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I am pleased to sign today H.R. 2281, a bill that will help to attack the unacceptable dropout rate in our Nation's schools. This bill extends an important Department of Education program, which provides funds to local school districts to devise and demonstrate innovative strategies to reduce dropout rates and to encourage those who have dropped out to return to school. Successful strategies can then be shared with other schools.
We all know that the dropout problem afflicting our educational system is both chronic and severe. Only about 70 percent of our young people graduate from high school on time, and the statistics are even worse for minority children and those in urban areas. The consequences of our high dropout rate are tragic for the individuals who drop out and harmful for our Nation's productive capacity and competitive position in the world.
But this alarming situation can be turned around. As I have previously announced, the Nation's Governors and I have agreed on a wide-ranging set of goals for the future of American education. Among those goals is increasing our high school graduation rate to at least 90 percent by the year 2000. The Governors and I recognize that this is an ambitious target, but we are convinced that it can, and must, be met. The bill before me today acknowledges that meeting this goal is primarily a State and local responsibility, which will also require the commitment and dedication of our Nation's teachers, principals, and business and community leaders. It also recognizes that the Federal Government has an important role to play by funding experiments to develop innovative local projects that can serve as models for other school districts. I have already asked the Congress to more than double the funding for this program over its fiscal year 1989 level. H.R. 2281 will authorize the Congress to meet that request, and I am very pleased to sign it.
The White House,
March 6, 1990.
Note: H.R. 2281, approved March 6, was assigned Public Law No. 101 - 250.