THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release May 29, 1996
REMARKS BY THE FIRST LADY
TO THE WASHINGTON INTERFAITH NETWORK
MRS. CLINTON: Thank you all who have gathered this evening, and thank you for inviting me to your part of this truly extraordinary evening for the citizens of this city, and particularly for our children.
I want to congratulate all who have worked to this point. It is a beginning, but what an impressive beginning it is. The Washington Interfaith Network has brought together committed groups of people and church congregations and organizations from every neighborhood and every ward in this city. Sitting here and looking out at all of you I know you feel as I do the energy, the hope and the spirit in this sanctuary. If we are able to maintain this energy and hope and spirit, and translate the speeches and the ideas and the plans into action, then we will, starting tonight, make a profound difference in this city.
And we should, because the time for sitting and worrying over news reports of a state of affairs in our city are over. (Applause.) It is time for all of us to ask ourselves and our neighbors, what can we do, because there are solutions to every problem which faces us in Washington. Every problem in America has been solved somewhere in America. Now we need to bring those solutions home. And that is a especially important when it comes to the state of education. We cannot allow our parents to lower their expectations. We cannot allow our children to limit their ambition. We have to make a decision that each of us will commit ourselves to ensuring that our schools are better, our schools are open, our parents are involved, our children are learning and growing from now into the future. (Applause.)
There are many things that can wait this world, but our children cannot. You know the Bible says, train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. Well, each child presents us with an opportunity to help mold citizens who will follow a path of personal responsibility and civic duty. And so when we look at the plans that WIN, that you have worked on, we see how critical it is, as we've heard from the principals, the teachers and the students, to do what is necessary to improve our schools, to engage our parents, and to keep the doors open from 3:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m.
Those schools should be not only a safe haven, but a learning environment. They should be busy with the sound of children and adults who are trying to learn and teach one another. This will give our children and each of us as an adult who wishes to participate the chance to really make a difference.
One of my predecessors, Lady Bird Johnson, once said that children are likely to live up to what you believe of them. Tonight we are saying that we believe in our children, we believe in their future. (Applause.)
As I travel around the country, it doesn't matter whether I'm in an inner-city neighborhood in Philadelphia or in a small town outside of the Duluth, Minnesota, with a predominantly Hispanic American body in Corpus Christi or with a poor school of African Americans and Hispanics in the San Fernando Valley; the problems are the same and the solutions are the same. Our children need our love, our attention, our discipline, our commitment, our time and our energy. (Applause.)
And we can see the difference that occurs in a child's life when that happens. I have sat across the table from elementary school children and middle school students and high school young people, and they've all said the same thing: Mrs. Clinton, we are good kids. We are tired of the bad kids getting all the publicity. Somebody has to get up and -- (applause.)
The President and I will stand with you and WIN. We will work with you in WIN. I hope that we will meet in six months, a year and in five and 10 years from now and say this was the night that we stopped wringing our hands and, instead, rolled up our sleeves and made a commitment -- (applause) -- made a commitment to ourselves and to each other, but mostly to our children.
I believe with all my heart that the time has come in Washington, as it has around America, for those of good faith, people who care about bringing each other together, people who know we will still have differences -- there aren't two people who agree with each other on everything -- just stay married long enough, you'll figure it out. (Laughter and applause.) But on the big things that count and on the goals we should have in the society and the city, we stand as one tonight. And if we move forward as one, with the grace of God we can win on behalf of our children.
Thank you all very much. (Applause.)