The teachers' take on Bush's plan

So how will it play in Peoria? Or better yet, how will it play in Los Angeles? Or Detroit? Or Boston?

Those cities, and others like them, confront daily the problems President Bush says he is out to solve with his sweeping education proposals. They see the older kids who struggle to read. They install metal detectors for safety. They dream up new ways to lure quality teachers to a job for which the word "challenging," according to New York City Schools Chancellor Harold Levy, is a euphemism.

They also hear regularly about the latest reforms sure to improve persistently troubled schools.

Our lead story this week queries educators around the country about their views on a buffed-up federal role in education. Many are adopting a wait-and-see attitude. Tests - a favorite with Mr. Bush - are a focal point for those already feeling pressed by new state testing requirements.

Even for those jaded by too many years of the next bright idea, it's hard to ignore President Bush's message about this signature issue. Building on a decade-long national obsession with schools, he is leaping out of the gate with ideas on everything from school safety to math education. No talk here of demolishing the US Department of Education, long on the agenda for Republicans. Vouchers are on the table, but Bush has signaled flexibility on that controversial idea. He wants more accountability - but is also talking more funding.

In Congress, signs of receptivity abound - in part because a proposal by Democratic Sens. Joseph Lieberman and Evan Bayh shares common ground with Bush's plan. And for students? They may find, once again, they have to put new methods to the test.

E-mail newcomba@csps.com.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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