Priorities for the Next Administration
In anticipation of the 1988 Presidential campaign, Education Week invited a number of educators, analysts, and policymakers to propose an initiative of high priority for the federal government's role in education. If they were given the opportunity to make one suggestion, to offer one favorite idea to the candidates, what would it be?
The responses follow:
By Thomas H. Kean, Governor of New Jersey
Education has emerged as the dominant domestic issue in the 1988 Presidential campaign. With candidates on both sides calling for school reform, the intent is great, but not all that is being said is wise or necessary.
Frightened by the federal budget deficit, candidates are often retreating to homey truisms and echoing familiar slogans, like more homework or longer school hours, that are really state or local responsibilities. But these candidates are not running for school superintendent or governor; they are running for President.
We have a national education problem, and Presidential candidates should speak to it. We are failing huge numbers of Americans, mostly rural and urban poor of minority backgrounds, because some of the schools they attend are poorly run. We do need a domestic Marshall Plan to save these schools and these children.
Right now we scatter federal Chapter 1 education dollars across the country. Schools in Detroit and Newark get money, but so do schools in affluent Orange County, Calif., and Somerset County, N.J. Though politically popular, this is a waste of resources. Instead, we should concentrate federal dollars, energy, and ideas on the schools with the highest concentrations of poor, low-achieving students. But we must do so under conditions that favor success.
Let's drop the idea that educators in those schools have an automatic entitlement. Demand results as the price of greater government support. Don't tell local educators how and what to teach, but tell them how high we expect our children to be able to reach. Tell these schools, for example, that 50 percent dropout rates are unacceptable, as are 70 percent attendance rates. With Presidential leadership, federal, state, and local governments can help this country define the specific performance standards that matter, and then challenge schools to meet them.
We know the kind of management needed to get these results. We know that schools have to work with human-services agencies, health clinics, job-training centers, and many others. All we have to do is look at those urban and rural schools that do meet these criteria.
Why not use this information to launch a nationwide school-leadership consortium to develop management and leadership in those schools as we do in private industry? Let there be state, federal, and local money behind such a program. I don't mean a few sessions. I mean sustained hard work to enable school management to meet its enormous challenge.
Then place small planning funds in the hands of those school leaders to put this management information to use. After that, cut back regulation and get out of their way. Let the federal government demand the trade-off governors demand: more results for less regulation.
When schools start to improve, the federal government should make available large performance grants. If a school continues to fail, deny it the grants, and let the mayor and school board bear the responsibility. If no one in a community cares, then state government should intervene and run the schools, as I have proposed in New Jersey.
The greatest threat to American prosperity is the growth of our underclass. Presidential candidates ought to have a plan to use federal power to save these children.
By Michael W. Kirst, chairman, department of administration and policy analysis, school of education, Stanford University
My priority proposal for the next President is to provide a new vision of integrated children's services and lead the restructuring of federal policy to link education with other children's programs.
Numerous studies have documented the dramatic increase of children in poverty, and the massive redistribution of federal resources from the young to older people. Many middle-class children need special care to assist with such problems as drug abuse and suicide. The number of ''at risk" and limited-English-speaking children is expanding rapidly. Neither the school nor the home alone can deal with all these interrelated problems.
Yet public response often focuses on individual pathologies. Though important, the efforts of task forces, social-advocacy groups, and the media to call attention to particular problems have typically failed to link these problems to the overall experience of childhood; nor have they triggered comprehensive planning to address serious problems.
Many of the numerous agencies currently assisting young people are remarkably effective, and the conditions of youths might be far worse without their efforts. Still, however successful such remedial endeavors may be, they tend to compartmentalize the problems.
In fact, the different problems of a particular child often stem from a common source; it is misleading to segment them into individual compartments. Yet, while a troubled child frequently needs an integrated set of assisting services, he and his parents are seldom in a position to manage or coordinate these services themselves.
Although pulling simply one policy lever is unlikely to eradicate deeply distressing conditions, one promising comprehensive solution is to attempt to coordinate those social services intended to assist children and teen-agers. As the social institution that touches the lives of most children, schools might best serve as the umbrella organizations around which social services could be brokered, organized, and delivered.
In part, simple availability of counseling, health, nutritional, youth-justice, employment, and educational services in one location might help. Probably, however, something more intense than a "shopping mall" constituted of social agencies will be necessary. A mechanism is needed to coordinate the diagnosis and treatment of children's social pathologies on a case-by-case basis.
The removal of the Education Department from Health, Education, and Welfare has exacerbated the fragmentation at the federal level. The federal government has no overall spokesman for children as it does for schooling or health. States and localities cannot coordinate the fragmented federal programs. What should we do about this?
First, the White House should develop a children's policy and provide coordination through the Domestic Policy Council in the Executive Office of the President. Second, federal incentive grants should be provided to states and localities that construct integrated children's services and case-management techniques. Third, the Education Department should help design strategies for the school site to be a "broker" for numerous children's services, including alliances with private groups.
By Albert Shanker, president, American Federation of Teachers
A leader must deal with the existing conditions and problems of his constituents, while charting a course that both anticipates the future and directs it toward the best possible good. If our Presidential candidates see value in this principle, their education platforms should have a two-step approach.
The first step is to do our best for youngsters in schools as they now exist. This involves adequately funding and extending the reach of federal programs such as compensatory education, early-childhood education, day care, and education for the handicapped, as well as supporting research and data collection. The wide variety of non-education programs that affect children's educational prospects, such as welfare and maternal and child health, should also be improved and coordinated with education programs to achieve their maximum impact.
As these planks indicate, there cannot be excellence without equity. The candidates should therefore also commit themselves to rigorous enforcement of civil rights; they should reject tuition tax credits and vouchers, and other measures that undermine education for democracy.
The second step is to encourage the creation of schools for the 21st century, schools that would show us that broad and deep educational achievement, in the full intellectual and moral meaning of the term, can be a regular feature of the system. Either directly or through incentives to the states, the federal government could offer grants to public schools that submit proposals to restructure themselves around student learning and success.
There can be no single blueprint for restructuring schools. The idea would be to go beyond the typical reform approach of offering expanded, improved versions of the traditional factory model of schooling, and to incorporate the following:
The recognition that students are knowledge "workers" and not passive raw materials, and that learning occurs at different rates and in different ways. As Theodore Sizer says, the school's "essential" goals should apply equally to all students, but the means of achieving them ought to vary with the needs of individuals.
Cooperative learning and teaching among students and among faculty, which will entail new ways of organizing and scheduling students, school-based management and faculty decisionmaking, new staffing structures, and involvement with the wider community.
Creative use of technology, ranging from good books for all to high technology applied to facilitate different styles of learning and to make the most effective use of faculty.
New, long-term research and accountability measures that diagnose and assess, in ways the public can understand, the ability of students to enter confidently into a complex society.
By Craig M. Bowman, teacher, Alameda Junior High School, Lakewood, Colo.
An election-year dream:
Senator Robert Dole, Republican of Kansas, wins the Presidency as he buries Gov. Mario Cuomo of New York in a historic landslide. His cabinet nominations are controversial: Secretary of State, former President Richard M. Nixon; Secretary of Labor, Chrysler president Lee Iacocca; Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Rev. Jesse Jackson; Secretary of Defense, Frank Carlucci, a rare competent Reagan holdover.
But when Mr. Dole nominates former Gov. Richard D. Lamm of Colorado for Secretary of Education, all hell breaks loose on the Senate floor.
Both men propose one fundamental initiative: the total elimination of public-education guarantees by the year 2000.
By 1990, the Dole Administration wants a gradual repeal of all federal and state legislation that, in effect, mandates all public schools to do and be everything for everybody. In his typically frank manner, Mr. Lamm says that our public institutions have to learn how to say "no."
Both President Dole and Secretary Lamm also want to repeal compulsory-attendance statutes for the same reason. If America really is a free country, then parents and youngsters ought to be free to choose, they say. And if a young man, for instance, decides that he doesn't need any more school after the 8th grade, let him so choose.
But when unemployment and poverty result, contends Secretary Lamm, don't let the local, state, or federal government bail him out from the consequences of his poor decision. No welfare, food stamps, or unemployment compensation for school dropouts.
Let them work, read, or write for their daily bread.
Mr. Lamm wants a serious review of teacher-tenure laws, too. He thinks that any job guarantee kills motivation, and reduces quality and credibility. If teachers want more respect and pay, he says, they'll have to be the most militant group in seeking out and expelling the mediocre and incompetent among themselves.
Finally, says the Secretary of Education, no public school should have a guaranteed existence. If it can't compete with the local parochial or independent schools, Public High School No. 0 ought to close.
About the current deplorable state of most public education systems, Mr. Lamm simply says, "They'll have to be like the best or die like the rest. This Administration offers no guarantees."
Then I woke up--only to discover that public education hadn't.
By Arthur G. Powell, director, Commission on Educational Issues, National Association of Independent Schools
The enormous federal deficit is likely to constrain major expansion of federally supported programs in elementary and secondary education during the next administration, regardless of who wins the election. Although unfortunate in some respects, this probability need not guarantee an increasingly passive federal contribution to the schools.
I refer to a simple but often overlooked reality of education. The health of the schools depends on the health of the country in general. Therefore, the most important federal educational initiatives should probably lie outside the educational field, at least as it is conventionally defined. The best way for the Congress and the President to help schools is to confront creatively the major economic and social problems of our time: the federal and trade deficits, global competition, the concentration of poverty and its virtual institutionalization, the partial collapse of family structures, and so forth.
The failure of public policy to prevent these problems, or at least to keep them manageable, leads inexorably to the notion that schools exist mainly to treat the problems after they become fully symptomatic--after abstract problems become transformed into impoverished or alienated or passive young people. When there is no serious public commitment to prevention, schools become by default the major social treatment facilities.
Since they are usually generous and humane places, the schools will respond as best they can. But there is surely something wrong when so much of the debate about, for example, helping the out-of-wedlock children of teen-agers focuses only on the nature of school programs for such babies and their parents, and so little attention is given to the positive incentives required to prevent such guaranteed "at risk" births from occurring in the first place.
Schools often welcome the treatment role: The needs of kids are painfully immediate, and must be addressed prior to longer-range concerns for traditional cognitive development. It's easy to say from a distance that schools should focus only on an academic agenda, but impossible to do that up close.
More important, society continues to rely on the treatment role of the schools, because this is financially and politically far easier than to recognize that prevention depends on changing policies and structures outside and quite distinct from the schools.
Although schools must not be allowed excuses to get off the hook, every case study of a so-called effective school in the midst of a ghetto gets the society off the hook from addressing the larger economic questions of our country. By neglecting prevention and forcing schools to become treatment centers, society robs schools of the energy and the incentives to engage in the intellectual agenda, which is their unique chance to reconcile our twin goals of equity and excellence.
By Denis P. Doyle, senior research fellow, Hudson Institute
Current federal education programs, most of which were designed for the mid-60's, look less and less rational in light of the massive changes that have occurred in America in the two decades since the Great Society.
But if these programs make little intellectual sense, they make powerful political sense, particularly in an environment where politicians fear change and the interest groups ride supreme.
Only one person--the next President--might be able to change the status quo. The issue will not be new money for new programs but rather the most effective ways to spend the money already appropriated for education.
The Reagan Administration's deficit-spending binge has created a de facto budget freeze, unique because it puts a floor under spending, rather than a ceiling over it. Mobilizing to keep spending as high as it had been, the interest groups knew that during the Reagan years they would receive no increases; they could, however, stave off cuts. The Congress agreed. The President proposed education cuts, only to discover that the programs, with only a few exceptions, were impregnable.
But if the education budget cannot go up because of the deficit and cannot go down because of the interest groups, there may be another way to think about it. President Carter should be remembered for the concept of zero-based budgeting, according to which each agency's budget should be treated de novo each year and rejustified without reference to so-called obligations. Though basically set, the entire budget is viewed as if it were discretionary.
The federal government spends approximately $19 billion each year on elementary, secondary, and postsecondary education. Would anyone (other than a member of the Congress or a lobbyist) seriously propose that we continue to spend that amount of money in the way we do?
As an exercise, at least, zero-based budgeting is worth trying. We might consider, for example, student aid, which, for good reason, is in trouble.. Pell Grants for the poor and Guaranteed Student Loans for the working and lower middle class no longer meet their original objectives of equity and access. These programs are enormously expensive and so complicated that only trained student-aid counselors fully understand them.
Too often these programs are abused by unscrupulous students and schools. Most important, they reflect an old and by now discredited idea that education is a transient form of consumption, paid for out of income, and not an investment that pays dividends over its useful life.
Is it possible to reform them and save some money in the bargain? Yes, because higher education pays such handsome dividends we no longer have to subsidize it so lavishly. The value of a college diploma, which appeared to be diminishing in the 70's, is rising; the income differential between degree holders and non-degee holders is again robust.
It makes little sense to pay for education as though it were a consumer good, here today and gone tomorrow. Instead, education should be viewed as an investment. We should amortize its costs over time and pay for it the way we pay for physical capital.
The issue is actuarial; how long, at what interest rates, will it take to recover the cost of a given student's education?
To accomplish this, a human-capital loan bank would be needed, with repayment handled by the Internal Revenue Service. An actuarially sound bank with realistic interest rates would be self-supporting. Uncle Sam could guarantee it. (Inventive twists can be added, the most notable being income contingency: In such a scheme, a student has a maximum annual payback, contingent on income.)
Insofar as the benefits of the education spill over into society as a whole, so much the better. Indeed, it is this general benefit that justifies the federal government as banker in the first instance.
How should such a bank be capitalized? The obvious source is the Social Security trust fund, which is now dedicated by statute to floating the deficit. There is powerful intellectual symmetry in one generation's providing loan capital for the generation that pays the Social Security bills.
In a world of finite resources, a national student-loan bank frees federal funds for other worthy activities; it is an opportunity for alternate investment strategies.
Finally, it now looks as though gsl defaults in this year alone will approach $2- billion. Just eliminating them would represent a significant investment opportunity. And even the Congress understands that it makes sense to spend $2 billion on productive programs rather than on payment of bad debts.
The same principles could be applied to all programs of the Education Department. What's required now is leadership--some imagination--and a dash of zero-based budgeting.
By William J. Bennett, U.S. Secretary of Education
Education has already received a great deal of attention in the 1988 Presidential campaign. This is good news. Nothing is more vital to the nation's future than the education of our children.
The most important player in education, however, is not the politician but the teacher. The education-reform movement has focused on excellence in teacher performance as well as student achievement. There is much we can do to help ensure that the teacher-student relationship is a good one--that teachers teach effectively and students learn a lot.
Unfortunately, the rewards for teaching well and for teaching poorly are the same. We need to find ways of identifying teachers who aren't teaching effectively, encourage them to improve, and, if necessary, move them out. Equally important is rewarding teachers who do a fine job by raising their pay. Programs that embrace this goal of teacher accountability are now springing up across the country.
Our top priority must be the attraction and retention of well-qualified teachers. But all too often such efforts are frustrated by certification requirements that deter some of the most talented people from joining the teaching profession.
One essential way of overcoming this obstacle is alternative certification. While alternatively certified teachers must pass competency examinations just like other teachers, they substitute on-the-job training for traditional education coursework. Often people who seek alternative certification are recent college graduates who studied a particular field in depth, or men and women who have served in the military. These people have the skill and the desire to teach, and we should welcome them.
Research shows that alternatively certified teachers perform as well as--or in many cases better than--their traditionally trained counterparts. In New Jersey, for example, new teachers certified through alternative means have consistently scored higher on the National Teacher Examinations than teachers hired through regular procedures. And these teachers stay in the profession longer. Finally, the New Jersey program has significantly boosted minority-teacher hiring in the state: One in five teachers hired under the new plan has been a member of a minority group.
Of course, change never comes without opposition, and these reforms are no exception. The nation's largest teachers' union, the National Education Association, has vociferously opposed both performance-based pay and alternative certification. The nea is well armed for the upcoming election: Its roughly $2-million "war chest" will be parceled out among its favorite candidates. This poses an important question to the 1988 Presidential contenders: Will they support what's best for their campaign coffers, or will they support what's best for the nation's children?
By Richard Sagor, assistant superintendent, West Linn (Ore.) Public Schools
The role of the federal government in education must move from its historical focus on supporting categorical programs to a new emphasis on providing general program funding (fiscal equalization) and on becoming the society's guarantor of quality.
Educational research suggests that when top-quality instruction is paired with high student motivation, almost anyone can learn anything. The federal government ought to become the clear and resonant voice which assures all of our children that their hard work will be rewarded with success in school and, consequently, true access to opportunity.
The new role will require the simultaneous application of the carrot and the stick. First, the Education Department should become the guarantor of fiscal support for school systems that realize their capacity to academically empower the full spectrum of their students.
Second, the government ought to back up this guarantee by accepting the recommendation from the National Governors' Association that it place into receivership school systems that fail to perform at a high level. In keeping with current school-improvement research, federal policy should encourage loàcal autonomy on issues of practice, yet require accountability on outcomes.
Our system of local funding for public education has not only failed to produce equity but has exaggerated educational inequality. Almost every metropolitan region in the country has evolved its own two-tiered public-education system: A small population of privileged children living in affluent suburbs attend schools equal in quality to our most prestigious private academies, while the children of the working class and poor attend schools that must struggle to provide barely adequate basic programs and are unable to attract top-quality teachers.
An "excellence for all" education policy should have as one of its tenets the provision of incentives for advanced study to all young people who meet a legitimate set of eligibility standards. Once we deliver a system of universally successful K-12 schools, objective, performance-based admission standards will no longer be correlates of privilege; rather, they will become an indication of a student's motivation.
The next President must declare America's commitment to guarantee both the outcomes and opportunities inherent in a policy of "excellence for all." Yes, such a change from a focus on categorical programs would imply the commitment of increased resources (realistically, much of this could be offset by a reduction in local and state taxation). But more important, such a call would require our schools to demonstrate a level of productivity that up until now they have neither been funded nor challenged to produce.
By Richard A. Baer Jr., professor of natural resources, Cornell University
It is past time for the U.S. Supreme Court to change its ways.
The Court's decisions on religion and education over the past 40 years correctly enjoin government from imposing traditional religious beliefs and practices on students. Yet because these same decisions are based on a mistaken understanding of the relationship between the religious and the secular, they constitute a grave threat to freedom of conscience and also ensure continuing bitter public controversy. In naming new Justices to the Court, the next President should carefully consider the views of potential appointees on this issue.
In Welsh v. United States, a 1970 case dealing with conscientious objection to war, the Court rightly decided, on the grounds of the First Amendment's free-exercise clause, that secular beliefs can function like religious beliefs. Yet the Court has refused to apply this same broad functional understanding of religion and secularity in cases involving the First Amendment's establishment clause. The result is that it has unconstitutionally granted "establishment of religion" status to the teaching of a wide range of nontheistic secular beliefs and values.
When schools present as truth Abraham Maslow's belief that the purpose of human existence is self-actualization, or when home-economics textbooks used in Alabama teach a simple form of hedonism coupled with moral relativism, they are directly competing with--and undermining--traditional religious views of human nature. In sociological terms and for First Amendment purposes, these nontheistic views must be considered religious.
If such normative interpretations of human nature are not treated as functionally religious, we are left with an intolerable situation: Government schools may not present as truth traditional theistic views but are free to indoctrinate students in whatever nontheistic and atheistic doctrines they please. This was the real issue, as U.S. District Judge W. Brevard Hand rightly perceived in the recent Alabama textbook case.
The problem is not that the secular becomes anti-religious, but rather that it may function in its own right as a particular religion.
The Supreme Court must no longer allow government schools to grant establishment status to nontheistic religious beliefs and values. Incorporating more diversity of values and beliefs in school curricula would be a move in the direction of a more just school policy.
But insofar as every meaningful curriculum is ultimately based on particular understandings of human nature and destiny, none of which is religiously neutral, the Court must insist that children whose parents object to government schools on grounds of conscience be granted tuition vouchers or some comparable nondiscriminatory financial entitlement that will permit them to attend an alternative school of their parents' choice.
By Ernest L. Boyer, president, Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching
In recent years, we've had from Washington a steady drumbeat of educational critique and reform proposals, accompanied by a move to eliminate the Education Department, followed by a call for prayer in schools, proposed cuts in federal aid to education, and a voucher plan, all of which have both challenged and confused. This has occurred at the very time when governors, legislators, and corporate leaders have acknowledged the essentialness of our public schools and educators have pushed for school renewal.
America began with the conviction that for this republic to succeed, education is essential. Those who charted the future of the nation linked democracy to knowledge. I'm convinced that the new administration must vigorously reaffirm this historic partnership and speak unqualifiedly in support of public schools.
I also am convinced that urban education must become the centerpiece of this crusade. Unless America deepens its commitment to serve the disadvantaged, the crisis in urban education will increase. The gap will widen between the haves and the have-nots.
Specifically, I would like to see a National Urban Education Act that would combine four essential goals: full funding of health and nutrition programs for mothers and children; expansion of Head Start; extension of Chapter 1 of the Education Consolidation and Improvement Act; and a federally financed school-facilities program that would provide low-interest loans to refurbish buildings and grants to organize large schools into smaller units.
What we need in the next administration is leadership that is constructive, not divisive. We need leadership that will reaffirm the federal partnership in education, with special focus on the disadvantaged. To do less is to diminish hope for millions of our children and imperil the future of our nation.
By James E. Mathiott, principal, Ohlone Elementary School, Palo Alto, Calif., and president of Learning Alternatives Resource Network
In the midst of the much-publicized education reports of recent years, a quieter type of reform has taken place in scattered locations around the country: the development of public schools of choice--"magnet'' or "alternative" schools. Simply put, this concept allows parents and students to choose a school or program designed to address particular learning styles or interests, or to stress particular types of teaching.
Presidential candidates should favor public schools of choice and oppose a voucher system that would drain public funds into private education. No great infusion of funds would be required, nor massive bureaucratic regulations.
Palo Alto, Calif., for example, has 11 elementary schools. While nine are neighborhood schools, two take students from throughout the district. One of these schools of choice offers a traditional three-R's approach; the other has an open-education philosophy. Both are filled and have waiting lists.
Not only does this arrangement permit parents to choose the kind of education they deem most appropriate for their child, but it also allows teachers to gravitate to the type of program with which they are most comfortable and effective.
In an interesting side benefit of Palo Alto's system, the neighborhood schools are freer to develop programs responsive to the students they enroll, because some parent pressure is drained off by the two schools of choice.
Prince George's County, Md., has a similar but more extensive program. Approximately 25 percent of the elementary schools in the county are schools of choice. Parents are pleased to be able to make a choice of school for their child, teachers report greater satisfaction, and racial balance has improved.
Establishing schools of choice--or allowing schools to develop programs designed to meet the needs of a variety of learning styles or to emphasize certain areas of the curriculum (such as arts or science and math)--stimulates teachers to rethink their goals and objectives. The schools of choice in a community develop their own goals, while neighborhood schools are encouraged to improve their programs so that they do not lose too many students to the schools of choice. Because they are usually full and frequently show an increase in test scores, schools of choice tend to be more cost-effective than neighborhood schools.
A touch of choice could have a salutary effect on public education.
By Mary Hatwood Futrell, president, National Education Association
The next President of the United States could take no more important education initiative than to appoint a Secretary of Education actively dedicated to the education of all of America's young people. The problems that today confront American education will not dissolve--and may well intensify--unless and until we have a Secretary of Education guided by the principle that America's international preeminence, economic stability, and national security depend decisively on our ability to unleash the potential of every American student.
If I were able to sit down with the next President and offer counsel, I would urge the most painstaking search for a Secretary of Education who will:
Ensure that enhancing the quality of education for all American students--kindergarten through postgraduate--becomes and remains a national priority of the highest order.
Launch an education offensive that targets the needs of "at risk" students, advances the cause of equity, and moves the nation toward full acceptance of the economic and moral imperative to prepare every member of our student population to participate fully in the life of the republic.
Work to expand the research base that undergirds--or ought to undergird--the development of education-reform initiatives.
Tap the experience and the expertise of those who serve in our nation's schools and work to garner trust and generate public respect for the efforts of teachers at every level of American education.
Advance the cause of early-childhood education and help develop a strategy that will spark a renaissance within our nation's inner-city schools.
Act as an unrelenting advocate for adequate federal funding of programs that have proved effective in enhancing students' academic success.
Crystallize our national will for educational excellence by serving as a catalyst for creative partnerships that unite business leaders, civic organizations, policymaking officials at every level of government, parents, and educators in quest of solutions to the most pressing problems confronting American education.
Should the next Secretary fail to move the new administration in this direction, we face the prospect of becoming a splintered nation, a nation deeply divided between the privileged and the deprived.
Conversely, should our next President choose a Secretary of Education who displays an abiding respect for this nation's tradition of free and universal public education, we will move steadily toward the day when every American knows the blessings of liberty precisely because every American knows the blessings of learning.
By Rafael Valdivieso, vice president, Hispanic Policy Development Project
The next administration must address the education and training of noncollege-bound students. Current demographic and labor-market projections indicate a compelling need to develop these resources as ours becomes a service, information, and custom-manufacturing economy. As we endeavor during the coming years to increase our productivity, our failure to institute first-rate, mainstream programs for young people who do not go to college, especially those at risk of economic and social failure, will redound to our disadvantage.
Yet, with the exception of former Secretary of Labor William E. Brock, the present Administration has produced little leadership in this regard. While the Education Department has encouraged higher standards and greater productivity in education, it has done little, apart from its recent efforts to upgrade the standards of trade schools, to concretely address the needs of non-college-bound students.
The good news is that states, localities, corporations, and foundations have created a grassroots movement focused on young people at risk. These initiatives could easily be broadened to include non-college-bound students in general.
For the next administration to go to the head of the parade, it must support, not supplant, the vigor and innovative spirit of this grassroots movement; coordinate the education and training efforts of the departments of Education, Labor, and Health and Human Services; and stimulate, through increased funding and goal-setting, neighborhood councils that bring together schools, employers, unions, community groups, and others in concerted efforts to improve the education and training of noncollege-bound students.
Vol. 07, Issue 15-16, Page 32