The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
March 2, 2002

President Emphasizes Teacher Quality in Radio Address

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THE PRESIDENT:  Good morning.  This coming week, I will be highlighting measures to help America's public schools carry out the education reforms we enacted in Washington earlier this year.  Our education reforms require accountability and results, and give schools greater resources to achieve them.

Parents will have more information about the performance of their local schools and more say in how their children are educated.  The No Child Left Behind Act is historic, ushering in a new era of accountability and education, but a lot of hard work is still ahead.

The effectiveness of all education reform eventually comes down to a good teacher in a classroom.  And America's teachers are eager to put higher standards into action and we must give them the tools to succeed. My administration has set a great goal for our public schools:  a quality teacher in every classroom.

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We can achieve this in two ways:  by attracting capable men and women into the teaching profession, and providing teachers the training and support they deserve.  Over the next decade, America will need more than 2 million new teachers.  The budget I have signed into law for 2002 includes nearly $3 billion for teacher training, recruiting and hiring, an increase of more than 35 percent over the last year's budget.

We proposed to expand programs that recruit new math, science and special education teachers by forgiving part of their college loans in exchange for a commitment to teach in poor neighborhoods for at least five years.  We should open up the teaching profession, allowing people who have achieved in other fields -- including veterans and parents with grown children -- to share their learning and experience.  And we must upgrade the teaching colleges, where many teachers receive their training, the topic of a conference that will be hosted by our First Lady on Tuesday.

Today, only 36 percent of teachers themselves say they feel very well prepared for their jobs, so we'll focus on teacher training efforts where the need is greatest, in early childhood education, special education, math, science and reading instruction.  Through my administration's Reading First program, we are placing a new emphasis on the most basic of skills and many of our teachers will need training in the best and proven methods of reading instruction.

Because learning only takes place in an atmosphere of order, we want our teachers to be in control of their classrooms.  So we're protecting teachers from the threat of frivolous lawsuits that often result from enforcing reasonable discipline.  Because committed teachers often buy school supplies for their students out of their own pockets, the budget I have proposed includes a tax deduction to cover some of those costs.

And because I strongly believe in local control of education, I'll implement new flexibility for school districts.  They'll be able to use federal funds where the local need is greatest to reduce class sizes or improve teacher training or to increase teacher pay.

In our new era of education reform we're asking a lot of our teachers, and we owe them something in return.  We must treat them as the professionals they are.  We must give them our respect and support. Teachers are among the most important people in our children's lives and a good teacher can literally make a lifelong difference.

I have confidence in the education reforms we enacted because I have confidence in the teachers who will carry them out.

Thank you for listening.


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