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1988 State of the Union Message: Praise for 'Imaginative Reforms'

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Following are President Reagan's remarks on education in the Jan. 25 State of the Union Message:


... [L]et's turn to a matter on the mind of every American parent tonight--education. We all know the sorry story of the 60's and 70's--soaring spending, plummeting test scores--and that hopeful trend of the 80's, when we replaced an obsession with dollars with a commitment to quality, and test scores started back up. There's a lesson here that we all should write on the blackboard a hundred times--in a child's education, money can never take the place of basics like discipline, hard work, and yes, homework.

As a nation we do, of course, spend heavily on education--more than we spend on defense--yet across our country, governors like New Jersey's Tom Kean are giving classroom demonstrations that how we spend is as important as how much we spend. Opening up the teaching profession to all qualified candidates, merit pay, so that good teachers get A's as well as apples, and stronger curriculum, as Secretary [of Education William J.] Bennett has proposed for high schools. These imaginative reforms are making common sense the most popular new kid in America's schools.

How can we help? Well, we can talk about and push for these reforms. But the most important thing we can do is to reaffirm that control of our schools belongs to the states, local communities and, most of all, to the parents and teachers. ...

[S]o many of our greatest statesmen have reminded us that spiritual values alone are essential to our nation's health and vigor. This Congress opens its proceedings each day, as does the Supreme Court, with an acknowledgment of the Supreme Being--yet we are denied the right to set aside in our schools a moment each day for those who wish to pray. I believe Congress should pass our school-prayer amendment.

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