A shared failure


THE RESIGNATION of Secretary of Education Lauro Cavazos comes as no great surprise. Virtually invisible during his two-year tenure, he has offered few initiatives and showed little flair for the arena. But his ineffectiveness says less about him than about his boss. How serious has President Bush really been about education?

Public education is in deep trouble. American students are leaving schools without adequate skills, threatening economic security and the social fabric.

Bush pledged to be the "education president." Faced with huge budget deficits, however, he has offered more symbols than dollars. Fifteen months ago, when he summoned the nation's governors to an education "summit conference," he offered mainly bromides. And Cavazos was hardly in evidence.

The official White House line is that Cavazos was dumped to make way for a more forceful secretary who would help Bush buttress his claim to be the "education president." But isn't that also the president's job?

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