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President Urges 'Partnerships' With Schools

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Washington--In an effort to "break down the walls around schools and open them up to the public's attention and involvement," President Reagan last Thursday urged businesses, government agencies, and communities to form "partnerships" with every school and community college in the country by the end of the school year.

"Everyone must get involved," he said at a White House ceremony. He proclaimed 1983-84 the "National Year of Partnerships in Education" and announced his intention to sign a memorandum directing all federal agencies to "adopt" a school.

To dramatize his point, the President announced that the White House will adopt the Congress Heights Elementary School--a predominantly black public school in the District of Columbia. The ceremony was broadcast live by closed-circuit television to the newly adopted school.

Alluding to Americans' "love affair with learning" and evoking the names of Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, and Martin Luther King Jr., Mr. Reagan called on all sectors of society to "strike an agreement" with schools to provide tutors, teachers, equipment, and other resources. Such partnerships, he said, would help to kindle improvements in the schools.

The President also announced that the White House, under the direction of James K. Coyne, special assistant to the President for Private Sector Initiatives, will promote the creation of the school-community partnerships through regional conferences, a monthly newsletter highlighting successful examples of the concept, an electronic-mail system, and a "computer-dating" system called datanet that will bring together schools and businesses interested in forming partnerships, according to Mr. Coyne.

These programs will be established in cooperation with the National School Volunteer Program, a non-profit organization located just outside of Washington, Mr. Coyne said. A governors' task force will also be established to promote cooperative efforts at the state level.

The President was joined at the White House ceremony by the heads of the three major television networks, who pledged that the networks and their affiliates would serve as "catalysts" for adopt-a-school programs nationally.

Mr. Coyne said all federal agencies, ranging from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta to the U.S. Navy shipyard in Philadelphia, would be expected to work with schools in their areas.

Mr. Reagan, in his remarks, mentioned sailors from the San Diego naval base as examples of government employees helping the schools. The sailors have taken on San Diego students as "pen-pals." The President said letters from the sailors "describing far-off lands" or "a sunrise at sea" would be exciting for school children.

He said students from the Congress Heights Elementary School would be invited to the White House to be tutored and "shown how the White House works."

"We will talk to them about our jobs here," the President added.

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