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 President Clinton Speaks To American Federation Of Teachers (07-20-97)

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Clinton Promotes Stricter School Discipline

He announces an Oct. 15 school safety summit at the White House

NEW ORLEANS (AllPolitics, July 20) -- President Bill Clinton said Monday a lack of discipline in the nation's schools represents "a threat to the strength and vitality of America."

Clinton addresses the American
Federation of Teachers

In a talk to the American Federation of Teachers union's annual convention, Clinton called for wider use of school uniforms, curfews and anti-gun policies to help restore "order in our children's lives."

"You know, better than anybody, learning cannot occur unless our schools are safe and orderly places, where teachers can teach and children can learn," Clinton said.

"Wherever there is chaos where there should be calm, wherever there is disorder where there should be discipline, make no mistake about it, it's not just a threat to our classrooms and to your mission -- it is threat to the strength and vitality of America," the president said.

Clinton cited a study that found 81 percent of teachers said the worst-behaving students absorb most of their attention, "not the struggling students, not the striving students, the worst-behaved."

"Now teachers can't teach if they have to fight for respect or fear for their safety," Clinton said to applause. "Students can't study if there is disorder in a classroom."

Clinton used the occasion to announce an Oct. 15 White House summit on school violence, in answer to the recent spate of school shootings and other crime problems in and around the nation's schools. The gathering will include satellite hookups to communities where the shootings have occurred.

The summit will bring together teachers, students, school administrators, academics and law enforcement officials, White House officials said.

Clinton urged the teachers and school districts to pursue "a new approach to restore discipline in our schools and order in our children's lives."

"Teachers can't teach if they have to fight for respect or fear for their safety," Clinton said.

Clinton combined his New Orleans appearance with a fund-raising luncheon for Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) and a Democratic National Committee fund-raising dinner. The dinner, with tickets priced at $10,000, is expected to collect about $200,000, DNC officials told The Associated Press.

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