PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON ON CHARTER SCHOOLS
A Charter school is a K-12 public school created and operated by a group
of teachers, parents, or other qualified individuals that is largely free
from that regulation
Mr. Clinton championed charter schools during his two terms (1993-2001)
in the White House. His presidential papers show he spoke in favor of
charter schools on many occasions during his presidency:
(Feb. 22, 1994) Remarks to the American Council On Education
We encourage states and communities to learn from one another, empower
individual school districts to experiment with ideas like public school
choice and charter schools, asking always one overriding question of every
education official: Are the children learning what they need to learn
to compete and win in the global economy?
(Sept, 22, 1995) Remarks at the O'Farrell Community School in San
(I) wanted to come to this school today for a particular reason, and that
is because O'Farrell is organized as a charter school. They call it a
family. And as a school organized in this way, it's freed a lot of the
rules and regulations that keep some of our schools all across America
from designing their own ways of educating children. They also are held
accountable for results, and they do a good job.
(Sept. 22, 1995) Exchange with Reporters aboard Air Force One
(W)e for the DLC (Democratic Leadership Conference) interested in the
before I ever thought I'd be running for President in '92, the whole idea
of charter schools, because on of the biggest problems with public education
is that are too many people telling the teachers and the principals what
to do - levels of authority - but not enough genuine accountability and
not a sort of organized entrepreneurialism in the schools.
So these charter schools - like the call who calls himself the CEO of
the schools instead of the principal. And they come in with a theme, and
they develop a culture and develop all the kind of community services
as well as all the parents. They have an organized influence. It's a tough
neighborhood. And those children that were talking to me were very articulate.
They showed me their work, very high-quality work. And they really hammer
on those kids that they can all learn, doesn't matter what their background
or their income is, they matter, they can learn.
(March 27, 1996) Remarks to the National Governor's Association Education
Summit in Palisades, New York
Let me also say I think we ought to encourage every State to do what most
States are now doing, which is to provide more options for parents, you
know, in terms of the public school choice legislation and the charter
schools - a lot of you have done a very good job with the charter schools.
But I'm excited about the idea that educators and parents get to actually
start schools - create and manage them and stay open on if they do a good
job - within the public school system. Every charter school I visited
was an exiting place. Today, 21 of you allow charter schools - there are
over 250 schools which are open; 100 more are going to open next year
- freed up from regulation and top-down bureaucracy, focusing on meeting
(Sept 12, 1996) Remarks in Fresno, California
We've given schools the flexibility to pursue national standards of excellence
with local grass-roots reforms. We have done a lot to help schools in
California and other places try new experiments, allowing teachers to
form even new schools, called "charter schools." There are over
300 in the country, 90 of them right here in California, and our administration
has helped to start them. Our next budget calls for 3,000 more. I believe
we should let a thousand flowers bloom -- whatever it takes to bring the
families, the parents, the community leaders in to support the teachers
and the principals and the educators.
(Sept. 12, 1996) Remarks at Rancho Cucamonga, California
One of the things that California has led the way in is in the creation
of new schools in public school districts, called "charter schools,"
where a group of teachers gets together and says, here's who we're going
to serve, here's what we're going to produce, give us a charter and if
we don't produce it, take it away from us. Hold us accountable, we'll
educate our children better.
(Oct. 29, 1996) Remarks at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio
Every parent should have the freedom to choose their child's public school.
Our balanced budget plan contains funds to create 3,000 new schools, charter
schools, schools that are free to innovate, to demand high standards,
schools that survive only if they produce results.
(Feb. 4, 1997) Address Before a Joint Session of Congress
Fifth, every state should give parents the power to choose the right public
school for their children. Their right to choose will foster competition
and innovation that can make public schools better. We should also make
it possible for more parents and teachers to start charter schools, schools
that set and meet the highest standards, and exist only as long as they
do. Our plan will help America to create 3,000 of these charter schools
by the next century -- nearly seven times as there are in the country
today -- so that parents will have even more choices in sending their
children to the best schools.
(March 6, 1997) Remarks By The President To The Joint Session Of The
I have proposed to double the budget of the program so that we can increase
by tenfold the number of charter schools we have by the year 2000, to
create -- (applause) -- and I think it's important to emphasize what we
want. We want high standards, schools that are open to all children regardless
of their backgrounds. We want an example of accountability which will
then spread to all other public schools. But we want to say to them, you
can stay open only as long as you do a good job. That's what the charter
means; that's what a charter is.
(Oct, 22, 1998) Statement on Signing the Charter Schools Expansion
Act Of 1998
Today I am pleased to sign into law H.R. 2616, the "Charter School
Expansion Act of 1998." This bill will help foster the development
of high-quality charter schools, consistent with my goal of having 3,000
charter schools operating by early in the next century, and will help
lead to improvements in public education more generally. I am particularly
gratified by the bipartisan manner in which this bill passed the House
I have long championed charter schools -- public schools started by parents,
teachers, and communities, open to all students regardless of background
or ability, and given great flexibility in exchange for high levels of
accountability. When I was elected President there was only one charter
school in the Nation, and now there are more than 1,000 serving more than
200,000 students. This bill will help strengthen our efforts to support
charter schools, providing parents and students with better schools, more
choice, and higher levels of accountability in public education.
(Feb. 1, 1999) Remarks to the National School Boards Association
(I) have steadfastly supported the charter school movement in America,
and I still do"
(May, 4, 2000) Remarks at the City Academy in St. Paul, Minnesota
The idea behind charter schools is that not all kids are the same. They
have different needs, they have different environments. But there is a
certain common level of education that all kids need, no matter how different
they are. And that it would be a good thing to allow schools to be developed
which had a clear mission, which could reach out to kids who wanted to
be a part of that mission and who could achieve educational excellence
for children who otherwise might be left behind … might fall through the
It is true that when I ran for President in 1992, Minnesota had the only
public charter school in the country -- this one. And so when I went around
the country talking about charter schools, most people thought I had landed
from another planet, because most people hadn't been here. Most people
still haven't been here, to this school. But I knew it was an idea that
had enormous promise. And some of the people involved in this enterprise
have been working with me for years on educational matters when I was
the governor of Arkansas.