Increasing Standards Called Essential In Improving Schooling of All Pupils

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Dallas--Schools cannot make significant improvements until they boost standards for children of all social and educational backgrounds and increase the involvement of business in their operation, said educators meeting here last week.

Speakers and participants at the annual meeting of the College Board said students in all programs must meet stiff academic challenges if they are to prepare for a rapidly changing economy. Anything less, said one speaker, amounts to "bartering away the gains in the struggle for equal rights."

Participants disagreed on whether schools should fundamentally alter curricula and teaching methods to meet the demands of an increasingly technological economy but appeared to agree that schools have not responded quickly enough to changes in society.

Susan Ueber Raymond, vice president for program operations of the Center for Public Resources, said businesses and schools usually do not understand each other's goals and programs. As a result, she said, businesses spend millions of dollars giving workers training in basic skills.

School officials tend to prepare students for entry-level positions, Ms. Raymond said, but businessmen look for workers who can easily rise beyond the entry-level job. "Businessmen view [hiring employees] as an investment. They say, 'We may be able to hire these people, but we can't promote them."'

Before the economy started shifting to a more technological base, Ms. Raymond said, the school-business gap was relatively unimportant. But now, she said, "the 'take-place-look-put' jobs are being replaced by ... jobs which emphasize working alone and reasoning."

Only "consistent, clear, fundamental corporate involvement" in education will narrow the gap, Ms. Raymond said.

Ms. Raymond's call for business involvement was echoed by other speakers, including Gov. Mark White of Texas, Superintendent Alonzo Crim of the Atlanta Public Schools, and members of a discussion panel on raising academic standards.

"The mood of the people is right for change," Governor White said. "We have to quit the competition, quit the infighting. This is not football. This is not a soccer game."

Involvement is Vital

James R. Vivian--director of the Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, which provides $650 stipends for teachers to take part in after-school curriculum-development programs, said business and college involvement is "vital" to the survival of public education.

Mr. Vivian said that 40 percent of the New Haven school system's teachers had taken part in the curriculum-development program, and that over half of the participants in-dicated that the institute was a major factor in their decisions to stay in the teaching profession.

College Board speakers appeared to agree that standards must be stiffened in most curricular areas before student performance increases. Said Harry Edwards, associate professor of sociology at the University of California at Berkeley: "We achieved many things in the 60's, but somewhere along the way to the revolution we lost [standards]."

Mr. Edwards's remarks came in a discussion of Rule 48, the National Collegiate Athletic Association measure that sets higher academic standards for freshman athletes playing in ncaa-Division I competition. The rule, which is scheduled to take effect in August 1986, has been bitterly attacked by leaders of black colleges and civil-rights organizations.

Jacqueline Simmons, the principal of Paul Robeson High School in Chicago, said the school was improved by strengthening standards and requiring parents to sign statements affirming their role in prodding students to meet the standards.

Robeson officials developed the school's graduation standards on the basis of a perception that "college-preparatory courses help improve the achievement of all children," Ms. Simmons said. All Robeson students are required to earn four credits in English, mathematics, science, and physical education; three credits in social studies; and one credit in the arts.

Vol. 03, Issue 09

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