Schrenko Criticizes Goals 2000 Board Objected to Sending Letter with Federal Grant Application

Article excerpt

ATLANTA -- Georgia districts are waiting to get about $9 million

in federal improvement grants this year, but some educators say

School Superintendent Linda Schrenko isn't helping the state's

cause by slamming national school reform efforts.

In a letter to U.S. Education Secretary Richard Riley, Schrenko

describes the expansion of the federal Goals 2000 program as a

"political correctness crusade" that calls on schools to take

over for incompetent parents and could lead to decreased

emphasis on the basics.

Schrenko wanted to send her missive with the state's

application for about $9 million in federal funding under the

Goals 2000: Educate America Act.

However, the state School Board objected, so she decided to

send it separately.

"This time last year, I was the one saying I was not so sure

about this money. This year, I'm ready to go forward," Schrenko

said.

"The longer we delay, the longer it will take the systems to

get their money."

The board put off deciding whether to apply for the money until

this week because members wanted to know how the districts spent

a $2.3 million Goals 2000 grant last year.

However, the superintendent's harsh critique of Goals 2000 also

raised concerns.

"The letter was a red flag. It struck me as very partisan,"

said Barbara Christmas, director of the Professional Association

of Georgia Educators and a member of the state School

Improvement Panel.

"I certainly would not send an inflammatory letter with an

application for grant funding. In the normal grant process, it

could jeopardize funding."

Even those who agree with Schrenko philosophically questioned

the letter.

"I would not have been that antagonistic," said Christian

Coalition activist Linda Hamrick, who also serves on the

improvement panel.

Schrenko's letter to Riley voices a common concern among

conservatives that Goals 2000 is an attempt to expand federal

power over schools by implementing politically slanted

benchmarks.

President Clinton has called for spending $491 million next

year on Goals 2000, which is aimed at prodding states to make

changes in education. Republicans who run Congress want to slash

spending for the program.

Last year, four states refused Goals 2000 money. Schrenko

accepted the grant, but expressed distaste for the federal

standards.

In her letter to Riley this year, Schrenko wrote that Congress

has eroded the original goals proposed by governors during the

Bush administration by expanding them to placate teachers'

unions and the national Parent Teacher Association. …