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Excerpt From President Reagan's State of The Union Address

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Following is an excerpt from President Reagan's Jan. 25 State of the Union Address.

Families stand at the center of our society. And every family has a personal stake in promoting excellence in education. Excellence does not begin in Washington. A 600 percent increase in Federal spending on education between 1960 and 1980 was accompanied by a steady decline in sat scores. Excellence must begin in our homes and neighborhood schools, where it's the responsibility of every parent and teacher and the right of every child.

Our children come first. That's why I established a bipartisan National Commission on Excellence in Education, to help us chart a common sense course for better educa-tion. Already communities are implementing the commission's recommendations.

Schools are reporting progress in math and reading skills. But we must do more to restore discipline to schools; and we must encourage the teaching of new basics, reward teachers of merit, enforce tougher standards, and put our parents back in charge.

I will continue to press for tuition tax credits to expand opportunities for families, and to soften the double payment for those paying public-school taxes and private-school tuition. Our proposal would target assistance to low- and middle-income families. Just as more incentives are needed within our schools, greater competition is needed among our schools. Without standards and competition there can be no champions, no records broken, no excellence--in education or any other walk of life.

And while I'm on the subject--each day, your members observe a 200-year-old tradition meant to signify America as one nation under God. I must ask: If you can begin your day with a member of the clergy standing right here to lead you in prayer, then why can't freedom to acknowledge God be enjoyed again by children in every schoolroom across this land?

America was founded by people who believed that God was their rock of safety. He is ours. I recognize we must be cautious in claiming that God is on our side. But I think it's all right to keep asking if we are on His side.

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