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Public Papers - 1991

Remarks at a Meeting of the President's Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans

1991-11-14

Let me just make a brief comment. And what I really want to do is hear from our dynamic chairman about where we're going to go and how we're going to catch up, because I'm a little embarrassed that it's taken a long time to get -- longer than I would have liked to get this going. And I think they're together now, and we've got some priorities at stake. And the Hispanic community is of high priority.

Nobody at this table and nobody in the country can be happy about unacceptably-high dropout rates, sometimes lack of resources in the communities themselves across this country. And I just want to say that I'm very grateful to our chairman, Andres Bande, for undertaking this important role. And knowing him and of him, why, you better watch out because he'll put all of us to work. And I just wanted to pledge doing my part.

I'm proud of our Secretary of Education and his drive on bringing to the American public the program America 2000. It's good. It's new. It's revolutionary, and it can have a tremendously powerful effect in the area of Hispanic community education. And so, Lamar is fired up on this as well as I am. And I think that we've got a lot of things that can appeal.

I believe that the Hispanic Americans are the pivotal community in the economic growth that is going to come from the expanded trade with Mexico, for example. And I'm going to fight hard for that agreement when we get it hammered out; and I believe that it can help, not just in trade but also then for strengthening of families. In that sense, I think it's very helpful to education.

As I say, I'm pledged to doing my best to help, this isn't going to be done at the Federal level, but help eliminate the unacceptably-high dropout rate we've had. I think that one thing going in the Hispanic American communities that offers great hope is this concept of family and the involvement of family. I think we need more involvement, but that concept is strong still, very, very strong. And Barbara Bush is trying to work with Lamar and others to help respond -- have parents' involvement in the education of their kids. Perhaps that's one thing that the commission is going to want to take a look at, see how it can be strengthened.

But we've got some powerful experts around here in higher education. But the common ground is concern. The matrix is concern, commitment to improving the education in Hispanic American communities all across this country. And I just want you to know that I have been interested in this for a long time, and I want to help as much as I possibly can, help our Secretary, and, Chairman, help you in this work.

So, now we will hear from you all as to how you think it's going and what the priorities should be for the White House, for the Department, and, of course, I think even more fundamentally, for the communities themselves.

Note: The President spoke at 2:48 p.m. in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.

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