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Ex-Senator says education system weak

March 18, 1998|By CLYDE FORD

Ex-Senator says education system weak

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Former U.S. Sen. William E. Brock told the West Virginia International Trade Development Council Wednesday that to remain strong economically, America must improve its education system.

Brock said that of all the industrialized nations, only South African students score lower on math and science tests than those in the United States.

He said that as the workplace relies more on technology, more jobs will require college degrees.

He said most students entering college have to spend the first six months to a year in remedial courses learning material they should have been taught in high school.

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Brock was a Republican senator from Tennessee from 1971 to 1976. He was chairman of the Republican National Committee from 1977 to 1980. He served as the U.S. trade representative from 1981 to 1985 and U.S. secretary of labor from 1985 to 1987.

The speech at the Bavarian Inn in Shepherdstown was part of the council's efforts to promote international trade and development in the Eastern Panhandle, said Sandy Dubay, a member of the Jefferson County Development Authority.

Brock said he was recently in Texas, where high schools have 3,000 to 4,000 students. He said he believes students would learn best in schools with 400 students.

"We've been treating education like everything else, like it's a mass production," Brock said.

Brock said economic growth in the United States is astounding and tied to the global economy in ways that were unimaginable only 20 years ago.

"In 1979, you couldn't hardly see a Japanese car in the United States," Brock said.

After events in the Middle East prompted a third oil crisis, American consumers wanted the better gas mileage that Japanese cars were getting, Brock said.

Sino-Swearingen Aircraft Co., which soon will make corporate jets in Martinsburg, W.Va., is a good example of how globally linked businesses have become, Brock said.

Parts of the planes will be made in Spain, shipped to Martinsburg for assembly with other American parts, and financed by Taiwan.

"It's a different world. It boggles the mind how fast it is changing - the exchange of ideas, the exchange of information," Brock said.

Consumers throughout the world are connected through CNN, Sky Net and other international news services, he said. The Internet links people in ways previously unimaginable, he said.

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