Reagan speaks on educational standards

SUITLAND, Md. (AP)—President Reagan argued today “there are too few rewards” for good teachers and administrators. He said schools should adopt free-market principles of incentives and accountability to promote educational excellence.

Reagan also said a good education depends on choice. “I’ve long argued that parents should have more choice in determining the schools that their children will attend,” he said.

Accompanied by Education Secretary William J. Bennett, Reagan spoke at a forum on educational standards at Suitland High School in a suburb near Washington. The school, rebounding from troubled times, uses the kind of “magnet” programs he favors as an alternative to compulsory busing.

The president got a warm welcome and was applauded repeatedly.

Reagan said that “magnet” programs are “one of the great success stories of the educational reform movement,” and that he will seek a sharp increase in money for them in his new budget.

Magnet programs, offering specialized college preparatory instruction and performing arts classes, are designed to improve racial integration without increasing mandatory busing by providing an incentive for white students to attend predominantly black schools.

Addressing the students, Reagan said “perhaps the greatest difficulty facing our educators today is this: In too many school systems, if you’re a teacher, principal or superintendent and you do something very good for your students, nothing good happens to you.

“In a word, there are too few rewards. We need to change that,” he said.

The president said educators should be rewarded for improved student performance. He noted that John Murphy, the superintendent of education in Prince George’s County, keeps a chart in his office showing test scores of each school.

“This is the kind of tough, sound management we need,” Reagan said.

He advocated greater involvement by parents and community leaders and “alternate certification—opening up the teaching profession to allow more qualified men and women to enter the field.”