Public Papers

Teleconference Remarks on the Kick-Off of Arizona 2000


The President. Governor, how are you, Fife?

Governor Symington. Fine, Mr. President, how are you?

The President. Well, I don't know how our communication is working, but I wanted to just check in and call with congratulations to you and to that great team that Lamar tells me you've put together. And I understand some of them are there.

Governor Symington. Yes, we have everybody assembled at the Trevor Browne High School. And we've got 1,200 people in the audience.

The President. Well, that is terrific. And I know that Jim Kolbe's there, and Jon Kyl; at least they were scheduled to be.

Governor Symington. They're here.

The President. Well, let me salute them, and also Diane Bishop, your State superintendent. And I say this because I want to emphasize something that I'm sure you know, and that is that we don't view this marvelous program that you all are engaged in as a partisan effort at all. I mean, this is national. It flies over politics. And I think it's catching on around the country. And I wanted to just congratulate you on getting it kicked off here.

And I didn't know you had 1,200 people. I heard there was 800 Bruins sitting out there in the auditorium. They said 900. It sounds like you've got a bunch there.

But that's just great. And I hope that they all realize that Arizona is involved in something fundamental, something revolutionary, and something wonderful for our country.

But tell me, how's the day been going?

Governor Symington. It's going extremely well. But we're obviously thrilled to have your call. And we just want to thank you for your tremendous leadership on the education front, Mr. President. And we're happy to be an America 2000 State.

The President. Well, I know it'll go well. And I think the point here is that you're showing that education reform can happen right there at the local level, on a school-by-school or community-by-community basis. And we're -- the Federal Government obviously wants to do its part. Educational spending is higher than it's ever been. But this isn't a question of simply money; it's a question of ideas and revolutionizing our approach, the Nation's approach to education.

So, good luck on it. And I think it is a way that the whole community can pull together to help all the students learn. And I'm impressed with what you're doing. So, give Lamar a homework assignment if you will. The poor guy's killing himself going all around the country and doing a superb job. But tell him when he gets back -- is he sitting right there?

Governor Symington. He's right here.

The President. Oh, well, let me ask him then. Lamar, when you get back, give me a report on how this thing shapes up, how Arizona 2000 is doing, how it fits into our national program. And come on over to the White House, and we'll get an update on this big trip of yours.

Governor Symington. He's coming right to the phone, Mr. President.

The President. Okay.

Secretary Alexander. Yes, sir. [Laughter]

The President. How's it looking out there?

Secretary Alexander. Thank you, Mr. President. I'll see you next week.

The President. Well, I look forward to it. And may I say to everyone there: Diane Bishop, Lela Alston, who is, I understand, the chairman of the senate education committee from the State Senate; Bev Herman was supposed to be there, who is the chairman of the house education committee in the Arizona State House.

I'm just delighted that you all are participating in this. And I wish you all the best.

Is Peter Rios out there, the president of the house?

Governor Symington. Yes, Mr. President, I was about to mention him. He's here as well.

The President. Well, you've got them all. I've just had a partial list here, but I was told that the leadership would be there, both Democrats and Republicans. So that's great.

Well, listen, I won't keep you, but let me wish all those Bruins a very merry Christmas, a happy New Year. And let me give them a little lecture. Do everything that your Governor and your State superintendent and these people are telling you to do in terms of this education. We need you. You're the future, and we need you bad. So, have a good Christmas and then back to work. And I'll do my part here.

And bless you all. And, Fife, keep up the great work of leadership.

Governor Symington. Thank you, Mr. President.

The President. Over and out.

Note: The President spoke at 3:47 p.m. from the Oval Office in the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Congressmen Jim Kolbe and Jon Kyl of Arizona.