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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 21, 1999

                            January 21, 1999

In his State of the Union Address, President Clinton called on states and school districts to ensure that new teachers meet state certification requirements, pass performance exams, and have a major or minor in the subject they teach. Today, President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and the First Lady will announce several initiatives to help schools meet these objectives and to attract talented, well-prepared teachers into our classrooms. These initiatives include: (1) a second installment on the President's class size reduction initiative, which increases funding by $200 million and enables local schools to hire an additional 8,000 teachers; (2) $35 million in funding -- up from $7.5 million this year -- to provide scholarships to 7,000 outstanding students who commit to teaching in high-poverty public schools; (3) an $18 million initiative to extend the Troops-to-Teachers program to train and place more than 3,000 retired military personnel as new teachers in public schools, especially in high-need subject areas like math and science and in high-poverty schools; and (4) a new $10 million initiative to begin recruiting and training 1,000 Native American teachers who commit to teach in schools with high concentrations of Native American students.

Hiring 100,000 well-prepared teachers to reduce class size in the early grades. President Clinton will ask for $1.4 billion in his FY 2000 budget, a $200 million increase over FY 1999 funding, for his initiative to hire 100,000 teachers to reduce class size in grades 1-3 to a national average of 18. This increase will enable local schools to recruit, hire, and train an additional 8,000 teachers, while continuing to pay for the 30,000 teachers hired with FY 1999 funds. To ensure that this initiative supports high-quality teaching, school districts may spend up to 15 percent of these funds for teacher training and other related activities. Studies show that smaller classes enable teachers to give personal attention to students, which leads to their getting a stronger foundation in the basic skills. The studies also show that minority and disadvantaged students show the greatest achievement gains as a result of reducing class size in the early grades.

Recruiting Outstanding New Teachers for High-Poverty Schools. Poor and minority students often have the least access to well-prepared teachers: for example, students in schools with the highest minority enrollments have less than 50-percent chance of having a math or science teacher with a license and degree in the field. To address this challenge, the President will propose $35 million -- up from $7.5 million this year -- to provide scholarships to 7,000 outstanding students who commit to teaching in high-poverty public schools. These scholarships were first proposed by President Clinton last year and enacted by Congress as part of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.

Preserving and Expanding the Troops to Teachers program. The successful Troops to Teachers program, which has helped 3,000 retiring military personnel become teachers in public schools since 1994, is scheduled to expire later this year. To preserve and build on this successful program, President Clinton will propose $18 million to provide scholarships and other support for training and placing in public schools more than 3,000 retiring military personnel and other mid-career professionals. The initiative would focus on recruiting and training new teachers for high-poverty schools and for high-need subject areas like math, science, foreign languages, or special education.

Training and Recruiting New Native American Teachers. Only two-thirds of Native American students successfully complete high school -- far fewer than other students. To address this challenge, the President is proposing $10 million to begin training and recruiting of 1000 new teachers for areas with high concentrations of American Indian and Alaska Native students.