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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release December 3, 1997
          Strengthening Public Schools By Raising Standards, 
          Expanding Opportunity, and Requiring Accountability 

December 3, 1997

OPPORTUNITY AND RESPONSIBILITY FOR REACHING CHALLENGING ACADEMIC STANDARDS. The Administration is developing an Education Opportunity Zones initiative. This competitive challenge grants program is aimed at demonstrating comprehensive, coordinated and effective approaches to expanding opportunities for students in high poverty urban and rural school districts, coupled with a balanced approach to increased responsibility for results for schools, educators and students themselves. High-poverty school districts will be eligible for additional Federal funding if (1) they now adopt tough reform measures -- like those adopted in Chicago -- that make administrators, principals, teachers, and students truly accountable for success or failure, and (2) in time, show real improvements in student achievement.

To receive funds, local school districts will demonstrate how they will:

School districts can use Education Opportunity Zone funds to:

Examples of Local School Districts Using These Approaches. (See Attachment)

Spreading Practices Nationwide. These are the kinds of approaches that must be replicated everywhere in order to strengthen public schools. The President's Education Opportunity Zones challenge grants will help demonstrate how they can work and spread them to cities and rural communities with students that can benefit from them the most. They will help make sure that our most disadvantaged students are held to high academic standards and helped to reach them. They will help make sure that disadvantaged students can choose among good public schools, and are not trapped in failing schools. They will help reach the President's goal of having at least one Master Teacher in every school, which is particularly important for students in high poverty schools, because these schools often have the least well prepared teachers.

Budget. This initiative has not yet been finalized. Consultation with the education community, state and local officials, higher education, community groups and others is still underway. Final budget numbers will not be determined until the FY 1999 budget process is completed.