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The 29-page economic plan released by President Bush lists education reform as one of 13 priorities he would pursue in a second term.

But the plan also calls for unspecified cuts in taxes and spending that might not spare education programs.

In a speech this month to the Detroit Economic Club, billed as the domestic centerpiece of his re-election campaign, Mr. Bush reiterated his call for a "radical overhaul'' of American education through inclusive choice, increased flexibility for schools, and a national system of standards and assessment.

The comprehensive plan Ross Perot was about to release when he abruptly decided not to become a Presidential candidate calls for experimenting with private school choice, a national standards and assessment system, and a major investment in preschool programs.

The plan, which has been published in book form, also calls for significant cuts in the federal budget, apparently including education programs.

To reduce the federal deficit, Mr. Perot proposes requiring domestic agencies to eliminate discretionary programs equal to 5 percent of their overall budgets, then cutting another 10 percent across the board. Among other ideas, the plan also calls for increased taxes for the wealthy, accelerated defense cuts, and appointing a committee to propose a national health-care policy.

In the plan's education section, Mr. Perot says that his ideas are based largely on his experiences in Texas, where he headed a commission that recommended a wide-ranging education-reform program, much of which was enacted by the legislature. (See Education Week, June 17, 1992.)

The national plan lacks much of the detail of the Texas program, however. Mr. Perot proposes "comprehensive preschool programs,'' for example, without explaining who would be eligible or by what means the initiative would be financed. He calls for replacing regulation with accountability but does not explain how.

The plan suggests a national system of standards and assessment that allows comparisons between individual schools, but not what measurements should be used or who should develop them.

Mr. Perot was more explicit about choice. He said he would call on all school districts to allow parents to choose among public schools, and "remove any federal obstacles to states allowing choice among public, private, and parochial schools.'' He says inclusive choice should be tried to see if it works.

Mr. Perot also proposes year-round schools, reallocating federal research money to dissemination, and higher pay, higher standards, and alternative certification for teachers.

Even as Sen. Al Gore carries the Democratic Vice-Presidential banner into the final weeks of the fall campaign, the next generation of his family's political dynasty has already stepped successfully into the electoral arena.

Senator Gore's daughter Sarah has just been elected vice president of her 8th-grade class at the National Cathedral School for Girls in Washington.--J.M. & S.K.G.

Vol. 12, Issue 03

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