Pacific Stars And Stripes Newspaper Archives May 4 1983, Page 9

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Pacific Stars And Stripes (Newspaper) - May 4, 1983, Tokyo, JapanWednesday May 4, 1983 education Pacific stars and stripes 9 panel urges Reform at All Levels by Edward b. Fiske . Times Washington the United states has been committing unthinking unilateral educational disarmament a bipartisan Federal commis Sion has declared and it has called for significant reforms to upgrade the Quality of american education at All Levels. In an open letter to the american people the 18-member National com Mission on excellence in education said that America s economic cultural and spiritual role in the world is being threatened by lax standards and misguided priorities in the schools. The educational foundations of our society Are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future As a nation and As a people it declared. If an unfriendly foreign Power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today we might Well have viewed it As an act of War. As it stands we have allowed this to happen to principal changes urged among the changes the commis Sion urged were the following High schools should tighten requirements in the new basics English mathematics science social studies and computer science and colleges and universities should raise their admissions requirements in these areas As Well As in foreign languages. Students should spend More time in school. School boards should con Sider extending the school Day from six to a total of seven hours and increasing the school year from 180 to As much As 220 Days. High school students should be Given far More Homework. Salaries for teachers should be increased and their contracts should be extended from nine to 11 months to allow time for curriculum plan Ning and helping students with Spe Cial incentives should be used to attract outstanding students into the teaching profession and master teachers should be used to train them. Silent on Reagan priorities the commission did not offer recommendations in several areas that have been priorities of the Reagan administration including tuition tax credits prayer in the schools and abolition of the department of education. In his remarks at a White House ceremony in which he was presented with a copy of the report however president Reagan declared that Well continue to work in the months ahead for passage of tuition tax credits vouchers educational savings accounts voluntary school prayer and abolishing the depart ment of the commission urged american citizens to provide the fiscal support and stability necessary to bring about these reforms. Excellence costs it declared. But in the Long run mediocrity costs far beyond this Appeal the report did not address the question of How to pay for changes such As higher teachers salaries. We were not asked to offer any advice on How to finance education explained David p. Gardner president of the University of Utah and chairman of the commission at a press briefing. Much of the initial reaction to the 36-Page report focused on Haw the proposed reforms might be financed. Gifted handicapped disadvantaged and bilingual students. The Federal government also has the primary responsibility to identify the National interest in education it said. At the ceremony Reagan interpreted the commission s position As a Call for an end to Federal intrusion that is consistent with our task of redefining the Federal role in Educa Tion. . Paid for study the National commission on excellence in education was appointed in August 1981 by . Bell the Secretary of education to address what he termed the widespread Public perception that something is seriously remiss in our educational the project which Cost $785,000, was financed by the depart ment of education. Bell said the department will now hold meetings All across the country to promote a commitment to Excel Lence in education. The staff which was headed by Milton Goldberg surveyed existing educational research and commis the educational foundations of our society Are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future As a nation and As a people the National education association the country s largest teachers organization called the document exciting and noted that the panel s recommendations would require additional billions of dollars and a big boost from the Federal govern ment to achieve their sweeping objectives. Lawmaker pleased rep. Carl d. Perkins d-ky., chair Man of the House education and labor committee said that he was glad to see recommendations such As increasing teachers salaries but also stated that the report came after three years of administration efforts to Cut Back on education programs. I believe the president ought to take a signal from this report and put an end to his questioning of whether the Federal government should be involved in education Perkins de report affirmed that state and local officials have the primary responsibility for financing and governing the schools but added that the Federal government shares responsibility for meeting the needs of signed its own studies on topics such As curriculum trends and How Amer ican students fare in relation to those of other countries. It also held a series of hearings at which students teachers school officials and other citizens were invited to testify. In its report entitled a nation at risk the imperative for educational Reform the commission presented a wide Range of evidence that the Quality of american education has been deteriorating Over the last two document noted for example that achievement test scores of both High school and College graduates have been declining consistently Over the last two decades and that there has been a steady decline in science achievement scores of . 17-year Olds As measured by National assess ments of science in 1969, 1973 and 1977. 23 million functional illiterates the report said that some 23 Mil lion american adults Are functionally illiterate by the simplest tests of everyday Reading writing and com prehension and it quoted the depart ment of the Navy As saying that one Quarter of its recent recruits cannot read at the ninth Grade level the minimum needed simply to under stand written safety instructions. The commission said that Low educational standards constitute a ser ious problem at a time when the United states must compete against other countries with sophisticated economic and educational systems. Learning is the indispensable Hir vestment required for Success in the information age we Are entering it declared. Running through the recommendations were the themes of higher expectations and More rigorous academic standards. In addition to the traditional 3 is the commission said that the new basics for High school students should include the natural sciences and computer Sci ence. Students today it said need to understand the world of computers electronics and related technologies. It also said that College bound Stu dents should have at least two years of a foreign language and that since mastering a foreign Tongue ordinarily requires from four to six years such instruction should be started in the elementary grades. A major theme of educational re search in recent years has been the importance of the amount of time that students actually spend learning and this is reflected in the recommendations concerning a longer school Day and school Calendar. Teacher burnout cited in a response to the report How Ever Albert Shanker president of the american federation of teachers warned that the 11-month school plan could disrupt family travel in summer months curtail Camp opportunities for youths and add to the continuing problem of teacher burnout. Although staff members said that about one third of the commission s research was concerned with higher education the report focused almost entirely on elementary and High schools. We refer those interested in the need for similar Reform in higher education to the recent report of the american Council on Educa Tion to strengthen the Quality of higher education " they of a nation at risk May be obtained from the superintendent of documents . Government printing office Washington d.c.20402. Tel. 202 783-3238. The Cost is $4.50. Educators Hail report but warn of heavy costs associated press education groups across the coun try hailed a new Federal report As a first step in improving american education but warned it will Cost billions to meet recommendations to pay teachers More Money. The More i read it the More ecstatic i am Paul Salmon executive director of the american association of school administrators in Arlington va., said. Salmon said he was pleased that the report said the Federal government has the primary responsibility to identify the nation s education needs and to help fund them. It flies in the face of Many of the things the Reagan administration has stood for Salmon said. Officials at the National Parent teacher association Headquarters in Chicago said they had no comment before studying the report. However spokeswoman Lorie Nies said Pat leaders Are curious about where the Money will come from. Peter o Brien head of the Amer ican federation of school administrators in new York said he supports the recommendations but cautions about the Cost. Obviously teachers need to be paid More if they Are going to work More he said. The major reforms called for by the commission will require addition Al billions of dollars with a big boost from the Federal government to achieve these sweeping objectives said Willard Mcguire president of the 1.6 million member National education association. Albert Shanker president of the 580,000-member american federa Tion of teachers based in new York said there s no question that to Day s salaries Are resulting in teacher shortages As Well As preventing school systems from attracting the Best and brightest noting that the report said teacher salaries average about $17,000 a year after 12 years on the Job Shanker asked How can we expect to attract Good teachers when companies pay beginning trainees $17,000?" Samuel Myers executive director of the National association for equal Opportunity in higher education in Washington said he supports higher standards but warned that they could Lead even More Black and poor students to quit school. Myers whose association represents 109 predominantly Black col Leges and universities said 23 percent of the nation s Black children never finish High school. And he said that percentage could increase if higher standards make it even More difficult for them to graduate and added that remedial programs Are needed for youngsters whose backgrounds put them behind other students. I like the idea of enriching the curricula but then we must still have parity in getting All races All economic backgrounds an equal Chance to reach those standards Myers said

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