HAMILTON, Ohio (AP) President Bush, acting yesterday on his No. 1 domestic priority, signed into law a sweeping education bill that will require new reading and math tests, seek to close the education gap between rich and poor students and raise teacher standards.
“As of this hour, America”s schools will be on a new path of reform and a new path of results,” Bush said to an audience of hundreds at Hamilton High School, west of Cincinnati. “From this day forward, all students will have a better chance to learn, to excel and to live out their dreams.”
Though he spoke at length about the details of the bill, and articulated his plan to get all students reading by third grade, Bush joked of the bill, “I don”t intend to read it all. It”s not exactly light reading.” But, he said, it contained some very important principles, chief among them accountability safeguards for students, teachers and schools.
Bush waited three weeks to sign the bill and, seeking maximum exposure on an issue of rare agreement between Republicans and Democrats, was taking his roadshow to the states of lawmakers who led the yearlong negotiations on the bill.
“Most bills are signed at the White House. I decided to sign this bill in one of the most important places in America a public school,” Bush said.
In a 12-hour, 1,600-mile swing, the president signed the bill in Ohio, home of GOP Rep. John Boehner was giving an education speech in New Hampshire, the home state of GOP Sen. Judd Gregg and touring a school in Massachusetts, home to Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy. The fourth principal sponsor, Democratic Rep. George Miller of California, was traveling with Bush throughout the day. Bush visited California on Saturday.
The bill “will launch a new era of American education,” said Education Secretary Rod Paige.