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Bush Chastises Schools: "They're Leaving Money On The Table"
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WASHINGTON - President Bush responded to criticism Friday that his administration has inadequately funded education by sending a stinging rebuke back. "The schools know full well that we have hundreds, thousands of programs available to them, free for the taking, that they have chosen not to participate in." He added, "If the schools won't accept the money the American people want to give them, then we should give it back to taxpayers in the form of tax cuts. But that's in their hands, not ours. Not mine."

"With all respect due to our President, I must say he's being less than honest," said New York Schools superintendent Anthony Yankovich. "He's right when he says there are thousands of programs. For instance, I can sit one of my clerical staff down for about a week and have her fill out the fifty-page application for a grant that would let our schools have free pencils. Or I could get all the teachers to individually fill out the 35-page grant request that if approved would allow them all to get new globes." Yankovich pulled open a drawer in a filing cabinet and waved across the hundreds of manila folders within it. "These are the pending requests we've submitted," he explained, "and these are the ones that have been approved." He pulled open another drawer containing only three folders. "We submitted one that would give us free manila folders," he said, "but it was rejected for 'lack of need'. You expect some of these things to be rejected, but after awhile of getting nothing, you sort of get the message, and you quit."

Other educators agree. Myra Indoignt, an English teacher with Wright High School in Dayton, Ohio related her experience with requesting money from a government program. "I saw in a teaching magazine that the government had a program to provide teachers with lesson planners, so I asked for an application. It took me a great deal of research, nearly two weeks of running around, but I got everything they asked for and submitted my request. The school year started without a word from them, so I just bought my own. Right around February of the following year I got a package in the mail. It contained five lesson planners, all for the previous year. They were useless. Worse, the package contained a notice saying they constituted 'taxable income', so they ended up costing me fifteen dollars."

"We're not miracle workers, we can't just magically know who really needs things and who is trying to game the system," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan, "so the forms are a necessary evil. But that's true of everything. You can't open a bank account without filling out a form. But the point is that the funds are there, the opportunities are there, if the educators will simply take advantage of them."

"I thank the President for the offer," said one teacher, waving a sheaf of application forms, "but I just don't need free 'English to Gujarati' translation dictionaries. Or 'Using Your Abacus' how-to books. And the things I could actually use are the things I always get rejected for. Count me out."
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