First lady helps launch school plan Maryland plan closely mirrors Bush administration's efforts.

September 05, 1991|By Mark Bomster | Mark Bomster,Evening Sun Staff

The "Maryland 2000" plan, still in its embryonic stages, is the latest attempt by state education officials to piggyback on President Bush's "America 2000" initiative.

On the day that President Bush outlined his plan in April, Gov. William Donald Schaefer sent the president a telegram saying that "Maryland wants to be the first state to join 'America 2000' education revolution."

State officials now tout Maryland 2000 as a way to involve the community in school improvement, in line with the president's initiatives.

The centerpiece of Maryland 2000 is a steering committee, to be co-chaired by Robert C. Embry Jr., president of the state school board, and Charles Zimmerman, an official of Westinghouse Corp.

The committee also will include local business and community leaders, including Joseph L. Smith, president of the Baltimore school board, and Michael E. Hickey, Howard County school superintendent.

Maryland 2000 will be "a crusade of all Marylanders to improve the schools," said Bonnie S. Copeland, deputy state superintendent of schools. "We want to generate community support for schools, to help them achieve the goals of Schools For Success."

The committee will help generate support in each community for top-quality schools, and push communities toward reaching the state's own school improvement goals, said Copeland.

Although the committee will get some general direction from the federal officials directing the America 2000 program, "it really is for us to create our own Maryland strategies," said Copeland. "It's something we want to tailor to the communities."

State officials cite specific parallels between Bush's education program and the state's own "Schools For Success" plan.

The term "Schools For Success" describes a series of initiatives prompted by a gubernatorial commission in 1989 and carried through by former state school Superintendent Joseph L. Shilling.

It includes 10 ambitious educational goals to be reached by the year 2000. Among them: 100 percent literacy for state residents, a 95 percent high school graduation rate and putting Maryland among the nation's top five states in academic performance.

It also sets a series of strategies to be used in meeting those goals. Chief among them is the Maryland State Performance Program, which uses a combination of tests and accountability reports to track improvement at every school in the state. Also, the state is phasing in a series of tests intended to measure how well students apply the facts they learn in the classroom.

State officials say their program meets all six of the national goals under the president's America 2000 program, including improved graduation rate, excellence in science and mathematics, universal literacy and academic competence in basic classroom subjects.

"We adopted the national goals when they were first articulated," said Embry. The "Maryland 2000" campaign is "just an effort to help individual schools come up with their strategies."

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