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Defending his plans for the nation's schools, President Clinton suggested today that congressional Republicans want the government to "do next to nothing in education."

His speech to educators on the South Lawn highlighted the administration's push to persuade teachers to seek additional certification and become "master teachers."

It was the latest in a series of White House events to counter Republican attacks on Clinton's education package, which includes literacy training, establishing uniform tests for measuring reading and math skills and linking more schools to the Internet.

Republicans have blocked the literacy proposal until the dispute over the national tests is resolved. They say the tests are unnecessary, the money could be better spent, and testing should be controlled by local school officials.

"It is a choice between those who look at the challenge of public education and throw up their hands and those who, like you, try to role up their sleeves," Clinton told an audience that included certified master teachers.

In a veiled reference to GOP proposals for vouchers that could be used for public and private school tuition, Clinton said, "There is no quick fix. There is no single proposal that will magically give all our children the education that they need."

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