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Full Transcript -- Feb. 10, 1997

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Clinton Takes Education Show On The Road

President asks state legislators to 'lead the way'

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AllPolitics, Feb. 10) -- President Bill Clinton took his message of education reform to the Maryland General Assembly today, asking lawmakers there to "lead the way."

The stop is the first of several the president plans to make at state legislatures around the country. Clinton sought to reassure the legislators during the 53-minute address that his plans for the nation's schools were not a "federal power grab."

"National leadership can point the way," Clinton said. "It can move barriers out of the way that have prevented our states, our cities and our people from solving their own problems.

"But the real responsibilities of building this future are ones we all must bear together," he said. "I will do my part. I will do what I can to see that the national government does its part. But, in turn, you must work with me and with others to make sure that we seize this opportunity while we stand strong enough to do so."

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Clinton touted his administration's efforts to give state governments more flexibility in education. "But no matter how much flexibility you have," he said, "sooner or later your children are going to have to face the fact that they either can read or they can't, they either can do math or they can't, they know algebra or they don't. And if we play around with all these games and hide-and-seek excuses, in the end the only people that are going to be hurt are those kids, and the rest of the country will pay the price from now on."

The president dismissed claims that the nation is too diverse to have national standards imposed upon it.

"It is amazing -- you know, we take it for granted we have the best military in the world," Clinton said. "Think how silly it would be if everyplace in America where we do basic training, they said, 'Well, you know, Louisiana is a long way from Georgia; we couldn't have possibly have uniform standards for basic training in the military; just sort of come up with whatever you think will be good, and we'll hope it works the next time we're in the Persian Gulf.'"


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