To the editor:

President Bush's and Education Secretary Alexander's new education plan - America 2000 - is a bold, far-reaching strategy to help us improve education for everyone in this country.Appropriately, it recognizes the direct link between schools and the skills of today's and tomorrow's work force. It underscores the fact that the quality of both are vital for America to remain economically competitive.

By attempting to make K-12 schools more accountable, this plan reinforces the idea that these schools must lay the foundation on which postsecondary institutions can build specific skills people need to be productive members of society.

President Bush says we must turn "A Nation at Risk" into a "Nation of Students." It is important that all those who want to pursue a postsecondary education are able to do so, and very often student financial aid plays a major role in determining whether or not students can pursue their education. Congress is in the process of reworking all student financial aid programs. it is critical to remember they are a key to bringing about a "nation of students."

As a member of Utah Skills 2000, I know that private career colleges in Utah and throughout the country will do their part to ensure American workers have the job skills necessary to compete in the global marketplace. They will play a major role in helping us reach the president's education goals and ensuring that we have a work force that is second to none.

Dixon Merrill

Utah Skills 2000