Cleaning up after Bush: It was 'childrens do learn'
By Mark Silva
The White House said today it will be sure to clean up the official transcript of the comment which President Bush made yesterday about education: “Childrens do learn.’’
The problem is that White House stenographers got it wrong. The transcript reported it as “Children do learn.’’
But Bush had given new meaning to the term, plural, when he spoke in New York City yesterday about gains in student achievement made since the enactment of his education reforms. The gains were registered in the newest results of national testing this week.
"As yesterday's positive report card shows," the president said, "childrens do learn when standards are high and results are measured."
Compare to and contrast with an earlier presidential grammar gaffe. Here's Bush making fun of himself:
Then there is my most famous statement: "Rarely is the question asked, is our children learning." (Laughter.) Let us analyze that sentence for a moment. (Laughter.) If you're a stickler, you probably think the singular verb "is" should have been the plural "are." But if you read it closely, you'll see I'm using the intransitive plural subjunctive tense. (Laughter.) So the word "is" are correct. (Laughter and applause.)
The applause and laughter are courtesy of the guests at the American Radio-Television Correspondents' dinner. It's nice to see the press in its watchdog role. Fierce beasts, they are. Way to stick up for good grammar.