Reagan Contributes to Conservatives’ ‘Blueprint’ on School Issues

October 03, 1984 3 min read
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Washington--President Reagan has contributed the introduction to a new book of essays on education published by a conservative organization in Washington.

The book, A Blueprint for Education Reform, is the work of the Free Congress and Education Foundation, a policy-analysis group headed by Paul Weyrich, who previously helped establish the Heritage Foundation, the influential conservative think-tank here.

Among the other contributors are Linda Chavez, staff director of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission; Roger Clegg, an acting assistant attorney general; and Lawrence A. Uzzell, president of Learn Inc., a Washington-based research founda-tion that supports family choice in education.

Connaught Marshner, editor of the volume and director of the Child and Family Protection Institute, said the authors sought to cover education-reform issues that are not now being widely discussed, such as questions of parents’ rights, the “politicization of the classroom,” the notion of “pluralism” in public education, and the “voucherization” of compensatory-education funds.

President Reagan accepted the invitation to contribute to the 297-page work because “its theme seemed to be right along the line of what we’re trying to do,” said J. Douglas Holladay, associate director of the office of public liaison in the White House.

The Free Congress Foundation has also published A Blueprint for Judicial Reform, to which Attorney General-designate Edwin Meese 3rd contributed a chapter.

The President’s Ideas

In his introduction, the President writes that “we’ve turned things around” in the year and a half since the National Commission on Excellence in Education published A Nation at Risk.

He outlines the major themes of his education platform, including the restoration to schools of “good old-fashioned discipline"; tuition tax credits; vouchers for the Chapter 1 program for disadvantaged stuel5ldents; organized school prayer; and the encouragement of private-sector aid to public schools.

“I think ... we’re living in the most exciting time in American education since the concept of public schools was ‘invented’ on our shores nearly 200 years ago when Massachusetts enacted the very first comprehensive state school law,” the President writes.

Mr. Holladay said he doubted that the book would be as influential as Mandate for Leadership, a proposal for across-the-board changes in federal policies that was published by the Heritage Foundation on the eve of President Reagan’s election and was linked to a number of policy shifts subsequently adopted by the present Administration.

Purposes of the Book

Ms. Marshner said she hoped Blueprint for Education Reform would “have an impact on national education reform.” But she said she did not believe that the Education Department under the stewardship of Secretary of Education Terrel H. Bell would pursue the policies proposed in the book.

According to Ms. Marshner, the volume’s most specific policy recommendation is a call by Mr. Uzzell for “voucherization” of Chapter 1 funds. Mr. Uzzell writes that parents of disadvantaged students should receive direct government aid in the form of vouchers that could be spent at any public or private school.

But that idea, which is also contained in the 1984 Republican platform, has little chance of support from Mr. Bell, because, she said, “it would upset too many apple carts.”

Ms. Marshner’s comments came at a time when some conservatives have begun to criticize Mr. Bell’s leadership of the department. The Heritage Foundation recently published an interview with anonymous former department staff members who criticized the Secretary as “part of the Establishment” and a roadblock to conservative policy initiatives. At a recent news conference, Mr. Bell declined to comment on these statements, according to Education Times.--jh

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A version of this article appeared in the October 03, 1984 edition of Education Week as Reagan Contributes to Conservatives’ ‘Blueprint’ on School Issues


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