THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
REDUCING CLASS SIZE: AN OPPORTUNITY FOR BIPARTISAN PROGRESS IN EDUCATION March 6, 1999
In his radio address, President Clinton will call on the Senate to finish the job of hiring 100,000 well-prepared teachers for our nation's public schools to reduce class size in the early grades. He will urge Republican leaders to abandon their attempt to shut down debate on the Ed-Flex bill before a class size amendment can be voted on. He also will announce that the Department of Education is releasing new guidelines to help states and local school districts use funds approved as part of last year's balanced budget to reduce class size.
A VOTE ON CLASS SIZE. This week, Senators Murray and Kennedy will offer an amendment to the Ed-Flex bill that would make a long-term commitment to class size reduction. Last year, the Congress, acting on a bipartisan basis, made a down payment on the President's class size initiative by providing a one-time $1.2 billion appropriation to help communities hire approximately 30,000 teachers. The Murray-Kennedy amendment would finish the job by authorizing full funding for this initiative -- $11.4 billion more over the next six years -- to help communities across the nation support 100,000 well-prepared teachers. At this time, however, the Republican Leadership is trying to shut down debate on the Ed-Flex bill before this important amendment can be voted on. The President will call on the Leadership to abandon this tactic, and urge the Senate to cast a historic, bipartisan vote for class size reduction.
GUIDELINES TO SUPPORT EFFECTIVE LOCAL PLANNING. The President also will announce that the Department of Education is releasing guidelines to help states and local communities use funds from last year's balanced budget to hire and train new teachers to reduce class size in their schools. Under the initiative enacted into law last year, school districts will begin to receive funding this July 1 in order to hire teachers this fall. The President will remind Congress that school districts can make the most effective use of this money only if they have confidence that funding for this initiative will be available for years to come. This is why Congress must make a long-term bipartisan commitment to class size reduction now -- when school districts are making decisions about hiring new teachers for the upcoming school year.
SMALL CLASSES MAKE A DIFFERENCE. Studies show that smaller classes allow teachers to provide more personal attention to students and spend less time on discipline; as a result, students learn more and get a stronger foundation in the basic skills. According to studies, students from smaller classes in North Carolina, Wisconsin, Indiana, Tennessee, and across the nation outperformed their peers in larger classes. Smaller classes made the greatest impact in the early grades, and for disadvantaged and minority students. And students from smaller classes in the early grades continued to outperform their peers in all academic subjects even after returning to larger classes.