Leaving All Children Behind: Bush’s Policy on Education Earns a Failing Grade

In 2000, amidst the multitude of campaign promises, slogans, and other memorable one-liners that usually accompany a presidential campaign, Governor George W. Bush made a promise to the people of this country, by saying that he would increase funding for educational programs, so that he would “Leave No Child Behind”. As soon as he came into office, he made sure only to leave no millionaire behind, by delivering trillions in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans. As for the children of America, who looked to him to make good on his word to enhance their education, and make their futures look brighter, the president decided to raise the testing standards for students, but never gave them the ability to meet those standards.

In his recent budget, he outlined hundreds of programs that would have their funding slashed or cut altogether, including social service programs, senior care, and education. He started with the Head Start programs, by freezing all new enrollment, so that over 40% of eligible students will never be able to attend Head Start programs. He even cut his own “No Child Left Behind” programs by more than $33 Billion. Bush also cut a program that gave education to children belonging to military families. His audacious cuts in education have angered so many states, that the National Board of Governors voted unanimously to label “No Child Left Behind” as an “unfunded mandate”. 22 states are even considering enacting laws to challenge Bush’s education policies.

Bush’s cuts in education programs alone account for more than one-third of his overall cuts in domestic programs. He has proposed getting rid of Perkins Loans, and failed to raise the maximum PELL Grant award to $5,100 as he promised to do during his campaign. This is typical of the agenda he has pursued for more than four years- one that neglects the disadvantaged in this country, only to give major tax breaks to the wealthy. Title I programs, which are education programs that help poor communities across the country, are facing hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts by the Bush Administration. Almost all higher education funding will be severely cut, as will most adult literacy programs in the country.

The hardest hit by these cuts are college students. While the loan and grant programs are being destroyed, since Bush became president, tuition has risen over 35% in community colleges alone. Students, especially those who are in the middle and lower classes, are forced to pay hundreds of dollars a year in more tuition, with money they don’t have. Many students have dropped out of school because they cannot afford to continue paying for their education. Even those who are receiving education loans are in danger, as the Republicans are considering making the interest rates on student loans variable rates, as opposed to fixed rates. Today, with interest rates on the rise, that would make students pay millions more in interest alone, and also create unnecessary concern in students during times of economic uncertainty, like during the current market situation.

The Bush Administration seems to live for today, without concern about tomorrow. While wasting away billions of dollars committing war crimes across the world, Bush finds himself unable to play War for too much longer, so decides to cut other programs to fund his lust for war. Meanwhile, the children of America are losing this war, as they find themselves out of schools they belong in- from Head Start to College. While funding a war may be fun at times, President Bush has shown his inability to see the bigger picture, and demonstrate a commitment to America’s long-term health. By cutting education, he is robbing not only the student, but America, from having a brighter future. Tomorrow’s leaders are being taught in broken down schools, and with bleak prospects for success in their futures. The president may not care what this country looks like in 20 years, because he’ll be living off an executive salary paid for by the oil companies who receive their funding from the taxpayers. So today, while he whittles away his time in office enjoying himself, he cares very little about his broken promises, or what tomorrow may bring for American and the world.

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