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Education plan closer to reality

By By SONNY CALLAHAN
U.S. Representative
In his autobiography, "A Charge to Keep," then-Texas Governor George W. Bush stated, "America must make a solemn commitment: Every child will be educated and no child will be left behind.  I want to take my passion for high standards and high hopes to the highest office in the land.  The president is not a national superintendent of schools and should not try to be.  But the president speaks for the common good, and much of our common good is found in our common schools."
During last year's presidential election, Mr. Bush stated that this idea would be a centerpiece of his agenda should he be honored with the privilege of serving in the highest office in the land. 
Apparently, this idea resonated with the electorate and Governor Bush was sworn in as President Bush on January 20, 2001.
Last week, the House Education and Workforce Committee, chaired by my colleague John Boehner of Ohio, took a major step in helping our new president realize his goal of improving the educational system in the United States.  
With bipartisan support, the No Child Left Behind Act made significant progress and moved one step closer to consideration by the full House of Representatives.
Among other things, this legislation would hold local and state school districts accountable for improving student achievement, and would require annual reading and math assessment tests for students in grades three through eight.
School districts would be required to prepare annual "report cards" on their individual schools in order to better inform parents about the quality of their child's school.  
Federal literacy funding, which currently stands at $300 million, would be tripled before the year 2002 in order to provide effective, proven methods of reading instruction.  
In addition, students would be required to show proficiency in English, and schools would need to receive parental approval before their child could be placed in a program not taught primarily in English.
Finally, and as one of the most important aspects of this legislation, this act would provide funding for drug and violence prevention programs and before- and after-school activities, and would enable teachers to remove violent and persistently disruptive students from the classroom.
How you can help
With the concerns that many parents and grandparents share over the state of the educational system throughout the First District and across the state, this bill goes a long way toward addressing many of the challenges facing our students today.
However, neither the president nor Congress can fight this battle alone.
As parents, we must take a more active role in determining the type and quality of education our children receive.  
Read over their homework to gauge the type of instruction they are receiving and the material they are learning.  
Take a more active role in parent and family-based school organizations and become involved with groups that have a direct impact on the curriculum being taught in our schools.  
Finally, it is crucial that we all become more aware of the challenges facing our children and their teachers.
This legislation still has a long way to go, and I will certainly keep you up to date on its progress in the coming weeks and months.
Our children's education can be this generation's legacy to the leaders of tomorrow.  
In order to ensure that the educational system only improves for our young people, the president stated that we, as Americans, must be "willing to challenge the status quo if it means a better education for our children."
Do they not deserve our very best effort?
Until next week, take care and God bless.