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May 7, 1998

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How will we prepare our children for the 21st Century? I have said, over and over, that we need nothing less than a revolution of rising expectations in our schools. A revolution in quality -- in standards --in accountability -- in excellence. And the mayors of our great cities are leading the way.

- President Bill Clinton
May 7, 1998

Today, President Clinton meets with the U.S. Conference of Mayors at the conclusion of a two-day conference focused on strengthening public schools in America's cities. In his remarks to the mayors, the President applauds the mayors' efforts, releases a report on improving low-performance schools, and announces the introduction of new Education Opportunity Zone legislation to help city schools.

Improving Schools For The 21st Century. President Clinton's broad education agenda is designed to ensure that American public schools remain "ladders of opportunity" into the 21st Century. Over the last few years, his plan has made higher education accessible to all Americans. Now, his plan focuses on reducing class size in the primary grades, modernizing school buildings, recruiting and preparing teachers for under served urban and rural areas, and dramatically expand the availability and quality of child care and after-school learning opportunities.

Expanding Urban Education Opportunity. President Clinton is committed to bringing his education reforms and improvements to urban schools. To help do this, the President has proposed Education Opportunity Zones, a competitive grants program designed to support school districts with a track record of improving student achievement and a commitment to implementing cutting-edge reforms. Today, President Clinton announces that Senator Kennedy and Congressman Clay are introducing legislation to create the Education Opportunity Zones program. Under the President's five-year, $1.5 billion proposal, additional resources to advance reform efforts will go to approximately 50 high-poverty urban and rural school districts that have begun to show gains in student performance and that agree to:

  • End social promotion and turn around failing schools;

  • Prevent students from falling behind by ensuring quality teaching, challenging curricula, and extended learning time; and

  • Use high standards and tests of student achievement to identify and provide help to students, teachers, and schools who need it.

Turning Around Low-Performing Schools. Strengthening public education requires that local and state officials refuse to tolerate persistently low-performing schools and instead take positive steps to turn them around. This requirement is a centerpiece of the President's Education Opportunity Zones proposal. President Clinton announced, today, that the Education Department has released Turning Around Low Performing Schools, which provides guidelines to help state and local officials and educators accomplish this task.

Endorsing The Clinton Education Agenda. Today, the mayors present President Clinton with a copy of the Mayors' Action Agenda for Public Schools. The Action Agenda endorses key components of President Clinton's education agenda, including his Education Opportunity Zones proposal and his School Modernization initiative. This plan calls on mayors to exercise leadership by making the quality of public education the highest priority of a city; and it encourages them to focus attention on promoting quality by raising standards, ending social promotions, strengthening accountability, improving the preparation of teachers, equipping schools with modern technology, and providing early childhood education, child care, and after school programs.


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