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Boyer, Koop Announce 'Ready To Learn' Council

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Ernest L. Boyer and Dr. C. Everett Koop last week announced the formation of a national council to promote school readiness and urged both Presidential candidates to "reaffirm their commitment'' to ensuring that all children enter school ready to learn.

In a joint statement, Mr. Boyer, the president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and Dr. Koop, the former U.S. Surgeon General, said they would co-chair the National Ready to Learn Council, a consortium of more than 30 groups concerned about children.

The council includes the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children's Defense Fund, the National Alliance of Business, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the National Association of Retired Persons, and the National Governors' Association.

The purpose of the council is to promote the exchange of information on readiness projects, encourage state and local initiatives, monitor progress toward the readiness goal, and recognize successful efforts. The group is expected to set a more precise agenda at a meeting this month.

Dr. Vince L. Hutchins, the former director of the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, has been named the executive director of the council. The group has set up an office in Bethesda, Md., with support from the Carnegie Foundation.

Robert Hochstein, an assistant to Mr. Boyer, said the Carnegie Foundation enlisted the aid of Dr. Koop to underscore the importance of the"health-education connection.''

'Decade-Long Campaign'

In their statement, Mr. Boyer and Dr. Koop noted that it was President Bush and the governors, led by Gov. Bill Clinton of Arkansas, who declared that the first national education goal should be to make sure all children enter school ready to learn by 2000.

"Is it unthinkable to suggest that the two Presidential candidates release a bipartisan proclamation calling for a decade-long campaign on behalf of children?'' they asked. "What is crueler than to make a promise to a child and then walk away?''

Mr. Boyer and Dr. Koop also urged every community to organize a "ready to learn'' initiative and every governor to assign a "school readiness coordinator'' to help integrate preschool efforts and coordinate health, education, and children's-services budgets. They also called on states to set timetables for putting in place preschool and parent-education programs, "family friendly'' workplace policies, neighborhood settings for reading and storytelling, and better health-care services for pregnant mothers and their children.

The joint statement echoed themes Mr. Boyer sounded in a report last year laying out a seven-step strategy toward achieving the readiness goal. (See Education Week, Dec. 11, 1991.)

The key elements in preparing all children for formal learning, he said, include "a healthy start, empowered parents, quality preschool, a responsive workplace, television that teaches, neighborhoods for learning, and connections across the generations.''

More information is available from the National Ready to Learn Council, Two Democracy Plaza, 6707 Democracy Blvd., Suite 107, Bethesda, Md. 20817; (301) 493-6603.

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