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College Group Sets Agenda for Candidates

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Washington--As part of an effort to place education at the forefront of the 1988 Presidential campaign, a group of 33 leaders from business, labor, and academe has presented the candidates with a proposal for renewing the "partnership" between the federal government and higher education.

"Our greatest Presidents have made clear that America's progress would falter unless our people were sustained by the spirit of critical inquiry and a fully engaged community of learning," the group says in its "Memorandum to the 41st President of the United States."

"Our colleges and universities have always responded to such leadership," it continues. "They can do so again during your Administration."

The 16-page document is seen as the first of a series of efforts by the group, the American Council on Education's Commission on National Challenges in Higher Education, to try to influence the election debate.

The commission, formed by the higher-education umbrella group in 1986 and chaired by William C. Friday, president emeritus of the University of North Carolina, also plans to take its message to key primary and caucus states, according to ace officials.

The panel's memorandum states that the "partnership between colleges and universities and government, although recently strained by cuts in federal funds and disagreements on policy, has an outstanding record over four decades."

In the next few years, it argues, strengthening that partnership would boost colleges' efforts to address challenges facing the United States, such as educating Americans for an increasingly interdependent world; revitalizing the economy; expanding educational opportunity; encouraging educational activities that address human needs; and restoring "respect for values and ethical behavior."

To help meet those goals, the document urges candidates to support initiatives to increase the supply of teachers and encourage disadvantaged students to complete school and go on to college.

Colleges and universities share the responsibility of fulfilling the memorandum's agenda, it adds.

The report also recommends that the next President support measures to:

Expand the teaching of foreign languages;

Increase need-based student financial assistance;

Strengthen the capacity of the federal government to collect and disseminate statistical data about demography, patterns of education, and other social indicators;

Reaffirm the importance of the liberal-arts tradition; and

Strengthen, through student-aid programs, incentives for community service.--rr

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