Bill Clinton photo

Remarks on Presenting the Teacher of the Year Award

April 20, 1993

The President. Good afternoon. Please be seated.

I want to say, first, how delighted I am to be here with Secretary Riley and with Senator Graham. The three of us served as Governors together during the 1980's when we worked constantly on strategies to improve our schools, when we led often difficult and long efforts to upgrade the standards in American education and to improve the quality of instruction our children were receiving.

There were no two Governors whom I admired more during that period than the two who now stand on this stage with the Teacher of the Year. And I think both of them would join me in saying that, after all the testimony has been heard and all the bills have been passed and the funds have been raised and allocated, it all comes down to what happens between the teacher and the students in the classroom.

That's why today's ceremony honoring the National Teacher of the Year is so important. Tracey Leon Bailey has won recognition all across our country for highly advanced and innovative science programs. He's developed and introduced into Florida's classrooms cutting-edge programs in molecular biology and DNA fingerprinting, subjects usually taught only in college and, I might add, probably only dimly understood here in the Nation's Capital.

Within 3 years of being hired by a satellite high school, Mr. Bailey's institution had one of the strongest science programs in the entire State of Florida, and it won numerous national and international awards. These advanced programs aren't just for a favored few. Tracey Bailey has inspired all kinds of students, including those previously known as low-achieving or at-risk, to reach for excellence and to attain it. This is what our students need and what our country needs.

Today, we know that a good future with high wages and rich opportunities rests on the foundation of quality education for a lifetime. The basics aren't enough anymore. All our kids need competence in math and science and advanced problem-solving. That's why Tracey Bailey's accomplishments are so important and why I am so pleased and proud to participate in recognizing and honoring these accomplishments.

Tracey, you represent the best in the United States. I'm glad to recognize you today and to formally present you with this apple award as the Teacher of the Year for 1993.

[At this point, the President presented the award, and Mr. Bailey made a brief statement of appreciation.]

The President. In closing, I would like to also welcome the education leaders from Florida who are here, those representing the national education groups who have also come. I'd like to recognize Tracey's Congressman, Representative Jim Bacchus in the back, himself a great advocate of education. And I'd like to remind all of you that the ultimate purpose of the National Teacher of the Year Award is to find a way for the rest of us to express our appreciation to people all across this country who give their lives to our children, all of the teachers of this country who get up every day and do their best to try to advance the cause of learning for all the children of America. They are, in so many ways, our most important public servants.

Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 1:25 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on Presenting the Teacher of the Year Award Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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