Bush's Answer For Safer Schools? "A Higher Power Than The Federal Government"
In the past few weeks, the nation has been stunned by school shootings in Colorado, Wisconsin, and Pennyslvania. It led President Bush to convene a White House summit on school safety.
Let's be clear. The blame for the shootings is solely the shooters. But anyone looking for answers from yesterday's summit -- which Bush said he wanted to produce a concrete plan of action -- had to be disappointed.
Instead of discussing metal detectors or a ban on assault weapons, Bush offered observations that, in the wake of the Mark Foley scandal, may score points with the upset "family values" crowd -- so important to the Republicans' chances of retaining control of Congress next month.
Responding to Craig Scott, whose sister Rachel died at Columbine High School in suburban Denver, and who narrowly escaped death himself that day, Bush said:
BUSH: "(Scott) is inspiring others to continue to reach out to say to somebody who is lonely, 'I love you.' And I'm afraid this requires a higher power than the federal government to cause somebody to love somebody."
The best solution, he added, is for parents, educators and students to find the love and compassion to reach out to troubled youths before they turn to violence.
To paraphrase Attorney General Alberto Gonzales: How quaint.
Hoping for a higher power to cause people to love one another sounds like the lyrics of a song from Woodstock, not administration policy. It makes one wonder what the Bush Administration record has been regarding school safety.
The folks at the Center for American Progress have compiled that record. Some highlights:
– In 2006, Bush proposed a five percent cut for youth and crime prevention programs. Bush’s 2005 budget proposed a 40 percent drop in juvenile-crime prevention, following a 44 percent cut in 2004.
– The Bush administration has repeatedly recommended eliminating federal funding for the Safe and Drug-Free Schoolsand Communities State Grants program, which works on juvenile-crime prevention. Since 2001, Congress has voted to retain the Grants program over the administration’s objections, but at reduced levels. Funding for the program was $439.2 million in 2001 but fell to $346.5 million this year, with $310 million recommended for 2007.
– More than half the nation’s school districts receive $10,000 or less per year to fight violence and substance abuse — “too little to make a difference” according to an Education Department official.
In other words, schools have to hope for help from a "higher power," because they can't rely on any help from the Bush Administration.