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Published in Print: April 24, 1991, as Excerpt From Bush Administration's Plan To Revamp Schools

Excerpt From Bush Administration's Plan To Revamp Schools

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Following is an excerpt from America 2000: An Education Strategy, the plan unveiled by the Bush Administration last week to move the nation toward the six national education goals adopted last year by the National Governors' Association and President Bush:

I. For Today's Students:Better and MoreAccountable Schools

Goals Served: All six, but especially Number 2 (90 percent graduate from high school), Number 3 (competence in core subjects), and Number 4 (first in the world in science and mathematics).

Strategy: Through a 15-point accountability package, parents, teachers, schools, and communities can all be encouraged to measure results, compare results, and insist on change when the results aren't good enough.


New World Standards: Standards will be developed, in conjunction with the National Education Goals Panel. These New World Standards--for each of the five core subjects--will represent what young Americans need to know and be able to do if they are to live and work successfully in today's world. These standards will incorporate both knowledge and skills, to ensure that, when they leave school, young Americans are prepared for further study and the workforce.

American Achievement Tests: In conjunction with the National Education Goals Panel, a new (voluntary) nationwide examination system will be developed, based on the five core subjects, tied to the New World Standards. These tests will be designed to foster good teaching and learning as well as to monitor student progress.

Encouragement To Use the Tests: Colleges will be urged to use the American Achievement Tests in admissions; employers will be urged to pay attention to them in hiring.

Presidential Citations for Educational Excellence: Citations will be awarded to high-school students who do well on American Achievement Tests. Until those tests become available, Presidential Citations for Educational Excellence will be awarded based on Advanced Placement tests.

Presidential Achievement Scholarships: Once enacted by the Congress, these scholarships will reward academic excellence among needy college and university students.

Report Cards on Results: In addition to reporting to parents on how their children are doing, report cards will also provide clear (and comparable) public information on how schools, school districts, and states are doing, as well as the entire nation. The national and state report cards will be prepared in conjunction with the National Education Goals Panel.

Report-Card Data Collection: The Congress will be asked to authorize the National Assessment of Educational Progress regularly to collect state-level data in grades 4, 8, and 12 in all five core subjects, beginning in 1994. The Congress will also be asked to permit the use of National Assessment tests at district and school levels by states that wish to do so.

If standards, tests,and report cards tell parents and voters how their schools are doing, choice gives them the leverage to act.

Choice: If standards, tests, and report cards tell parents and voters how their schools are doing, choice gives them the leverage to act. Such choices should include all schools that serve the public and are accountable to public authority, regardless of who runs them. New incentives will be provided to states and localities to adopt comprehensive choice policies, and the largest federal school-aid program (Chapter 1) will be revised to ensure that federal dollars follow the child to whatever extent state and local policies permit.

The School as the Site of Reform: Because real education improvement happens school by school, the teachers, principals, and parents in each school must be given the authority--and the responsibility--to make important decisions about how the school will operate. Federal and state red tape that gets in the way needs to be cut. States will be encouraged to allow the leadership of individual schools to make decisions about how resources are used, and the Congress will be asked to enact "education flexibility" legislation to remove federal constraints that impede the ability of states to spend education resources most effectively to raise achievement levels. The Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other private groups representing the private sector are to be commended--encouraged--in their important efforts to create state and local policy environments in which school-by-school reform can succeed.

Merit Schools Program: Individual schools that make notable progress toward the national education goals deserve to be rewarded. The Congress will be asked to enact a new program that will provide federal funds to states that can be used as rewards for such progress. States may "bank" those funds over several years to create even more incentives for successful schools and teams of school professionals.

Governors' Academies for School Leaders: Academies will be established with federal seed money, so that principals and other leaders in every state will be able to make their schools better and more accountable.

Governor's Academies for Teachers: Academies will also be established with federal seed money, so that teachers of the five core subjects in every state will be ready to help their students attain the New World Standards and pass the American Achievement Tests.

Differential Teacher Pay: Differential pay will be encouraged for those who teach well, who teach core subjects, who teach in dangerous and challenging settings, or who serve as mentors for new teachers.

Alternative Teacher and Principal Certification: As part of the "america 2000 excellence in education act of 1991," the Congress will be asked to make grants available to states and districts to develop alternative-certification systems for teachers and principals. New college graduates and others seeking a career change into teaching or school leadership are often frustrated by certification requirements unrelated to subject-area knowledge or leadership ability. This initiative will help states and districts to develop means by which individuals with an interest in teaching and school leadership can overcome these barriers.

Honor Teachers: The federal government will honor and reward outstanding teachers in all five of the core subjects with Presidential Awards for Excellence in Education.

II. For Tomorrow'sStudents: A NewGeneration Of AmericanSchools

Goals Served: All six. In fact, they are the principal standards against which every New American School will be measured.

Strategy: We will unleash America's creative genius to invent and establish a New Generation of American Schools, one by one, community by community. These will be the best schools in the world, schools that enable their students to reach the national education goals, to achieve a quantum leap in learning, and to help make America all that it should be.

A number of excellent projects and inspired initiatives already point the way. These include Washington State's Schools for the 21st Century, Theodore Sizer's Coalition of Essential Schools, James Comer's School Development Program, Henry Levin's Accelerated Schools, R.J.R. Nabisco's Next Century Schools, the Saturn School of Tomorrow in St. Paul, and other commendable efforts.

But this strategy goes beyond what these pioneers have begun. It enlists communities--aided by the best research and development the nation is capable of--in devising their own plans to break the mold and create their own one-of-a-kind high-performance schools. It relies on clear, rigorous measures of success--the New World Standards and American Achievement Tests discussed under Part I. The goal is to bring at least 535 such schools into existence by 1996. And it calls on leaders at all levels to join in this effort.


Research and Development: America's business leaders will establish and muster the private resources for the New American Schools Development Corporation, a new nonprofit organization that will award contracts in 1992 to three to seven R&D teams. These teams may consist of corporations, universities, think tanks, school innovators, management consultants, and others. The President will ask his Education Policy Advisory Committee, as well as the Department of Education, to examine the work of these R&D teams (and similar break-the-mold school-reform efforts), and to report regularly on their progress to him and to the American people.

New American Schools: The mission of the R&D teams is to help communities create schools that will reach the national education goals, including New World Standards (in all five core subjects) for all students, as monitored by the American Achievement Tests and similar measures. Once the R&D is complete and the schools are launched, the operating costs of the New American Schools will be about the same as those of conventional schools.

R&D teams ...can be expected to set aside all traditional assumptions about schooling and all the constraints that conventional schools work under.

Breaking the Mold: The R&D teams--and the communities and states with which they work--can be expected to set aside all traditional assumptions about schooling and all the constraints that conventional schools work under. They will naturally need to consider the policy environment within which schools can thrive. Time, space, staffing, and other resources in these new schools may be used in ways yet to be imagined. Some schools may make extensive use of computers, distance learning, interactive videodisks, and other modern tools. Some may radically alter the customary modes of teaching and learning and redesign the human relationships and organizational structures of the school. Whatever their approach, all New American Schools will be expected to produce extraordinary gains in student learning.

Note: A New American School does not necessarily mean new bricks and mortar. Nor does a New American School have to rely on technology; the quality of learning is what matters.

America 2000 Communities: The President will call on every community in the land to do four things: adopt the six national education goals for itself, establish a communitywide strategy for achieving them, develop a report card for measuring its progress, and demonstrate its readiness to create and support a New American School. Communities that accept this challenge will be designated (by the governors of their states) as "america 2000 Communities."

The First 535+ New American Schools: Each america 2000 Community may develop a plan to create one of the first 535+ New American Schools with limited federal support for start-up costs. In that plan, they will be expected to suggest their own answer to the question: What would it take to develop the best school in the world in this community, a school that serves the children of this community while also meeting the national education goals?

Governors, in conjunction with the Secretary of Education, will review these community-developed plans, with the assistance of a distinguished advisory panel, and will determine which america 2000 communities in each state will receive federal help in starting New American Schools. At least one New American School will be created in each Congressional district by 1996. This distribution assures that every type of community in every part of the country will have the chance to create and establish one of the first 535+ New American Schools. The governors and the Secretary will take added care to make sure that many such schools serve communities with high concentrations of at-risk children.

Funding: American business and other donors will make sufficient funds available through the New American Schools Development Corporation to jump-start the R&D teams--at least $150 million to $200 million. The Congress will be asked to provide one-time grants of $1 million to each of the first 535+ New American Schools to help cover their start-up costs. State, local, and private sources will enable thousands more such schools to begin by the end of the decade.

Bringing America On-Line: The Secretary, in consultation with the President's science adviser and the director of the National Science Foundation, will convene a group of experts to help determine how one or more electronic networks might be designed to provide the New American Schools with ready access to the best of information, research, instructional materials, and educational expertise. The New American School R&D teams will be asked for their recommendations on the same question. These networks may eventually serve all American schools as well as homes, libraries, colleges, and other sites where learning occurs.

III. For the Rest of Us(Yesterday's Students/Today's Workforce):A Nation of Students

Goals Served: All six, but especially Number 5 (adult literacy, citizenship, and ability to compete in the workplace).

Strategy: Eighty-five percent of America's workforce for the year 2000 is already in the workforce today, so improving schools for today's and tomorrow's students is not enough to assure a competitive America in 2000. And we need more than job skills to live well in America today. We need to learn more to become better parents, neighbors, citizens, and friends. Education is not just about making a living; it is also about making a life.

That is why the President is challenging adult Americans to "go back to school" and make this a "nation of students." For our children to understand the importance of their own education, we must demonstrate that learning is important to grown-ups, too. We must ourselves "go back to school." The President is urging every American to continue learning throughout his or her life, using the myriad formal and informal means available to gain further knowledge and skills.

Education is not just about making a living; it is also about making a life.


Private-Sector Skills and Standards: Business and labor will be asked to adopt a strategy to establish job-related (and industry-specific) skill standards, built around core proficiencies, and to develop "skill certificates" to accompany these standards. The President has charged the secretaries of Labor and Education to spearhead a public-private partnership to help develop voluntary standards for all industries. Federal funds are being sought to assist with this effort, which will be informed by the work of the Labor Department's Commission on Work-Based Learning and the Secretary's Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills.

Skill Clinics: The strategy will promote one-stop assessment and referral skill clinics in every large community and work site, including many federal agencies. In the skill clinics, people can readily find out how their present skills compare with those they'd like to have--or that they need for a particular job and where they can acquire the skills and knowledge they still need.

Federal Leadership: Federal agencies will set an example for other employers by embarking upon a governmentwide program of skill upgrading. The President has asked the director of the Office of Personnel Management to lead this important initiative.

Recommitment to Literacy: The nation's efforts will be strengthened by developing performance standards for all federally aided adult-education programs and holding programs accountable for meeting them; by expanding the National Adult Literacy Survey so that we have better information on a regular basis about the condition of literacy among adults. The Administration will also work with the Congress and the governors to enact sound literacy and adult-education legislation.

National Conference on Education for Adult Americans: A major conference will be called to develop a nationwide effort to improve the quality and accessibility of the many education and training programs, services, and institutions that serve adults.

IV. Communities Where Learning Can Happen

Goals Served: All six, but especially Number 1 (children starting ready to learn) and Number 6 (drug- and violence-free schools).

Strategy: Even if we successfully complete the first, second, and third parts of the america 2000 education strategy, we still will not have done the job. Even with accountability embedded in every aspect of education, achieving the goals requires a renaissance of sound American values--proven values such as strength of family, parental responsibility, neighborly commitment, the communitywide caring of churches, civic organizations, business, labor, and the media.

It's time to end the "no fault" era of heedlessness and neglect, and as we shape tomorrow's schools, to rediscover the timeless values that are necessary for achievement.

Government at every level can play a useful role, and it is incumbent upon all of us to see that this is done efficiently and adequately. But much of the work of creating and sustaining healthy communities, communities where education really happens, can only be performed by those who live in them: by parents, families, neighbors, and other caring adults; by churches, neighborhood associations, community organizations, voluntary groups, and the other "little platoons" that have long characterized well-functioning American communities. Such groups are essential to the building of relationships that nurture children and provide them people and places to which they can turn for help, for role models, and for guidance.


America 2000 Communities: The President is challenging every city, town, and neighborhood in the nation to become an america 2000 Community by:

Adopting the six national education goals for itself.

Establishing a communitywide strategy for achieving them.

Developing a report card for measuring its progress.

Demonstrating its readiness to create and support a New American School.

Designation by Governors: Designation as an america 2000 Community will be made by the governors, with 535+ of them getting help in creating the first New American Schools by 1996.

Recognition: The President and the Administration will promote america 2000 Communities with national attention to and rewards for community planning and progress with special emphasis on their creation in areas of concentration of at-risk children.

The Cabinet: The Domestic Policy Council's Economic Empowerment Task Force, working with the National Governors' Association and other state and local officials, will seek ways to maximize program flexibility and effectiveness in meeting the needs of children and communities, including streamlined eligibility requirements for federal programs, better integration of services, and reduced red tape.

Individual Responsibility: Increased attention will be focused on adult behavior, responsibility for children, and family and community values essential for strong schools--including parents as teachers of their children and parents as school partners.

Vol. 10, Issue 31, Page 24-25

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