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Public Papers - 1991 - July

Remarks Announcing the New American Schools Development Corporation Board


Lamar, thank you. And I really wanted to have Lamar say something so I could more formally salute him for this fantastic job he's doing, and others at the Department are doing, in this field of education. I am so proud of the job he and David Kearns -- right out of the corporate community, he's pitched in. And I think it's conceded, without respect to politics at all, that we have not only a first-class team at the Department, but we have a first-class concept. And I think that's very important.

I want to thank Governor Tom Kean, who's with us here. He is the chairman of the New America Schools Development Corporation -- and Frank Blount, along here, as its president and CEO. And I salute both of them and thank them both.

I also want to single out a man that's known to, I think, everybody here, but that's Governor Booth Gardner of the State of Washington. He's been an aggressive advocate for education that works. He's a leader. He's head now of the National Governors Association, I believe. And yet, in spite of all those responsibilities, he's keeping the focus nationally on education. I just had the pleasure of meeting with him and some of his team. A very interesting meeting -- teachers, businesspeople, parents, and superintendents. And a wonderful approach that they're taking in the State of Washington.

I also want to salute another Governor with us, another former head of the NGA who's now a member of all of this -- and I'm talking about Virginia's Governor Gerry Baliles. The meeting that Booth and all of us had here in the Oval Office was a good one. With them was another person well-known here, the Lt. Governor Joel Pritchard, an old friend of mine -- and all the people that he brought in -- handful, four or five -- were involved in his schools of the 21st Century Initiative. Good ideas are at work out there in the State of Washington.

I want to salute Lee and Walter Annenberg -- dear friends to all here -- more about their role in a moment. Leaders of the corporate world who are with us today, education experts. And welcome to all of you on this hot day in the Rose Garden.

I've asked you here to mark with me a milestone on the road to America 2000: the founding of the New American Schools Development Composition. As I said when we announced America 2000 right here at the White House in April, our national education strategy does not create a new program. It issues a challenge: to reinvent American education, to set aside the stale preconceptions, and to design New American Schools -- and I'll emphasize the word new -- for the year 2000 and beyond.

We seek nothing less than a new generation of American schools -- schools that will help every -- every -- student reach world-class standards. Schools that set the pace for the Nation, now and certainly into the next century.

We take our first step toward these new schools when we forge a new partnership -- between educators and entrepreneurs, between communities and the corporate world -- a partnership that links every level of government -- local, State, and Federal -- with the people. And that partnership really starts right here.

Little more than 2 months have passed since we unveiled this program America 2000 -- this concept. But already, thanks to all here, we are making real progress. Governor Kean briefed me and other new members of the board a few minutes ago with news that I think you'll all want to hear.

Within the next few weeks, the New American Schools Development Corporation will form an education advisory panel -- under the leadership of Saul Cooperman, former chief state school officer for the State of New Jersey.

Funds are pouring in -- I don't want to say pouring because we're going to put an arm on you all in a minute here -- [laughter] -- but funds are coming in well. And Tom told me -- reported to me, that already million has been raised -- much of it from the corporations that are represented here today. And that's even before you've begun the formal fundraising drive.

And, of course, I want to single this one out, but million comes from the Annenberg Foundation in the form of a challenge grant. I know I challenged you at the onset of all of this to raise 0 million to 0 million. No need to stop there, but nevertheless, I want to repeat the challenge. The Rand Corporation has signed on to provide the New American Schools Corporation with Rand's expert analysis.

And finally, the New American Schools Corp. has scheduled its design conference in August to attract reformers whose ideas about what works will make the New American Schools a reality. The revolution begins right here. We've done enough handwringing about the state of our schools, and now, let's act. Let's apply America's special genius for invention to our schools.

Lou Gerstner of RJR Nabisco was telling us about risk-taking. Yes, there's taking of risks in all of this. But you don't make it if you don't risk and experiment.

We won't find a sheet of instructions for our task; no handbook out there for how this is going to succeed. We're going to have to call upon our own resources and insight. We're going to have to really break the mold, throw out the old blueprints, and build for the next century.

All we ask is this: Students in these New American Schools must demonstrate that they can meet the new national standards for five core subjects.

Meanwhile, the schools must meet their own standards. Outside of the costs of the initial R D, they must operate on a budget comparable to conventional schools. We don't want gold-plated schools. We just want those results to be gold-plated.

And beyond that, every aspect of these New American Schools must be open to experiment. Take a hard look at the way we've been doing things and ask why -- should we open our schools to pre-schoolers; break down the barriers that separate school from society? Does it make sense, on the eve of the 21st century, to pattern our school year around the rhythms of the agrarian past of this great country, when children took summers off to help with planting?

We don't want our New American Schools initiative to purchase bricks and mortar. We want to encourage an experiment, a competition of ideas that can bring even the oldest school building in America alive with learning.

Clearly, our schools and students have got to pass technological challenges. As citizens of the 21st century, our children must handle a computer keyboard with as much ease as the children of the 19th century handled a buggy whip or steered a plow. But as I said when I announced America 2000, the New American Schools that we create must be more than shrines where we worship the state-of-the-art, more than rooms full of kids sitting at computer terminals.

In some cases, the New American School may require addition, providing something missing in our schools -- a new technology or a dose of traditional values. In other cases, the solution may call for subtraction, clearing away obstacles to learning, clearing some space for the one indispensable element in education -- the teacher who can teach.

In each instance, we will need the help of parents and others. They must reinforce outside the schools the values that will be stressed inside the schools.

We used to talk about the three ``r's'' in education -- reading, writing, and arithmetic. But we need to add a fourth ``r,'' one I have talked about often in the past and others here have as well -- respect. We all respect education's importance. We must build respect for our educational product now through results we can measure and results we can build upon.

No one will conduct our educational revolution for us. We've got to do it ourselves. Our new nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Clarence Thomas, offers what I think is a very stirring testament to what people can do when they refuse to take no for an answer; when through sheer determination they overcome obstacles that others have placed in their way. It was very emotional for me up there at our house in Maine when we announced his appointment because he outdistanced poverty and racism; because he possessed the greatest treasures of all, the love of family, the faith of teachers -- remember what he said about teachers -- and then the belief in himself.

With that example, none of us should take no for an answer. And so, let's vow to create schools with which we can meet the challenges of the future.

So, whether you're a civic leader -- we have some here -- or a CEO -- we have many here -- an educator, an elected official -- each one of you is a pioneer ready to lead our children to a new world of possibility. I am confident the New American Schools will, indeed, shape the next American century.

So, I really want to thank you all for being a part of this. Thank you for what you've done so far and for all that you are destined to do. We have a first-class team, and we want everybody here and many across this country to be a part of it. So, good luck, thanks again. And may God bless the United States of America.

Q. Mr. President, why are you pushing so hard for a July summit?

The President. I've announced all along that that's what we want. Go back and look -- I've said it over and over again.

Q. Why July?

The President. Because it's important I talk to Gorbachev on a lot of items, a lot of issues.

Note: The President spoke at 10:35 a.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander; Deputy Secretary of Education David Kearns; Walter H. Annenberg, a director of the New American Schools Development Corporation Board, and Leonore Annenberg, his wife; and Louis Gerstner, vice chairman and chief executive officer of RJR Nabisco, Inc., and a member of the New American Schools Development Corporation Board.

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