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Families and America 2000.

Last April, President Bush and Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander announced AMERICA 2000, a national strategy to achieve our country's education goals by the year 2000. AMERICA 2000 will bring education reform to every school and every community in the U.S. Students with disabilities and their families will have a major role in its four parts, designed to help all of us:

1) Improve today's schools by making them better and more accountable;

2) Create a New Generation of American Schools;

3) Go back to schools ourselves, recognizing that learning is a lifelong process; and

4) Make our communities places where learning can happen.

With AMERICA 2000, President Bush has asked each of us to become more involved in the education of our children -- in the home, in the school building, and in the community. You already know the value of the things you do in your home on a daily basis -- reading to your children, checking homework, limiting TV watching. And parents of children with diabilities, perhaps more than any other group, know the power of involvement in the school.

You may be less familiar with some aspects of community involvement, but the success of AMERICA 2000 and the very future of our children depends on families being involved at the community level. The fact is that at its heart, AMERICA 2000 is not a federal program. It honors local control and relies on on local initiative. As schools and communities across the country become participants in AMERICA 2000, it will be up to parents and families to ensure that education reform stays on track.

The success of AMERICA 2000 depends on you and your involvement at the community level. AMERICA 2000 means that each community will be transforming its schools and learning environments in its own way. The Community Challenges embodied in part four of AMERICA 2000 drives the entire strategy, and families have a special role. Specifically, the President has challenged every neighborhood, town, and city in the nation to become an AMERICA 2000 Community by:

1) Adopting the six national education goals;

2) Establishing a community-wide strategy for achieving the goals;

3) Developing a report card for measuring the community's progress; and

4) Demonstrating the community's readiness to create and support a New American School.

Once a community accomplishes these four things, it will be designated by its state governor as an AMERICA 2000 Community and will be recognized by the President. Meeting this long-term challenge will not be easy. It can only be met with broad community commitment from educators, business leaders, and perhaps of most importance, families. Everyone in the community has a stake in education, but families have the biggest stake of all: making sure that children receive the best education possible so that they can achieve their full potential in school and beyond.

Both the President and Secretary Alexander have emphasized that AMERICA 2000 is for all students, including students with disabilities. Parents, including parents of children with disabilities, will be an integral part of the teams that determine what programs and standards AMERICA 2000 schools and communities will adopt. The value of parental involvement has long been recognized in special education, and at the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), we will continue to support programs for parents of children with disabilities. We are committed to parental empowerment and to maintaining a strong role for parents in education reform.

As trained advocates for your children, you will ensure that your communities adopt strategies to accommodate and fully empower students with disabilities in New American Schools. You will share your expertise based on your experience with special education programs. You will make sure that special education and regular education work together to teach all students. You will insist that high quality services for children with disabilities are an integral part of AMERICA 2000. And you will demand a role for parent involvement at every stage of school reform. These things represent parental empowerment, and they are crucial to the success of the AMERICA 2000 strategy.

Under my administration, OSERS has made parental and family empowerment a top priority. And AMERICA 2000 represents family empowerment. We will support parents of children with disabilities to ensure that communities adopt strategies to accommodate children with disabilities in AMERICA 2000. We will support parents to ensure special education and regular education work together to teach all students, including students with disabilities. We will join with parents who seek high quality services for children with disabilities as part of AMERICA 2000. And we will promote a role for parents with disabilities at every stage of school reform.

I urge you to get involved in the school reform effort now underway in your community. If your community has an AMERICA 2000 committee, join it. Urge other parents of children with disabilities to get involved. With your participation and assistance, we can ensure that students with disabilities participate in every part of AMERICA 2000.

Everyone has a role to play in achieving the national education goals and in making our communities places where learning can happen, but families are key. The federal government can be your partner, and we can and will continue to work with you as we carry out our shared commitment to students with disabilities. Only you can make learning a priority when and where it really matters, every day in your home and in your community
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Title Annotation:Annual Mobility Guide for Parents of Children and Adolescents; Networking
Author:Davila, Robert R.
Publication:The Exceptional Parent
Date:Mar 1, 1992
Words:904
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