ERIC Number: ED270236
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1986-Sep
First Lessons. A Report on Elementary Education in America. By the U.S. Secretary of Education.
Bennett, William J.
Aided by a 21-member Elementary Education Study Group, the Secretary of Education has prepared the first comprehensive report on elementary education in the United States in more than three decades. The report finds America's elementary schools in pretty good shape, and states that they do their job especially well in the early grades, only beginning to falter around the fourth grade. The report provides a detailed discussion of the current condition of elementary education in the United States and makes specific recommendations about how the elementary school can be improved through state and local initiatives. The discussion identifies the characteristics, habits, curricula, and spirit that constitute better schools, regardless of geographic setting or socioeconomic conditions. Asserting that the best way to improve elementary education is to improve parent-school relationships and to support parents' efforts to teach their children, Chapter I discusses characteristics of children in modern society, and the roles and responsibilities of parents, schools, and the community in strengthening elementary education. Chapter II makes specific recommendations for establishing a common elementary curriculum for all students. Particular attention is given to reading, writing, mathematics, science, social studies, the arts, foreign languages, health and physical education, computers, and libraries. Advocating the deregulation of the principalship and the need for teacher professionalism, Chapter III discusses the principal's role as instructional leader and the empowerment, preparation, and certification of teachers. Chapter IV sets out school policy issues for school boards, superintendents, and state legislators to consider, including academic standards for all children to meet, financial support for elementary schools, student discipline, drugs, class size, the role of parents in educating preschool-age children, kindergarten, special education, gifted children, textbooks, and language-minority children. Chapter V provides several vignettes of innovative elementary school programs and reiterates the need for excellence in elementary schools. A Department of Education news release (dated September 2, 1986) and an address by Secretary Bennett to the National Press Club on the same day, both pertaining to "First Lessons," have been appended to the report. (RH)
Descriptors: Community Role, Curriculum Development, Educational Improvement, Elementary Education, Elementary School Curriculum, Elementary School Teachers, Parent Role, Parent School Relationship, Principals, School Policy, School Role, Teacher Role
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402 (Stock No. 065-000-00259-1--$4.25).
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Practitioners; Parents; Community
Authoring Institution: Department of Education, Washington, DC.