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Bush Education Cuts Take from Poor, Disabled & Immigrant Students

Bombs & Battleships Instead of Books & Upward Bound


In February, President Bush released his $2.7 trillion budget for fiscal year 2006. Congress continues to grapple with this budget proposal and the shortfall impact on education. The final outcome won't be known until late summer 2005.

A budget is a blueprint of the budget's priorities and plans. It's a full-color snapshot of the budgeter's heart and soul. It's a monetary mission statement. To evaluate an administration, we must examine its budgets.

George Bush, who portrayed himself as an “education” president, terminated 99 programs in his 2006 budget, including a whopping 48 programs from the US Education Department for a savings of $4.3 billion. He wants to replace those with new initiatives costing $2.3 billion.

Perspective is vital to understanding budget priorities. Take Donald Rumsfeld's Defense Department, for instance. Total Defense spending in 2006 would be $421 billion, a 4.8%, or about $20 billion, increase.

Included in Defense spending would be $40 billion to build more lethal nuclear weapons; $7.8 billion to test a missile defense system; $9.4 billion for a new generation of war ships; $4.3 billion for F/A-22 Raptor fighters; $5 billion for the new Joint Strike fighter; $3.7 billion for C-13 military transports; even $3.4 billion for spiffy new Army uniforms.

A total of $73.6 billion. Thirty-six times the $2 billion in cuts to education for US students. The additions to our deadly nuclear arsenal cost 20 times Bush's budget cuts to education.

Program changes planned by Mr. Bush within the Education Department reveal startling motives. Virtually all 48 programs that Mr. Bush desires to end are intended to educate children, young adults and college students who are disabled, economically disadvantaged, limited English-proficient and even illiterate.

The President wants to replace these programs with $1.5 billion to hold high schools "accountable" (police and punish, not help) for teaching and providing "intervention" for "non-performing" students. He also plans to give teachers business-style bonuses of $500 million to improve test scores. The remaining $300 million will be invested in high-end academics as Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, and a Math/Science "Partnership" program.

Nothing wrong with supporting AP and IB programs and new math/science initiatives that are grounded in scientific thinking. Such programs, though, disproportionately benefit wealthier schools and districts, and upper middle-class families. And AP and IB students are segregated into better courses and facilities than mainstream students. Like a two-tier social class system.

Thus, George Bush's education budget cuts provide more funds for wealthier students, while taking educational opportunities and assistance away from poor, disabled and immigrant students. Just like all of Mr. Bush's other domestic spending plans.

Some of the education programs Mr. Bush has slated to kill are:

- Javits Gifted and Talented meets special needs of gifted students who are disabled, economically disadvantaged and limited English proficient

- Star Schools improved instruction in math, science and foreign language for disadvantaged, illiterate and disabled students

- Community Technology Centers creates technology centers for disadvantaged students in economically distressed areas to provide access to the internet and technology

- Upward Bound provides support to high schoolers from low-income families and low-income first-generation military veterans to succeed in pre-college performance.

- Talent Search increase number of youth from disadvantaged backgrounds to complete high school and attend college

-All vocational education at the high school level

- Dropout Prevention

- Safe and Drug-Free Schools includes the wildly successful DARE program

- Civic Education

- Women's Educational Equity

- Elementary and High School Counseling

- Parental Information & Resource Centers assists parents whose children attend schools identified for improvements or corrections under No Child Left Behind to help their students to meet state and local academic standards

And every education program named after a Democrat:

- Thurgood Marshall Legal Educational Opportunity intended to increase the number of students from low-come and minority backgrounds in law school; named after the first African-American Supreme Court Justice.

- BJ Stupak Olympic Scholarship named after the deceased son of Congressman Bart Stupak (D-Michigan)

And especially....the 20-year old pride and joy, and legacy, of Senator Robert C. Byrd, a member of Congress since 1953 and vocal Bush critic: the Robert C. Byrd Scholarship Program, the only national, merit-based scholarship program funded through the Department of Education.

Oops....formerly funded, if President Bush has his way. He proposed no cuts in programs named after Republicans.

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