[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book I)]
[January 8, 1998]
[Pages 14-15]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Statement on National Education Standards
January 8, 1998

    This week, an independent report showed that more than half the 
students in our Nation's city schools are failing to master the basics 
in reading, math, and science--the building blocks of all the skills 
they will need to succeed in the 21st century. And while some city 
school* systems are making progress, all too many are clearly failing 
our children.
    *White House correction.


[[Page 15]]

    As a nation, we have a responsibility to all of our children and 
especially to those in our most vulnerable communities. That is why I 
have fought for high national standards and national tests to help our 
children reach their highest potential.
    Since I called for national standards, I am proud to say that 15 
major city school systems have stepped forward to accept my challenge. 
But we must not rest until every school system in the Nation commits to 
adopting high standards--and helping their students to meet them.
    If we are going to go strong into the 21st century, we must continue 
to expand opportunity for all of our people, and when it comes to our 
children's education, that means continuing to expect and demand the 
very best from our schools, our teachers, and above all, from our 
students. That is why I have fought for excellence, competition, and 
accountability in our Nation's public schools, with more parental 
involvement, greater choice, better teaching, and an end to social 
promotion. We cannot afford to let our children down when they need us 
the most.