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Bush urges quick action on education reforms

MILWAUKEE (CNN) -- President Bush urged educators and officials Wednesday to quickly implement educational reforms signed into law in January that call for tough accountability measures and more flexibility for administrators and parents.

The nonpartisan new law -- dubbed the No Child Left Behind Act -- is a broad rewrite of the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act. It emphasizes reading as a first step to learning, making sure teachers are properly trained and installing an "accountability system" to ensure children receive the best education possible.

Bush combined his comments at Rufus King International High School with a government lesson, saying there is a renewed commitment since the September 11 terrorist attacks to make America a better place.

"Out of evil can come good, and it starts with making sure every child has a good education," the president said.

"They [teachers and school officials] know if you lower expectations, if you lower the bar, if you believe certain children can't learn, guess what's going to happen -- certain children won't learn," Bush said.

"If you believe in high standards and if you believe in high expectations, if you believe that if you challenge the students that they can achieve, then you also welcome accountability."

Bush emphasized teacher training, saying his proposed fiscal 2002 budget contains an additional $3 billion for teacher recruitment and training. The new education law encourages more people to go into the teaching profession by offering to forgive up to $17,500 in college debt for those agreeing to teach math, science or special education in low-income areas.

Another key part of the new education measure allows teachers and administrators to take "reasonable measures" to keep classrooms and school areas safe, without the fear of being sued, Bush said.

"A teacher must be able to take control of his or her classroom to impact knowledge," he said.

Bush also urged the students to become volunteers in their communities.

"If you want to fight evil, do some good," he said. "One person can't do everything. But one person can make an enormous difference in the life of somebody who needs help."

Introducing Bush was Education Secretary Rod Paige, who is on a multi-state tour to promote the education reforms, which he said allow parents to seek tutoring for their children and other measures if they feel their school isn't meeting their expectations.

Bush also will travel to Michigan and Ohio, combining all the visits with fund-raising campaigns.




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