George H. W. Bush – The “Education President”

This past week our Nation saw the passing of one its most noble and honest leaders, President George H. W. Bush. As the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the NHCLC, said in a recent statement,“President George H. W. Bush leaves behind a seemingly irreplaceable void in the fabric of America’s political landscape. He was a decorated war hero, venerated statesman, devoted father and loving husband. While all of this is true, it falls well short of paying proper tribute to the total sum of a man whose legacy is quite literally unparalleled in modern American history.”

At the very least, in order to pay tribute to one aspect of the late President Bush, who satisfyingly deemed himself the “education president,” I point you to his words from his January 31, 1990 State of the Union Address to Congress:

Real improvement in our schools is not simply a matter of spending more: It’s a matter of asking more–expecting more–of our schools, our teachers, of our kids, of our parents, and ourselves. And that’s why tonight I am announcing America’s education goals:

By the year 2000, every child must start school ready to learn.
The US must increase the high school graduation rate to no less than 90%.
And we are going to make sure our schools’ diplomas mean something. In critical subjects–at the 4th, 8th, and 12th grades–we must assess our students’ performance.
By the year 2000, US students must be first in the world in math and science achievement.
Every American adult must be a skilled, literate worker and citizen.
Every school must offer the kind of disciplined environment that makes it possible for our kids to learn.

Ambitious aims? Of course. Easy to do? Far from it. But the future’s at stake.

President Bush understood the importance of joining high educational expectations with high educational standards. He was adamant about holding elected officials at every level of government accountable to seeing improvement in elementary, middle-school, and high-school outcomes, and he did so without the bifurcating effect that much political dialogue has today.

We believe that every student in America, regardless of their religion, ethnicity, zip-code, or income should have the opportunity to attend a school that more than adequately prepares him or her for college or a career after high-school. Who could demand such an “ambitious aim?” The late, Honorable, “Education President” George H. W. Bush did, and the Faith and Education Coalition is grateful for his leadership.

The Rev. Girien Salazar
Director, Faith and Education Coalition-NHCLC