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July 29, 1998

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A world-class education for all children is essential to combating the fear, the ignorance, the prejudice that undermine freedom all across the globe today in the form of ethnic, religious and racial hatreds. It is essential to creating a worldwide middle class. It is essential to global prosperity. It is essential to fulfilling the most basic needs of the human body and the human spirit. That is why the 21st century must be the century of education and the century of the teacher.

President Bill Clinton
July 29, 1998

Today, President Clinton addresses the 2nd World Congress on Education International to discuss his education agenda for the 21st Century.

A Record Of Achievement On Education Issues. During the past five years, President Clinton has worked to strengthen and improve the nation's educational system by:

  • Making 13th & 14th grades as universal as high school with $1500 HOPE Scholarship credits;
  • Expanding college opportunity with Tuition Tax Credits, Education IRAs, and the largest increase in Pell Grants in 20 years;
  • Making college more affordable by cutting student fees and interest rates on all loans, expanding repayment options including income contingent repayment, and improving service through the Direct Loan Program;
  • Expanding choice and accountability in public schools;
  • Allowing students to pay for college through community service. This year, nearly 50,000 young people will take advantage of the opportunity to pay for college (or repay student loans) by performing community service through AmeriCorps;
  • Providing early education to more than 830,000 Children with Head Start, an increase of 200,000 since 1992.

The President's Agenda For Education. As we prepare for the challenges of the 21st Century, strengthening our educational system is one of the most important ways we can help our children compete and thrive in the future. President Clinton is committed to giving children the tools they need to succeed, and is working to make education more affordable and accessible for our children, including:

  • Working To Create Safer, More Disciplined Learning Environments by modernizing schools and reducing class size;
  • Working To Establish High National Standards to ensure our children will gain the skills they need to succeed in the future;
  • Supporting Teachers Who Do A Good Job by rewarding the most innovative and successful teachers in the classrooms, helping those who fail to improve or move on, and recruiting more talented people into the teaching ranks;
  • A Commitment To Connect Every Classroom To The Internet and train teachers in this new technology;
  • An End To Social Promotion so that children are not passed from grade to grade without learning the material first.

House Republicans Retreat From Support For Education. The House Republican Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill, as currently drafted:

  • Denies Funds For After-School Programs that reach over 425,000 school-age children in before and after-school programs;
  • Eliminates Funds For The President's America Reads Challenge, which helps schools and communities improve reading programs and provide tutors for student who need extra help;
  • Denies Over 6,500 Middle Schools The Funding They Need to Hire Safe And Drug-Free Schools Coordinators;
  • Eliminates Funding For Education Opportunity Zones to help 35 high-poverty rural and urban districts end social promotion and initiate reforms to raise standards;
  • Does Not Help Raise Academic Standards. The House Republican Bill would halt development of voluntary national tests in 4th grade reading and 8th grade math;
  • Fails To Act On The President's Proposals For School Modernization And Reducing Class Size.

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