Philadelpia Inquirer

Tuesday, July 21, 1998

Hillary Clinton Well Received at Latino Summit
She urged parents to do ``whatever it takes'' to ensure their children get a solid education.
By AMBRE S. BROWN, Inquirer Staff Writer

Addressing more than 3,000 people at the National Council of La Raza's annual convention yesterday, Hillary Rodham Clinton promised more aid to help Latinos make gains in education.

"The 21st century will be so ruthless that all of us must do what we can to compete in the global economy," she told the audience at the Convention Center ballroom.

"This is not a matter that can be left to the marketplace. . . . We need to make sure public schools work -- no matter where they are."

To that end, she said, the Clinton administration has proposed the hiring of 100,000 new teachers nationwide and is backing bilingual education.

"We want every child to be able to speak English," she said. "Does that mean we want them to neglect their primary languages? Of course not. It does mean we must have an effective education plan for every child.

"We cannot cut off bilingual-education plans and the extensive opportunities they provide for our children."

The crowd responded enthusiastically, giving her a standing ovation.

Clinton was on a swing through the area that also saw her make stops at a fund-raising event in Montgomery County for Democratic congressional hopeful Joseph M. Hoeffel 3d and read to children at the Village School House child-care center in Upper Dublin.

Clinton said the theme of La Raza's conference, "Honoring Our Past, Forging Our Future," was appropriate because partnerships between such organizations as La Raza must be formed to ensure that all children in America receive a quality education.

She cited new statistics that show African American students graduating at close to the same rate as white students but that also show that "Latino children are still dropping out." She said it was important that parents do "whatever it takes" to ensure that their children understand the value of an education.

"I know not everyone makes it," she said, "but we must stand behind our children. You cannot forge the future in today's world without education."

Clinton also spoke of changing the content of what is taught in our nation's public schools.

"I want to make sure American history includes every American," she said. "Our history is in the lives and accomplishments of Hispanic Americans."

Later, she visited the Gladwyne estate of management consultant Iris Martin for a fund-raiser to benefit the campaign of candidate Hoeffel, who lost to U.S. Rep. Jon D. Fox by only 84 votes two years ago.

Organizers billed the event, which drew 500 people, as the largest Democratic fund-raiser in Montgomery County in recent memory. The participants, each of whom paid either $125 to stand beneath a giant tent pitched on the lawn of the three-story mansion or $1,000 to attend a private reception, contributed more than $150,000, Montgomery County Democratic Party chairman Marcel Groen said.

That means the total raised by Hoeffel so far this year has topped $700,000, Groen said, equal to the amount raised and spent during Hoeffel's entire 1996 campaign.

"It's a hot day for a hot campaign," Hoeffel, a Montgomery County commissioner, said. "It will be another close fight to the finish. If you help me, we will win."

The loudest and longest cheers, however, were reserved for Clinton.

"We need people in Congress who are smart and who are dedicated," she said. "What we have here is a chance to vote for somebody who can fulfill those requirements."

Preserving public education, protecting health care, and keeping the crime rate low are all issues that Montgomery County voters can depend on Hoeffel to work toward, she said while urging local Democrats to work against voter apathy in the midterm election.