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Education: about making a life.

"Education is not just about making a living; it is also about making a life." This quotation from the AMERICA 2000 education strategy, developed and being promoted by the Bush Administration and many of the Nation's governors, offers a glimpse of the philosophy that is the support base for the education revolution and renaissance that is under way in America.

Learning as a life-long activity that will enrich individual lives and make us strong as a nation is a concept that can have special meaning as we approach the year 2000. It can be the beginning of a commitment to improve American education in new professions, in the arts, in the sciences, and in our society and culture.

The six National Education Goals set by the President and the governors last year point the way to that renaissance. The goals envision a future in our country in which:

* All children will start school ready to learn.

* Ninety percent of all students will graduate from high school.

* Students will leave 4th, 8th, and 12th grades competent in English, math, science, history, and geography.

* American students will be the first in the world in math and science.

* Every adult will be literate, able to compete in the workplace, and exercise the rights of citizenship.

* Every school will be free of drugs and violence.

Every community will work in the creation of the education renaissance by taking part in a revolution that has been launched by our President. Each of us will become more involved in our homes, schools, and communities where the real work toward building a better America with a better education system will take place. We already know that real education reform happens community by community and school by school.

AMERICA 2000 provides the flame-work for each of us to help our communities create better schools and reach the National Education Goals. The strategy recommends four simultaneous actions:

* Improve today's schools, make them better, more accountable.

* Create a new generation of schools for tomorrow's learners.

* Make a nation of learners out of today's work force.

* Create communities outside the schools where learning can and will happen.

The national education strategy also identifies four challenges that must be confronted and dealt with if we are to meet the National Education Goals by the year 2000.

The first of these challenges is complacency. Everybody seems to agree that America has an education problem, but everybody believes it belongs to someone else. All of us want to believe that the schools in the communities where we live and work are good enough. As individuals, we must be willing to accept more responsibility for the problem and support the World Class Standards recommended by the AMERICA 2000 strategy.

The second challenge is to "break the mold" and create a new generation of schools that are revolutionary and creative in teaching and learning methodology. The mind set that keeps education reform too slow and too timid must be dispelled and replaced with a boldness that draws on the great minds and the creative genius that exist within our ranks. We must all be willing to participate, contribute, and believe.

AMERICA 2000 will offer opportunities to contribute with research and development teams made up of the best minds among us and funded from the private sector.

The third challenge is convincing American adults that we must become a nation of learners. Eighty-five percent of the Americans who will be in the workforce in the year 2000 are there today. If we are to compete in a world economy, we must meet the challenge of assuring that every worker becomes a learner, keeps up with math, science, technical skills, professional skills, and technical skills, professional skills, and participates fully in a nation of learners.

The fourth challenge is probably the greatest one--creating communities where learning can take place. We can improve today's schools and make them accountable. We can create a new generation of schools that are bold and brave in their teaching and learning approaches. We can convince American adults that we must be a nation of learners, and we can all participate in learning activities. But this is not enough. Ninety-one percent of every child's time is spent outside the classroom-in the community and in the home. Home by home, community by community, we must be willing to do whatever it takes to create an environment where learning can be a continuous process.

The President has challenged every community and neighborhood to become an AMERICA 2000 community. In making the challenge, the President asks the community to take four actions:

* Adopt the six National Education Goals.

* Develop a community strategy to meet the goals.

* Create a report card to monitor progress of the goals.

* Create and support a New American School.

The transformation of American education can happen only when all of us see the education problem as our problem. Transformation of our education system requires not only commitment from each of us; it requires hard work, imagination, and strong leadership.

We must look to Americans who understand and value education and who have the capacity to provide leadership and help make reaching our National Education Goals a reality. Therefore, you, the women and men who work in the field of rehabilitation are privileged to be among a very special group of Americans--Americans who have successfully completed years of preparation and training and are making individual and collective contributions to our society and to the design of future life in America.

Some of you provide direct services to people who have disabilities; others of you are responsible for the administration of large, complex agencies; and others provide professional training for future rehabilitation personnel. By your choice of careers, you have already demonstrated your commitment to people and your belief in personal responsibility and accountability.

In making the choice of a career in rehabilitation, you have fulfilled your personal commitment to service to other people, to your family, your friends, and to our American way of life. Your country and its leadership now call on you to go one step farther and take up the cause of education reform in the United States. Your demonstrated leadership abilities can be applied to your neighborhood and community to promote the AMERICA 2000 strategy.

You are now prepared to meet the challenge of making your community a place where Americans of all ages can live and learn in a safe and positive environment in which people care about one another and foster community growth. You are prepared to play a key role in the education renaissance, to help make American schools the best in the world.

George Peabody defined education as "a debt owed from present to future generations." You and I are the new generation of runners who will carry the torch and lead the way to "making this nation all that it can be."
COPYRIGHT 1992 U.S. Rehabilitation Services Administration
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Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:AMERICA 2000
Author:Carney, Nell C.
Publication:American Rehabilitation
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Sep 22, 1992
Previous Article:Region VI conferences attract new professionals.
Next Article:A focus on youths and adults with disabilities.

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