A U.S. Department of Education official Thursday said Lawrence is off to an excellent start in becoming an America 2000 community one that strives to meet the six national education goals established in 1989 by President Bush and the nation's governors.
"The real key to America 2000 is what communities do locally to implement it," Cynthia Harris Hillman, regional representative for the U.S. Department of Education, told about 30 people attending the Lawrence Education Round Table.
The America 2000 goals call for: making sure all children start school ready to learn; a high school graduation rate of at least 90 percent; students' demonstration of competency in English, math, science, history and geography; U.S. students being first in the world in math and science; making sure adults are literate and equipped with skills needed to compete in a global economy; and creating schools free of drugs and violence.
The Lawrence school board adopted the America 2000 goals in October. Meanwhile, just last week, a Lawrence school panel proposed a set of local goals for students. Hillman said she sees no conflict in having the two sets of goals, especially because they are bound to overlap in many ways.
"Many communities that are already on board (the America 2000 program) have added additional goals," Hillman said. "We want all the local flavor we can get."
Hillman suggested that Lawrence establish a broad-based community steering committee to develop a strategy for meeting the America 2000 goals. She said the group's first step would be to "do a very honest assessment, not only of your education system, but of your community. . . . Be sure you have a base line. You must know exactly where you are today."
Otherwise, it will be difficult to later develop a "report card" showing how far the community has gone toward achieving the America 2000 goals, Hillman said.