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Federal File: A pervasive theme

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Some months ago, the order apparently went out: No matter what the subject, every press release and every regulatory announcement emanating from the Education Department shall endeavor to mention America 2000 and the national education goals adopted by the Bush Admistration and the National Governors' Association in 1990.

For example, a routine March 3 announcement of several appointments to the board of the Fund for the Improvement and Reform of Schools and Teaching--a program enacted in 1988, years before Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander conceived America 2000--includes this quote from the Secretary:

"At the center of President Bush's America 2000 education strategy is the idea that real change happens school by school, community by community.''

The same day, an announcement of awards for vocational training for American Indians included this:

"In its final report, the Indian Nations at Risk Task Force adopted the six national education goals, including a call for adult education and lifelong learning,'' said Betsy Brand, the assistant secretary for vocational and adult education. "Like President Bush's America 2000 education strategy, the report recognized that we need a nation of lifelong learners, willing to develop and refine employment skills.''

An equally routine Feb. 28 Federal Register notice announcing proposed rules for the Even Start preschool program--also enacted in 1988--notes that "Even Start supports America 2000, the President's strategy to help America move toward achieving the six national education goals.''

The notice then makes a case that the program works toward achieving two of the national goals.

In a similar vein, a Feb. 28 notice argues that a special bilingual-education competition for communities experiencing large influxes of immigrants will help them attain two of the goals by helping students "achieve competence in English while mastering challenging subject matter'' and "develop the skills necessary to compete in a global economy.''

A Feb. 19 announcement claims that aid for projects in vocational rehabilitation for severely handicapped people "supports America 2000'' through helping "to prepare participants for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment as called for by the national education goals.''

Both programs were enacted before Mr. Alexander was appointed and before the goals were drafted.--J.M.

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