Over the past five years, education has become the number one national priority for the American people. Whatever the challenge--revitalizing our cities, moving families from welfare to work, providing a skilled work force for the booming technology sector, teaching our children to say no to illegal drugs and alcohol, or helping parents balance the demands of work with the support children need to reach their full potential--Americans from all walks of life increasingly look to education and our schools to provide answers.
President Clinton has long believed that education, driven by high standards and harnessed to the near-limitless potential of educational technology, has the ability to make an unprecedented contribution to freedom and prosperity in the next American century. That is why the President has made education his top priority for fiscal year 1999.
The President's 1999 budget request builds on five years of solid achievement in helping states and communities raise academic standards for all students, creating closer connections between school and the world of work, integrating technology into the classroom, and greatly expanding federal support for college students of all ages. New initiatives in 1999 would help reduce class sizes in grades 1-3 nationwide to just 18 students per class, support more than $20 billion in construction bonds to provide modern academic facilities to millions of elementary and secondary school students, help turn around failing schools in America's inner cities and poor rural areas, train teachers to use technology to teach all children to high standards, and encourage low-income children and their families to begin planning early for college.
And for the first time, in compliance with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993, the Department of Education has prepared an Annual Performance Plan which links the Department's budget request with its Strategic Plan. By aligning all Department resources and improvement strategies with the goals and objectives of the Strategic Plan, the Annual Performance Plan will improve the Department's accountability to taxpayers and keep its managers focused on getting results. In short, this Annual Performance Plan provides a set of benchmarks that permit Congress and the public to judge whether the Department's programs are working effectively to help states, communities, families, and individuals to reach their educational goals.
We hope that members of Congress and the American people will pay close attention to this Plan. We believe it demonstrates how the careful application of limited federal resources can have a significant impact on the performance of our schools and students.
Richard W. Riley|
Secretary of Education
Marshall S. Smith