Bush proposes new education plan

January 28, 2008 11:44:03 PM PST
When President Bush talked education during the State of the Union, many public school teachers were not applauding.

Mr. Bush unveiled a plan to give students in struggling schools a chance to transfer out. It's a plan that could send millions of dollars to private or faith based schools.

It works very much like a voucher system. The president calls it "Pell Grants for Kids."

But many in public education call it taking tax dollars away from struggling schools that need it most.

It was a sad day when Gloria R Davis Middle School in San Francisco closed its door last year.

It suffered from low performance, and low attendance.

Students that attend struggling schools like Gloria R Davis would benefit from President Bush's $300 million dollar Pell Grant Plan.

"Now let us supply the same spirit to help liberate poor children trapped in failing public schools," said President George Bush.

"I'm thankful this is the last State of the Union George Bush will give because every year he has proposed federal voucher programs," said San Francisco School Board Member Jill Wynns.

San Francisco school board's Jill wynns has heard this all before from the president and isn't impressed.

The plan would give public school students federal money -- to transfer to another district or use it for tuition at a private or faith based school.

"The question is, is this the best way to use tax dollars and put the money in the private system where there isn't government oversight and accountability?" said Lorraine Woodruff from Parents for Public Schools.

Lorraine Woodruff long heads up "Parents for Public Schools." A mother of two kids herself, she says President Bush's plan takes away money from public schools.

"It's a lot of money that's being out into a program that is something not proven to truly make a difference for low income students," said Woodruff.

Frank Ross isn't convinced. His son attends Catholic high school. Ross says families should have choices.

"What parent wouldn't want their child to go to the best school they could afford to get them into," said Riordan High School parent Frank Ross.

But others claim giving tax dollars crosses a gray ethical line between church and state -- a problem that can spur lawsuits.

"They get around this by giving the voucher to parents so it's not actually federal money paid to private or religious schools," said Wynns.

Jill Wynns says it is unlikely president bush will get much support from congress on this Pell Grant plan.

Even so, she says, it's a potential fight those in public education should be ready to take on.