Hil­lary pushes for global ed­u­ca­tion

The Washington Times Weekly - - Front Page - By Amy Fa­gan

Pres­i­den­tial hope­ful Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton wants the U.S. gov­ern­ment to com­mit $10 bil­lion over five years to get young chil­dren in de­vel­op­ing coun­tries into school, say­ing May 1 that she and other pro­po­nents “hope that the pres­i­dent will take ad­van­tage” of this chance to im­prove global economies, health and se­cu­rity.

The New York Demo­crat joined U2 singer and ac­tivist Bono, via con­fer­ence call in Ire-

land; Rep. Nita M. Lowey, New York Demo­crat; Rep. Spencer Bachus, Alabama Repub­li­can; and other law­mak­ers in Wash­ing­ton in in­tro­duc­ing the Ed­u­ca­tion for All Act. They said the bill would help sta­bi­lize and im­prove im­pov­er­ished coun­tries and func­tion as an es­sen­tial tool to com­bat ter­ror­ism in the long run.

“Ed­u­ca­tion is an equal­iz­ing force. To­day more than ever ed­u­ca­tion is a na­tional se­cur ity is­sue,” Mrs. Lowey said.

“To win this war of ideas and to es­tab­lish a last­ing peace [. . . ] ed­u­ca­tion must play an es­sen­tial role,” said Mr. Bachus, adding that “young peo­ple who are read­ing books aren’t build­ing bombs.”

Mrs. Lowey and Mrs. Clin­ton tried un­suc­cess­fully to get the bill passed in 2004 but are hop­ing the cli­mate is right with a Democrat­con­trolled Congress.

Mrs. Clin­ton com­mended Pres­i­dent Bush for work­ing with his party to ad­vance global health ef­forts, in­clud­ing more fund­ing to com­bat AIDS in Africa.

“I give Pres­i­dent Bush credit for work­ing with his party to do some of the out­reach that has got­ten bi­par­ti­san sup­port,” she said. With Democrats in con­trol of Congress, Mrs. Clin­ton said, the time is right to go even fur­ther to im­prove world­wide ed­u­ca­tion.

“We hope that the pres­i­dent will take ad­van­tage of it,” she said.

White House spokes­woman Emily Law­rimore said that Mr. Bush “has worked to strengthen ed­u­ca­tion for chil­dren and de­liver care to those in need around the world” and that the White House is re­view­ing the bill.

The leg­is­la­tion would re­quire the pres­i­dent to ap­point an Ed­u­ca­tion for All co­or­di­na­tor and cre­ate a com­pre­hen­sive strat­egy for meet­ing the al­ready es­tab­lished in­ter­na­tional goal of uni­ver­sal ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion by 2015.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion would co­or­di­nate sup­por t from non­govern­men­tal groups, other gov­ern­ments and in­ter na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tions. Goals would in­clude ex­pand­ing ac­cess to schools, repli­cat­ing suc­cess­ful pro­grams, reach­ing the most vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions and en­sur­ing that schools don’t pro­mote vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism.

Bill spon­sors said that about 77 mil­lion pri­mary-school-age chil­dren around the world aren’t in school and that their bill fol­lows the Septem­ber 11 com­mis­sion’s find­ing that in­creas­ing ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­nity is key to de­feat­ing global ter­ror­ism.

Sup­port­ers re­al­ize that col­lect­ing $10 bil­lion at a time of fed­eral deficits and con­stant fights over do­mes­tic pri­or­i­ties is a far reach, but an es­sen­tial in­vest­ment.

“I say we can’t af­ford not to,” Bono said.

Mrs. Lowey was the only bill sup­porter who openly ad­vo­cated pulling troops out of Iraq in or­der to free up more money.

A spokesman for Sen. Tom Coburn, Oklahoma Repub­li­can, who typ­i­cally leads the charge against waste­ful spend­ing, said his boss would pose sev­eral ques­tions to bill spon­sors, in­clud­ing whether the bill du­pli­cates ex­ist­ing ef­forts and which pro­grams would be elim­i­nated to pay for it.

“If the bill’s spon­sors can’t, or won’t, an­swer th­ese ques­tions, he will likely do ev­ery­thing in his power to block this bill,” John Hart said.

Brian Kennedy, spokesman for House Mi­nor­ity Leader John A. Boehner, Ohio Repub­li­can, ques­tioned how Democrats would sup­port this in­ter­na­tional ed­u­ca­tion push when “they’re con­stantly com­plain­ing that we don’t spend enough money do­mes­ti­cally as it is, as if money alone were the an­swer to ev­ery prob­lem.”

Mrs. Clin­ton and other Democrats have called for more money for do­mes­tic ed­u­ca­tion ef­forts, in­clud­ing Mr. Bush’s No Child Left Be­hind ed­u­ca­tion re­form law.

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