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Governors Set To Adopt National Education Goals

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The nation's governors were expected early this week to give final approval to a set of national education goals that has been shaped through negotiations with the Bush Administration.

But while key members of the National Governors' Association, which opened its winter meeting in Washington last weekend, and White House officials have reached tentative agreement on major points in the document, all 50 governors were given the opportunity to offer amendments to the statement.

The document to be put before the governors was still being revised just days before the gathering. One of the most significant amendments proposed would change the goal statement on student achievement that President Bush announced in his State of the Union Message last month.

The goal-setting process began last fall at the "education summit" held in Charlottesville, Va. The President announced six broad goals during his address last month, but the document the governors were set to discuss is more thorough, and includes specific objectives for reaching each goal.

After the governors agree on the goals and objectives, they will meet with President Bush to allow him an opportunity to comment on the document, according to Rae Young Bond, the NGA's spokesman.

After a set of goals is adopted, an NGA task force chaired by Govs. Bill Clinton of Arkansas and Carroll A. Campbell of South Carolina will begin drafting a document on strategies and assessment procedures for meeting and measuring the goals.

For each broad goal, two to six objectives or subgoals have been outlined in the document. Both the goals and the objectives have been crafted through negotiations between NGA officials and White House aides, led by Roger B. Porter, President Bush's domestic-policy adviser.

While the President presented the goals as final in his address to the Congress last month, the nga has maintained that the goals remained up for debate until all 50 governors had voted on them.

The governors last week were poised to change only one of the six goals the White House announced in January--the goal for student achievement. Other amendments had been submitted by governors, but they deal with the proposed objectives and not the goals.

The White House goal for achievement reads: "By the year 2000, American students will leave grades 4, 8, and 12 having demonstrated competency in challenging subject matter including English, mathematics, science, history, and geography."

According to a draft of the document to be submitted to the governors, an amendment has been proposed to replace that goal statement with: "By the year 2000, every school in America will ensure that all students learn to use their minds well, so they may be prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our modern economy."

The White House statement would then be included as an objective for reaching that goal. Sources close to the process have said that negotiations over the student-achievement goal were among the most contentious--with the governors generally arguing that the White House version was too narrow.

Another point of debate is likely to be whether to strive for preschool programs only for disadvantaged 4-year-olds or for all disadvantaged children as an objective for meeting the goal of having all children ready to start school.

In addition to the goals on early-childhood readiness and student achievement, the statement proposes that by the year 2000:

The high-school graduation rate will increase to at least 90 percent;

U.S. students will be first in the world in mathematics and science achievement;

Every adult American will be literate and will possess the skills necessary to compete in a global economy and exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship;

Every school in America will be free of drugs and violence and will offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning.

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