AB:Clinton Skirts Issue of Pervasive Sexual Harassment in Schools

Linda Purrington (lpurring@earthlink.net)
Mon, 20 Jul 1998 22:31:39 -0700

Forwarded by lpurring@earthlink.net

New York Times: July 21, 1998
Clinton Urges Stricter Rules in Schools Forum
Join a Discussion on National Issues: The Parent's View By JAMES BENNET

NEW ORLEANS -- President Clinton appeared before the annual convention of the
American Federation of Teachers on Monday to urge his listeners to be stricter
with their pupils, adding an appeal for low-cost discipline to his more familiar
call for new education programs.

In a lengthy speech, Clinton urged more discipline in classrooms,
character education, school uniforms and enforcement of truancy laws.

"Wherever there is chaos where there should be calm, wherever there is disorder
where there should be discipline," Clinton said, "make no mistake about it, it's
not just a threat to our classrooms and to your mission, it is a threat to the
strength and vitality of America."

Clinton made at times a seemingly paradoxical argument for such policies. At one
point, he declared that mandatory uniforms would help children "feel free."
Uniforms help reduce crime and violence, he said, freeing children from danger.

The president has long advocated such policies as school uniforms. But his
advisers are also encouraging him to emphasize values in his speeches with an
eye to winning moderate "swing" votes in the midterm elections, and he seemed to
be trying at times on Monday to box out the Republicans. Clinton even borrowed a
phrase, without attribution, from House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He said that
giving teachers the tools to have safe and orderly classrooms "is central to the
mission of renewing America."

Clinton announced on Monday that he would hold a White House conference this
fall on school safety, saying that he hoped to seek ways to prevent school
shootings like the one in Springfield, Ore., in May.

The president received an adoring reception from the 4,000 delegates in a
cavernous convention hall here. In introducing him, Sandra Feldman, the union's
president, made reference to his travails in Washington.

"Bill Clinton is a president who has been under attack -- constant attack --
from those who are desperate to stop him from pursuing his policies," she said.
After a standing ovation died down, Ms. Feldman added that the "vicious and ugly
and personal" campaign against Clinton was aimed at "the destruction of public
institutions in general, and the destruction of public education in particular."

After his speech to the teachers, Clinton turned his attention to fund-raising
and golf. He appeared at a fund-raising lunch for Rep. William Jefferson, D-La.,
then went golfing in the smothering humidity before helping raise $200,000 over
dinner for the Democratic National Committee.

Monday's 38-minute speech to the teachers was the latest in a series of events
in which Clinton has highlighted issues of drugs and crime affecting children
that the White House believes are of particular concern to parents. He returned
again on Monday to the theme of children and guns, calling for passage of a
juvenile crime bill that would ban violent juveniles for life from buying guns.

But Clinton said that gun violence was not the greatest threat to most schools.
"In most schools it's not the sensational acts of violence but smaller acts of
aggression, threats, scuffles, constant back talk that take a terrible toll on
the atmosphere of learning, on the morale of teachers, on the attitudes of other

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