During his six plus years in office, President Clinton has given continuous attention to American education. Indeed, he has made it a top priority for his administration.
But how significantly has education policy changed, particularly for America’s troubled elementary and secondary schools? Put differently: are America’s school children better off than they were six years ago?
Initial indications are that President Clinton will be regarded by history as the “failed education President.” Consider for example:
In February 1999 the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) the nation’s only ongoing evaluation of students’ performance in various subject areas found that twelfth graders’ average reading scores declined from 1992 to 1999.
In 1998, a seminal report from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) found that American high-school seniors placed eighteenth out of twenty-one countries in math and science. The similarities between the DoEd budget that President Clinton has submitted for fiscal year 2000 outweigh the differences in the budget that President Bush agreed to for fiscal year 1993.
The President has failed to use the bully pulpit, perhaps the most powerful instrument he has to bring about education reform, to outline tangible, clear and necessary goals for where American education should be in the coming years.
These issues and the need for Presidential leadership in spurring changes in teachers’ union contracts, dramatically expanding the number of charter schools, and other education matters are examined in the report that follows.
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