[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1998, Book II)]
[October 31, 1998]
[Pages 1932-1933]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

The President's Radio Address
October 31, 1998

    Good morning. I'm speaking to you today from the Glen Forest 
Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia, where I'm joined by 
students, parents, and teachers to talk about a problem they understand 
all too well: the urgent need in America for school construction. In 
fact, I'm speaking to you from one of nine trailer classrooms that sit 
outside the schoolhouse on what used to be a playground, because there's 
simply not enough room inside for all the students. And the 10th trailer 
goes up in a matter of days.
    Falls Church is not the only place with this problem. Rundown 
schools and rising enrollments have made these trailers an increasingly 
common sight all over our country. Too many children are going to school 
every day in trailers like this one. In other schools, class is held in 
gymnasiums and cafeterias. I've even heard some stories of classes being 
held in closets. Crumbling walls and ceilings have forced still other 
schools to bus their students to neighboring facilities.
    With a record number of school buildings in disrepair, especially in 
our larger cities, and school enrollments all over America at record 
highs and rising by the millions, the need to renew our Nation's public 
schools has never been more pressing. I've said many times that in this 
increasingly global world where what you earn depends upon what you 
learn, improving education must be our Nation's top priority for all our 
    For nearly 6 years now, I've done everything I could to meet that 
challenge. I'm especially proud of the victories for America's children 
our administration fought for and won in the balanced budget Congress 
passed just last week. We fought for and won new investments, from child 
literacy to college mentoring, from after-school programs to summer 
school programs, to opening the doors of college even wider by

[[Page 1933]]

helping more people with financial aid. All these things will help all 
our children reach their highest potential no matter where they start 
out in life and where they go to school.
    Perhaps even more important, we fought for and won an unprecedented 
commitment to put 100,000 new well-trained teachers in our Nation's 
classrooms, to reduce class size, decrease discipline problems, and 
increase student learning. But you don't have to be a math whiz to know 
that more teachers and smaller classes means we also need more 
classrooms. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership in Congress failed 
the simple test to pass my school construction initiative to help 
communities build, repair, and modernize 5,000 schools around our 
    I'm disappointed that Congress also blocked our efforts to raise 
academic standards and strengthen accountability in our schools. At a 
time when our children's education matters more than ever to our 
children's future and to our Nation's strength in the 21st century, 
there are still even some Republicans in Congress who would shut down 
the Department of Education.
    Now, in just a few days Americans will go to the polls to elect the 
next Congress. And there's a lot at stake. Our children don't need 
another 2 years of partisanship; they need 2 years of progress, of 
putting people over politics. And we need a Congress that doesn't 
retreat from our commitment to hire 100,000 teachers; a Congress that 
makes a commitment to modern schools so those teachers can teach in 
classrooms, not in trailers; a Congress that puts aside partisanship and 
puts our children's future first.
    The American people have the power to elect that kind of Congress. 
Our children are counting on us to do it. So this Tuesday, let me urge 
all of you, without regard to your party, please, go out and vote for a 
Congress that will strengthen education and strengthen our Nation for 
the 21st century.
    Thanks for listening.

Note: The President spoke at 10:06 a.m. from Glen Forest Elementary 
School, Falls Church, VA.