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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.--The first ever presidential education summit came to an end yesterday, as President Bush and the nation's 50 governors said helping disadvantaged preschoolers and illiterate adults were among their top priorities for the near future.
Neither Bush nor the governors specified any numerical goals, but the president yesterday made what he called a "social compact" with the nation's legislators and citizens asking for their input in helping to set exact targets in these areas.
"A social compact begins today in Charlottesville Virginia--a compact between parents teachers principals, superintendents state legislators, governors and the administration," Bush told a crowd of several thousand on the University of Virginia campus. "I hope that you will join me to define national goals in education for the first time."
The hope is that education policy makers can come to a consensus over the next several months on what their precise goals should be, so that they can be discussed at the next national Governors Association meeting in the spring said Governor Terry E. Branstad (R-Ia).
Bush and the governors agreed that programs for disadvantaged children, like Head Start--which provides proper nutrition and academic preparation for preschoolers--should top the current education agenda.
"There needs to be a comprehensive child program for children under five," said Gov. Bill Clinton (D-Ark.). "We feel that should be the number one priority for the federal government."
In addition, yesterday's statement outlined other problems for which the president and governors believe quantifiable goals should be established, including:
.Improving performance on international math and science tests.
.Reducing dropout rates and raising academic performance.
.Increasing the supply of technology and qualified teachers.
.Establishing safe and drug-free schools and improving job training programs.
But the president and the governors also concentrated on structural reform at the summit meeting saying that the states should be given more flexibility with federal funds.
Governors agreed that resources are wasted when states have to adhere to strict rules regarding their use. Clinton said that under certain federal programs, equipment bought for one purpose often cannot be used foranother.
"A computer can be used for special educationfor children, and at night, you can't even use itfor adult ed," he said.
Bush said, however, that in exchange forgreater flexibility the states would be held moreaccountable for the quality of education.
Federal funding for educational programs wasagain an issue at the summit yesterday, and inwhat appears to be a partisan division, Democratshave said that the other governors will notdiscuss urging major increases in federaleducation spending.
"There was some vigorous discussion about theresponsibility of the federal government toprovide adequate resources," said Gov. Richard F.Celeste (D-Oh.).
According to Celeste, Bush pointed to higherstate taxes as a partial solution to the fundingquestion.
"Bush said, 'My commitment on no taxes was afederal commitment,'" said Celeste quoting thepresident. "`State may need to raise taxes.'"
Bush won bipartisan praise for promising oneprogram--Head Start--$250 million more in federalfunding this year.
The issue of higher education was not discussedto any great extent at the summit. "Highereducation was slighted here," Celeste told TheCrimson. "The reason is that the governors feelwe're doing a better job on higher education thanthe rest of the world. Also, where we haveproblems in college, it is because of problems inprimary and secondary schools that spill over intocollege."
Gov. Robert P. Casey (D-Pa.) said in aninterview that a few ideas about higher educationwere discussed, such as the Pennsylvania system of"challenge grants," which give colleges anduniversities more funding if they agree to keeptuition costs down
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