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Public Papers - 1989

Remarks at the Education Summit Farewell Ceremony at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville

1989-09-28

Secretary Cavazos. Thank you very much. The past 2 days have been busy for all of us, but the enthusiasm has come to this meeting, discussions have borne our knowledge that we are doing vital and important work and that the results of our decisions will have an impact far beyond what we can imagine. We've made history at this education summit, and I know that we will continue to make history in every State and every school across America.

It is an honor now to introduce the President of the United States, George Bush.

The President. Thank you very much. My role is simply now, at the end of what I think we all agree was a very successful conference, to again thank the University of Virginia students, its faculty, its president; to thank all of the Governors. I want to single out those on the platform with me now: Governor Branstad, who is head of the Governors' Association; Governor Carruthers; Governor Booth Gardner of the State of Washington; and of course Bill Clinton, who looks a little tired, but took on an extra responsibility for hammering out a statement upon which there is strong agreement.

And we've reached agreement on the need for national performance goals, on the need for more flexibility and accountability, the need for restructuring and choice, and I agree with Governor Clinton that this is a major step forward in education; the need for letting parents, teachers, students, and communities -- to encourage them to work together more and more; and the need for more Federal support for the prekindergarten education process normally identified with Head Start, but certainly other programs might fit that description.

But I want to thank each and every one of the Governors and their families. This has been historic, and I pledge to you my determination to follow up in every way possible. We just cannot let it sit here and end here, and I promise you that I won't, that my Cabinet won't, and that our entire administration will not. So, with no further ado, to all the Governors here, my heartfelt thanks.

Governor Branstad. Mr. President, on behalf of the National Governors' Association, we thank you for calling us together in this very historic summit on education. I want to thank all of the Governors that participated. We had better attendance than we even do at the National Governors' annual meetings. There were open and frank discussions. A very significant agreement has been reached. This year, the National Governors' Association has an agenda that calls for building a consensus for change to address some of the critical issues facing the United States of America -- the issues of education and the environment.

And in the last 2 days here, we have made significant progress towards building that national consensus with the leadership of the President and the Governors. In the area of setting national education goals, we unanimously agree that there is a need for the first time in this nation's history to have specific results-oriented goals. And we're talking about roles in the area of readiness of children to start school; in the area of performance of students in international achievement tests in the areas of math and science; in the reduction of the dropout rate and the improvement of academic performance, especially for at-risk children; in the functional literacy of adult Americans; in the level of training necessary to guarantee a competitive work force; in the supply of qualified teachers with up-to-date technology; and the establishment of safe, disciplined, and drug-free schools.

We recognize the need for both flexibility to State governments and to local school districts -- but coupled with that, accountability for outcome-related results. I think significant progress has been made. We have committed to work together -- the National Governors' Association Task Force on Education and the people designated by the President -- to make specific goals and to reach those goals hopefully by the February meeting of the National Governors' Association in the Nation's Capital.

It's a beautiful day in Charlottesville, Virginia. I'm proud that the President has invited us to be here. We appreciate the great hospitality of this great State and this great university, and I'm pleased to introduce my Vice Chairman for the National Governors' Association, the Governor of the State of Washington, Governor Booth Gardner, to talk about some of the other goals that have been spelled out in this joint statement. Governor Gardner.

Governor Gardner. The report goes further, and I think one of the reasons that we're all so excited about the results of the last 2 days are that the report addresses the financial role of the Federal Government in education, albeit in a limited role -- but an extremely important role. And the understanding is that the money that becomes available will be applied to the issue of early childhood education and Head Start and preparing young people for the day that they enter school -- that they will be on a parred and equity basis with other children and they're ready and able to perform.

And we also discussed and agreed that we have to continue to look at mandates from the Federal Government to make sure that those mandates do not impinge on the State's ability to provide its discretionary funds for education. Then we have a very exciting statement on the commitment to restructuring. The President and the Nation's governments [Governors] have agreed that significant steps must be made in restructuring education in all States: a system of accountability that focuses on results rather than input; a decentralized authority and decision-making responsibility to the school site; empowerment to the principals and the teachers to carry out their mandates and citing challenges to face us in this country; and an educational system that develops first-rate teachers and supports those teachers with the technology, staff, and services that are necessary to allow them to be productive.

And lastly, we want to compliment the Secretary of Education and the President on agreeing that we will have a report card and that we will measure the schools, the State, and the Federal Government year by year to make sure that we remain committed to the agreements that we have reached in the past 2 days and the goals that will come out of the process for the next few months that we hope to agree on in February or March.

In the past few days, the President, his Cabinet, Secretary of Education, the Governors, and their staff have humbly walked the footsteps of Thomas Jefferson. We started down a promising path, and we have composed a Jeffersonian compact, the beneficiaries of which will be the children of this country. The children of this country today represent 25 percent of our population. Tomorrow, they are 100 percent of that population. With that, I'd like to introduce the Governor of New Mexico and the chairman of the Educational Commission of the States, Garrey Carruthers.

Governor Carruthers. Thank you very much, Booth. We came to talk about sharing the responsibility for success, and we've done that. And to have success we need to have a vision, much higher expectations, and the President of the United States gave one of the finest speeches I've ever heard on education today at the convocation at the University of Virginia.

And it is from that speech and the work that we have to do afterwards that will develop the vision of education in this country. But I think also we came to talk about empowering people, and we talked a lot about empowering. We're going to empower parents by encouraging choice; we're going to empower teachers by letting them take over the classrooms again; we're going to empower those educational entrepreneurs that exist in all our communities by deregulating the educational system.

We need to empower the kids by making sure that before they're 5 years old they've been properly taken care of in every way, particularly with health. And we need to empower the private sector by inviting them into the school systems and getting their assistance and mentoring programs and the financial assistance they've always been willing to give us. And then we need to empower all Americans very simply by having them join us in developing a set of national goals. It has been a wonderful conference, and now I'd like to introduce you to Governor Bill Clinton, who's one of the prime forces in developing this conference, the summit, with the President of the United States.

Governor Clinton. Thank you very much, Governor Carruthers, Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen. This is a rather emotional moment for me. For one thing, I didn't get much sleep last night -- we were up working on this statement.

I want to thank Governor Campbell, who is not here, and Governor Branstad, who is, and all the others who worked on this statement from the National Governors' Association -- John Sununu [Chief of Staff] and Roger Porter [Assistant to the President for Domestic and Economic Affairs] and others from the White House staff. And most important, Mr. President, I want to thank you for giving us the chance, the Governors, after 7 years of hard work on educational reform, to have a real national partnership in education.

The press will ask today, and maybe the people will when we get home, what really happened here that makes a difference. I would say there are three things.

This is the first time in the history of this country that we have ever thought enough of education and ever understood its significance to our economic future enough to commit ourselves to national performance goals. It has never happened in over 200 years. This is the first time, ever, any group of public officials have ever committed themselves to a national effort to restructure the schools of the United States -- something every educator who studied it says is the single most significant thing we could do.

And this is the first time a President and Governors have ever stood before the American people and said: Not only are we going to set national performance goals, which are ambitious, not only are we going to develop strategies to achieve them, but we stand here before you and tell you we expect to be held personally accountable for the progress we make in moving this country to a brighter future. If that doesn't make this a happy day, I don't know what does. Thank you very much.

The President. Thank you all. Well done, Bill. You did a wonderful job. Booth, thanks for everything.

Note: The President spoke at 3:07 p.m. on the steps of the Rotunda. Following his remarks, he returned to Washington, DC.

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