Don't let your ideology hold you prisoner, especially when children are concerned. That's the subject of this evening's "Talking Points" memo. Sixty percent of all public-school fourth graders from poor families in America can't read. That's nice, isn't it?

President Bush wants to improve that, but he's getting grief from both liberals and conservatives. The right doesn't want the feds to impose national testing standards. They want more local control. Conservatives tend to say parents are at fault if their kids can't read.

Of course, that's true, but so what? No one can force adults to be good parents, but you just can't throw away their children.

The liberals, led by Senator Ted Kennedy, say Mr. Bush is nickel-and-diming America's kids. They want more massive federal spending, even though the president's budget calls for $9 billion targeted to poor schools. The liberals want $15 billion. Never mind that $125 billion in. Title 1 tax spending has done nothing. Let's spend more.

The liberals, of course, are beholden to the teachers' unions, which want the federal gravy train to continue, and the unions don't want teacher accountability, which Mr. Bush is insisting upon.

So the president is catching it from both sides in Congress, and the result will likely be the same old — billions spent, little improvement in the public schools.

The solution is to take schools that can't cut it out of local control and impose strict federal standards on them. Once again, that offends both the right and the left.

"Talking Points" is tired of partisan selfishness. If the kid can't read by the time he's 10 years old, that child's future is in serious jeopardy.

How about something new in Washington? Politicians looking out for poor children instead of their tired ideological ball and chain?

And that's the memo.

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