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The Clinton Plan for Excellence in Education

Phi Delta Kappan; Bloomington Vol. 74, Iss. 2,  (Oct 1992): 131.

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As a governor, as a co-chair of the nation's 1989 education summit in Charlottesville, and as a parent of a child in the public schools of Little Rock, I have devoted more of my time and my energy to education than to any other issue. I've spent more than 11 years now on the front lines of the battle to revolutionize, revitalize, and reform education.

We know two things about education in our country today. It's more important to our economic well-being than ever before, and we still don't have the educational quality or opportunities that our people need. The key to our economic strength in America today is growth in productivity--more products and services from each one of us.

In the Nineties and beyond, the universal spread of computers and high-speed communications means that what we earn depends on what we can learn and on how we can apply what we learn to the workplaces of America.

That's why a college graduate this year will earn 70% more than a high school graduate in the first year of work. That's why, during the last 10 years alone, the earnings of younger workers who dropped out of high school or who finished but received no further education or training dropped by more than 20%.

We know that too many students drop out of school and too many who do finish simply don't have the basic skills they need to get and keep good jobs. We know too that all children can learn but that it's tougher to teach them when so many bring society's problems with them through the schoolhouse door.

We know that we have real gaps in American education--opportunity gaps and responsibility gaps--which are more important to our national security today than the missile gaps that played such...