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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release October 31, 1999

                           October 31, 1999   

President Clinton today will release a new report by the Council of the Great City Schools on the benefits of smaller classes for students in America's urban schools. The report demonstrates that the President's class size reduction initiative is helping schools across the nation improve student learning by enabling them to hire additional highly qualified teachers in the early grades, where students learn to read and master the basics. Urban districts report that the President's initiative is flexible enough to allow them to meet their unique needs but focused enough to ensure smaller classes in the early grades. Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress are now trying to renege on the bipartisan commitment made last year to fund this important initiative. President Clinton today will call on Congress to heed the voices of those at the community level who want to hire more high-quality teachers and give children smaller, more personal classes.

RAISING STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT BY REDUCING CLASS SIZES IN THE EARLY GRADES. Last year, Congress made a down payment of $1.2 billion toward the President's goal of hiring 100,000 new teachers to bring class sizes in the early grades to a national average of 18. The first teachers hired with that down payment began teaching in classrooms nationwide this fall. Today, the President will call on Congress to honor its commitment and finish the job. Unfortunately, Republicans have passed an appropriations bill that eliminates the class size initiative and fails to guarantee that a single penny will be used to hire a single teacher to reduce the size of a single class. Research has shown that class size reduction in the early grades is one of the most direct and effective ways to boost children's academic achievement and build a solid foundation for further learning.

EDUCATION LEADERS EMPHASIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF THE PRESIDENT'S PLAN. In this report, the Council of the Great City Schools finds that there is strong demand for the dedicated resources provided by the President's class size reduction initiative -- and that these resources are making a tangible difference. The Council is an organization of the nation's largest urban public school systems, working to improve K-12 education in the inner city, and governed by superintendents and education board members from 58 cities across the country. The President has worked closely with this group and many others at the local level to fight irresponsible cuts in key investments for our children's future. Among the findings of the Council's report:

REPUBLICAN EDUCATION BILL IGNORES THE VOICES OF TEACHERS AND COMMUNITIES. Making targeted investments in class size reduction is a common-sense strategy that teachers and school leaders across the country support. And yet, as the President will point out today, Republicans in Congress are undermining such investments by breaking their pledge to dedicate funds for smaller classes and by shortchanging other key programs. The Republican education spending bill: