State of Education Addresses

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Feb. 15, 1994:

Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley delivers his first "State of American Education Address,'' starting a series modeled after his annual education speeches as governor of South Carolina. In a national address at Georgetown University in Washington, he outlines his vision for "a new compact'' between children and families "in an effort to reconnect children to learning.''

"The issue is not 'good,' 'bad,' or 'rank,''' he says, "but whether we are changing fast enough to save and educate this generation of young people, whether education has kept up with the fundamental and far-reaching changes in the economic and social structure of this nation.''

Feb. 1, 1995:

Speaking shortly after Republicans assumed control of Congress, Mr. Riley defends the Department of Education against gop calls to eliminate the agency. Terrel H. Bell, President Ronald Reagan's first secretary of education, joins Mr. Riley on stage for the speech at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Arlington, Va. Mr. Riley says that public schools are "turning the corner'' and showing gains in student achievement.

"The American people believe in education, and they believe it should be made a national priority. They know that education is an act of building--the building of people, the building of our nation, and the building of our future,'' he says.

Feb. 28, 1996:

Mr. Riley presents seven challenges for improving American education. Most important, he says at Maplewood-Richmond Heights High School in St. Louis, is improving student literacy. The other challenges are improving school safety, setting high academic standards, increasing access to school technology, preparing students for careers, lowering college costs, and making education a national priority.

"You can't cruise or use the Internet if you don't know how to read. That is our most urgent task--teaching our children good reading habits, getting America serious about reading,'' he asserts.

Feb. 18, 1997:

Mr. Riley outlines and defends the ambitious education agenda of the recently re-elected President Clinton in a speech at the Carter Center, an Atlanta think tank founded by former President Jimmy Carter. Mr. Clinton's goals include tax cuts for higher education costs, certifying 100,000 master teachers, and creating national tests to assess students' abilities in reading and mathematics.

Reading and math "are the basics of all basics. Let's not cloud our children's future with silly arguments about federal government intrusion. These proposed tests are ... a national challenge, not a national curriculum,'' Mr. Riley says.

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