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October 1, 1998

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There is no excuse for inaction. The leadership in Congress has an obligation to devote at least one day to the future of public education in America. One day to affirm the bedrock American value that every child, regardless of race, ethnicity, or income, deserves the chance to share the bounty of this country's prosperity by gaining a first-class education. One day to put aside partisan games and do the work that the American people elected them to do.

President Bill Clinton
October 1, 1998

Today at the White House, President Clinton is joined by Vice President Al Gore and over 60 Congressional members to urge Congress to set aside one of the few remaining days in this year's Congressional session to vote on and pass the President's education agenda.

One Day For America's Schools. As we move into the 21st Century, nothing we do will more directly enhance our economic competitiveness than strengthening our public schools. Eight months ago, the President sent his education agenda to Congress, an agenda that demands accountability and responsibility from students, parents, teachers, and administrators -- yet Congress has not acted to pass this legislation. The President is calling for:

  • Smaller Classes With Well-Prepared Teachers. President Clinton is urging Congress to pass the Class Size Reduction and Teachers Quality Act, to provide funding over the next 7 years to help local communities hire 100,000 new teachers and reduce class size in grades 1 -3 to a national average of 18;
  • Modern Schools For The 21st Century. The President is calling on Congress to pass his School Modernization Initiative, which will provide communities with interest-free bonds to help renovate, modernize, and build over 5,000 schools nationwide;
  • Critical Investments In After-School Programs And Education Technology. President Clinton's proposal would provide after-school opportunities for up to 500,000 students, giving them needed tutoring, academic enrichment, supervised recreation and community service opportunities in safe, drug-free environments. The President is also making an unprecedented commitment to education technology, calling for every school to be wired to the Internet and increasing technology training for teachers;
  • Strengthening Public Schools, Not Selling Them Short. Overall, the House Labor-HHS appropriations bill does not support the President's initiatives. The House bill fails to make critical investments needed to raise academic standards, help young children learn to read and all students master basic skills, keep our schools drug-free, and give disadvantaged students and their families pathways to college. While the Senate bill rejects the more severe cuts made by the House, it still falls short of supporting the President's priorities to help children become proficient in English, establish innovative charter schools, and keep middle schools safe and drug-free.

Challenging Congress To Put Politics Aside For The Future Of Our Children. Our country has the best higher education in the world, but our country also deserves the finest K-12 educational system in the world. The President's education agenda will help our children learn in a world-class environment, ensure that they have the tools to compete in the 21st Century, and learn in safe and drug-free schools. Congress should put aside politics and devote one day to strengthening America's public schools.

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