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Clinton Touts Nation’s Revival in Education

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From the Washington Post

President Clinton on Monday pointed to higher test scores and more minority students taking advanced courses as evidence that the nation is in an “education revival,” rebutting Texas Gov. George W. Bush’s charge that the nation is in an “education recession.”

Clinton touted the administration’s education achievements, including what he described as greater access to college and higher standards in schools, but said more could be done if the GOP-led Congress would approve money for more teachers and for school construction.

“The majority in Congress is pushing a budget that would neither increase investment or accountability,” Clinton said, injecting a dose of partisan rhetoric into a speech announcing that the national student loan default rate has fallen to a record 6.9% even as borrowing has tripled.

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Clinton has been emphasizing education and health care as Congress nears adjournment. His remarks Monday were a response to Bush, who last week said American students’ test scores aren’t competitive with those of students in other industrialized nations.

Bush asserted that 68% of fourth-graders in the poorest schools have trouble reading a simple children’s book. “America is in the midst of an education recession,” Bush said.

But Clinton said math and reading scores are rising, and that some of the greatest gains are in disadvantaged schools. The number of students taking Advanced Placement courses has risen by two-thirds in eight years, he said, among Latino students by about 300% and among African American students by about 500%.

“For more than seven years, we’ve tried to invest more in our schools--in more teachers, smaller classes, more Head Start, more after-school and summer school programs, hooking up 95% of the schools to the Internet,” he said. “We’ve also demanded more from our schools: higher standards, more accountability for results, more responsibility for turning around failing schools.”

At the beginning of his first term, only 14 states had standards in the core curriculum, he said; today, 49 do.

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