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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release November 8, 1999


                     CLASS SIZE REDUCTION INITIATIVE                     
                            November 8, 1999                             

Today, President Clinton will release a new report from the U.S. Department of Education highlighting the initial success of his initiative to reduce class sizes in the early grades. The report shows that more than 29,000 teachers have already been hired under the initiative, directly benefiting about 1.7 million schoolchildren. In his remarks, the President will point out that Republican budget plans would undermine this progress, and he will urge Congress not to renege on its bipartisan commitment to hire 100,000 high-quality teachers to reduce class sizes. Only by investing in such proven and targeted strategies for reform, especially at a time of booming enrollments, can we ensure that our children get the education they need and deserve.

CLASS SIZE REDUCTION IS SUCCEEDING ACROSS THE COUNTRY. The U.S. Department of Education report that the President will release today reveals the positive impact that the class size reduction program is having nationwide. Among its key findings, the report shows that 1.7 million children nationwide have benefited from the program, that 29,000 teachers have been hired under the program, and that average class size for grades 1-3 in schools receiving assistance has been reduced to 18. The report also describes how the program is complementing state and local efforts -- and that the program is targeted enough to accomplish its goals while being flexible enough to accommodate varying local needs.

Meanwhile, in concert with the President's initiative, twenty states are now undertaking efforts to reduce class sizes in the early grades.

INVESTING IN WHAT WORKS FOR OUR SCHOOLS. The class size reduction initiative is part of the President's comprehensive approach to improving student achievement by investing in what works, raising standards, and increasing accountability. As today's report notes, a substantial body of research demonstrates that lowering class size in the early grades produces significant and lasting benefits for students and teachers alike. Smaller classes allow teachers to spend more time on instruction and less time on discipline. Teachers can provide more individualized instruction to meet their learning needs. Students attending small classes in the early grades make more rapid educational progress than students in larger classes, and these achievement gains persist well after students move on to larger classes in later grades. Moreover, the research shows that disadvantaged students benefit most from smaller classes.

REPUBLICANS SHOULD PUT AMERICA'S PRIORITIES ABOVE PARTISANSHIP. Last year, Congress came together across party lines to make a down payment of $1.2 billion on the President's class size reduction initiative. At the time, Republican leaders praised the proposal. Now they are seeking to gut this program and are trying to score political points rather than do what is right for our nation's schoolchildren. The Republican spending bill abandons the commitment to hire 100,000 teachers to reduce class size, and provides no guarantee that the 29,000 teachers already hired can continue teaching. It also provides no funding for the additional 8,000 teachers the President's plan would support this year. Today, the President will call on Congress to finish the job of hiring high-quality teachers and giving our children smaller classes, and to work out a budget that reflects the values and priorities of the American people.