President Bush, who has said he wants to be remembered as the education president, sent Congress a package on Wednesday he said would make educational excellence "a classroom reality."
Bush unveiled his $422 million package of measures in a Rose Garden Ceremony at which he honored teacher of the year Mary V. Bicouvaris.Mrs. Bicouvaris, a Greek immigrant who teaches American government and international relations at Bethel High School in Hampton, Va., "epitomizes excellence in education," Bush said.
"We're going to take action, action to make excellence in education not just a rallying cry but a classroom reality," Bush said.
Bush's package would carry out many of his campaign promises on education, including $250 million in merit grants to the nation's best schools and a new $100 million magnet school program.
Magnet schools are those that have a special curriculum, giving parents an option on where to send their children.
Bush's program, many details of which had been revealed in the budget the president submitted on Feb. 9, would also:
-Authorize $25 million for federal grants in 1990 to states to improve their teacher certification programs.
-Provide $7.6 million for a three-year program of $5,000 grants to outstanding teachers.
-Provide $5 million for a 1990 national science scholars program of scholarships to graduating high school students who have excelled in mathematics or science.
-Provide $10 million in 1990, $20 million in 1991 and 1992 and $10 million in 1993 in new grants to historically black college and universities.
-Authorize $25 million a year for a three-year program of grants to urban schools that have the most serious drug problems.
Bush said students cannot learn "if there's drug dealing in the corridors."
"Let teachers and students get down to the business in an environment where learning can take place," he added.
Bush presented a crystal apple to Mrs. Bicouvaris, who on Tuesday was named National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers, Encyclopaedia Britannica Inc. and Good Housekeeping.