No turning back' on school reforms, summit says
By Andrew Mollison
Palisades, N.Y. --- Governors joined corporate leaders and educators
at a national education summit Wednesday to urge that the nation and
states step up the pace to reform public schools.
"There can be no turning back," said a policy statement adopted by
consensus. The group of about 90 leaders ended its two-day meeting,
the fourth such summit since 1989, when President George Bush
convened the first one.
Participants repeated a strong endorsement of the kinds of reforms at
the heart of President Bush's plan for a greater federal role in K-12
"The president's education strategy, especially the call for higher
standards, more accountability, dovetails with the goals of state
after state across this country," said Michigan Gov. John Engler.
Engler supported a greater role for governors in House-Senate
negotiations over the final wording of legislation embodying Bush's
The summit participants also recommended several ways to improve
three reforms --- measuring results, improving teaching and holding
students and educators responsible --- that are at the heart of the
standards-based reform movement.
The recommendations include offering "salary bonuses and other
incentives to attract the best principals and teachers to schools
with the highest rates of poverty or underachievement."
Those changes might help counter a growing skepticism about the
reforms among teachers, said two national union presidents, Bob Chase
of the National Education Association and Sandra Feldman of the
American Federation of Teachers.
Feldman said an AFT membership poll in June showed support for
standards-based reforms had dropped to 55 percent, down from 73
percent two years before. "If these teachers become disillusioned
with the standards, we'll never be able to carry them out," Feldman
Bush's plan was criticized on similar grounds recently by the
7,500-member National Conference of State Legislators. It said a plan
to test all students in grades three through eight in reading and
math is "fatally flawed."