America's Future Work Force: A Health and Education Policy Issues Handbook

By Carl W. Stenberg; William G. Colman | Go to book overview

Chapter 6
Policy Issues and Alternatives for Restructuring the U.S. Public Education System

The preceding chapter described and analyzed the history of the education reform "movement" during the past 35 years and highlighted current efforts to identify and overcome the deterrents to achieving the high-quality elementary and secondary education so vital to a competitive economy and healthy society. In this chapter, the major issues on the public education policy agenda that relate to work force preparation and employability are presented and discussed in terms of the pro and con arguments that have accompanied their consideration. National policy initiatives and implementing actions, as well as experiments and innovations at the state and local levels, are also examined.


SHIFTING THE FOCUS OF EDUCATION REFORM

The review of recent educational reform activities in chapter 5 revealed a rather mixed "report card." If public and private sector policymakers were to be graded on effort -- that is, steps taken to raise the visibility of K-12 education needs, to identify and undertake possible remedial measures, and to spend public monies to take action -- they would receive an "A." President George Bush and Education secretaries Terrel Bell and William Bennett would be praised for national leadership in calling attention to the need for establishing national goals and recognizing innovative efforts. Former state governors such as President Bill Clinton, secretary of Education Richard Riley and his predecessor, Lamar Alexander, and many current and former legislators would be recognized for their courage in raising taxes or diverting state funds from other programs to bolster appropriations for local school systems and in attempting to improve teacher quality and raise attainment standards. Many local education administrators, school boards, and teachers would be cited for raising concerns about instructional quality, school safety, and the special needs of at-risk children, as well

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