Home Search The American Presidency Project
John Woolley and Gerhard Peters Home Data Documents Elections Media Links
• Public Papers of the Presidents
• State of the Union
Addresses & Messages
• Inaugural Addresses
• Farewell Addresses
• Weekly Addresses
• Fireside Chats
• News Conferences
• Executive Orders
• Proclamations
• Signing Statements
• Press Briefings
• Statements of
 Administration Policy
• Economic Report of the President
• Debates
• Convention Speeches
• Party Platforms
• 2016 Election Documents
• 2012 Election Documents
• 2008 Election Documents
• 2004 Election Documents
• 1996 Election Documents
• 1968 Election Documents
• 1960 Election Documents
• 2017 Transition
• 2009 Transition
• 2001 Transition
• White House Media Pool Reports
Data Index
Audio/Video Index
Election Index
Florida 2000
Presidential Libraries
View Public Papers by Month and Year

INCLUDE documents from the Office of the Press Secretary
INCLUDE election campaign documents, vice presidential documents, first lady, and other executive branch officals
Search the Entire Document Archive
Enter keyword: 

Limit by Year

To    :

Limit results per page

INCLUDE documents from the Office of the Press Secretary

INCLUDE election campaign documents, vice presidential documents, first lady, and other executive branch officals

You can search the Public Papers in two ways:

1. Search by Keyword and Year
You can search by keyword and choose the range of years within your search by filling out the boxes under Search the Public Papers.

2. View by Month and/or Year
Select the month and/or year you would like information about and press View Public Papers. Then choose a Public Paper and the page will load for you.

Search Engine provided by the Harry S. Truman Library. Our thanks to
Jim Borwick and Dr. Rafee Che Kassim at Project Whistlestop for critical assistance in the implementation of the search function, and to Scott Roley at the Truman Library for facilitating this collaboration.
Ronald Reagan: Radio Address to the Nation on Education
Ronald Reagan
Radio Address to the Nation on Education
September 10, 1988
Public Papers of the Presidents
Ronald Reagan<br>1988-89: Book II
Ronald Reagan
1988-89: Book II

District of Columbia
Font Size:
The American Presidency Project

Promote Your Page Too

My fellow Americans:

It's September, a time when our children once again return to school, bright with promise and eager for instruction. I'm happy to report that if the record of the past 8 years is any indication the prospects for their education are bright—brighter than they've been for more than two decades. Test scores are up, reversing a calamitous drop in scores over the years between 1963 and 1980. Attendance is up, and the number of kids who drop out of high school is down.

The recovery of our schools has been a genuine grassroots accomplishment, and it proves the solution to problems is not to throw money at them but to come up with commonsense answers and start applying them. I'm proud that during our administration George Bush and I have been there with a sympathetic ear and a helping hand. But we've only just begun. Far too many American students are graduating from school without the skills they will need to prosper and the knowledge they'll need to grow as adults. And no one knows this better than America's parents, who rose up at the beginning of the decade and said: Our children are not getting the education they want, need, and deserve.

The education our children want is the ability to discover the answers to the basic questions we all have: Who am I? Where do I live? And what is the world around me like? Children yearn to learn, and their capacity for it is one of the God-given wonders. The education our children need is the ability to read, write, and reason as well as any student in any country in the world. They need it, and the Nation needs it, as well, if we're to prosper and grow. The education our children deserve is the kind no American should be deprived of, for it's the basic instruction in what it means to be an American.

I believe that the education of all Americans must be rooted in the self-evident truths of Western civilization. These are the truths that have been passed down like precious heirlooms from generation to generation since the generations began. Since the founding of this Nation, education and democracy have gone hand in hand. Thomas Jefferson not only wrote the Declaration of Independence and served as our third President but also founded one of our most distinguished institutions of higher learning, the University of Virginia.

Jefferson and the Founders believed a nation that governs itself, like ours, must rely upon an informed and engaged electorate. Their purpose was not only to teach all Americans how to read and write but to instill the self-evident truths that are the anchors of our political system—truths, to quote Jefferson, such as: "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

This is our precious heritage. And our political freedoms—the freedom to speak, to practice our religions, to assemble peacefully-are the product of ideas that were born and nurtured in the great tradition of Western civilization. That tradition does not say "some men" have these rights; it says "all men," everywhere on this Earth. Whether of Asian, Hispanic, or African descent, no matter what color, every American is the inheritor of our great cultural tradition.

That's why I've supported, and continue to support, all efforts to teach our children about our culture, to read great texts and learn their lessons. Bill Bennett, our Secretary of Education, has just reported on the state of elementary education in our country. That report, entitled "James Madison Elementary School," presents an outline for what every elementary school curriculum should include. It is suffused with the glory of Western civilization, and I salute it.

We owe our children no less than to instruct them in what Matthew Arnold called the best that has been known and said. And yet, just as forcefully, I want to say that this curriculum is only a guideline for school districts to follow if they think it right. The final arbiter of what a child should learn is not the state, but the family and the community in which the child lives.

And so, I support the right of all parents to choose the education they believe is best for their children, in the form of magnet schools and State programs like Minnesota's, which permits parents to choose which schools their children can attend. In addition, programs like Youth 2000, which teaches kids to rely on themselves and to say no to drugs, are vital in our efforts. Yes, we're blessed to be the recipients of this cultural bounty. And we must be responsible to, as the Constitution says, "secure the blessings to our posterity."

Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 12:06 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House.
Citation: Ronald Reagan: "Radio Address to the Nation on Education ," September 10, 1988. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=36354.
© 1999-2018 - Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley - The American Presidency Project ™
Locations of visitors to this page