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All Aboard for Better Education

November 05, 1995

There's a joke that in California, education reform proposals are like buses. If you miss one, there's always another right behind that looks just like it.

Given such sentiments, it might be easy to dismiss last week's first summit of the California State University Board of Trustees, the Community Colleges Board of Governors and the State Board of Education as a venting session with little to offer in the way of tangible results. But that would be a mistake.

Education is best viewed as a continuum. The recognition by all education officials--ranging from kindergarten to the college level--that their missions are deeply intertwined represents progress. So does the realization that all educators must work together to devise acceptable standards for math and reading, decide how those standards will be measured and provide help when those goals are not being met.

Yet these recognitions alone won't improve teaching. Neither will they lessen the growing numbers of California high school graduates who lack the skills to take on college courses.

Leaders of the joint meeting say they want to meet again within two years. There are a good reasons the next gathering should be sooner. A big one is the CSU trustees' ill-conceived proposal to phase out remedial education.

The chancellor of the California State University system, Barry Munitz, rightly sees the problem in a different way: Educators must find ways to phase out the need for remedial education. Lest they miss another bus, it would be wise for California educators to climb aboard now.

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