The White House
President George W. Bush
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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
September 2, 2004

Strengthening Education and Job Training Opportunities

We live and work in a time of dramatic change. A generation ago, workers often had one job or one skill for their entire career - often with the same company. Today, workers change jobs, and even careers, many times during their lives. These more dynamic times can result in great opportunities for all Americans - if they have the education and skills they need.

High-quality education is fundamental to achieving the American Dream. In 2001, President Bush called for significant reforms to K-12 education through No Child Left Behind Act to set high standards and produce real results so that every child in America would receive a quality education. The President signed the No Child Left Behind Act into law to ensure that all students become proficient in reading and math and to close the achievement gap that exists between students of different socio-economic backgrounds.

We are already seeing hopeful results. Math scores are up in fourth and eighth grades across the country. Fourth graders in urban schools are showing strong gains in both reading and math. And from Georgia, North Carolina, and Maryland, to Illinois, Wisconsin, and New Mexico, minority children are improving test scores and narrowing the achievement gap.

The President's New Education Proposals

The President's new education proposals build on his first successful reforms by:

Background: Early Childhood Development for a Successful Start

Early childhood development is one of the best investments America can make to ensure that children are successful in school and later in life. Studies show vocabulary, letter knowledge, and phonological awareness, in addition to social and emotional factors, have a significant impact on later success in school. Whether in pre-school or at home with parents or other caregivers, every young child should have the opportunity to develop the skills needed to succeed in school.

President Bush continues his efforts to improve early childhood education through the Good Start/Grow Smart program, including his proposal to strengthen Head Start. Additionally, the President will:

Elementary and Secondary Education to Increase Student Achievement

While the No Child Left Behind Act is setting high standards and increasing student achievement for schools across America, there is more to be done to improve our Nation's high schools. Today's statistics show that only 32 percent of high school graduates are actually prepared for higher education or the workforce. Statistics also show that nationally, of 100 ninth graders: only 68 will graduate from high school on time; only 40 will directly enter college; only 27 are still enrolled their sophomore year; and only 18 will end up graduating from college within six years.

The President knows there is no more important job than preparing our students for the jobs and opportunities of the 21st century, and that preparation must begin in the early grades and continue on through middle and high school. President Bush is committed to building on his Jobs for the 21st Century initiative to improve our Nation's high schools and ensure that every high school student graduates with the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in higher education and the workforce.

Strengthening Higher Education for a Successful Workforce

The President believes that America has the finest system of higher education in the world with a wide and diverse range of options available. Yet, there is a significant shortage of workers with post-secondary education. Eighty percent of the fastest-growing jobs of the 21st century require post-secondary education or training. Approximately 650,000 adults are in need of short-term training and are not receiving it today.

Traditionally, the system of higher education, including student aid formulas, was designed for full-time students between the ages of 18 and 24, who attend post-secondary education once in their lifetimes. Today's statistics indicate that only about one-third of the 15 million students enrolled in post-secondary education are these once-in-a-lifetime students, and changes in technology and the new economy are increasingly requiring individuals to return for additional post-secondary education to upgrade their skills.

The President's higher education proposals make the system more user-friendly - more oriented to the needs of today's students - and ensure students have access to programs that will provide the skills needed in the globally competitive 21st century economy. These proposals will also allow students greater access to programs based on recent technological advances.

The President's Current Initiatives to Improve Education and Job Training

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