A local educational research group soon may work with the Lawrence school district in creating a school based on America 2000, President Bush's program of national education goals.
Educational Systems, a research and consulting group at Kansas University, has been awarded a two-year grant to design and develop a program of elementary education to be called a "Children's Academy." The $202,000 grant, one of only two awarded nationwide by the U.S. Department of Education, will be used to convert an existing elementary school to such an academy.
Gene Ramp, executive director of Educational Systems, said, "When we wrote the application, one of the things we did is point out how it relates to each of the six national goals" in America 2000.
However, he said, the final model of the school will be determined by a planning task force made up of parents, teachers, community members, outside experts and university staff.
"We have built into the grant small stipends to pay people to get involved in the planning process," Ramp said.
RAMP SAID the process of creating a Children's Academy could serve as a prototype for the process of developing New American Schools, which will incorporate innovative means for achieving the national education goals. As part of America 2000, Congress is expected to provide one-time grants of $1 million to each of several hundred New American Schools to help cover their start-up costs.
Although the Wichita and Kansas City, Kan., school districts are among those showing strong potential for developing a Children's Academy, Ramp said he would like to see the grant applied to the Lawrence school district.
Lawrence School Supt. Dan Neuenswander said he would be notifying principals of the district's 17 elementary schools about the grant. The Lawrence school board would have to give final approval for district participation in the program. If more than one Lawrence school is interested in the grant, the board will select a school.
"THERE ARE a lot of components of the program that look consistent with some of the efforts we're doing," Neuenswander said.
Last week, the Lawrence school board adopted the America 2000 goals.
A group of about 40 local educators, businessmen and government officials are in the process of developing some long-term goals for the district. Also, the district is participating in the Kansas Department of Education's new Quality Performance Accreditation, which puts a greater emphasis on student performance than does the traditional accreditation process.
Ramp said the elementary school that is to be developed into a Children's Academy will be selected within a month.
"Educators have a real bad reputation, more or less deserved, that we seem to be on the leading edge of rhetoric," Ramp said. "What I wanted to do with this grant is convert some of this talk into action."