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National Archives

Public Papers - 1990 - July

Remarks to the National Governors' Association


The President. Terry, can you hear me?

Governor Branstad. Yes, Mr. President?

The President. How are you doing?

Governor Branstad. We're not hearing you very well.

The President. Well, do you want to try another connection or can you hear it now better?

Governor Branstad. It's better. Mr. President, we appreciate your call, and I think we can hear you a little better now. Can you hear us okay?

The President. Loud and clear. Yes, it sounds like a loudspeaker. But listen, I just wanted to check in. I understand you're having a lunch there with the Governors, and I just wanted to report in and say that I understand from others that you're having a good conference. I'm sorry I'm not down there with you. And also it might be appropriate, but let me just pay my respects to Governor Guy Hunt. He told me about the enthusiasm in his State for this, and I just want to thank him for hosting the conference. Is he right there with you?

Governor Branstad. He's sitting right next to me.

The President. All right. Well, pass along a warm abbracio [embrace] to him. And, Terry, to you and all of you, let me just thank you for what you've accomplished this past year. I still feel that the education summit in Charlottesville last September was historic, and I want to continue the partnership that we announced when we announced those six national education goals. I have the report here, your report, on State strategies for achieving the national education goals. And I'm pleased that you've got our two reports on the actions that we're taking at the Federal level to support the goals and on the changes that we're making to give you a greater flexibility in the use of the Federal funds.

Also I want to commend your executive committee for recommending the establishment of a bipartisan panel that will determine how to measure progress. I think it is essential that there be some definitive way of measuring progress toward these education goals during the nineties, and this decision by the executive committee makes good sense. I think all of these actions reflect the enormous amount of work and effort that's being devoted to improving and strengthening our education system, and I can tell you I'm pleased with the progress. I still talk about the spirit of the Governors' meeting, the summit. I talk about it all over the country.

I recognize there is diversity; and I've made it a point not to get involved in any State, pointing out how a Governor might attempt to do the job better, but mainly to support -- from a national standpoint -- to support these goals. And I want to thank everyone there for the constructive relationship that we've developed and want to assure you that I want it to continue to work together.

And then lastly, if I might, I want to pass along to Booth Gardner, the incoming chairman of the NGA, my best wishes. And, Booth, both you and Terry have worked well; and I appreciate very much -- I mentioned him in the beginning, but let me mention you here at the end -- I'm very grateful to you for your continued approach on this matter. And I appreciate your input at the beginning, and now I look forward to working with you in this partnership that I think is going to serve our country very well indeed.

So, that's all I wanted to say. But I'm just delighted to have a chance to check in with you.

Governor Branstad. Mr. President, first of all, I think this is the eighth time since you've been President that you've communicated directly with the leadership of the National Governors' Association, and I really think that's unprecedented. We very much appreciate the personal attention that you've given to this association -- working with us -- and the cooperation that you and your staff have given us in developing these national goals and now this oversight panel.

And let me tell you, it wasn't easy yesterday. Many of us spent a lot of time locked away in a small room to try and get it resolved. We feel real good about the consensus proposal that was approved by the executive committee yesterday. And I just want to say the cooperation and help from the administration and the Congress is going to be essential for us to achieve these very ambitious goals. I also want to give Guy Hunt a chance to say a few words. This is the first time in the history of the National Governors' Association we've ever met in Alabama, and he has really shown us what southern hospitality is all about.

The President. That's not surprising, but put him on.

Governor Hunt. Mr. President, we wish you were here. We would like to show you some more of this southern hospitality, but we appreciate you staying on the job while all of us are away. And we just appreciate what you've done and just to let you know that you are still very much loved in Mobile, Alabama, and in Alabama. And come to see us when you can.

The President. Well, thank you, sir, and my respects to all the others that are assembled there. Booth, do you want the last word?

Governor Branstad. I want to turn it over to Booth, because at the end of the plenary session tomorrow, he's going to become chair of the National Governors' Association, and he will have the responsibility to appoint those six Governors to the oversight committee. And I can't think of a better person to turn over the chairmanship to than to the great Governor of the State of Washington, Booth Gardner.

The President. Put him on there. Booth.

Governor Gardner. He's on. [Laughter] We're switching from youth and energy to wisdom as leadership of the National Governors' Conference. [Laughter]

The President. I got you.

Governor Gardner. Terry's done a great job, and I appreciate your recognizing that. I just want to add what I think a lot of us feel, which is we appreciate your partnership in this educational effort. And we recognize that you've got financial difficulties like many of us do, but that the major commitment and the first goal was preparing children to get ready for school. And our goal as States is to make sure that we can fully fund our end of it as quickly as possible. And if the Federal Government can help us with that by fully funding Head Start or early childhood education, by the end of your first term, you'd have a lot of friends here.

The President. Listen, I appreciate it. And of course, that's in keeping with one of our major goals, so we'll see what we can do in that regard. But listen, good luck to you and my respects to all. And tell those on the new committee I look forward to working with them. And I'll see you, Booth and Terry, when you come east next. And thanks a lot.

Governor Branstad. Thank you.

The President. All right. Good luck.

Governor Branstad. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Over and out.

Note: The President spoke at 1:34 p.m. by telephone from the Oval Office at the White House.

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