Now in his sixth term representing the 8th District of Ohio in the U.S. House of Representatives, John Boehner has had many opportun-ities to promote his views on improving public schools, creating jobs and overhauling the tax system. But his biggest opportunity might come this year. On Jan. 4, Boehner, a 1977 graduate, was selected by fellow Republicans to chair the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. His primary responsibility: lead President Bush’s attempts to reform education, the administration’s top priority. The committee oversees all education- related issues and plays a pivotal role in the effort to implement the president’s education reform plan, No Child Left Behind.
“The president’s plan will empower parents by asking states and public schools that use federal education dollars to be more accountable for results,” says Boehner. “Washington has spent $130 billion over the last three decades in a well-intentioned but unsuccessful attempt to meet the needs of our students. In spite of these efforts, nearly 70 percent of inner-city and rural fourth-graders cannot read at a basic level. Low-income students lag behind their counterparts by an average of 20 percentile points on national assessment tests. The hard lesson of the past is that money alone cannot be the vehicle for change in our schools. If our goal truly is to leave no child behind, there must be accountability for results.” To be enacted, the president’s plan will need bipartisan support in Congress, which won’t be easy to gain. Still, Boehner is confident. “My experiences at Moeller High School and Xavier broadened my interests and exposed me to new ideas and taught me the importance of being disciplined,” he says. “You’ve got to be focused and disciplined if you want to achieve your goals.”