Gerald R. Ford photo

Remarks at the Swearing In of Edward Aguirre as Commissioner of Education, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.

October 18, 1976

Justice Stewart, Dr. Aguirre, and Mrs. Aguirre :

I am highly honored and consider it a great personal privilege to have the opportunity of participating in this ceremony where Dr. Aguirre will become the Commissioner of Education. Dr. Aguirre brings a very useful background to this very important job and responsibility in the Federal Government.

As .an expert on manpower programs, he understands the relationship between education and jobs for our youth. As a distinguished member of the Hispanic community, he is sensitive to the very special educational needs of America's minorities. As an able administrator, and especially as a former classroom teacher, he is well qualified to advise me on Federal programs and policies for education. In particular, he will help us identify and answer the concerns of America's teachers.

Dr. Aguirre believes, as I do, that teachers are the single most important valuable resource of our educational system. Dr. Aguirre believes, as I do, that by helping teachers, we are helping ensure the success of America's educational system. Our efforts in education are aimed not only at providing high quality education but at making that education equally available to all of our Nation's students.

As head of the Office of Education, Dr. Aguirre will continue our policy of focusing Federal aid on those students who need this kind of education the most--the handicapped, the educationally disadvantaged, and children with a limited English-speaking capability.

Dr. Aguirre and I will also continue my administration's important effort to make Federal aid to education more effective than it has been in the past. Too often the result of Federal programs has been to reduce local control over education while creating a heavy burden of varying regulations, differing standards, and overlapping responsibilities. Too often we ask whether forms have been properly filled out, not whether children have been properly educated.

Earlier this year, I proposed a block grant program designed to cut red tape and to give State and local authorities and teachers greater flexibility in utilizing Federal aid. I have emphasized recently my hope that America's third century will be known as the century of the individual.

Next to the family, the best place to start cultivating individuality is in the classroom by individualizing instruction. Declining enrollments, for example, can be viewed as an opportunity to reduce class size.

Our Founding Fathers realized an educated citizenry is crucial to a free society. Ignorance and freedom cannot coexist. This gives America's teachers a special responsibility, and it gives America's Government a special responsibility to hear their concerns. We want to know and act upon the needs of America's teachers. With Dr. Aguirre's help, we will continue this effort. Only by being sensitive to teachers can we achieve the educational excellence that is crucial to our Nation's future.

Now I will ask Associate Justice Potter Stewart to administer the oath of Office.

Note: The President spoke at 2:32 p.m. in the Rose Garden at the White House.

Mr. Aguirre's response to the President's remarks is printed in the Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents (vol. 12, p. 1538).

Gerald R. Ford, Remarks at the Swearing In of Edward Aguirre as Commissioner of Education, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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