"America 2000": A National Education Strategy
Stating that "education determines not just which students will succeed, but also which nations will thrive in a world united in pursuit of freedom in enter- prise," President George Bush presented a national strategy on improvement in edu- cation. The broad based strategy, termed as a nine-year "crusade" to move us to- ward the six ambitious national education goals (see box on page 2), was unveiled in a White House ceremony on April 18.
Four Trains on Tracks
The strategy consists of four parts to be simultaneously pursued. U.S. Depart- ment of Education Secretary Lamar Alex- ander has described the plan as "four giant trains - big enough for everyone to find a place on board - departing at the same time on parallel tracks on the long journey to educational excellence." The four objectives, or train destinations, as de- scribed in the strategy are: better and more accountable schools, a new genera-
tion of American schools, a nation of students continuing to learn throughout our lives, and communities where learn- ing can happen.
Alexander discussed the difficulty in thinking of "America 2000" as a long term strategy "in a town where we're used to nine- second sound bites on the news and hundred-hour wars" during testimony about the plan before the Senate Labor
and Human Resources Committee on April 23. He reiterated the point at a brief appear- ance before private education leaders in their meeting with the Department's Office of Private Education on May 1 by stating that "crusades aren't long recitations on what's wrong. They are helping people meet their full potential."
Alexander: "Crusades aren't long recitations on
what's wrong. They are helping people meet their full potential."
For Today's Students
Thefirst track of the strategy addresses the needs of today's students by having better and more accountable schools with world class standards in core subject areas, voluntary national tests, school choice, and improved school leadership.
Bush stated his desire to work with the nation's governors to "define new world class standards for schools, teachers, and students in the five core subjects: math and science, English, history and geography." He further announced his support for the development of a voluntary national test for 4th, 8th and 12th graders in those subjects to tell the nation "just how well our schools are
doing." He stated his hope that the first of these tests will be in place by September 1993.
In his fiscal year 1992 federal budget request to Congress, Bush proposed a $200 million block grant program to encourage, develop, and support educational choice programs that would include private schools. Ten weeks later, Bush stated his view that parental choice "draws its fundamental strength from the principle at the very heart of the democratic idea. Every adult Ameri- can has the right to vote, the right to decide where to work, where to live." He went on to say, "it's time parents were free to choose the schools that their children attend" in order to "create the competitive climate that stimulates excellence".
Through award programs and one- time state grants, the President intends to reward outstanding teachers nationwide and encourage states to provide alternative routes of certification for teachers. Further, Bush plans to help establish "Governor's Acade- mies" in every state with federal seed money to enhance principal train-
ing through instructional
and mentoring programs.
Similar academies would r
be established to offer
advanced instruction fo-
cusing on the five core
academic disciplines for teachers.
© 1991 by Council for American Private Education
￼National Education Goals
The National Education Goals were developed by the President and nation's Governors as a resultof the education summit at Charlottesville, Virginia in September 1989 and through formal adop- tion by the National Governors Associa- tion in February 1990.
GOAL 1: READINESS - By the year 2000, all children in America will start school ready to learn.
GOAL 2: SCHOOL COMPLE- TION - By the year 2000, the high school graduation rate will increase to at least 90 percent.
GOAL 3: ACHIEVEMENT AND CITIZENSHIP - By the year 2000, stu- dents will leave grades 4, 8, and 12 hav- ing demonstrated competency over chal-
lenging subject matter, including Eng- lish, mathematics, science, history, and geography, and every school will ensure that all students learn to use their minds well, so they will be prepared for respon- sible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our modern economy.
GOAL 4: MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE - By the year 2000, U.S. stu- dents will be first in the world in mathe- matics and science achievement.
GOAL 5: LITERACY AND LIFELONG LEARNING - By the year 2000, every adult American will be liter- ate and will possess the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy and exercise the rights and re- sponsibilities of citizenship.
GOAL 6: SAFE, DISCIPLINED, AND DRUG-FREE SCHOOLS - By the year 2000, every school in America will be free of drugs and violence and will offer a disciplined environment con- ducive to learning.
continued from front
A New Generation of Schools
The President announced the "cen- terpiece" of the strategy as a challenge to the nation: "To reinvent American educa- tion -- to design New American Schools for the year 2000 and beyond." Bush disclosed the formation of the "New American Schools Development Corporation" with a private
sector research and development fund of at least $150 million to generate innovation in education", with Paul O'Neill, of AT&T, as its Chairman. The fund will offer oppor- tunity to reinvent and reinvigorate schools and provide $1 million in start-up funds for at least 535 new American schools by 1996.
The only two requirements of the "architects" of the new schools, as de- scribed by Bush, is that "their students meet the new national standards for the five core subjects, and that outside of the costs of initial research and development, the schools operate on a budget comparable to conven- tional schools." The President expressed his hope that development of these 21st century schools "should break the mold" and "start from scratch and reinvent the American school".
As an invited guest to the Presidential address in the White House East Room, Joyce McCray, CAPE executive director, was particularly impressed with Bush's commitment to this part of the plan. "This component of the strategy has the most vision and potentially holds the most prom- ise for breakthrough reform of American education," she said. Also attending the White House event on behalf of private schools were Sr. Catherine McNamee, president of the National Catholic Educa- tional Association; Jack Sanders, vice presi- dent of the National Association of Inde- pendent Schools; and Sr. Lourdes Sheehan, secretary of education of the United States Catholic Conference.
This part of "America 2000" includes a Presidential charge to every community to do four things: adopt the six national education goals; establish community-wide strategy for their achievement; develop a report card for measuring progress; and demonstrate readiness to create and support a new American school. Communities that accept this challenge will be designated, by the Governors of the States, as "America 2000 Communities."
"Nation of Students" & Appeal to Communities
The final parts of the strategy address our need to be a nation of students dedi- cated to continued, life-long learning and the role every community has to oversee progress toward the national goals. The President, in an effort to "prove no one's
ever too old to learn", announced his plan to learn to operate a computer. Stating that many children today are computer literate, Bush declared himself the first non-tradi- tional student under the America 2000 strat- egy by learning practical computer tech- nology. Bush humorously noted that he does not expect to learn "how to set the clock on the VCR", but just wanted to be computer literate.
In addition to the challenge for com- munities and states to become involved in the monitoring of the strategy and the prog- ress to the national education goals, the plan calls for better coordination of existing federal programs dealing with correspond- ing state and local activities. The President also wants to streamline children's pro- grams to give maximum flexibility to states and localities.
Bush also called on parents to be- come more involved in their children's education, to read aloud to them, and for teachers to help students to study more and meet higher academic standards.
The President referred to the efforts to achieve educational excellence as a "battle for our future", stating that "our challenge amounts to nothing less than a revolution in American education." The challenge was left to all Americans to join in "the crusade to prepare our children and ourselves for the exciting future that looms ahead" as the "miracle of learning beckons us all."
Parents as Partners
Senator Alan Cranston (D-Califor- nia) introduced S. 546 to establish a "Par- ents as Partners in Learning Program" to be administered by the Secretary of the De- partment of Education. The bill would au- thorize $20 million for grants to programs that "build effective parent involvement in schools" and "demonstrate the potential to serve as models for dissemination to other entities wishing to develop parent partici- pation in schools."
Payments would in- clude a limited federal share of 90 percent for the first year of the grant to 33 per- cent in year four of the grant. States would be required to
cape outlook, May 1991, No. 171
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cover the rest of the costs.
The legislation would also establish a National Advisory Resource Center to pro- vide technical assistance in developing model Parents as Partners in Learning programs.
The bill has been referred to the Sen- ate Committee on Labor and Human Re- sources.