Bush: No Child Left Behind helps U.S. compete globally

A degree is about to become a lot more important.

Unskilled American laborers cannot compete in a world where companies outsource their labor to other countries. Outsourcing is here to stay, because the American workforce is not capable of producing say, Levi’s Jeans, as quickly or as cheaply as workers in other countries.

Levi’s cut its manufacturing costs substantially by having workers outside of the U.S. sew its denim and rivets. The government can do nothing to prevent any firm, including Levi’s, from maximizing profit and this means fewer unskilled labor jobs in the U.S. permanently.

However, the Levi’s brand is a product of the U.S., and degree-holding American citizens are the ones selling those world-renowned pants. No other jeans company in the world can compete with the marketing powerhouse that is Levi’s.

If Levi’s decided to give those manufacturing jobs back to U.S. citizens their costs would go up. They would have to fire those marketers. That, in theory, would mean fewer jeans sold. Why should Levi’s bring less money into the U.S., into our hands, specifically to keep its manufacturing domestic?

So, the global economy — whether John Kerry’s subsidies and tariffs waste our money trying to stop it or not — is draining the non-skilled jobs from our country and creating a greater need for degree-holding laborers. But if Levi’s could hire better marketers, then they would sell more jeans and be able to hire even more marketers.

Thankfully, Bush has been combating this problem by improving the workforce since his first week in office, when he submitted the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) to congress.

NCLB is the most significant change to federal education policy since 1965. Because of this legislation, schools are required — for the first time — to close the achievement gap between different socio-economic groups. If a school does not perform as expected, it must reform and must allow parents to transfer their child to a more competent educational facility.

Even though Bush sent record levels of funding with NCLB, more is needed. Bush plans to expand with his 2005 budget, including $1 billion more in Title I funding and $1 billion more in special education funding. A 49 percent increase in education funding since 2001.

But people still tell me that NCLB is desperately short on funds. Oh really? Tell that to the parents of Cincinnati sixth graders, who saw their children’s math scores improve 17 percent last year. They should also talk with parents of fourth grade children in every other urban school district in America who saw their children’s reading scores improve by 4.9 percent and math scores by 6.8 percent.

NCLB ensuring that students have the skills needed to succeed in higher education is one thing, but ensuring they can afford that degree is another issue. Higher education is the most important step in ensuring that a competitive global workforce exists in the U.S. and Bush has done more than any other president to make sure it is affordable for all.

Bush’s 2005 budget includes $73 billion for financial aid, which is a record amount and a 55 percent increase since 2001. His financial aid will make college affordable for 10.3 million students.

Out of those funds, $12.9 billion is for Enhanced Pell Grants. This will raise the maximum award to $5,050, but only if the applicant took a rigorous course load in high school.

Students going the vocational route for high school will also see improvements when Bush is re-elected. His new budget includes $1 billion for the Perkins Vocational Education Program.

Also, through Bush’s Reading First programs, $1.8 billion has provided training and materials for literacy educators. NCLB has sent $200 million for early childhood reading efforts and the President’s new Head Start program will consolidate funding from other early childhood programs and train parents in literacy instruction. The President’s Striving Readers initiative takes aim at high school illiteracy.

Both candidates have big promises. But which one should you believe?

I do not believe the one who proposes a $4,000 student tax credit, even after voting against expanded education savings accounts that would have provided for a $4 billion tax break — six times! Not the candidate who missed 292 senate votes last year, including 24 education votes and three votes affecting issues he says he promotes in his campaign.

I believe the one who is consistent, decisive and experienced — Bush.