Calling Maryland a leader in the "national crusade for education," U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley told an audience at Howard Community College last night that the Clinton administration's education proposals will help students in the state's schools, colleges and universities.

"Maryland is at the cutting edge when it comes to raising standards, creating challenging tests, connecting schools to the Internet," Riley said at a Town Hall Meeting on Education. "I think this [national government] has a tremendous duty to help, and that's part of the president's call to action for American education in the 21st century."

Riley told more than 100 local and state educators, students, politicians and residents how the administration plans to expand opportunities for students to attend college, help such rapidly expanding communities as Howard County build new schools and ensure that all children are reading independently by the beginning of fourth grade.

Last night's 90-minute meeting was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a Democrat who represents Maryland's 3rd District. Riley was joined by Nancy S. Grasmick, state superintendent of schools, and Patricia S. Florestano, Maryland secretary of higher education.

Before answering questions, Riley spent much of the meeting reviewing the president's 10-point plan for education, praising Maryland for being the "first state to accept the challenge" of Clinton's plan to develop "rigorous, voluntary national tests in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math."

The president pushed for those national test standards in February when he spoke to a joint session of the Maryland General Assembly. Maryland and Howard also stand to benefit from an administration proposal to subsidize up to half of the interest costs of bonds that local jurisdictions must sell to pay for new schools, Riley said. The plan would provide Maryland with $58 million in new federal money, enough to support more than $231 million in new construction.

Riley also urged people to write to the Federal Communications Commission in support of discounting the rate of telecommunications services for schools and libraries.

For college students and their families, Riley described proposals to increase tax deductions for tuition for the middle class and expand the Pell Grant program for lower-income students.

Pub Date: 4/24/97

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