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 Home > News & Policies > September 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 14, 2004

Mrs. Bush's Remarks on Community Colleges in Cleveland, Ohio
Cuyahoga Community College
Cleveland, Ohio

1:18 P.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much. And thank you, Mayor Hruby. (Applause.) Thank you all, thanks a lot. Thanks so much.

I'm very happy to be here at Cuyahoga Community College. I just had a wonderful tour with Jerry Sue Thornton and Pat Gray and Frank Reis. Thank you all very much for the tour. And thank Larry Simpson also for welcoming me today. I am really glad that Mayor Beryl Rothschild is here as well.

And I'm especially happy to see Claire Rosacco. Claire was at an "Ask President Bush" event earlier this month, and she told us about the innovative partnerships and programs here at Tri-C. She's so proud of your school that I just had to come see it for myself, and now I see why Claire is so enthusiastic.

This college makes it possible for people of all ages to get the skills and the education they need to fulfill their goals. My husband and I strongly support your work. And the President is committed to finding new ways for Americans to improve their lives through local community colleges.

Community colleges can play a very large role in expanding our economy. And the good news is, our economy is expanding.

Thanks to tax relief, we've added 1.7 million new jobs since last August. That's more jobs than were added in Germany, Japan, England, Canada and France combined. (Applause.)

The national unemployment rate has fallen to 5.4 percent, and home ownership is at an all-time high. And I'm proud that for the first time ever, more than half of all minority families in the United States own their own homes. (Applause.)

We've been through some historic times together in the last four years, and these are also times of change that require new ideas to move America forward. We know that families face new challenges and that government should respond to these changing times.

Today, in many families, both parents work full time outside of the home. Two-thirds of all mothers now work outside of the home. And more single parents are doing double duty alone. More entrepreneurs are starting their own businesses, while workers are changing jobs more often, and they're going back to school to keep up with our changing economy.

We're also living longer and we have more opportunity than ever before. My husband wants to make sure this opportunity is extended to every corner of America, so that all Americans have the opportunity to participate in an ownership society.

In New York, President Bush outlined his agenda for a new term. Helping families face the challenges of our changing world is at the heart of the President's plan. And all of you know -- we all know that all opportunity starts with education.

Education reform is making an incredible difference for our youngest students. And now we want to improve high schools by strengthening math and science education by expanding Internet learning so that young people can compete in our technology-driven world.

President Bush has proposed increased funding for advanced placement courses, and new partnerships between high schools and community colleges so that high school students can earn college credits at the same time. And the President wants to raise the level of teaching and learning in high schools so that graduates are prepared for college level academic work when they graduate.

Learning doesn't end at high school and we know that, and that's one of the reasons we're here today. Whether you're 22 or 92, learning is life long. And in today's world, adults of all ages are going back to school. We need to make it easier for Americans to receive training, to earn a degree, or to take specialized courses that help them achieve their full potential. Community colleges like this one are a vital part of that effort.

The President is encouraging partnerships between community colleges and neighboring employers, so that colleges can tailor training programs to meet the local employment needs. When particular skills are in high demand in Cleveland, the President's Jobs for the 21st Century program would make it possible for more people to come here to Cuyahoga Community College. Preparing students for jobs that are in high demand provides local employers with well skilled workers. Better training improves a graduate's chances of finding a good job, and it helps the local economy by increasing employment.

Community colleges are a vital part of a region's economic success. This school already participates in a program with the Department of Labor to retrain manufacturing workers in Ohio. With new advanced training, these workers will have better opportunities in the new job market.

One field with particularly high demand today is nursing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects more than one million job openings for nurses in the next eight years. And teachers here at Tri-C are making sure that students are well prepared to be the nurses of tomorrow.

I just toured the areas where nursing and paramedic students practice their skills and learn new medical techniques. I met Steve, the new Human Patient Simulator. (Laughter.) Steve allows students to perform tests and measure responses as if they were treating an actual patient. Kate Fetter has gotten to know Steve well over the last semester -- two semesters. Kate is right here, and she is a nursing student at Tri-C. She is also a veteran of the United States Navy. (Applause.)

Kate, I want you to know how much the President and I and all Americans appreciate your service to our country. (Applause.)

Kate is going to school full time and raising three children. She says she doesn't know how she got so lucky to have a husband who offered to baby-sit so she could go back to school. She is seizing the opportunity and, after she graduates from Tri-C in December, she plans to get her bachelors and masters degrees while working as a registered nurse.

Kate finished at the top of her class in paramedics training and is going back to nursing school to earn a better salary. She says, "Being a nurse not only allows me to take care of people but also to take care of the things I need to do in my own life." And, of course, her top priority is to be able to help support her family.

Kate said convenience was a major factor in her decision to choose Tri-C. The location was right, the price was affordable and the people were fantastic. She is going to school with students in their 20s and students in their 50s, with men and women from all walks of life.

All of these students are taking advantage of the flexibility that community colleges afford. There are nighttime classes for people who work during the day, or for those who take care of their children at home while their spouse is at work. There are daytime classes for more traditional students. People like Kate have a wealth of opportunities because of the flexibility of community colleges.

My husband believes that the federal government should also be more flexible in helping Americans get advanced education and training. The President's budget for the new year includes a record $73.1 billion for student financial aid. That's a 55 percent increase since he took office. (Applause.) And he is making Pell grants more available, so that millions more low income Americans can get a college diploma.

The President wants to make this financial aid more widely available to meet the needs of today's students. For instance, some industries, especially high-tech and computer-driven professions, require workers to have advanced certificates. These certificate programs aren't full college degrees; they are specialized training programs that people can complete in a few months and then greatly improve their chances of getting a better job or a better salary. I know Tri-C offers many certificate programs.

The President wants to make college financial aid available for students who work toward these certifications. It would be a very smart investment in the future of America's workers and in America's economy.

Internet-based education is also expanding rapidly. With the rise of high-speed Internet and teleconferencing, more people are able to take courses right at their home computer, or at an off-campus facility. That makes it much more convenient for men and women who are trying to squeeze college courses into their work and family schedules.

Think about how much easier it would be if you could get college -- to get college credit if you could do your class work at home after you put your kids to bed. Many students here at Tri-C can do that. But now restrictions on financial aid make it difficult for people with loans and grants to take online or distance learning courses. The President wants to eliminate these needless restrictions so that more Americans can benefit from the convenience of our new technology. (Applause.)

Flexibility is really the key to meeting the demands of work and family in today's fast-paced world. It seems that Americans are getting stretched in every direction these days. It's hard to work 40 hours or more a week, find time to make dinners, take your father to a doctor's appointment, attend a school play and go to a parent-teacher conference. Yet some people are doing all that and still trying to find time to go back to school. They have plenty of ambition and probably a few cups of coffee along the way, too. (Laughter.)

There is no doubt that Americans need more time. The President wants to work with Congress to make flex time and comp time more widely available, so that people can work a flexible schedule and have more control over how they spend the hours of their day. (Applause.)

Right now, workers in the federal government can take advantage of flexible working schedules, and the President wants all Americans to have this opportunity. My husband believes that government should always be on the side of American families.

From lowering taxes to improving our schools, the President has worked hard to benefit Americans with all the opportunities available in our 21st century economy. And schools like Cuyahoga Community College are important partners in that effort.

In a second term, the President will continue to bring needed changes to government so that Americans will have the opportunity to improve their lives. He'll also look to community colleges as vital sources of education, training and economic development in communities.

President Bush knows that the heart and soul of America are found in places like Cleveland, Ohio, where people work hard and do their best every day. (Applause.) He understands your values and he respects your hard work. And, in fact, it inspires his work at the White House.

George and I grew up in West Texas, where the sky seems endless and so do the possibilities. My husband brings that optimism, that sense of purpose, that certainty that a better day is before us to his job every day. And, with your help, he'll do it for four more years. (Applause.)

Thank you all so much. Thank you very, very much. Thank you for coming out. (Applause.) Thank you all. And thank you very much, and congratulations for your good work here. Thanks a lot. (Applause.)

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