American education is changing. With the release of A Nation at Risk in 1983, the Americans focused on the report's declaration of "a rising tide of mediocrity" in the schools, which suggested unacceptable results in the education of America's children and youth (Talley & Short, 1995). Numerous other publications (Beyond Rhetoric, 1991; Raising Standards for American Education, 1992) have contributed to the criticism of schools and the educational process. Concurrent to the missives levied at schools' lack of progress with academics and other education-specific goals, policy makers and researchers also have questioned the nation's commitment to the health of its children. With the publication of "Healthy People 2000" (1990) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, attention was drawn to the dramatic and unmet health needs of preschool and school-aged youngsters.
Spurred by these and other reports, school staff are reassessing traditional methods of doing business and are implementing innovations designed to produce a nation of "world-class citizens" (National Education Goals Panel, 1994). They also are striving to respond to these social reforms in education, health care, and human services within the schools.
GOALS 2000: EDUCATE AMERICA ACT
P.L. 103-227, the Goals 2000: Educate America Act, authorized federal support for education reform. Signed into law on March 31, 1994, the major provisions of the eight goals were conceived at the Education Reform Summit of 1989, which was called by President Bush for the nation's governors. Summit attendees, lead by then-Governor Bill Clinton, hammered out a set of six education goals to direct the nation's effort in developing world-class students. Congress then added two additional goals. The Goals 2000 legislation states that by the year 2000, the following objectives will be met:
Goal 1: "Readiness for School." All children will start school ready to learn.
Goal 2: "School Completion." The high school graduation rate will increase to at least 90 percent.
Goal 3: "Student Achievement and Citizenship." All students will leave grades 4, 8, and 12 having demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter including English, mathematics, science, foreign languages, civics and government, economics, arts, history, and geography, and every school in America will ensure that all students learn to use their minds well, so that our students may be prepared for responsible citizenship, further learning, and productive employment in our Nation's modern economy.
Goal 4: "Teacher Education and Professional Development." The Nation's teaching force will have both access to programs for the continued improvement of their professional skills and the opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills needed to instruct and prepare all American students for the next century.
Goal 5: "Mathematics and Science." United States students will be the first in the world in mathematics and science achievement.
Goal 6: "Adult Literacy and Lifelong Learning." Every adult American will be literate and will possess the knowledge and skills necessary to compete in a global economy. Each adult will exercise the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.
Goal 7: "Safe, Disciplined, and Alcohol- and Drug-Free Schools." Every school in the United States will be free of drugs, violence, and the unauthorized presence of firearms and alcohol and will offer a disciplined environment conducive to learning.
Goal 8: "Parental and Family Involvement." Every school will promote partnerships that will increase parental involvement and participation in promoting the social, emotional, and academic growth of children.
In addition to codifying the eight national education goals, Goals 2000 created both a National Education Goals Panel (NEGP) to monitor progress toward the goals, and a system to certify national curriculum content standards, national pupil performance standards, national opportunity-to-learn standards, and state standards and assessment, all of which are voluntary (Stedman, 1994b). The Act also provides waivers of requirements and regulations under designated federal education programs, grants for implementation of state systemic reform efforts, and a national board to establish occupational skill standards (U.S. Department of Education, 1994, 1995). The Act contains numerous related provisions, many of which are being attacked by the 104th Congress now in session (Talley & Short, in press).
Each state Goals 2000 action plan must address the following elements: (a) teaching and learning standards, and assessment; (b) opportunity-to-learn standards or strategies; (c) governance, accountability, and management; (d) parent and community partnerships; (e) system-wide improvements; (f) bottom-up reform; (g) dropout prevention; (h) coordination for school-to-work programs; (i) milestones and timelines; (j) coordination strategies; and (k) program improvement (U.S. Department of Education, 1995).
Changes made to ESEA reflect the following broad themes: (a) linkages are created between major ESEA programs and systemic education reform, particularly Goals 2000; (b) states, localities, and schools will have increased administrative flexibility; (c) new foci on emerging areas of interest, such as technology, school safety, and school management, are included; and (d) there is greater targeting on students and schools with high needs.
With these amendments, several changes will be felt at the state and school levels. Future Title I funding is made contingent on State's having curriculum content and pupil performance standards, also a requirement under Goals 2000. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education is given authority to waive a wide array of requirements for ESEA programs for up to three years. Waivers may be extended if student performance has increased. States and local education agencies are also permitted to consolidate some program administration funds and transfer up to 5 percent of program funds under one area to another designated program. The IASA requires targeting of high-poverty schools and authorizes grants to reward states with high fiscal effort and low disparities in school finance programs.
Support is also provided for the infusion of technology into the curriculum, to underwrite schools' participation in the national information highway, to experiment with new forms of school management, such as public charter schools and private management of schools, and to increase school safety through the newly added component, the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act.
The original legislation was amended in 1986 by P. L. 99-457 to include children under the age of five. Children from three to five years of age were made eligible for FAPE under the Preschool Grants Program (Section 619, Part B), while Part H of the new law established a statewide comprehensive system of early intervention services for infants and toddlers. The law also requires service providers to develop a family-centered, multidisciplinary family service plan for each child and family.
HEALTHY PEOPLE 2000
Healthy People 2000: National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives (1990) is a policy document, promulgated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, that has as its major focus the nation's commitment to three broad goals:
1. to increase the span of healthy life for Americans,
2. to reduce health disparities among Americans, and
3. to achieve access to preventive services for all Americans. Healthy People 2000 presents 300 measurable targets or objectives to be met by the year 2000. These are organized into 22 priority areas, with 21 of them grouped as health promotion, health protection, or preventive services (data and surveillance activities constitute the 22nd area).
Combined with Goals 2000, Healthy People 2000 spotlights the important interrelationships between health and education for children and youth. At least 15 of the Healthy People 2000 objectives are directly achievable by schools. In addition, it is estimated that schools can play important roles in meeting nearly 100 additional Healthy People 2000 objectives (Kolbe, Collins, & Cortese, in press; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1992).
Challenges to educational excellence, threats to child safety and development, and malaise in a human services system which is often fragmented and dysfunctional, rarely addressing the needs of those it was designed to serve, all factor together to compel action. The legislation and policy described in this article are attempts to address one of our nation's most serious challenges: the education and protection of our children. Psychologists, as experts in education, health, and human services, have a responsibility to lend their expertise, skills, and leadership to this tremendous challenge [to the educational and protection of our children].
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