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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 15, 1998
           Promoting School Safety, Preventing Youth Violence 
                         and Encouraging Learning 

                  -- The Clinton Administration Record -- 

Making Our Schools and Communities Safer and Drug-Free

Forging School-Based Partnerships Between Schools and Law Enforcement. Under the new School-Based Partnerships grant program, the Clinton Administration released $16.4 million in grants to 155 law enforcement agencies in September. The School-Based Partnerships grants will be used by policing agencies to work with schools and community-based organizations to address crime at and around schools. This initiative emphasizes using principles of community policing and problem-solving methods to address the causes of school-related crime. The grants will help forge or strengthen partnerships between local law enforcement and schools to focus on school crime, drug use and discipline problems.

Helping Teachers and Principals Respond to the Early Warning Signs of Troubled Youth. President Clinton directed the Secretary of Education and the Attorney General to develop a guide to help teachers and principals identify and respond to the early warning signs of troubled youth that can lead to school violence. In August 1998, the Departments of Justice and Education released Early Warning, Timely Response: A Guide to Safe Schools. This guide provides schools and communities with information on how to identify the early warning signs and take action steps to prevent and respond to school violence. Every school in the nation received a copy of the guide.

Issuing the First Annual Report on School Safety. In December 1997, President Clinton called for an Annual Report on School Safety, which will be released on October 15, 1998. The report will include: an analysis of all existing national school crime data and an overview of state and local crime reporting; examples of schools and strategies that are successfully reducing school violence, drug use and class disruption; actions that parents can take locally to combat school crime; and resources available to schools and communities to help create safe, disciplined and drug-free schools.

Strengthening and Expanding the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. In 1994, President Clinton expanded the Drug-Free Schools Act into the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Act, making violence prevention a key part of this program. The Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program provides support for violence and drug prevention programs to 97% of the nation's school districts. Schools use these funds to keep violence, drugs and alcohol away from students and out of schools. The President's FY99 budget expands the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program by $50 million to fund 1,300 Drug and Violence Prevention Coordinators that will help junior high and middle schools across the country develop and implement effective strategies to keep our kids safe and away from drugs.

Enforcing Zero Tolerance for Guns and Other Weapons in Schools. In October 1994, President Clinton signed into law the Gun-Free Schools Act, requiring states to have in effect a law requiring local education agencies (LEAs) to expel students who bring guns to school. The President issued a Presidential Directive later that month to enforce "zero tolerance" for guns in schools, a policy requiring the expulsion of students who bring guns to schools. In school year 1996-97, the U.S. Department of Education estimates that, under zero tolerance policies, 6,093 students were expelled from public schools for bringing a firearm to school.

Supporting Civic, Community and Faith-Based Organizations. Recognizing the important role that civic, community and faith-based organizations can play in reducing crime, the Administration launched a new Values-Based Violence Prevention Initiative to make $2.2 million in grants available to 16 community-based collaboratives, including religiously-affiliated organizations, that target youth violence, gangs, truancy, and other juvenile problems by promoting common-sense values and responsibility.

Providing Safe After-School Opportunities for Up to Half a Million Children a Year. Last year (FY98), the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program was expanded by $40 million. This funding will enable 315 rural and urban schools in 36 states to provide school-based after-school programs, including on weekends and during the summer. This year, the President proposed a major expansion of this program to provide safe and educational after-school opportunities for up to 500,000 school-age children in rural and urban communities across the country. In addition, the Education Department released a report in June 1998, titled Safe and Smart: Making the After-School Hours Work for Kids. This report shows that after-school programs can lower juvenile crime and improve academic performance. Safe and Smart was sent to every school district in the country.

Cracking Down on Truancy. Truancy prevention initiatives have been shown to keep more children in school and dramatically reduce daytime crime. The Education Department issued a guidebook to the 15,000 school districts nationwide which outlines the central characteristics of a comprehensive truancy prevention policy and highlights model initiatives in cities and towns across the country. Since then, the Education Department has provided grants to local school districts to develop innovative truancy prevention programs of the kind described in the guidebook.

Encouraging Schools to Adopt School Uniform Policies. School uniforms have been found to be a promising strategy to reduce violence while promoting discipline and respect in school. Because of this, the Clinton Administration has encouraged schools to consider adopting school uniform policies by sharing with every school district a school uniforms manual prepared by the Department of Education in consultation with local communities and the Department of Justice. Since the President highlighted school uniforms, a growing number of schools have adopted these policies including: New York City, Dade County, San Antonio, Houston, Chicago and Boston.

Supporting Curfews at the Local Level. Community curfews are designed to help keep children out of harm's way and enhance community safety. Because of their success, President Clinton has encouraged communities to adopt curfew policies. A 1997 survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors has shown that 276 of 347 cities surveyed -- or 80 percent -- had youth curfew laws, up from 70 percent in 1995.

Developed a Comprehensive Anti-Gang and Youth Violence Strategy. President Clinton has proposed a comprehensive strategy to (1) target gangs and violent youths by hiring new prosecutors and probation officers, and expanding anti-gang task forces and the use of racketeering statutes (i.e., RICO) for gang-related offenses; (2) crack down on kids and guns by prohibiting violent juveniles from buying guns and increasing penalties for selling handguns to youths; and (3) keep kids off the streets and out of trouble by expanding after-school programs and promoting anti-truancy initiatives and youth curfews.

Keeping Guns Out of the Hands of Children. A number of laws and initiatives are keeping guns out of the hands of children and away from criminals. For instance, since the Brady Law's enactment, 250,000 felons, fugitives and stalkers have been denied handguns, and the 1994 Crime Bill banned 19 of the deadliest assault weapons and their copies -- keeping assault weapons off America's streets. The Youth Crime Gun Interdiction Initiative (YCGII) is cracking down on the illegal gun markets that supply firearms to juveniles and criminals in 27 target cities. The YCGII has already traced more than 93,000 guns, providing law enforcement with crucial investigative leads about illegal gun trafficking. The Administration's FY99 budget proposal contains an expansion of YCGII. In addition to these programs, President Clinton signed a directive to every federal agency, requiring child safety locking devices with every handgun issued to federal law enforcement officers. And, in an historic agreement, eight major gun manufacturers have voluntarily agreed to provide child safety locking devices with all their handguns, helping to protect our children.

Encouraging Conflict Resolution. The Departments of Education and Justice have developed and distributed 40,000 conflict resolution guides to schools and community organizations, providing guidance on how to develop effective conflict resolution programs; Education and Justice are training community officials and educators on these conflict resolution measures.

Targeting Young People with a National Anti-Drug Media Campaign. In July 1998, President Clinton launched the national expansion of the Anti-Drug Media Campaign first proposed in last year's drug strategy and budget. The 5-year, $2 billion campaign is designed to let teens know -- when they turn on the television, listen to the radio, or surf the Net -- that drugs are dangerous, wrong and can kill you.

Building and Strengthening 14,000 Community Anti-Drug Coalitions. In 1997, President Clinton signed into law the bipartisan Drug-Free Communities Support Program. Over the next five years this program will provide $143.5 million to help community coalitions rid their streets of drugs -- the coalitions are made up of young people, parents, media, law enforcement, religious and other civic organizations and school officials. Under this program, the President recently announced new Federal assistance to enhance grassroots efforts in 93 communities in 46 states to prevent youth drug abuse. This assistance will fund the work of broad-based community coalitions to target young people?s use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

Strengthening Schools, Promoting Discipline and Supporting Learning

Working Toward Smaller Classes with Well-Prepared Teachers. President Clinton has proposed helping school districts reduce class size in grades 1-3 to a nationwide average of 18 students by helping them to hire an additional 100,000 well-prepared teachers. This initiative will help children learn to read well in the early grades by giving them more individualized attention, will help teachers get the training and preparation they need to succeed and help educators maintain discipline and order which fosters a better learning environment.

Providing Early Education to More Children with Head Start and Early Head Start. Since 1993, the Clinton Administration has expanded Head Start by 57 percent, from $2.8 billion in FY93 to $4.4 billion in FY98. Now, 830,000 children are enrolled in Head Start, 200,000 more today than in 1992. In addition, the landmark Head Start Act Amendments of 1994 established the Early Head Start program, which expands Head Start to low-income families with children under three and to pregnant women. Under the President's budget, by 1999 nearly 50,000 infants, toddlers and their families will be served by Early Head Start. Studies have shown that investments made during the early stages of life reduce tendencies towards violence later in adulthood. Additionally, early investments also ensure that children are ready to learn when they enter school.

Replacing Crumbling Schools with Safer Ones. The proposed School Modernization Initiative will, if enacted, provide communities with interest-free bonds to help renovate, modernize and build over 5,000 schools nationwide.

Teaching Every Child to Read by the Third Grade. More than 1,000 colleges have committed work-study students to tutor children in reading, and thousands of AmeriCorps members and senior volunteers are organizing volunteer reading campaigns. In addition, a proposed early literacy bill, such as the America Reads Initiative, will provide more tutors after school, improve the teaching of reading in our schools, and help parents help their children learn to read.

Striving for Excellence with National Education Standards. Seeking high national standards for all students, the President has proposed a first-ever national test in 4th grade reading and 8th grade math. Goals 2000 is helping States to establish voluntary standards of excellence and to plan and implement steps to raise educational achievement. In addition, the Title I program is helping more than 10 million disadvantaged students reach high academic standards by giving them extra help with basic and advanced skills.

Expanding Choice and Accountability in Public Schools. The number of public charter schools has increased from only one charter school in the nation in 1993 to more than 1,000 charter schools this year, providing greater choices in public education to families across the nation. The Administration has also called for an end to social promotion, aggressive intervention in failing schools, and higher standards for students, teachers and schools.