President Clinton to Mayors: "You Lead the Way on Education"
Stating that mayors could "lead the way for a revolution in high standards and high expectations in education," President Bill Clinton addressed the mayors gathered in the East Room of the White House at the conclusion of the Mayors Conference on Public Schools.
President Clinton was introduced by Conference President and Fort Wayne Mayor Paul Helmke who gave the President a copy of the mayors' action plan, "Strengthening Public Schools in America's Cities."
In his formal remarks to the mayors President Clinton asked for the mayors' support for legislation on Capitol Hill that would create 50 "education opportunity zones" in low-income areas in cities. The 5-year - $1.5 billion program, as outlined by the President, would allow schools to use the money to install new technology and revamp curricula and academic standards in exchange for ending "social promotion" of struggling students and the removal of poorly-performing teachers. "The federal government has the responsibility to help communities that are willing to transform their education system and our 'education opportunity zones' and other items in our education package will help to do that," explained President Clinton.
The President applauded mayors who have assumed direct responsibility for their schools systems as well as those that who have gotten involved by speaking out for the need for education reform. "Mayors are still the single voice of cities" and as such must be willing to speak up for the need for education reform, stated the President.
President Clinton complemented the mayors on their action plan, "Strengthening Public Schools in America's Cities" as one which "reflects lessons learned in communities across America" and incorporates many of the same principles of his education platform, including the need for smaller classes, the end to social promotion, and to work with the private sector on linking education with technology.
He also called upon Congress to work with the mayors across party lines "and to do what is right for our children as we enter the 21st century" in passing education reform and aid legislation. "You (the nation's mayors) have set the example by putting your children first."
Several members of the President's Cabinet- Secretaries Richard Riley (Education), Alexis Herman (Labor), Janet Reno (Justice), Dan Glickman (Agriculture), and Rodney Slater (Transportation)- were also in attendance along with Federal Emergency Management Administrator James Witt. Members of Congress present were Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy and California Congressman Matthew Martinez.
Also in attendance were representatives from the sponsors of the "Mayors Conference on Public Schools", John D. Zeglis, president of AT&T and Timothy J. McClimon, executive director of the AT&T Foundation; and Libby O'Connell, director of community outreach for the A&E network.
Following the President's remarks, the mayors and the President held a closed question-and-answer period followed by a reception.
Copyright © 1996, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.