THE president and the governors met for only two days at the education summit. Their intention was not to establish a comprehensive national education policy, but simply to identify areas in education that need improvement. Little more can be expected in a two-day period from people who do not profess to be education experts.
The summit has been mistakenly thought of as a one-shot attempt at reforming the education system. In actuality, the intention was to initiate the lengthy process of developing a national consensus about educational goals. The governors were instructed to go back to their states to consult with teachers, principals, parents and education experts, and return to the National Governors' Association next winter with proposals for reform.
In calling the summit, President Bush's actions represent a real commitment to improving education. Of course, Bush will never be a real "education president" until he commits more federal funding to education programs. But the serious tone of the conference and the agreement to reconvene this winter demonstrate that this conference represents more than simply "political pointscoring."