Letters to the Editor
Ernest L. Boyer--President The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Washington, D.C
At the recent meeting of Chief State School Officers and State Higher Education Officers, I believe steps were finally taken that hold promise for ending the critical barriers that so unnecessarily divide us in education.
I'd like to take the opportunity to share with readers of Education Week my impressions of a meeting that may just signal an historic breakthrough in the advancement of quality in education.
First, and most important, is the fact that the meeting occurred, that leaders of elementary and secondary education sat down with college and university presidents for a week and discussed, and, even more significantly, acknowledged a common agenda.
The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, with support from other foundations, joined with the Chief State School Officers to sponsor a joint meeting between the chief school administrators from all the states and college presidents from each state in a profound belief that education can no longer afford divisiveness in its own house.
I came away from the meeting absolutely convinced that we do indeed know how to talk to each other about mutual problems, regardless of the educational level.
I recall the intense curriculum discussion that took place, with educators from both levels agreeing that a more coherent course of general education study should be developed.
The quality of teaching and teacher preparation was another topic that was carefully examined by school and college leaders along with such themes as the future of testing, the impact of technology, and the demography of students.
In the months and years ahead, I feel we will be seeing more news about the progress toward removing insularity in education that has so encumbered teaching and learning.
Terrel H. Bell--Secretary U.S. Department of Education Washington, D.C.
There's tremendous interest and some concern in the education community over the Reagan Administration's planned reorganization of the federal role in education and how it will affect our education programs.
This is understandable. Educators across the nation will be affected in one way or another by whatever form the new administrative structure takes.
The real issue of paramount concern in this whole review of the appropriate federal role in education is the quality of teaching and learning in the schools.
In this connection, I regard the establishment of the National Commission on Excellence to be of singular importance for the future of education in America.
While many schools throughout the country consistently demonstrate high-level performance, others languish in mediocrity by comparison. I believe it is possible to rescue schools that are not measuring up and to bring them far closer to a standard of excellence. Overall, our education system has done remarkably well, but we can and should do better.
I am optimistic. I believe the new commission can help make true excellence a reality on a much broader scale.
Within the next 18 months, the commission will conduct hearings across the nation to learn from parents, students, teachers, administrators, and scholars the best possible information and ideas on precisely how to better schooling at every level.
This will enable the commission during the first four years of this administration to make recommendations to the nation on what needs to be done to achieve our goals for improvement.
There will be practical recommendations for action by all those who have the capacity to influence and guide education for the better.
The commission's recommendations will suggest an agenda for action by students and parents--the consumers of education--as well as by the academic community itself, governing bodies of schools, state legislative bodies, and others responsible for the general control, support, and supervision of schools and colleges.
The recommendations will also help the administration to chart a new and better course of action by the federal government to help bring the best national resources together in support of state and community efforts in education.
I believe the work of the National Commission for Excellence in Education and its recommendations will be among the big stories in the next several years.
Vol. 01, Issue 01, Page 21