Federal File: Strategic planning; Dropping out of the department

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President Bush is planning to personally endorse the reform strategy drafted by Secretary of Education Lamar Alexander at an event tentatively set for this week, according to White House and Education Department sources.

"What we are doing is making education the centerpiece of our domestic policy," one Administration official said.

"Now, no one can say we don't have a domestic policy," the official added.

The education strategy, which Mr. Alexander presented to the President last month during his first week in office, is still being picked over at the White House, and the details were not yet firm last week, sources said.

But hints have begun to travel down the Washington grapevine.

Among the 44 "action items" in Mr. Alexander's strategy is a proposal for six research and development centers to design "a radically new type of school," in the words of one source.

The Secretary hinted at this idea in his first meeting with education reporters, when he talked about "redefining" the meaning of a "public school," and allowing nonprofit organizations or even businesses to contract for their operation.

The plan also includes the setting of "world standards" for educational achievement, and a voluntary national testing program that would use financial and other incentives to prod school districts to participate.

Other items will focus on the development of a "core curriculum," efforts to foster educational choice, and adult education and worker retraining.

Administration sources said the plan includes a timetable for carrying out the strategy that stretches over several years.

That would seem to indicate that Mr. Alexander foresees his tenure in Washington--and that of his boss, Mr. Bush--lasting beyond 1992.

Richard Marquez, who was appointed by former Secretary Lauro F. Cavazos to an advisory post on dropout prevention, will return to school this fall.

The Dallas Independent School District recently announced that Mr. Marquez, who had served as a teacher and administrator there, would assume the duties of an area director, including oversight of 19 schools.

Mr. Marquez, himself a former dropout, was principal of Sunset High School before he came to Washington last year.

He was named acting director of the Administration's Hispanic-education initiative in November, after Gilbert Roman, a civil-rights official who had been tapped for the job, left the department abruptly for personal reasons.--jm

Vol. 10, Issue 30

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