Public Papers

Remarks at an Antidrug Rally in Houston


Thank you very, very much. Speaking of goals, that's one of the reasons I'm back in Houston. Yesterday we got off to a pretty good start, I think.

But nevertheless let me salute first my friend Chuck Norris, friend of long standing, commend him on being what we call a Point of Light, reaching out to help others. What this program is about, kicking drugs out of school, it should have the support of all Americans. And I salute him for giving of his time so generously.

I salute these instructors. I salute these experts that we saw in action. I thank you all for this most wonderful presentation. May I also thank the school principal who is with us; our new, or not so new but our most distinguished superintendent of schools; and also our new police chief; all of them with us today. I don't know if you saw them when they came in. Maybe they'd stand up. Chief?

There's a message in all of this because we support our law enforcement officers who are trying to keep not only the schoolyards clean but preserve order in this wonderful city of ours. I salute our school superintendent who has led the way in making Houston a Houston 2000 educational community, not fearing to change. He's on the leadership edge of literally helping revolutionize education in this country, and I salute him for that. As for our principal, just hearing wonderful things about her and what she's done. May I express our appreciation for letting this marvelous group come in here today.

With them today is a man who is on the cutting edge of trying to change education. I'm not talking about just simply fine-tuning. We're talking about revolutionary change. And I'm talking about our Secretary of Education, our national Secretary, a former Governor, Lamar Alexander, who is really out in the lead for new American education. Lamar, would you stand up?

As you may know, we've set six educational goals for this Nation; got all across party politics, something that's never happened before. We did it, but we had with us the Democrat and the Republican Governors of the States. One of those goals was to have a learning place where people could learn without fear of crime, certainly without fear of drugs. And that's what this program is all about. We saw a little example today. I'm glad I was not in the last act on the receiving end; that guy looked pretty tough and pretty powerful.

But this is happening all across the country. We are beginning to make enormous headway on the war on drugs. And I want to finish that job. Sixty percent less use of cocaine among the teenagers in this country, that is dramatic progress in the last 3 years. Now we've got to keep it going. In schools like this, school superintendents like this, police chiefs like this, and then dedicated teachers and students like this, and then dedicated leaders like Chuck Norris come together to make this happen, not just for today and not just for Houston but for our country and for tomorrow as well.

So I am very pleased to be here. I have only one regret and that is that Barbara Bush, who had a school named after her in Houston -- and she's still rubbing it in. But nevertheless -- [laughter] -- she is not here because she's out kind of nervously looking at the podium in the Astrodome, getting ready for her command performance tomorrow night. But she certainly joins in. I hope you know how committed she is to helping these kids be literate, helping them learn to read, helping the families in this country stay together so they can help the kids.

It's a great joy to be back in Houston. Yesterday was a wonderful day for me. These times have been a little complicated, as some of my friends from Washington know that are traveling with us. But you get here, and you feel something happening; you feel something positive. It wasn't just the political arena yesterday, where we got off to a great start, but it's programs like this. It's the grassroots of America, determined to make life better for these kids, that have me inspired.

So thank you all for what you're doing. And may God bless our great country.

Note: The President spoke at 10:20 a.m. at Hamilton Middle School. In his remarks, he referred to actor Chuck Norris; Diane B. Mutlet, principal of the school; Frank R. Petruzielo, Houston superintendent of schools; and Sam Nunchia, Houston chief of police.