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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release July 29, 1998


I will not allow America to abandon our vital mission of preparing our children for the world of the 21st Century. I will not allow our 21st Century children to enter the future with inadequate 20th Century skills.

                                  President Bill Clinton
                                  July 29, 1998

In a speech to the 2nd World Congress on Education International, President Clinton sharply rebuked Congress for shortchanging children in the appropriations bill moving through the House of Representatives. The House Republican Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill currently eliminates the Summer Jobs Program, cuts $2 billion from the President's education priorities, and stops progress on national tests in the basic skills.

The House bill eliminates the $871 million Summer Jobs initiative. The House Bill eliminates the Department of Labor's Summer Jobs Program, which would deny more than half a million disadvantaged young people the opportunity to gain skills and valuable work experience over the summer months. Studies show that the Summer Jobs initiative works. A 1995 report concluded that more than three out of four young people enrolled in the program would have been jobless without it.

The House bill cuts needed investments to strengthen our public schools. President Clinton has proposed a bold agenda to strengthen our public schools by raising standards, increasing accountability, and expanding parental choice in public schools. The House Republican Labor-HHS bill shortchanges our public schools by cutting $2 billion from the President's request for education investment. In particular, the House bill:

Eliminates funds for reading tutors. The House bill eliminates $260 million for the President's America Reads Challenge, denying funding to schools and communities to improve reading programs and provide tutors to students who need extra help.

Denies funds for after-school programs. The House bill reduces the President's request for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program by $140 million, denying approximately 425,000 school-age children participation in before- and after-school programs.

Denies disadvantaged students help in the basic skills. The House bill denies funds to help an additional 520,000 educationally disadvantaged students master the basic skills by cutting the President's request for Title 1 by almost $400 million.

Slows progress in putting computers in the classroom. The House bill denies funding to 400 school districts to provide students and teachers with access to computers and denies specialized technology training to a large number of new teachers by cutting the President's request for education technology programs by $125 million.

Eliminates funding for middle school safety coordinators. The House bill denies 6,500 middle schools throughout the nation the $50 million in funding necessary to provide for full-time Safe and Drug-Free Schools Coordinators.

Eliminates funding for Education Opportunity Zones. The House bill denies grants to approximately 35 high-poverty communities to help them end social promotions, turn around failing schools, and strengthen accountability for teachers by eliminating funding for the President's Education Opportunity Zones proposal.

Eliminates funding to spark interest in college. The House bill denies more than one million (over 5 years) at-risk middle school students mentoring, tutoring, and other services to help raise education expectations, increase academic achievement, and eliminate barriers to college by eliminating $140 million for the President's High Hopes for College program.

Cuts funding for School-to-Work programs. The House bill reduces funding for School-to-Work Programs by $100 million below the President's request, slowing state and local efforts to provide career-related coursework and work-based learning experiences to more than 1 million students in over 3,000 high schools.

The House bill retreats from the nation's commitment to raise academic standards. If we are to improve our schools, we must start by setting challenging academic standards and measuring student progress toward achieving them. President Clinton has proposed to help states, local communities, and schools across the nation take this step through the development of voluntary national tests in the basic skills, and through the Goals 2000 program, which supports the development of state and local academic standards.

Blocking Voluntary National Tests. The House bill would halt the development of voluntary national tests in 4th grade reading and 8th grade math, denying parents the ability to know if their children and their schools are meeting challenging national standards, and denying states and local communities the opportunity to use these tests on a voluntary basis. Eight states and 15 cities with 20 percent of the nation's students already have volunteered to participate in the tests. The National Academy of Sciences recently completed a Congressionally mandated study of the feasibility of an alternative approach that would attempt to link existing state and commercial tests, and determined that this approach is not feasible. Now is the time for Congress to move forward, rather than to stop development of the national tests.

Slashing Funds for Goals 2000. In addition, the House bill would cut funding for the Goals 2000 program by $245.5 million from current funding levels, and by $255 million from the President's request for FY 1999. In so doing, the House bill would decrease the ability of 6,000 schools nationwide to help students reach high standards.

Program of Speakers:
Mary Hatwood Futrell, President, Education International President Clinton