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Reality Check: Bush's State Of The Union Speech

Published On: Jan 23 2007 10:20:21 AM CST   Updated On: Jan 24 2007 08:52:25 AM CST

President George W. Bush gave his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, and WISC-TV political reporter Colin Benedict put the president's speech through a "Reality Check."

A WISC-TV analysis found that mostly the speech was accurate but that some statements deserve a closer look.

"We are now in the 41st month of uninterrupted job growth, in a recovery that has created 7.2 million new jobs so far," Bush said.

A WISC-TV analysis found this statement "needs clarification."

Bush doesn't count the job losses early in his administration. With that factored in, the true number of new jobs is 3.7 million.

On the issue of education, Bush praised himself and Congress for passing No Child Left Behind.

"And because we acted, students are performing better in reading and math, and minority students are closing the achievement gap," Bush said.

WISC-TV found this "misleading."

WISC-TV looked at the same test scores cited by the president, which is called the nation's report card.

No Child Left Behind went into effect in 2002, and the last report from the group is in 2005.

Fourth-grade reading scores haven't improved since the Bush program, and eighth-grade scores are actually down, WISC-TV reported. In math, scores are up among fourth-graders and have increased slightly less among eighth-graders.

But what about the achievement gap?

Looking at reading scores for fourth-graders, white student scores had no change, while Asian, Hispanic and Black students did do better. But Native American scores went down.

For eighth-graders, it's a different story.

Scores for whites and every other group went down except Asian students, who improved test scores.

Looking at the achievement gap in math for fourth-graders, everyone's scores improved with minority groups doing slightly better than whites. And among eighth-graders, all minority groups did better than whites.

So, WISC-TV found it is really a mixed bad and the program is not clearly improving scores.

Part of the speech was about energy. Bush said he wants to increase ethanol production greatly.

"We must increase the supply of alternative fuels, by setting a mandatory Fuels Standard to require 35 billion gallons of renewable and alternative fuels in 2017," Bush said.

This statement "needs clarification."

The president said he wants to the country to produce 35 billion gallons of renewable energy fuels like ethanol by 2017. Right now, the United States produces about 5.5 billion gallons a year, so Bush's plan would call for increasing current production by roughly seven times.

Also, some food companies complain that ethanol production requires burning food for fuel, and they said that even if the United States used all its corn for fuel, it would only reduce oil needs by 15 percent, which is short of the president's own 20 percent goal.

But on the flip side, researchers said they are looking to use inedible plants for ethanol. If that happened, it wouldn't dramatically cut into the country's food supply.

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