Student Group Responds to Excellence Report

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Washington--The first response from a national organization of students to the report by the National Commission on Excellence in Education was presented to officials from the White House and the U.S. Education Department during a ceremony here last week.

The 14-page report was presented by the newly elected officers of the Vocational Industrial Clubs of America (vica), which represents more than 275,000 students in trade, industrial, technical, and health-occupations programs in secondary and postsecondary schools nationwide.

The report was compiled from the written responses of more than 2,500 student delegates during the organization's national leadership conference in June. President Reagan was the keynote speaker.

Robert W. Sweet Jr., a special assistant for educational policy at the White House, said the President issued "a challenge" to the vocational students that they "survey their membership and come back with their response." He said their report, which cost about $2,000 to produce, offers "pertinent and appropriate recommendations that don't cost any additional money" to implement.

Janet M. Manthos, a spokesman for the organization, said the vica delegates attempted to give "a true observation of what students were feeling" about the national commission's recommendations. "Their main concern is that so much of the attention is going in a direction that will pull resources from vocational programs," she explained.

The report states that the vica delegates approved of the commission's recommendation that high-school graduation requirements be strengthened and that all students have certain basic courses. But, according to the report, nearly all of the delegates were concerned that the demand for the "new basics" would come at the expense of vocational-education training.

Most of the delegates, according to the report, said they believed the proposed increases in English and mathematics requirements would help them in their chosen fields. There was "less widespread" support, however, for increases in so-cial-studies and science courses, the report noted.

Two-thirds of the high-school delegates disagreed with the commission's call for lengthening the school day, according to the report. The delegates recommended instead that students complete their basic requirements early to allow more "concentrated study" in occupational programs; that they begin vocational training at an earlier age; and that school officials design programs offering more full-day training opportunities.

The delegates also recommended that the organization's local chapters sponsor statewide forums on recent educational reports and that vica members become involved in state and local efforts to reform education.

Vol. 03, Issue 06

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