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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 25, 1998
                            September 25, 1998

Today, while visiting Jenner Elementary School in Chicago, President Clinton once again called on Congress to pass his education initiatives to strengthen public education in this country. Speaking to students and teachers, as well as parents and tutors, the President highlighted the successful efforts of the school -- which just one year ago, was on probation for poor performance -- to improve performance significantly in areas of reading and math. This success can be attributed in large part to the work of tutors and mentors from "Working in the Schools" (WITS), a non-profit volunteer organization committed to promoting the learning development of children in urban, public elementary schools. President Clinton believes volunteers like those at WITS, will help prepare our schools for the 21st Century.

GIVING SCHOOLS THE TOOLS TO HELP EVERY CHILD MEET HIGH STANDARDS. President Clinton reiterated his call on Congress to pass education initiatives to help all children reach challenging academic standards, strengthen accountability, provide access to technology, improve the quality of teaching, expand Head Start and after school programs, and make our schools safe and drug-free.

Voluntary National Standards and Tests. President Clinton called for voluntary national standards and tests in 4th grade reading and 8th grade math to help students master the basic skills and to give parents, communities, and educators accurate information on how well our students perform. In order to close the achievement gap, we have to set the same high standards for all children.

Education Opportunity Zones. President Clinton urged Congress to strengthen schools in high poverty communities by providing funds to school districts that are raising student achievement by ending social promotions and requiring students to meet academic standards at key transition points; rewarding outstanding teachers and fairly and quickly removing ineffective teachers; and turning around failing schools.

Reduce Class Size. The President pressed Congress to enact his proposal to reduce class size to a national average of 18 in grades 1-3, by helping local schools hire an additional 100,000 wellprepared teachers. Research shows that smaller classes increase student achievement and have the greatest impact on the academic achievement of disadvantaged students.

Helping Every Eight-Year Old Learn To Read. President Clinton is continuing to work with Congress to enact a child literacy bill to ensure that children receive quality instruction from well-trained teachers and have opportunities to develop their reading skills with trained tutors after-school time and on weekends.

Strengthening And Expanding Charter Schools. President Clinton is working with Congress to pass bipartisan legislation to strengthen federal support for the growing charter school movement.

Teacher Preparation and Recruitment. President Clinton urged Congress to reauthorize the Higher Education Act, including his initiative to strengthen teacher preparation programs and recruitment of well-prepared teachers for underserved high-poverty schools.

Modernizing Our Schools. The President called for federal tax credits to help renovate, modernize, and build over 5,000 public schools nationwide.

Extra Support for Students in High Poverty Schools (Title I). The President pressed forward with his request for additional support to help 520,000 students in high-poverty schools to meet challenging academic standards. The House bill cuts the President's request by $392 million, while the Senate bill is $91 million below the President's request.