Bush's strength on education challenged
WASHINGTON - President Bush, trying to bolster recognition for his education overhauls that have been overshadowed by Enron and the war, pledged last weekend to enlist a new generation of well-trained teachers. Bush said in his weekly radio address that America will need 2 million additional teachers over the next decade, and that the budget he approved for this year includes nearly $3 billion for teacher training, recruiting, and hiring. That's an increase of more than 35 percent over last year's budget.
However, some Democrats criticized the budget as being too small. Meanwhile, in a Washington Post poll conducted last month, more than half of the respondents did not know that Congress had passed an education reform bill this year and that Bush had signed it into law.
In a movement that gained momentum with the post-Sept. 11 surge in patriotism, several states have passed or are considering legislation to post the motto "In God We Trust" in schools. Opponents complain that lawmakers are using patriotism in a veiled attempt to bring religion into schools. Mississippi ushered in the trend about a year ago, requiring the motto to be placed in every classroom. Last December, Michigan passed a law that simply allows the motto to be hung in schools. Florida, Utah, Arizona, Virginia, Louisiana, and New Jersey are considering similar legislation, while an "In God We Trust" bill in Indiana died in committee this month.
BOSTON - Harvard University janitors have been offered a 16 percent pay increase following a "living wage" campaign that included a three-week student occupation of administrative offices. If the deal is approved, custodians will initially receive at least $11.35 an hour, retroactive to May 2001, union officials said. By October 2005, all janitors will be making at least $13.50 an hour (the current starting wage is $9.75 an hour). The wages issue has been divisive on campus. Last week, nine people were arrested after blocking traffic in Harvard Square to protest slow progress in negotiations. Last spring, 30 students occupied the president's office.