Gov. William Donald Schaefer says that education goals set by President Bush and the nation's governors last year can be achieved if everyone works together.
"We've got the opportunity . . . to change the course of education in America," Schaefer said last night. "We may make a change in the lives of so many. That's what we can do."
Schaefer spoke at a dinner in Annapolis for about 160 participants in a conference on education sponsored by the National Governor's Association. Lamar Alexander, the new U.S. secretary of education, attended the conference, which ends today.
The goals set by Bush and the governors, known as the America 2000 plan, include development of a new national testing program, raising education standards to the level of other countries and forming a partnership with business.
Conferees were trying to determine how to measure progress in meeting the goals.
On April 18, Bush and Alexander unveiled six specific goals to help schools reach the America 2000 plan. The goals include increasing the high school graduation rate to 90 percent and getting students to the top rank in science and math. Alexander said many people criticized the plan before it was unveiled and that many complained there was little new in it.
"That's not what the presidency is for," Alexander said. "I would like to lend the presidency to the extent it can move toward the goals."
Colorado Gov. Roy Romer, chairman of the goals panel, charged conferees to seek ways to identify the achievement standards for students, how those standards are assessed and how to go about changing the education system.
"We need to increase the skills level in a most dramatic way," Romer said. "What this country needs is a cultural revolution. It needs to come to terms with what's most important."