First Lady Laura Bush is going to educators in her first national initiative, a three-year, $150 million program aimed at keeping boys out of gangs, the Washington Times reports. “Reach out to young people who are transitioning out of gangs and prison and back into society,” she told community college officials in Washington. D.C. “If these young people can learn valuable skills and find good jobs, they’ll have a much better chance of being able to succeed in life.”
Critics are not impressed. “The prospect of Laura Bush, the soft-spoken librarian from Crawford, Texas, lecturing Crips and Bloods about the evils of gangs is a ‘Saturday Night Live’ skit waiting to happen,” wrote the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in an editorial. If money is appropriated, community and religious groups could seek grants from various federal agencies. The program’s idea originated with Mrs. Bush, who has long been concerned about the plight of troubled boys. “The statistics on boys are particularly alarming,” she said yesterday. “Boys begin to fall behind girls in elementary school. In fact, nearly 70 percent of students in special education classes are boys.