[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[January 26, 1998]
[Pages 110-111]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]



Remarks on the After-School Child Care Initiative
January 26, 1998

    Thank you very much. First, let me thank all of you who are here. 
Many of us have been working together now for 20 years on a lot of these 
issues, and this is a very happy day for us.
    I thank the First Lady for all 
she has done on this issue for as long as I have known her. I thank the 
Vice President and Mrs. Gore for their family conference and the light it has shed 
on the announcement we're here to emphasize today. Thank you, Secretary 
Riley, for the community learning centers, 
and I'm very proud of what we've done there.
    Thank you, Bill White. I'll talk more about 
your contribution in a moment, but it is truly remarkable. And I thank 
Rand and Debra Bass for 
giving us a living, breathing example of the best of America: parents 
who are working hard to do their jobs but also determined to do their 
most important job very well with their children. I thank Senator 
Feinstein, Senator Dodd, and Senator Boxer for being 
here.
    Tomorrow, in the State of the Union Address, I will spell out what 
we seek to do on behalf of our children to prepare them for the 21st 
century. But I want to talk a little bit about education today and about 
this announcement in that context.
    Education must be our Nation's highest priority. Last year, in the 
State of the Union Address, I set out a 10-point plan to move us forward 
and urged the American people to make sure that politics stops at the 
schoolhouse door. Well, we've made a lot of progress on that 10-point 
plan: a remarkable--a remarkable--array of initiatives to open the doors 
of college to every American who's willing to work for it; strong 
progress toward high national standards in the basics, the America Reads 
challenge to teach every 8-year-old to read; continued progress in the 
Vice President's program to hook up all of 
our classrooms and libraries to the Internet by the year 2000.
    This has been the most important year in a generation for education 
reform. Tomorrow

[[Page 111]]

I'll set out the next steps on our continuing road.
    First, I will propose the first-ever national effort to reduce class 
size in the early grades. Hillary and I worked very hard 15 years ago 
now to have very strict class sizes at home in the early grades, and it 
was quite controversial and, I think, enormously beneficial when we did 
it. Our balanced budget will help to hire 100,000 teachers who must pass 
State competency tests but who will be able to reduce class size in the 
first, second, and third grades to an average of 18 nationwide.
    Second, since there are more students and there will be more 
teachers, there must be more classrooms. So I will propose a school 
construction tax cut to help communities modernize and build new 
schools.
    Third, I will promote a national effort to help schools that follow 
the lead of the Chicago system in ending social promotion but helping 
students with summer school and other programs to give them the tools 
they need to get ahead.
    All these steps will help our children get the future they deserve. 
And that's why what we're announcing here is so important as well.
    Every child needs someplace to go after school. With after-school 
programs, we can not only keep our kids healthy and happy and safe, we 
can help to teach them to say no to drugs, alcohol, and crime, yes to 
reading, sports, and computers. My balanced budget plan includes a 
national initiative to spark private sector and local community efforts 
to provide after-school care, as the Secretary of Education said, to 
half a million more children.
    Now, let me say, in addition to all the positive benefits, I think 
it's important to point out that the hours between 3 and 7 at night are 
the most vulnerable hours for young people to get in trouble, for 
juvenile crime. There is this sort of assumption that everybody that 
gets in trouble when they're young has just already been abandoned. 
That's not true. Most of the kids that get in trouble get in trouble 
after school closes and before their parents get home from work. So in 
the adolescent years, in the later years, it is profoundly important to 
try to give kids something to say yes to and something positive to do.
    But we can't do it alone. As I said, our plan involves a public-
private partnership. So it has fallen to me to announce that our 
distinguished guest from the Mott Foundation of Flint, Michigan, has 
pledged up to $55 million to help ensure that after-school programs 
supported by Federal funds are of the highest quality. That is an 
astonishing gift. Thank you, Bill White. Thank 
you.
    We are determined to help Americans succeed in the workplace, to 
raise well-educated, healthy kids, and to help Americans succeed at the 
toughest job of all, that of being a parent. And the Mott Foundation has 
gone a long way toward helping us. I thank them.
    Now, I have to go back to work on my State of the Union speech. And 
I worked on it until pretty late last night. But I want to say one thing 
to the American people. I want you to listen to me. I'm going to say 
this again. I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss 
Lewinsky. I never told anybody to lie, 
not a single time--never. These allegations are false. And I need to go 
back to work for the American people.
    Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 10:37 a.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the 
White House. In his remarks, he referred to Bill White, president and 
chief executive officer, Charles Stewart Mott Foundation; Rand and Debra 
Bass, parents whose children attended an after-school child care program 
at Barcroft Elementary School, Arlington, VA; and Monica S. Lewinsky, 
former White House intern and subject of Independent Counsel Kenneth 
Starr's expanded investigation.