WASHINGTON – President Bush devoted his weekly radio address Saturday to his education policy. Following is a transcript of Bush's remarks as provided by the White House:
Good morning. In the coming weeks, children across our nation will begin a new school year. They're looking forward to meeting new teachers, and learning new subjects, and making new friends. And thanks to good schools and good policies, we can all be confident this year will be a year of achievement for America's students and families.
Two-and-a-half years ago, I signed the No Child Left Behind Act, a bipartisan law that is challenging the soft bigotry of low expectations in public education. My budget for next year increases school funding to $37 billion, a 49 percent increase since 2001. And we're insisting on results in return. We are leaving behind the broken system that shuffled children from grade to grade, even when they were not learning the basics. We're requiring regular testing, providing extra help for children falling behind, we're giving information and options to parents, we are holding schools accountable for the progress of every child.
We are already seeing hopeful results. Math scores are up from fourth and eight grades across the country. Fourth graders in urban schools are showing strong gains in both reading and math. And from Georgia, North Carolina, and Maryland, to Illinois, Wisconsin, and New Mexico, minority children are improving test scores and narrowing the achievement gap.
We recognize that some schools have catching up to do. That is why we are making extra resources available to the schools that need the most help. We are empowering parents, getting local education experts involved, and offering tutors to striving students. And to help the most disadvantaged students, we have boosted Title I funding to an unprecedented $12.3 billion, an increase of 41 percent since I took office.
One federal grant went to Asheville City Schools in North Carolina, the home district of Ira B. Jones Elementary School. Two years ago, Jones did not meet standards under the new law. So district leaders used more than $200,000 dollars in federal aid to help Jones hire a reading coach, train additional teachers, increase parent involvement, and start an extended-day program for struggling students. This past school year, their efforts paid off. Jones met its target for yearly progress. This is how a fourth grade teacher described her reaction: "We screamed and yelled. We were absolutely thrilled."
We want to see that kind of achievement at schools around the nation, both in the primary grades and in our high schools. So I'll work with Congress to pass my proposals to help high school students struggling in reading and math.
We will expand Advanced Placement programs at low-income schools. We will ensure that high schools offer a rigorous curriculum in English, math, science, and social studies, so we can be certain a high school diploma means something. We will expand the use of the Internet to bring high level training to students around the country.
These plans will build on the results we have seen these past two years. The pattern is clear, and encouraging. The No Child Left Behind Act is bringing progress and hope to America's students, parents, and educators. We are gaining momentum, and we will not turn back.
By ensuring a quality education for every child, we meet an important duty to the next generation. We're giving young people the confidence and skills they need to succeed in higher education, and to fill the jobs of the 21st century. Education is the gateway to a more hopeful future, and we will make sure that gate is open to all Americans.
Thank you for listening.