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pd12ja04 Remarks at a Bush-Cheney Luncheon in Knoxville...

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that works, Norm Mishelow is with us. He is a principal at the Barton 
Elementary School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He has come south for

[[Page 32]]

some warm weather. [Laughter] Didn't work. [Laughter]
    Mr. Mishelow. I think it's the same temperature here as there.
    The President. That's right. [Laughter] One of the things we've done 
is we've, at the Federal level, put a primary focus on reading. As I 
mentioned to you, the amount of reading money now available is an 
increase of 400 percent over the last 3 years. And what's important 
about reading programs is they actually work, not that they sound good, 
but they actually achieve the objective. And the way to determine 
whether or not reading programs work is to measure. If a child can read, 
it will show up on an accountability system.
    And Norm, why don't you tell us about what we call research-based 
reading programs and tell us about your school and what you're doing.

[The discussion continued.]

    The President. A couple of observations. First of all, we're 
learning what works when it comes to reading. It's not guesswork 
anymore. For a while it was a guesswork. You might remember the great 
debates--capsulized, whole language versus phonics. There was a lot of 
political capital expended over that, and all of a sudden the 
accountability system starts to clarify reality. And as Norm mentioned, 
they've chosen a program and a curriculum that is now working. Why do we 
know? Because they measure. They're able to tell because there is a 
measurement standard. The other thing that happens when Norm's school 
does well, other schools say, ``Wait a minute. Old Norm doesn't seem to 
be all that good. How is he able to do what he's doing?'' [Laughter]
    Mr. Mishelow. Who are you talking to?
    The President. Well--[laughter]--just guessing, Norm. [Laughter] But 
he serves as a go-by. See, when you have accountability and you lay the 
results out for everybody to see, all of a sudden people start saying, 
``What's Norm doing that I'm not doing?'' Because as Norm mentioned to 
you, he's taken a school of children who, you know, that are the--as we 
say--used to say, tough to educate, and showing what can happen. I 
appreciate, Norm, your leadership. You said you've got a great staff. 
You do. It also--you're a educational entrepreneur, somebody who is 
willing to focus on what works. And thank you for what you're doing. I 
appreciate--I know the people of Milwaukee are thrilled that you are 
where you are.
    With us as well is Margie Willis, Grace Christian Elementary, 
Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Grace Christian is a Title I school, receives 
Title I money. Title I, by the way, for those who aren't aware of the 
term, are Federal monies aimed at economically disadvantaged kids. It's 
an important part of the Federal funding--or the education funding 
program. It's a commitment that the Federal Government has made, will 
continue to make.
    But Margie is a literacy coach. That's an interesting term, isn't 
it? She is--has met--the students have met expectations. Tell us about 
your school, Margie. Tell us what you're doing, and tell us how you've 
been so successful.

[The discussion continued.]

    The President. Well, I appreciate you. Thank you so much. By the 
way, research-based reading means phonics, in essence. And it is--it 
works. It works, and we know it works, and you've heard personal 
testimony that it does work. And I would urge schools that aren't using 
research-based reading programs to take a look at them. If you're not 
meeting standards, listen to the personal testimony of people in the 
frontline of public education, and listen to the joy in their voices 
about achieving fantastic results and watching all the kids from all 
walks of life, all economic backgrounds succeeding.
    I'll never forget, one time we were in Houston, and Rod had a--he 
didn't call her a reading--a literacy coach. He called her a reading 
czar, but anyway--czarina in this case. And she stood up and said, 
``Reading is the new civil right.'' And we're getting it right in more 
and more schools. I want to thank both of you all for being on the front 
edge of change. Thank you for your examples.
    Jerry Hodges is with us today. He's the executive director of 
Project GRAD based right here in Knoxville, Tennessee. Project GRAD is a 
nonprofit trying to close the

[[Page 33]]

achievement gap by talking about and spreading curriculum that works. 
Thanks for coming.

[The discussion continued.]

    The President. Well, I appreciate it. Thanks, good job. Thank you.
    Nonprofits, corporate Tennessee, people who care about the future of 
your State need to follow the example of Project GRAD and become 
involved in your school districts. I appreciate the superintendent and 
the school board members for reaching out and understanding that 
educational excellence is a local responsibility. I mean, people really 
shouldn't hope that the Federal Government develops the blueprint for 
success. That's not our role. And you don't want a one-size-fits-all 
education approach. You want a--the best education reform comes when the 
local people decide to reform, when your principals reform, when the 
people running at the State level reform, when businesses and local 
community leaders say, ``Wait a minute. We're not happy with the way 
things are. Let's change for the good of everybody.''
    And that's what's taking place here in Knox County schools. I want 
to thank you for that. Listen, I want to thank you all for coming. I'm 
honored our panel came from around the country to share with us the 
stories of success. And by the way, we're just beginning in America. 
See, one of these days, we won't have enough room on the stages as we 
bring people from all around the country to talk about what is 
happening, the tremendous success as a result of the No Child Left 
Behind Act. I'm honored you all came. I want to thank you again for 
believing in every child and raising that bar and believing in the worth 
of every individual.
    May God bless your work, and may God continue to bless our country. 
Thank you for coming.

Note: The discussion began at 11:14 a.m. In his remarks, the President 
referred to Melvenia Smith, principal, West View Elementary School; and 
Mayor Bill Haslam of Knoxville, TN. The President also referred to Title 
I of the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994 (Public Law No. 103-
382), which amended Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education 
Act of 1965 (Public Law No. 89-10).

[Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents]

[Page 33-37]
Monday, January 12, 2004
Volume 40_Number 2
Pages 15	52
Week Ending Friday, January 9, 2004
Remarks at a Bush-Cheney Luncheon in Knoxville

January 8, 2004

    Thank you all. Thanks for coming. Thank you all very much. Thanks 
for the warm welcome. It's glad--I'm glad to be in the land of the 
orange and white. UT--kind of sounds like home. [Laughter] Really 
appreciate coming back to Knoxville. I'm so thrilled that so many came 
out to support the Bush-Cheney ticket. As you might recall, we had 
pretty good success here in the year 2000. Because of today, we're 
laying the foundation for what is going to be even better success in 
Tennessee in 2004. We're on our way to a national victory in November of 
    I'm loosening up--[laughter]--and I'm getting ready. But there will 
be plenty of time for politics, because I've got a job to do on behalf 
of every citizen of this country. I'm focused on the people's business 
in Washington, DC. My administration will continue to work hard to earn 
the confidence of all Americans, by keeping this Nation secure and 
strong and prosperous and free.
    I'm honored you invited me here today. I know I wasn't your first 
choice. [Laughter] Laura was tied up. [Laughter] She's a fabulous First 
Lady. I'm a lucky man that she said yes when I said, ``Will you marry 
me?'' She really sends her best and her love. She's--I'm really proud of 
    I also want to thank my friend Lamar Alexander for doing such a fine 
job in the United States Senate on behalf of the great people of 
Tennessee. He brings such class and dignity to public office. You've 
known that when he was your Governor. He's now doing it again as the 
Senator, as is the other Senator from the great State of Tennessee, 
Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader of the United States Senate. 
You've done a great job of sending two fine people to the Senate.
    I'm honored that members of the congressional delegation from 
Tennessee have joined us today, starting with your own homegrown Jimmy 
Duncan. I appreciate you, Jimmy. I got off Air Force One and the first 
thing he said was, ``This is my district.'' [Laughter]
    I want to thank Congressman Zach Wamp for joining us today. Thank 
you for being

[[Page 34]]

here, Zach. Congressman Bill Jenkins is with us today. Congressman, 
thank you for coming. I see you got a seat in the back. [Laughter] And 
Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn is with us today. Marsha, thank you for 
being here.
    I'm honored that members of the statehouse have come. It's always a 
good sign when the State senators and State legislators are coming. 
After all, all good politics is local politics. I want to thank Ben 
Atchley, he's the Republican leader in the State senate, for joining us 
today. Beth Harwell, who is the chairman of the Tennessee Republican 
Party, is with us. I want to thank you for coming too, Beth.
    I'm so honored that many of you all took time to make this event a 
successful event. Jim Haslam is event cochairman. Big Jim, I thank you 
for your friendship, and I appreciate--I also appreciate Jimmy for being 
the event cochairman. And I appreciate the fact that the mayor is with 
us today as well.
    I want to thank my friend Mercer Reynolds. He's from Cincinnati, 
Ohio. He's the national finance chairman of Bush-Cheney. He's working 
hard to make sure that this campaign is well-funded. When the campaign 
starts, we want to be ready to go. And thanks to the people in this 
room, and thanks to people around the country, when the campaign gets 
started we are going to be ready to go.
    I appreciate David Kustoff, who is the State chairman. His job is to 
rally the grassroots. And so, for those of you who are involved in 
grassroots politics here in Tennessee, I want to thank you for what 
you're going to do. I want to thank you for the signs you're going to 
put up. I want to thank you for the phone calls you're going to make. 
I'm want to thank you for joining us as we turn out the vote to make 
sure this good State turns out in significant numbers.
    And as you're turning out that vote, I want you to remind them, in 
the last 3 years our Nation has acted decisively to confront great 
challenges. I came to this office to solve problems, not to pass them on 
to future Presidents and future generations. I came to seize 
opportunities instead of letting them slip away. My administration is 
meeting the tests of our time.
    Terrorists declared war on the United States of America, and war is 
what they got. We've captured or killed many of the key leaders of the 
Al Qaida network, and the rest of them know we're on their trail. In 
Afghanistan and in Iraq, we gave ultimatums to terror regimes. Those 
regimes chose defiance, and those regimes are no more. Fifty million 
people in those two countries once lived under tyranny, and now they 
live in freedom.
    Three years ago, our military was not receiving the resources it 
needed, and morale was beginning to suffer. So we increased the defense 
budgets to prepare for the threats of a new era. And today, no one in 
the world can question the skill and the strength and the spirit of the 
United States military.
    Three years ago, the economy was in trouble and a recession was 
beginning. And then we had attacks on our country and corporate scandals 
and war, which all affected the people's confidence. But this 
administration acted. We passed tough new laws to hold corporate 
criminals to account. And to get the economy going again, I have twice 
led the United States Congress to pass historic tax relief for the 
American people.
    We understand that when Americans have more take-home pay to spend, 
to save, or invest, the whole economy grows, and people are more likely 
to find a job. So we're returning more money--money to people to help 
them raise their families. We're reducing taxes on dividends and capital 
gains to encourage investment. We've given small businesses incentives 
to expand and to hire new people. With all these actions, we are laying 
the foundation for greater prosperity and more jobs across America so 
that every single person in this country has a chance to realize the 
American Dream.
    Today, the American economy is strong, and it is getting stronger. 
The figures for the third quarter of 2003 show that the economy grew at 
an annual rate of 8.2 percent, the fastest pace in nearly 20 years. 
Productivity is high. Business investment is rising. Housing 
construction is increasing. We've added over 300,000 new jobs in the 
last 4 months. The tax relief we passed is working.
    Three years ago, there was a lot of talk about education reform, but 
there wasn't much action. So I acted. I called for and the

[[Page 35]]

Congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act. With a solid bipartisan 
majority, we delivered the most dramatic education reforms in a 
generation. We're spending more money at the Federal level, but we're 
finally asking the question, ``Are you teaching the children how to read 
and write and add and subtract?'' This administration is challenging the 
soft bigotry of low expectations because we believe that every child can 
learn, and we expect every school to teach. The days of excusemaking are 
over. No child should be left behind in America.
    We reorganized the Government and created the Department of Homeland 
Security to better safeguard the borders and ports of our country and to 
better protect the American people. We passed trade promotion authority 
to open up new markets for Tennessee's farmers and ranchers and 
entrepreneurs and manufacturers. We passed budget agreements that is 
helping to maintain much-needed spending discipline in Washington, DC.
    And last month, we completed the greatest advance in health care 
coverage for America's seniors since the founding of Medicare. The new 
Medicare law, that I pushed for and signed, will give older Americans 
the option of a prescription drug benefit and more control over their 
health care, so that they can receive the modern health care that they 
    On issue after issue, this administration has acted on principle, 
has kept its word, and has made great progress for the American people. 
A lot of credit belongs to the Members of the United States Senate and 
the United States Congress. I enjoy working with Majority Leader Bill 
Frist. You know as well as I do he's plenty capable, plenty competent, 
and a very decent man. I enjoy working with Speaker Denny Hastert, who 
shares the same characteristics as Bill Frist, an honorable, decent man.
    We're working hard to change the tone in Washington, DC. There's too 
much backbiting, endless politics, name-calling. The best way to change 
the tone is to focus on the people's business and to focus on results. 
And that's what we're doing with the Congress. Our record has been a 
good record. And those are the kind of people I've asked to join my 
administration. I put together a fantastic team of people, people from 
all walks of life to serve our country, people who have come to the 
Nation's Capital not to represent their own special interests but to 
represent the greatest country on the face of the Earth. There's been no 
finer Vice President than Dick Cheney. Mother may have a second opinion. 
    In 3 years, we've done a lot. We have come far, but our work is only 
beginning. I've set great goals worthy of this great Nation. First, 
America is committed to expanding the realm of freedom and peace for our 
own security and for the benefit of the world. And second, in our own 
country, we will work for a society that is prosperous and compassionate 
so every citizen has a chance to work and to succeed and to realize the 
great promise of our country. It is clear that the future of freedom and 
peace depend on the actions of America. This Nation is freedom's home 
and freedom's defender. We welcome this charge of history, and we are 
keeping it.
    The war on terror continues. The enemies of freedom are not idle, 
and neither are we. This country will not rest; we will not tire; we 
will not stop until this danger to civilization is removed. We are 
confronting that danger in Iraq, where all people can be certain that 
they will never again have to fear the rule of Saddam Hussein. He 
started last year in a palace. He ended this year in a prison. The 
Ba'athist holdouts largely responsible for the current violence now know 
there will be no return to the corrupt power and privilege they once 

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