ELLICOTT CITY, MD.--With a throng of flag-waving children, a horde of photographers and reporters, a squadron of speakers, and rows of smiling government officials, the event at Worthington Elementary School here late last week had all the hallmarks of a candidate’s campaign whistle stop.
The only thing missing was a candidate.
Instead, it was First Lady Barbara Bush joining Governor William Donald Schaefer of Maryland to kick off Maryland 2000, the state’s companion initiative to the Bush Administration’s America 2000 plan announced in April.
The event was one of several appearances by the President and top Administration officials last week to promote America 2000, the national strategy to move the country toward the six education goals adopted last year by Mr. Bush and the National Governors’ Association. Earlier in the week, Mrs. Bush also appeared with the President at a school in Maine. (See related story, page I .)
At the rally in the Maryland school’s auditorium, Cabinet officials, Deputy Secretary of Education David T. Kearns, and state and local education officials--"big shots” as Mrs. Bush called them-joined her and Mr. Schaefer, a Democrat, on stage.
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator William K. Reilly, Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan, and Secretary of Energy James D. Watkins each recalled for the audience of about 90 students and 200 adults their positive impressions of visits to other Maryland schools earlier in the day.
Maryland has pursued the six national education goals since they were formulated two years ago, and will issue its first report card on “Schools for Success” this November, said Ray Feldmann, a spokesman for Governor Schaefer.
“We feel we’re way ahead of other states on this,” Mr. Feldmann said.
Mr. Kearns apparently agreed, telling listeners at the rally that “today Maryland is clearly well on its way” to fulfilling the education goals.
Before the rally, Mrs. Bush and Mr. Schaefer shared the job of reading to a group of Worthington 2nd graders from the book Jamaica Tag-A-Long by Juanita Havill.
Mrs. Bush, who is a champion of literacy, stopped occasionally during the story to ask the children questions about the plot and characters or the children’s own experiences.
After the story-telling, when a group of 3rd and 4th graders recited a poem that referred disparagingly to silver hair, Mrs. Bush scowled playfully.
“What about the yucky silver hair?” a grinning, silver-haired Mrs. Bush asked the children.
“I’m sorry,” said 4th grader Erin Holmes, 9, immediately dashing forth to hug Mrs. Bush.
Worthington, located in the rolling suburban hills of Howard County between Washington and Baltimore, won the right to host last week’s event because it is a “very positive type of school” with a committed administration and staff, involved parents, and “very enthusiastic” students, said Mr. Feldmann.
“It’s basically an example of what we’re trying to do,” Mr. Feldmann said.
A version of this article appeared in the September 11, 1991 edition of Education Week as Mrs. Bush Hits America 2000 Campaign Trail