When Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander stands in a school auditorium to praise the local community for jumping on the America 2000 bandwagon, he attempts to project an image of widespread support. But it didn’t quite work in El Paso.
Mr. Alexander, who was in town for a conference, made a typical appearance at a local high school, complete with balloons, “El Paso 2000" banners, and student entertainment.
“We are 100 percent supportive of your efforts and we look forward to working with you,” Mayor Bill Tinley told the Secretary.
But something that might be viewed as crucial was missing: the El Paso Independent School District.
The event was held at a school in the neighboring town of Secorro, El Paso school officials were not involved, and a local reporter muddied the waters by tolling Mr. Alexander that Superintendent Stan Paz of El Paso had said he wasn’t interested in America 2000.
“That’s no problem,” Mr. Alexander said. “We want to encourage communities to move toward the goals, and they each have to do it in their own way.”
In an interview, Mr. Paz said he didn’t think America 2000 could add anything to an existing community-based reform effort. He also said he doesn’t want local districts to fight each other for a “new American school” grant, and that “a pilot project like that doesn’t solve anything.”
“I can support the goals, which are noble, but you have to look at what we need to do to achieve them,” Mr. Paz said. He added that a pending legislative proposal to aid urban schools would be more useful than the Administration’s plan.
No one really expected National Education Association officials to endorse President Bush for a second term, but last week they went through the formality of a vote, anyway.
“George Bush may be called many names... but he cannot truth_fully be called the education president,” Keith B. Geiger, the N.E.A president, said after a unanimous vote by the union’s political action committoe council.
Among the reasons Mr. Geiger gave to reject Mr. Bush was spending "$26,000 of taxpayers’ money on a staged media event” at a Washington school earlier this month while cutting school-lunch funds.
Jimmy Carter is the only incumbent President to win N.E.A. support since the union ventured into Presidential politics in the 1970’s. The union has never endorsed a Republican for President. --A.M. & K.D.
A version of this article appeared in the October 16, 1991 edition of Education Week as Federal File:Not Quite Unanimous; Not Unexpected