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National Archives

Public Papers - 1991 - September

Remarks During the America 2000 Conference Call


Secretary Alexander. Good morning and welcome to everyone around the Nation listening in on the America 2000 daily conference call. This is Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander in Washington, DC.

This is our first America 2000 daily conference call. It helps us enable Americans changing our education system to share their progress with one another. Today we're enormously honored to have with us President Bush, who yesterday helped Governor McKernan kickoff Maine 2000, part of the President's and the Governors' State-by-State strategy to reach the six national education goals.

Good morning, Mr. President, and thank you very much for being here.

The President. Listen, I'm delighted to be here and delighted to be on the line not only with you, Secretary, but with Governor Don Schaefer and with Governor Jock McKernan. And yes, we did have a good day yesterday in Maine as Maine kicked off its Maine 2000. We were in Lewiston. A lot of discussion with teachers, family, a little emphasis on how family can participate more.

And Governor McKernan, Jock, maybe you'd want to pitch in now because I thought it was a very worthwhile day.

Governor McKernan. Well, Mr. President, I want to thank you for everything you've done to keep education on the front burner. I can tell you that your appearance in Lewiston and the America 2000 and now Maine 2000 effort is going to be the shot in the arm that I think we need if we are really going to continue the momentum to meet the national education goals that have been determined by you and your office and the Governors, starting with that historic summit in Charlottesville.

I can tell you that when the first assessment of how the Nation is doing comes out on September 30th, that in order to continue the momentum going, we intend to have Maine Education Day on October 1st to discuss exactly what the meaning is of the results that we've found. And I am convinced the only way that we're going to be successful in doing what I know you believe has to be done in education is with your involvement.

So, I just want to say to you that we certainly appreciated your being here in Maine. Everyone is, even today, still so excited about it, and they believe that you really are the Education President.

The President. We're going to stay with this. Thanks, Jock; now here's Lamar again.

Secretary Alexander. Thanks, Jock. Yesterday was a great day.

Mr. President, you know there are other States, maybe a dozen others that are getting ready to launch their efforts to meet the national education goals. One of them is Maryland, and Governor Don Schaefer is on the line from Annapolis.

Governor Schaefer. Well, Lamar, thank you very much. I'm very honored to be on with you and the President. Tomorrow we have a great honor: Mrs. Bush is coming to help us at Worthington Elementary School in Ellicott City to kick off Maryland's 2000. So, we're pretty good, too.

You said something, Mr. President, I liked, that we must blame ourselves for bad schools and not point the finger at everyone else. And I think it actually starts in the family; if we can get the parents really, really involved in education and if we can support the teachers, and we put some more money in.

As you know, I've supported your goals. And I've taken two of your goals as my own personal goals: that is, making schools drug free and preparing all children for schools before they start in. I think that's very important. Give them at least an equal opportunity when they do enter a school that everyone starts equal. And we are going to, of course, on November 12th issue a report card for every Maryland school showing performance.

One of the things that we want to do and -- we've had Schools for Success, we're in our second year -- and our goals are: make schools more accountable, improve student performance, and, of course, make students more prepared when they get out into the job market that they're prepared to accept a job.

But I want to commend you. I think you are doing a superb job. I want to thank you very much for emphasis on education. It really means an awful lot to all of us to know the President and that great Secretary you've got over there supporting us.

The President. Well, Don, we're delighted you're involved. I might say to those who are listening that might not be as familiar with this program, that we are totally determined to keep this on a nonpartisan basis. We have to do that in order to succeed. You and I have talked about this. I think we touched on it up at Camp David before Lamar was even on board, of the importance of family involvement, the things you mentioned here, certainly, the drug-free aspects. So, I just wanted to pledge to you that we're approaching it in that manner.

Be nice to my wife tomorrow because I don't want her coming home grumpy. She's your campaign manager anyway, so treat her with care. And also, I know some of our secretaries are going to be over there. I think Lou Sullivan and Jim Watkins, Bill Reilly, so you've got a lot of our -- Dave Kearns is going -- a lot of our first team. And so we're looking forward to this, too. So, please hang in there and keep up your leadership role. We need you.

Governor Schaefer. Thank you, Mr. President. We will. And I'm glad Mr. Reilly's coming. He's done a great job in the environment. He gets a lot of criticism, but I think he's coming up with the right things on a lot of areas.

Mrs. Bush is a great goodwill ambassador. I'll tell you everyplace she goes she just spreads joy and happiness. And people have great confidence in her. So, we're very pleased that she's coming with us.

The President. Well, she was with us with Jock up there in Maine yesterday too. And I felt funny -- me, my being the one to read to the kids, because she's been doing that literally and without a lot of PR on it all the way, all along here for the last 10 years or so. So, she'll do more. And I'd say to you, Jock, or to Don and others that may be listening, she wants to give her time to this. She's committed and so call on her whether it's in a formal thing like tomorrow's opening or something else, because, really, this is her life. This is her commitment. So -- --

Governor Schaefer. You know, Mr. President, she did that in Baltimore City a number of years ago when you were Vice President. She came to Baltimore City on a literacy program, and people just liked her then. But she was very strong on literacy at that time.

The President. Great.

Governor McKernan. Mr. President, as a matter of fact, she has been in Maine, as you well know, helping with literacy as well. And the combination of both of you, as I said yesterday, really does give a shot in the arm to what I think we all realize is so important and that's lifelong learning.

I thought also that it was a wonderful division of labor the way you read the first part of that story to those kindergarten kids and you let her read the -- --

The President. Big words in there. Now listen, here's Lamar to close this thing off. And thank you all very, very much and everybody else that tuned in here. This is the first of what will be many such conference calls, and I hope by the time they're all finished that the message will be in every corner of our great country.

Now, Lamar, Secretary, all yours.

Secretary Alexander. Thank you, Mr. President, thank you, Governors. And, in addition to the Cabinet members who will be with Mrs. Bush tomorrow in Maryland, four Cabinet members, Secretaries Kemp and Madigan, and Lynn Martin from Labor, Sam Skinner from Transportation and I will be going to Omaha to kick off Nebraska 2000 and Omaha 2000 with Governor Ben Nelson and Mayor Morgan. So things are moving.

Thank you very much, Mr. President, Governor McKernan, Governor Schaefer. The American 2000 daily conference call happens everyday at this time, Monday through Friday. I hope you'll listen in tomorrow and learn more about Americans changing schools, community by community, school by school.

The President. Over and out and many thanks.

Governor Schaefer. Thank you.

Governor McKernan. Thank you.

Note: The President spoke at 11:58 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. In these remarks, the following persons were referred to: Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander; Governor John McKernan of Maine; Governor William Donald Schaefer of Maryland; Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan; Secretary of Energy James D. Watkins; Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency William K. Reilly; David T. Kearns, Deputy Secretary of Education; Jack Kemp, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; Edward R. Madigan, Secretary of Agriculture; Lynn M. Martin, Secretary of Labor; Samuel K. Skinner, Secretary of Transportation; E. Benjamin Nelson, Governor of Nebraska; and P.J. Morgan, Mayor of Omaha.

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