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                       Office of the Press Secretary
                          (Coral Gables, Florida)

For Immediate Release October 4, 2000


I am pleased that today the U.S. Department of Education is awarding $42.3 million in grants to help school districts create Smaller Learning Communities in large high schools across the country. Nearly three-quarters of American high schools have more than 1000 students enrolled, and the grants announced today will help states and local communities create smaller learning environments to enhance the safety and academic achievement of our nation's teenagers. The Vice President and I have a long-standing commitment to ensuring that all children have access to a first-class education, and these grants provide support to state and local communities to work toward this goal by investing in what works. We know that smaller schools provide more personal attention and greater academic support than larger schools, and outperform large schools on most measures of school success, including grades, test scores, attendance, and graduation rates -- and this impact is even greater for minority and low-income students.

Today, I challenge Congress to extend the benefits of Smaller Learning Communities to more districts and schools by funding this program at the $120 million level proposed in my FY 2001 budget. Right now, the Republican leadership has proposed an education budget that shortchanges America's students by flat-funding the Smaller Learning Communities Program, and by failing to provide adequate funds to: reduce class size; improve teacher quality; turn around failing schools; expand after-school opportunities; build and modernize new schools; help students prepare for college through GEAR-UP; and make college more accessible and affordable for all Americans. Congress must act now so that our children can receive the first-class education they deserve.