THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Congress is on its way back to Washington after an extended break. It is very important that we get right back to business and fulfill our responsibility to give our children a world-class education.
Earlier this year, I sent Congress a budget that would make vital investments in education; a budget that puts our children first by investing more in our schools and demanding more from them, by modernizing old schools, building new ones, reducing class sizes, by hiring more well-prepared teachers, expanding after-school programs, and turning around failing schools. That was way back in February. Ten months have passed since then, three seasons have turned, and Congress decided to break for the election without passing an education budget.
But this week Congress returns to session with still time to get the job done. Congress should pass the education budget as its first order of business. Fortunately, we're already standing on common ground. When Congress left town, we had already reached an historic agreement with members of both parties. A broad, bipartisan coalition has pledged to provide much-needed funding to reduce class size, to provide crucial repairs for crumbling schools, to improve teacher quality, to expand Head Start, after-school programs, Pell grants and support for students with disabilities. I hope when Congress comes back, these commitments to our children will be kept.
Even in the final days of this session, Congress should remember those first, fundamental obligations. Now is not the time to walk away from the agreement we made, especially so close to the finish line.
A lot is at stake here -- the condition of our schools, the quality of our teachers, most important, the education of our children. Today, I'm releasing a report that shows exactly what's at stake for the children in all 50 states. If Congress fails to pass the bipartisan education budget, California, for example, stands to lose almost three-quarters of a billion dollars in additional funds. New York could lose more than $40 million for more after-school and summer school programs alone. Illinois could lose nearly $70 million in added support for students with disabilities.
With America facing the largest student enrollment in history and with an historic agreement so close to conclusion, there's no reason why we shouldn't work together across party lines to get this job done. If we do, we can complete this year's unfinished business and continue the work of preparing our nation to meet the challenges of the years to come.
We can also meet our other pressing priorities, from the health of our families to the safety of our neighborhoods, and ensure that we continue to expand the circle of opportunity until it embraces Americans from every corner of our country and every walk of life.
The holiday season is the perfect time to reflect on the values that unite us. As families, there's nothing we hold more dear than our children. As a nation, there is nothing more important to our future than our children and their education. As every parent knows, a good education is a gift that keeps on giving for a lifetime. So let's join together -- two parties, but one country -- to give our children the schools, the teachers and the future they deserve.
Thanks for listening.
Radio Address of the President to the Nation - December 2, 2000
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