What Really is Goals 2000?
by Lance T. Izumi and Natalie Williams
Few topics in recent years have inflamed parents and grassroots
education activists as the Clinton administration■s Goals 2000:
Educate America Act, passed in 1994. Although the law■s supporters
contend that Goals 2000 is merely a helpful attempt to increase
academic standards in K-12 education, the authors of this study
find that in any common sensical reading of the law, power is
transferred from state and local education authorities to the
federal bureaucracy in Washington.
The law makes mandatory a wide variety of federal dictates,
controls education■s purse strings, requires national standards,
issues federal "skill certificates," imposes new regulations, and
manipulates state and local assessments. In so doing, Goals 2000
radically alters the education decisionmaking landscape by
centralizing policymaking at the federal level, leaving the states
and localities to carry out Washington■s dictates.
- Drafters of the Goals 2000 law use the command "will" at least
forty-five times in describing what the federal government expects
states and local districts to do to accomplish the Act■s eight
national goals. The more permissive ■should■ is used only three
- Goals 2000 creates a wide variety of bureaucracies
(e.g., the National Goals Panel, regional education
laboratories, federal education research institutes, etc.) which
are endowed with wide ■advocacy■ powers in order to get states and
localities to implement the national goals and objectives contained
in the Act.
- Once a state accepts federal Goals 2000 money, it must
implement the national goals and objectives of Goals 2000.
According to the Act, any state that applies for Goals 2000 funding
must devise a state improvement plan that incorporates "strategies
for meeting the National Education Goals."
- Through its control of the purse, the federal government will
increase its influence over school curricula. Washington
explicitly recommends that states include "gender equitable and
multicultural materials" in its improvement strategies.
- Goals 2000 tells states how to cut their education pie and in
some cases even dictates the size of the pie (the level of
spending) and mandates what social services schools are to provide
- Goals 2000 creates a National Skills Standards Board that will
endorse a broad spectrum of skills standards to be considered by
business and employers when hirng. The related School-to-Work law
strongly encourages states to issue "skill certificates" to
students who supposedly have met the skills standards promulgated
by the National Skills Standards Board. Schools and students who
refuse to participate in the skill-certificate program will be at
a disadvantage in the job market.
- Even though compliance with Goals 2000 is "voluntary" for
states, the law holds disadvantaged children hostage to its
dictates. Goals 2000 requires states that receive federal money
under the Improving America■s Schools Act of 1994 (IASA) to align
state assessments, curriculum, and professional teacher development
programs with the standards contained in the Goals 2000 law.
California is slated to receive more than $1 billion in IASA money
The above is the executive summary of a 28-page report on Goals
2000 published by the Claremont Institute, 1127 Eleventh St., Suite
206, Sacramento, CA 95814, (916) 446-7924.