[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book I)]
[April 1, 1995]
[Pages 439-441]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's Radio Address
April 1, 1995

    The President. Good morning. I'm speaking to you this morning from 
the Gibbs Magnet School for International Studies in Little Rock, 
Arkansas. I'm happy to be joined by the principal, Dr. Marjorie Bassa, 
members of her staff, and 30 wonderful elementary students, their 
parents, and other interested citizens here.
    Good morning, class.
    Students. Good morning, Mr. President.
    The President. What you just heard was the sound of America's 
future. This school and these people are living proof that the education 
reforms that were started when I was Governor of Arkansas and that are 
continuing now under the leadership of Governor Tucker are paying off.

[[Page 440]]

    The young people who attend this public school are getting a head 
start on the 21st century. Beginning in kindergarten, they learn about 
other cultures. They receive foreign language training. They're already 
acquiring the skills that will allow them one day to compete and win in 
the new global economy. They come from many different racial and 
cultural backgrounds, but they all have a shot at the American dream.
    I want to spend a few moments telling you why I think education and 
training for all of our people is the most important thing we can do to 
keep the American dream alive in the 21st century.
    You know Washington's in the midst of a great debate today about the 
proper role of our National Government. On one side is the old view that 
big, one-size-fits-all Government can provide the answers to all of our 
big problems. On the other side is the view that Government is the 
source of all of our problems. In the real world, that's a false choice.
    Let's look at what started this debate. As we move toward the 21st 
century and the information age, jobs and incomes will depend more and 
more on what we know and what we can learn. That means that today, at 
the end of the cold war, we're able to create jobs, new businesses, new 
millionaires at a rapid rate, more than ever before. But at the same 
time, about two-thirds of our people are working hard for the same or 
lower wages and are quite insecure about their future. And we know we 
still have too many social problems we're not making enough headway on, 
crime and drugs, violence and family breakdown.
    In the real world, we have to face the fact that we have to create 
opportunity but deal with these problems of economic stagnation and 
social disintegration. And we are stuck with a Government that's too 
organized to meet the problems of yesterday and not enough able to meet 
the problems of today and tomorrow.
    I believe we have to chart a new course between the old way of big 
Government and the new rage of no Government, because I believe we need 
a Government that does four things: first, that creates economic 
opportunity--grow the middle class and shrink the under class; second, 
that enhances the security of the American people here at home, on our 
streets, in our schools, and abroad; and third, that reforms the 
National Government to make it smaller, less bureaucratic, to serve the 
interests of ordinary Americans, not special interests, to serve the 
future, not the past, and to demand more personal responsibility of our 
citizens. Fourth, and most important, we need a Government that helps 
our people raise their education and skill levels so they can make the 
most of their own lives. That's what I call the New Covenant, a 
partnership between Americans and their Government that offers more 
opportunity in return for more responsibility.
    Earlier this week, I convened a regional economic conference at 
Emory University in Atlanta with a group of economists, business and 
Government leaders. And working Americans discussed ways to strengthen 
our economy and to ensure a better future for our children. They were 
Republicans, Democrats, and independents. But the one thing we all 
agreed on was that the countries that will do the best job of developing 
the full capacities of all of their children and all of their adults 
will be the most successful in the 21st century. We all agree that 
higher education levels are essential if we're going to raise the 
incomes of working Americans, if we're going to grow the middle class 
and shrink the under class.
    That's why I and my administration have worked so hard to expand 
Head Start, to set world-class standards for our schools, to give 
parents and teachers more resources to meet those standards but also to 
give them more authority at the school level to decide how best to 
achieve excellence. We've worked to establish apprenticeship programs to 
prepare young people who don't go on to college to get higher paying 
jobs. And we've worked hard to make college loans more affordable for 
more students, millions of them throughout the country.
    By eliminating the middlemen in the college loan system, lowering 
the cost, and offering better repayment terms, our direct student loan 
program is giving more young people a chance to go to college while 
saving tax dollars at the same time. And we're demanding more 
responsibility in return. More students get loans at lower cost, but now 
they have to pay them back. Stricter enforcement of the student loan 
program has cut the cost of delinquent loans to taxpayers from $2.8 
billion in 1991 to a billion dollars today. That's opportunity and 
    Because we've focused on education, for the last 2 years we've been 
able to cut Government spending, cut the deficit, cut hundreds of pro-

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grams and over 100,000 bureaucrats from the Federal budget, and still 
increase our investment in education.
    Now, many in Congress think there's no difference in education and 
other spending. For example, there are proposals to reduce funding for 
Head Start; for public school efforts to meet the national education 
goals; for our national service program, Ameri- Corps, which provides 
scholarship money for young people who will work at minimum wage jobs in 
local community service projects; even proposals to reduce school lunch 
funding. There are proposals to eliminate our efforts for safe and drug-
free schools altogether and, unbelievably, to cut the college loan 
    These are not wise proposals. Here at Gibbs, where students are 
preparing for the 21st century, close to 50 percent of the students 
depend upon the School Lunch Program for a nutritious meal. And all 
these young people, not just those who have the money to afford it, 
should be able to go as far as their talents will carry them. And if 
that means they need scholarships, student loans, and the opportunity to 
do community service, we ought to give it to them.
    Some in Congress want to cut education to pay for tax cuts for the 
wealthy. I want instead a middle class tax cut that helps families pay 
for education and training, a tax deduction for education costs after 
high school.
    Now in the past, education and training have enjoyed broad, 
bipartisan support. Last year, with strong support from Republicans and 
Democrats, Congress enacted my proposals to help students and schools 
meet the challenges of today and tomorrow. Educational experts said we 
did more for education by expanding Head Start, expanding 
apprenticeships, expanding college loans than any session of Congress in 
30 years.
    Now in this new Congress, some want to cut education, and that's 
wrong. Gibbs Magnet School is a reflection of what we ought to be doing 
more of in America. I don't know what political party these children 
belong to, but I do know we need them all and they deserve our best 
efforts to give them a shot at the American dream. We must begin when 
they're young, training our people to succeed, preparing them for a 
lifetime of learning. The fight for education is the fight for the 
American dream.
    Thanks again to all those people who are here with me today, 
especially our children. And thanks for listening.

Note: The President spoke at 9:06 a.m. from the Gibbs Magnet School for 
International Studies in Little Rock, AR.