he urged Democrats to maintain their opposition to Republicans on social-policy issues, Sen. Kennedy criticized what he called President Bush’s “tin cup” education budget and some of his education policies.
Calling the No Child Left Behind Act “only a start,” Mr. Kennedy, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, said the government needs to “do more—much more—to see that students are ready for college, can afford college, and can graduate from college.”
He called for a national strategy on education “to ensure that America can advance, not retreat, in the global economy in the years ahead.”
Mr. Kennedy’s remarks came on the same day that Mr. Bush spoke at a Virginia school about his plan for high schools. (“Bush Promotes Plan for High School Tests,” this issue.)
The senator said there is a more urgent need to fund improvement in the earlier grades. Unless the country does so, he said, “what we do in high schools will matter far less.”
Referring to American students’ poor results in the recent Program for International Student Assessment that showed U.S. 15-year-olds lagging behind their peers from other industrialized nations, Mr. Kennedy called for “a renaissance in the study of math and science.”
He advocated raising national standards in math and science to make them competitive in an international arena, and for encouraging more students to pursue advanced degrees in math and science.
A version of this article appeared in the January 19, 2005 edition of Education Week