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February 22, 1999

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We face no greater challenge today than providing all of our children with a world-class education. I believe we can give them that education, if we all pull together in the same direction--in the direction of what we know works.

President Bill Clinton
February 22, 1999

Today, President Clinton and Vice President Gore participated in the National Governors' Association meeting. In his address to the governors, the President reiterated his call for a new era of accountability in American education. The President also asked Congress to pass his agenda to give states the tools they need to provide all children with a world-class education.

BUILDING ON WHAT WORKS TO STRENGTHEN ACCOUNTABILITY. In his State of the Union address, President Clinton announced a package of accountability measures designed to hold students, teachers and schools to the high standards that will be the keys to success in the 21st century. In his remarks to the nation's governors, President Clinton discussed his plan to support state and local school reform efforts through bold new steps to ensure that federal support for education is directed only toward programs and policies that work to improve student achievement. The President will send to Congress his Education Accountability Act that will require states and local school districts that receive federal funds to:

  • End social promotion;
  • Ensure that all teachers are qualified;
  • Turn around the lowest-performing schools;
  • Provide parents with annual report cards on school performance;
  • Institute effective school discipline policies.

NATIONAL LEADERSHIP IN SUPPORT OF STATE REFORM. President Clinton also applauded the efforts that North Carolina, Michigan, Delaware, Pennsylvania, California and other states are making, under the leadership of committed governors, to implement these common-sense principles. The President called on all states to take similar steps to ensure that all of America's children reap the rewards of strengthened accountability. While states and school districts have made important progress in instituting rigorous academic standards, a great deal of work remains to be done to help schools, teachers and students meet those standards.

  • Only 26 states now require students to pass high school graduation exams, and far fewer have policies in place to require students to show that they have mastered the skills necessary to be promoted from grade to grade.
  • Just 19 states have policies to intervene in low-performing schools and turn them around.
  • And there are some 50,000 people teaching in America's schools on emergency teaching licenses--which means that they have not met the standards set by states for beginning teachers.

INVESTMENTS TO SUPPORT WORLD-CLASS EDUCATION. The President's effort to support high academic standards for all children includes an unprecedented commitment of national resources to help states and local districts improve education. President Clinton's budget plan calls for:

  • Strengthened investments in education to hire 100,000 more teachers to reduce class size in the early grades;
  • Modernize up to 6,000 schools;
  • Triple funding for after-school activities;
  • Improve the quality of teaching;
  • Increase literacy;
  • Enhance the use of technology in schools;
  • Recruit outstanding teachers in underserved high-poverty rural areas and inner cities;
  • Provide new pathways to college for disadvantaged students.

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