President Bush conferred Friday at Camp David with representatives of a private organization, led by former New Jersey Gov. Thomas H. Kean, that is seeking to raise as much as $200 million to create "new learning environments" in a redesigned U.S. educational system.
The New American Schools Development Corp. is a nonprofit company formed at Bush's request by American businesses to seek financial support from businesses, foundations and individuals for "educational design work" that can be applied to communities across the nation as they seek to improve their educational systems.
In wrapping up a news conference at midday at the White House, Bush said that he had to dash off to the meeting at Camp David, the presidential retreat in Maryland's Catoctin Mountains near Gettysburg, Pa.
"It's a wonderful program and I want to go up there and give it strong support," he said.
The program is intended to pay for the work of seven design teams, each seeking to determine what it will take to create the best schools and to improve student performance in English, mathematics, science, history and geography.
The idea behind the plan, according to the announcement of its establishment last July, is to look beyond the conventional structure of the school day and school year, and other elements considered standard in American education, and "produce extraordinary gains in student learning, without spending appreciably more money once the schools are up and running."
In addition to Kean, who is president of Drew University in Madison, N. J., and who is chairman of the board of the corporation, the 18-member board include Louis V. Gerstner Jr., vice chairman of the panel and chairman and chief executive officer of RJR Nabisco Inc.; Paul Tagliabue, commissioner of the National Football League; Kay R. Whitmore, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Eastman Kodak Co.; Joan Ganz Cooney, chairman of the executive council of the Children's Television Workshop; and Walter H. Annenberg, the publisher and diplomat.