The Post's article of Aug. 4 and its editorial of Aug. 5 about the Department of Education's successful and popular National Diffusion Network could leave the impression that the new regulations we have proposed for the program are something other than standards for high quality that we intend.
The NDN is really a two-tiered program. The first tier is those educational programs, developed in our nation's schools, which are accepted into the network and made available through "state facilitators" in each state (and the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands). Every program in this first tier is available to any school in the nation for adoption into its own education curriculum. Currently, there are more than 400 such programs.
The second tier consists of those programs from the first group that the Department of Education subsidizes to help developers consult with and assist other schools that want the program. For example, we recently published a catalogue, "Science Programs That Work," which lists a dozen outstanding science programs available for adoption by schools. Three of the programs listed in the catalogue do not receive dissemination funds from the Department of Education. We subsidize only about 20 percent of NDN-accepted projects in a given year. All programs, funded and otherwise, are available to any school that wants them, at the choice of the local schools and school district, not at the discretion of the federal government. The new regulations will not alter this "local choice" concept.
Finally, The Post failed adequately to explain the criteria used to review programs in NDN. The Program Significance Panel judges that the content of an NDN program's product or practice is accurate and up to date, that it is appropriate to the grade level for which it is proposed, that it is educationally sound, and that it can be presented in a clear manner to teachers, students and parents. The Post story suggested that we were trying to "weed out programs which teach 'liberal' values." That is false. It is neither our intention nor the effect that our revised regulations will have.
CHESTER E. FINN JR. Assistant Secretary and Counselor to the Secretary U.S. Department of Education Washington