Clinton urges national crusade to improve education

Washington (Reuter) - In a State of the Union speech setting his second-term goals, President Bill Clinton said last night that improving US education would become top priority, followed by "unfinished business" like campaign finance reform.

The televised address before the joint houses of Congress appeared to be a compilation of poll-tested themes from his 1996 re-election campaign and represented what a senior aide called a "concrete plan of action" for preparing America for the 21st century.

In pre-released excerpts from the speech, Mr Clinton appealed for a "national crusade" to raise education standards to a level competitive with other industrial nations.

"The greatest step of all - the high threshold to the future we now must cross - and my number one priority as president for the next four years - is to ensure that Americans have the best education in the world.

"We must begin a national crusade for education standards - not federal government standards, but national standards representing what all of our students must know to succeed in the knowledge economy of the 21st century."

Mr Clinton proposed $51bn (pounds 32bn) for education in the fiscal year, starting on 1 October, a 20 per cent increase over current spending, to pay for education, training and tax cuts tied to education. Under his education programme, spending would rise to nearly $60bn a year by 2002 as other pro- grammes are cut to balance the federal budget by that year.

Mr Clinton went into the annual ritual in the chamber of the House of Representatives enjoying some of the highest public approval ratings of his presidency in spite of a nagging controversy over how he and his Democratic Party had raised money for last year's campaigns.

The President's speech, expected to last about an hour, was thin on grand, large-scale initiatives, in line with the country's perceived mood towards less government intrusion. But he was clearly hoping to make education his ticket to the history books, in addition to two big items left over from his first term: balancing the budget by 2002 and carrying out a welfare reform law in a way that gets people jobs.

Mr Clinton's national education crusade involves a 10-point plan, top-ped by setting up a programme in the next two years for national achievement tests in reading and mathematics to make sure children master the basics.

The crusade would also ensure high quality standards for teachers and make schools safe, disciplined and drug-free.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£28000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer and Markets Development Executive

£22000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company's mission is to ma...

Recruitment Genius: Guest Services Assistant

£13832 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This 5 star leisure destination on the w...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Account Manager

£20000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Account Manager is requ...

Day In a Page

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory