Bill Clinton photo

Remarks Honoring Teachers Hall of Fame Inductees and an Exchange With Reporters

August 05, 1993

The President. Thank you, Mr. Secretary, and good afternoon to all of you. I'm sorry we started a little late, but I think you know I've been in there on the telephone to the Congress.

It's a great pleasure to welcome all of you here, especially the inductees into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. I'd also like to thank the representatives of Emporia State University, the Emporia public schools, and the city of Emporia, Kansas, for all their hard work in establishing the National Teachers Hall of Fame. Recognizing our teachers is a wonderful idea, and I hope I can help to do it every year I'm here.

We're here to honor the spirit and the dedication of teaching that motivates this wonderful group of educators, people who every day in small towns and large cities bring to our young people the gift of learning. Every one of us has a memory of a teacher who literally changed our lives. A good teacher does more than pass on information. A good teacher inspires a thirst for learning that lasts a lifetime, instilling confidence, conveying values, shaping our understanding of the world around us. I'm reminded of a quote from Henry Brooks Adams: "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."

The 10 men and women we recognize today, chosen from hundreds of nominees, are examples of our Nation's finest teachers. Not only do they bring a special gift for teaching, they've all made other contributions to their communities. Each of them has a unique style of teaching and a vision for the role of education that must be played now and well into the 21st century.

I'd like to acknowledge each of these inductees, beginning with the ones from 1992. First, Sheryl Abshire from Lake Charles, Louisiana. She served—I'm going to see if I can pronounce this, and I'm from Arkansas, I should be able to pronounce this—she served the Calcasieu— is that right?—Calcasieu Parish schools for 18 years as an elementary school teacher and library/media specialist. Today she is the principal of Westwood Elementary in Westlake, Louisiana. She's made technology a part of the total elementary curriculum and has brought such innovative learning projects to her State that the president of the Louisiana Association of Teachers credits her for setting the standard in Louisiana for instructional technology.

The second winner is Anna Alfiero of Norwichtown, Connecticut, who has taught science and math at Clark Lane Junior High in Waterford, Connecticut, for 31 years. She has found new ways to bring economics to the classroom and to make math real to her enthusiastic students. This is particularly important because one of our Nation's most pressing educational challenges is to improve the math skills of the next generation.

Third is Helen Case from El Dorado, Kansas. She attended a one-room rural school in the early 1900's. I hate to say that. [Laughter] And she has dedicated her life to serving others. She began teaching at the tender age of 17 and went on to teach in the Kansas public school system for 45 years. She integrated innovative teaching methods into her curriculum long before they became widely popular. I hear she used to hold mock sessions of Congress, national party conventions, and elections in her classes. Maybe she can give me a tip or two today. [Laughter]

I'd next like to acknowledge Shirley Cunningham Naples from Detroit, Michigan. During each of her 23 years in the schools of Ferndale, Michigan, Mrs. Naples issued a challenge to her students to be the best. And every year they did just that, because she did. Parents in Ferndale started planning as early as kindergarten for their children to be in her class because of the personal commitment she made to the education of each and every one of her students. She also contributes her teaching skills to help immigrant boat children become successful English-speaking members of the school community.

Next is Joseph York of Memphis, Tennessee, who teaches senior English at Adamsville Junior-Senior High School. Practically no one in his community is beyond his reach. In addition to teaching his regular students during the day, he tutors other teachers and children and teaches 4 nights a week at area universities, including the regional State prison. This incredible energy and devotion to teaching stems from his belief that a student's learning ability is directly related to his or her self image.

Let's give them all a hand. [Applause]

And now, the 1993 inductees: Leslie Black from Northport, Alabama. During her 25 years of teaching, Mrs. Black has been recognized for her efforts to strengthen and encourage a better link between home and school, something that I believe very strongly in, as I had experience in my State with a preschool program that my wife brought to Arkansas called the home instruction program for preschool youngsters. Mrs. Black has brought individualized instruction to the classroom and has worked to integrate music, the arts, and cultural awareness into the daily curriculum. She was also awarded the 1992 Presidential Award for Excellence in mathematics.

Next is Stewart R. Bogdanoff of Yorktown Heights, New York. For 28 years a physical education teacher for the Lakeland Central School District in Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, he's helped develop the physical fitness curriculum and after-school programs that not only enriches the lives of students but also provides stimulating learning environments as well. He's dedicated countless hours to working with disabled athletes and received the Point of Light award from President Bush for his dedication to community projects.

I'd like to say just parenthetically, I become more and more concerned about the physical health of our people as we enter into this great debate about national health care. I think it is very important that we not overlook the fact that it is my judgment a real mistake to cut back on physical education for all students in schools at a time when we're trying to build better health habits in all the American people.

Next, Ida Daniel Dark of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During 31 years of teaching music, she has been dedicated to providing a culturally rich learning environment to all of her students, including physically and mentally challenged children. She's developed a music curriculum for severely and profoundly impaired children which is now being used throughout the United States and Canada and has established a program that allows inner-city students to attend theater, art, and music presentations on the weekends.

Next is James K. Jackson, Sr., of Wauconda, Illinois, a true visionary, an industrial education teacher at Mundelein High School who's made students and parents part of his dream of building and flying airplanes. He's found imaginative ways to teach technology-advanced subjects that can help students prepare for the rigors of a rapidly changing world. His students built the airplane that he flew to the National Teachers Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Emporia. Now, that's real confidence in your students. [Laughter] Is that true?

And finally, Christine Lungren-Maddalone of Long Beach, California, an elementary teacher at John Greenleaf Whittier Elementary School in Long Beach. After the Los Angeles riots in 1992, she set up after-school self-esteem enhancement classes for her students and talked to them about the need for a responsible change in the aftermath of the riots. She tries to teach her students to learn from life's experiences and has proven that all children, when given the chance, can succeed.

Let's give them a hand, too. [Applause] Good for you.

I do want to say that in recognizing and honoring these teachers, I know they would want us to, through them, honor the contributions of teachers throughout our Nation. These teachers are reminders that we must allow teachers to do what they do best, to teach. And we must struggle here in Washington and in every State capital and in all the central offices of all the school districts to empower teachers to teach and not to break them down with the burdens of bureaucracy and requirements that have nothing to do with whether their children can learn. We have to allow teachers and principals and parents to make more of their own decisions, to set the agendas and to chart the future course of their schools and their children's education with clear standards so they can know whether our children are doing as they should in a tough, global environment.

We in Washington are trying to recommit ourselves to making the Federal Government a real partner in education. That's why Secretary Riley and I have worked so hard to make the national education goals the foundation of true reform. We have to make sure that our children start school ready to learn and have the opportunity to succeed. And we have to challenge all of them to meet rigorous, world-class standards of learning. We owe this to them, to their future, and to all the rest of us as well. That's why I'm so proud to be here to honor the achievements and dedication of these wonderful teachers.

I thank them for coming, and I'd now like to invite here Robert Glennen, the president of the National Teachers Hall of Fame, to the stage to make a few remarks. Mr. Glennen.

[At this point, Mr. Glennen made brief remarks.]

Economic Program

Q. Mr. President, can we ask you what you're telling these Congress Members you're on the phone with, what appeals are you making, and what more can you do?

The President. Well, we've done a lot of work today to try to sketch out what will happen in the next couple of months after this process. And the argument I'm making is that this is the beginning, not the end, of our efforts to have responsible budgeting. There will be one more round of budget cuts. There will be the unveiling of the Vice President's report on reinventing Government, which will have billions of dollars in further savings that can be achieved. There will be the opportunity to control health care costs in the context of the health care reform bill in a way that will not be unfair to older people on Medicare.

So, what I am suggesting to them is that this is clearly the best chance for real deficit reduction, for a fair apportionment of the spending cuts and revenue increases, and for an economic plan that will grow the economy. And no one I have talked to, including people who say that they may not vote for it, has suggested that anybody believes seriously that a better result will occur if the bill does not pass. So I feel pretty good.

Q. [Inaudible]—convene a special conference to find more budget cuts or a session of Congress, similar to what Kerrey is proposing?

The President. I've been working with them for 2 or 3 days. And I'm very much open to that. We have to do something like that anyway to deal with the Vice President's reinventing Government report. And what we had planned to do was to suggest that there be a bipartisan commission, including Members of both parties of Congress, to review these recommendations. So we can certainly accommodate this.

What I keep trying to tell all the Members is this is the beginning of this process, not the end. There's a whole lot more work to be done.

We've just been here 7 months. You know, finally they've got somebody here who's serious about responsible budgeting instead of just talking about it. And the argument I'm making to them is there is no alternative. And every alternative we saw from the other side had less deficit reduction, more bogus spending cuts, and did not ask the wealthy to pay their fair share. And there were no economic growth incentives. And after all, the whole purpose of this is to generate jobs and revitalize the economy. So I feel pretty good about it.

Q. Have you spoken to Senator Kerrey, sir? And whether you have or not, do you know where he is on this?

The President. I'm going to follow my ironclad rule on this. I'm going to let the Members speak for themselves. Yes, I have spoken to him.


Q. [Inaudible]—Sarajevo, it looks like the siege is getting worse and may not be able to wait until Monday. Do the allies—[inaudible]— need to move it up to protect the city before it falls?

The President. I can't answer that now, because I haven't been briefed on it. But I may have something to say about it later. I'm sorry.

Economic Program

Q. Have any of the Members you've spoken with made it a prerequisite that there be a socalled budget session or whatever for them to vote for this package?

The President. Well, let me say, I have offered a whole series of things that are consistent with what I have believed in all along. I mean, a lot of the Members want a separate bill which contains the budget control measures that the House adopted, that the Senate rules wouldn't permit. They want further opportunities to shave the budget, which I have committed to and which I strongly support, have from the beginning. They want opportunities for other issues to be debated between now and the end of the year relating to the structure of the budget, all of which I have agreed to. So I think there is no question here—there is no serious suggestion that we could get a better result if this bill does not pass. So I think that we've got a very good chance to pass it. But you know, I never predict until they vote.

Thank you.

Q. Any Republican votes, Mr. President?

The President. A lot of them want to vote for it.

Q. How do you know that?

The President. I've had several of them say they'd like to vote for it——

Q. Who did you talk to today—round number?

The President. I don't know, a bunch.

Family and Medical Leave Act

Q. ——today, what do you say to the people, the businessmen who are now complaining about this new mandate?

The President. That if we're going to be prowork and pro-family, we have to make it possible for people to succeed as parents and as workers. We cannot force people to choose between the two. Most parents have no choice but to work. But parenting is still the most important job of society.

And all these nations with which we compete provide for those kind of family supports. We were one of the very few nations in the world that had achieved any kind of standard of living that didn't provide this basic protection for families. I think it will increase productivity in the work force, increase the morale of workers, and people will make a lot more money out of it than it will cost them by sticking up for the families.

NOTE: The President spoke at 4:20 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House. A portion of the exchange could not be verified because the tape was incomplete.

William J. Clinton, Remarks Honoring Teachers Hall of Fame Inductees and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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