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 Home > News & Policies > January 2004

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 21, 2004

Background Briefing by a Senior Administration Official on the President's Jobs for the 21st Century Initiative
Owens Community College
Perrysburg Township, Ohio

10:54 A.M. EST

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I think everybody has the fact sheet, fairly detailed fact sheet. So I won't spend a lot of time over that. I think just a couple of introductory points.

So you know the President has signed, Congress has passed, the President has signed No Child Left Behind, which is aimed at ensuring that kids are reading and doing math, performing science at grade level when they reach those -- setting expectations high and kids are meeting those expectations at grade level. Third graders are doing third grade math and third grade reading.

Certainly a recognition that there's kids who had gone through the pipeline before some of these reforms, and there's kids out there who need to be caught up. So part of the proposals here is to provide assistance to states and school districts, developing and implementing research-based programs to help some of these kids get caught up and meet the standards of grade level.

And then, certainly, ample research indicates that kids who come into college well prepared, having taken a rigorous course work, have a much greater chance of succeeding and graduating in college. So a large part of the proposal is to provide assistance to community colleges on work training and incentives for kids to take rigorous high school courses.

That's a brief summary. I would just be happy to answer any questions.

Q These are education, mostly education proposals, but they're being touted as job creation proposals. Can you explain how that works?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, certainly the recognition is that the system that -- an education system, a training system that's been in place in the past is not meeting some of the demands of the changing economy, changing demands for the work force. And so these proposals are intended to ensure that kids, students, dislocated workers are better prepared upon entering the work force.

Q Dislocated workers entering the work force?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Helping them re-enter the work force, dislocated workers, folks who have been laid off, providing them the training and skills so that they facilitate the re-entry.

Q If they went back to community college, is what you're talking about, right?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Right, these grants would be community-based job training grants through community colleges.

Q Could you just clarify, please, the $33 million for expanded Pell grants. What percentage is that of the existing program?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It's a -- it's a very small percentage. I don't have the exact percentage, but Pell grants, the total is upwards of $12 billion. And so --

Q (Inaudible).

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Right. So this is just, essentially seed money that kids coming out of programs, and it would really be tied to the state scholars program that President Bush announced in Arkansas a couple of years ago. Right now, there are only 12 states who have received funding through the Department of Education to put those state scholars programs in place. So this is -- the $33 million certainly is a start-up cost.

Q Can you just tell us how much new money is in this whole thing that we've looked at, because with some of these, it's hard to tell what's existing and what would actually be proposals for new spending.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: These are all new proposals, and the total package is over $550 million. I shouldn't say, all new.

Q In the in year, or over five?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: That's the first year, '05. Some of them are expansions of existing programs -- the math-science program. The community college program is something that Secretary Chao started with discretionary funds. And this would ramp that program up significantly.

Q I have two questions. First of all, when we see the budget, will this be a net increase, or will it be offsetting decreases in other portions of education or labor or spending?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You'll see net increases in both the Department of Labor and Department of Education budgets.

Q But all of these will be net increases. There won't be any offsets for these particular proposals.

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, obviously, the President has made clear in the past he's trying to move funding into programs that work. I'm not going to sit here and say that there won't be any cuts or terminations in programs in Department of Education or Department of Labor, but these are new programs, new money for new programs. And budgets are increasing.

Q And secondly, on the community college component, the $250 million, first of all, is that a one-time grant or is it anticipated to be an ongoing program? And secondly, can you describe how this grant would differ from existing job training programs that are federally subsidized in community colleges?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: It would envision being up to three year grant, and it -- the primary difference is that this program specifically requires partnerships of the community college with local businesses, working with the state work force investment board, the local work force investment board, to ensure that the programs and the curricula community colleges are providing are providing training for jobs that will be there, that business and industry and the state and region have identified as high-growth, high-need jobs.

Q So it's the collaborative nature that's the new part?

SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yes, that's the required collaborative nature. Certainly through WIA there has been pockets of collaboration around the country in the past.

Thank you.

END 11:00 A.M. EST