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August 19, 1999: Highlighting The Need To Invest In Our Schools

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"How are we going to meet the challenge of the swelling ranks of our schoolchildren -- when education is more important not only to them, but to our nation, than ever before? This report gives our nation an important assignment -- to make the investments necessary to meet the demands of the future and our obligations to these children."

President Bill Clinton
Thursday, August 19, 1999

Today, at the White House, President Clinton announced the release of a report by the US. Department of Education which reveals that school enrollment is at an all-time high, and draws attention to the critical need for investment in our schools. The President urged Congress to enact a responsible budget that pays down the debt, strengthens Medicare and Social Security, and invests in national priorities like education. The President pointed out that the Republican tax and budget plans could cause devastating cuts in key initiatives to keep schools safe and drug-free; help children learn to read; reduce class size in the early grades; support after-school programs; and expand access to college.

Report Shows Record-Breaking School Enrollment. President Clinton announced the findings of the Baby Boom Echo report, showing that school enrollment in the U.S. is at an all-time high. The report found:

  • Total public and private school enrollment will reach a record 532 million students this year, and enrollment is expected to increase each year until 2008;
  • High school enrollment is expected to increase by 1.3 million students over the next decade;
  • College enrollment will rise to an all-time high of 14.9 million this year, the second year in a row that college enrollment has set a new record;
  • College enrollment is expected to jump an additional 1.5 million over the next 10 years, at a time when colleges and universities are already filled to capacity; and
  • Growth in student enrollment occurs in both urban and suburban areas in every region of the country;

Higher Enrollment Underscores Need for Greater Investment in Schools. This report underscore why we must act now to build new schools and fix old ones, and to recruit and hire high-quality teachers to reduce class size in the early grades.

Republican Plan Fails to Address Urgent Need for School Construction and Modernization. As part of his balanced budget, President Clinton proposed a targeted tax cut to help support state and local efforts to build or renovate up to 6,000 schools nationwide, and funding to fulfill the commitment he and Congress made to hire 100,000 new teachers to lower class size in the early grades. However, the current Republican plans:

  • provide marginal help to only one-tenth as many schools as the President's plan;
  • fail to guarantee smaller class sizes for America's children; and
  • could squeeze out other key investments in education.

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