THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT DURING EDUCATION CONFERENCE CALL The Roosevelt Room
2:25 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Can you all hear me?
SUPERINTENDENTS: Yes, yes.
THE PRESIDENT: That's great. Well, I'm on the phone here with Secretary Riley. And I want to thank all you superintendents for joining me today on this conference call to discuss the importance of continuing our national commitment to education. All of you know better than I that America has just started back to school.
Over the last week I have met with chief executive officers from major corporations, such as IBM and TRW, with mayors and county executives from large and small cities, and yesterday with college students from 10 different universities in five states. And I have just come from a meeting with some of our young national service corps -- AmeriCorps -- participants, along with college presidents and business leaders who support their involvement.
And everywhere I go, when I deal with people who are working with Americans who are struggling to make the most of their own lives or trying to help our country adjust to the global economy, I hear the same message: It is wrong for our economy to be growing with so many hardworking Americans' incomes not growing. And everywhere I hear the same response: The answer is to give people a better education, to give our young people the tools they need to learn and to give all Americans a chance to build better lives.
That's why I presented to Congress a balanced budget, which shows that we can get rid of the deficit and still invest more in education and training, to put our young people and our future first. That's why we have committed ourselves to a greater investment in Head Start, to the Goals 2000 program that many of you are very familiar with, to decreasing class sizes through programs like Title I, to the Safe and Drug-free Schools program.
These are not bureaucratic programs. These are programs that relate to the future of our children, the strength of our economy, and therefore the future of all the rest of us in America.
I know that it is easy to cut these programs here in Washington. We are a long way from the schools and the grass roots. You're a long way from the human consequences of those cuts. But these things actually mean something where all of you live and work. And that's what I want you to talk about.
For example, four schools in Portland, Oregon, helping ninth and 10th graders to reach higher standards and math and science, will lose their funding, just at the time when we know our young people are taking more advanced courses, doing more homework and trying to harder to measure up to global standards of excellence. Four hundred and fifty teaching assistants and other staff who help children with basic reading, writing and math skills will have to be laid off in Miami. There are examples like this all across the country.
That's why we've had such incredibly strong bipartisan business support for our education budget.
Joe Gorman, the Chief Executive Officer of TRW, said last week that, and I quote, "Goals 2000 is critically important. Far more than dollars are involved. It provides incentives to states to change themselves within their educational systems." Lou Gerstner, the CEO of IBM, said, Goals 2000 is the fragile beginning of the establishment of a culture of measuring standards and accountability in our country. We have to go way beyond Goals 2000, but if we lose Goals 2000 it is, and I quote, "an incredibly negative setback for our country."
So I think that we've got good, bipartisan support in the grass roots for continuing to invest in education. We are only helping people who are willing to help themselves. We are not giving anything to people who don't need it, and we are not giving things to people who won't use it. We're just making an investment in America's future. And I hope that together all of us can succeed in securing both a balanced budget and an education budget that will be good for America's future.
I'd like to ask Secretary Riley to say a few words, and then I'd like to hear from all of you. Mr. Secretary.
SECRETARY RILEY: Thank you, Mr. President. It's a pleasure to share this conference with you and these six fine superintendents. It's a very important time for education. It's back-to-school time. All parents are excited, along with their children and teachers and whatever. And we've got an awful lot to do. We know that.
But we do have some good results that we're looking at as the year starts that sustained improvement really is beginning to show up -- things like the math standards that have been in effect for several years, math and science scores are way up, SAT scores are up, dropouts are down, college-going rate is up.
Those are things to be very pleased with, but some very difficult challenges that face us right along with that. One is the increased enrollment that we face -- really a tidal wave of teenagers that are in our schools right now, the baby boom echo; more difficult students to educate in some cases; language problems or whatever; more importance of education to jobs. The more growth in knowledge we have the more complex it is.
And as I move around the country, Mr. President -- I'll be in Memphis tomorrow with Dr. House at one of your schools -- and get to talk to parents and teaches firsthand is one message they say to send back, and that is that we do need to invest more in education, not less, but more.
And what's really at stake here is the future of this country. And I tell you, parents are worried sick about the future of their children -- 98 percent, by a recent poll, want their children to go to college. And I agree with them. And we have to see that that's true and possible. And a sharp break in the American tradition of bipartisan support is really one that concerns me, that some of these cuts are really closing the door of educational opportunity for many of the young people that the six of you are out there trying to educate. And it's the wrong thing to do.
Thank you, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Now I'd like to call on the superintendents to speak. And I'd like to emphasize one more time something that -- the American taxpayers always say that they don't want us giving anybody something for nothing. They don't want us giving people things they don't need. And they're right about that.
But we're talking here about a student population that we now know is working harder, doing more homework, investing more in their own future, and understanding more about education. And as I said, I was just yesterday, I was in -- at Southern Illinois University. And I met with 11 recipients of student aid. And every one of them was a working person struggling to get a good education to make their own lives better and this country stronger. So that's what we're talking about here. And it's a good expenditure of our tax dollars.
I'd like to begin by calling on the Superintendent of the Dade County, Florida, schools, Octavio Visiedo. And, sir, you're the first up. Just say whatever's on your mind.
MR. VISIEDO: Thank you, Mr. President. I think a lot of the introductory comments are very pertinent. I think you made reference already to the fact that we had to lay off several paraprofessionals. And clearly, not only were they assisting in the classroom, trying to do a better job with the reading and writing skills that we're trying to give our kids here, but many of these were like community liaison specialists. And I think all of us, regardless of party affiliation, agree that parental involvement is of absolute critical importance.
And many of the individuals that will have to be laid off in this particular Chapter I program did, in fact, deal with community participation. So that's an issue that was very near and dear to our heart. As a matter of fact, I believe yesterday was the last day, and those people for all practical purposes are out there in the street. And those services are not being provided to the students.
And just one further point. I think here in Dade County, we have such a large growth of immigrant population. Last year alone, we received over 15,000 immigrant students into our school system. And parental participation and community liaison is so important, because many of these parents are just not comfortable walking into the large institutions that our schools represent, because they come from foreign countries where that is just not the norm. So I'm afraid that in this particular case, not only are we doing a disservice to the students, but we're doing a very serious disservice to those immigrants and other community people that need large institutions like ours to reach out and make schools a little bit more user-friendly.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much. I'd like to now ask the Superintendent of the Portland, Oregon, schools to speak, Jack Bierwirth. Mr. Bierwirth.
MR. BIERWIRTH: Good morning, Mr. President. Good morning, Mr. Secretary. I really am excited about the fact that you're calling attention to what could be an historic retreat from some great things going on in education.
Affluent families have always had a chance to send their kids to nursery schools. This country really made a momentous decision when it created the Head Start program to give kids the chance to come to kindergarten ready to go to school as well prepared and no matter what the background. And I am really afraid that we are going to retreat from that. And it will not be something that will show up in the short run, but it will pay -- we will pay an enormous price in the long run.
We have seen extraordinary progress here in Portland. Over the past decade our average scores have risen by over a grade level. This past year our SAT scores were the highest they have been in at least 25 years. Our math SAT scores were not only well above the national average, they actually exceeded the state average, despite the fact that we test a considerably higher percentage of our students.
I am -- as concerned as I am about the money, I am also very concerned that we are going to back away from the idea of national standards. I realize that they would not be mandatory, but it seems to me that this country needs to set high standards and commit ourselves to figuring out how to get all kids to that level.
Goals 2000 was the first significant step in that direction since I came into education 25 years ago. And I think it would send a horrible message to kids, to parents, to teachers if we were to back away from that kind of commitment now. We would be implicitly saying to the children of the United States that we as adults can't figure out what they need to know and can't get ourselves together on that. We need to press ahead with that, and that is as important as the money.
THE PRESIDENT: I thank you for saying that. I want to emphasize, because there's been some -- a little bit of controversy about Goals 2000 that I think the genius of the program is that under Secretary Riley's leadership, we have done more to give more flexibility to local school districts and individual schools to creatively pursue their own solutions for excellence while trying to develop national standards so that parents could know what their children should know and whether they're learning it. And it seems to me that was a very good bargain for the American people and one we ought not to back off of now.
Q And it's beginning to pay off very well out here.
THE PRESIDENT: That's the thing. It's just beginning to work. And I really appreciate you saying that.
I'd like to call on Dr. Jerry House, the Superintendent of the Memphis school systems. Dr. House.
DR. HOUSE: Thank you, Mr. President. And I'd like to talk about two programs that are targeted for drastic funding cuts that will seriously affect the education of children in the Memphis City Schools. And those are the child nutrition and the Drug-free Schools program.
Of the 110,000 students in the Memphis City Schools, 65 percent of these children are served by the free and reduced lunch program with projected cuts of about $5 million in revenue and commodities. That means that 35,000 children will no longer receive school meals. And it's so unfortunate because these are children whose only nutritious meals of the day are usually those meals served at school. And we know that hungry children certainly can't learn.
We, as parents, as educators, as citizens want safe and drug-free schools for our communities and for our children. And the Drug-free School program has been helping lead us toward this goal, but the reduction in funds to this program will hinder us in reaching the goal. For example, in Memphis, over the past two years, we've seen our Drug-free Schools budget reduced from $1.2 million to $500,000. And if the projected reductions of an additional $300,000 -- $200,000 to $300,000 really happens, then this program -- a very successful program -- will virtually be eliminated, and we will no longer have the support for dealing with the important and sensitive issues of alcohol and drug abuse, of violence prevention. And programs and training that we have begun in peer mediation, in conflict resolution, in gang awareness will be greatly reduced.
Mr. President, I want to also mention a special project that we have implemented here, or have begun here in the Memphis City Schools -- it's called the Smoke-Free Class of 2000. And it was initiated four years ago when the Class of 2000 was in fourth grade. And our goal is to make this class smoke-free by graduation.
THE PRESIDENT: Good for you.
DR. HOUSE: And we're doing this by teaching them the dangers of smoking, by teaching them resistance techniques and how to handle pressure. And the ending of this program would certainly be contrary to your emphasis on the prevention of teenage smoking.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you very much, and thank you for telling us about your smoke-free program. I appreciate that, and I hope you are very successful with it.
I think -- I'd like to make just two points here. One is -- one the Secretary of Education made me clearly aware of. And that is that we're fixing to have another big increase in school students, what Secretary Riley called the "baby boom echo." And that means that these reductions in the school lunch program will be much more severe than they might look on paper because we have calculated -- in our budget we asked for money based on the increase in student population we know we're going to have. And a disproportionate number of these young people, of course, do come from low-income families and often don't get the kind of nourishment they need.
The other point I want to make is that the Safe and Drug-free Schools program passed as a bipartisan program. This was not, when it was started, a partisan issue. This was a bipartisan issue. And one of the things that the Republicans have always said is that we needed to do more to change people's behavior as it relates to drugs and violence, that we can't just concentrate on drug treatment; we can't just concentrate on punishing people; we can't just concentrate on trying to interdict drugs when they come in this country. We have to do more to change people's behavior.
This program works on changing people's behavior, and, therefore, to undermine it and not give the schools the resources they need to deal with this terrific problem, it seems to me to run counter to the position that they've taken consistently, at least, since I've been here in Washington for the last two and a half years.
So I appreciate what you said, and I hope we can do well by both those programs before this is over.
I'd like to call on the Superintendent from Milwaukee now, Robert Jasna to say whatever he would like to say.
Q Good afternoon, Mr. President, and thank you for this opportunity.
Milwaukee is a large, urban school district that has used their federal dollars very effectively. We are a district that I feel very strongly have turned the corner, and now I'm greatly concerned about the possible setback that may be brought about, these federal reductions. In fact, I would ask all of our legislators, since our children are our most valuable and precious resource, why aren't our children held harmless from these drastic budget cuts?
Let me give you just a few examples of how these cuts are going to affect the Milwaukee public schools. In reference to the Safe and Drug-free programs that you have just mentioned, we do have a Safe and Drug-free program in many of our schools, and they have served as models for the rest of the nation. In fact, Clark (phonetic) Elementary School and Hawley (phonetic) Elementary School were nationally-recognized in June of this year at the White House because of their Safe and Drug-free School program. The Milwaukee schools Safe and Drug-free program is funded totally out of federal dollars. The loss of $513,000 out of a budget of $900,000 will actually devastate that program because 57 percent of the funding is going to be eliminated.
And, also, the dollars for Safe and Drug-free schools have been decentralized directly to our schools. That money is currently in the school budgets so that schools can make the decisions that are necessary to implement the programs that they feel are going to best serve the needs of their students. Now, we are going to have to ask principals, staffs and parents to determine if these programs can continue with such a severe funding loss.
Another area that's very critical is School-to-Work and vocational education. We are considered to be a national leader in School-to-Work or school-to-careers. A loss of $332,000 in Carl Perkins funding would cut directly into the school to work integrated studies program that we offer hundreds of students at five of our high schools. These programs is where we actually integrate mathematics, English, science and other subject areas in a rigorous and high-standards curriculum. This loss of $332,000 is the funding that is needed to keep those programs operational.
At the same time, I would like to mention that reduction in both the federal School-to-Work dollars and Carl Perkins could result in reductions in our efforts to implement our School-to-Work program, which actually begins at kindergarten and goes to Grade 12 and beyond. This also may lead to the elimination of our new and highly successful youth apprenticeship programs, such as in finance and also in graphic arts.
And, lastly, Mr. President, the cuts with Title I and also its relationship to class size. At this time 72 percent of our students qualify for a free or a reduced lunch. The loss of $7 million in Title I funds would have a direct impact on the poorest children in our community. Title I reading and math classes, those class sizes will probably double from 15 to 1 or to 30 to 1 because of that potential loss of staff. And at the same time, programs in the area of technology, which are so critical,where we accelerate our student learning, they also may be affected.
And lastly, some of our Title I four-year-old kindergarten classes would not just see a class size increase; in fact, those classes probably will be eliminated. A loss of funding will mean that there could be no dollars available to fund the teacher in that class, meaning an end to some very important early childhood classes.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Jasna. As you know, a lot of -- this conversation is being held not only in the presence of representatives of the national media here, but for regional media around the country. So I think I should make two points about the very important comment you've made.
First of all, the School-to-Work program, which you discussed, is basically the effort of the local school districts around the country supported by federal and sometimes by state funds to train people both academically and vocationally while they're in school, both in the school and in the workplace, and to continue that training after they leave high school so they have a chance to get a good job with a growing income.
In the United States, because we don't have a comprehensive system of training people who don't go on to colleges, we often find that the earnings of people without a college education are dropping dramatically and have been for 20 years now.
The School-to-Work program is an attempt to build in a flexible American way the kind of systems that the Germans, for example, have had for many years, which have led to rising incomes for a lot of their workers without university degrees, but with very good education and very good training.
So this would hit a huge percentage of young American workers who have the chance to escape the declining earnings that have plagued non-college educated Americans for 20 years now.
And on the class size issue, I just want to mention one thing to hammer this home. There has been an enormous amount of educational research in the last 10 years especially demonstrating that if you can get class sizes down to under 20 to 1, especially --you mentioned you had class sizes of 15 to 1 -- that kids with serious learning problems can dramatically improve with that kind of student-teacher ratio.
So if you have to double it, there's no question that the learning capacity of our system or our teaching capacity will go way down. And I really appreciate both the points you made.
MR. JASNA: Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: I'd like to now call on a longtime friend of mine, the Superintendent of the Philadelphia schools, David Hornbeck. David, are you there?
MR. HORNBECK: I am here, Mr. President. Thank you very much. And thanks for your good leadership on these issues.
With 210,000 youngsters in Philadelphia, 80 percent of whom eligible for school lunch reductions in cost and 55 percent on public assistance, if these cuts go through, we're facing a wasted future, not only here in this city but in the country with millions of more children being left behind.
I share the views of all my colleagues on Title I and Safe and Drug-free Schools and the School-to-Work, all of which are centerpieces of our children-achieving initiative here.
I want to focus just for a moment on two or three of these. Let me point to Goals 2000 first. The biggest single barrier we face in Philadelphia and I think that the nation faces is low expectations. That has become a self-fulfilling prophecy across this country. We don't expect children to learn a lot of math and science and history and English and geography. And they fulfill those expectations. And like manner, as we have begun to set higher standards with national leadership under Goals 2000, that's beginning to turn around.
A second huge problem in school reform is that we've been timid, incremental and piecemeal in our approach to school reform. And Goals 2000 provides leadership for attacking education problems comprehensively without, as you pointed out a moment ago, tying our hands in any way. And for the Goals 2000 to be eliminated, it would be a real body blow, I think, to serious school reform all across this country.
The second thing I wanted to observe is that here in Philadelphia, we've got a great Head Start program. But there are 15,000 kids who are eligible who aren't served simply because it's not there. And if these cuts to Head Start/early childhood go through, that's just crazy when we know that kids learn best. It's easier to build a child than it is to fix an adult, and Head Start is crucial to that.
And, finally, just a word on AmeriCorps. I think last year we had the largest number of AmeriCorps teams in schools than any school system in the nation. We had 120 AmeriCorps members, and they were so terrific that we have doubled them to 240 members across this school district this year. And last year each recruited an average of 20 neighborhood people as school volunteers. And that's important because the public has got to be engaged in this business. School systems can't do this by themselves; it's a partnership with parents and the wider community. And AmeriCorps has been so important in our own efforts to that end here in Philadelphia.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, David, and thank you for what you said about Goals 2000. I think one of the problems we've had with Goals 2000 is that only the educators have understood it. You know, it doesn't ring any bells in the public mind. And I think when people understand it's about high expectations, high standards and grass-roots reform, it will help us to continue the work.
On AmeriCorps, let me say one of the things that came out today -- today we had representatives of most of the colleges and universities in Rhode Island, and business leaders from Rhode Island and Boston that are supporting it. And we also had a man who worked as President Ford's Commissioner of Education who had evaluated the program. And they said that one of the attacks on AmeriCorps was that if young people got paid for their college education for volunteering in their communities, it would run volunteers off, and that quite to the contrary, the average AmeriCorps volunteer had generated 12 more volunteers. And you say in Philadelphia it's up to 20 in the schools, so that's a wonderful statement, and I thank you for your good work and for what you said today.
Now I want to call on a gentleman who was here just a few days ago to visit with me about some of these issues, Albert Thompson, the Superintendent of the Buffalo, New York, schools.
Q Good afternoon, Mr. President. I want to thank you for your leadership in the fight for education. (Inaudible) -- your veto of the proposed rescission funds in education and the vetoes you've threatened for the proposed labor, health and human services and education appropriations.
These are important for our country, and we applaud you for doing that. Let me give you a couple of examples of how some of these cuts might affect our district. I have a school called the Houghten (phonetic) Academy in my school district that has 100 percent of its children above the state reference points in achievement. Because of cuts we've already taken in our school district, this program has lost valuable remedial reading and remedial math services. So there are children who have been achieving to very high standards that we're going to not be able to serve because of the cuts.
If the cuts go through in Chapter I, this school and other schools are going to be devastated, because these programs have made a difference. Schools like School 77, which has a large, limited English-speaking population, has been able to get the services they need to help their children achieve at or above the district average. These are children who depend, as in other districts, on the school lunch program for nutrition, on Head Start, on the Drug-Free School program to formulate the environment around which their lives are built.
Handicapped children who receive special services have lost services because we've had to cut programs -- those Chapter I remedial programs that provided them the additional services and allowed them to achieve like regular kids.
Children in vocational programs which, in our case, begin in Grade 1 through 12, have had their programs cut or will be cut entirely if the cuts go through in vocational education and in Goals 2000. We can't build a program which predicts for our kids success in the year 2000 and beyond if these kinds of bipartisan cuts are made.
We support the program that you've put forward, and we -- we -- (inaudible) -- school district and the council of -- (inaudible) -- schools are going to work with you whatever way we can to help prevent them and to overcome them. It's important that the federal government continues to assist local school districts, because districts like ours lack the local resources to close the gap resulting from the proposed cuts.
Our national agenda is to recognize the economic and social value of education and a continued investment in the education of America's urban pupils, is critical to our survival in a world-class economy.
The Congress needs to weigh its investment in education in different terms -- in terms of the investment in human capital. The unit cost of prisons far outstrip the cost of education. The unit costs of -- (inaudible) -- social problems far outstrip the cost of prevention. Support for education, we believe, is the best welfare reform. And support for education is the best economic reform. And we need your continued support, and we're going to work with you to help get -- (inaudible).
SECRETARY RILEY: Mr. President, I know you've been impressed, as I have, with these very interesting observations from these fine educators. I really think it's fair to say that this House bill that cuts $3.8 billion out of education in one year is really out of touch with the American people. If you look what it is they're cutting, the things that you all have been talking about, they are things that the American people support -- reading, writing, math, basic skills for poor children in this country; of high and challenging standards; parent involvement under Goals 2000; technology, all of the things that it means to raise standards and excellence; Safe and Drug-free schools; and then, of course, something that you all are feeding into, the access to college, the wonderful college and university system we have. And they're trying to cut over a period of seven years close to $11 billion out of that and cut direct lending and so forth.
So I think it's clear to me, Mr. President, that we are on the side of the American people, and we are on the side of the future. The statement Jack Bierwirth made about if this went through it would be a historic retreat of the nation's support for education, has always been bipartisan. And I hope in the Senate we see it become that again and we can move this country forward.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.
Let me just close by thanking all of you for the work you're doing out there everyday, and through you, your principals and your teachers and the parents that are helping you. You know, this issue -- I wanted to do this call today to make it clear that this issue is not just another money issue; this is about the future of this country. And these programs we're talking about, every one has been enacted or expanded with bipartisan support. And the direction that I have taken since I've been President, working with Secretary Riley, rooted in our experience as governors with people like you, has been to focus on high expectations, high standards and high accountability, and rewarding the assumption of personal responsibility by students.
These are the things that the American people know we need to do. And everybody knows we can't turn around the stagnation of American incomes unless we dramatically increase the output but also the investment in American education.
So I think that you know that history is on your side, that right is on your side. We're just going to have to keep working here so that we can prevail in Washington and make sure that here in Washington people understand the consequences of what they do out there where you live. And you have gone a long way to help us make that case today, and we're very, very grateful to you.
SUPERINTENDENTS: Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Good-bye.
Q Mr. President, do you think you're going to be able to save these programs? It looks like there's a real wall there.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I do, because I think -- I think that -- keep in mind, if you look at the educational programs that I started here, like Goals 2000, the Safe and Drug-free Schools program, the School-to-Work program, the AmeriCorps program, or if you look at the ones we've expanded, like Head Start, or the ones we've reformed, like the Chapter I program, without exception, these programs had bipartisan support, not only out in the country but in the Congress.
Now the Congress is basically operating within a budget resolution which has an arbitrary time frame of seven years and an arbitrary tax cut of $250 billion, and, I think, a very modest estimate of revenue growth, or economic growth for America -- 2.3 percent, which is less than we've grown for the last 25 years. Presumably, they believe that if we balance the budget we'll grow faster, not slower. In other words, I don't think they want to balance the budget to give America a low-grade economic infection.
So I believe when we -- when we start to talk about these things and we pull out what has historically been there, which is the bipartisan support for education plus what everyone understands, which is that we've not got 20 years of stagnant incomes in this country and the only way -- the only way to turn it around is to raise the educational level -- I think we have an excellent chance of saving these programs because they work; they're good; they're grass-roots oriented; they're not federal bureaucracies.
Q Mr. President, if you're to avoid the train wreck that you -- (inaudible) -- earlier, some in Congress have suggested that a budget summit of some kind may be the only way to work out these very stark differences between you and the Republican leadership. Is that something that you'd be willing to agree to?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think the discussion of the summit is premature at this time. I do believe, as I said earlier today, I've seen in some of the comments of some of the Republican leaders the prospect that we might be able to bridge these differences. I'm willing to reach across the bridge, but it takes two people to reach across a bridge to meet in the middle somewhere. So I think we can do it. We're just going to have to work at it.
But the first thing we ought to do, and what I'm trying to do here today and what I'm trying to do this whole week with this back-to-school theme, is to try to lift this issue beyond politics, beyond partisan politics and beyond Washington politics. That is, why are we balancing the budget? Because we want to lift debt off our children, and we want to reduce borrowing now so we'll have more money available in the private sector to generate jobs and incomes. That's why we're doing it.
Why did they propose a tax cut? Why do I propose a tax cut -- even though we're very different? Because we think it will make family life better; it will make child rearing stronger; it will make the economy stronger; it will make America a more solid, stronger country.
If those are our objectives then we have to pursue balancing the budget and reducing taxes in a way consistent with our objectives -- not a partisan deal, not a political deal. Education, if you take it out of the equation, the objectives will fail. That's the point I'm trying to make. That's the point I want you to focus on. And it is not necessary to make these education cuts to balance the budget. I think we've got a real chance to make that case, and I'm very, very hopeful.
Q Mr. President, word is starting to come out about the aborted bomb plot against the IRS center in Austin, Texas. Have you been briefed on that, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: No.
Q Do you think you're going to get a continuing resolution while this debate goes on?
THE PRESIDENT: I certainly hope so. I think that's the responsible thing to do. And I think that -- my guess is that there's a good chance that will occur.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 3:03 P.M. EDT