Friday, August 26, 2005
More Educational Social Engineering
National school plan suggested
Napolitano to announce reform ideas
Pat Kossan and Chip Scutari
The Arizona Republic
Aug. 23, 2005 12:00 AM
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano today will unveil a national plan for education reform that includes universal preschool for children across the country, a standardized curriculum for all 50 states, full-day kindergarten and year-round schools.
Napolitano is co-chairwoman of a task force with ties to the Democratic Party that researched new approaches for education in the 21st century. The group concluded that American students need substantially more time in the classroom to compete with children in other countries.
The governor, who will make her presentation at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., said much of the plan is about getting children ready for the 21st-century job market.
"I want to contribute to the national sense of urgency," Napolitano said. "The world is changing much faster than our education system. We need to take it up a notch."
The goal of the presentation is to start a debate on the ambitious recommendations. The implication is that national leaders eventually will buy into them. The estimated price tag for the makeover is $325 billion in federal money over the next 10 years.
The proposal calls for the money to come from the federal government but does not specify a source. However, the task force suggested that money for the programs could be generated by avoiding tax cuts proposed by Republican leaders, such as the elimination of the nation's estate tax.
Some of the recommendations:
• Extend the school year in low-performing schools, expand after-school programs, pay for universal preschool and full-day kindergarten and increase federal college grants.
• Develop a uniform, but voluntary, set of nationwide student learning goals, or curriculum, for core courses.
• Improve teacher training and offer financial incentives to entice teachers to work in high-poverty schools.
• Link neighborhood schools with their communities and families by providing such things as social services, English classes, parenting skills classes and home visits.
The task force said its plan would go beyond President Bush's No Child Left Behind approach, which measures students' progress and makes schools accountable "but did not address fundamental challenges facing the education system."
Becky Hill, Napolitano's education adviser, said many of the strategies being proposed are being used by governors across the country. She also said billions of dollars that were originally promised to No Child Left Behind could be used on these prescribed strategies, such as universal preschool and full-day kindergarten.
"Some of this investment is already happening at the state level," Hill said. She added that in many ways, the plan "is simply validating a lot of stuff that states are investing in with their general fund dollars."
Napolitano has repeatedly said that children need more hours of instruction, teachers deserve higher salaries and classes must be tailored to fit each community's needs. She said schools in her state need improvement, noting that only 17 of 100 Arizona students entering ninth grade go on to get a college degree.
She was asked to serve as co-chairwoman of the task force by John Podesta, a chief of staff to former President Bill Clinton, who said he was impressed by her focus on education in Arizona. One of Napolitano's most notable successes during her first term has been the establishment of state-funded all-day kindergarten programs.
The task force consisted of business leaders, educators and politicians who gathered input at six public forums, including one in Phoenix. Two public policy groups with strong ties to the Democratic Party initiated the report, called "Renewing our Schools, Securing our Future." Podesta is president of the Center for American Progress. Robert Borosage, who heads the Institute for America's Future, was adviser to the campaigns of Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California and Carol Moseley Braun, a former senator who briefly ran for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination.
Napolitano insists this is about textbooks and test scores, not her electoral future. Still, her role in education reform should boost her growing national profile.
"It's not partisan," Napolitano told The Republic. "I don't think education can be a partisan issue if we're going to be successful. Partisan politics in this country can get things stuck. It needs to be what can we do for the next generation of kids. And what do they need."
The report calls the No Child Left Behind Act "a promising start" but says the Bush administration's reform plan isn't funding the right programs and isn't providing schools with enough money to truly renew the system.
U.S. Department of Education spokesman Chad Colby said he hadn't studied the task force's report and wasn't ready to comment.
The plan would require a larger investment of federal education money "accompanied by additional increases at the state and local levels."
With the expansion of lifespan from 50 to 80, we need a lengthening of the amount of time spent at each phase to be historically proportional. Childhood should reach to 10 before kindergarten starts. Little kids should take an interest in something and be mentored by recently retireds in the depth of a shared interest. This would have been a grand-parent in past generations, but in our nuclear age - we've excommunicated the old and placed an additional intermiitant generation between the working age and the real retirement age.
If you also make all grubbermint employees from that 'been there, done that, not ready to quit generation' and make it so that there was no chance of moving back into the private sector after having a grubbermint position, then we close a revolving door that is at the heart of the legitimized corruption in the current system.
This life extention would have high school from 18-21, and adulthood begin at 26, when people's bodies are really finished growing. At each phase i would change the responsibilities of the age group and be specific about who controls which aspect of what. Check out the zone for more learning philosophy.
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