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November 8, 1999

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"I am committed to providing more teachers and better teachers for all our schools. I want to make sure every young student in America receives the benefits of more individual attention, and a more disciplined learning environment in a smaller class size setting."

President Bill Clinton
Monday, November 8, 1999

Today, at the White House, President Clinton released a new report from the US. Department of Education highlighting the initial success of his initiative to reduce class size in the early grades. The report shows that more than 29,000 teachers have already been hired under the initiative, directly benefiting about 1.7 million schoolchildren. The President pointed out that Republican budget plans would undermine this progress, and urged Congress not to renege on its bipartisan commitment to hire 100,000 high-quality teachers to reduce class size.

Announcing a New Report on Class Size Reduction. Today's report by U.S. Department of Education, titled “Local Success Stories: Reducing Class Size”, shows the positive impact that the class-size reduction program is having nationwide. Under the program, 20 states are now undertaking efforts to reduce class sizes in the early grades. Among its key findings, the report shows that:

  • 17 million children nationwide have benefited from the program;
  • 29,000 teachers have been hired under the program;
  • the class size for grades 1-3 in schools receiving funding has been reduced by an average of 5 students; and
  • the program's flexibility complements state and local efforts.

Investing in What Works for Our Schools. The class-size reduction initiative is part of the President's comprehensive approach to improving student achievement by investing in what works, raising standards, and increasing accountability. Research shows that lowering class size in the early grades produces significant and lasting benefits for both students and teachers, including:

  • allowing teachers to spend more time on instruction and less time on discipline;
  • giving teachers the ability to provide more individualized instruction to meet students' learning needs;
  • providing students with more rapid educational progress than students in larger classes – progress which persists long after students move on to larger classes in later grades; and
  • yielding substantial benefits to our country's most disadvantaged students.

Calling on Congress to Put America's Priorities above Partisanship. The Republicans' current spending bill reneges on their commitment to hire 100,000 teachers to reduce class size; provides no guarantee that the 29,000 teachers already hired can continue teaching; and provides no funding for the additional 8,000 teachers that the President's plan would support this year. The President called on Congress to finish the job of hiring high-quality teachers and giving our children smaller classes, and to work out a budget that reflects the values and priorities of the American people, including:

  • passing a plan to help states and school districts turn around or close failing schools;
  • extending the successful COPS program to put 50,000 more community police officers on the streets;
  • supporting the Lands Legacy Initiative which sets aside unique natural areas for future generations;
  • passing strong hate crimes legislation;
  • paying our dues to the United Nations to protect our world leadership role; and
  • raising the minimum wage so more Americans can participate in the nation's prosperity.

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