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A focus on youths and adults with disabilities.

Betsy Brand

This article was written in answer to a serious question. regarding the education system in the United States. We have been asked, "Will the AMERICA 2000 strategy reach out to each and every student in the United States?" I will visit this question with regard to education for students requiring rehabilitation services. As we strive to restructure education in our country, it is important to remember that students come in all shapes and sizes. AMERICA 2000 is a strategy for all students in this country, young or old, rich or poor, rural or urban. In order to ensure that students with disabilities receive the education that will allow them to compete effectively in the work force, the Office of Vocational and Adult Education (OVAE) and the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA) of the United States Department of Education have agreed to coordinate efforts to improve the education system for these students. AMERICA 2000, President Bush's education strategy, will be the basis of these efforts.


On April 18, 1991, President Bush announced his plan to improve education-AMERICA 2000: An Education Strategy--a bold, complex, long-range plan to move every community in America toward the six National Education Goals adopted by the President and governors in 1990.

President Bush believes that in order to build a competitive work force, a work force that has the technology and skills necessary to be effective in the 21st century, we must restructure our education system.

AMERICA 2000 is the President's education strategy. It is the framework for the Nation to reach the six goals, community by community, school by school. It is born out of the understanding that educational excellence is the business of the entire nation.

What's happening across the United States in a thousand communities-- large and small, rural and urban, young and old--is a revolution in education. This revolution is happening because people are questioning the system and asking, "Are our citizens getting the best education? If not, what can we do about it?"

They are getting involved in the AMERICA 2000 education strategy, with it's underlying philosophy that much of the work of creating and sustaining communities where education really happens can only be performed by those who live in these communities: by local business, parents, and community organizations.

Education Goals

Thus, AMERICA 2000 is a long-range plan designed to move every community in America toward the National Education Goals adopted by the President and the governors of the 50 states. (These goals are outlined in RSA Commissioner Nell C. Carney's column on the inside front cover of this issue.)


AMERICA 2000 envisions the United States as a "Nation of Students," while transforming learning into a lifelong challenge. We must remember that approximately 85 percent of America's workers of the year 2000 are currently in the work force; thus, improving schools for todays and tomorrows students will not ensure a competitive America into the 21st century. Furthermore, improving these schools does not address the needs of Americans with disabilities, who are either in the work force or entering the work force, and who will require additional training as well.

AMERICA 2000 requires that we fundamentally change how we think about education. AMERICA 2000 sees change occurring as a result of action by individuals affected--not by mandate from above--but by imagination and creativity from all around.

Our role, at the national level, is to act as catalysts for education reform. We are looking to four ideas--four transforming ideas--we hope will add to the effectiveness of the American education system. These ideas are:

* Break-the-Mold New American Schools

* Flexibility for Teachers and Principals

* Parental Choice of Schools

* World Class Standards\Voluntary National Exams

Break-the-Mold New American Schools. The new American schools and innovative approaches to testing and training will require that business and industry, educators, and government work together in partnership to build effective programs. These new schools will be designed to meet the needs of all of our students, including those students who are disabled. These break-the-mold schools will offer disabled students entirely new approaches to education and work force preparation.

Flexibility for Teachers and Principals. These schools will also give teachers, principals, administrators, and students greater flexibility--flexibility in training, flexibility in academics, and flexibility in administration. We envision that this will allow teachers and administrators to better provide the needed services and attention that some disabled students may require.

Flexibility in training is very important in the American vocational rehabilitation community. As we strive to become a nation of students, we are aware of the importance of finding innovative approaches to training all of tomorrow's work force.

Parental Choice of Schools. These new schools will also give parents flexibility-the flexibility of choice. We hope that by the end of the decade all families, no matter their income level, will be able to send their child to the school of their choice, public or private. Disabled students will be able to choose the services that best meet their own personal needs, not the needs mandated for them by a local school board.

World Class Standards\Voluntary National Exams. On the academic side, we will develop new curricula which teach according to world class standards the five core subjects of English, math, science, history, and geography. A new system of American achievement tests will help us assess our students. These tests will be voluntary and administered after the fourth, eighth, and twelfth years.

We are funding two national centers to set national standards in science and history, and work is currently under way for standard setting projects in English, civics, and the arts.

On the vocational side, the Secretaries of Education and Labor have been the fulcrum of several partnership efforts. We have worked together to encourage partnerships between educators and business, the private and public sectors, and between the federal and the state and local governments.

We are encouraging businesses to communicate to educators the types of employees they need and the skills these employees should have. Industrybased skill standards are a means to this end.

Why Standards Are Important

We have all agreed on the need for a system of industry based skill standards. Discussions between industry, education, and government officials have led to a consensus about what such a system could do. The system would help tomorrow's vocational graduates compare the skills they have acquired against a national standard and, eventually, a world class standard.

We have agreed that, in order to develop these standards, each industry will form technical committees with representation from industry, education, and government. These committees will use the same language to describe work skill standards and vocational curriculum objectives.

This common language will provide the basis for modernizing and improving curricula. Standards will describe the type of training that a student must receive in order to be effective at the work place.

The system of standards will also lend portability to the work force. At present, the skills obtained in one region of our country may not adequately prepare a worker for work in another region or for export overseas. A system of industry-based skill standards would alleviate this problem.

The development of a national system of industry skill standards will be a long-term project and will involve many different groups. Our hope is that the skill standards system will provide a language for communication between employers and educators. The system will empower all learners to make better choices in education and training.

AMERICA 2000 and People with Disabilities

AMERICA 2000 focuses on partnerships and coordination. To improve the educational services available to people with disabilities, partnerships will need to be established and nurtured. With the focus of AMERICA 2000 clearly defined, OVAE has begun to embark on this process.

Strengthening program linkages between the Office of Vocational and Adult Education and the Rehabilitation Services Administration will be an important key towards enabling the 43 million Americans with disabilities to be productive members of the nation's work force.

OVAE is encouraging states to provide program resources and services for youths and adults with disabilities, 40 percent of whom have not received a high school diploma and 66 percent of whom are not currently employed. States will need to coordinate the program resources available for youths and adults with disabilities in order to provide them with the skills necessary to become productive citizens.

The mission of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education is to improve educational programs which promote work force preparation and lifelong learning so that the United States will:

* meet the national education goals;

* compete effectively in the 21st century; and

* advance the economic well-being of our communities.

In order to accomplish this mission, OVAE administers two major pieces of federal legislation--the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Technology Education Act and the Adult Education Act as amended by the National Literacy Act.

The Carl Perkins Act makes changes in what education and training programs will look like in the future. These changes include an education and training system that integrates academic and vocational education, a system that is responsive to business and economic development, a system that helps prepare the most at-risk and disadvantaged of our society, and a system that encourages rather than discourages greater participation in postsecondary education by articulation between secondary and postsecondary schools.

The Perkins Act renewed our commitment to serving the most atrisk or disadvantaged of our society. Under the previous Perkins Act a certain percentage of funds was set aside to serve special populations. However, repOrts have shown that in practice these set asides do not work. Under the new law, therefore, federal funds must be focused on program improvement for at-risk populations. As a result, program improvement has become the overarching goal of the new act. Access to vocational education by special populations is no longer good enough. We must show that individuals from these groups actually benefit from vocational-technical education. Program improvement now means both access and results, particularly for students from special populations, such as those who are economically disadvantaged, those with disabilities, those who have limited English proficiency, and others.

The National Literacy Act, which amends the Adult Education Act in several ways, is also very important to promoting education for people with disabilities.

The Act establishes the National Institute for Literacy and State Resource Centers. The institute and the centers will provide technical assistance, program evaluation and validation, as well as research and information dissemination, through a clearinghouse system so that state programs are better able to serve the needs of the entire population of adult Americans.

The Adult Education Act also contains a program which focuses on work place literacy. Work place literacy is the largest and most pOpular discretionary grants program administered by our office. The program works because adults learn best in a contextually relevant environment, that is, one which is meaningful to adults and which allows them to apply their newly acquired skills.

Thus, we recognize that it is important that vocational and adult and vocational rehabilitation education systems work closer together as they both serve adults who have disabilities.

At all levels of government--federal, state, and local--there is a need to build effective program linkages between adult and vocational education and special education and rehabilitative services so that all Americans will be able to participate fully in our society.

We acknowledge the need to establish a coordinated system of lifelong learning for adults with disabilities. To establish such a system, several barriers must be overcome, including the ways in which federal and state agencies deliver services to adults and youths who have disabilities. The Federal Government, up to this time, has not engaged in enough coordination; as a result, we find duplicative programs and gaps in services to Americans with disabilities.

Current Efforts

To begin the effort to build coordinated program linkages, the OVAE and Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) held a national conference in June 1991. Over 100 participants from 30 states attended, including representatives from the state and local offices of adult, vocationaL special education, vocational rehabilitation, and corrections programs, as well as representatives from community colleges, universities, private institutions, and community-based organizations across the country. A report of the conference proceedings and recommendations to improve programs and services for youths and adults with disabilities were published in fall of 1991 as conference proceedings and is available from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education, Washington, D.C.

Another result of the OVAE/OSERS coordination conference was the signing of a Coordination Policy Statement between the Office of Vocational and Adult Education and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services. This was a major step towards building effective program linkages at the federal level. We envision that this pOlicy statement will be the stimulus for a model of state and local coordination as well.

In the continuing effort to build effective program linkages, the first regional Symposium for Youth and Adults with Disabilities was held in Saratoga, New York, in May 1992. Sponsored by OVAE, OSERS, and the New York Department of Education, Office of Vocational Education for Individuals with Disabilities, this symposium drew approximately 125 participants from the State of New York and the six New England states who met to continue the dialogue on implementing the recommendations from the national conference. The proceedings from this sympOsium will be available in fall of 1992.

As is evident, these two events follow the partnership ideal that is defined in the AMERICA 2000 strategy. Furthermore, the National Association of Rehabilitation Facilities, an organization that represents 4,000 rehabilitation facilities in the United States, plans to develop skill clinics in their facilities.

Skill clinics, an idea born in the AMERICA 2000 strategy, will allow people to assess their current skills against those they would like to have-- or need for a certain job--as well as advise them of where they can acquire the skills and knowledge they may lack.

Intake, assessment, and referral-- the central ideas of skill clinics--are not new ideas. What is new is the attempt to avoid duplication of these services by several providers in the same community.

The idea of skill clinics, as developed in the AMERICA 2000 strategy, has coordination of programs as a central focus. Several facilities have already started this effort; two specific examples are Goodwill Industries of Lubbock, Texas, and the West Central Alabama Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center, Selma, Alabama.

Goodwill Industries is involved in programs which link the organization to community agencies, including the Adult Basic Education Department of the Lubbock Independent School District, Texas Tech University Medical Center, and the City of Lubbock. Goodwill offers a Work Adjustment and Personal/Social Adjustment program for its clients and furnishes Job Development/Job Placement services for youths and adults with disabilities. It has developed an outstanding, comprehensive vocational and psychological testing program. Goodwill offers job readiness training as well as supported employment, job 'coaching, and on-the-job training. Their newest program--a Workplace Literacy Project--is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Education. This project has served approximately 250 people since July 1991.

The West Central Alabama Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center and the Selma City School System Adult Education Program have coordinated efforts to provide a competency-based instructional program which provides basic skills of reading, writing, computing, listening, speaking, reasoning, and problem solving. Strong emphasis is placed on the recognition of client learning styles. Clients attend class daily for a designated period of time. After initial assessment and placement by the teacher, the clients are encouraged to work on an independent basis. They participate in problem-solving activities developed from daily living skills. Problem-solving activities such as this encourage the development of critical thinking and promote the quality of life so youths and adults with disabilities in this program can become productive workers in their community.


The U.S. Department of EduCation, through the vehicles of AMERICA 2000, the Perkins Act, and the Adult Education Act, encourages all of us to participate in the restructuring of American education. One of our goals is to improve programs and services for youths and adults with disabilities by coordinating the resources of the Office of Vocational and Adult Education and the Rehabilitation Services Administration.

Working together, we can make a difference in improving the lives of Americans with disabilities so that they too become a part of the mainstream of our nation and productive members of our society and work force.

Key Resources

The following 11 organizations, federal and nonfederal, can provide a wide variety of materials and technical assistance in adult and vocational education to help develop and improve programs and services for youths and adults with disabilities.

* American Association of Adult and Continuing Education. AAACE is the largest professional organization of adult educators in the world. It has an organizational unit that offers workshops for adult learners with disabilities at the annual conference. Contact: Dr. Drew Allbritton, Executive Director, AAACE, Suite 925, 2101 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201. Telephone: (703) 522-2234, FAX: (703) 522-2250.

* American Vocational Association. AVA is the essential link that keeps vocational education professionals connected to the needs of a changing society and economy. As the primary association for vocational education, it serves the need of the vocational education professional in a way no other organization can match. Contact: Dr. Charles H. Buzzel, Executive Director, 1410 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. Telephone: (703) 683-3111, FAX: (703) 683-7424.

* Center for Adult Learning and Credentials. As part of the American Council on Education, the center offers two national adult education programs-- the GED Test and the National External Diploma Program--both of which are accessible to adults with disabilities. Contact: Henry Spille, Director, Center for Adult Learning and Credentials, One Dupont Circle, N.W., Washington, DC 20002. Telephone: (202) 939-9490, FAX: (202) 775-8578.

* Center on Education and Training for Employment, Ohio State University. Functions of the center include conducting applied research, evaluation, and policy analyses and providing leadership development, technical assistance, curriculum development, and information services for youths and adults with disabilities. Contact: Center on Education and Training for Employment, Ohio State University, 1900 Kenny Road, Columbus, OH 43210. Telephone: (614) 292-4353 or (800) 848-4815, FAX: (614) 292-1260.

* Clearinghouse on Adult Education and Literacy. Located in the Division of Adult Education and Literacy, U.S. Department of Education, this clearinghouse functions as a link to the adult education community with existing resources in adult education and literacy. It provides information which deals with state-administered adult education programs funded under the Adult Education Act (P.L. 100-297), as amended by the National Literacy Act of 1991 (P.L. 102-73). Contact: Clearinghouse on Adult Education and Literacy, Mary E. Switzer Building, Room 4428, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202-7240. Telephone: (202) 732-2396, FAX: 732-1973.

* ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career, and Vocational Education. This clearinghouse provides resources at all levels and settings of adult and continuing, career, and vocational/technical education. Contact: Center on Education and Training for Employment, Ohio State University, 1900 Kenny Road, Columbus, OH 4321 0-1090. Telephone: (614) 292-4353 or (800) 848-4815, FAX: (614) 292-1260.

* National Association for Adults with Special Learning Needs. Formed in 1989, NAASLN is a professional organization committed to the adult education needs of adult learners with disabilities. National Task Forces are organized around disability groups and target populations. A conference is held every year. The association publishes a newsletter and a journal. Contact: Joseph J. Cretella, President, NAASLN c/o Wallingford Adult Education, Wallingford Public Schools, 142 Hope Hill Road, Wallingford, CT 06492. Telephone: (203) 294-5932, FAX: (203) 284-2063.

* National Center for Research in Vocational Education. Established under authorization of the Carl D. Perkins Applied Technology and Vocational Education Act to conduct applied research and development in vocational education, NCRVE is located at the University of California in Berkeley. Contact: NCRVE, University of California at Berkeley, Suite 1058, 1995 University Avenue. Telephone: (510) 642-4004 or (800) 762-4093, FAX: (510) 642-2124.

* National Network for Curriculum Coordination. NNCCVTE is a network of six regions, each with a regional center, and provides a wide variety of resources and materials to assist vocational educators with coordination of resources among professional organizations and agencies involved in curriculum and staff development and dissemination activities to improve programs. Contact: NNCCVTE at the following regional centers: Hawaii, (808) 956-7834; Illinois, (217) 786-6375; Mississippi, (601) 325-2510; New Jersey, (908) 290-1900; Oklahoma, (405) 377-2000; and Washington, (206) 438-4456.

* National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee. NOICC is a Federal Interagency Committee established by Congress in 1976 to promote the development and use of occupational and labor market information. NOICC members include representatives in the U.S. Departments of Labor, Education, Commerce, Agriculture, and Defense. Its primary mission is to improve coordination and communication among developers and users of occupational information and to help states meet the occupational information needs of vocational education and employment and training program managers as well as people making career decisions. Contact: NOICC at Suite 1556, 2100 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037. Telephone: (202) 653-5665, FAX: (202) 653-2123.

* Office of Correctional Education. Located in the Division of National Programs, OVAE, the Office of Correctional Education provides national leadership on issues and programs in correctional education, disseminates information, and provides technical assistance to state and local correctional institutions. Contact: Office of Correctional Education, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 732-3893, FAX: (202) 732-1793.

To obtain further information on the programs and services available from the Office of Vocational and Adult Education contact Chris M. Yanckello, Special Assistant, or William R. Langner, Education Program Specialist, at the Office of the Assistant Secretary, Office of Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education, Room 4090 Switzer Building, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20202. Telephone: (202) 205-5451 or (202) 205-5410. FAX: (202) 205-8973.

Ms. Brand is the Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education, U.S. Department of Education, Washington, DC.
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Title Annotation:AMERICA 2000
Author:Brand, Betsy
Publication:American Rehabilitation
Date:Sep 22, 1992
Previous Article:Education: about making a life.
Next Article:Models of vocational rehabilitation for youths and adults with severe mental illness: implications for AMERICA 2000 and ADA.

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