Education bill first crucial step by Jessie AugustynThis past week, President Bush made history by signing a bipartisan educational bill designed to improve the quality of education in American public schools. The bill is a victory for both the Republicans and the Democrats, but most importantly, American children. The wide reaching, heavily funded bill, $26 billion in all, will triple funding for literacy programs and, beginning in 2005, it will fund annual tests of basic math and reading skills for public school students in grades three through eight. Among other things, students in schools that consistently perform poorly on these tests will have access to federally funded tutors or transportation to a more successful public school. Poorly performing schools could gain federal funding and/or have forced staff changes. The key point that makes this education bill different from others is the accountability placed on the individual schools. American school systems have long-needed repair on many levels, but it seemed no amount of money could solve the problem. Too often money granted to schools would be mismanaged by local school boards so students, who desperately needed supplies and text books, would take a back seat to new administrative positions. This bill forces schools into proper money management. The theory is that if students are not receiving the proper instruction to learn basic math and reading skills, the teachers and administration will be examined. If need be, faculty will be forcefully replaced. This means teachers and administrators need to do their jobs or risk being fired. They will no longer be able to maintain less than adequate teaching and managing practices. This bill will not solve all our educational problems. And there are bound to be theories that do not work in practice, but it is an important and necessary step to show America cares about education. Politicians can pass anything that they claim is “for the children.” They can throw money at a problem and just wish that it would go away, or more importantly, get them reelected. It seems this time, when all the political hype and rhetoric are stripped away, we have a bill that is truly for the children.