[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1996, Book II)]
[September 5, 1996]
[Pages 1479-1480]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

[[Page 1479]]

Remarks in Tampa, Florida
September 5, 1996

    Thank you. Good morning. I want to say to all of you how very glad I 
am to be here. I want to thank the Big Red Marching Band and the 
Brotherhood who performed earlier; thank you very much. Mr. Bell and 
Erica, thank you for your remarks, thank you for your introduction. To 
the chair of your school board, Doris Reddick, and Dr. Lennard, your 
superintendent; Governor Chiles; Lieutenant Governor MacKay; Congressman 
Sam Gibbons; Mayor Greco; and city councilman Bob Buckhorn; most of all 
to the students here.
    You know, I had originally planned to come earlier. It was hot 
then--[laughter]--but Hurricane Bertha had other plans, and I decided 
and so did our emergency people that we didn't need the President in 
Florida messing up the preparations for the hurricane. Thank goodness it 
wasn't as bad as we had feared.
    Today a lot of you may know there is another hurricane threatening 
the southeast, but not Florida. Hurricane Fran is about to deliver what 
could be a powerful punch in the States of Georgia, South Carolina, and 
North Carolina, and I want all of you to be thinking about them today. 
Our FEMA Director, James Lee Witt, is there working with them, and we 
are getting ready for that hurricane, and we hope it won't be bad. But 
if it is, we'll do our best to be ready.
    Let me say, I wanted to come here to this high school, where you 
have so much growth and so much energy, first to say congratulations to 
the mayor, the school system, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and everybody 
else who passed that issue, that referendum yesterday to improve the 
schools, improve the law enforcement, and save the football team.
    I came here because I want America to see all of you tonight. I want 
America to see all of you tonight because you are our future and because 
unless we give the young people of this country the best educational 
system in the world, you will not have the opportunities you deserve as 
we move into the 21st century. And I know you believe that, too, and I 
want you to support me in trying to build a bridge to the 21st century, 
where every child in America has the best educational opportunities in 
the world.
    For the last 4 years, we've worked hard to improve education, to 
increase the number of our young people in Head Start, to give schools 
more opportunities to stay open late if the kids needed to be somewhere 
besides the street, to give schools more flexibility to set high 
standards and creative ways to meet them, and to lower the costs of 
college loans so that no one ever need stay away from college because of 
the burden of repaying them. We now have 50,000 young people--I see one 
sign back there--50,000 young people serving their communities, solving 
problems, and earning money for college through the AmeriCorps program, 
and I'm proud of that, and thank you for being back there.
    But I want to be President for 4 more years because there are some 
other things we need to do in education. First of all, 40 percent of the 
young people in this country cannot read on their own by the third 
grade, but 100 percent should be able to be. I have a program to put 
30,000 more tutors out there, use AmeriCorps volunteers, use young 
people on work study, get a million volunteers and make sure every 8-
year-old in America can read a book on his or her own by the year 2000. 
Will you help me do that? [Applause]
    Secondly, I want to make sure that every classroom and library in 
the entire United States of America and every school is hooked up to the 
information superhighway by the year 2000. Now, let me tell you what 
this really means. This means that for the first time in this history of 
America, every child, without regard to their ethnic background, without 
regard to their income, kids in the poorest city neighborhoods, in the 
remote mountain villages in America, for the first time in the history 
of the country, when we hook up every classroom to the Internet with 
adequate computers and properly trained teachers, for the first time, 
all of our children will have access to the same learning, the same 
information in the same time. I think all American children deserve 
that. Don't you? Will you help me build that bridge to the 21st century? 

[[Page 1480]]

    The third thing that I want to say is, I want to help everybody do 
what you're trying to do, which is to modernize, rehabilitate, rebuild, 
and build new school buildings. We cannot expect young people to learn 
if they do not have adequate facilities. And for the first time in the 
history of this country, I have proposed a program where the United 
States Government will help communities who are willing to make an extra 
effort themselves to do more to provide facilities for their young 
people that are decent and clean and healthy and wholesome and conducive 
to good learning. And I think we want every young person in this country 
to be in that kind of school. Don't you? [Applause]
    Finally, let me say that I want to build a bridge to the 21st 
century in which every single young person in America who wants to do it 
can go to college. I want to make a community college education, 2 years 
of education after high school, just as universal in 4 years as a high 
school diploma is today. And I propose to give every family a tax 
credit, dollar for dollar, for the cost of college tuition in the 
typical community college in America so that everybody will go to a 
community college. Will you help me get that done? [Applause]
    And for everyone who goes on to more college, to 4 years of college 
or graduate school, I believe there ought to be a $10,000 tax deduction 
for the cost of college tuition for every year anybody is in education.
    If we do that, in 4 years we can have a country where every 8-year-
old can read, every 12-year-old can hook into the Internet, and every 
18-year-old can go to college. And we'll be well on our way to doing our 
job for you, creating an America where there is opportunity for 
everybody, without regard to their gender, their race, their ethnic 
background, where they start from economically, an America where we're 
growing together, not being divided, because that's also an important 
function of education: to teach us to live together across our 
    Half the world is being torn up by racial, ethnic, and religious 
differences. In America we have people from everywhere, and I'm proud of 
that. Look around this audience today. Aren't you proud to live in a 
country which is not defined by race or religion but instead by our 
devotion to freedom? [Applause]
    So that's what I came to say. A big part of building a bridge to the 
21st century is building a bridge big enough to give every single boy 
and girl in America the chance to live up to their God-given abilities. 
That is an important part of building the future you deserve. I am 
committed to it, and I want you to be committed to it.
    Thank you, and God bless you.

Note: The President spoke at 11:28 a.m. on the football field at 
Hillsborough High School. In his remarks, he referred to Coleman Bell, 
principal, and Erica Allen, student, Hillsborough High School; Earl 
Lennard, superintendent, Hillsborough County School District; Gov. 
Lawton Chiles and Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay of Florida; and Mayor Dick Greco 
of Tampa.