THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Vice President
Remarks of Vice President Al Gore (As prepared for delivery) Clinton Administration's Hispanic Education Action Plan Announcement Roosevelt Room, The White House Monday, February 2, 1998
Buenas Tardes y Bienvenidos a la Casa Blanca!
Last Tuesday night, in his State of the Union address, President Clinton emphasized what we all know to be true -- that this new Information Age is, first and foremost, an education age. If we want to give all our children the chance to live out their dreams, we must make sure that all our children have a world-class education -- and the opportunity to bring their God-given talents to full bloom.
That's why the President has proposed an aggressive education agenda: 100,000 new teachers to make class size smaller in the early grades. Tax cuts to help build and modernize our schools. An end to social promotion. More public school choice. Higher standards. More Head Start. Connecting every classroom to the Information Superhighway, and training teachers to use the new technology. Opening the doors to college wider than ever before in our history.
We're making a lot of progress. And yet, even the most successful efforts to renew our schools will help only those who stay in school.
As the final report of the Hispanic Dropout Project makes clear, we have more work to do in this area. We cannot seize the enormous opportunities of the 21st Century if a large percentage of our children trade the bright opportunities of a college graduate for the dark prospects of a high school drop out.
And America cannot afford the inequalities created when certain racial or ethnic groups develop just a fraction of their talents and abilities. As I said before, the President's Advisory Board on Race has repeatedly pointed out that equal and excellent education is the single most promising approach for closing the opportunity gap among different races and ethnic groups. And, as every parent knows, educacion es los mas importante.
We share that conviction, and that's why the President asked Gene Sperling, Mickey Ibarra, Maria Echaveste, Secretary Riley, and so many others to work with the Hispanic Caucus, the Hispanic Dropout Project, and the President's Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans -- and develop a plan for addressing this pressing national issue.
As a result of those efforts, President Clinton and I are proposing today the first-ever national action plan to help Hispanic-American students stay in school -- and succeed in school. This unprecedented, $600 million commitment will help Latino youngsters master the basics of reading and math; it will help them learn English, stay in school, and prepare for college. And ultimately, it will help them succeed in college -- so they can graduate and seize all the promise of our future.
This new initiative will also help Hispanic adults to learn English, and will expand educational opportunities for migrant youth and adults. Our commitment is clear: we want Hispanic Americans to be full partners in America's progress and prosperity. And we will act on that commitment at the highest levels of our nation.
The Hispanic American community is brimming with talent, spirit, and potential, and they care deeply about the education and future of their children.
The whole country should share that concern, because we can never fulfill our promise as a country, until all our children fulfill their promise as individuals. That's why we must give Latino children a better chance than ever before to develop their potential -- so they can contribute the full force of their talent to the success of America in the 21st century.
Let me say, on a personal note, that I have always believed that the United States has a special mission in human history. Our mission is to prove to the world that people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds, of all faiths and creeds, can not only work and live together, but can enrich and ennoble both themselves and our common purpose.
Expanding opportunity through education -- giving all our children the tools to succeed, and move forward together -- is at the very core of that mission.
There's an old Spanish expression: "El que se duerme se lo lleva la corriente." [He who falls asleep is taken by the current.] We cannot be taken by the current. We must move forward together against the current if America is to prove what so many nations have failed to prove: that men and women of different racial and ethnic groups can live together prosperously and harmoniously as neighbors, and as equals. Thank you very much.