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May 8, 1999

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“Nothing will more surely unite our people and strengthen our nation than giving all of our children a high-quality education. It is time to put that as a condition of success in the investment of federal aid in every child in America.”

President Bill Clinton
May 19, 1999

Today, at the White House, President Clinton announced that this week he will send to Congress his proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). This proposal will strengthen accountability, improve teacher quality, increase school safety, expand public school choice, promote secondary school reform, and reauthorize programs such as Title I (aid to disadvantaged students), bilingual education, magnet schools, and programs that support technology in schools.

Accountability for Results. The President's ESEA proposal includes accountability measures he announced in his State of the Union Address. Under the President's plan, school districts and states will be held accountable for real results for the first time. The federal government spends about $15 billion a year on our public schools -- the President's proposal will fundamentally change the way we spend that money, to support what works and stop supporting what doesn't. The legislation will require states and school districts to:

  • identify failing schools and intervene to turn them around with steps such as intensive teacher training, extended learning opportunities, and other proven approaches to school reform;
  • empower parents by issuing school report cards which would include information on student achievement, teacher qualifications, class size, school safety, and attendance and graduation rates;

  • put qualified teachers in the classroom by requiring performance examinations for all new teachers, strengthening teacher certification standards, and providing teacher training;

  • adopt and enforce sound, fair discipline policies; and
  • end social promotion and help all students meet challenging standards by supporting students who need extra help; hiring 100,000 new teachers to reduce class size; and providing after-school and summer school learning programs.

Ensuring Teacher Quality. The President's proposal includes several measures to improve teacher quality and put more highly trained teachers into America's public schools, including:

  • providing teachers the tools and training they need to teach to high standards;
  • expanding teacher recruitment and retention efforts; and
  • ensuring qualified teachers in high-poverty schools.

Safe, Disciplined and Drug-Free Schools. The President has challenged states, communities, and schools to take steps to restore order and safety, such as adopting school uniforms, enforcing truancy laws, and imposing curfews, and has sent Congress common-sense legislation to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and young people. This proposal would take additional steps, including:

  • strengthening the Safe, Disciplined and Drug-Free Schools program;
  • requiring assessment and counseling for students bringing guns to school;
  • reporting to parents on gun and drug incidents; and
  • providing a federal emergency response plan to violence.

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