Bush sings praises of Catholic education
At a reception for 200 Catholic educators in the East Room of the White House last Friday afternoon, President Bush delivered a 20 minute speech praising Catholic education.
The reception was organised to commemorate the centennial of the National Catholic Education Association, which was holding its annual convention in Washington.
"Catholic schools carry out a great mission, to serve God by building knowledge and character of our young people," Bush said. "It's a noble calling. It's an important part of the fabric of America. By teaching the word of God, you prepare your students to follow a path of virtue and compassion and sacrifice for the rest of their lives."
The president said that the strict academic standards at Catholic schools have led to near-universal graduation rates, even though per-pupil spending is lower than in the public school system.
"You challenge what I call the soft bigotry of high expectations," Bush said. "You believe in the worth of every person and every child. You believe that inherent in every child is the capacity to learn. And you refuse to quit on any child."
In a 20-minute speech, Bush also made a pitch for Congress to finance a pilot program in Washington, D.C., that would allow children in failing public schools to use a $7,500 federally subsidized "scholarship" to attend another school of their choice, including a parochial school. The House approved $14 million, but the legislation is awaiting a final congressional vote, possibly this month.
"The Catholic school system here in D.C. provides a really good alternative," Bush said. "And the federal government is now willing to help fund that alternative."
,br>Bush's call to allow taxpayers' money to be used for parochial education has been praised by Catholic educators who would be happy to see their student populations expand with the government paying the tuition.
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nola.com Bush sings the praises of Catholic education
12 Jan 2004