June 10, 2003
Posted at: 2:40 p.m. CDT
WASHINGTON -- President Bush is celebrating a key milestone in his campaign for education reform: all states have now drawn up plans to hold schools accountable.
Accountability is the centerpiece of the education overhaul he and lawmakers agreed on last year.
The measure requires annual tests for grades three through eight, starting in 2005 -- and threatens failing schools with shut-down. It also demands that states come up with blueprints for implementing reform.
At a Rose Garden ceremony, Bush announced the Education Department has now approved plans for the last 17 states.
However, many school districts are short of cash -- and complain they'll have a hard time paying for the tests and other requirements.
Democrats charge that Bush's budget falls some $9 billion short of the federal aid promised in the 2002 law. Bush counters that education spending is at an all-time high.