GOALS 2000--THE CLINTON ADMINISTRATION EDUCATION PROGRAM
In late 1989, President Bush and the Nation's Governors met in Virginia for a bipartisan "Education Summit." At this summit, the groundwork was laid for the National Education Goals, which are all part of the Goals 2000 Education Program. Under the Bush administration, the program was called "America 2000."
The goals were not to be used for political gain nor as a hollow promise. They were the centerpiece for education reform in both the Bush and Clinton Administrations. They serve as a nationwide pact by which we can measure the output of our educational systems throughout America.
The passing of the GOALS 2000: Educate America Act on March 31 of 1994 allowed the federal government a new role in its support for education. The federal government can now promote a comprehensive approach to help all students succeed in life.
The National Education Goals are listed, followed by current information about why these goals are needed.
By the year 2000: 1. Every child will start school ready to learn. 2. The high school graduation rate will increase to at least 90 percent. 3. American students will leave grades 4, 8, and 12 having demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter including english, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, art, history, and geography; and every school in America will ensure that all students learn to use their minds well, so they may be prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our nation's modern economy. 4. The nation's teaching force will have access to programs for the continued improvement of their professional skills needed to instruct and prepare all American students for the next century. 5. U.S. students will be first in the world in science and mathematics achievement. 6. Every adult American will be literate and will possess the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy and exercise rights and responsibilities of citizenship. 7. Every school in the United States will be free of drugs, violence, and the unauthorized presence of firearms and alcohol and will offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning. 8. Every school will promote partnerships that will increase parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional, and academic growth of children.These goals are needed for many reasons. Goal #1 is needed because almost half of American babies start life behind and never have the support to catch up. 45% of our children are born with risk factors for further learning and development deficiencies. Only 37% are immunized by age 2 against major childhood diseases. Just over half of our preschool children are read to daily (53%) and less than half are involved in discussions about family history or ethnic heritage (43%). Goal #2 is needed because only 88% of our teenagers complete high school. Goals #3 and #5 are needed because fewer than one in five 4th and 12th graders and one in four 8th graders understand complex mathematics theory and problems, and similar figures have been found in measurements of reading ability. Goal #7 is needed because only 50% of our high school students feel safe at school, 53% believe that other's misbehaviors interfer with their learning, and 18% have been offered drugs in school. Goal #6 is needed because many Americans have only basic literacy. Only 52% can perform challenging literacy tasks in reading and arithmetic. The refocusing of the federal government on achievement grew out of the formal recognition that half of America's adults have mediocre basic literacy, which is not enough for them to reach their potential in the modern economy.
Many misconceptions about GOALS 2000 have led to divided feelings about the act. Some people are concerned that GOALS 2000 will lead to a federal government takeover of local education. To show how this has been accounted for, Section 318 states "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize an officer or employee of the Federal Government to mandate, direct, or control a State, local educational agency, or school's curriculum, program of instruction, or allocation of State or local resources or mandate a State or any subdivision thereof to spend any funds or incur any costs not paid for under this Act." The main goal of the GOALS 2000 Act is to encourage local school systems into meeting educational needs, help students reach their potential, increase parental involvement, and improve teachers' skills.
Another misconception is that GOALS 2000 created a "national school board" and that board will control what is taught in the classroom. In fact, GOALS 2000 created the National Education Standards and Improvement Council (NESIC) for the purpose of providing an independent review of the model of National and State Academic Standards. Despite the carefully delineated authority given to NESIC, many people are still concerned. The Secretary of Education, upon the recommendation by the National Education Goals Panel on January 28 of 1995, has asked President Clinton not to appoint the NESIC. Other options have been discussed and four bills introduced to Congress would eliminate the NESIC. Congress will continue debating these bills.
The DAILY REPORT CARD of Monday, June 12, 1995 (Vol 4, No 341) asked educators and policy makers how GOALS 2000 was helping them reform education, they replied as follows:
"GOALS 2000 is as significant as the launching of Sputnik. It is an initiative that redirects our focus in terms of improving the quality of education and life in this country. These goals provide our blueprint for meeting the challenges of the 21st century"--LeGrande Baldwin, Lead Principal, Cluster 4, Maury School, Washington, D.C. "For us, it's been helpful in several ways. First, it has helped clarify the education debate between and among educators. Second, it had given us admirable targets to shoot for. Third, GOALS 2000 had 'cleared the air' in terms of funding issues. Fourth, it has stimulated debate, hopefully placing education back on the forefront [of the national agenda]."--Ralph Brauer, executive director, Bloomington, Ind.-based Transforming Schools Consortium. "As someone who is responsible for elementary and secondary education, my personal philosophical perspective is that the federal government should not have a role in education. Education is a state responsibility. The legislation contains provisions that have philosophic underpinnings with which I don't agree."--Ovide Lamontagne, chairman, N.H. State Board of EducationPeople are divided in their support for GOALS 2000. Educational reform is necessary, but many don't want the federal government involved. GOALS 2000 will allow us to compete with other countries. Without the goals and standards that GOALS 2000 provides, we won't be able to rebuild our educational system and begin competing in the worldwide market.
Prepared by Tammy L. Austin