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President Bush Discusses 'No Child Left Behind' Program

Aired October 5, 2006 - 11:00   ET


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning again. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
And I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in for Heidi Collins.


Spend a second hour in the NEWSROOM this morning and stay informed.

The House Ethics Committee on the case of the lurid e-mails this very hour -- the Mark Foley scandal and how it may impact the House speaker.

WHITFIELD: President Bush instructs Congress to renew No Child Left Behind. His comments live this hour. And we talk with a critic who says leave the law behind.

HARRIS: A disturbing phone call, and a Virginia school system calls off classes for this Thursday, October 5th.

You're in the NEWSROOM.

But first we've got a breaking story involving a bank robbery in Georgia.

Carol Lin is in the newsroom -- Carol.

CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Henry County, Fredricka. You're looking at pictures that are just coming into the CNN Center of the scene right now.

There was a bank robbery at a Washington Mutual Bank. It was in a shopping center there, like a strip mall there.

Apparently, the robber got away, but not before leaving behind some kind of explosive device. That is what the FBI is telling CNN. So the FBI is en route, the local bomb squad is already on the scene right now. And this is the situation that they're working with as we speak, about 30 miles south of the Atlanta area -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: OK. And the aerial shots that we're seeing of the emergency personnel at this kind of strip mall, plaza, near a grocery store, parking lot seemingly rather quiet, I guess, because of the hour. Not a whole lot of people involved in this?

LIN: Well, it's almost the lunch hour. I'm going to presume that if there's some kind of explosive device there that the police have pushed people back.

We have no word of an official evacuation of that shopping center, but they do have a robot on the scene right now which is going to presumably -- we've covered a number of these from the breaking news desk. They takes the suspicious device off site to a cleared area, and what they usually end up doing is detonating it, exploding it. So that is probably what they're preparing to do right now -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Carol Lin, thanks so much for that update.

HARRIS: And we've been promising you the comments from the president on the No Child Left Behind Act. Let's take you now to the president of the United States.



Thank you for the warm welcome. Thank you for inviting Madam Secretary and me to your school. It's nice to be introduced by somebody with a Texas accent.


She's a good buddy and she's doing a fine job as the secretary of education.

So, Margaret, thank you very much for your service.

I'm glad to be at Woodridge, as well. I'm here because this is one of America's fine public charter schools. I'm here to remind people that charter schools work and they can make a difference in the lives of our children.

So I want to thank you for letting me come.

I want to thank the teachers and the administrators and the principals -- and the principal for setting high expectations.

I know that sounds simple. But you know what happens when you set low expectations? You get low results.

And so a center of excellence is always a place of learning where people believe the best.

And I want to thank the folks here for setting high expectations. I want to thank you for achieving results.

I applaud the parents of the students who are here for being -- and I applaud you for being involved in the life of your children, particularly when it comes to one of the most important aspects of their development, and that is school.

And I want to thank the students for letting me come, too. I want to thank Mary, the principal.

You know, one of the things I have found -- and I've spent a lot of time in schoolhouses as a result of being the governor and the president -- is that a good school always has a good principal.


And Mary Dunnock must be a good principal because this is a good school.

And I applaud you for being an educational entrepreneur.

An educational entrepreneur is somebody who is willing to challenge failure and mediocrity if she finds it. Because failure and mediocrity are unacceptable in any classroom anywhere in the United States.


I thank Donald Hense for joining us. He's founder and chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Friendship Public Charter School.


Mr. Hense told me he had the opportunity of meeting my mother one time. And I said to him, "Well, you met the A team then..."


"... now you've met the B team."


But thank you for your leadership. I welcome the members of the Friendship Public Charter School Board. Thank you for coming.

Being on a school board is difficult work. I know. Being on a school board that challenges the status quo is important work. And I thank for that. It means a difference.

I was in Lyle Brown's class. Lyle's not here; he's still teaching. But one of the things I saw was a teacher who loves being a teacher. And I applaud the teachers...


And I applaud the teachers in this school and teachers all around the country who are adding to the great future of our country.

I was in Max Brooks' class. He's not here either, but he's the facilitator in what's called a smart lab. They didn't have smart labs when I was going to elementary or junior high school. They got one here. And it's an innovative program that teaches people practical skills. One of the interesting questions I like to ask to students when I go into the classroom is, "How many of you are going to go to college?" You'd be pleased -- there you go. You'd be pleased to hear the hands went up.


See, that's a good sign when the principal and students and parents have encouraged our children to set a goal.

Going to college is an important goal for the future of the United States of America. And I'm pleased to report that when I asked that question in both classrooms I was invited to go to, there was unanimity. The students have set a goal to go to college.

And I reminded them that now's the time to work hard so you get to go; like take advantage of the smart lab, read more than you watch TV, practice your math and science.

I want to applaud you, Madam Principal, for encouraging our students to aim high.

And I thank the teachers for helping them achieve those dreams.

In recent days, we have seen some sad and shocking violence in our schools across America.

Yesterday I was in Colorado. It was one of the states that had received this sad and shocking news firsthand.

Next week, Secretary Spellings and Attorney General Al Gonzales are going to host a conference here in Washington, D.C., and it's an important conference. We're going to bring together teachers and parents and administrators and law enforcement officials and other experts to discuss ways to help our schools protect the children.

It is paramount that the federal government work with the state government and local governments to make it clear that our schools are places of learning, not places where there will be violence.

So, Margaret, I want to thank you for that initiative. And I'm looking forward to hearing the results of the important discussions.

I'm here today to talk about the No Child Left Behind Act. This act is an important way to make sure America remains competitive in the 21st century.

We're living in a global world. You see, the education system in America must compete with education systems in China and India.

If we fail to give our students the skills necessary to compete in the world of the 21st century, the jobs will go elsewhere. That's just a fact of life. It's the reality of the world in which live.

And therefore, now is the time for the United States of America to give our children the skills so that the jobs will stay here. Oh, there'll be jobs. Don't get me wrong. But I'm talking about the high-paying jobs, the quality jobs, the jobs that will be helping to lead the world in the 21st century. And there's no doubt in my mind we can achieve that objective.

And the No Child Left Behind Act was all part of making sure that we get it right in the schools.

So when I came here to Washington, I made a focused effort to work with Democrats and Republicans to pass this important law.

And the theory behind the law is straightforward: We'll spend more money on education, but in return we want to see results.

Oh, I know that may be too much to ask for some. It's not too much for this school. Matter of fact, I get a little nervous when I hear people say, "Well, I don't want to be measured." My attitude is, what are you trying to hide?

How can you solve a problem until you measure the problem? How can you make sure a child is achieving what we all want if you don't measure early to determine whether or not the skills are being imparted?

And so the No Child Left Behind said, "Look, we trust the local folks. I don't want Washington, D.C., running the schools." That's up to people in the states and the local community.

I've been a strong believer in local control of schools. But I also believe it makes sense to ask the question whether or not a child can read, write, add and subtract. I don't think it's too much to ask.

I know it's an important question if we expect our children to have the skills necessary to compete in the 21st century.

I know the kids don't like tests, and I didn't like it either, to be honest with you. You hear people say, "Well, we're testing too much." No. We're just trying to figure out whether or not people have got the skills necessary to succeed.

You know, I remember the debates when I was the governor of Texas and Margaret and I were working on accountability systems. I remember somebody standing up and saying, "It is racist to test." I said, "Uh- uh. It is racist not to test, because there are too many children being shuffled through our schools without understanding whether or not they can read and write and add and subtract."

I think it's important to hold people to account now, to make sure the education system functions for all. And that's the spirit of No Child Left Behind.

By measuring, it helps us determine whether or not a curriculum works.

Is the reading curriculum you're using working? That's a fundamental question a parent ought to ask, or a principal ought to ask, or a teacher ought to ask.

The best way to find out is to measure, to determine whether or not a child can read at grade level. And that helps you determine whether or not your curriculum are working.

One of the things that I think is most important about the No Child Left Behind Act is that, when you measure, particularly in the early grades, it enables you to address an individual's problem today rather than try to wait until tomorrow.

My attitude is is that measuring early enables a school to correct problems early.

See, let's be frank about it. We had a system that just shuffled kids through, grade after grade. I know some say that wasn't the case, but it was.

Let me just say, my state, the place I was familiar with -- it's so much easier, when you think about it, just to say, "OK, if you're such and such an age, you're supposed to be in this grade." You just shuffle them through.

And guess who got shuffled through? Inner city kids, the hard to educate.

You know, it made it easy just to say, "Oh, gosh, let's not worry about whether or not you've got the skills; let's just put you here because that's where you belong."

That's unfair to parents.

That's unfair to the children.

And the No Child Left Behind Act demands results for every child, for the good of the United States of America.


There's an achievement gap in America that's not good for the future of this country. Some kids can read at grade level and some can't. And that's unsatisfactory.

I know it's unsatisfactory for the educators who were here. It's unsatisfactory if you're a parent. And it's unsatisfactory for the president.

You can't have a hopeful America if certain kids can read at grade level and other can't and we don't address the problem.

I'm proud to report the achievement gap between white kids and minority students is closing, for the good of the United States.

How do I know? Because we measure.

In reading, 9-year-olds have made larger gains in the past five years than at any point in the previous 28 years. That's positive news.

In math, 9-year-olds and 13-year-olds earned the highest scores in the history of the test.

In reading and math, African-American and Hispanic students are scoring higher. And the achievement gap is closing.

Oh, I know people say we take tests too much. But how can you solve a problem until you measure? And how can you hold people to account when there's an achievement gap that is not right for America, unless you measure?

Measuring is the gateway to success.

Woodridge Elementary School gets measured. The accountability system helped your school identify struggling students and enabled them to get the help they need early.

I appreciate the fact that you have intervention sessions with teacher assistants. In other words, we identify a particular child's problems and then this school intervenes.

You have specialized learning projects, extra tutoring. Each child matters. Every child has potential.

All hands went up and said, "I want to go to college." And this school recognizes that some students need a little extra help early to make sure they can realize those dreams.

That's what measuring helps you to do.

Woodridge has met standards for three years in a row. You put in a lot of hard work, you have the results to show for it. And I thank you for your contribution to the future of this country.


If you don't make progress, you get extra help.

One of the most important initiatives is the Supplemental Service Initiative. This initiative says that when we find a child that needs help, that child gets extra help. In other words, if a child's falling behind.

Remember, I keep talking about individual children. It used to be when they measured, they just measured everybody, you know. And now we're forcing them to disaggregate results. That's a fancy word for saying just split individuals out so we know.

And when we find a child that needs extra help, there's money to do so. And there are options for parents, which is an important part of making sure there's parental involvement and an important part of making sure the strategy works.

A parent can enroll their child in a free intensive tutoring program. There's money for that. If your child is not up to grade level early on, there's extra help available for each family to do so.

Parents can transfer their child to a better public school if that school refuses to change. In other words, at some point in time, there's got to be some accountability.

It's one thing to be talking the talk about educational excellence, but pretty soon, if nothing happens, a parent ought to be allowed to walk. And that means to another public school, just like Woodridge.

See, if you're in a neighborhood and one school won't teach and change, and another school will, I think it makes sense for a parent to have the option, with space available, to be able to say, "I've had it. I'm tired of my child being trapped in a failed school. I'm owed better as a parent and a property tax payer than failure. Therefore, I'd like to move my child to another school."

And that's what's happening to some of the students right here.

Asia Good (ph). Where's Asia?

Oh, thank you for coming, Asia. Can I quote you?

Thank you. I was going to quote you, anyway.


When Asia first came to Woodridge, she was reading well below grade level. How do we know? Because she measured. Her teacher stayed after school to tutor her, and she caught up.

Somebody said, "It is my job to make sure this individual is not left behind and not just shuffled through." And I thank that teacher for doing that.

Even after Asia reached grade level -- we measure to determine whether a child can read at grade level -- the teacher said, "Wait a minute, grade level's not good enough for you, Asia."

I started off my speech by saying we're setting high standards. That's how you help somebody achieve educational excellence.

Asia is now an honor student. She loves reading and she sings in the school choir. And I congratulate her parents and the teachers and Asia for setting high standards and working hard to achieve those standards.


Washington, D.C., has a really innovative and interesting program that I strongly support, as did your mayor, Mayor Williams. Oh, I know it's controversial for some, but it rests on the premise that a parent ought to have different options if a child is trapped in a school that won't teach and won't change. I happen to think that it's a good, solid principle on which to operate, that the parent is the primary teacher of a child and a parent ought to have different options for his or her child.

And so the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program was enacted.

And it wasn't easy to enact it. There are some who are willing to defend the status quo at all costs. That's OK. That's generally what happens sometimes in the political arena.

But this is a program that enables a parent to transfer his or her child to a private or religious school if -- if the parent feels like the current school isn't working.

This program is aimed particularly at low-income students. Let's be frank about it: Upper-income families have got school choice. They can afford it. Low-income families don't.

This program enables low-income families to say, "I'm sick and tired of my child not receiving a quality education."

Eighteen hundred low-income students have used these scholarships. One of them is Carlos Battle. Carlos isn't here, but I thought his quote made interesting -- he was in a school and he transferred to Assumption Catholic School two years ago. In other words, his family qualified, he received a scholarship, and off he went.

After transferring, he made the honor roll. He became the class president. He led the basketball team to its first championship.

He said this: "There is no limit to what I can do. And that not only makes me happier, but my mom can't seem to stop smiling."


It is really important that as we think about how to make sure every child gets a good education, that we not only measure, but we say that, "If things don't change, parents ought to have different options."

The No Child Left Behind Act is good progress, but we've got a lot of work to do. And it starts with making sure that here in Washington we don't soften our desire to hold schools accountable.

Because I tell you, look, there's a lot of pressure.

And I'm sure the congressmen and senators feel that pressure.

They feel the pressure because people say, "Look, we're tired of measuring." They feel the pressure because, you know, "We're just teaching the tests." I mean, there's every excuse in the book.

But as we come time to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act, my attitude is, instead of softening No Child Left Behind, we need to strengthen it. The law is working. It makes sense. We must hold schools to account if we expect our children to be able to realize dreams. And if we want America to remain competitive, we must have high standards.

You know, there's, kind of, a mindset at times, a culture that says, "Well, you know, maybe certain kids can't learn, therefore let's don't have high standards." I reject that notion. I strongly believe every child has got the capacity. And all of us must demand that the high standards be set and met.

And so one of the top priorities next year for me will be the reauthorization and the strengthening of the No Child Left Behind Act.


Here's some ways to improve the law.

In order for every child to get up to grade level, there must be a quality teacher in every classroom. One way to help the law is to help our teachers in an innovative way.

We created what's called the Teacher Incentive Fund. It allows states and local districts to reward teachers who demonstrate strong results for their students.

That's an interesting concept, isn't it?

In other words, if your measurement system shows that you're providing excellence for your children, it seems to make sense that there ought to be a little extra incentive to do so through the bonus program. Not run by the federal government; funded by the federal government, administered by states and local governments.

I think it's very important to encourage our good teachers to teach in some of the toughest school districts.

You know, when you find a good teacher -- a good high-quality teacher in a -- for example, an inner city district needs help or a rural district needs help, there ought to be a bonus system available, an incentive program to say to a teacher, "Thanks. Thanks for helping some of the -- you know, an area that needs help, and here's a little incentive to do so."

So there's some ideas that Congress can work on in order to provide incentives for our teachers.

I believe we ought to encourage math and science professionals to bring their expertise into the classrooms.

I remember going to a school here in Maryland recently. Margaret and I went over there and I met a guy who worked at NASA. And you know what he was doing? He was in the classrooms basically saying to the seventh and eighth graders, "Science is cool. Take it seriously. You know, it's important that you learn the skills necessary to be good scientists because it's important for the United States of America that we've got young scientists." And by the way, every neighborhood in America can produce young scientists. And therefore, encouraging these professionals in the classrooms as adjunct teachers makes a lot of sense. And Congress ought to fund that program.

We've got to improve options.

One of the problems we have in the public school choice program is parents aren't getting information on a timely basis. In other words, you get your kid going to the school, the school's accountability system says, "Wait a minute; you're not doing as well as you should."

And the parents get notified after the next school year begins. That doesn't help. It kind of looks like people are afraid to put out results for some reason.

And so we'll work with Congress to clarify the law and to strengthen the law to make sure our parents get timely information and useful information so that they can take advantage of the No Child Left Behind Act's law that provides flexibility and transferability.

We're going to work with school districts to help more students take advantage of free intensive tutoring.

You'd be amazed at the number of districts that don't use this extra tutoring. They don't take advantage of the extra money to help an individual child.

Oh, they'll figure out ways to spend it; don't get me wrong. But the money is aimed for helping an individual succeed. And it's the cumulative effect of bringing these students up to grade level that will enable us all to say we're more competitive for the future.

I believe in opportunity scholarships. I believe that the program here in Washington, D.C., ought to be replicated around the country.

I call on Congress to create such a program for 28,000 low-income children, as a beginning step to help parents challenge failure.

We've got to do something about our high schools, by the way. I think there needs to be strong accountability in America's high schools.

You've got strong accountability right here at Woodridge. It seems like it makes sense, if it's working, to extend that concept to our high schools.

One out of every four ninth graders in America does not graduate from high school on time. That's not acceptable.

If we want to be competitive, we better make sure that the skills that are now being imparted at elementary school and junior high carry on through high school. We don't want the good work here at Woodridge to be lost because there's -- because some say, "Well, I don't need to get out of high school," or the accountability systems at high school don't measure up.

And so, what I want to do is I want to have the same sense of accountability in high schools that we have in our junior high and elementary schools.

Not to increase the testing burden, but to help us understand whether or not we're achieving our national objective, which is giving our kids the skills necessary to be competitive.

And so I think we need to fund testing early in the high school systems and to help students fix problems like we're doing in elementary schools in high schools. I proposed a $1.5 billion initiative. Congress needs to fund it.

I've also proposed a program to train 70,000 teachers over five years to lead advanced placement classes in our high schools. Advanced placement works. It is an excellent program that helps our high schools set high standards. And it calls -- it challenges our students to achieve great things by raising the standards.

Many of you know about A.P. It needs to be spread all throughout America.

And step one is to make sure our teachers have the skills necessary to teach it. And step two is to help states develop programs that will help parents pay for the A.P. tests.

What we don't want is a child taking an A.P. class and having mom or dad say it's too expensive to take the test.

You pass an A.P. test, you're on your way. If you've got the skills necessary to pass an A.P. test, it means the education system has done its job, and our country is better off.

And so here's some ideas for the Congress and the administration to work on as we think about how to reauthorize the No Child Left Behind Act.

I strongly believe this piece of legislation's working. I know it is necessary to have this kind of rigor in our school systems to say we have done our job and given our kids the skills necessary to succeed.

And I want to thank you all for serving as a great example. Thank you for inviting me.

Again, I thank the teachers for teaching, and the parents for loving and the students for reading.

God bless.


HARRIS: And there you have it, the president of the United States wrapping up remarks at Woodridge Charter School. That is a charter school in Northeast Washington D.C. The issue of the day fort president, education, the No Child Left Behind Act, that is up for congressional reauthorization next year. We will talk much more about it in the minutes ahead.

WHITFIELD: Perhaps you're not clear on what no child left behind is. Well, here are the facts.


UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Bush signed his far-reaching No Child Left Behind education reform bill four years ago. Almost before the ink had dried, the new law came under a barrage of criticism, and it's still under attack from states, school districts and the president's own party. In short, the act requires that all students be proficient in math and reading by the year 2014. Schools failing to show yearly progress risk penalties that include cutting federal funding, firing teachers and administrators and extending the school year. Supporters argue these requirements are necessary to improve education in America.

Nearly 50 million students are enrolled in the nation's public schools. After the first four years of school, federal officials say most perform below proficiency in both reading and math. They say minority and disadvantaged students are most risk of failing.

Of those who make it through high school and graduate, few have learned the math and science skills needed to compete in today's economy.

The Bush administration insists no child left behind is turning things around. Many state and local officials hotly disagree, and have mounted legal challenges, and are opting out.

Because of a quirk in the law, the Associated Press reports that schools with federal government approval aren't counting the test scores of nearly two million students, the majority of whom are minorities.

But Education Secretary Margaret Spellings was surprised at the number of uncounted students, and vowed to plug the testing loophole.


HARRIS: Flawed? That's not how the National Education Association Describes No Child Left Behind. But the teacher's organization has a plan for improving it. It includes an accountability system that rewards success and supports educators. The plan also calls for smaller class sizes to improve student achievement, and for quality teachers in every classroom. Ideally, parents, families and communities would be actively engaged in schools, and schools would have adequate resources to ensure a great public school for every child. Who would be against that?

Joining me now an educator and critic of the No Child Left Behind program. He's William Mathis, superintendent of schools for a district in rural west central Vermont.

William, good to see you. Thanks for your time.


HARRIS: You know, part of the season we wanted to have you here, is we wanted to get beyond the speech and the rhetoric in the speech and get to a sense what have No Child Left Behind looks like in practice, in districts, in schools.

What is your basic problem with the act as it reads right now?

MATHIS: You know, when I was listening to the president speak there, I found it kind of sad, beause he says No Child Left Behind is working. Well, scientific evidence is just not with him. And I'm just perplexed that he would go into that.

The first, is all of the scientific evidence says that adequate yearly progress, the key accountability mechanism, cannot work and it's not working. It's impossible to work.

The second thing he says, the law is working is that we all spend more on funding. They moved from $8 billion to $12 billion, but education is $525 billion. And since they reached the $12 billion in Title I money, that has dropped in the past two years. So the promise of the extra funding that the president just made is simply not true.

In fact, the money has been cut and we expect the money to be cut more in the future.

HARRIS: Well, William I don't understand it, The president gets a lot of heat for this. But you know, Ted Kennedy was a part of the negotiations for this act. The president wouldn't have signed it if it were not designed, as he says, to make education here in the United States more competitive than -- more competitive around the world, and that it demands results of every child. How do you do that unless you test?

MATHIS: Well, no one who is reasonable would be against testing. I think that's a part of the system. It's just that this has an overreliance on testing, and it's just not looking at the democratic purposes of eductaion.

Go back to Senator Kennedy and his comments at the National Press Club, when the money was in fact cut because he had been promised it by the president. And If you look at the president's budget, what he proposed was to cut that funding.

HARRIS: So the president says, we are willing to spend more money, but we want results.

So let's get to the debate next year, for example, when it's time for Congress to start talking about re-authorizing No Child Left Behind. What would you like to see as being a part of that debate?

MATHIS: Well, there's a number of things. The first is the adequate yearly progress system itself, the one that uses these test scores to declare schools as failures, whether they are or not. It basically has to be changed. Also, it really has to be funded. By simply saying that we're going to have a phonics program that is going to be given to all children is not going to overcome poverty. And until we deal realistically with poverty, we're not going to get there. We have 27 state supreme courts that have ruled on this, and 20 of them have said the schools are underfunded.

HARRIS: If I'm the president, I say, you know what, William, I am willing to authorize, I am willing to give more money, but I need all kinds of accountability systems in place, otherwise you're just not going to get the money.

MATHIS: Oh, no one would disagree with that. I think that the education system has plenty of accountability, and it continues. As I said before, testing is part of that.

But you have to have community involvement. You have to have the parents involved in this. You have to have the local communities. Though the president said that he want local schools and states to take this program and run with it, and that he was in favor of it, the fact of the matter is, is no child left behind makes the federal system, and it disengages and disinvolves the citizens.

HARRIS: As I look at the shots of these students here in, I don't know, some of the poorer districts and perhaps kids that aren't getting the resources that they need, what's the fix ultimately there? Because you want these children to be able to compete, just as kids who have parents who are wealthy and are able to move their kids around. What's the answer?

MATHIS: The answer is we're going to have to go into broader kinds of programs than this administration is willing to look at. And for example, if you have a single mother who's working who has a boyfriend who maybe doesn't have food on the table, who's poor, and you go in and give them a test the next day, they're not going to do well. And if they have a toothache and they're hungry, maybe seen some abuse in the family, we're not going to automatically say a test and more testing is going to make that better.

What we have to do is early education programs, summer programs. We have to reach out to people in far more ways. We cannot hold schools strictly accountable for solving all of society's problems. We have to be realistic.

HARRIS: William, we appreciate it. William Mathis is the superintendent of schools for a district in rural west central Vermont. William, thanks for your time. We appreciate it.

MATHIS: Certainly. Glad to be with you.

WHITFIELD: Well, new developments this hour in the Mark Foley matter. The latest from Capitol Hill coming up next in the NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Live pictures now out of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Four of the five girls killed in Monday's schoolhouse shooting are being buried today. Last night mourners in Lancaster County asked for forgiveness of the gunman, Charles Roberts.

Pictures out of -- a very sad day in that community. Devastated, obviously, by what happened there. But in the wake of it, asking for forgiveness for the shooter. Another funeral to be held for the fifth victim tomorrow.

WHITFIELD: Back now to more information out of the newsroom with Carol Lin on a developing story involving a bank in Georgia.

LIN: That's right. A bank robbery, Fred, in Henry County, at a Washington Mutual Bank. We told you there was an explosive device left behind after the robber fled. They're still seeking him, the robber, but the bomb squad has sent in a robot that you're seeing at the very entrance of that Washington Mutual Bank.

The robot there -- new video that sees it going in. We now know it has since come out. We couldn't tell, though, whether it was actually holding anything. But the FBI is en route and local police are on the scene. They're still looking for this suspect. But that's what we know right now, that apparently he left some kind of explosive device, according to the FBI, telling us here at CNN.

WHITFIELD: Very unusual. The case still unresolved. Thanks so much, Carol.


HARRIS: And new developments this morning in the Mark Foley scandal on Capitol Hill. CNN has learned the FBI plans to interview a top aide who once worked for Foley, Kirk Fordham. Says he tried to warn House leaders about Foley's contacts with teenage pages. He says the warnings took place before 2005 and he notified, quote, "senior staff at the highest levels." The House speaker's chief of staff denies Fordham warned him about Foley's conduct.

Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee is meeting at this hour. Their objective, decide how to investigate the sexually charged e- mails Foley allegedly sent to teens. The speaker of the House is also under the microscope. Critics from both parties say Dennis Hastert failed to take concerns seriously enough. Hastert denies that.

We expect to hear from the committee today, 1:30 Eastern time, see it here, live, on CNN.

WHITFIELD: Also new today, a tip line established for the congressional page program. House Speaker Hastert says protecting the safety and well being of the teens is imperative, so anyone with information on the Foley scandal or any other matter of concern for the pages is asked to call 866-348-0481.

HARRIS: In defense of his son, President Bush's father has choice words for Venezuela's president after the devil speech. You remember those remarks. That's ahead, in the NEWSROOM. WHITFIELD: And this afternoon in the NEWSROOM, Africa's killing fields. Thousands murdered and raped, more than a million people left homeless, living as refugees in their own land. CNN's Anderson Cooper, Jeff Koinange and Dr. Sanjay Gupta give us a first-hand look at the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Live reports from Sudan and Chad. See the violence, hear from the victims, get the complete story today at 2:30 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

We're back right after this.


HARRIS: Not mincing his words. President Bush's father, the former President Bush, talks to CNN's Larry King about Venezuela's controversial leader, Hugo Chavez.


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Any thoughts on Venezuela's President Chavez saying your son is the devil?


KING: Go ahead.

BUSH: He's an ass. It's a joke for him to come up here and do that. And that demeans the U.N. You were talking about the U.N. -- for him to get up there and some people applauding when he makes it personal like that, it's just sad.


HARRIS: You can watch the entire interview with Former President Bush and his daughter tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE", 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific right here on CNN.

WHITFIELD: At the top of the hour, lots of international news. Vassileva is joining us now from the control room there.

What's going on, Ralitsa?

RALITSA VASSILEVA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have a lot to tell you about. We have some of Anderson Cooper's amazing stories from the Congo. Also, NATO takes over command of foreign troops in Afghanistan, but can they keep the Taliban in check? We'll take a look at that.

Also, we have two amazing survivor stories to tell you about. One of a man who survived a midair collision between his commuter plane, a tiny commuter plane, and a bigger jet. He's going to tell us what happened. We'll also tell you how a photograph entirely changed the life of a boy who survived last year's devastating earthquake in Pakistan. You don't want to miss those stories.

Join me and Jim Clancy for all those stories and more on "YOUR WORLD TODAY".

WHITFIELD: I hope that means changed it for the better. I have a feeling because of the smile on your face, Ralitsa, that that's what it means.

VASSILEVA: Definitely. It's just an amazing story of the power of journalism. One photograph.

WHITFIELD: Sweet. We love that. Thank you so much. We'll be watching.

HARRIS: While the U.S. has been spared a major storm so far this hurricane season, cleanup continues halfway around the world from last week's devastating typhoon. The typhoon raked the Philippines a week ago, then slammed Vietnam this weekend. At least 169 people were killed, another 79 are still missing. Eighty thousand people in the Philippines were left homeless by the storm, and damage estimates in Vietnam alone topped $624 million.

Rob Marciano is here with us.

Rob, a week after the storm we're seeing amazing pictures of all this damage.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: Yes, I mean, there are still thousands without power. Good news for CNN folks here is that we get I-reports (ph) from all over the world. So we've received dozens of I-reports from CNN viewers affected by the storm. This, from Stephen Fisher (ph) in the Philippines. He shot these pictures when he drove home through the worst of the storm when it hit Manila. He tells us the typhoon's winds knocked down trees, light poles, blew down billboards all over the city. His home suffered minor damage, but he says his neighborhood was without power until just last night.

Paul Navales (ph) e-mailed us these pictures from the aftermath in Manila. You see those trees down, hundreds if not thousands of them toppled around the city, an electrical pole broken in half. And you can see the power lines resting precociously right there. And this giant bill board tower was crumbled by the storm.

I mean, this looks like stuff we saw here last year. Anyway, you can see more video and photos like these on our website, or send your I-report in and join the world's most powerful news team. Just log on at to find out how that happens.

HARRIS: My goodness.

WHITFIELD: And also, if you were ever in doubt, nature's fury, fierce.


MARCIANO: If not here, certainly in another part of the world.

WHITFIELD: That's right.

HARRIS: Well, thanks.

MARCIANO: See you guys.

HARRIS: Disappointed with your last raise? Well, a new survey -- Fred, I'm not saying anything -- on CEO pay shows the nation's richest still have nothing really to complain about.

WHITFIELD: That's right. We don't want to hear any lip coming from them.

Cheryl Casone is at the New York Stock Exchange with all of that -- Cheryl.

CHERYL CASONE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Raises? Who got raises? What's that?

HARRIS: Yes, there you go.

CASONE: Yes. CEOs got pay raises, guys, I'll tell you that. And those raises still outpacing those of the average worker by a lot. According to an annual survey done by the Corporate Library, median pay packages of chief executives jumped 16 percent last year, to $3 million. That is the third straight year of double digit increases.

Compare that to the median household income in the United States, which edged up by just a little more than one percent last year, to around $46,000. Now while the rise in CEO pay is dramatic, it was only about half the increase of 2004 when compensation for top executives jumped 30 percent.

So Fred, Tony, it does pay to be at the top, unless you have to go to jail.


WHITFIELD: My goodness.

HARRIS: Yes, good point.

WHITFIELD: What a contrast.

HARRIS: A caveat there.

Hey, speaking of dramatic rises, how is the stock market doing today?



WHITFIELD: We're trying to wrap up this hour with a wrap-up on a development out of Georgia.

To Carol Lin.

CAROL LIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Henry County, about 30 miles south of Atlanta, Fred. In Henry County, a bank robbery where the suspect got away, but left behind what the FBI thought was an explosive device. Well, a short time ago, we want to show you this videotape, the local police bomb squad sent in a robot which took something off to the corner of the parking lot of this strip mall where the bank is located. And detonated something.

You might be able to -- there it goes. It left some white powder residue behind, but, Fred, that's the end of it right there, until they catch this suspect. But whatever it was, they took it out to the corner of the parking lot, and there it went.

WHITFIELD: All right. Well, a search now for the suspect to try and get some of the other answers.

Carol Lin, thanks so much.

Well, the CNN NEWSROOM continues one hour from now.

HARRIS: "YOUR WORLD TODAY" is next with news happening across the globe and here at home.


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