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?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Manager required for a busy company in...

Recruitment Genius: Controller / Mobile Inspector

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This leading security company requires a prof...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A sales person is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Wimbledon 2015: Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Brief glimpses of the old Venus but Williams sisters' epic wars belong to history

Serena dispatched her elder sister 6-4, 6-3 in eight minutes more than an hour
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy