Capitol Hill (CNSNews.com) -The National Education Association claims President Bush is reneging on his promise to put a qualified teacher in every public school classroom by 2005, but the House Education and the Workforce Committee says the NEA is misleading its member teachers and the public.
"As we raise the expectations of our schools, we must give our schools the tools to succeed. As we ask more of our teachers, we must take their side. We must be their allies," President Bush, said in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, March 4. "And all of us, all around America, must give them the support they need to do their jobs."
Earlier this year, Bush signed into law a significant increase in funding for programs to improve teacher quality as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. The money is designated to help states and local schools train, recruit, and retain highly qualified teachers.
"This is a great goal for America," said NEA President Bob Chase in a press release. "But if we are serious about leaving no child behind, then we also must be serious about leaving no teacher unqualified - and no mandate unfunded."
NEA is running radio commercials claiming that Bush is actually cutting teacher quality funding.
"[T]he president has proposed a budget that actually reduces federal support for improved teacher quality," Chase claims in the ad. "It's time for government to keep its promises."
But Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), issued a statement Thursday through the House Education and Workforce Committee, which he chairs, saying that "the NEA attacks are misleading and false."
"To provide the resources necessary to meet that goal, the President also signed legislation providing nearly $3 billion," the statement explains, "an increase of 35 percent over last year's budget."
Additionally, the president called for new "teacher support" initiatives earlier this week, including:
- Expanding programs that recruit new math, science and special education teachers by forgiving part of their college loans in exchange for a commitment to teach in poor neighborhoods;
- A tax deduction of $400 per year for committed teachers who buy school supplies for their students out of their own pockets; and
- Upgrading teaching colleges, where many teachers receive their training.
Lack of administration support for NEA proposals that it determine the certification standards to identify "highly qualified teachers" may have caused the union to run the ads.
The law signed by Bush designates that a "highly qualified teacher" is one who has certification from, or has passed a licensing exam administered by a state department of education, not NEA.
"No more uncertified teachers. No more out-of-field teaching. No more relying on well-intentioned amateurs to do the job of trained professionals," Chase said in his statement. "NEA will do everything in our power to help achieve this extraordinary goal. We only hope the Administration is equally committed."
Boehner says teachers only have to look at the $3 billion dedicated to improving teacher quality to see the commitment of Congress and the administration.
"Even in the face of significant new budget constraints, President Bush and Congress followed through on the promise to teachers," his statement claims. "America's teachers support education reform, and they deserve to know the truth about President Bush's education budget."
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