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George W. Bush on Education

President of the United States, Former Republican Governor (TX)


Use federal government as lever for local reform

On education, Bush's core insight was to use federal government as a lever for reform while respecting that education is a state and local responsibility.

NCLB is one of the great modern domestic policy successes. Because of NCLB, reading scores for 9-year-olds have improved more in the last nine years than in the previous twenty-eight years combined, and math scores have reached record highs.

NCLB also changed the conversation about education. There's less talk now about money and more about how children are doing; less talk about feel-good pedagogy and more about what works, such as phonics.

But the education establishment continues to look down on NCLB. Many complain that the law forces educators to "teach to the test." Well, if it is a

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.237-238 , Nov 2, 2010

Education is the civil rights struggle of our time

In 2000, we wanted voters to see Gov. Bush as a different kind of Republican who would restore dignity and honor to a tarnished White House. In 2004, we wanted voters to see Pres. Bush as a strong leader who, even if you didn't agree with him, was making decisions on what he thought would best protect America. The central question voters have for every campaign is: Why elect your guy? In both cases, we answered that with a clear, compelling, and true message that met an overarching political issue.

Issues are also ways for people to understand a candidate's character and values. For example, when Bush said education was the civil rights struggle of our time or that the absence of an accountability system in our schools meant black, brown, poor, and rural children were getting left behind, it gave listeners important information about his respect and concern for every family and deepened the impression that he was a different kind of Republican whom suburban voters could be proud to support.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p. 6-7 , Mar 9, 2010

As Texas Gov., made reading initiative a top priority

I recall two times when I saw the governor really mad, and both dealt with education.

One happened after a meeting with the Texas Education Agency staff, who'd come to report that 33,000 children had failed the 3rd-grade minimum reading skills exam. This test was at the "see Spot run" level. When he asked what happened to the children, the bureaucrats told the governor that 29,000 of them had been passed to the 4th grade. It made Bush mad because he understood a child who doesn't learn to read by th 3rd grade cannot possibly succeed. The meeting helped convince him to make a reading initiative a top priority.

As he later traveled the state to whip up support for it, an elderly teacher lectured him that it would fail because, as she put it, "Governor, there are just some kids who can't learn to read." Her implication was that this was because their skin color was different. That just made Bush mad as hell. After that, nothing was going to stand in the way of getting this proposal done.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p.111 , Mar 9, 2010

Signing statement: No independent research on education

Pres. Bush issued this signing statement instructing federal agencies on his interpretation of Congressional laws:

Nov. 5, 2002: Creates an Institute of Education Sciences whose director may conduct and publish research ‘’without the approval of the secretary“ of education.

Bush’s signing statement: The president has the power to control the actions of all executive branch officials, so ”the Institute of Education Sciences shall be subject to the direction of the secretary of education.

Source: Boston Globe analysis of presidential signing statements , Apr 30, 2006

Propose additional resources for education

I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative. First, I propose to double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years. This funding will support the work of America’s most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology and supercomputing and alternative energy sources. 2nd, I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit to encourage bolder private-sector initiative in technology. Third, we need to encourage children to take more math and science and to make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We’ve made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country. I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers to lead Advanced Placement courses in math and science, bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach and give early help to students who struggle with math
Source: 2006 State of the Union Address , Jan 31, 2006

Reading is the new civil right

You cannot solve a problem unless you diagnose the problem. And we weren’t diagnosing problems. And therefore just kids were being shuffled through the school. And guess who would get shuffled through? Children whose parents wouldn’t speak English as a first language just move through. Many inner-city kids just move through. We’ve stopped that practice now by measuring early. And when we find a problem, we spend extra money to correct it. I remember a lady in Houston, Texas, told me, “Reading is the new civil right,“ and she’s right. In order to make sure people have jobs for the 21st century, we’ve got to get it right in the education system, and we’re beginning to close a minority achievement gap now. You see, we’ll never be able to compete in the 21st century unless we have an education system that doesn’t quit on children, an education system that raises standards, an education that makes sure there’s excellence in every classroom.
Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ , Oct 13, 2004

Required Texas schools to teach phonics over whole language

The whole language approach, used in the “Dick and Jane” series of books which first came out in 1929, required kids to memorize words. Prior to the introduction of these so called progressive methods promoted by education professors, schools going back to ancient Greece had taught kids to read by sounding out letters and combinations of letters, a method known as phonetics.

[As governor in 1995, Bush] understood there was empirical, scientific evidence that could help Texas make better decisions about how we teach kids to read. By then, “science” had become a code word for phonics. But the educational establishment was so fanatically wedded to the whole-language method [so proponents] referred to what the “science” had found about reading.

Bush devised legislation that would tie Texas state funding to use of a reading method whose efficacy had been proven, meaning phonics. To create more accountability, schools that did not improve were penalized.

Source: A Matter of Character, by Ronald Kessler, p. 61-67 , Aug 5, 2004

Progressing towards excellence for every child

All skills begin with the basics of reading and math, which are supposed to be learned in the early grades of our schools. Yet for too long, for too many children, those skills were never mastered. The No Child Left Behind Act has made the expectation of literacy the law of our country.

But the status quo always has defenders. Some want to undermine the No Child Left Behind Act by weakening standards and accountability. Yet the results we require are really a matter of common sense: We expect third-graders to read and do math at the third-grade level. That’s not asking too much.

Testing is the only way to identify and help students who are falling behind. This nation will not go back to the days of simply shuffling children along from grade to grade without them learning the basics. I refuse to give up on any child. And the No Child Left Behind Act is opening the door of opportunity to all of America’s children.

Source: 2004 State of the Union address to joint session of Congress , Jan 20, 2004

Jobs for the 21st Century: more high school help

We must ensure that older students and adults can gain the skills they need to find work now. Many of the fastest- growing occupations require strong math and science preparation and training beyond the high-school level. So tonight I propose a series of measures called Jobs for the 21st Century. This program will provide extra help to middle- and high-school students who fall behind in reading and math, expand Advanced Placement programs in low-income schools, invite math and science professionals from the private sector to teach part-time in our high schools.

I propose larger Pell Grants for students who prepare for college with demanding courses in high school. I propose increasing support for America’s fine community colleges, so they can train workers for industries that are creating the most new jobs. By all these actions, we will help more and more Americans to join in the growing prosperity of our country.

Source: 2004 State of the Union address to joint session of Congress , Jan 20, 2004

Reading First program successful

Through the new Reading First program, $412 million has been distributed to 20 states to help schools and districts improve children’s reading achievement using scientifically proven methods of instruction.
Source: 2004 Presidential website, georgewbush.com , Aug 30, 2003

Public schools are America’s great hope

Public schools are America’s great hope, and making them work for every child is America’s great duty. The President’s historic education reform is compassionate because it requires schools to meet new, high standards of performance in reading and math. The new reforms also give local schools and teachers the freedom, resources and training to meet their needs. It is conservative to let local communities chart their own path to excellence. It is compassionate to make sure that no child is left behind.
Source: 2004 Presidential website, georgewbush.com , Aug 29, 2003

Commitments: testing; local control; federal help; options

    Real education reform reflects 4 basic commitments:
  1. Children must be tested every year in reading and math, every single year. I oppose a national test, because it would undermine local control of schools and undermine state curricula. But states should test each student each year.
  2. The agents of reform must be schools and school districts, not bureaucracy. One size does not fit all. Educational entrepreneurs should not be hindered by excessive rules and red tape and regulation.
  3. Many of our schools, particularly low-income schools, will need help in the transition to higher standards. When a state sets standards, we must help schools achieve those standards. We must measure. We must know. And if a school or school district falls short, we must understand that help should be applied.
  4. American children must not be left in persistently dangerous or failing schools. When schools do not teach and will not change, parents and students must have other meaningful options.
Source: Announcement of Education Bill (1st bill sent to Congress) , Jan 23, 2001

Dedicated to TX education, plus Laura's reading initiatives

On the education issue, Bush has been bipartisan in the best tradition of the Texas Legislature, actually working more effectively with Democrats than with many members of his own party.

In addition to his impressive performance in the context of the Legislature on education issues, he has used the bully pulpit, one of the few real powers of his office. In 1998 alone he made 47 speeches on education, almost one a week. Schools are easily his favorite campaign photo op, but he also visits them to dramatize education issues even when he's not running. He enjoys fielding the wacky questions kids ask. Another player who deserves credit here is Bush's wife, Laura. She is a former librarian who has chosen reading as her particular concern, the one she promotes in her role as first lady of the state.

Source: Shrub, by Molly Ivins, p. 123 , Oct 1, 2000

Poor kids can’t read; now is the time to teach them

Bush: “Seven out of 10 fourth graders in our highest poverty schools cannot read a simple children’s book. Millions are trapped in schools where violence is common and learning is rare.” Bush: ”Now is the time to teach all our children to read and renew the promise of America’s public schools.“
Source: Television advertisement script, “Education Agenda” , Aug 21, 2000

End the soft bigotry of low expectations in our schools

Too many American children are segregated into schools without standards, shuffled from grade-to-grade because of their age, regardless of their knowledge. This is discrimination, pure and simple -- the soft bigotry of low expectations. And our nation should treat it like other forms of discrimination: We should end it.
Source: Speech to Republican National Convention , Aug 3, 2000

“Silver Scholarships” for kids from seniors who volunteer

Under Bush’s “silver scholarship” program, senior citizens could volunteer as tutors in after-school programs in exchange for $1,000 educational scholarships. Seniors who volunteer at least 500 hours a year would be eligible for the scholarships, which they then could pass on to their children, grandchildren or other children in need. Bush said, “Today’s elderly are the best-educated generation of seniors in history,” and many are eager to help. The pilot project would be limited to 10,000 volunteers.
Source: Richard T. Cooper, L.A. Times , May 20, 2000

Character education grants & American Youth Character Awards

Bush supports funding for character education grants to states and districts to train teachers how to incorporate character -building lessons and activities in student coursework; Governor Bush will require federal programs affecting young people, including juvenile justice programs, to teach character education; and he will establish the American Youth Character Awards to honor young people who distinguish themselves by their character.
Source: Press Release, Temple TX , Apr 20, 2000

Zero tolerance on disruption, guns, & school safety

Source: GeorgeWBush.com: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ , Apr 2, 2000

‘Reading First’ confronts a national emergency

Source: Press Release reprinted in “Renewing America’s Purpose” , Mar 28, 2000

Freedom & flexibility in return for high standards & results

Q: Should federal money be linked to how well students perform on national or statewide tests? A: As president, I will fundamentally change the relationship between the states and federal government in education. I strongly believe in local control of schools and curriculum. We will grant unprecedented freedom and flexibility in return for high standards and results. In my administration, federal dollars will no longer follow failure. We will ask states and local school districts to set their own standards to achieve excellence in the core areas of math, English, science, and history, and hold them accountable for results. I oppose a national test because it would undermine curriculum developed at the state and local level.
Source: Associated Press , Feb 23, 2000

If poor kids don’t learn, give school funds to parents

If the federal government spends money, say on the poorest of the poor children, we need to ask a simple question: What are the results? Are the children learning? And if they are, we ought to give bonuses to schools for the poorest of the poor. But if they’re not, if the poorest of the poor remain in trapped schools, that money that would go to the school should go to the parent so the parent gets to make a different choice.
Source: Phoenix Arizona GOP Debate , Dec 7, 1999

Leave no child behind: reform Title I & Head Start

These reforms [will] set high standards, achieve real results, and make sure no child is left behind. “An ‘age of accountability’ is starting to replace an era of low expectations,” Bush said.
Source: Press Release, “No Child Left Behind” , Oct 15, 1999

Evolution & creationism both valid; let states decide

On teaching evolution in schools, Bush believes both evolution and creationism are valid educational subjects. “He believes it is a question for states and local school boards to decide but believes both ought to be taught,” a spokeswoman said.
Source: Bruce Morton, CNN , Aug 27, 1999

As child, discovered that his younger brother was dyslexic

It was Junior who 1st noticed that Neil, the middle child in the family, had severe reading problems, which he was able to cover up until 2nd grade. A battery of tests revealed that Neil suffered from dyslexia, a neurological disorder that hinders the learning of literacy skills.

"Dyslexia, back in those days, was not well known," George W. later said. "Mother worked hard with Neil, disciplining, training, encouraging. She was the one who really spent time making sure that Neil could learn to read the basics."

"I look back on those years in West Texas," Barbara recalled, "and I wonder how I would have ever made it without my oldest son. There was never any groaning or moaning on his part. I probably put more responsibility on him than I should have, especially for a boy his age," she confessed. "But whom else could I turn to, with his father gone so much in those days? He was my Rock of Gibraltar. Plain and simple, and because of that, we have a very special relationship."

Source: Fortunate Son, by J.H.Hatfield, p. 25 , Aug 17, 1999

Teachers’ unions obstacle to school innovation

Bush said he would use the presidency to spur competition and innovation in the schools and said he believed teachers’ unions represent an obstacle to those efforts. ‘Yes, I do,’ he said.
Source: Dan Balz, The Washington Post , Apr 25, 1999

Teach values and moral responsibility in schools

Our children must also be educated in the values of our civil society. Some people think it’s inappropriate to make moral judgments anymore. Not me. We must be willing to draw a clear line between right and wrong. Those clear lines must be supported by political leaders, public schools and our public institutions. Educating our children about their moral and civil responsibilities will serve them-and the nation-every bit as well as the academic learning they require.
Source: Powell Lecture Series, Texas A&M Univ. , Apr 6, 1998


George W. Bush on Accountability

Raise standards and focus on results for our schools

We are transforming our schools by raising standards and focusing on results. We are insisting on accountability, empowering parents & teachers, and making sure that local people are in charge of their schools. By testing every child, we are identifying those who need help and providing a record level of funding. Challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations is the spirit of our education reform, and the commitment of our country: No dejaremos a ning£n ni¤o atr s. We will leave no child behind.
Source: 2004 Republican Convention Acceptance Speech , Sep 2, 2004

Pushed standardized testing as a top legislative priority

Bush devoted much of his first weeks as president to education reform, which would be his first legislative initiative. Until the events of 9/11, reforming education was a principal reason Bush wanted to be president. Bush wanted to provide money to states that agreed to administer standardized reading and math tests annually in grades three through eight.

Under Bush’s proposal, schools would be required to make steady progress toward raising proficiency, with all students required to reach state-defined acceptable levels by 2014. Schools deemed failing for two consecutive years would have to begin to allow students to transfer to better schools. After a third year of failing, they could use public money to hire private firms to tutor students. If a school continued to fail, it had to replace its principal and teachers or reopen as a charter school. Bush wanted vouchers so parents could send their kids to such schools.

Source: A Matter of Character, by Ronald Kessler, p. 91 & 97 , Aug 5, 2004

Local control is core principle of successful education

A fundamental principle of No Child Left Behind is that local parents, educators, and school boards know the needs of their students’ best and trusts them to make the best decisions for their children.
Source: 2004 Presidential website, georgewbush.com , Aug 30, 2003

Teaching to the Test is good, if testing basics

When it comes to our schools, dollars alone do not always make the difference. Funding is important, and so is reform. So we must tie funding to higher standards and accountability for results. I believe in local control of schools: we should not and we will not run our public schools from Washington, D.C. Yet when the federal government spends tax dollars, we must insist on results. Children should be tested on basic reading and math skills every year, between grades three and eight. Measuring is the only way to know whether all our children are learning - and I want to know, because I refuse to leave any child behind in America. Critics of testing contend it distracts from learning.

They talk about “teaching to the test.” But let’s put that logic to the test. If you test a child on basic math and reading skills, and you’re “teaching to the test,” you’re teaching math and reading. And that’s the whole idea.

Source: Message to Congress (Budget outline) , Feb 27, 2001

Time for real reform, not work around the edges

Source: Announcement of Education Bill (1st bill sent to Congress) , Jan 23, 2001

TX test score improvements not reflected on national tests

A new report by the Rand Corporation, a non-partisan think tank, challenges claims by Bush that education in Texas has vastly improved under his watch. The report finds that advances in reading and math have been only modest. Although students did much better on the state-administered TAAS test in 1998 than in 1994-giving rise to the idea of a “Texas miracle” in education, a centerpiece of the Bush campaign-those improvements were not reflected when students took a national test. And while the racial gap shrank dramatically in the state test, giving Bush reason to boast, the gap between white and minority students grew slightly in the national test.

Bush aides denounced the study as an “opinion paper” and called the findings “highly suspect,” pointing to a three-year Rand study released last summer that showed Texas test scores had dramatically improved between 1990 and 1996.

The new study analyzed a different set of data, which focused on the time Bush had been governor, 1994 to 1998.

Source: Anne Kornblut, Boston Globe, p. A25 , Oct 25, 2000

Focus on responsibility and parents, not on federal spending

Source: Boston Globe, p. A24 , Oct 3, 2000

Improve education with local control, accountability

“I believe every child can learn and I refuse to accept excuses when they don’t. My plan will renew parents’ faith in the schools their children attend. I will insist on accountability, local control and the importance of teaching every child to read.’’ Bush proposed a $47 billion, 10-year plan that would boost spending on literacy programs, college scholarships and give extra money to states that improve pupil achievement. He also wants vouchers that poor families could use for private-school tuition.
Source: AP Story, NY Times , Sep 25, 2000

Hold schools accountable and teach character

Bush’s education plan calls for education standards and a testing regimen for public schools. The federal government’s role should be limited. If poorly performing schools do not effect a marked improvement, they’ll have their federal money yanked away. What would have been destined for schools would then be turned into education vouchers for parents. Bush would lead an effort to develop charter schools, and he has also called for tripling federal funding for character education.
Source: Ian Christopher McCaleb, CNN.com , Sep 11, 2000

If you get federal money, you must return measurements

Any time the federal government spends money, we ought to expect accountability. We ought to expect a return on our dollar spent, which says, if you receive money, we expect you to measure on an annual basis. We want to know whether or not the children are learning to read and write and add and subtract. So step one is, in return for money, there’s accountability. Step two is, in return for success, there’ll be bonuses. And step three is, in return for failure then something has to happen.
Source: PBS Frontline interview, “The Battle Over School Choice” , May 23, 2000

Test every grade every year & publish results

Source: GeorgeWBush.com: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ , Apr 2, 2000

Link block grants & vouchers to student testing

In Bush’s model schoolhouse, every student would have to sit for an annual state test, and those students whose schools consistently failed to make the grade would be given a government check that they could use to attend a parochial or other private school. Bush favors block grants to states, but would [link them] to annual tests for elementary and middle-school students -- although the states would write the tests and decide what constitutes improvement.
Source: New York Times , Feb 29, 2000

State should enforce standards, not micromanage schools

The need to align authority and responsibility is a fundamental management principle.. When you give local schools and teachers the responsibility for teaching, yet try to have a distant authority dictate how they do so, you have defied this management principle and created a convenient excuse for failure. There is a role for the state, but it is not to micromanage local districts. The state’s role is to set clear standards, hold local districts accountable for results, and measure progress.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 28 -29. , Dec 9, 1999

Develop tests locally - no national tests

I don’t believe in national testing. I believe that local folks ought to develop their own tests and their own standards because I strongly believe in local control of schools. I also believe in charter schools. I believe in education savings accounts to give parents a $5,000 per year contribution to be able to save for their children. My plan says less power in Washington, not more.
Source: Phoenix Arizona GOP Debate , Dec 7, 1999

Help failing students pass - without social promotion

Bush’s Texas proposals included making sure all Texas children read by the third grade; helping students who fail with in-school, after-school or summer programs; and ending automatic social promotion of students.
Source: Michael Holmes, AP , Mar 2, 1999


George W. Bush on College

Increase the size of Pell grants

Under the No Child Left Behind Act, standards are higher, test scores are on the rise, and we’re closing the achievement gap for minority students. Now we must demand better results from our high schools.

We will help an additional 200,000 workers to get training for a better career by reforming our job training system and strengthening America’s community colleges. And we will make it easier for Americans to afford a college education by increasing the size of Pell grants.

Source: 2005 State of the Union Speech , Feb 2, 2005

We’ve increased Pell Grants by a million students

BUSH: We’ve increased Pell Grants by a million students.

KERRY: But you know why the Pell Grants have gone up in their numbers? Because more people qualify for them because they don’t have money. But they’re not getting the $5,100 the president promised them. They’re getting less money. We have more people who qualify. That’s not what we want.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ , Oct 13, 2004

Community college provides the skills to people to fill jobs

BUSH: Education is how to make sure we’ve got a work force that’s productive and competitive. I’ve got more to do to continue to raise standards, to continue to reward teachers in school districts that are working, to emphasize math and science in the classrooms, to continue to expand Pell Grants, to make sure that people have an opportunity to start their career with a college diploma. Here’s some trade adjustment assistance money for you to go to a community college in your neighborhood, a community college which is providing the skills necessary to fill the jobs.

KERRY: Bush’s cut job training money-$1 billion was cut, they only added a little bit back this year because it’s an election year. They’ve cut the Pell Grants and the Perkins Loans to help kids be able to go to college. They’ve cut the training money.

Source: Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ , Oct 13, 2004

$25B over 10 years for reading, Pell Grants, & charters

Source: Boston Globe, p. A24 , Oct 3, 2000

$1.5B for state merit scholarships to college

As President, Governor Bush will establish a $1.5 billion “College Challenge” Grant. This federal funding will cover one-third of state costs to establish a merit scholarship program. States will have freedom to design their own scholarship program, except for baseline course requirements. Participating states would also have the incentive to make available to all students courses in the recommended curriculum. The total cost of this proposal would be $1.5 billion over five years.
Source: Press Release, “$7B for College Access” , Aug 30, 2000

$275M for pre-paid college tuition tax credits

As President, Governor Bush will grant complete tax exemption to all qualified pre-paid and tuition savings plans and extend coverage to independent prepaid tuition plans. Currently, they are not recognized as qualified plans by the IRS and, therefore, do not have the tax and other benefits that state pre-paid tuition plans have. This proposal requires the IRS to enable parents to invest tax free in them. The cost of this proposal would be $275 million over five years.
Source: Press Release, “$7B for College Access” , Aug 30, 2000

$1.3B to help students in college-prep math & science

Bush proposed a $1 billion fund to pair states with universities in an effort to strengthen math & science education, and a $1,000 increase in individual Pell Grants to encourage high school students to take advanced college preparation courses in both subjects. “There’s no reason for us to be next to last in the world in math. There’s no reason for us to be last in physics,” Bush said. He’d offer $345 million in added incentives for math & science majors to teach in schools with low-income students.
Source: Patricia Wilson (Reuters) LA Times , Jun 20, 2000


George W. Bush on Education Spending

Only a liberal would say 49% more funding isn’t enough

KERRY: We have a long distance yet to travel in terms of fairness in America. I don’t know how you can govern in this country when you look at New York City and you see that 50 percent of the black males there are unemployed, when you see 40 percent of Hispanic children dropping out of high school. Yet the president who talks about No Child Left Behind refused to fully fund -- by $28 billion -- that particular program. The president reneged on his promise to fund No Child Left Behind.

BUSH: Only a liberal senator from Massachusetts would say that a 49 percent increase in funding for education was not enough. But more importantly, we’ve reformed the system to make sure that we solve problems early. He talked about the unemployed. Absolutely we’ve got to make sure they get educated. He talked about children whose parents don’t speak English as a first language? Absolutely we’ve got to make sure they get educated. And that’s what the No Child Left Behind Act does.

Source: [Xref Kerry] Third Bush-Kerry debate, in Tempe AZ , Oct 13, 2004

Will fund early intervention programs to help high-schoolers

In our high schools, we will fund early intervention programs to help students at risk. We will place a new focus on math and science. As we make progress, we will require a rigorous exam before graduation. By raising performance in our high schools, and expanding Pell grants for low and middle income families, we will help more Americans start their career with a college diploma.
Source: 2004 Republican Convention Acceptance Speech , Sep 2, 2004

$5,000 Grants for poor students in math & sciences

Bush called for the creation of $5,000 grants for poor students who emphasize math and science, a $100 million annual program to be paid for by imposing new restrictions on Pell Grants and by tapping private foundations. Bush also proposed requiring high-school seniors in every state to take national math and English tests that currently are mandated only for fourth- and eighth-graders.
Source: Deb Riechman, Associated Press , May 10, 2004

Increased per-student funding by almost 60%

Today, public schools spend an average $7,000 a year per student. Under President Bush’s leadership federal funding for education has increased 59.8% from 2000 to 2003.
Source: 2004 Presidential website, georgewbush.com , Aug 30, 2003

Increased school funding by $11B since taking office

The federal government is investing more money in elementary and secondary education than at any other time in American history. Bush’s budget for next year boosts education funding to $53.1 billion-an increase of nearly $11 billion since he took office. Funding for Title 1, a program that helps the nation’s most disadvantaged students, has increased 33 percent, to $11.6 billion. And since Bush took office, the amount we’re spending on effective reading programs has tripled, to more than $1 billion.
Source: 2004 Presidential website, georgewbush.com , Aug 29, 2003

Feds give 6% of money; but 60% for “paperwork-filler-outer”

GORE: [Bush’s voucher plan] drains more money out of the public schools for private school vouchers than all of the money that he proposes in his entire budget for public schools themselves.

BUSH: I have been the governor of a big state; I’ve made education my number one priority. That’s what governors ought to do. They ought to say this is the most important thing we do as a state. The federal government puts about 6% of the money up. They put about 60% of the strings, where you got to fill out paperwork. [A teacher] has to be a paperwork-filler-outer, most of it’s because of the federal government. What I want to do is to send flexibility and authority to the local folks so you can choose what to do with the money. One size does not fit all. I’d worry about federalizing education, if I were you.

The federal government can be a part, but don’t fall prey to all this talk about money here and money there because education is really funded at the local level; 94% comes from the local level.

Source: St. Louis debate , Oct 17, 2000

$900M to improve Indian schools

Bush unveiled a new education initiative today, a call to spend more than $800 million to repair crumbling schools on the country’s Indian reservations. He would spend the money on the 185 schools on tribal lands throughout the country. His proposal calls for an additional $126 million to replace the system’s six worst schools. It is largely through education proposals that Bush has styled himself as a so-called compassionate conservative, and staked his claim to the center of his party.
Source: Michael Cooper, NY Times , Aug 20, 2000

$400M more for after-school programs, via block grants

Bush called for a $400 million increase in federal aid to after-school programs. He proposed [that the funds] be made available through current block grant programs. The money would be made available to low-income parents to defray the cost of after-school programs. The federal government “shouldn’t fear faith and love. We should welcome faith and love” in helping the country’s youth, he said.
Source: AP article in NY Times , Jul 14, 2000

$5B reading program; mixing phonics & literature

The centerpiece of Bush’s education plan has become a $5 billion reading program--the most costly if his school proposals, though campaign aides say more are coming. It takes as its model a state program, now in its second year, that Bush created as Texas governor.
As a federal program, it would provide school aid in the same way that Democrats traditionally have despite Republican objections. It is narrowly targeted, not just to disadvantaged students, but to children in kindergarten through second grade who have trouble learning to read.
And it includes federal mandates: States that accept the grants must give diagnostic reading tests in those grades, must provide tutoring to students having difficulty, must use a “balanced” curriculum that combines phonics and literature, and must train teachers how to teach reading.
Source: Kenneth Cooper, Washington Post, p. A6 , Apr 2, 2000

$2B for teachers; mandates are optional

Bush favors converting most federal school aid into block grants, including $2 billion that would support various teacher training and recruitment activities. “It’s impossible for the federal government to dictate reform,” he said. “Reform happens from the bottom up.”
Asked to reconcile that with his reading program, Bush said that states “don’t have to take the money, and the mandates are part of an overall strategy. There’s a structure to it, but a structure based on reasonable practices.”
Source: Kenneth Cooper, Washington Post, p. A6 , Apr 2, 2000

$400 deductible when teachers spend own money on classrooms

Bush’s other major proposal is a tax deduction for teachers who buy school supplies with their own money. Both national teacher unions supported the proposed $400 deduction, about the average that teachers spend from their own pockets to outfit their classrooms.
Congress is already moving to grant such a tax break. In February the Senate approved a $100 tax credit, 98 to 0, and Republican lawmakers announced they had introduced similar legislation on the same day Bush made his proposal.
Source: Kenneth Cooper, Washington Post, p. A6 , Apr 2, 2000

Expand Education Savings Accounts to $5000 per year

Source: Beth J. Harpaz, Asoociated Press , Oct 5, 1999


George W. Bush on No Child Left Behind

OpEd: NCLB is right idea but under-funded & over-complicated

On NCLB: "George Bush's heart was in the right place, but his methodology was all messed up. I mean the concept of not leaving any child left behind, to educate all children, is a good concept, but it became incredibly complicated, underfunded and put a heavy reliance on things like standardized testing. As a reform measure, it does not work."

The problems with the No Child Left Behind law are myriad. Several come to mind right off the bat: its dependence on standardized test scores; linking merit pay to test scores; and the goal of achieving 100% proficiency by 2014 is totally unrealistic.

Another huge problem with NCLB that many supporters of the law ignore is that it places no consequences on the students who do not meet proficiency levels. Not once has Governor Christie or any other politician called out students who, in some cases, do not make any attempt at learning. And Christie continually boasts that he tells it like it is.

Source: Teachers Under Attack!, by Mike Spina, p. 93-96 , Feb 17, 2011

NCLB: focus on accountability instead of spending

In recent years, the national education debate had bogged down in modest proposals like school uniforms and unrealistic calls to abolish the Department of Education. Success was often defined by dollars spent, not results achieved.

Under No Child Left Behind, states would test students in reading and math. Schools would post scores publicly, broken down by ethnicity, income level, and other subcategories. The data would allow parents and concerned citizens to evaluate schools, teachers, and curricula. Schools that scored below standards would receive extra help at first. But if schools repeatedly failed to make adequate progress, there would be consequences. Parents would have the option to transfer their child to a better-performing public or charter school. The principle was straightforward: You cannot solve a problem until you diagnose it. Accountability would serve as a catalyst for reform.

Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.274-276 , Nov 9, 2010

No Child Left Behind resonated with parents' natural desire

The general message of a campaign has to evoke a reaction from voters that will cut through the clutter and focus attention on a central question. That means the important question is. What values and attitudes do voters already have in their minds about a candidate and what message will draw on that information to produce the response you want?

That's different from asking, What do I need to educate voters about? For example, in Bush's 2000 campaign, we targeted suburban couples with children. Many of these voters had defected to Clinton in 1992 or 1996; some had simply stayed home. Bush's focus on No Child Left Behind and education reform resonated with their natural desire to want the best for their children and the inclination of many of these voters to see a quality education for other children as a social good.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p. 68-69 , Mar 9, 2010

2000: Targeted suburban couples with children via NCLB

The general message of a campaign has to evoke a reaction from voters that will cut through the clutter and focus attention on a central question. That means the important question is. What values and attitudes do voters already have in their minds about a candidate and what message will draw on that information to produce the response you want?

That's different from asking, What do I need to educate voters about? For example, in Bush's 2000 campaign, we targeted suburban couples with children. Many of these voters had defected to Clinton in 1992 or 1996; some had simply stayed home. Bush's focus on No Child Left Behind and education reform resonated with their natural desire to want the best for their children and the inclination of many of these voters to see a quality education for other children as a social good.

Source: Courage and Consequence, by Karl Rove, p. 68-69 , Mar 9, 2010

NCLB: Dropped state flexibility to garner Dem support

Before the NCLB legislation came up for a vote in the House, the state flexibility provision was stripped. Bush agreed to drop it in return for Democrat support of the bill. I filed an amendment to add the provision back to the bill. Bush called me to th Oval Office. I was prepared for attempts to intimidate me into withdrawing my amendment. I wasn't prepared for the president to plead with me to help him avoid a "blood bath" over my amendment on the floor of the House. He was afraid that is my amendment passed, the Democrats would not support the final bill.

Had the president tried to pressure me to withdraw my amendment, it would have been easy for me to say "no." But I'm a sucker for gentle persuasion. The president promised that if I withdrew my amendment, he would make sure the state flexibility provision would be added back at some point. I agreed to withdraw the amendment. The president said "trust me" when he promised the provision would be added back, but it never happened.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 25 , Jul 4, 2009

OpEd: NCLB's "teach the test" results in poorer education

Parents and students have little say about which services are offered. Unless they can afford a private school, most parents are essentially trapped, and despite the best intentions of many school board members and administrators, most government schools reflect a "you'll take what we give you" mentality.

President Bush thought the requirements to measure programs in No Child Left Behind would improve schools. They didn't. In fact, many teachers tell me the effort to "teach the test" in order to meet the requirements of NCLB is actually resulting in poor education. I don't have to recount the terrible statistics of America's education systems. We are losing ground to practically every other industrialized country in the world. At a time when our workforce has to compete with the best and brightest workers in a dynamic and competitive global economy, we are failing our children by keeping them in a government-run, socialist system.

Source: Saving Freedom, by Jim DeMint, p. 78-79 , Jul 4, 2009

FactCheck: Yes, NCLB has raised test scores

The president was mostly correct in describing the results of math and reading tests since enactment of his education legislation. Bush said, “Six years ago, we came together to pass the No Child Left Behind Act, and today no one can deny its results. Last year, 4th and 8th graders achieved the highest math scores on record. Reading scores are on the rise. African-American and Hispanic students posted all-time highs.”

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the president is correct that scores, generally, have gone up since the enactment of No Child Left Behind.

However, Bush omitted some recent backsliding: scores for eighth-grade students are only slightly up from the first recorded year and are not the highest on record. The highest scores for eighth graders in reading were scored in 2002, and they have gone down a bit since then. The same applies to other grades and to other subgroups including African-American and Hispanic students.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 State of the Union address , Jan 28, 2008

NCLB has raised scores; now give more local flexibility

Five years ago, we rose above partisan differences to pass the No Child Left Behind Act--preserving local control, raising standards in public schools, & holding those schools accountable for results. And because we acted, students are performing better in reading and math, and minority students are closing the achievement gap.

Now the task is to build on this success, without watering down standards, without taking control from local communities and without backsliding and calling it reform. We can lift student achievement even higher by giving local leaders flexibility to turn around failing schools and by giving families with children stuck in failing schools the right to choose something better. We must increase funds for students who struggle--and make sure these children get the special help they need. The No Child Left Behind Act has worked for America’s children--and I ask Congress to reauthorize this good law.

Source: 2007 State of the Union address to Congress , Jan 23, 2007

No Child Left Behind Act implements phonics nationally

Besides mandating more frequent reading tests and imposing accountability, the [No Child Left Behind Act] provided $1.1 billion to schools that adopted reading instruction methods proven to be effective - meaning phonics. The money was allocated specifically to train teachers to teach phonics and provide new teaching materials Still, most school systems resisted. Teachers’ unions either ejected phonics or took a neutral approach.
Source: A Matter of Character, by Ronald Kessler, p. 94 , Aug 5, 2004

Fact Check: NCLB increased school funding, but shy by $5.4B

FACTCHECK on Education: Bush spoke of a big increase in federal funding for education, but didn’t mention complaints that he’s forcing states to pay for new federal requirements to test student performance.

BUSH: By passing the No Child Left Behind Act you have made the expectation of literacy the law of our country. We are providing more funding for our schools-a 36% increase since 2001. We are requiring higher standards.

FACTCHECK: It is true that federal funding for education has increased sharply since Bush took office, as even his critics concede. But it is also true that Bush’s new requirements for student testing impose large costs on state and local governments and that Bush hasn’t pushed the Republican Congress for the full amounts authorized by the No Child Left Behind Act. The National Education Association estimated the shortfall at $5.4 billion last year, and even a GOP senator, Olympia Snowe of Maine, said last year, “It leaves us open to the charge of unfunded mandates.”

Source: FactCheck.org on the 2004 State of the Union address , Jan 20, 2004

“No Child Left Behind” increases accountability

The No Child Left Behind Act calls for sweeping education reform by turning federal spending on schools into a federal investment in improved student performance. It redefines the federal role in K-12 education by requiring all states to set high standards of achievement and create a system of accountability to measure results. It insists that states set high standards for achievement in reading and math and test every child in grades 3 through 8 to ensure that students are making progress.
Source: 2004 Presidential website, georgewbush.com , Aug 30, 2003


George W. Bush on School Choice

$300M for Pell Grants for Kids for non-public schools

The No Child Left Behind Act is a bipartisan achievement. It is succeeding. And we owe it to America’s children, their parents, and their teachers to strengthen this good law.

We must do more to help children when their schools do not measure up. Thanks to the DC Opportunity Scholarships you approved, more than 2,600 of the poorest children in our nation’s Capital have found new hope at a faith-based or other non-public school. Sadly, these schools are disappearing at an alarming rate in many of America’s inner cities. So I will convene a White House summit aimed at strengthening these lifelines of learning. And to open the doors of these schools to more children, I ask you to support a new $300 million program called Pell Grants for Kids. We have seen how Pell Grants help low-income college students realize their full potential. Together, we’ve expanded the size and reach of these grants. Now let us apply that same spirit to help liberate poor children trapped in failing public schools.

Source: 2008 State of the Union address to Congress , Jan 28, 2008

Give options for kids trapped in failing schools

Children will no longer be trapped in failing schools. If a school continues to fail some children will be able to transfer to higher-performing local schools, receive free tutoring or attend after-school programs.
Source: 2004 Presidential website, georgewbush.com , Aug 30, 2003

Increased funding to $200M for charter schools

President’s reforms provide an estimated $200 million for charter schools to expand parental choice and free children trapped in persistently failing schools.
Source: 2004 Presidential website, georgewbush.com , Aug 30, 2003

Favors rigorous testing over school choice

Bush was never as convinced of the merits of school choice as his ideological supporters were. The education problem that worried Bush most was the low performance of poor and minority children, and Bush doubted that heaping more responsibility on those children’s often uneducated, often absent, often neglectful parents would improve the children’s learning much. As governor, Bush had emphasized rigorous testing that carried real consequences for subpar schools, not school choice. As a candidate, he had offered an education plan that contained modest choice provisions. And as president, it was testing-not choice-that he fought hardest to preserve in his education bill.

It often looked to conservatives as if Bush were surrendering treasured principles in order to obtain deals that were not really worth having. When he gave up the choice provisions of his education bill, many conservatives decided that he was putting politics ahead of principle. But for Bush, getting things done was a principle.

Source: The Right Man, by David Frum, p. 57-58 , Jun 1, 2003

Parents & children must have other options when schools fail

American children must not be left in persistently dangerous or failing schools. When schools do not teach and will not change, parents and students must have other meaningful options. And when children and teenagers go to school afraid of being threatened or attacked or worse, our society must make it clear it’s the ultimate betrayal of adult responsibility.

Parents and children who have only bad options must eventually get good options if we’re to succeed all across the country. There are differences of opinions about what those options should be. I made my opinion very clear in the course of the campaign. I’m going to take my opinion to the Hill and let folks debate it.

Today I was pleased to see that Senator Joe Lieberman brought up his plan that includes different options for parents. It’s a great place to begin. He and I understand that an accountability system must have a consequence, otherwise it’s not much of an accountability system.

Source: Announcement of Education Bill (1st bill sent to Congress) , Jan 23, 2001

Pushes OPTIONS for private schools; without saying VOUCHERS

Bush vowed to push the most controversial portion of his plan, school vouchers, albeit a slightly revised one in an attempt to win the support of reticent Democrats. “In order for an accountability system to work, there has to be consequences. I believe one of the most important consequences will be after a period of time, giving the schools a time to adjust and districts time to try different things,” Bush said. “If they’re failing, the parents ought to be given different options.”

Throughout the campaign year, Bush said schools whose students do not show acceptable rates of improvement on test scores would be given every opportunity to turn their failure rates around. After three years, if failure rates do not improve significantly, much of the federal money earmarked for the struggling schools would be broken apart and distributed to parents in the form of payments-or vouchers, according to some critics-that may be used to transfer students to private schools or more successful local schools.

Source: CNN.com , Jan 23, 2001

Vouchers are up to states; allow local control

GORE [to Bush]: Governor Bush is for vouchers. And in his plan, he proposes to drain more money, more taxpayer money, out of the public schools for private school vouchers than all of the money that he proposes in his entire budget for public schools themselves. And only one in 20 students would be eligible for these vouchers, and they wouldn’t even pay the full tuition to private school.

BUSH: First of all, vouchers are up to states. If you want to do a voucher program in Missouri, fine. I’m a governor of a state and I don’t like it when the federal government tell us what to do. I believe in local control of schools.

GORE: Under your plan, Governor Bush, states would be required to pay vouchers to students, to match the vouchers that the federal government would put up. Under his plan, if a school was designated as failing, the kids would be trapped there for another three years, and then some of them would get federal vouchers, and the state would be forced to match that money.

Source: (X-ref Gore) St. Louis debate , Oct 17, 2000

Allow “charter states” as well as charter schools

Source: The Economist, “Issues 2000” , Sep 30, 2000

One size does not fit all in education

One size does not fit all when it comes to educating our children, so local people should control local schools. And those who spend your tax dollars must be held accountable.

When a school district receives federal funds to teach poor children, we expect them to learn. And if they don’t, parents should get the money to make a different choice.

And now is the time to make Head Start an early learning program, teach all our children to read, and renew the promise of America’s public schools.

Source: Speech to Republican National Convention , Aug 3, 2000

Money from failed schools can go to charters or tutors too

If the schools are not teaching children, then something has to happen. We cannot continue to pour money into schools that won’t teach. As opposed to subsidizing failure, we ought to free the parent to make a different choice. It could be a public school. It could be a charter school. It could be a tutorial. It could be anything other than the status quo. Saying, “they’re taking money from public schools” assumes that children can’t learn. I believe children can learn.
Source: PBS Frontline interview, “The Battle Over School Choice” , May 23, 2000

Tax money to religious schools OK, if they’re teaching kids

Q: Do you see any problem with taxpayers’ money going to a religious education?

A: No. I don’t at all. What I have trouble with is people accepting failure, with people turning a blind eye to the fact that schools are not teaching children. And I also have trouble with the federal government mandating school systems to behave one way or the other. The best way to encourage excellence is to free people to innovate. The federal government should not mandate choice and charters.

Source: PBS Frontline interview, “The Battle Over School Choice” , May 23, 2000

Profit-making schools OK, as long as kids learn

Q: What about running schools on a profit-making basis?

A: Here’s my question: are the children learning? So much of the debate is focused on process. I’m going to focus the debate on results and accountability. If the children are meeting standards, we ought to applaud the delivery mechanism. I welcome all kinds of innovation into the system, recognizing that one size doesn’t fit all, and understanding that the best reforms are those that have been tried at the local level.

Source: PBS Frontline interview, “The Battle Over School Choice” , May 23, 2000

Fund 2,000 charter schools; defund failing schools

Source: GeorgeWBush.com: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ , Apr 2, 2000

Don’t subsidize problems in schools; solve them

Al Gore has gone into low performing schools & claimed my plan would undermine them. Gore has told schools, in essence, “You are hopeless. We won’t set high standards, because you’ll never achieve them.” This is not a defense of public education; it is a surrender to despair. I want to solve our education problems; Gore wants to subsidize them. I will work for children & parents. He will work for the entrenched interests that fund his campaigns. I will challenge the status quo; Al Gore is the status quo.
Source: Remarks after Southern primaries , Mar 15, 2000

If schools fail for 3 years, funding becomes “portable”

Bush has avoided using the politically laden term “vouchers,” and instead says federal education money should be “portable.” Bush would, in effect, give vouchers of up to $1,500 each to students in low-performing schools that fail to improve after three years. These vouchers would be financed with money drawn from the Title 1 program. His voucher proposal would probably face stiff opposition in Congress, which declined to consider a proposal that would have created the very vouchers Bush seeks.
Source: New York Times , Feb 29, 2000

$3 billion for Charter School Fund

Bush said he would require states to “test every child, every year, in grades 3 through 8.” Bush also would expand the federal Education Savings Account program to $5,000 a year per child for use in elementary and high schools. Currently, families can invest just $500 per child per year in the tax-free, interest-bearing accounts, and the money can only be used for college.
Source: Beth J. Harpaz, Associated Press , Oct 5, 1999

School decisions by parents, not federal judges

Bush criticized the decision of a federal judge to suspend a Cleveland voucher program for more than 4,000 poor children, as “judicial overreach with serious casualties - Cleveland’s disadvantaged school children. Parents & local communities should have the right to chart their own path. If Ohio has decided to give Cleveland parents a choice of where to spend local education dollars, that decision should be left to parents, not federal judges. The court’s decision should be reversed.”
Source: News Release “Cleveland Voucher Program” , Aug 26, 1999

Let poor people choose their schools, like rich people do

Nowhere in the Constitution does it say that parents should not be able to choose where to send their children to school. Nowhere does it say that only people who can afford it should be able to choose to send their children to schools with quality academics and sound discipline, but poor people should not. We must say, clearly and emphatically, that the people who need help should not merely be passive recipients of a handout, but should have the freedom to choose where they receive services.
Source: News Release “Cleveland Voucher Program” , Aug 26, 1999

1994: Created nation's first Home Rule School Districts

A key plank in Bush's bid for election in 1994 was the promise to overhaul the state's education systems and grant greater freedom to local school boards. "To encourage innovation, to seek excellence," he said, "we must free local teachers, parents, and administrators to design schools which fit their communities' needs."

Although the legislature decontrolled schools, created the 1st "home rule school districts" in the nation, granted educators more authority to remove disruptive or violent students from the classroom, made excellence in the core subjects the goal of public education, and increased the minimum pay for teachers, Governor Bush did not get his wish to increase the state share of public school funding from 44 to 60%.

Source: Fortunate Son, by J.H.Hatfield, p.161 , Aug 17, 1999

Supports vouchers, including private or religious schools.

Bush’s long-term support for school vouchers [would] allow Texans to pay for tuition at private or religious schools with public funds.
Source: www.csmonitor.com/durable/1997/12/05/us/us.1.html 12/31/98 , Dec 31, 1998

Vouchers tied to “accountability system”

If a child is attending a failed school and that parent is unable to find a public school to accept that child. our state [should] pay parents to send their children to any school of their choice-provided the school they pick is willing to participate in the Texas accountability system. We must not trap students in low-performing schools. We must give every child the opportunity to succeed. If this plan works-great! If it doesn’t then we should say, Interesting idea-at least Texas was bold enough to try.
Source: Natl.Center for Policy Analysis, Dallas, TX , Mar 31, 1998

“Home rule” with state standards

“Home Rule Education Districts” [allows] any school district which so chooses. to declare itself free from any state mandate. So long as the district meets state standards, the local people should be free to chart the course to educational excellence. The state has a role, but it is not to micromanage local districts. The state should set high standards and hold teachers and administrators accountable for results. Our measuring system should be stable and open for review.
Source: 1995 State of the State Address, Austin TX , Feb 7, 1995

Voted NO on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects.

Vote on the passage of the bill, the American Competitiveness Scholarship Act, the omnibus appropriations bill for the Departments of Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor. Pres. Bush then vetoed the Bill.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. OBEY: This bill, more than any other, determines how willing we are to make the investment necessary to assure the future strength of this country and its working families. The President has chosen to cut the investments in this bill by more than $7.5 billion in real terms. This bill rejects most of those cuts.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. LEWIS: This bill reflects a fundamental difference in opinion on the level of funding necessary to support the Federal Government's role in education, health and workforce programs. The bill is $10.2 billion over the President's budget request. While many of these programs are popular on both sides of the aisle, this bill contains what can rightly be considered lower priority and duplicative programs. For example, this legislation continues three different programs that deal with violence prevention. An omnibus bill is absolutely the wrong and fiscally reckless approach to completing this year's work. It would negate any semblance of fiscal discipline demonstrated by this body in recent years.

Veto message from President Bush:

This bill spends too much. It exceeds [by $10.2 billion] the reasonable and responsible levels for discretionary spending that I proposed to balance the budget by 2012. This bill continues to fund 56 programs that I proposed to terminate because they are duplicative, narrowly focused, or not producing results. This bill does not sufficiently fund programs that are delivering positive outcomes. This bill has too many earmarks--more than 2,200 earmarks totaling nearly $1 billion. I urge the Congress to send me a fiscally responsible bill that sets priorities.

Reference: American Competitiveness Scholarship Act; Bill H.R. 3043 ; vote number 2007-391 on Oct 23, 2007

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