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Bush Signs Order To Create Teacher-Training Programs

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WASHINGTON--President Bush has signed an executive order that requires federal agencies involved in the sciences to establish training programs for precollegiate science and mathematics teachers.

The Executive Order on Improving Mathematics and Science Education in Support of the National Education Goals--which Mr. Bush signed on Nov. 16--also orders federal agencies to devise plans for donating used computers and other equipment to elementary and secondary schools.

The executive order gives all federal agencies that employ "significant numbers'' of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers as well as federal laboratories six months to develop plans that encourage partnerships with universities, state and local education authorities, corporations, and community-based organizations to provide teacher training.

It also directs agencies to provide for "brief periods of excused absence'' to employees who assist in training teachers.

Oversight of the new initiative is given to the Committee on Education and Human Resources of the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology.

The executive order also authorizes the Energy Department to assist other agencies in developing their plans, citing the department's "extensive experience'' in teacher training.

Equipment Donations

Mr. Bush also ordered all agencies to give "highest preference'' to elementary and secondary schools when donating or transferring "education-related'' federal equipment, including computers, peripherals, and other hardware.

Under the terms of the order, agencies are to identify equipment that may be of value to schools and to provide training and assistance in the use of the equipment to schools that receive the donations.

The document specifically orders agencies to give preference to schools with the "greatest need'' or to schools where the equipment would enhance the progress of existing federally funded math and science programs.

It also establishes a Coordinating Committee on Education-Related Federal Equipment that will include representatives of the departments of Defense, Education, Energy, and Health and Human Services, the National Science Foundation, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to coordinate the donation program.

The head of the General Services Administration and the Secretary of Education are designated to head the committee.--P.W.

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