Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review April 6, 2000 /1 Nissan, 5760

Michelle Malkin

JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
David Corn
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Arianna Huffington
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Debbie Schlussel
Sam Schulman
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports



Read W.'s lips: More new spending -- UH-OH. It looks like Texas Gov. George W. Bush has been smoking some strange remnants from President Clinton's ideological ashtray.

The GOP presidential candidate who balked when he was compared to Clinton now wants to spend $5 billion yup, that's a "b" as in boondoggle to create a classically Clintonian federal program to combat childhood illiteracy. Clinton had proposed a similar jihad three years ago with a more "modest" $2.75 billion pricetag.

In Virginia last week, Bush laid out his alarmingly liberal proposal for increasing the federal government's role in education. Sounding more like Lyndon Johnson than Ronald Reagan, Bush asserted that illiteracy was a "crisis" that "therefore requires a national response." Bush's "Reading First" program would dole out $1 billion in federal funds each year to help public school teachers identify early reading problems in kindergarten through second grade with diagnostic tests. Teachers would then get additional training and learn how to teach reading effectively.

Weren't these certified, college-educated teachers supposed to know how to teach effectively when they got hired in the first place?

After receiving their tax-subsidized remedial training under the Bush plan, public school teachers would then "intervene" to help problem readers in after-school, summer school, and tutoring programs. Bush's goal is that every child be able to read "by the end of third grade." It's as lousy and mediocre a goal for the most prosperous nation in the world as when Clinton set the same third-grade reading standard in his 1997 State of the Union address.

Yes, illiteracy is a problem. But the federal government already spends nearly $10 billion on more than dozen programs that focus on promoting literacy (not to mention the untold time and money expended by private organizations, non-profit and religious groups, and individual volunteers). On top of that, governments at all levels in the U.S. spend another $40 billion on special education with a large chunk earmarked for learning-disabled children with reading problems.

Such election-year pandering to the educrats is to be expected from Democrats. Vice President Al Gore has offered billions of dollars for higher teacher salaries and subsidizing pre-kindergarten for all 4-year-olds. But Bush almost out-Clintons Clinton and Gore by throwing in another $30 million for the expansion of a nationwide "troops to teachers" program; $400 million for additional teacher training; and an annual $400 tax deduction for teachers who buy classroom supplies with their own money.

If Bush is truly committed to rewarding educational success, rather than trying to buy off some votes from the teachers unions, where are all the generous incentives and tax breaks for private school teachers and parents who homeschool?

Bush's supporters say his plan isn't just another typical, poll-driven Beltway spending spree because it stresses "accountability" through new testing and higher standards. Bush would require states to test children in 3rd through 8th grades in reading and math and publish the results annually. But there are already national assessment tests, Iowa tests, state and local basic skills tests, and a slew of other standardized tests that measure reading levels.

Do we really need another set of tax-subsidized exams to see how incompetent public schools are at teaching kids the basics, how meaningless their purported standards are, and how utterly unaccountable the government education monopoly is and always will be without true competition?

While he voices muted support for redirecting some wasted federal funds to parental school vouchers, Bush has not breathed one word about cutting a single existing, failed program. Instead, he has distanced himself from fiscal conservatives. "I won't close down the Department of Education, but I will reform it," Bush vows. "The goal is not to cut the most, but to improve the most."

So much for devolution. Read George W.'s lips: The road to the White House is paved with kinder, bigger spending. When it comes to slashing the insatiable federal education bureaucracy once and for all, mum's the word.

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


04/04/00: The liberal media-in-training
03/31/00: Sticking it to the children
03/28/00: Declaring war on HOV lanes
03/22/00: Clinton and the Echo Boomers
03/17/00: Is Bush a Liddy Dole Republican?
03/13/00: Katie and the politics of disease
03/10/00: Maria H, Granny D, and the media Z's
03/07/00: Bubba Van Winkle wakes up
03/03/00: Double standard for day traders?
02/28/00: Sluts and nuts --- and our daughters
02/24/00: Zoning out religious freedom
02/15/00: The Baby Brain Boondoggle
02/10/00: Buddhist temple untouchables
02/08/00: CDC: Caught Devouring Cash
02/04/00: Hillary's poisoned poster child
02/01/00: Corporate welfare on ice
01/28/00: The silly sound of silence
01/26/00: The Old Media meltdown
01/20/00: The pied pipers of KidCare
01/18/00: Our imperious judiciary
01/14/00: Tune out Columbine chorus
01/12/00: Dying to be an American
01/10/00: Time for smokers' revolt?
12/30/99: Reading, writing, PlayStation?
12/27/99: Fight money-grubbing mallrats
12/23/99: Christmas for Cornilous Pixley
12/20/99: Who will help the Hmong?
12/16/99: Shame on corn-fed politicians
12/13/99: EPA vs. the American Dream
12/09/99: Look behind the Pokemon curtain
12/06/99: Amateur hour in Seattle
11/30/99: Stop the Ritalin racketeers
11/23/99: Welfare for a sports fatcat
11/19/99: Jeb Bush's political ploy of the week
11/16/99: Ben & Jerry serve up junk science
11/12/99: A monumental waste of our veterans' resources
11/10/99: Tax-and-spend schizophrenia
11/05/99: Spooky Guy Haunts the Capital
11/02/99: Mourning the loss of the last Liberty Tree
10/27/99: AOL goes AWOL on parents
10/22/99: The persecution of Harry Potter
10/20/99: Don't doctor the law
10/14/99: The trouble with kids today
10/12/99: Pro-animal, pro-abortion, anti-speech?
10/07/99: Beltway press corps needs more skunks
09/30/99: ESPN overlooks athlete of faith, grace, and guts
09/27/99: Personal freedom going up in smoke
09/15/99: Farewell, "Miss" America
09/10/99: Will George W. work for a color-blind America?
09/03/99: Feminization of gun debate drowns out sober analysis
08/27/99: America is abundant land of equal-opportunity insult
08/10/99: Protect the next generation from diversity do-goodism
08/04/99: Sweepstakes vs. state lottery: double standards on gambling
07/21/99: "True-life tales from the Thin Red Line" (or "Honor those who sacrificed their lives for peace")
07/21/99: Reading, 'Riting, and Raunchiness?
07/14/99: Journalists' group-think is not unity
06/30/99: July Fourth programming for the Springer generation
06/25/99: Speechless in Seattle
06/15/99: Making a biblical argument against federal death taxes

© 2000, Creators Syndicate