Education with Hispanic Leaders
Bowers Museum of Cultural Art
Santa Ana, California
August 23, 2002
3:07 P.M. PDT
Thank you all. Thank you all very much. Gosh, thanks for coming today. It's
my honor to be back in California. Such a vibrant and exciting state. I am thrilled
to be here in Santa Ana -- and this is a vibrant city. And one reason why is
because it's got such an energetic, visionary Mayor. And, Mr. Mayor, I appreciate
-- (applause.) And I appreciate your hospitality, and I want to thank Laura,
the First Lady of this city. (Applause.)
I know something about marrying people named Laura. (Laughter.) We both married
above ourselves, Mr. Mayor. (Laughter.) So, I want to thank you, and I want
to thank your City Council for hosting us here. And I want to thank very much
the -- (applause) -- I want to thank the fine folks at this beautiful facility
for welcoming us. It's a magnificent asset for this community and for this county
and for this state.
It's a thrill to be here to talk about some of the priorities or our nation.
We've got some big priorities and we've got some big jobs to do, but there's
no doubt in my mind we can achieve our objectives. Because we're America, and
we're full of Americans -- people bold and courageous and strong. (Applause.)
But before I do so, I want to talk about two members of the Congress who have
joined us, two fine Americans and good, solid citizens and friends of mine --
that would be Chris Cox and Ed Royce. Thank you both for coming. (Applause.)
Rosario Marin -- she's a former mayor in a little -- couple of cities away from
here. She's now the Treasurer of the United States of America. And I appreciate
you coming, Rosario. (Laughter.) I like to always say hello to the high sheriff.
In this case, we've got two high sheriffs -- one I appreciate so much, Mike
Corona. He's done a fine job. We saw him on TV the other day announcing an important
arrest, saying he's going to help do everything he can to make neighborhoods
safe. Sheriff, you did a fine job. And I also want to thank my friend, Lee Baca,
for being here, as well. (Applause.) Good to see you, Lee.
Everybody had got to have a good lawyer these days. (Laughter.) And I've got
one of the best, and he is here with his family, vacationing in Orange County.
He came over from Washington, D.C. He knows a good place to travel to when he
sees one. And his name is Al Gonzales, and I want to thank my friend and lawyer,
Al Gonzales, for being here. (Applause.)
And finally, I want to thank Francisco Paret for being here. He's a member of
the President's Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanic Americans.
And that's a commission we take very seriously. We take it seriously because
we understand every child in America must be educated in order for this country
to realize its full promise. I don't mean a few children, I mean every single
And you've got your Superintendent of Schools here, the good young leader. He
told me the district is 92 percent Hispanic. My attitude is, so what -- that
means when you succeed, you've done such a great job for America. That's his
attitude. You see, some would say 92 percent Hispanic, that's an impossible
district. Some believe certain children can't learn. I don't believe that. And
neither does the Superintendent of Schools.
You see, we start with the premise that every child can learn -- every child
can learn. We set high standards because we believe that every child has got
the capacity to learn. You see, if you set low standards in society, you know
what you're going to get? You're going to get low results. You have standards
so low that you've got these school districts that are going to quit on certain
kids. And guess who gets quit on here in America -- children whose parents don't
speak English as a first language, for example. Those are the easiest kids to
quit on. Or how about inner-city African American kids? They're easy to quit
For the sake of America, for the sake of our future, we must, first and foremost,
every child can learn, and devise systems to make sure they do. That's why,
at the federal level we're spending plenty of money; but we're also saying,
we trust you all to chart the path to excellence. One size doesn't fit all when
it comes to running the public schools. But we're also saying since we believe
every child can learn, why don't you show us. Why don't you measure. You see,
why don't you tell America, or your community, or your state whether or not
your children are learning to read and write and add and subtract.
And if they are, there will be plenty of praise. But you measure also to make
sure that if children are failing, you catch the problems early, before it's
too late. No child in America should be left behind. Every child, no matter
his or her background, deserves a positive, solid, excellent education. (Applause.)
And we've got to do a better job. And we've got to face the facts that too many
of our Latino youngsters aren't learning to read early enough, and that's a
problem. If you can't read by the fourth grade, you're not going to be able
to read by the eighth grade. And if you can't read by the eighth grade, you
can't read in high school. It's a problem, and we've got to take it head on.
That's why I want to make sure that we measure that's why I want to make sure
we challenge a system that sometimes has got standards so low, it's what I call
the soft bigotry of low expectations. So one of the things we've done in the
No Child Left Behind is said, let's start with first things first. Let's make
sure children can read, children from all backgrounds.
Here in California, our new law provides a 50-percent increase to help students
from non-English speaking homes learn to read. And that's important. No child
should be left behind.
So today, the Department of Education -- I'm going to report to you the Department
of Education has awarded California a $133 million reading grand. (Applause.)
And that's to make sure every child can read by the third grade. That's what
that's for. I don't mean just a few, I don't mean those from the nice, fancy
school districts. I mean every single child.
And one of the reasons why California is one of the first states to receive
the grant is because California is using research-based instruction to teach
reading. Your state probably because your superintendent insists on it has asked
the question, what works? Not what sounds good, not what feels good, but what
actually works. How do you teach kids to read? And that's what you're doing
in this state, and I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for doing
that, and we've got a little money to make sure it works and make sure that
we focus on every child. (Applause.)
I don't care for the fact that a lot of the youngsters, the Latino youngsters
don't go to college. It's not a good statistic for America. Less than 10 percent
go on to higher education. We must, we must work to encourage participation
at all levels of education. But we must make it clear to our youngsters from
all walks of life, particularly Hispanic youngsters, that going to college is
essential to being able to fully realize the American dream.
All of us must set that clear goal for everybody, but we also must help. And
that's why we've increased Pell grant funding by more than $2.5 billion from
last year's budget to this year's budget. There's a way to help and we need
to help through scholarship programs like Pell grants.
I also want to note want you to know that we're focusing on what they call the
Latino-serving higher institutions. For the fiscal year 2003 budget, I've asked
for more money to go to support colleges which provide 600,000 Latino students
nationwide with educational opportunities. It's an increase of 30 percent.
My point is, is that we've got to make sure that education is affordable and
accessible. And we've got to set the goals. We've got to make people understand
what's possible here in America. But first things first. We've got to make sure
every child learns to read and no child is left behind. (Applause.)
The White House initiative on educational excellence for Hispanic Americans
is launching what we call the Yes I Can national awareness campaign. And it's
aimed at encouraging Latino students to obtain a college education. They called
together citizens from around the country, they put together this initiative,
this plan, this way to convince people that higher education is essential.
Parents can click on to a bilingual website called yesican.gov, yesican.gov,
to learn about college costs, financial aid, and what their children should
be asking their guidance counselor about college. In other words, it's a go-by,
it's a help, it's a way to encourage people and help people understand that
they that sending their children to college here in America is a way forward.
And finally, about education, I know it's an important part of life for many
students in our border communities in Mexico and Canada to attend school here
in the United States. There's a lot of trans-border crossing on a daily basis,
to take advantage of our great educational opportunities. That's what we want,
by the way. We shouldn't try to restrict people. It's good for our colleges,
and it's good for the Mexican citizens and the Canadian citizens. And so we're
going to expand eligibility for student visas, to ensure that part-time commuter
students can continue to study here in America. (Applause.)
You know, education is the pathway to success, and there's just example after
example of people who came here with nothing except a dream or a hope and love
and got a good education and succeeded. That's what America is about. That's
what I love about our country. That's the hope. That's what distinguishes us
from many other countries, that we welcome people from all walks of life. We
proudly call you an American. We don't say, show us your birth certificate,
how you're born, where you're born; you're American and we love you for being
in America. We welcomed you to this country. (Applause.)
And, you know, I've got a shining example right there in Washington I want to
share a story with you about, because it's a we've got a little problem up there
with this particular fellow. His name is Miguel Estrada. He's a young guy. He
came to our country as a teenager. He barely spoke English. He had trouble with
the language, because he didn't spend any time learning the language. And he
got here, and he worked hard, and as a result of a good brain, brilliant mind,
he now has argued 15 cases before the United States Supreme Court.
I've named him to a high bench, but the Senate won't give him a hearing. Here's
a kid who comes to our country, works hard, learns the language. He's a brilliant
jurist. He can't even get a hearing. I nominated him over a year and a half
ago. I want this man to serve as a bright example of what is possible in America.
He'll be a great judge, and the Senate needs to act. (Applause.)
Making sure every child is educated is part of making sure America is a secure
country and a hopeful country. We've also got to do some other work to make
sure we're secure and hopeful. I want to thank the law enforcement officers
who are here today. You've got a big job. (Applause.) Our job at the federal
government is to put a strategy in place that will make our first responders
more effective. It's not only law enforcement, fire fighters and EMS.
And we're doing just that. I've actually tried to create a new department of
homeland security, to put agencies under one roof, to make sure that the number
one priority of the federal government is to protect the homeland. And we need
to do that.
I've got to tell you we need to do that, because there are still cold blooded
killers out there that would like to hurt America. I want the youngsters to
know why. And the reason why is because we love freedom. We value each life
here in America. Everybody is important, every life has meaning, every life
And the enemy doesn't think that way. See, they hate freedom. They hate the
idea of people being able to worship freely. They can't stand the thought of
Republican and Democrat actually getting along. (Laughter.) They don't like
a free press, and we do. And we uphold those values, and we will defend them
at all cost. (Applause.)
And so for the sake of our freedom, for the sake of values we hold dear, the
best way for us to secure our homeland, other than reorganizing and encouraging
and focusing on every lead and every hint, is to chase these killers down, one
person at a time and bring them to justice. The best way to protect America,
the best way to uphold that which we love dear, is to get them before they get
us. And that's precisely what this country is going to do. (Applause.)
We don't seek revenge, we seek justice. We don't want to conquer anybody, we
want to liberate people, because every life matters. Every person has worth.
I want the youngsters here to understand that when we went into Afghanistan
to uphold the doctrine, if you harbor a terrorist you're just as guilty as the
terrorists, that we freed people. Young girls now go to school for the first
time, thanks to the goodness of the United States of America and our friends
and allies. (Applause.)
No, we're on a mission. I believe out of the evil done to America will come
some very -- some incredible good. That's what I believe. I believe these people
hit a country, and they didn't understand who they were hitting. And who they
hit was a country that's tough and strong and determined, but also a country
that's beginning to find its soul and its deep compassion.
See, not only if we're -- not only can we achieve peace, which I believe can
happen, and will happen, that we can address those pockets of despair and hopelessness
that exist in America, one person at a time. My call to people in this country
is that if you want to join on the war on terror, if you want to fight evil,
love your neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself.
You see, this great country can change, and will change, one heart, one soul,
one conscience at a time. One of us can't do everything, I know that, but each
of us can do something. And I call upon my fellow Americans to be that person
doing something: mentor a child, help a shut-in, love a neighbor just like you'd
like to be loved yourself.
No, out of the evil done to America is going to come some great good, because
this is the greatest nation on the face of the Earth, full of the most decent
and compassionate people. (Applause.)