Tuesday, September 12, 2000

Gore visit today centers on schools

By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Tristate voters will get a lesson today in the politics of education.

        Riding in traditional yellow school buses, the Democratic presidential candidates, Al Gore and Joe Lieberman, will bring their campaign and education platform to southwest Ohio for a day of speaking and orchestrated events.

        The pair will:

        • Greet students at a middle school in the Dayton, Ohio, suburb of Miamisburg.

        • Have lunch with students, parents and teachers at Middletown High School.

        • Make a campaign stop at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College before leaving the area late this afternoon.

  Tickets to the Gore-Lieberman rally at 2 p.m. today at Cincinnati State Technical and Community College are available at these locations:
  • Main lobby of the college administration building, 10 a.m. until event time.
  • Democratic Party headquarters, 615 Main St., downtown, 10 a.m. until event.
  Gates open at 11:30 a.m. Free entertainment starts at 12:30 p.m. The program begins at 1:15 p.m. The public should use the Ludlow Avenue entrance to Cincinnati State.
  Parking/shuttle: A free shuttle will run from the parking lot at the Museum Center at Union Terminal to the college, starting at 11 a.m., and back to the parking lot after the rally.
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        Mr. Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush have distinctly different approaches to the federal role in education.

        The vice president's plan calls for more spending than the Republican plan, about $115 billion over a decade. He also wants to add univer sal preschool, reduce class size through hiring 1 million new teachers, allow tax credits for college tuition and triple the number of charter schools.

        Unlike his Republican predecessors, Mr. Bush — who regularly touts his achievements in education as governor of Texas — has not called for the dismantling of the U.S. Department of Education.

        Mr. Bush is actually calling for more money — $47 billion over 10 years — to be spent on education and for more involvement from the federal government.

        He also wants to step up standards, to increase spending on literacy and to add teaching morals and character to curriculums.

        “Gov. Bush has a strong emphasis on discipline in his education plan, and that's something the teachers and

        parents really want in the schools,” said Kentucky state Sen. Jack Westwood, an Erlanger Republican and a retired teacher assisting the Bush campaign on education issues in the state.

        But Mr. Bush has also advocated allowing some parents to use taxpayer-funded vouchers to attend private schools, a proposal that has drawn heavy criticism from Democrats and teachers' unions.

        “We haven't seen anything about vouchers that adds to schools or education, but (vouchers) can take away from schools,” Jonathan Beeton, a spokesman for the Gore-Lieberman campaign, said.

        “A limited number of schools and kids get the vouchers, but that takes money away from other public schools. What we need to do is invest in all schools instead of investing in just a few.”

        Two popular Republican congressmen — U.S. Reps. Rob Portman of Cincinnati and John Boehner of West Chester — acted as surrogates for the Bush campaign Monday, putting out what they called an “education report card” that gave Mr. Gore a “failing grade” on reforming education during his years as vice president.

        “Al Gore has consistently opposed reforms that would challenge the status quo and help to give millions of at-risk students hope for a quality education,” Mr. Boehner said in a press release.

        “We need to move control of education out of Washington and return it to parents, teachers and local communities.”

        The Republicans have also planned a counter event in Middletown.

        Arizona Superintendent of Public Education Lisa Graham Keegan, who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for secretary of education in a Bush Cabinet, is flying in to hold a round-table discussion with parents and teachers at Middletown's Taft Elementary on Monday afternoon.

        The attention on this region by both campaigns shows not only the importance of Ohio in the race — both camps feel they need to win the state to win the election — but also how vital a role education is playing in the presidential race.

        A late August ABC News/Washington Post poll indicated that 75 percent of those responding said the candidates' plans for improving schools would be “very important” in deciding whom to support.

        So both campaigns are making lots of visits to schools, as Mr. Gore and Mr. Lieberman are doing here today.

        Two weeks ago Mr. Bush visited schools in Toledo and Louisville. He claims to have visited more than 100 schools as part of his campaign.

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