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Elementary and Secondary Education Remarks Announcing the Administration's Proposals to the Congress.

February 28, 1978

Good morning, everybody. My first public job was as a member of the Sumter County School Board, and I've never lost my early conviction that the noblest task of government is education. In this task, the Federal Government must be a strong and reliable partner for the State and local governments.

There are three major elements in my education proposals to Congress for this year.

First, I've asked Congress to work with me in creating a Cabinet-level department of education, as was promised during the campaign. Education is far too important a matter to be scattered piecemeal among various Government departments and agencies, which are often busy with sometimes dominant concerns. We must pull our education programs together if we are to assure them of the full attention that they deserve.

Secondly, I recently proposed a plan to Congress that would make financial help available each year to 2 million more college students than are now eligible. College costs have gone up 77 percent in the last 10 years, a burden on many low-and middle-income families that we must help to ease.

No able student should be denied a college education because a family cannot afford it. My proposals now being considered by Congress will bring us closer to making this a reality.

Today, as the third element in this year's educational program, I'm sending Congress my major legislative proposals on elementary and secondary education. Altogether, we are seeking for next year an increase over this year's spending of 26 percent and a total increase of 46 percent—$4 billion increase in these 2 fiscal years.

These much needed, additional funds for elementary and secondary education are the largest proposed by any President since the creation of the program by President Johnson and the Congress more than 10 years ago.

Most of these changes will let us channel Federal funds more efficiently, effectively, and directly to those so often shortchanged in our educational system because of social problems or because of poverty.

Today's proposals also will focus our Nation's resources in helping our children master the basic skills, often in recent years neglected—reading, writing, and arithmetic—which remain critical to their ability to function in a complex society.

We must do a better job of teaching these basic skills to all our children. We cannot fail to make the best use of our primary weapon against ignorance and lack of opportunity—our schools. As we improve our elementary and secondary school system, all Americans will benefit.

Now the Vice President has a statement, and Secretary Califano. We have a group of key congressional leaders. Joe Califano will explain that some who were going to be here this morning, who support the program very strongly, are working hard in the House and Senate on the first two elements that I described to you. And I'd like to introduce now, the Vice President.

Note: The President spoke at 10:32 a.m. to reporters assembled in the Briefing Room at the White House. Following the President's remarks, Vice President Walter F. Mondale spoke and then introduced Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph A. Califano, Jr., who held a news conference on the proposals.

Jimmy Carter, Elementary and Secondary Education Remarks Announcing the Administration's Proposals to the Congress. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/244547

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