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The Congressional Club
Washington, D.C.
May 2, 2001

Remarks of Laura Bush at the Congressional Club

As delivered.

Thank you very much.

And thanks to Mrs. Tiahrt and her planning committee and Mrs. Gekas. Your hard work made all of this possible. I’m thrilled to be a part of this nearly century-old tradition.

The Congressional Club is a group that knows how to get things done. You might know the story about Mrs. John Sharp Williams, whose husband, the House Minority Leader, was against the creation of a Congressional Club.

On May 20, 1908, the day the House was to vote on the club’s resolution of incorporation, Mrs. Williams took her disagreeable husband to lunch. While he was gone, the house voted to pass the resolution unanimously, and The Congressional Club became an official organization.

Today, your lunch-time tradition continues to serve greater purposes. In fact, this afternoon’s festivities benefit "The Little White House" mentoring program here on the Hill. That’s a great cause to celebrate and support.

Children need loving and strong role models in their lives. For a child, guidance from a caring adult can mean the difference between self-esteem and self-doubt; between success and failure later on in life.

In your districts, you have the opportunity to take on causes that affect the future of our children. I want you to know about the areas I’m working on through my Ready to Read, Ready to Learn initiative.

A top priority of mine is recruiting more teachers. I’m supporting a number of national projects, including Troops to Teachers, Teach for America, the New Teacher Project.

Caring teachers have a tremendous impact on their students’ lives. Recently my husband received a letter from a young man named Austin.

He said, "Dear Mister President Bush, This is an honor writing to you! I have brown eyes and hair. My favorite subject is math. My teacher is Mrs. Broff. She is my teacher for one year but friend for life."

Simple words with great meaning. Teachers do much more than teach. They mentor, support, entertain...and they befriend. We need more of these wonderful professionals in our schools.

Another goal is to spotlight pre-school programs rich in pre-reading and vocabulary skills, which are important building blocks for education. If Head Start and other pre-schools can make sure teachers include these activities in their daily curriculum, then more children will start school with the advantage of being prepared for reading and learning.

At home, parents need information about how to prepare their children for reading and learning, and they need to know how important it is to read to their children very early and often — from the time they are babies.

I’m working with a program called Reach Out and Read, a pediatric-based literacy program in which doctors actually prescribe reading to parents for their babies. During well-child exams, doctors spend time showing parents how to read to their babies, and they give their patients new books to take home after each visit.

Finally, Americans need to know about the most up-to-date science and research on child development, learning, reading and other activities that will help prepare children for success in school, and in life.

These are my goals, and I would like to enlist your help in reaching them, because we all have a duty to help our children achieve.

You are the experts on what is best for your own states. You know what your schoolchildren need; you know the programs that work; and you know what best can be done. Through our combined efforts we can help shape America’s future.

The President joins me in thanking you for all that you do to make our country a better place.

Thank you for inviting me, and thank you for your support of "The Little White House." Have a great afternoon.

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