THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Atlanta, Georgia) ________________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release March 29, 1995
SOUTHERN REGIONAL ECONOMIC CONFERENCE SESSION III: INNOVATIONS IN EDUCATION AND TRAINING Emory University Atlanta, Georgia
1:13 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon. The third session is obviously going to be on innovations in education and training. And there will be three presenters, and then I will call on several others to make comments.
Mark Musick of the Southern Regional Education Board, with whom I have worked for many years in my former life; Karen Fooks, the University of Florida and John Clendenin of Bell South. They will discuss, beginning with education reforms, then the impact of some of our higher education initiatives on higher education, and of course, Mr. Clendenin will discuss his perspective on the connections between school and work, something on which he's done wonderful work for many years now.
So let's begin with Mark.
MR. MUSICK: Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President. I've been asked today to give a perspective on education in the South that goes beyond the daily headlines that often give rise to cynicism, even despair, about education. At the Southern Regional Education Board, we've worked a good bit with higher education as well as the schools, but I'm going to confine my remarks today to the schools.
My perspective is one of hope. This is no time, in my view, for despair, frustration or cynicism. If you would allow the analogy, it may be a little like we're behind in education, yes, but maybe like an NCAA Division I basketball game where a team is behind by four seconds, and the other team has the ball, and there's still hope, and the team can still win.
We've heard today that more than a half century ago, another president focused attention on the South's economy. He correctly called the South the nation's number one economic problem. President Roosevelt might have declared that the South's number one economic problem was education.
Today, here on the campus of one of America's greatest universities, in a dynamic city that will soon be hosting the world's attention, it's obvious there's been some change for the better. And, yet, education is still the number one economic issue in the South.
Our problems are now a different magnitude. When President Roosevelt made the South's plight a national concern, southern educators weren't much worried about high school dropouts. They were preoccupied with an attendance rate of 75 percent, and hundreds of thousands of students who never came to school at all.
Today, we're rightfully concerned that five percent fewer southerners have a high school diploma than in the nation as a whole. That figure wouldn't have fazed our grandparents. But it represents more than two million adults, and it's spurred us to work hard on dropout prevention.
The year President Roosevelt drew the nation's attention to the South, we were spending barely half as much as the nation to educate a student -- .53 for every dollar spent nationally. The endowments at Harvard and Yale were greater than those of all southern colleges and universities combined in 1938.
Mr. President, when you entered the first grade, the typical American adult living elsewhere in the nation had a high school diploma. The typical southerner did not. The typical southern African American adult was not likely to have even attended high school.
Today, the South is at 92 percent of the national average for adults who have attended college and worth 90 percent of the national average for adults with a college degree.
Mr. President, Secretary Riley, you know firsthand that the South was a hotbed of educational improvement in the efforts in the 1980s in your former life. And we needed to be. As a result, we now have kindergarten programs in every state, and more than 90 percent of our youngsters complete kindergarten. We worked hard to establish kindergarten, but we know that it isn't enough. More of our states are investing in preschool and early childhood programs to expand Head Start's reach.
More than half of our high school graduates today are taking four courses in English, three in science, three in mathematics and three in Social Studies. That's more required than any other states in the country.
That's not enough, but in the early 1980s, only one of seven of our high school graduates took that mix of courses, just in 1982. Most southern states have eliminated the general high school curriculum, a dead end for students. Now states are looking at programs such as the Southern Regional Education Board's "High Schools That Work" program that prepares students for jobs by blending together hands-on teaching and academic contents similar to that in college prep.
And these programs are bringing parents to schools to shape a learning contract for their children and teachers. The South is leading the nation in advanced placement programs, let high school students earn college credit and take college credit courses in high school.
More than half of the high schools in the South now have advanced placement programs, and Secretary Riley, you know that every high school in South Carolina has that program. But only one of nine students in the South is taking an advanced placement course.
Our efforts in the 1980s and early '90s came in a decade when we had 40 percent of the enrollment growth in this nation here in the South. We had 600,000 more college students, and half of the growth in the teacher work force in America was in our states, not an inconsequential figure.
The list of these educational accomplishments is not offered as an alibi for our shortcomings. We have problems and failures in some cases, because we know what to do and we haven't done it; in other cases where the answers aren't clear. But it's wrong to abandon the course, be cynical and believe we have made no significant progress; we have made a great deal of progress.
We've made less progress than southern governors of the
1980s and others of us hoped for. Frankly, we haven't set our standards
high enough, although nearly every state is talking about doing so. We
don't yet have the student achievement results we want. We've yet to
reach all the three- and fouryear
-olds who need extra help getting ready for school. We need more emphasis on school-to-work programs, the kind of accelerated programs being pushed by John Clendenin and Bell South. These are programs that help those students who were previously floundering in the dead-end general curriculum.
We need more centers located adjacent to schools that provide a range of health and social services for young people and for their parents, as Secretary Riley has called "the most important partner in education." We need more alternative schools for youngsters that have discipline problems.
Now, the overarching question -- and I sense, although I was meeting with Tennessee legislators last night and early this morning -- I sense from your conversation that the question may be, can we keep our education improvement efforts in focus and on track with a high public priority. And I think enlightened business leadership, such as I see around this room today, may hold the answer to that.
We've had decades of catching up, and we are still catching up. I believe we will catch up if we keep education front and center. Goals 2000, Mr. Secretary, is the most flexible federal support I have seen in my 25 years to keep a focus on national goals and still help states pursue the initiatives and the goals they have set, the goals that states and the governors worked out in Charlottesville and then later on in state legislatures.
You've observed, Mr. President, somewhere in America, someone is dealing successfully with nearly every education problem we face. We will find enough of the right answers -- not all of them, but enough -- in our states if our education governors and our education-minded CEOs truly make education a high priority.
I believe that today is an important anniversary for Atlanta and for Emory University. One hundred and nine years ago today, John Pemberton, a druggist, mixed up a first batch of what was to become the world's most famous beverage. The most recent annual report of the Coca Cola Company begins with this message from the Chairman. I'll get straight to the point. The Coca Cola Company has momentum, and we have no intention of letting it go. I hope, Mr. President, when we leave here today, we leave with a sense of the momentum that was begun in the 1980s, and the Chairman's determination that we have no intention of letting that momentum go.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
MS. FOOKS: Thank you, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President. I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to talk to you about one of the education innovations in higher education, and that's the direct loan program. The University of Florida is a comprehensive public research institution of a student body of 37,000 students.
Last year, in 1993-94, 25,000 of those students received some sort of financial aid for a total of $144 million. Of that $144 million, $87 million was federal money, and of that $87 million, $70 million -- the federal student loan programs.
We have a default rate -- I'd prefer to call it a repayment rate. Our repayment rate on those loans right now is better than 95 percent, then I think we need to emphasize the repayment rate rather than the default rate.
Initially, we were skeptical of the direct loan program. Our prior experiences with the Department of Education had not been exemplary, to say the least, and we were reluctant to have them as our sole lender. However, the reality of the situation was that the existing family federal educational loan programs on our campus were broken beyond repair. We were totally out of control on that program.
Because we are so large and our student body so diverse, we were dealing with about 37 guarantee agencies and about 200 lending institutions, each of whom had their own forms, their own processes and their own deadlines. And it reached the point that when a student came in to see us, and asked about the status of their loan, we couldn't tell them with any certainty what their status was, when they would be paid, or in some cases, even how much they would be paid. And so as a result of that, we decided to go into the direct lending program.
I am very pleased to report to you that we consider the direct lending program to be an unqualified success. In fact, we sort of think we died and went to heaven and we're evangelists for the program now, if you will.
The benefits, the primary benefit, as far as we're concerned, is improved student service. The program is simple, it's easy for the students to understand, my staff understands that we're actually knowledgeable about the program again, and delivery is much faster to the students on the front end. Now, when a student comes to our customer service desk, we can say with reasonable certainty what their status is, when they'll be paid and have confidence that those things will happen the way that we say that they will.
There's only three people involved in the process: the student, the financial aid office, and the Department of Education, and one phone call can resolve a problem for us. Turnaround time on applications, from application to delivery, has improved from three to four to five weeks to under a week, and in emergency situations we can actually go from application to payment in 20 minutes if we have to. That was unheard of in the existing loan programs.
By the end of the first week in January, the first week of classes for the spring semester, we disbursed $26 million in loans. That was $10 million more than we had disbursed at the same point in time a year ago, and $24 million of that $26 million was paid in one day. This is just unheard of delivery on our campus.
As a result of the improved delivery, our traffic into the student aid offices dropped 20 percent. Students don't need to come in to see us. The improvements will continue as they finally believe it when we say "the check is in the mail" and it really turns out that it is.
I'm very pleased to have with me, in fact, one of our students, a Miss Rebecca Cummins, who is a fourth-year medical student at the university who is someone who has experienced the benefits of these programs, and she's sitting in the audience this afternoon.
In addition to the student service, we've benefitted in other ways as well. We've improved cash flow, the tuition and receivables go directly to the university before the student is paid, and we were able to increase our receivables the first week of classes through the aid system, from $4 million to $11 million.
In summary, we have a federal aid program that truly works.
There are numerous repayment options for students, and even though none
of our students are in repayment yet, we have had a number of students
express interest in the number of options available to them; in
particular, income contingent repayment that you mentioned earlier. As
the debt load rises, many students were concerned about being able to
affordable, and this is one burden off of their backs. They know no matter what job they get, they'll be able to pay for it.
There are some improvements that can still be made, and I would encourage you to continue your efforts to reinvent government, to reduce the regulatory burden, and to increase performance-based standards in the regulations that are written so that we can see even further efficiencies. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. That's very encouraging.
MR. CLENDENIN: Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, education has been mentioned many, many times today, and there's been a lot of discussion about work force skills and work force skill shortages, and I would say amen to all that has been said.
You mentioned earlier that the Southern Growth Policies Board study which provided the great wake-up call for the South, a badly-needed wake-up call in education, had the title "Halfway Home And A Long Way To Go," in 1986, I would take a slightly contrary perspective and say, maybe today if we were to title that, we would give it the title "Halfway Home, But Still A Long Way To Go."
And the reason is that the work force skills required in this Information Age that we live in represent a moving target. It's a little like another old southern saying, "The hurrier I go, the behinder I get." Through, I think, successful and progressive leadership throughout the Southeast, I think our states have made a lot of progress in K through 12, but it's obvious they can no longer measure themselves in isolation. They must compare themselves to the world-class standards that this global economy demands.
That was certainly made evident by the leadership and effort that you and Secretary Riley put in to passage of the Goals 2000 legislation. So I would say we've made a lot of headway, but there's still a lot to do, in the Southeast and in the nation as a whole.
My observations will be three, and they are made from the perspective of a business that is very dependent on human resources, close to 100,000 people, most of whom are employed in the South, and from an industry that is facing tremendous change and the introduction of new technology, and from the perspective of the Bell South Foundation, which has, like one of the other corporations mentioned earlier today, devoted a great deal of money to education projects over the last few years, about $25 million in grants in the last eight years -- a lot of lessons learned from that, some successful, some not so.
Conclusion number one. I think our system of education must re-embrace its responsibility for preparing people for the world of work. It's fundamental to America's success. Now, clearly, schools must maintain and strengthen their purpose of preparing young people for citizenship; that's part of our democratic heritage. But, just as clearly, all young people must be prepared to support themselves and their families, and this is difficult. And as I mentioned, work skill requirements keep changing.
As Mark mentioned, many of our schools in the Southeast have eliminated the general track diploma and committed to moving every student from high school to either a career- oriented job, or to higher education.
But that commitment, I would argue, may remain just an ideal until employers do a more complete job of defining the careers and the skills of the competitive marketplace and open their doors for work-based training and work-based learning.
Now, that doesn't mean that schools, colleges in the Southeast or anywhere else should train students to walk on the job all ready, absolutely ready to work, but they can and should, it seems to me, share every student the experience of workplace technologies, assure every student the understanding of workplace relationships, and of the type of decision-making skills that let them adapt to work environments.
And these must be relevant in real time, in today's workplace, not to yesterday's jobs. And beyond this, as older employees need to retool or prepare for a new career, it seems to me that additional education must be accessible and affordable to them. Otherwise, we're wasting a lot of talent in this country.
Someone has noted that in today's fast-changing workplace, education and training never stops. So it's not K-12 or K-16 anymore, it's K-12 square, or K-16 square. That's what we need in this country.
Second conclusion. We and a lot of other businesses like us need to rethink our system of recruiting and training and make sure that it is integrated with schools and colleges. We've been examining our customer needs and our processes just as every other business has. We've been in the business of reengineering. That's the code word these days. And all businesses are doing it. We're learning that many jobs are no longer needed. And many jobs have evolved to require new skills. And some old jobs are needed in new places. The pace of change requires continuing investment in employee training and development. And this cost will always be with us. And that's okay. That's okay. But we can improve our productivity as a nation and lower our costs and be more competitive if we have an identified and skilled pool from which to recruit.
So it's right back to the skill shortages that were mentioned earlier this morning. And it's a terrific opportunity. By developing relationships with schools and technical institutes and colleges, businesses can develop qualified applicants who require considerably less initial training and orientation. And that's cost efficient in this global economy.
An anecdote -- when we hired some temporary electronic technicians last year to support a changeover in our technology, we found that the partnership colleges with which we had established a relationship were a source of technical school expertise that cut the training time in half. And that was a tremendous advantage for us.
We're pursuing right now four pilot apprentice-type training programs that we think will prove the case for education partnerships that will increase our productivity and our ability to compete.
Last point -- successful work-based learning I think hinges on successful classroom learning. And the place where our children work must have the advantages of the same information age technologies that are used by their parents in the workplace. A case for technology as a tool for learning seems so obviously. And states like Kentucky and Tennessee and Georgia and Florida and others in the southeast have allocated significant dollars for classroom technology over the next two or three years. But the case for technology as a tool for teaching and classroom management must receive greater emphasis.
We still have a lot of situations where the teachers workplace does not begin to compare to the average employee's workplace. We're still in a blackboard and printed material society. Our students in some cases regard their teachers and unskilled labor because of the lack of modern tools.
Technology offers education opportunity beyond the individual child to entire groups of children with less access to quality education. And we have seen the application of distance learning throughout the southeast prove that the new vision of education with today's information highway is an exciting opportunity for the future. Over 200 schools here in Georgia already participate in an interactive video network. And the Vice President can tell you that he participated in the cut-over of the North Carolina information highway a few months ago. And eventually there are going to be 3,000 schools with access ramps to the North Carolina information highway, which will make distance learning an opportunity that's spread throughout that state.
So clearly, access to technology must be a high priority if we're going to solve the education challenges that face this country.
So what can government do? I think that the joint effort of the Secretary of Education and Secretary of Labor in school-to-work partnerships and school-to-work transition is exactly the right direction to take. I think Goals 2000 represented a tremendous opportunity in a leadership display that needs to be given more teeth and more incentives as we go on.
And last but not least, Mr. President, I urge you to use the bully pulpit. We have got to continue to emphasize education. You need to make that the highest priority in this country, because in this information age and a global economy, it has to be the top of the list.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
I'd like to move on now to first of a discussion of education reforms in the public schools and call upon the -- in order -- and ask you all to watch the red light, because we've got two sessions to get through this afternoon.
Benjamin Canada, the superintendent of the Atlanta public schools, Anne Jolly, the 1994 Alabama teacher of the year, and Secretary Riley.
MR. CANADA: Mr. President, Vice President, Secretary Riley, I feel like I -- having grown up in northeast Louisiana just a few miles south on Highway 65, in 1962 as a graduate. I've been a part of systemic reform all my life, because the country has continuously changed. And being in education has allowed me the opportunity to witness some of the issues that we have been confronted with change. John Clendenin just talked about the technology. And perhaps some of our teachers are being viewed as being illiterate almost as it related to their ability to deal with technology.
We have to continue to do some of the things that we were able to do in Mississippi and what we're doing here in Atlanta, and that is to get both local, state, federal governments working together with private enterprise and the local school system to talk abut what the mission is, what we see as the changes on the horizon, interact with the Department of Ed out of Washington, and then pool those resources to do more training. The Goals 2000 in terms of professional development that's there, we need to make sure that every state is doing that. We were successful in Mississippi in getting that successfully enacted. And we were able to get the benefits of that professional development.
Here in Atlanta, the business community has gone overboard
to recognize not only the fact that economic recovery and sustained
economic viability has a heart. And that heart is education itself.
And so therefore they're working with us to strategize on where we want
to do. We're setting high standards.
We're setting world class standards and saying that in addition to having those high-class world class standards, we also have to go out and seek qualified staff and leadership to implement those standards.
We're saying that we have to be accountable for the resources. Right now, for example, we're embarking on closing 18 schools. That's not a comfortable position to be in. But from an accountability standpoint to say that we will not take off the backs of children the money to pay for utilities, we will put that money into programs and to people to give them an opportunity for success. We will make those kind of decisions. But we need you to help us continue to vocalize a vision that talks about success for all children.
We can no longer have education for a few and training for the many. Success for all children has to be the foundation. Nothing less than the very best for every child, whether that's rural or an urban, is what we have to ask for. So we ask for your continued support on that.
Q This is something that's new with this administration. I would like to thank Secretary Riley for the amount of input that he allows for ordinary classroom teachers, people on the front line, because any kind of changing in education is going to happen one classroom at a time, one teacher at a time.
I never intended to be a teacher. I'm a research biologist, and I moved to Mobile; could not find a job in my field and so took a scattershot approach and applied for a lot of jobs, including teaching positions. I was hired as a teacher, left a pristine laboratory, went into a hot, dilapidated portable, teaching a group of 13-year-olds who really did not want to learn math. And I loved it. And I realized I was engaged in the most important profession in the world. And so, since then, I have been quite an advocate for it.
I'd like to tell you, the school I'm in now, we are a school which holds a strict 50-50 racial balance. We require every student -- it's a middle school -- every student by the end of the 8th grade must complete the first year of Algebra I. They must complete the first year of a high school foreign language. They must maintain a 70-percent average in all subjects. And they do that and they score very high on all of the achievement tests.
Some things enable that to happen. You can't just simply say we want that to happen and have it to happen. First of all, we provide them with good facilities. Our middle school students have laboratory assignments.
I want to read you just a sentence that was taken from a local newspaper, a letter to the editor written by a group of students in this: "Our physics class on the second floor averages 95 degrees daily. If you need a feel for what this might be like, climb into your attic on any given day and try to work a few physics problems." (Laughter.)
That's not an uncommon situation, unfortunately, in many schools today. Another thing -- I am delighted to hear my words coming out of so many other mouths here today. Teacher training technology, computer phobia with teachers -- we have been broadsided by the Information Age, and we desperately need some help. The Goals 2000 money can help to provide training for teachers. The Eisenhower funds, a big source of training for me personally -- and I hope that those will be stable again at some point.
Community partnerships have played a big role as far as enabling my school to function. We have parents with communities working together. As far as what you can do -- I see the red light blinking and I usually respond to bells better, so I'll wind it up. But as far as what you can do at the national level, you're doing a couple of good things. The Resource and Development Lab that serves the Southeast has done a wonderful job of providing an electronic network for teachers through which we can kind of break down those classroom barriers. And they are trying to provide assistance as far as helping us get on line.
Now, something that I really want you to do --please try to hold the course on the Goals 2000 money and see that that money reaches -- that no strings attachment; now, there's an idea whose time has come -- reaches down into the local level like it should, because this "now you have it; now you don't" philosophy that seems to be going on right now is really hurting kids.
And to conclude, I'd just like to read the last part of this message that this group of students sent. They said, "People, this is your tax money at work. The power and the blame is in your hands. We students have no control or choice. Schools are the tools used to shape the next generation. Only we are being shaped with the wrong tools. Here's your chance to put forth your contribution. You can help change these tools, not just for my generation, but to all those that follow."
So I've made a flashcard, because I noticed that all -- a lot of people ahead of me had these nice charts and all and I didn't want to be left out. And so, being a teacher, I made a flashcard that I think kind of sums it up, and it's the word, "change." We're going to have to change the way we do things in education. Our theme song has been "It's Yesterday Once More," and we need to wake up in tomorrow. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY RILEY: Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, I, like the two of you, am really here to listen and not to propose. I would observe, though, that we could call this well an education conference. I've listened carefully through the day and I think it's been a common thread that has run through.
I noticed you said this morning, talking about the South coming out of the Depression and the governors and you and I were two of them in the '80s looking at education and jobs and economic development, or the partnership, as you called it. And that really seemed to work. And the South, of course, has had good economic success. I think it's very clear today in everything everybody has said that this country now, the nation that was at risk in 1983, and the frustration that's out there -- the middle class frustration that you all have talked about -- very clearly says to me that education is the answer to all of that. And if we stood back and tried to think of a way, then, to have the federal government's national priorities set on education, to provide resources but leave the ingenuity and the way to do it to the state and local schools, I think we would come up with Goals 2000, which is in place and was signed by you about a year ago.
So I think we have that, and we have School-To-Work in place, and I think it's very consistent with the message that we've received in this conference.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I just want to point out, since we've all been sort of dancing around it here a little bit, and since Anne Jolly brought it up, the Goals 2000 is one of the targets on the Contract hit list. And I just think it's part of a -- it's a classic case where I think the theory is overshadowing reality here. The argument against it is that, well, 95 percent of the money for public education comes from the state and local level; the federal government never did anything to make education better, so just get rid of it.
The truth is that if you look at the Elementary and Secondary Education Act which was passed last year with overwhelming bipartisan support, and the Goals 2000 legislation, which was passed with bipartisan support last year -- we have done more in the last couple of years to both set high standards, which all of you say we need, and give more flexibility, freedom and elbow room and decision-making authority to classroom teachers and principals at the grass-roots level than has been done since federal aid to education began three decades ago.
So we have tried to pursue both. And if we jerk this money back from Goals 2000 now, which is not a lot of money but is critical for the teacher training and the kinds of things -- if we want our schools to have high standards and be able to achieve them and to be able to operate on their own, this is a critical piece of that.
So I hope we will be able to be successful in restoring it. We feel very strongly about it, but it's always nice to hear people who actually are living on the other end of this in educating our children say that. I thank you, too, Mr. Canada, for what you said.
I'd like to talk a little bit now about accessibility and quality in higher education. And after that, we're going to talk a little about community colleges and then the role of business.
I want to call on, next, two educators and two students -- Johnnetta Cole, the President of Spelman College; Sybil Mobley, the Dean of the School of Business and Industry at Florida A & M, and then Rebecca Cummins, who was mentioned earlier, a fourth-year medical student at the University of Florida and Austin Branch, who is a member of Casa Verde and a national service volunteer.
So, could we start with you, Johnnetta?
MS. COLE: President Clinton, Vice President Gore and Secretary Riley. We think of educators as folk who bring forward facts and figures. I don't have any facts and figures today. I want to testify very briefly.
I want to testify about the sheer power of higher education in our nation. I testify out of my experience as the President of Spelman College, a historically black college for women. And I will say to you that I have a great fear about these very, very impressive young women. I'm afraid that we are educating them so well that one day I'm going to return to campus, and up on the top of Rockefeller Building will be at least 25 young Spelmen women flapping their arms, convinced that they can fly. (Laughter.) Because that's what education does. It convinces people that they have the possibility to do the impossible.
I need to testify, though, that at an institution known for its distinctive process of education, that close to 82 percent of these young women are receiving some form of financial assistance. For a government that helps to provide some of that assistance, I needed to come here today to say thank you.
I also want to testify momentarily for the experiences of so many young African American students in the 41 private colleges of the United Negro College Fund. I have the honor of serving at this moment, Brother President, as the chair of those 41 presidents. And so I've really gotten to know those institutions.
If we take away the possibility that these young folk can receive an education, because we say we can't pay for it now, we, then, will pay for it later. And the bill will be mighty high.
Finally, I want to testify out of the experience that I'm having now. As a president who has taught in the spring of each and every year that I have served at Spelman, but this year I decided I wouldn't teach Introduction to Anthropology, Introduction to Women's Studies and do it at Spelman, I decided I would walk out of those gates and into one of the poorest neighborhoods in our city, and that I would teach in the University in John Hope Holmes -- built in 1936 and 1937. I've done it in part because I try to emulate what you do, and that is to teach by example.
I wanted to say to Spelman students and faculty the power of service when it is connected to education. Just as you have said that in bringing to our nation the possibility that students, in fact, can help to pay for their education through service.
Well, I have learned an incredible amount about what it means when people who are poor are respected, with people who are said not to have dignity, have a chance to express it. The fact that we sit in an educational setting, in a setting where I respect these folk, is an empowering process not only for them as my students, the oldest of whom is 69, the youngest is about seven, it is an empowering process for me as a teacher.
Let me try to say that what I think is so essential in order for us to reproduce this enormous process called education, this empowering process, is exactly what I see happening in your administration. Because it's about access, number one; and it's about quality, number two.
When we talk about access, this is why we're so grateful to Governor Miller for that Hope Scholarship program. This is why we are so grateful for your leadership on the question of assisting middle-class families to send their children to colleges and to universities. This is why community colleges are so important, because they provide access to large numbers of Americans who would not otherwise go to college.
But I have to say that that is why the Pell Grants are absolutely essential. We cannot pull back now when, in fact, what we need to do is to move forward with more possibilities of educating our folk. And secondly, it's about quality. And I really applaud the leadership of Secretary Riley and of you and Vice President Gore in saying that our folk deserve the best, that we have got to have standards in education, that we must be accountable to how it is that we do educate. And that's what Goals 2000 is about. That's what I hope we in higher education will come to do even more of, and that is to monitor ourselves.
But I think quality is ultimately about expectation. It is about teachers who demand the best, and give the support for to come forward. It's about our saying that no child is incapable of learning, and then providing the means for the child to do so.
Let me conclude, Brother President, by saying that each of us could give a litany of what's wrong with higher education and with all forms of education in our country. But I'm reminded of someone who said to me in the middle of a setting where I was giving a litany of problems -- the brother said, why don't you just practice the Noah principle? And I asked what is the Noah principle? And he said, it's time to stop predicting the rain and build the arcs.
I want to say thank you for what I think has been an administration dedicated to building some arcs. We need some more arcs, but thank you for the ones that you've helped to build.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)
DR. MOBLEY: Just keep applauding through my time. I'd like to first indicate the comfort that this conference gives that with all your national and global concerns, this conference assures us that you're still putting people first. And the focus on regions gives us even further assurance. I think in today's global economy and where there are a lot of winners and a lot of losers, and everybody is a global citizen and every firm is a global concern, only the government is committed to look after the people. And putting people first is really the justification for this government. And I admire this effort.
My program is composed of exceptionally talented, academically advanced students. I call them monsters. (Laughter.) Yet over 200 of these monsters dropped out in January for financial reasons. Many of them said, I used to have two parents working and I have one. My parents used to make $30,000 a year, now they're on minimum wage.
Now, of course, I'll get around to John Clendenin and Hugh McColl, and somehow I'll get these kids back in school. (Laughter.) But this happens all over the nation. You know, schools go out and recruit the best of talent. They work hard to provide them the best programs. And they're falling out, even with direct loan and Pell. This is a great loss that we can't afford.
My program is business, so in terms of what the impact of losing assistance that we have would have on minority business, I would like to say it would be devastating. Education will be more crucial to minority business persons in the future than it has ever been in the past because it's an entirely different world. These minority entrepreneurs have to be global in perspective if they're just operating in Marietta, Georgia. They must be able to be flexible to deal with the current economy. The education that their parents got in business with and carried them through, it just won't work. Self-made minority businessmen won't get made.
Small business is the greatest source of employment in the country. And if minorities are denied the opportunity to participate, it will undo a lot of the social gains that we've made through the years. Without education, minority businessmen will only have the opportunity to fail, not to succeed. Ours is a continuance of the direct loan programs, the Pell Grants and all forms of aid, because it's the aid that will make the difference.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
We have a couple more people I want to call on to discuss the college aid from a different perspective. One came here, is not with Karen Fooks but is not at the table -- Rebecca Cummins (phonetic) who's at medical school in Florida. I think she's in the audience. Are you here? There you are. You've got a microphone.
MS. CUMMINS (phonetic): I want to thank you, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President. I would first just like to express how important the student loan program is. Without student loans, my husband, who's here also, and he's a fourth- year medical student, and I never would have been able to have attended medical school directly out of college, and we wouldn't be graduating as physicians this spring.
I've experienced both the old loan program, and in the last year my school implemented the new federal direct loan program. Some of the problems with the old program that I experienced personally were, one, complexity of the application process itself. The application process involved filling out multiple forms. Frequently I would have to send the same forms them two or three times before my application was completed.
In addition, more significantly, I never received my loans on time. It was always two to three months into the semester before I received my loan payment. I was fortunate that my grandmother was able to send me money in the meantime so I could pay my rent and other expenses, otherwise I never would have been able to do that.
The new federal direct loan program, it's a much simpler process. I have over the last year, since it's been implemented, I've received my loan check the first week that we started the semester. In addition, the new federal direct loan program has more repayment options than the old loan program.
My husband and I will be graduating with a total debt of approximately $140,000. If we were to have paid back our loans on the standard repayment program, which was a set fee over a 10-year program, we would have -- during our residency, have been paying more than 50 percent of our net monthly income towards loan repayment. But now with the new income contingency plan, which is very appealing to both of us, we can pay a set percentage of our income towards loans. So when we're in residency and our salary is significantly less than when we're in practice, we'll be making smaller loans payments.
So I'm a big promoter of the new federal direct loan program. I think it's going to be a big benefit for students.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.) Good for you. (Applause.)
Mr. Branch, tell us about yourself.
MR. BRANCH: Hello, Mr. President. I just wanted to start by saying thank you for starting up the American Institute for Learning Program, which has helped a lot of kids on the streets get out and get an education. And if you stay in this program for a year or more you can get up to a $5,000 grant or college. And that's the main reason I'm with the program today.
I mean, if I would have -- if it wouldn't have been for the grant, my only other option to go to college would have been the military, and that's not something that I really want to do. But I want to go on to law school, which is another option. And I just got my GED. So, I mean, there's not really much that I had options to do. I mean, if it wouldn't have been for the program that I'm with for AIL, I wouldn't -- we get training, on- site training, for construction.
THE PRESIDENT: Tell us about some of the things you're doing. What about the community service projects?
Q The community service projects we do, is we go out and do weatherization on houses, help old people, help handicapped people build ramps to get into their houses. We haven't been really working on much yet -- I just started about two months ago. So there's not -- we just started on our first house this week.
THE PRESIDENT: This young man is one of 20,000 Americans this year who are in various projects in our community service -- our AmeriCorps program. And they worked for approximately the minimum wage, but they pile up the same education credit -- roughly the same as the G.I. Bill, about $4,750 a year. And they can work for two years in community service programs and earn that much toward their college education. And then they can use it in the community college. They can use it in a training program, however they please, as long as the credits have to be used for educational purposes. And in the meanwhile, they do service, not determined by some distant person in Washington, but based on an approved community program, a grass roots program. In all 50 states we have these projects.
And we now have as many -- more people in this program than ever served in the Peace Corps in any single year. And I believe it's turned out to be very cost effective -- the administrative cost is low. And we're getting a lot of things done in the country that wouldn't be done otherwise.
So I thank you.
I want to talk -- before we get off this higher education and go back to the role of business in education and training, which will be our last topic, I want us focus a moment, since it was said in the earlier panels this morning, that educating the adults and continually educating the adults is going to be critical to our future. I want us to talk a little about community colleges and adult education.
And I want to give three people in particular a chance to say a word. Nate Wells is a student adviser and former student at Indian River Community College. Virginia Moore, who is an accountant who plans to return to school apparently next year to get her degree. And Sandy Tilton, the president of a program called Call-a-Nurse. And I'd like for them to talk about adult education. And for those who -- where it's relevant, to community colleges.
MR. WELLS: Thank you, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President. Working -- I appreciate the vote of job security when you said the president of Coca-Cola. Community college is most important in building skills. That -- integral part of that is working at the business development center, we would go out and work with -- in the work force to retraining workers.
But my experience was, I found myself hitting that glass ceiling, not being able to be promoted, even though I had the experience. I figured I'd have the potential to do better, but someone told me, well, you can't -- you need this degree; you need this piece of paper. So I went back to a community college at 25 years old to pursue my -- get that piece of paper that I had so desperately needed to move on.
And in doing that, it was the beginning of the rest of my life. It's been a charge. I was able to work full-time, go to school full-time, and at the same time be a husband and father of two children, and still get out with a 3.2 grade point average. But I would not have been able to do that because my wife was -- she wasn't employed at the time through certain illnesses. I would not have been able to do that at a university. It took a community college, right there, three miles from home to be able to do that.
And now as an adviser at the same college that I came through the system on, I have renewed respect for community colleges. And now I can pass on to the students who I serve just how important it is, how important the community colleges is. And I try to educate them on education.
Many people have these fears of coming back to school,
whether they've been misplaced workers, laid off, and as myself, being
-- coming back years later after high school, saying, well, I need a
fresh start. They're afraid, and so was I. So, again, it's renewed
respect for the community colleges and the adult learning process. And
many people come in -- they don't know where to start, so we have career
centers; we have financial aid in the community college that I work for.
it all in one small area. And within that area, we can just pick up the phone or walk across the hallway, and people are not --for the beginning we hold their hand. So in that -- it gives them a fresh new start. And they're able to go on confidently afterwards. And it feels good to see someone a semester later saying, well, I'm still doing it, and hollering at you in the hallway saying, Hi, Mr. Wells, I'm still here, and I'm doing it. And how's the classes going. They're appreciative of the start that we give them.
THE PRESIDENT: Good for you. Thank you. (Applause.) Very good. (Applause.)
MS. MOORE: I'm a single mother of two children. And I'm also a recent college graduate. Last September I graduated with my associate's degree in accounting. Now that I know I can do it, I'm not satisfied with just an associate's degree. So this fall quarter I will return to college and start working on my bachelor's.
My children and I, we now have a wonderful, bright future to look forward to. But it wasn't always that way. Two years ago, I was classified as a high school dropout working in a gas station. I quit school when I was 15 because I was pregnant. And the gas station that I worked at was partly full-serve, which meant I was also a service attendant. I pumped gas. I washed windshields. I put air pressure in tires. I checked all that. And when I was through with that, I collected your money and sent you on your way.
I received a lot of encouragement to go back to school because I spent four years of my life working in the gas station. And I spent 11 years of my life running from education. As the gentlemen just said, you're scared to death. Number one, you've got to admit to yourself you need help. And, number two, you've got to admit to a total stranger, hey, I need help. Can I enroll in your classes?
Well, I found a wonderful school in Griffin, Georgia, that was happy to take me in. And within one quarter, I passed my GED. I spent 11 years running from something that would only take me three months to accomplish. It doesn't make much sense, does it? It truly doesn't.
But what the GED is is a second chance for adults who's made a mistake. And I really would like to thank America for having this wonderful classroom, and for giving adults like me a second chance.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Ms. Tilton.
MS. TILTON: I'm a graduate of the Job Corps. I graduated from Atlanta Job Corps in 1974. I have two words to say about Job Corps -- it's hope and opportunity. When I entered Job Corps, I was 16 years old, and I had completed the 9th grade. I spent approximately six months going through classes to receive my GED and my nurse's aid training. And the end of that six months, what I knew, everyone else realized, is that I was pregnant and I would have to leave the program, which I did for four months. When I reentered Job Corps, it was as a solo parent with my four-month-old son.
I went on to nursing school to obtain my nursing license. While I was in the Job Corps program, they provided me with classes on skills on how to be a parent. And I learned social skills. And I learned I wanted to be somebody.
and I learned social skills, and I learned I wanted to be somebody. As I received my LPN training, I worked for some of the local hospitals here in Atlanta, and I went to work for a company that supplied supplemental staffing nurses to hospitals.
After working for that company for eight years, I decided to do something I could do myself. I had a business partner, her name is Sue Lane; she's a nurse also. And she and I opened a Call-A-Nurse in 1986. We borrowed $15,000 and neither one of us were employed at the time.
In our first year of business, we billed out over $1 million. We've been in business for almost nine years, we've provided jobs to hundreds of health care workers here in this state, here in this city and other states as well. So I would like to say that the investment that the government made in me, and the faith that they had in me, especially as a young person being pregnant and a single parent, being an entrepreneur, a female minority business owner -- I've had many titles -- (laughter) -- that they have made a good investment, and I've been able to give back, and I continue to give back, and I thank you very much. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think what they said speaks more powerfully than any comments the rest of us could make. You know, I just want to say, when I was a governor back -- as I used to say, back when I had a life -- (laughter) -- at graduation time every year, I'd always give a couple of speeches, anyway, to GED classes.
And by the time I left office, we were spending more money per capita on GED, I believe, than any state in the country. And we were sending all of our adult education workers out to work places if they were over a certain amount of size. We couldn't make all of the service stations, but we were actually doing a lot of teaching in the factories.
It is the least expensive thing America can do to have the biggest short-term impact to get a GED to every person who doesn't have one. It is the least costly thing with the biggest impact. I am absolutely convinced of it. And you all were terrific. And I thank you for what you said about the Job Corps, too.
We had a Job Corps center in my state. I didn't have anything to do with that. That was all federal. But people used to complain about it was fairly expensive, but there were people there with real problems and enormous talent. And I don't know how much it costs, but whatever we spent on you, we got it back 100,000 times. And I thank you for what you said.
I'd like to now go back to the topic that Mr. Clendenin raised that, hopefully, with the view on getting some more specific suggestions on what we should do to speed this up. And I want to start with Thomas Malott, who is the President of Siemens Energy and Automation. And I think he has one of his student apprentices here. And I want to start with him for a specific reason. This company had a plant in my state; I was very familiar with it. But it's still there, and they're still making money, too -- isn't it? (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I told you it would never be the same when I left. (Laughter.) Let me make a point. Germany does a better job than any country. Siemens is a German company. And one of the things the Germans have been able to do better than any country in the world, I think, is to devise a system for the non-college-bound young people to get education and training beyond high school, tied to the workplace at very high skill levels, so that there is a sort of a seamless web that runs through the education and work experience as young people grow up and go into the workplace in ways that are not only better than the United States does, but better than anybody else does, too, as nearly as I can tell. And Siemens has probably done the best job of any company that I'm aware of, coming to the United States, being a good citizenship, a good corporate partner of ours, and trying to at least apply in an American way those lessons. And so, I think it very important for them to have a chance to be heard here today on this subject.
MR. MALOTT: Thank you, Mr. President, Vice President. We certainly appreciate your staff's offer to allow us to bring our apprentice to the program to see how government works in action, and I'd like to just take the opportunity to introduce Barry Broom, who is a junior at Milton High School, and he is our apprentice, one of our apprentices in the program.
I'd like -- before we spend a few minutes explaining how our program works here in the United States, I would like to say that the reason we're doing these programs is because we feel very, very strongly for us to compete in the global economy, we have to have highly skilled people on the factory floor.
Dr. Ratajczak, at this morning's presentation, indicated that he felt that there are only two types of employment left in the United States; you either have to have it in your head, if you didn't have it in your hands you were out of work. I think we would take a slightly different perspective on that position, because as long as we build things like automobiles, generators, electric motors in Arkansas, we have to have people who not only have intelligence in their heads, but the willingness and the ability to work with their hands.
In fact, I feel that if all the jobs get off into the corner where everyone needs a PhD to work, the problems we're talking about are going to be really difficult.
So in trying to solve this problem, we found that university graduates typically are not so interested in getting down into those areas of a factory, and that the high school graduates that were available to us simply didn't have the skills. So we brought over in principle, the programs that we have in Germany, but did want to tailor them to the issues in the United States, because the cultures are really quite different, and frankly, we wanted to make sure that what we were getting out of these programs were people that had the ability to work in teams and also pretty good social skills.
So we've set up four programs now; one in the State of Florida, one here in Georgia, one in North Carolina, one in Kentucky. We're developing people who have electronic technician skills on one area, another skill we're working on is tool and dye making and automation equipment assembly, which is a skill you can't find anymore in this country.
The programs -- and I would have to say, we're very pleased at the reaction that we've gotten from the local school systems, both the high school level and the community college level, and the federal level to support these ideas. In fact, what I think we found is that when they brought the idea forward, it was more or less a catalyst and people were waiting to grab hold of the idea, and we have had very, very good results, I think, in the support from every area that we've tried these programs.
The program basically is a combination of academic requirement. The people going through the program have to come out with basic mathematical skills -- science skills, and we combined 2,000 hours of work-related training. With that, there's a progression in the system where hours that they spend in general can be applied towards an associate degree, and most of them are going on to get associate degrees; it also allows them to link, obviously, to higher education if they want it.
We've brought over meisters -- these are the highest skill levels in the German system, to teach the hands-on, and we're using the academic base here in this country to support the educational side. We have about 200 people now involved in this training, and it will be accelerated.
In closing, I'd like to say that I've been personally involved over the years in talking -- involved in education in local areas, and these problems are talked about a lot. But the difference between talking about them and doing them is a big thing we've got to get over.
We feel we have to have these people. It doesn't need to come from government. If we don't have them, we're not going to be competitive. And the competition isn't waiting for us to get through these problems; they're coming at us every day. And so I think if there's one thing you might think about is that, frankly, our accounting systems and tax systems still are based on the idea that people are expendable and they're not capital, and we look at this as a capital investment, just as we buy a machine. But, unfortunately, our business practices don't allow us to look at it that way. It's something you might want to think about.
THE PRESIDENT: I think that is a very important suggestion, and I would like to make a request of you before I call on anyone else to write something to me, specifically suggesting how you think -- what you think the tax treatment should be.
This is -- it's a huge deal, and I will go back to something that happened in one of the earlier panels. This spurs not only your interest, but the interest I have in trying to encourage companies to make the most of their present employees to try to stabilized the lives of Americans seen their lives are being turned upside-down quite a lot as it is.
I'd like to call on Steve Jones next. He's the business manager of the International Association of Bridge, Structural and Ornamental Iron Workers. And I'm calling on him next for a specific purpose, which is for years and years in this country, all the apprenticeship training was done by the unions. And business -- this is really a place where business has sort of caught up to what the unions were doing before almost exclusively on their own, but are still heavily involved in. So I want to give Mr. Jones a chance to talk.
MR. JONES: Thank you, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President. I'm so honored to be here today, and I'm very appreciative of it. I represent 753 members and 100 apprentices of the Iron Workers Local Union here in Atlanta, and I understand from some of my members that some of the other people who were there before the reception last night, you had some kind words to say about Jack Falls, one of my members who was killed at the Olympic stadium. And on behalf of my members and his family, we do appreciate that.
What I want to talk to you about today is what I consider the best-kept secret in American education, which is apprenticeship training programs. Through a negotiated, collective bargaining agreement, a certain amount -- dollar amount or a few cents is set aside through a joint effort with management and labor to set up training programs -- in my case, construction training programs, whether it's the Iron Workers, Sheet Metal, Plumbers and Pipe Fitters, Mill Wrights, and I could go on. We all have training programs, whether it be four years, five years long -- where we do on-the-job training, where people are brought in, started at a certain wage, and they go to school at night, they complete the program, they get structured raises, and when they complete, they have a job when they're through at a wage where they have a skill where -- whether their work slows down here or anywhere else, they're able to go and do the job.
Our general president, Jake West, at Iron Workers International, has stressed cooperation between management and labor to make sure that we have good training programs and we keep journeyman upgrading programs, so that our membership is always abreast, always brought up to date on what the latest technology is.
Not only does the funding furnish the upgrading, but while they're going through the apprenticeship program they have health care. They've also started with a pension plan. And all this with private funding and no other money.
I heard this morning where it was said that Georgia is running out of -- or people in the South is running out of hands to do the work that needs to be done. I can tell you from the people who come through my door and apply for the program, that's true. They're older. They have been everywhere else. They've tried a lot of other things before they get to me.
I would like to see more emphasis put on apprenticeship training, the availability, and especially in high school level where they know this is an option. And it's been brought out time and time again here today. Not everybody's going to college. They're told that in school. We go into a career day. We know when we get there that they've been told, you go to school; you go to the armed services; or you go to technical school.
And what we offer is free. And we teach them a skill. And there are right now 325,000 people in different apprenticeships. In the construction trade there's 180,000. That number should be over a million in apprenticeship programs learning a skill.
In closing, I would like to say that I think apprenticeship programs, if this is stressed in high schools, can offer building blocks toward a meaningful career, not stumbling blocks. And I'd like to see more emphasis put on it.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
I want to call on Peter Correll, the chairman of Georgia Pacific next. But before I do, I'd like to ask Secretary Riley to briefly in length, just two minutes, explain what we're trying to do with the school-to-work program to help support these kinds of transitions for the people who don't go on to four-year schools.
SECRETARY RILEY: Thank you, sir. This is, of course, a program that deals with really a restructuring of high schools, as we know them. And many states and many school districts are in that in one stage or another. We're working the program jointly with labor. Bob Reich and I and all the way down through our organizations, are handling it in a very joint way, which is working very well.
It says then -- it's similar in building from the tech-prep program, but it involves education in the classroom -- high level, technology, same high standards as Goals 2000. It's not a watered-down curriculum, but learning in a different way. Then the experience is also out of the classroom into the plant site or the hospital or the bank or wherever the general area -- career area is involved. And then it also calls for post-high school education. It is clear message that when you finish high school you're not through. Really we're talking about lifelong learning. But at least one or two years of community colleges or technical colleges. Then often people go on in, as you are doing, to get -- going in and get their bachelor's degree after they get into community college work.
So it's high standards and it's connecting work and school, and all those connections in between.
THE PRESIDENT: The reason I wanted to say that -- before I -- lest you think that the story that Virginia Moore or Sandy Tilton told us, are -- they're exceptional people, but their personal successes are statistically mandated almost. You ought to pickup a copy -- it's hard to read, but if you look at the '90 census, the 1990 census, which charts what happened to Americans and their income between 1980 and 1990, it is perfectly clear that while most of the jobs of the 21st century will not require a four-year college degree. Almost every job in the 21st century that has a growing income requires at least two years of further training after high school, which is why the community colleges are important, why the GED's important, why the Job Corps -- wall this stuff matters.
If you look at the census tracks, you look at all of our fellow Americans, and you just see it. It's just -- the numbers are breathtaking, the income trends, and absolutely not open to argument.
MR. CORRELL: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you, Mr. President. As you know, I serve on your Council for Sustainable Development. And your listening to me again today is above and beyond the call of duty. And I'm sure you've got about all the advice you want from this Georgia businessman.
But let me talk a little bit about our industry and our company because we are the rural South. We're a very special industry. We make forest products. And our strategy is pretty simple -- we're going to make it cheaper here than any place in the world, and we're going to sell it around the world. We don't manufacture any place else. We have 50,000 Georgia Pacific employees who make stuff here, and we sell it everywhere in the world, which means world competitiveness is everything to us.
And when we talk about what's the matter with the educational system, all that's very important. But what's more important to us is what employees do we have now, because we are the world's most capital intensive industry. We have built facilities to last 40 and 50 years, which means we hire employees to work for us --wage union members for 30, 40 years.
And when we moved into trying to upgrade our people and move the statistical process control and all those things, we found the programs didn't take. And we went into Crossett, Arkansas, a facility you know well -- one of the biggest forest products facilities in the world -- and found that 40 percent of our employees were functionally illiterate. In 1990, 40 percent of our employees were functionally illiterate. We launched major literacy centers, major adult literacy centers. We now have that number cut in half. That's not adequate, but 20 percent more people can read and write and then be trained to go on and compete today in Crossett, Arkansas, than they could be. And our goal is to drive that to zero.
So our emphasis is on train the people we've got, get them equipped to compete in the world because our strategy depends on that ability.
And it's not easy, but once we get them so we can compete at the basics, then the additional training is easy. That's high-return stuff. And the wonderful thing is we hold these facilities, we keep them open 24 hours a day, and families come, too. So a lot more people in the rural south now can read and write. And we're not unique.
As to what we would ask of government as we try to do this is two things: Keep the trade playing field fair and level. When I see our distribution here in Atlanta selling 40 percent of its product, Canadian lumber, while southern lumber mills are closing down, something's wrong. And keep the environmental regulations based on science, not based on emotion, but based on science, because if we're not overregulated and we have a fair field, we can fix the employee issues. Together, we can fix the employee issues and we can compete.
Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Wayne.
Q Mr. President, I want to say, listening to all of the things that I heard, my faith in America is restored. And it's uplifted, because one of the greatest concerns I've had is the growing gap between the haves and have-nots. And I feel like we'll overcome that.
There were a number of things, subjects covered this morning -- and I want to talk about education a minute. But, first, I want to make a couple of comments. Number one, there was criticism around the country, too, about government regulation. And there sometimes, I guess, it gets over the mark. But there are a lot of things, though, that require government regulation, such as health and safety in the workplace, environmental concerns, the minimum wage to help the bottom people, consumer safety, civil rights -- all of those things are government programs that protect us. so we shouldn't be down on our government. The government serves the people. And we ought to recognize that and accept it and applaud it.
One of the pieces of education that hasn't been talked about here -- we've covered a lot of things -- and I think we need to talk about it minute, and that is to teach management and labor to work together. Cooperative programs, jointness, whatever you call them. Pete and I, we have overcome those difficulties, and we've learned to get over an adversarial approach to work together. But I think we ought to just look for a minute how these programs work and what can government do to help. And there is something you can do. And I know President Clinton has spent a lot of time on this. He even had a conference in Chicago a year or two ago.
But I just -- take one example. I think Harley Davidson is a great success story. In the early 1980s, they were owned by AMF, and AMF spun them off. They weren't making money; they were losing; told them you're on your own; are you going to make it or not; you got to sink or swim. And the management of Harley Davidson set down with the union and the workers representatives, and they said, well, we've got a chance here; what can we do together. Together -- sometimes it takes a crisis before management recognizes they've got to do it together instead of by executive fiat. So they set down together and they asked the workers to make certain concessions and sacrifices in their benefits and pay. And they did.
And their product that they were making at that time was lousy. I mean, this is management's description of it. I got it from them, listening to their CEO. They couldn't sell it. And they couldn't compete. And in three years' time, through cooperative programs with the workers, they were turning out a good product. And they were selling it. In three years, the workers' benefits and pay and concessions were restored.
Today, there's a two-year waiting list to buy their
product. They make the best machine made -- best motorcycle made today.
All because the workers' contribution and management working together.
Now, this is education where it counts. And the company is ready to
expand their operations, and their
workers are going to help in that decision-making process -- how they expand and where they expand.
And how did they do this. How can government help. The FMCS under John Wells, whom you appointed -- and I think he's doing a terrific job as director of the Federal Mediation Conciliation Service -- he put in his budget $10 million for training to help teach management and labor in America how to work together, how to run these cooperative programs. Now, that's taken out of his budget. I think it ought to be restored. And I would ask you gentlemen to look at that and see because that's really a small, small thing in the overall federal budget. But it's so important that management and labor work together. And I know Secretary Bob Reich, he's done a tremendous job on this. And I've heard him make a lot of speeches about it. And all of them are super. And I've heard President Clinton talk about it. And I know he knows and recognizes the importance of these things. I recognize it.
I've learned a heck of a lot, and I've been a union representative for 38 years. I didn't just come on the scene. I want you to know, I've learned a hell of a lot, because I didn't used to feel that way. But I've gotten smarter, that's what I'm saying. And we all need to get smarter, and we need to make these programs work, but we need to do it together.
So what I'm basically saying is we need an industrial policy in this country, a tripartite industrial policy that's management and labor and government working together. And that's my suggestion.
I just want to say one thing about something that was said this morning. And all the facts are not out here. It was some -- since I live in Nashville, I know what the facts are. There was a mention about the Opryland Hotel having to go outside the area or region to hire workers, and that's true. They went outside the country, not just outside the region. And they hired 150 workers. And, yes, they bought another hotel to put them in. And why? Because the -- one of my compadre's unions trying to organize -- the unions can't talk to the workers. And you can't talk to the on the job, because only management can do that. That's a captive audience kind of situation. They load them in vans, haul them to this hotel, which is also owned by Opryland, and the union organizers still can't speak to them. Now, there's something wrong with labor laws in this country that allow that kind of thing to happen. They're virtual prisoners. And that's not right. And it ought to be corrected.
THE PRESIDENT: I would like to -- I thought you were going to crack a joke about it. I thought you were going to say that we were promoting hotel sales through our union banks. (Laughter.) Thank you very much.
I want to call on, now, Mike Sturdivant from Mississippi, and then I'd like to invite Karetta Hubbard to make a few remarks, from their experiences.
MR. STURDIVANT: Mr. President, I certainly would like to comment to the fact that you featured education as a part of your economic program here today, because certainly I'm convinced that a sound educational system anywhere is absolutely critical to a sound, good, business economy.
It is interesting to me, as I've heard the different people speak -- the teachers and the presidents and certainly, I don't have any merits in that vein, or academic abilities, but I would like to ask -- to raise a point. You said you wanted some suggestions on how you might improve it.
What's been interesting to me as I've watched the school systems in Mississippi and over the South for that matter, how some of them seem to succeed and do well, consistently, and I mean the systems on the bottom end of the money side of the thing.
I would ask you -- and, yet, I'm looking at other systems where I've seen kids come out of there that really don't effectively know how to communicate. They can't write a decent letter or come up -- it's almost scary to me. But I would say to you, somehow or other, let's get involved and take those districts that are consistently doing well and go find out why. If it was my business, certainly I'd be doing that, and I'd be making that information available to the districts that aren't producing as they should.
I think, particularly of Charles Harrison of Panatack -- (phonetic), Mississippi, that has got an elementary school there today that's been recognized as one of the outstanding schools in the country. And he wins the state thing every year, and he does it in a district that's 40 percent minority, that's number two from the bottom in expenditures for students, so something's going on that's right. And I would say, go on in and find out, and let's see if we can't translate that a little more in the other areas of our state, and certainly the South. It's a pleasure to be with you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MS. HUBBARD: Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to talk about education and training in the workplace. My firm is a human resources consulting firm. We help companies and organizations manage the changing diverse work force. By the year 2000 and actually before then, 85 percent of the new work force will be women, minorities and immigrants. So education and training of that work force becomes a primary important component of our educational system and also our economic development in the country.
We, in our company, look at education and training in the work force. And with regard to women and minorities and immigrants, we still find that there are still glass ceilings for women and concrete ceilings for minorities. But we also find that these barriers can be broken. We find that smart companies that establish family-friendly policies, such as job-sharing, flexible work schedules, telecommuting systems, mentoring programs, coupled with education and training programs for all their employees, are the companies that are on the forefront of these issues, and also are the companies that are working in a progressive way.
Because, once these family-friendly policies are put in place, then these women and minorities are available to take advantage of education and training opportunity. And I'd also like to point out that the success of these programs is not only good for the employee, it's also good for the employer as well.
These programs, once established, create a tremendous amount of loyalty on the part of the employee. They, then, are so loyal to the employer that it reduces turnover and helps productivity. And as far as the companies are concerned, it enables them to better market their services and products in a competitive global marketplace.
Thank you very much.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. We're kind of running out of
time. I want to hear from everybody else. I feel compelled to make a
brief comment in response to what Mr. Sturdivant said, because as Mark
Musick said in his opening remarks, I used to say all the time that
every education problem in America had been solved by somebody,
somewhere. But unlike
the private sector where you would go broke if I.P. did something that you refused to do just because they did it, we don't have the same incentives in the education system.
Also, to be fair, a lot of these teachers and principles are just overloaded, which is why, going back to what Anne Jolly said, one of the reasons that Secretary Riley's worked so hard in this Goals 2000 program just to get these schools just some time to plan for excellence, not a lot of money, just time and space to plan for excellence, we once had two little schools that got national awards in my state at the same time. One of them reduced the dropout rate to zero in a very poor area by identifying troubled kids in the 8th and 9th grades, and making sure that they got their writing skills way up so that they could have high levels of self-expression.
So they did all this serious essay writing way out in the country from a gazillion miles from anywhere, and we couldn't get people to mimic it. We had another rural district that literally quadrupled the test scores of Chapter One kids in the early grades by going to smaller class sizes, having the kids mentor each other and not segregating them off and telling them they were stupid.
And we tried to pay districts to go to this district and look at it and learn from it and go back and put it in. And we had people who would hardly take the money. And I think it's because the schools are overloaded and not organized to plan for this. They're not given the space. So this is not something the federal government can do beyond what we're doing with Goals 2000, but I would say that every state here present, if I had stayed on as a governor, that's one thing I was going to devote the rest of my term to, is figuring out a way to institutionalize reforms of what works, to district, to district, to district. It is the single -- in my judgment, in some ways, the biggest problem in American education, because if you've got something that's working, it's terrible not to have it work everywhere.
I'd like to ask Michael Coles to talk now. He's got a remarkable story, and ask all of you to be as brief as possible. We'll go through Michael Coles, and then Gene Russo from the Communication Workers, and then we'll just have a couple more folks to hear from.
MR. COLES: Hi, Mr. President and Mr. Vice President. I appreciate the opportunity to speak. I've been reminded all day of something that I heard Governor Miller say about a year ago in a speech that he was giving. He said if you ever see a turtle on a fencepost, the one thing you could be sure of, it didn't get there by itself. (Laughter.)
When I think about the ability of government and business to work together, I think it's one of the important challenges that we all have. But I also think, and I can say this as the living proof that the American Dream is still alive in what my company has been able to accomplish. We really believe a strong commitment in giving back to the community, and I think that businesses have to really recognize that they have a responsibility to give back to that community that has helped build and make their businesses successful.
Our company has just initiated an apprenticeship program that's a little bit different than those that have been talked about today. We're in the cookie business, and most kids can really relate to that. We don't make battleships and we don't cut lumber. And we've launched a program which we call "Kid Blink," and we developed this program here in Georgia. We've now expanded it nationwide.
We're going to go into middle schools and kindergartens, and we're going to teach kids how to go into the cookie business. They can relate to it, they can understand it, but more importantly, whether we teach them the cookie business or teach them any other business, we're really teaching them that there is a business that they can go into, that there is opportunity in this country and that they have to at least keep themselves focused on the fact that those opportunities do exist, and we can do that simply by showing them a simple business, at least apparently looks simple, that they might even be able to relate to. It's very much like going into the lemonade business, lemonade stand when they were on their own blocks.
The only other thing I would like to say is, we started this business during the Carter years, and there were incentives that business was given that no longer exist. And as I said, I'd like to see business and government be able to work together, and so I'd like to see some jobs bills that create a reason for businesses to go out and try to educate and hire people that they might not normally go out. It's good for everybody -- go out normally and higher -- it's good for everyone.
I also think that it's very important for businesses to have an incentive to develop child care, because I think as we grow as a nation, child care and, of course, education will be two of the most important problems that businesses will have to face with two working parents, and the ability to keep both of them on the job.
I'd like to thank you for the opportunity to speak, and I've really enjoyed the session. And as someone else said earlier, my faith in America has also been restored.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you.
MR. RUSSO: Mr. President or Mr. Vice President, part of being with CWA, I was hired and worked my early career with Bell South. In the 15 years that I worked there, you can count on one hand the number of training programs that I went to. It wasn't because Bell South did not believe in the training, but the telephone technology in those days was slow and regulated.
Today, we're seeing the explosion of the Information Age, and the technology is changing so drastically that it is leaving some of our members and the employees of Bell South behind.
Fifty percent of all of the jobs that we are doing today did not exist 20 years ago in telecommunications. One- third of what jobs that my members have today will be obsolete in five years. But the most glaring thing is, 50 percent of the knowledge that my members have in Bell South today will be obsolete in three to five years.
We never discussed education in dealing in the collective bargaining process 20 years ago; you wouldn't have seen it. It now has become a great, big issue in bargaining, because we believe that is the security of our members' future. And in 1989, we felt we weren't doing enough, and Bell South and CWA came to an agreement -- it's called the Employment Security Partnership. And the name is very, very important, because it says employment security and partnership. And Bell South and CWA have been a true partner in that this partnership is run on a board of directors equally of CWA members and Bell South management.
We have three CWA members over the nine Southeastern states
that are coordinators and counselors, helping or people understand what
is happening in the future. Bell South made a tremendous commitment in
agreement in bargaining that, in order for our people to take advantage
of this education process, they must know about it. And they literally
took 60,000 employees off the payroll for two hours just to orientate
them what is going on
in the future than how they can education themselves for the jobs of the future.
We only worried about educating someone when they were surplus and their job was surplus, and now it's too late to do that. So we have joined forces with the American Community College Associations, and have them administer our education program through CWA and Bell South. And last year alone, Bell South portion of that, that they committed was $24 million. And we have literally taken people that had no hope in this technology age in the future and tried to reeducate them for the technology change that is coming in the future. Above that, that anybody who takes a course and completes it on their own time in the evening, we even throw in $50 a course, just for incidental expenses of going back and forth.
Our members understand the competition in our industry is coming full-fledged. We know our jobs have got to change, and we know we have to be reeducated. We understand when the company tells us that they have to reengineer to be competitive in the world market. And we accept it as a union. But we feel that reengineering cannot stop just at the downsizing phase. It has to continue to educate the present employees so that they can improve the process, which reengineering is all about, so that we believe that the employees on the payroll of Bell South and the CWA members can compete against anyone in the global market as long as we're trained to do it.
THE PRESIDENT: I'd like to ask the last three people for their brief comments. Linda Chavez Thompson, our good friend, former mayor Maynard Jackson, and Mr. Dennis Bakke. Would you go ahead.
MS. THOMPSON: Thank you, Mr. President, and Mr. Vice President. The buzz word in America today is redesigning and reinventing government. The public employees represented by our union, the American Federal of State, County and Municipal Employees want to be a part of that change. But we feel that we must be as front-line workers the initial -- to initial partnership with government in making those changes.
We believe that public managers can learn a great deal from the workers who are on the front lines. But we need components to be included in making those changes. We need to design a flatter, more responsive bureaucracy by cutting back the number of layers between decision-makers and front-line workers. We need to provide well-targeted, high-quality training to governments employees. And we need to develop partnerships between public employee unions and government to make the process work.
When you redesign or reinvent government, you're talking about public employee jobs and the elimination of job security for those public employees. Therefore, the partnership provides them the opportunity, knowing full well that there are less dollars. There are going to be even lesser dollars if the current mood of the Congress is to cut back on those dollars that come to cities and states and counties. And we need to teach our members the skills that will help them do their jobs better, which means that if they learn how to do their jobs better, the government can do its job better as well.
We have several examples where AFSCME has joined together in partnerships with states, cities and counties across this nation to reinvent government at the state level, at the county level, add at the city level. In Ohio, our AFSCME affiliate, OCSCA, is in fact training workers now, today, for jobs in the future and entering into the 21st century.
We also are part of the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Step-Up program, where AFSCME and other AFL- CIO unions are in fact taking housing residents and training them in building maintenance jobs. And the successes in programs in Baltimore, Chicago, Phoenix and Huntington, West Virginia, now is leading the opportunity for opening more programs in other places, in other cities. These people who graduate from these programs will be offered permanent positions after serving their apprenticeship programs through these programs, in those housing authorities.
AFSCME affiliate, local 1199 in Philadelphia, was recently placed with massive layoffs due to the restructuring of the city's medical college hospital system. Local 1199 worked with those housing -- with those hospital officials to set up a labor management council to address training and job placement issues. This collaborative process identifies workers who are at risk of displacement and provides specifically-tailored training services to help place these at-risk workers in vacant positions with the hospital system. Once you eliminate a position, that person has had no training to move into other positions, that person is out of a job. They're back on welfare; they're on unemployment; they are not a productive worker.
In D.C. 37, AFSCME D.C. 37 in New York City, a training program was set up 20 years ago to provide training funds for workers that were displaced or who needed additional training. In one particular case we had a worker who was having problems in picking up people through the EMS program, simply because they did not understand sign language. The program provided him the additional training that he needed to be able to learn sign language and perform his job better. Many other places we have in New York City as well, a training program to help -- to have welfare recipients in full-time positions eventually with a type of training.
AFSCME as an organization has decided to make the redesigning and the reinventing of government a top priority simply because with the lesser dollar, with the American public now looking at how their tax dollars are being spent, they want a more streamlined government. It cannot be done unless the partnership includes the workers that are doing the job because it is their services to the public that are needed. But at the same time, it is also their dollars and it should be well spent.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.
As I call on Maynard and Dennis, I just told the Vice President something. As I was listening to Linda talk, there's one group of people here we haven't -- we didn't have represented today that we should have. We had people who had been unemployed who lost their jobs, who worked their way back into it. We had remarkable stories of people who had personal adversity and then worked their way back into the work force. But one of the things that is happening today, I'm getting this is letters from friends of mine and reading in the newspapers, is the combination of reinventing government, downsizing the national government. And a lot of the national corporations striving for greater efficiency means that perhaps the biggest squeeze on people who are in danger of losing something they got and not getting it back again are middle level managers.
I noticed, for example, there was an article that I showed
the Vice President the other day on -- one of these endless articles now
being written about affirmative action. And I don't want to get into
that now, but the -- but there was one -- I thought about it because it
was here in Atlanta. I think it was an EPA employee who was a middle
level manager, who said, well, we've got a lot of white, middle level
managers who are losing their jobs. And they think they're being
against now. And I got a letter from a guy I grew up with who had lost his job in a Fortune 500 company, one of three 50-year- old engineers who had been basically downsized or reengineered or whatever.
There's a whole class of people in our society who have played major roles in their communities and their families, been very stabilizing influences, and they think they're being rendered obsolete. And they don't know what they're going to do or whether they'll ever get back the jobs that they had.
I think in the state, county and municipal workers, because of the work you're doing and because we're pushing more responsibilities down to the local level, your membership will probably swell, and probably those that in the management positions in most state and local governments will probably be all right. But if you look at the combination of what is happening rightly in the federal government and of necessity in a lot of the big companies, we may be creating a group of people out here with great talents who are all -- and enormous years of ahead of them, who don't have any place to go.
And we don't have those people represented. And we're going to try to get them at the next meeting. And I just wanted to kind of put that out there. But I thank you, Linda, for what you and AFSCME are doing.
MR. JACKSON: Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, and Secretary Riley, Governor Miller and all the distinguished members of the Cabinet and the staff, we welcome you to Atlanta, which is America's greatest city, with the possible exception, of course, of Little Rock. (Laughter.) Atlanta is not perfect, it's just best. (Laughter.) And that's what I think about America -- it's not perfect, it's just the best.
We are a greatly troubled country, I believe, and I think one of the questions we are facing today is how do we translate what used to be the question in Atlanta, "Is it good for Atlanta?" into the question for America, "Is it good for America?" That was the rationale that had CEOs all across Atlanta for many generations not looking at the bottom line, but despite the bottom line, saying whatever it took to build this great city, that's what we're going to do. Is it good for Atlanta; is it good for America.
How do we inspire and give hope? How do we uplift America and all Americans? How do we, Mr. President, take your phrase -- how do we preserve the American idea? And I believe that the first thing we have to do is set a premise here; one is, no more studies. We've got studies enough to choke a horse. I think the time is for action.
Number two, we cannot consider education and training in a vacuum. Dr. Canada wants to know and the Teacher of the Year, Ms. Jolly, wants to know what's walking through that school door in the morning. Where did they sleep at night? Did they have something to eat? Was it a decent home? Is mama employed? Is there a mother? Is daddy employed? Is there a father? So we cannot consider these in a vacuum.
Therefore, I recommend some of the following considerations. As the former CEO of a major multibillion dollar customer-based organization know as the City of Atlanta, my orientation is toward problem solving. I cannot guarantee you that I've got the answers, but I'm like the guy who was in law school; the teacher said, I cannot guarantee to clear up the confusion, but I can guarantee to make the confusion clear. (Laughter.)
The first thing I'd recommend, Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, is a conference of national urban policy. We live in a nation where 80 percent of the people live on two percent of the land. There is no road map. You have supported that. You have never received the level of support from the Congress that you should have received on that issue, and I think we need to get it. We need to have a conference of national urban policy.
What would it touch on? Number one, the need for more local governments to go into public entrepreneurism. We cannot keep on raising taxes. Local government now must move to a new theme. As James Russell Lowell said, "New occasions teach new duties, and time makes ancient good uncouth." What is the new thing? It's public entrepreneurism. Leveraging the assets owned by the taxpayers. Putting local government into business for the benefit of taxpayers.
Number two, infrastructure investment. We've neglected our infrastructure to our detriment. Billions of dollars need to be invested. There are four bills pending before the Congress now that will let that happen without raising taxes. The Rebuild America Coalition, which I had the pleasure of chairing for three years, 60 national organizations, labor and management, made these recommendations.
Next, I think we need an improved employment and training program. They killed CETA, the Competent Employment and Training Act, a program that was having, in my opinion outstanding results with a seven-percent failing factor -- thievery, whatever it was -- waste and the whole bit. Right? Compare that to the S&L situation and that seven percent on CETA pales by comparison. We need a stronger employment and training act.
I think we need more youth foundations. I have a Maynard Jackson Youth Foundation three years old. We're moving out of peer training. We've graduated Class A -- Class A has been hired now to come back and help us to train Class B -- poor children, Atlanta public high schools, and they must have leadership potential in the opinion of their teachers.
The next thing, I think we need to move to an education that's incentivized -- public education management. Management. The speed of the boss is the speed of the crew. Good boss, good crew. Bad boss, bad crew. We need to pay teachers more money and we need to give them bonuses over and above the base salary. We need to have site-based management with the principals given the authority to make that school work. And they ought to be paid consistent with their success. We do it in business; we need to do it, in my opinion, in education.
We need to repeal the '86 Tax Act insofar as it affects housing mortgage bonds. If we want to know what happened to homelessness, took 80 percent of the federal money out of housing and then sent it to the private sector -- no more incentives to build housing. We need to change that.
The next point would be equal economic opportunity. Equal economic opportunity. In my opinion, affirmative action is going to be redefined -- I don't care what they call it, but it's not preferences. It's not quotas. The question on the California ballot is a trick. Nobody is for preferences. So that's a case -- and everybody is for that proposition. Yet nobody is for that proposition in their right mind because they know what is intended.
It is my opinion that we must seek to empower what, in
effect, is the ninth largest gross national product "nation" in the
world, and that's black America. Bigger than Canada and Mexico put
together. Not 8,000 miles away, but right across town. A Third World
nation in the ghettos and barrios of
America. Can be enabled to be economically empowered to trade with America, with American goods and American services, to pay their own way. It's like James Brown once said, a great Georgian, "I don't want nobody to give me nothing. Just open up the door and I'll get it myself." (Laughter.)
I think we also need -- and I'll hurry on here -- I think we need to understand that the South is where it is economically because we are an extraordinary region. By some convoluted methodology, southern integration, comparatively speaking, is more successful than other regions of the United States. The joke goes in the North, whites don't care how close blacks get as long as blacks don't get too high. And that in the South, whites don't care -- I'm sorry, opposite. Whites don't care in the North how high up you go as long as you don't get to close; and the opposite of that is true in the South. Whatever the reason, the bottom line is that could it be only a coincidence? And the answer is, no, it could not be that here in this region, dynamic-economically, we have an example of how integration ought to work. It's far from being perfect, but it is definitely beyond what it used to be.
And the three most educationally integrated states in America are Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia. I believe there's a tie-in. I believe there is a causal connection.
Finally, I think we need an aggressive, no-nonsense plan to make capital available to African Americans, Hispanic Americans, other minorities, and women to grow this economy. If there is no ladder to success that works, if hope is another empty promise, we won't have to worry about the so-called angry white man, but we will have to worry about the angry black man, in my opinion.
In closing, I will remind us of what Mr. Justice Cardozo once said. He said, "Danger invites rescue, and a cry of distress is a summons to relief."
Mr. President, the cry of distress is out there. I thank you and the Vice President for leading us toward relief. Educationally, I think we need to teach tolerance everywhere, and this is an excellent start in the right direction. Thank you. (Applause.)
THE PRESIDENT: Dennis?
MR. BAKKE: Mr. President, following the basketball analogy, having to follow Maynard Jackson on his home court is no fair. (Laughter.)
I guess it's probably inevitable that at an economic conference we take everything from an economic prospective -- education, health care, jobs, quality of life. I hope, Mr. President, you will remind us that virtues, character, principles, values and faith, even in this context, are more important to life and to our future than money and economics.
Three quick comments. One, in the area where we have the most learning possibility that takes place in the early years especially, we need a lot more emphasis in keeping fathers in the home, fathers and husbands taking care of their responsibilities. And I wish we could continue to talk about that. I have no idea how to do it, but we've got to have more fatherhood responsibility in this country.
Second is on our public schools; it's related. We need to
encourage our parents to take more responsibility back for their
children's education. And that may be at the expense of professional
school administrators and educators, but we need to make that happen.
It may mean that we're going to have to break up our huge school
districts and our big schools -- break them up and give them back to the
communities and to parents. We may even have to use and experiment with
vouchers -- not for
private school, but for public schools, to get more diversity and more experimentation, more power in the hands of parents.
And while we're at it, why don't we go back to a curriculum that integrates math, science, literature with more important things like teaching right and wrong, responsibility, virtues, and character development.
Last point. In the workplace -- and I think everybody said, in the workplace, probably, other than the first few years of life, the biggest potential for learning that we have -- Mr. President, I love your new voucher initiative, because it puts the power for the education in the hands of the trainee instead of the trainer. We need a lot more of that.
We all know that we learn a whole lot more from when we are experiencing -- actually doing a job. I dare say you learned more in the first month of your presidency than all the years -- about government -- than you learned in all your years at Georgetown. I'm not sure you learned a lot -- no, it's a good school. (Laughter.) Right across the street.
But we can't take advantage of this phenomenon in the workplace, it seems to me, unless we accelerate the transformation of our workplaces into rich learning environments by radically decentralizing decision-making and broadening responsibility for all working people.
Now, Ms. Thompson mentioned some of this. We don't need more training classes nearly -- not nearly as much as we need to eliminate the classic management-labor structure in organizations and systems. I mean, get rid of the words labor and management, and go to a place -- these are the systems that came out of the Industrial Revolution assumptions about people who seek to control and protect and take care of workers, and in so doing, we dehumanized people. We minimized decision-making and responsibility, and thus, we reduce learning.
The greatest possible learning opportunity we have -- one you're doing in government -- we have a lot of talk about costs and even efficiency, which I don't like very well, either, as a word for organization because we're talking about people, not machines -- effectiveness. But the learning opportunity comes from people being empowered and being able to make decisions and have experience in that. And we need a lot more work on that, both in the government and the private sector.
THE PRESIDENT: Good job. He always makes me think about things, too. (Laughter.)
This is a fascinating panel. I thank you all. We're going to have no more than a five-minute break, and the Vice President is going to lead the last panel.
END3:16 P.M. EST