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Education reform and goals 2000.

President Clinton submitted his plan for reforming America's public education system in April 1993. Called "Goals 2000: Educate America Act," it will soon be debated in Congress. The bill, referred to as H.R. 1804 in the House and S. 846 in the Senate, is sponsored by Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Michigan) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Massachusetts).

Goals 2000 calls for the creation of national standards for elementary and secondary education and establishes a program to aid states wishing to reform their public schools. Under this bill the six national education goals (listed below), which are to be met by the year 2000, would become law and a national regulatory body would be established.

Clinton's education strategy and the "America 2000: Excellence in Education Act" of 1991, proposed by President George Bush, are similar in many respects. The six national education goals, which are central to each President's plan, were developed in 1989 by Bush, the nation's governors and a National Education Goals Panel (NEGP). To be successful, school reform requires long-term commitment and bipartisan support.

Some authorities believe the national guidelines proposed by Clinton in Goals 2000 will not improve academic standards in American schools. In their view, the President's plan will only add to the existing bureaucratic red tape already stifling education innovation.

National Education Goals

Goal 1: All children in America will start school ready to learn.

Goal 2: The high school graduation rate will increase to at least 90 percent.

Goal 3: American students will leave grades four, eight and twelve having demonstrated competency in challenging subject matter including English, mathematics, science, history and geography; and every school in America will ensure that all students learn to use their minds well, so they may be prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning and productive employment in our modern economy.

Goal 4: U.S. students will be first in the world in science and mathematics achievement.

Goal 5: Every adult American will be literate and will possess the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy and exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Goal 6: Every school in America will be free of drugs and violence and will offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning.

Although by law the federal government cannot impose a national curriculum on states or localities, Goals 2000 re-creates the "school delivery standards," a provision of America 2000 that congressional lawmakers defeated last year. States will have to comply with the new "voluntary" national standards or "opportunity-to-learn standards," as they are now called, or risk losing their eligibility for federal funding.

The new federal mandates will set national standards in virtually every area of state and local education including curriculum, teacher performance, instructional materials, school spending and access to professional training. There is concern that the federal directives for teachers and schools could ultimately affect the way teachers teach and the way schools are organized. A new regulatory body, the National Education Standards Improvements Council (NESIC), would be established to implement the legislation and oversee the process.

Goals 2000 appears to be a move away from popular efforts to ease regulations on public schools, such as teacher empowerment, school choice, site-based management and other school autonomy reforms. Governor Carroll Campbell, Jr. (R-South Carolina), who chaired the 1991-92 National Education Goals Panel, and Governor Roy Romer (D-Colorado), who preceded Campbell as NEGP Chair and now chairs the National Governors Association, claim the Goals 2000 legislation means more federal interference in state education policies.

Campbell calls Goals 2000 "a massive federal intrusion into the local school system." He and Romer believe the bill "ties all future federal education programs to standards, including the opportunity-to-learn standards, which are supposed to be voluntary in nature."

H.R. 1804 and S. 846 will be debated in Congress for some time. Historically, education has been the responsibility of state and local governments which together provide 94 percent of the funding for K-12 education, with the federal government supplying the other 6 percent. To inspire education reform, it appears that Washington would be better off giving school districts greater freedom to experiment and change instead of adding more regulations.
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Title Annotation:ACEI Exchange
Author:Odland, Jerry
Publication:Childhood Education
Date:Sep 22, 1993
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