American Presidents and Education

By Maurice R. Berube | Go to book overview

6
George Bush (1989- ) and National Standards

President George Bush inherited the educational agenda of his predecessor, Ronald Reagan. Bush was determined to continue the excellence reform movement begun in the Reagan White House.

There was little in Bush's background that would justify his calling himself an education president. Still, he managed to continue the thrust of excellence reform through a bully pulpit and added a new dimension of his own in the advocacy of choice programs for the schools.

For the most part, Bush, like Reagan, practiced an educational politics of the bully pulpit. He declared that, for him, educational leadership would be mainly "hortatory." 1 Like Reagan, he perceived education to be a responsibility of the states, with the role of the federal government to suggest a national agenda for the states. Consequently, his educational budgets were minimal and prompted the educational establishment to brand them "lack- luster." 2

Nevertheless, Bush's contribution to excellence reform was significant. First, he called an educational summit of all the governors to establish national educational goals. Second, he shaped the national educational agenda through his strong emphasis on choice plans. Choice meant that students would be permitted to attend any school they desired. Choice was an idea that was easily compressible and attractive to parents, students and politicians in search of no-cost solutions.

The purpose of Bush's continuation of excellence reform was, of course, to regain America's economic competitive strength. In his messages and his actions, the American economy was in the background of all education reform.

We shall examine Bush's educational initiatives in greater detail. First, the

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American Presidents and Education
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - Education and the Presidency 1
  • Notes 9
  • 2 - Education for Democracy 13
  • Notes 27
  • 3 - Education for the Economy 31
  • Notes 52
  • 4 - Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969) and the Equity Reform Movement 59
  • Notes 81
  • 5 - Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) and the Excellence Reform Movement 87
  • Notes 115
  • 6 - George Bush (1989- ) and National Standards 121
  • Notes 138
  • 7 - A National Framework 143
  • Notes 152
  • Bibliography 155
  • Index 165
  • About the Author 171
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