Beaverton, OR (CNSNews.com) - Republican presidential hopeful Texas Governor George W. Bush told a crowd of 450 invited guests at Bethany Elementary School Monday the United States has an education deficit, and a Bush/Cheney administration will do what it takes to make that deficit up.
One of the guests, 14-year-old Ryan McDermott says though he is home-schooled, he supports Bush's education agenda, including doubling the child tax credit, and lowering taxes to help pay for education.
Bush opened a three-day West Coast swing, telling the crowd that the nation is experiencing an ''education recession'' even as it enjoys good economic times. He went on to say he wants to crack down on failing schools by allowing students to obtain private-school vouchers and then select which school they want to attend.
Outside the school several voters said they had not completely made up their minds who they will vote for in November. Angie Leverens, who lives next door to the school but did not receive an invitation to the event, put a sign on her fence saying, 'George, we're on the fence, convince us'.
Leverens, a registered Republican, said while she hasn't made up her mind who she will vote for she said it will probably come down to personality. Leverens said she really likes George W. Bush but added, "something about him really doesn't do it for me. In years past, I've always been able to have a real clear-cut candidate, but this time, I just can't decide. If he (Bush) comes by and kisses a baby, maybe I'll vote for him."
Also outside the school a handful of protestors were claiming the Bush education proposals would not work. Trip Allen from Beaverton, carried a sign calling Bush a ' politicibal pedophilibia'. Allen was making reference to recent verbal slips by Bush on the campaign trail.
Allen says, "This stuff in the schools, I wanna call it politicibal pedophilibia', and I can't tell you how hard it is to say that incorrectly. What they're doing in these schools is using kids to hide behind, to purport that they are so sensitive and are behind all these kids, and they may well be, but I think they need to take it somewhere else. You know, rent the Coliseum and have a rally".
In contrast to Bush, Democratic nominee Vice President Al Gore has said on the campaign trail he wants to continue several of President Clinton's education policies and is calling for the federal government to spend $50 billion to ensure every 4-year-old would attend preschool.
Gore said he wants to carry on many of Clinton's programs and continue to provide federal dollars to train reading teachers, tutor children after school hours and promote literacy among entire families, all of which would add up to about $300 million a year. Gore has said he would be opposed to any form of school vouchers.
Bush is touting an education plan that would create federally funded school vouchers that would allow students at low-performing public schools attend other schools, including private. Bush says he also wants to double the number of charter schools which are not required to adhere to federal education rules if their students meet or exceed standard test results.