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Pew Forms 'Roundtable' on Precollegiate Education

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Five years after forming its influential Higher Education Roundtable, the Pew Charitable Trusts this month announced that it would bring together some of the biggest names in precollegiate education to hash out the issues confronting primary and secondary schools.

Like the higher-education group, the K-12 forum will meet periodically and will draft three to four reports a year on the issues confronting the nation's schools, said Robert B. Schwartz, Pew's program director for education.

Among the 21 members named so far are Gordon Arebach, executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers; Ramon Cortines, superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District; Linda Darling-Hammond, co-director of the National Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching; and P. Michael Timpane, president of Teachers College, Columbia University.

Also, Chester Finn, a professor of education and public policy at Vanderbilt University; David W. Hornbeck, a former state superintendent of schools in Maryland; Jack Jennings, general counsel for the Education and Labor Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives; Thomas W. Payzant, superintendent of the San Diego Unified School District; and Albert Shanker, president of the American Federation of Teachers.

Marshall S. Smith, dean of Stanford University's school of education, will organize and operate the roundtable with a four-year, $2.8 million grant from Pew.

More members will be added in the near future, Mr. Schwartz said.

S.C. Reforms Studied

The Philadelphia-based Pew established its higher-education forum when virtually all philanthropic dollars going to education were channeled to the university level.

Since the mid-1980's, however, an increasing amount of attention has been paid to precollegiate education, Mr. Schwartz noted, and the new K12 forum is a response to the growing philanthropic, as well as public, concern for the precollegiate level.

Like the higher-education forum, the precollegiate group was formed in an effort to enhance the body of issues-oriented research and data in the field.

At its first meeting early this month, K-12 roundtable members decided to first study education reforms in South Carolina. That state was chosen, members say, because its major reform package has been in place since 1984.

Also on the top of the group's agenda are school-finance issues, Mr. Timpane said. The roundtable specifically will examine finance reform legislation in Texas and New Jersey.

The number of reports the roundtable will generate has not been stipulated by Pew.

The higher-education group issued only one report in 1988, three reports in 1989, four in 1990, and two so far this year, said Linda C. Frank, the program officer in charge of the group.

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