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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 20, 1997

Radio Actuality of the President

THE PRESIDENT: A new study released by the Department of Education today confirms what most of us knew instinctively already -- students, especially low income students, who challenge themselves with rigorous math and science courses in high school are much more likely to go on to college.

I've worked hard to make college affordable for all Americans. Our increased Pell Grants and work study positions, the new Hope Scholarship tax credits for the first two years of college and other tax credits in education IRAs for the remaining years, graduate school and other training -- all these will truly open the doors of college to all who are willing to work for it.

We've addressed the economic barriers, now we have to tackle the academic ones. While the studies show that taking algebra in middle school was essential to preparing for advanced math and science classes, just 25 percent of our 8th graders took algebra in 1996. We must do better. That's why I call upon all Americans to support our voluntary national tests for 4th grade reading and 8th grade math, to ensure that all our children meet the high standards of academic excellence they'll need to succeed in tomorrow's world. Our math test will make sure our children master algebra and prepare for math and science courses that lead to college.

I call upon Congress to end the delays. Our children are counting on us.