President Clinton announced $95 million in aid for charter schools today and endorsed the education idea as "freer of red tape and top-down management" than traditional public schools.
"Charter schools are living proof of what parents and teachers can do to reinvigorate public education. Investing in them means investing in accountability and excellence and a much better future for our children," Clinton said in his weekly radio address, which he delivered live at a school in Martha's Vineyard.
The grants include $41 million for 19 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to finance the first three-year grants for new charter schools. An additional $54 million will go to existing programs.
Charter schools often are created by parents or teachers and operate with a charter from a public agency. Supporters say such schools offer solutions to problems weighing on public classrooms. Just one charter school existed nationally when Clinton took office in 1993, he said. Now there are more than 1,700, and the administration hopes to help foster 3,000 by 2001, Clinton said.
Republicans, meanwhile, accused Clinton of playing politics with Americans' money by threatening to veto the $792 billion in tax cuts over 10 years that congressional Republicans passed earlier this month.
In the GOP's weekly radio address, Arizona Gov. Jane Hull questioned Clinton's plan to veto the bill, which in his address he called a threat to education, among other things.
"He either has a deep-seated desire to increase government spending, or he just does not want to give the money back to the people who earned it in the first place," Hull said. "President Clinton is playing politics with your money."
Clinton typically tapes the radio address in advance. But he delivered the brief speech live today at Edgartown School before an audience of Martha's Vineyard residents who helped White House staff and reporters during the Clintons' vacation this week.