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THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary


For Immediate Release September 8, 1998
                  ON NATIONAL SCHOOL MODERNIZATION DAY, 
        PRESIDENT CLINTON ANNOUNCES NEW RECORD SCHOOL ENROLLMENT 
        AND CALLS ON CONGRESS TO HELP IMPROVE, MODERNIZE SCHOOLS

                           September 8, 1998

"The ultimate national security of any country rests in the strength of its own citizens. And for us, that means we have got to prove that no matter how diverse we are, we can still offer a world-class education to every single American child." -President Clinton, August 31, 1998

"Baby Boom Echo" Yields 52.7 Million Schoolchildren this Fall. Joined in more than 80 cities across the United States by roughly 50 Members of Congress, and education, community and business leaders, President Clinton will release today a new Department of Education report, the third annual Report on the Baby Boom Echo. The findings include:

52.7 million children attend public and private elementary and secondary schools in America today -- the highest school enrollment ever.

2.2 million teachers will need to be hired over the next ten years.

A record 14.6 million students will attend college this year.

The report includes current and projected data on specific states, as well as data on recent growth in selected suburban communities across the country.

Communities Cite Needs, Successes on National School Modernization Day. According to a recent GAO report, about 14 million students attend schools that need extensive repair or replacement of one or more buildings. Almost 60 percent of America's schools reported at least one major building feature in disrepair. In communities across the country, elected officials, parents, business leaders and others will observe School Modernization Day by gathering in local forums to hear the President's remarks, and discuss their own communities' strategies for school construction and renovation, achieving smaller class sizes with well-qualified teachers, and taking advantage of new technologies.

President Clinton Calls for Immediate Action by Congress. The President will urge Congress to help America address these pressing needs by enacting -- in the next month before leaving Washington -- the education agenda that he first proposed in the State of the Union address, including:

Building and Renovationg Over 5,000 Schools. The President has proposed School Modernization Tax Credits to help provide all students with safe, state-of-the-art school buildings. The proposal would use Federal tax credits to pay interest on nearly $22 billion in bonds at a cost of $5 billion over five years.

Hiring 100,000 New Teachers to Reduce Class Size. President Clinton is committed to helping local schools provide smaller classes with well-prepared teachers in the early grades. The initiative would provide $12.4 billion over seven years to reduce class size in grades 1-3 to a nationwide average of 18 and help make sure that every child receives individual attention, gets a solid foundation for further learning, and learns to read independently and well by the end of third grade.

Harnessing Technology for Education. The Clinton Administration has made an unprecedented commitment to bring technology into the classroom and ensure that all children are technologically literate by the dawn of the 21st century. However, the House appropriations bill cuts the President's request for educational technology by $180 million, while the Senate cuts it by $98 million. They eliminate $75 million for technology teacher training, which would help new teachers learn to use technology effectively to strengthen instruction and enhance student learning, and they also cut $50 million from the President's request for the Technology Literacy Challenge Fund, which would deny funding to 400 school districts to provide students and teachers with access to classroom computers, training and the latest educational software and telecommunications technology. The President will also continue to strongly oppose any effort by the Congress to repeal or delay the e-rate -- an expansion of universal service to provide discounted Internet access and telecommunications services to schools and libraries.