President Bush, fulfilling a promise he made in last year's election campaign, Monday invited America's 50 state governors to an education ``summit'' in late September. The purpose of the meeting would be ``to share ideas and to explore options for educational progress,'' said Mr. Bush, who has often declared that he would like to be known as the education president.

``Only twice before have the governors met with the president on an issue of vital national importance,'' he said, referring to a domestic summit on the environment in 1908 and a 1932 meeting on the economy when the country was in the throes of the Great Depression.

``Today, I invite you to work with me at a governors' summit on education ... on Sept. 27th and 28th. Together, we can find ways to strengthen our schools, to enlarge opportunities and to improve our nation's educational performance,'' Bush said in a speech at a meeting of the National Governors' Association.

He did not say where the summit would take place.

The governors warned in a report released at the start of their meeting that the United States risks losing its pre-eminent position in the world economy unless it beefs up its education system.

Bush, who promised during his 1988 race for the presidency to convene a domestic summit focused on education, unveiled an education reform package in April that called for relatively little new federal spending.

Critics have charged that his plan - which basically involves upgrading education by making schools, teachers and students compete for additional resources - will fail to achieve needed reforms.

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