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Report Predicts Radical Change In Education

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A provocative new scenario of the classroom of the future envisions a world in which teachers have been replaced by a variety of education specialists, including learning diagnosticians, courseware composers, performance contract monitors, small-group learning managers, and home-based instruction consultants.

The educational consultant Lewis J. Perelman argues in a report published by the National School Boards Association that the focus of the school-reform movement has been misplaced because it fails to adequately address the issue of increasing the productivity of resources available for education.

"There inexorably will be a technological transformation of teaching and learning in the United States and elsewhere in the world," he says in Technology and the Transformation of Schools, a report by the nsba's Technology Leadership Network.

The report includes two visions of the future: In one, schooling is transformed through the use of emerging informational technologies in a radically restructured educational system; in the other, "business as usual" leads to an increasing gap between the rich and the poor and an "absolute national emergency" in education.

In Mr. Perelman's "transformation" scenario, two key reforms would be adopted within the next five years.

First, he says, education would be deregulated--state governments would limit themselves to defining and certifying the basic outcomes expected of education, and to protecting consumers. This, he argues, would open up the educational market to consumer choice and competition among education providers.

Second, Mr. Perelman says, the government would outlaw the requirement of academic diplomas or degrees as a condition of employment. Thus, he says, employers and workers alike could concentrate on obtaining the most cost-effective training required for productive performance in a job or career.

The resulting "mastery learning" system, he concludes, would enable most children to complete their basic individualized education plans by age 15, and would allow them to pursue additional learning throughout their lives.

Copies of the 131-page report are available for $35 each from the nsba, 1680 Duke St., Alexandria, Va. 22314; telephone: (703) 838-6722.--ws

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