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Public Papers - 1989

Statement on Signing the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989

1989-12-12

I have today approved H.R. 3614, the ``Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act Amendments of 1989.'' I am pleased that this bill contains two of this Administration's major initiatives in the fight to rid our Nation's schools and students of illicit drugs and alcohol.

At the heart of the bill, as well as our 1989 National Drug Control Strategy, are provisions requiring institutions of higher education and local school districts receiving Federal financial assistance to certify that they have adopted and implemented programs to prevent the use of illicit drugs and the abuse of alcohol by students and employees. To ensure the effectiveness of these programs, H.R. 3614 requires that they meet Federal standards. The bill is, however, fully consistent with our history of, and continuing belief in, academic freedom and State and local responsibility for education. I believe these provisions will assist significantly our struggle to rid our Nation's schools of drug and alcohol abuse and educate our young to the legal, social, and health consequences of such abuse.

H.R. 3614 also includes authority, effective in Fiscal Year 1991, for a new program of emergency grants made by the Department of Education to local school districts that have the greatest need for additional resources to combat drug and alcohol abuse by students. This flexible new program is very similar to the one I proposed to the Congress last spring in my ``Educational Excellence Act of 1989,'' and will allow the Department of Education to put significant sums where the need is greatest.

The bill is not perfect. It unfortunately contains a number of unnecessary changes to programs currently carried out under the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act. As a result, those programs will be made more complex, more burdensome, and less flexible. As I know from my discussions with Governors at the recent Education Summit Conference, we do not need such changes. What we do need is to let school administrators and State and local officials implement programs to prevent substance abuse with creativity, wisdom, and fairness. However, these defects in the bill are outweighed by the importance, and value to our Nation's schools and students, of the Administration's initiatives.

George Bush

The White House,

December 12, 1989.

Note: H.R. 3614, approved December 12, was assigned Public Law No. 101 - 226.

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