What Bush Said . . .
“Some say it is unfair to hold disadvantaged children to rigorous standards. I say it is discrimination to require anything less--the soft bigotry of low expectations. Some say that schools can’t be expected to teach, because there are too many broken families, too many immigrants, too much diversity. I say that pigment and poverty need not determine performance. That myth is disproved by good schools every day. Excuse-making must end before learning can begin . . .
“It is a scandal of the first order when the average test scores of African-American and Latino students at age 17 are roughly the same as white 13-year-olds. Whatever the cause, the effect is discrimination. . . .
“At last count, the federal government had 760 different education programs operating within 39 different agencies, boards and commissions. Each was launched as a step toward reform. But the actual results are usually a mystery, because no one measures them.
"The goal here is to strengthen public schools by expecting performance--to increase the number of schools where children are likely to learn. But if a school, with ample time to change, continues to fail, there must be some final point of accountability. Some moment of truth. In the best case, these schools will rise to the challenge and regain the confidence of parents. In the worst case, we will offer scholarships to America’s neediest children, allowing them to get the emergency help they should have. In any case, the federal government will not longer pay schools to cheat poor children. . . .”
. . . and the Response
“Vouchers undermine our public schools . . . by draining badly needed public tax dollars into private and parochial schools.”
Education Secretary Richard W. Riley
"Governor Bush’s proposal to withdraw funding from struggling schools and use it on vouchers is out of touch with the American people.”
National Education Association President Robert Chase
"I don’t think school vouchers are the answer to the problems of public education.”
Democrat presidential candidate Bill Bradley