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E.D. To Convene Regional Meetings on Choice

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Washington--Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos last week announced that the Education Department will convene a series of regional "strategy meetings" to promote choice initiatives in schools.

In a speech here to the Education Press Association, the Secretary said he would soon invite governors, legislators, state education chiefs, and parents to meet and "develop action plans" to promote choice in their states.

"Choice empowers people by bringing them into the decisionmaking process," Mr. Cavazos said. "It encourages teachers and principals to become entrepreneurs and structure their curriculum and standards; students are encouraged to become learners with options that direct and capture their interest; and parents become involved as decisionmakers."

The Secretary did not make a distinction in the speech between public- and private-school choice.

In addition to convening the regional meetings, he pledged to4create a special task force within the department to promote and evaluate choice programs and make quarterly reports.

Mr. Cavazos also announced the appointment of John D. Klenk as special adviser on choice programs. A White House policy analyst during the Reagan Administration, Mr. Klenk is currently director of issues analysis at the department. He is known as an advocate of choice plans that include private schools.

Earlier this year, Mr. Klenk organized a White House conference on choice. (See Education Week, Jan. 18, 1989.)

Mr. Cavazos invoked Minnesota's statewide open-enrollment plan as a pioneering example of the strategy, and said that at that state's request, the department will conduct a three-year evaluation of the impact of its program.

He is also, he said, directing the office of educational research and improvement to identify choice as a major priority for grants awarded this year under the Secretary's Fund for Innovation in Education.

The department has a critical obligation to see that the public has ''valid information" on choice, Mr. Cavazos said, announcing the release of two publications on the subject.

The first, "Choosing a School for Your Child," is a guide for parents to be distributed from the Consumer Information Center, Department 597V, Pueblo, Colo. 81009.

The second publication, "Educating Our Children: Parents and Schools Together," is a report presented to President Bush earlier this year by the Working Group on the Parental Role in Education. It is available from the department's Office of Planning, Budget and Evaluation, Room 3127, 400 Maryland Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20202. Both publications are free.

Two more Education Department publications on choice will be released in the near future, Mr. Cavazos said.--rrw

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