Barbara Bush, wife of Vice President George Bush, yesterday enthusiastically endorsed a project to raise funds for public schools in the low-income neighborhoods of Southeast Washington.
"You are doing everything just right, in my eyes," Bush said at a reception for the Washington Parent Group Fund, held yesterday at the Washington Navy Yard.
The Fund has won agreement from major corporations -- including the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Co. and Westinghouse Electric Corp. -- to match funds raised by parents of the Southeast schools to supplement school board expenditures.
The money is to be used, for example, to hire tutors for children who need them, pay for repairs that the cash-strapped D.C. Board of Education cannot afford or purchase recreational equipment that might be considered unnecessary by budget-conscious officials.
The effort, which is chaired by Ward 8 school board candidate Linda Moody, is supported by school officials. Both school board president Eugene Kinlow and school superintendent Floretta D. McKenzie attended yesterday's affair.
Bush said that after reading of the project in newspaper reports, she contacted the group to see if there was anything she could do. Leaders of the group asked her to attend the reception.
"The participation of parents in schools is so important," Bush said to the crowd of parents, children and school officials. "I think you really are the answer to so many of our problems."
Roderic V. O. Boggs, of the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which helped set up the fund last April, said the purpose of the effort is to ensure that youngsters in the city's poorer neighborhoods have the same opportunities as others.
In the affluent areas of upper Northwest, parents often contribute money to supplement public school outlays.
In the past, parents have also given in Southeast, but on a smaller scale. For example, Bette Murphy, a parent who attended the reception, said her PTA raised $1,500 to buy books for students at Randle Highlands Elementary School in Anacostia last year.
Under the fund's new program, that $1,500 could be matched by another $1,500. Murphy said Randle Highlands parents hoped to be able to pay for painting and repairs at the school this year.