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Public Papers - 1991 - December

Teleconference Remarks on the Kick-Off of Montana 2000 and Billings 2000

1991-12-11

The President. Well, I'm just delighted to be with you in this marvelous way. And I really wanted to call up, though, to just offer my strongest congratulations to you and then to that marvelous team that I understand you've assembled there.

You know, this Montana 2000-Billings 2000 really are right in keeping with this new spirit of revolutionizing our schools. And they're going to make terrific contributions to what I think is clearly now a national momentum on education reform.

So I really want to ask you, how's it going?

Governor Stephens. It's going very well, Mr. President. And, of course, we're delighted to have your distinguished Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander with us. He'll be speaking right after this phone call. And we have a great group of Montanans who extend to you and Mrs. Bush the compliments of the season.

The President. Well, that's terrific. And I was told on my briefing paper, and you can confirm whether it's true, that not only is your superintendent of public instruction there, Nancy Kennan, but also the Billings school superintendent, which is good. If that's true, and I expect you have others, it symbolizes what we're trying to do to get the communities involved and the local levels involved. So are they all there now? Who else you got?

Governor Stephens. They are all here, Mr. President, and they send you greetings. We also have the publisher of The Billings Gazette and the president of the Chamber, Mr. Wayne Schile. And we've just heard some very complimentary remarks by Senator Conrad Burns, who is a strong right hand of yours, and a lady named Karen Morrison, who is one of our outstanding teachers. So we've got an all-star cast on the stage.

The President. Well, I'm glad they're there. Conrad was here with me in the White House last night. I imagine he made a quick exit to get that far out there. But look, also be sure to give my best to Lamar, and do me a favor; give him a little homework and tell him that I am so anxious to get a report on Montana 2000 as we go along here. I want to try as best I can personally to keep up with the progress in these States. He's filling me in on a lot of them. And I agree with you as to the job he's doing for us. But tell Lamar to be sure to keep me informed on how all that's going.

Governor Stephens. I certainly will, Mr. President. And I know he's enjoying his stay here in Montana, and we're waiting for his remarks following your phone call. And we deeply appreciate, Mr. President, you would take time from your schedule to call Montana and visit with us about this important subject.

The President. Well, listen, it's good. And my respects to the Senator; my respects to our great Secretary. And I know that this is the right program for our country. And so far, I'll say this, with Nancy Kennan there especially, and others, we've kept this out of the shrill arena of partisan politics. It is too important to our country, too important to our States. And I just commend Lamar for the way he's brought in people and interests from all over the spectrum. I mean, everyone should feel included in this approach, and I'm sure it's going to work that way in your great State too.

Governor Stephens. Indeed it is, Mr. President. And thank you again for the courtesy of your call.

The President. May I wish all your folks there a merry Christmas. We're beginning, just beginning to get into the Christmas spirit.

Governor Stephens. All right. And we have a message for you from Montana, and here it is, Mr. President.

The President. All right.

[At this point, the group wished the President a ``Merry Christmas.'']

The President. Hey, listen, I beat you to the draw, though. [Laughter] That's good. Have a good one, Stan. How's the tree doing out there?

Governor Stephens. It's doing just great. It looks marvelous.

The President. I'll see you. Well, invite me back out.

Governor Stephens. We shall. Thank you, Mr. President. Thanks for your call.

The President. Good talking to you. Merry Christmas.

Governor Stephens. Merry Christmas.

Note: The President spoke at 2:30 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House to participants meeting at Arrowhead Elementary School in Billings, MT. Dr. Peter Carparelli is superintendent of schools for the Billings public school system, and Karen J. Morrison is a teacher at Garfield Elementary School in Billings.

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