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White House Fact Sheet on the President's Education Strategy

April 18, 1991

The President today outlined his strategy to move the Nation toward achieving the national education goals and educational excellence for all Americans. The President believes we must restructure and revitalize America's education system by the year 2000. Emphasizing that this effort is a national challenge, the President asked all Americans to take part in "the crusade that counts most -- the crusade to prepare our children and ourselves for the exciting future that looms ahead."

America 2000 builds on four related themes:

Creating better and more accountable schools for today's students,

Creating a new generation of American schools for tomorrow's students,

Transforming America into a nation of students, and

Making our communities places where learning will happen.

I. Creating Better and More Accountable Schools for Today's Students

The President called on all Americans to help create better and more accountable schools based on world class standards and the principle of accountability. He encouraged all elements of our communities -- families, businesses, unions, places of worship, neighborhood organizations, and other voluntary associations -- to work together with our schools to help the Nation achieve educational excellence.

A. World Class Standards in Five Core Subjects

The President believes the time has come to establish world class standards for what our children should know and be able to do in five core subjects: English, mathematics, science, history, and geography.

Through the National Education Goals Panel, and working with interested parties throughout the Nation, the President and the Governors will develop a timetable for establishing national standards in these five subjects, and in September 1991, and each year thereafter, the panel will report to the Nation on progress toward the national education goals.

The standards are intended to lift the entire education system and improve the learning achievement of all students. The President and the Governors oppose a national curriculum or federalizing our education system.

B. A System of Voluntary National Examinations

Through the efforts of the National Education Goals Panel, a system of voluntary examinations will be developed and made available for all fourth, eighth, and twelfth grade students in the five core subjects.

These American Achievement Tests will challenge all students to strive to meet the world class standards and ensure that, when they leave school, students are prepared for further study and the workforce. The tests will measure higher order skills (i.e., they will not be strictly multiple choice tests).

The President, working with the Nation's Governors, will seek congressional authorization for State-level national assessment of educational progress assessments and for optional use of these assessments at district and school levels.

Students who distinguish themselves on the American Achievement Tests will receive a Presidential Citation for Educational Excellence in recognition of their outstanding achievement.

The President will seek authorization for Presidential Achievement Scholarships to reward academic excellence among low income students pursuing postsecondary education opportunities. These financial awards will be based on superior high school and college performance.

C. Schools as the Site of Reform

The administration will help strengthen the capacity of elementary and secondary schools to improve results and to innovate by increasing flexibility in decisionmaking at the State, district, and school levels and encouraging report cards on performance.

In addition to an annual National Report Card, the President will encourage schools, school districts, and States to issue regular report cards on their education performance. These report cards will measure results and progress toward achieving the national education goals.

As part of his America 2000 Excellence in Education Act of 1991, the President will again seek legislation that will allow greater flexibility in the use of Federal resources for education in exchange for enhanced accountability for results.

To stimulate reform in mathematics and science education, the America 2000 Excellence in Education Act of 1991 will include $40 million for new grants to school districts that show significant gains in student achievement. Awards will be used for continued improvements in these vital subjects.

The America 2000 Excellence in Education Act of 1991 also will seek funds for a Merit Schools Program for States to award individual schools that demonstrate significant progress toward the national education goals. States may "bank" funds over several years to create even more incentives for successful schools.

D. Providing and Promoting School Choice

The President believes that educational choice for parents and students is critical to improving our schools.

The President will promote State and local choice programs as part of his America 2000 Excellence in Education Act of 1991.

-- A $200 million Education Certificate Program Support Fund will provide incentive grants to local school districts with qualified education certificate programs that enhance parental choice.

-- National school choice demonstration projects will be supported through a $30 million initiative.

The administration also will seek ways to ensure that Federal education programs are more supportive of choice.

E. Teachers and Principals

America's teachers and principals are on the front lines of transforming our schools. As part of his America 2000 Excellence in Education Act of 1991, the President will propose several initiatives to promote outstanding leadership in our schools.

Presidential Awards for Excellence in Education will recognize and reward outstanding teachers across America.

The President will encourage States and communities to provide alternative routes of certification through one-time grants to States to support implementation of alternative certification.

In order to improve the training of school principals and other school leaders, the President will propose establishing Governors' academies in every State with Federal seed money to enhance principal training through instructional and mentoring programs.

The President will seek to establish Governors' academies for America's teachers with Federal seed money to offer advanced instruction focusing on the five core academic disciplines.

The President also encouraged States to consider differential pay and financial and other awards for those who excel in teaching, teach core subjects, teach in challenging settings, and serve as mentors for new teachers.

II. Creating a New Generation of American Schools for Tomorrow's Students

The President today challenged the best minds in America to design -- and help communities create -- the best schools in the world.

A. Research and Development

A series of research and development teams, funded by contributions from the business community, will help design a new generation of American schools.

America's business leaders will establish and mobilize private resources for the New American Schools Development Corporation, a new non-profit organization that will award contracts in 1992 to between three and seven research and development teams. These teams may consist of corporations, universities, think tanks, school innovators, and others. The teams' products will be available to the American people.

The mission of these teams is to help communities create schools that will reach the national education goals, including world class standards in the five core subjects for all students, as monitored by the American Achievement Tests and similar measures.

The President will ask his Education Policy Advisory Committee, as well as the Department of Education, to examine the work of these research and development teams and to report on their progress.

B. New American Schools

The President will ask Congress to provide $550 million in one-time start-up funds to create at least 535 New American Schools that "break the mold" of existing school designs.

These funds will provide up to $1 million for each New American School to underwrite special staff training, instructional materials, or other support the school needs. The goal is to have at least one New American School operating in each congressional district by September 1996.

Once the schools are launched, the operating costs of the New American Schools will be no more than those of conventional schools.

The President also will ask Congress for start-up funds to help design state-of-the-art technology appropriate for New American Schools.

A New American School does not necessarily mean new bricks-and-mortar. Nor does a New American School have to rely on technology; the quality of learning is what matters.

C. America 2000 Communities

The President called on every community in the country to do four things:

Adopt the six national education goals,

Establish a community-wide strategy for achieving the goals,

Develop a report card for measuring its progress, and

Demonstrate its readiness to create and support a New American School.

Communities that accept this challenge will be designated, by the Governors of their States, as "America 2000 Communities."

Governors, in conjunction with the Secretary of Education, will review community-developed plans with the assistance of a distinguished advisory panel and will determine which America 2000 communities in each State will receive Federal financial support in starting New American Schools.

The Governors and the Secretary will ensure that many such schools serve communities with high concentrations of children at risk.

D. Leadership at All Levels

Transforming American education and creating a new generation of American schools will require the commitment of America's leaders at all levels.

The President welcomes the commitment by American business to contribute $150 - $200 million to support the research and development effort.

The President asked the Nation's Governors to lead the New American Schools effort in their States.

The President challenged State legislatures to: support the creation and operation of New American Schools; embrace the world class standards and adopt the American Achievement Tests; and work toward school, district, and State-level report cards.

The President encouraged civic leaders to help organize community plans all across the country to seek designation as an America 2000 community, and to help plan and operate New American Schools. Business can encourage local schools to use the world class standards and American Achievement Tests, and encourage schools to issue report cards on their performance.

The President called on educators to accept new roles and to take risks. Teachers, principals, and other educators are asked to work to develop a consensus on the world class standards and to determine what it would take to create a New American School in each community.

E. Families and Children Devoted to Learning

The President called on parents to urge use of world class standards, American Achievement Tests, and report cards by local schools. Parents must play a key role in creating New American Schools in their own communities and must work with children in the home to improve children's performance in school.

III. Transforming America into "A Nation of Students"

The President believes that learning is a life-long challenge. Approximately 85 percent of America's workers for the year 2000 are already in the workforce. Improving schools for today's and tomorrow's students is not sufficient to ensure a competitive America in the year 2000. The President called on Americans to move from "A Nation at Risk" to "A Nation of Students" by continuing to enhance the knowledge and skills of all Americans.

A. Strengthening the Nation's Education Effort for Yesterday's Students, Today's Workers

To advance the goal of improving literacy for all Americans:

The President will push for greater accountability and choice in the Adult Education Act and will advance these twin principles in new adult literacy activities proposed under the new American 2000 Excellence in Education Act of 1991.

The Department of Education will provide regular, timely, and reliable information by expanding the national adult literacy survey and collecting information about literacy efforts on a regular basis.

B. Establishing Standards for Job Skills and Knowledge

The President urged business and labor cooperatively to develop -- and then to use -- world class standards and core proficiencies for each industry. Federal resources will be sought to provide start-up assistance for this effort.

C. Creating Business and Community Skill Clinics

Today's workers will be assisted through skill clinics -- one-stop service centers located in businesses and communities across America where adults can get job skill diagnosis and referral services.

The administration will urge businesses to make skill clinics available to their employees and encourage America 2000 communities to establish community skill clinics.

Federal departments and agencies will be encouraged to establish such skill clinics and, working with the Office of Personnel Management, will be encouraged to undertake activities to upgrade their employees' skills.

D. Enhancing Job Training Opportunities

The Domestic Policy Council Job Training 2000 Working Group will review current Federal job training efforts and identify successful ways of motivating and enabling individuals to receive the comprehensive services, education, and skills necessary to achieve economic independence.

E. Mobilizing "A Nation of Students"

The President will work to transform "A Nation at Risk" into "A Nation of Students."

The President called on the Secretary of Education and the Secretary of Labor to convene business and labor leaders, education and training experts, and Federal, State, and local government officials at a national conference on the education of adult Americans to launch a national effort to transform adult America into a "Nation of Students."

IV. Making our Communities Places Where Learning Will Happen

The President called on communities to adopt the six national education goals as their own, set a community strategy to meet them, produce a report card to measure results, and agree to create and support a New American School.

The President believes that it is essential to reaffirm such enduring values as personal responsibility, individual action, and other core principles that must underpin life in a democratic society. The aim of the America 2000 community campaign is to make our communities places where learning will happen.

A. Greater Parental Involvement

The President urged parents to become more involved in their children's education and in the work of the New American Schools.

Parents and teachers should encourage children to study more, learn more, and strive to meet higher academic standards.

The President encouraged parents to read aloud daily to their children, especially their younger children.

B. Enhanced Program Effectiveness for Children and Communities

The President is committed to making government work better to improve programs for America's children and communities.

Working through the Domestic Policy Council Economic Empowerment Task Force and with the Nation's Governors and other officials, the administration will undertake better coordination of existing Federal programs with corresponding State and local activities.

As part of this effort, existing program eligibility requirements will be reviewed in order to streamline them and reduce Federal red tape. Wherever possible, States will be afforded maximum flexibility to design and implement integrated State, local, and Federal programming.

George Bush, White House Fact Sheet on the President's Education Strategy Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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