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November 13, 1997

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Investment in Educational Opportunity

President Clinton Signs Legislation Making An Historic Investment in Educational Opportunity

Now I ask you -- and I ask all our nation's governors; I ask parents, teachers, and citizens all across America -- for a new nonpartisan commitment to education -- because education is a critical national security issue for our future, and politics must stop at the schoolhouse door.

President Clinton,
State of the Union Address
February 4, 1997

The President's signature on the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill today, along with the education tax cuts enacted in August, take us an historic step closer to reaching the President's goal of making sure that every 8-year old can read, every 12-year old can log on to Internet, every 18-year old can go to college, and all Americans can keep on learning throughout their lifetimes. This represents the largest increase in our education investment in a generation, including the biggest increase in college aid since the GI Bill 50 years ago. The bill signed today:

Continues Development of Voluntary National Tests. The bill provides full funding to proceed with immediate development of the first-ever voluntary national tests in 4th grade reading and 8th grade math, based on widely accepted national standards used in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). It puts the independent, bipartisan National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB) in charge of test policies and development, as the Administration had proposed. The bill provides the Administration's full request of $16 million to support the testing plan, and allows for pilot testing to begin in Fall 1998.

Provides Funding for the America Reads Challenge. The bill provides nearly $300 million in new funding towards the President's comprehensive strategy for involving teachers, families and communities in ensuring that all children learn to read well and independently by the end of third grade. These resources will be used to build on current AmeriCorps and college work-study tutoring efforts (more than 800 colleges have already committed to use Federal work-study slots for reading tutors).

Brings Technology to the Classroom. Funding for the President's two education technology programs, started from scratch three years ago, is more than doubled this year, to $531 million. The Technology Literacy Challenge Fund helps States, communities, and schools acquire hardware, software, and connectivity linkages; provides support for the integration of technology into the curriculum; and applies technology to support school reform efforts for all students. The Technology Innovation Challenge Grants support a wide range of innovative strategies for improving learning and increasing student access to technology.

Expands Choice and Accountability in Public Schools. President Clinton's Public Charter Schools Program received a 57 percent increase, from $51 million to $80 million. By the end of next year, the Department of Education will be funding nearly 1,000 locally-designed charter schools, accelerating progress toward the President's goal of developing 3,000 new charter schools by early in the next century.

Expands Head Start Toward 1 Million Children. The bill provides nearly $4.4 billion for Head Start, keeping us on track to meet the President's goal of serving one million children. With this $374 million increase, Head Start funding will have increased 57% since 1993, and the program will serve an estimated 836,000 children in 1998.

Increases Pell Grant Awards to $3,000 Maximum. Congress adopted President Clinton's proposal to increase the maximum Pell Grant to $3,000 -- the largest increase in two decades. Approximately 3.7 million students will receive this year's $300 increase, and an additional 220,000 low- and moderate-income families that were not previously eligible will receive Pell Grants.

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