President of the United States Arrival Remarks on Education (9/12/00)
                              THE WHITE HOUSE

                       Office of the Press Secretary

Immediate Release                        September 12, 2000

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                               ON EDUCATION

                              The South Lawn

9:20 A.M. EDT

     THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning everyone.  I'm looking forward to a
meeting this afternoon with Congressional leadership, that will be an
important part of our ongoing efforts to resolve the budget differences
that we still have in these last few weeks, on the basis of good policy,
not politics or partisanship.

     Perhaps the most important issue is education, where politics always
should stop at the school house door.  We've worked very hard for seven and
a half years now, for higher standards, more accountability, reforms that
work, and greater investment.  The results are coming in, and it's clear
that this strategy is working, thanks to the efforts of our educators,
students and parents.

     Today, I'm releasing a report showing that American students in
schools are making steady gains in almost every category.  I urge Congress
to invest more in the priorities that work well for our students:  in
smaller classes, good teachers, modern schools, more after-school programs
and pre-school programs, and accountability for results.  The Vice
President is also talking about this important issue today in Ohio.

     In 1996, only 14 states had statewide academic standards.  Today, with
strong federal incentives, 49 states have them.  The results are
measurable.  Reading and math scores are up across the country.  The number
of African American students taking advanced placement courses has nearly
tripled, and for Hispanics, the number has jumped 500 percent.

     Over 90 percent of our schools are now hooked up to the Internet.
Over all, SAT math scores are the highest since they've been since 1969,
the year Neil Armstrong landed on the moon.  And thanks in part to the HOPE
Scholarships, bigger Pell Grants, and more affordable student loans, more
students are going on to college then at any time since the G.I. Bill.

     We've also been working hard to help more low income students go to
college, expanding the TRIO program, and pushing our new GEAR UP
initiative.  GEAR UP is a partnership with low income kids, that says if
you'll aim high and aspire to college, we'll help you get there with
counseling, mentoring, tutoring and financial aid.  It sends a message that
with hope, hard work and high hopes -- high expectations, you can go as far
as your abilities will take you.

     Today, I'm releasing $46 million in GEAR UP grants to create even more
college opportunities.  With existing funding, these grants will now enable
more than 700,000 of our students to study hard, graduate and get ahead.
But we need to do more.  For every student participating in GEAR UP, many
more were turned away.

     In fact, just a few days ago, I received a letter, signed by more than
100 college presidents, underscoring the need for more GEAR UP funding.
That's why I'm asking Congress to increase next year's support to $325
million, which would give another 600,000 students the chance to succeed.

     Making sure these students get the attention and instruction they need
is even more vital in the early grades.  That's why we're working so hard
to reduce class size by putting 100,000 good, new, well-trained teachers
into our classrooms.  Over the past two years we've helped our schools to
hire nearly 30,000 of these teachers; and this year, we're asking Congress
for the funding to make that 46,000.

     And we can't act fast enough.  This fall, our schools are overflowing
with a record 53 million students.  Around the country, school districts
are struggling hard to find good teachers.  They shouldn't have to shoulder
this burden alone.  That's why we've requested a billion dollars for
recruitment and training to help to put a qualified teacher in every

     We also need to ensure that the classrooms themselves make the grade.
The average American public school was built 42 years ago.  Time has taken
its toll.  Congress should act quickly to help districts modernize old
schools and build new ones.  It's high time we got our children out of
trailers and into 21st century classrooms.  As you know, our initiative
would help to build or dramatically overhaul 6,000 schools and to repair
another 5,000 a year over the next five years.

     Yesterday, the Urban Institute reported that at least 4 million
American children between the ages of six and 12 are latchkey kids, fending
for themselves every day after school, until a parent gets home from work.
Experts tell us this is precisely the time of day when young people without
adult supervision get into the most trouble.  That's why after-school
programs are so important.

     We had the beginnings of our after-school program, with a $1 million
demonstration program back in 1997.  Now, it's a critical program providing
a safe learning environment and extra academic support in the after
after-school hours to students all across the country.  Last year, the 21st
Century Community Learning Centers provided after-school and summer school
opportunities to 850,000 of our students across the country.

     This year, our budget would more than double that program to a billion
dollars.  If we more than double the 850,000, that will make a significant
dent in the number of those kids who are latchkey kids.

     These are just some of the education priorities that we need to
address this fall.  There are a number of others included in our budget, I
hope they'll be in the final agreement.  But we need to do this, again, I
say, based on good policy.  We need to do right by our children, make smart
choices and give them and our nation a better future.

     Thank you very much.

     Q    Mr. President, do you think that the government dropped the ball
in detecting the Firestone tire problem and was aggressive enough in
ordering a recall?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Terry, I honestly don't know.  I have been following
the Congressional hearings; and, as you know, I've been otherwise occupied
for the last several days.  So before I can give you an informed opinion I
need to be fully briefed, and I haven't been.

     Q    Mr. President, do you have any reaction on the situation in
Britain, where they're protesting they don't have enough oil?  Even though
OPEC has promised to increase output, there are still problems.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, all I know about it is what I read this morning
in the press.  And I couldn't tell, frankly, whether the protest was over
high prices, where 76 percent of the price is in fuel taxes -- their
gasoline prices, I think, are about more than two and a half times what
ours are -- or whether they're worried about short supplies.

     But I don't think blocking the weight of the refineries is a way to
deal with the short supply issue.  I'm just not sure I know enough about
the facts there.

     I think what we need to be concerned about is what we're doing here.
We're working very hard to make sure our home heating oil reserve is filled
for the northeast by the end of October.  And I think we'll get there; the
Secretary of Energy has let the contracts.  And we're watching very closely
what the market will do on prices, as a result of the recent OPEC
initiative.  And we're also examining what other options we might have in
the event we have a tough winter.

     So I think we need to look at that and we need to make sure we do
everything we can to get through this winter.  The fundamental challenge
here is that the economies are now strong in Europe and the United States,
they're picking up in Asia.  So oil price consumption is going up, and it
has been above oil price production.

     Oil price production can get above consumption again, and we can
replace some of our depleted inventories, which are quite low in the United
States, and I hope that will happen.  But I also hope that the American
people and the Congress will look at the long term implications.  I believe
we can get through this winter, and we can get through another couple of
years, by continuing to push production above consumption.

     But it's clear, if you look at the United States and North America,
where the population is just a little over -- well, our population,
combined with Canada's, is about 80 percent of Europe's, and our fuel, our
oil usage is about 50 percent more than theirs.  So I think that we have
lots of low hanging fruit here for energy conservation that will create
jobs, increase incomes, and reduce our vulnerability to the tight oil

     I have, for the last several years, asked the Congress to adopt some
vigorous tax incentives to encourage both businesses and individuals to buy
energy conservation supplies and appliances.  I hope that Congress will
consider them this year, favorably, and I hope that we will also increase
our investments in high mileage vehicles and alternative fuels.  We're on
the verge of some very, very promising discoveries, and now is not the time
to weaken our commitment to the partnership for the next generation
vehicles that the Vice President has supported so strongly, and to
developing these other alternative sources of fuels and other means of
getting high mileage vehicles.

     We've got to deal with the long term and the short term, and recognize
that at least over the long term, we're going to have to have a combination
of alternative energy sources and greater conservation, and it can be a
great job boon to our country, and it can save money for ordinary Americans
if we do it right.  So I'm hoping we'll have a short term and a long term

     Thank you very much.

                          END                   9:30 A.M. EDT

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