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Bush Trips Over Children, and That's the Official Truth

By Sheryl Gay Stolberg

WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 Childrens do learn. So do presidents. And White House press secretaries.

That was the word (words?) Thursday from President Bush's spokeswoman, Dana Perino, after a Washington kerfuffle over a grammatical slip-up by the president in New York the previous morning.

At an appearance with city officials, including Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Mr. Bush sought to spotlight his signature education bill, No Child Left Behind. The president pronounced himself pleased by a recent report that math test scores have improved, citing it as evidence that the law is working.

"Childrens do learn," the president said, "when standards are high and results are measured."

For a president who likes to joke that he can barely speak English-- and whose every malapropism is dutifully recorded by the White House press --the mistake was hardly out of character. (As a candidate, he once asked, "Is our children learning?") But when the official White House transcript of Wednesday's remarks appeared, the 's in childrens was nowhere to be found.

Ms. Perino, who took over as press secretary this month from Tony Snow, told reporters on Thursday that White House stenographers were responsible for the disappearance of the 's and that she had instructed them to correct the correction by putting it back.

"You know, the president-- it is no secret --sometimes makes grammatical errors," Ms. Perino said, adding, "The integrity of the transcripts are very important to me, and I've made that clear."

— Sheryl Gay Stolberg
New York Times



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