Q&A: Bush's Education Plan 101

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Will education vouchers mean more students in private-school shirts and ties?

On Tuesday, the new president announced his sweeping plan for reforming the nation's schools. Underneath the layers of policy rhetoric, Bush's plan contains quite a few components that will grab the attention of America's parents. The key, of course, is understanding what's important and what's window-dressing.

In an effort to help clear up some of the lingering queries, TIME.com has prepared this quick Q&A guide to the President's plan for education. Have questions you don't see here? Send them in and we'll do our best to find the answers.

Q: President Bush's education reform proposal includes a lot of talk about federal funding of "failing" public schools. What makes a school a failure?

A: Under Bush's plan, states will be responsible for developing and administering the tests and standards by which schools could be deemed failures. To date, the Education Department reports that 8,000 U.S. schools have been "failed" by their states.

Q: The President suggests that any "failing" school that does not improve over two or three years will be subject to the equivalent of fines — federal funds will be taken from the school and given to students' families to cover transportation to alternative public schools or, eventually, to help with private school tuition.

How will schools' progress be judged?

A: Bush's plan requires schools to publish annual report cards on their own performance, based on students' annual test scores in math and reading. If the schools consistently fail to live up to state standards, they could be stripped of funding (some of which would be diverted to parents).