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Highlighting the Imprtance of School Accountability and Investment

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White House at Work


Wednesday, May 3, 2000


"The answer to excellence for all our children is not to take money away from our schools through vouchers, but to combine money with high standards, accountability, and the tools teachers, children and parents need to succeed. I think turning around low-performance schools is one of the great challenges this country faces in the 21st century."

President Bill Clinton
Wednesday, May 3, 2000

Today, President Clinton kicked off his four-state School Reform Tour to highlight the importance of accountability and investment in our nation's schools. The President visited Audubon Elementary School in Owensboro, Kentucky, a high-poverty, low-performing school which turned itself around to become one of the top-performing schools in the state. The President praised the State of Kentucky for its leadership on reform and accountability, announced a new Executive Order directing the Department of Education to help states turn around failing schools, and urged Congress to pass legislation that will hold all states accountable for turning around failing schools. The President also visited Central High School in Davenport, Iowa, an outdated school currently undergoing renovation, to draw attention to the urgent national need for school construction and modernization.

Turning Around Failing Schools. President Clinton visited Audubon Elementary School to illustrate how high standards, real accountability, and investment can raise student achievement and turn around failing schools. At Audubon, the President:

  • Praised the State of Kentucky's leadership in implementing standards and investing in failing schools, which has helped transform Audubon and many other high-poverty, low-performing schools into high-performing schools;
  • Urged Congress to pass an Elementary and Secondary Education Act that will hold all states accountable for doing what Kentucky has done: implement high standards, identify and help turn around failing schools and help students succeed; and invest in what works. He also called on Congress to enact his $250 million Education Accountability Fund to help communities turn around failing schools or shut them down; and
  • Announced that he is signing an Executive Order directing the Department of Education to compile and publish key data on low-performing schools across the country and take action to help states fix those schools.

Modernizing America's Schools. President Clinton visited Central High School to draw national attention to the urgent need to modernize America's aging and overcrowded schools. Built in 1907, Central High School is finally undergoing renovation to upgrade and enlarge its facilities. The President emphasized that the average public school in America is 42 years old – an age when rapid deterioration begins – and rising student enrollment will require an additional 2,400 schools by 2003. At Central High, the President:

  • Emphasized that school modernization is a national priority that demands a national response;
  • Released a new report from the Department of Education to assist communities facing school construction challenges;
  • Called on Congress to approve his plan to provide tax credits to states and localities to build and modernize 6,000 schools nationwide, and his emergency school construction initiative to allow states and school districts to conduct emergency repairs on 5,000 schools annually.

An Unprecedented Commitment to Education. President Clinton and Vice President Gore have made accountability and investment in proven strategies the core of their education reform agenda. Since taking office, the President and Vice President have nearly doubled the federal investment in elementary and secondary education while dramatically increasing accountability. Throughout the School Reform Tour, the President will call on Congress to pass an education budget and an education accountability bill that invest more in our nation's schools and demand more from them.

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