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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 30, 1999


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|                          September 30, 1999                          |
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Addressing governors, business leaders and education leaders at the 1999 National Education Summit, President Clinton today will outline his agenda for building a world-class school system: high standards, accountability for results, and investment in proven strategies. Citing the widespread adoption of academic standards since the National Education Summit in Charlottesville ten years ago, the President will outline the critical next steps: holding schools accountable for results, and making critical investments to help students reach high standards. The President will highlight his own accountability plan and urged states and localities to redouble their efforts to fix chronically failing schools. Finally, President Clinton will call on education leaders to resist efforts in Congress to cut education spending, and will make clear that to improve our nation's schools we need to invest more and demand more in return.

URGING STATES TO MOVE AHEAD ON THE NEXT PHASE OF STANDARDS-BASED REFORM. As the President will point out today, a national consensus has emerged on the key role of standards in school improvement. Forty-eight of the fifty states have developed statewide standards and have embraced standards-based reform as an effective strategy. States should make those standards meaningful by adopting measures to hold schools accountable for results and to turn around failing schools. Currently, only 19 states use public rating systems to identify low-performing schools and only 16 have spelled out the consequences of school failure. The President will urge the leaders assembled at the summit to accelerate the pace of fixing low-performing schools. The President will say that the states and the nation have now entered the toughest part of standards-based reform and urged education leaders not to shrink from the hard work ahead.

SHOWING NATIONAL LEADERSHIP ON SCHOOL ACCOUNTABILITY. It took over one hundred years for laws mandating compulsory free elementary education to spread from a few states to the whole nation. In today's competitive, information-based global economy, failing schools do not have the luxury of time. The President has proposed a tough accountability plan that calls for identifying failing schools, making critical investments to turn them around, and reconstituting or closing chronically under-performing schools. In addition, the President's plan calls for increasing teacher quality, instituting discipline codes, issuing school report cards, and ending social promotion the right way, not by holding students back but by making sure they get the help they need to succeed. But despite the national urgency of education reform - which today's Summit demonstrates - Congress has failed to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), the principle vehicle for federal education programs, which was last enacted in 1994 and is due for reauthorization every five years. In fact, last week the House Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations subcommittee passed a bill that underfunds a host of education priorities and provides none of the funding requested by the President for turning around failing schools. Now more than ever, we need more accountability from our schools -- and from our Congress.

MAKING KEY INVESTMENTS TO STRENGTHEN OUR SCHOOLS. Along with high standards and accountability, investing in proven strategies is a key component of improving schools. Improving teacher quality, providing opportunities for extended learning in after- and summer-school programs, offering options for public school choice, and reducing class size in the early grades are essential and proven strategies to raise student achievement. The President has repeatedly called on Congress to enact responsible legislation that both invests in our schools and holds them accountable for results. The recent education spending bills passed by Congress go in the wrong direction, and the President today urged the governors and other leaders to insist that Congress leave politics at the schoolhouse door.