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State of Illinois - Governor Blagojevich 

News Clips

October 31 to November 6, 2003


  1. State encouraging schools to cut pollution from buses / Courier News
  2. It's time for Americans to honor teaching / Sterling Daily Gazette
  3. Superintendent bans fund-raising candy sales / Boston Globe
  4. Quinn's latest scheme may spark a larger school funding debate / Galesburg Register-Mail
  5. School finance reform will be a tough battle; let's begin fighting now / DeKalb Daily Chronicle
  6. Reading project shows money, results linked / Daily Southtown
  7. Time for parents to head back to school / Freeport Journal Standard
  8. Accept low test scores as a challenge / Daily Herald
  9. Edwards outlines plans to help high schools / Boston Globe
  10. Texas religious groups fight biology texts / Boston Globe
  11. More Freshmen Reach for the AP Challenge / Washington Post



State encouraging schools to cut pollution from buses

By Christopher Wills, ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHATHAM The school buses that carry 1 million Illinois children every day also belch out pollution that harms the environment and threatens people's health a problem the state hopes to reduce.

The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency launched a program Thursday to encourage schools to reduce the pollution from their buses. Schools can switch to low-pollution fuel, install special filters or buy new, cleaner buses.

Right now, the EPA offers financial help only to schools in 24 central and northern Illinois counties. That money comes from settling a pollution lawsuit against Archer Daniels Midland Co.

But EPA Director Renee Cipriano said she is confident the state soon will get federal grants that will allow schools in other parts of the state to get financial help.

The agency also is encouraging businesses to help schools with the costs under an "adopt a bus" program.

The Union of Concerned Scientists states that diesel exhaust contributes to cardiac disease and respiratory problems, such as asthma. The exhaust also contains substances believed to cause cancer.

The group studied pollution from school buses last year and graded the states on their performance. Illinois got a B-minus, slightly better than the national average.

EPA officials said two school districts have signed up for the anti-pollution effort so far one in the Springfield suburb of Chatham and one in Bloomington. They said a Chicago-area school will be announced soon.

"Quite simply, students cannot learn to their full potential if they are in what may be an unhealthy environment," said Richard Voltz, superintendent of the Ball-Chatham school district.

He said 20 of the district's newest buses have oxidation catalysts to reduce pollution. Of the 40 other buses, 32 will be updated with financial help from the state and all will switch to a cleaner-burning fuel made from soybeans.

The "bio-diesel" fuel costs about 20 cents more per gallon, which will cost Ball-Chatham about $8,750 more for the school year. The state is picking up that extra cost, Voltz said.

The counties eligible for state aid so far are Adams, Brown, Christian, Dewitt, Fulton, Hancock, Henry, Knox, Logan, Macon, Marshall, Mercer, Moultrie, Montgomery, Peoria, Piatt, Pike, Schuyler, Shelby, Sangamon, Stark, Tazewell, Warren, Woodford.


It's time for Americans to honor teaching

Sterling Daily Gazette Editorial, October 28, 2003

This democracy of ours needs ennobling projects that aim to enlarge the possibilities of human life even further than our cherished principles and ingenuity have so far accomplished. I therefore propose this cause: Make elementary and secondary school teaching the most honored of our professions.

It seems an Earth-encircling distance from here to there, for not a few of us look on too many of our teachers as the uninspired products of dullard education schools, as get-along-go-along seekers of security, as people who inflict stupidity on students while clinging to unions to save them from inspection of their inadequacies.

The unfairness of too sweeping a generalization is made manifest in the marvelously bright, caring teachers most of us have met, but these superlative teachers are themselves victims of a system whose faults are easily enumerated. The way of things in many states leaves the inept in place. It rewards meagerness of talent and effort as much as genius and devotion. It bows to meaningless credentials while giving brilliance the cold shoulder.

The system, in short, too often embraces mediocrity. When faced with the opposite with teachers who insist on educating children even when these students dodge every which way but out the window the system in some vicinities says no, no, a thousand times no. It says the successful must be submerged, the threat being that the less successful might otherwise have to find something else to do with their lives.

Some of them should. Years ago, when I was an editor in Texas, that state assessed teacher capabilities with something on the order of a basic literacy test. I could understand why teachers would bristle at such an affront, but the sorry fact is that some failed to pass. The percentage was small, but significant: Those teachers, if not ejected from their positions, would have spent careers assuring that thousands would suffer mental malnourishment as they progressed through school.

Most of us get it that teaching can be a magnificent employment of one's time. How much is there that matters more than opening minds to knowledge and helping to develop skills in the young that can later be put to great use? But as long as we know that too many teachers fall short, we won't stand up and cheer. So we need changes that reformers have been talking about for decades now, such as reexamining tenure rules. When a teacher is clearly incompetent or worse, and reasonable chances have been given for improvement, that teacher must be removed.

There should be merit pay and more pay for all. Teachers must be recompensed in relation to what they achieve, not primarily in relation to how long they have taught or any other criterion except excellence. Tests of student improvement are important as a way of judging as long as teacher assessments relying on them are sophisticated, taking account of such factors as student attendance, for instance. There should be ways of assessment beyond the tests, but the emphasis must be on the objective, not the subjective. Teachers should earn salaries that compare well with other opportunities for such highly talented people in the marketplace.

In recruiting teachers, administrators must end reliance on applicants passing meaningless tests or having graduated from an undergraduate education school. They should look instead to what people know and classroom ability. In the real world of teacher hiring, none of this is simple or certain. The process can be helped by increasing the applicant pool, and that can be done not just through pay incentives and alternative certification that includes teaching instruction. It can also be done by reduced bureaucratic burdens for teachers, assistance in dealing with non-academic issues, setting high recruiting standards that induce pride in meeting them and appeals to idealism.

It can be done, too, by underlining this truth: Nothing matters more in the classroom than the quality of the teacher, and few things can do more to elevate our nation intellectually, culturally, economically and otherwise than to provide our children with first-class educations.

Politicians, opinion-makers and other leaders should preach this theme, calling on the best and brightest to consider teaching as a meaningful life pursuit. Civic organizations and other institutions should seek out additional ways to show appreciation for the profession. Citizens generally should consider that society tends to produce that which is valued. If we make it a point to honor teachers as much as the truly good teachers deserve, we will have more and more truly good teachers.


Superintendent bans fund-raising candy sales

Boston Globe, 10/30/2003

RICHMOND, R.I. -- In a move billed as a strike against childhood obesity, the superintendent of the Chariho School District has banned fund-raising candy sales.

John Pini said the sight of students selling candy while the district promotes healthier eating would send a mixed message.

"It's kind of silly for us to be advocating nutritious eating during lunch, and then to have people walk around selling candy," Pini told The Westerly Sun.

While most school committee members supported the move, it wasn't universally popular.

Chariho High School junior Jarrod Pierce said sales of candy bars are important, because they raise money for many student activities. Candy is the most popular fund-raising item, he said.

"The students and many teachers are kind of enraged," Pierce said. "If you want to help us make healthy decisions, educate us. Don't take it away from us."

Pierce and school committee member Greg Platt said the schools now would have to deal with a black market for candy.

"You could have kids bring in 50 candy bars a day and make some good money," Platt said.

Pini said he is up to the challenge of enforcing a no-candy policy.



Quinn's latest scheme may spark a larger school funding debate

Editorial by Don Cooper, Publisher, Galesburg Register-Mail, October 31, 2003

Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn is at it again, challenging "conventional wisdom," even the governor. Seems like every time we check in on Quinn he's out promoting one scheme or another.

Quinn has been the state's leading "populist" for a long time. In 1980, he spearheaded the successful effort to reduce the size of the Illinois House of Representatives. He also promoted an end to the practice of paying lawmakers their full year's salary in advance, as well as the creation of the Citizens Utility Board, which speaks for consumers at the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Quinn's new effort is a proposal to double state income taxes for Illinoisans making more than $250,000 a year. The money would be used to provide property tax relief and to fund education.

About 81,300 Illinoisans - less than 2 percent of the state's 5.6 million income taxpayers - fall into Quinn's "high income" category.

The lieutenant governor estimates his tax-the-rich scheme would raise about $1.5 billion. He proposes half of the money would be used for property tax rebates of $208 each to the state's 2.7 million homeowners. The rest would be distributed equally to public schools on a per-pupil basis.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a fellow Democrat who would like to be known as a populist, is against his lieutenant governor's proposal.

"Coming out of one of the worst periods of fiscal mismanagement and political corruption in Illinois' history, the governor thinks it's imperative that we first cut waste where we find it and improve the budgeting structure before we turn to taxpayers and ask them to bail us out," a Blagojevich spokesman said.

In other words, Blagojevich isn't interested in supporting anything that could be described as a tax increase. (He was, however, supportive of a long list of fee increases which target business and will make it more difficult for the state's economy to recover.)

Quinn's proposal is, indeed, arbitrary. There's nothing particularly magic about someone making $250,000 a year versus someone making, say $240,000. Why should the first person pay double the income tax? Moreover, Quinn's idea would change the fundamental fairness of Illinois taxes: everyone pays 3 percent (after a few relatively simple deductions). The federal system should be as simple and fair.

But Quinn's proposal does include a concept which has been suggested before and needs further consideration. That is the idea of moving away from property taxes to fund schools.

According to the Gallup Poll, of all the taxes Americans pay, property taxes are the most hated. It is easy to see why. The property tax system is based on the theoretical value of a piece of land or of a house. While assessors generally do a good job in their calculations, at the end of the day, property taxes are based on someone's opinion of what something is worth.

Property taxes are also a particular burden to senior citizens. Retirees watch their property taxes rise annually while their income stays the same. There are many examples of retirees who end up selling their homes because they can't keep up with the taxes.

A few years ago, Gov. Jim Edgar suggested a shift away from real estate taxes and a move toward income taxes for school funding. It's an idea that needs another look.

While it would be difficult to support Quinn's arbitrary "tax-the-rich" idea, perhaps his proposal will spark a larger debate regarding real estate versus income taxes as a way to support our schools.


School finance reform will be a tough battle; let's begin fighting now

DeKalb Daily Chronicle Editorial

Ralph Martire had a simple message for the audience at the League of Women Voters public forum Tuesday night.

Illinois has a serious problem in the way its funds public schools. The present system is "badly broken," said the exeuctive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability.

The problems are many. The solutions, at first glance, seem easy.

Martire believes that the state should increase the income tax to finance public education. That would be fairer. It would alleviate the pressure on local property taxpayers. And it would be a bear to get through the General Assembly.

If ever the property tax was the best way to finance schools, that day has long passed. Property-rich school district can provide the finest education. Schools in poorer districts or in districts that have homes but little industry cannot.

Martire is right. It is time to increase the income tax and cut the property tax. That of course is a perfect plan for school boards. They will have the pleasure of announcing the property tax cuts. And it causes concern for state lawmakers who will have to face voters after having raised their income taxes.

And if it should pass, there are still the next critical question:

- How will the new state money be distributed?

- If the state provides most of the funds for school district, won't state officials have a legitimate claim to insist on greater control? Won't this mean a loss of local control over schools?

For all their problems at budget time, the DeKalb and Sycamore schools are in good financial and educational shape. Cuts imposed by both districts this year caused pain, but certainly not agony.

Compare that to the situation in Chicago schools where problems mount and test scores have not made the progress they should.

Or worse, compare DeKalb's plight to that of East St. Louis where sewage sometimes seeps into the gymnasium, test scores are plummeting and teachers are, it seems, always threatening to go on strike.

Suburban Chicago schools are among the best in the nation, but lawmakers from that region will be pushing to ensure that they get as much money as possible, since voters there put such a high priority on education.

The fight for reform will not look like a bunch of good guys sitting around talking about what it best for the children. Instead, it will be a bunch of special interest groups in a bloody fight over who is going to get how much money.

But that is politics. And we are a society that is run by politics.

The 19th-century system Illinois operates under is not acceptable It is unfair to students and taxpayers.

The road into the future will be a tough one. But we can't afford to continue to finance education on the backs of property owners. We've got to find a better way.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich should move quickly to appoint a nonpartisan panel to help bring school finance reform.

Most states are seriously behind their efforts to improve the way they pay for schools, but few have the sorry record Illinois has.

It's a record we should be ashamed of. And one we should work quickly to overcome.

The League of Women Voters took an important step by beginning the discussion. But it will take a lot more than talk to solve the problem.


Reading project shows money, results linked

Daily Southtown Editorial, November 5, 2003

Anyone who thinks there is no connection between student performance and the amount of money we spend on our public schools ought to take a look at the extended-day kindergarten reading program at Orland Center School in Orland Park.

Some 30 kindergartners at Center who scored in the bottom 20 percent on reading tests were placed in the pilot reading program last school year. Each received an extra hour of instruction by reading specialists before or after school each day.

After six months in the program, two-thirds of the students scored at or above state standards on their spring reading tests.

Orland School District 135 invested in a fourth reading teacher, classroom materials and extra bus routes to get the children to and from school. The results were so good that the district plans to spend another $150,000 to expand the program to three other schools beginning next month. The expanded program will be offered to youngsters in the bottom 16 percent a total of 88 districtwide.

The availability of funding isn't the only reason for the success of this program, of course. It wouldn't work without the participation of parents and the efforts of the staff.

We also aren't suggesting that more money is a miracle cure for what ails public education. Schools must examine whether they can operate more efficiently and make sure their teachers are qualified and properly trained.

But this program shows how effective early intervention can be when decision-makers have the resources and are committed to spending them where they can have the greatest impact.


Time for parents to head back to school

Freeport Journal Standard Editorial

The issue: Parent-teacher conferences

Our view: Talking to teachers is important to children's success.

Schools throughout the area are holding or have recently held parent-teacher conferences. This fall tradition may seem so commonplace as to be not worth mentioning, but the fact is, parent involvement is a key factor in children's success in school.

As Northern Illinois University researcher Marilyn McConachie found when she looked at high-achieving, high-poverty schools, "extensive parental involvement" was one common characteristic of successful schools. Her research was used in the selection process for the new Illinois State Board of Education Spotlight award, given to Blackhawk Elementary School in Freeport recently.

McConachie's finding isn't new. In their 1982 book, "High School Achievement: Public, Catholic and Private Schools Compared," the late University of Chicago professor James Coleman, with Thomas Hoffer and Sally Kilgore, found parental involvement was critical to private school students' success.

Day-to-day involvement is the very best, but even parents who can't make it to every school event should try hard to use the valuable opportunity to talk to their children's teachers during the conference sessions. Both children and their teachers get the message that school is important when parents take the time to visit.

Going to sporting events and plays is important and is a fun form of parent involvement. But talking to teachers supports the learning process in a way no other activity can.


Accept low test scores as a challenge

Daily Herald Editorial

If current test score trends continue, some "higher-performing" schools in Illinois will have to add floors to the clouds to accommodate the rush of new students.

Nearly half of Illinois schools failed to meet state and federal benchmarks on standardized tests this year. If that doesn't change over time, then it would mean those schools would have to offer their students the choice to transfer to schools where high performance standards are being met.

But don't expect that will happen right away, or even at all. And those test results, while dismal, must be analyzed with caution as well as a sense of urgency.

For one, Illinois is not alone in struggling to meet academic accountability requirements under the federal "No Child Left Behind" law. In Florida, 87 percent of its public schools are not at standard. Other states also are finding it difficult to meet tough federal expectations.

For another, progress toward meeting benchmarks is being measured differently. Schools must break out results by so-called subgroups - students in special education programs, those with limited English skills and children from low-income families. This means schools whose students overall did well on tests can still be classified as not performing up to standard because of lower test scores among subgroups.

Some educators stress that this points out a serious flaw in standards requirements - they don't allow that schools with certain demographics or with a high percentage of students who struggle with the English language, or are enrolled in special education programs, face unique instructional challenges that can't be met as quickly or neatly as desired by the federal government.

That is a valid argument. But at the same time, how long will the "give us a break because of our demographics" argument be used as a crutch? The beauty of this system is that it does provide more specific test information on lower-performing students. The challenge is to use this benchmark as an invitation to improve, not just another reason to make excuses for lack of progress. We like state school Superintendent Robert Schiller's plan to improve reading comprehension, a key to success across all subject areas.

At the same time, the federal government must realistically recognize what it is demanding from schools. It can't stubbornly hold to an evaluation tool that serves to punish schools that are being aggressive in their commitment to make more than adequate progress in teaching children who struggle in the classrooms because of language or income barriers. It must offer support to schools that have cause to note the complexity of teaching children with disabilities.

But there is no doubt that this new school achievement reporting system adds a new dimension to the crucial concept of school accountability. If it serves to inspire a new wave of education reform that isn't content to just throw money at problems in the classroom with the hope it will solve them, it will have served a great purpose.


Edwards outlines plans to help high schools

By Holly Ramer, Associated Press Writer, 11/6/2003

SWANZEY, N.H. -- Pitching his plan to break up big high schools, Democrat John Edwards unexpectedly watched his audience break up when most of the students he was addressing abruptly returned to class at the sound of the bell.

The North Carolina senator carried on anyway Thursday at Monadnock Regional High School, answering questions from the remaining students on affirmative action, gun control and other issues. He also explained his support for building smaller high schools to prevent students from getting lost in the crowd.

"If you have a large high school where the student-teacher ratio is high and you have guidance counselors responsible for 600 to 800 students, it's very difficult for young people to get the attention they need," he said.

Though he didn't offer details, Edwards said he would model the program after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which recently gave the New York City Department of Education $51.2 million to build 67 small, challenging high schools in the city.

"We'd be spending money for school construction -- you can't have smaller schools if you don't have new buildings," he said in an interview later. "We would have a pool of money available to local communities willing to reduce the size of their high schools."

The proposal was one of several Edwards has offered targeting high school education. He also wants to offer college scholarships to attract teachers to needy schools and ask colleges and universities to "adopt" high schools and provide scholarships and tutoring.

"Sometimes we don't have the focus we need on high school education," he said.

Edwards is on the second day of a 25-stop bus tour around New Hampshire. Another Thursday stop was the secretary of state's office, where Edwards planned to officially register his candidacy for the Jan. 27 primary.


Texas religious groups fight biology texts

By April Castro, Associated Press Writer, 11/6/2003

AUSTIN, Texas -- The State Board of Education voted Thursday to approve biology textbooks, despite criticism from religious activists who say the books as written fail to present the anti-evolution point of view.

The 11-4 vote was preliminary and the board was expected to give final approval Friday.

Some religious and alternative science groups had argued that weaknesses in the theory of evolution weren't adequately presented in the books. But scientists and educators argued that the theory of evolution is widely believed and is a cornerstone of modern scientific research.

Texas is the nation's second-largest buyer of textbooks, and textbooks sold in the state are often marketed by publishers elsewhere. Texas, California and Florida account for more than 30 percent of the nation's $4 billion public school book market. Three dozen publishers invest millions of dollars in Texas.

Some board members had asked to vote on the books one by one, but the motion was overturned and all were approved with one vote.

"I wish we'd had the opportunity to vote on each book because they're not the same," said board member Don McLeroy, one of the four board members who voted against adopting the books.

McLeroy called the presentation of evolution in most of the books "dogmatic."

"People don't realize the threat of scientific dogmatism," he said. "They're not looking for the truth."

Samantha Smoot, executive director of the Texas Freedom Network, commended the board. Smoot had been one of the most vocal supporters of presenting evolution in the textbooks.

"The voices of the science community have been loud and unified," Smoot said. "This is not a theory. There's no question about what whether evolution exists at all."

Critics had urged publishers to revise some of the books and wanted the board to reject others outright, saying they contain factual errors about the theory of evolution.

Board members can reject books only for factual errors or failure to follow state curriculum as mandated by the Legislature.


More Freshmen Reach for the AP Challenge

Some Educators Debate Wisdom of Offering College-Level Courses So Soon

By Jay Mathews, Washington Post Staff Writer

Tanya Lyapustina stepped from eighth grade right into a university-level course in American government this year, with a heavy reading schedule, regular seminars and a three-hour final exam still to come.

"In the beginning, it was extremely stressful, and I stayed up until 1 a.m. working," said the 14-year-old freshman at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda. "But now I'm used to it and don't really care anymore if I only get five hours of sleep."

Students who tackled collegiate work before they were old enough to drive used to be called geniuses. Now, Lyapustina's experience is no longer so remarkable even at her own school. Forty-nine other Walter Johnson freshmen are taking the same Advanced Placement government class.

AP courses -- created half a century ago by the New York-based College Board -- traditionally were offered only to high school juniors and seniors attracted by the academic challenge and the chance to gain college credit. But between 1993 and this year, the number of U.S. high school freshmen taking AP examinations increased from 498 to 2,120. The number of 10th-graders taking the exams, which are written and scored by outside experts, went from 18,045 to 60,331.

It's a trend that educators say is transforming the nature of high schools as more students enter what is almost a parallel universe within their schools: lengthy reading lists and ambitious projects in their AP course, while in the regular class next door, their friends are assigned little homework.

The rigorous programs are in sync with the Bush administration's support of preparing more students for higher education and with students' desire to impress admissions officers at the most selective colleges. Some public high schools are offering AP to younger students, in part to keep them from transferring to magnet or private schools.

But some educators say that despite the many potential benefits, giving these courses to 13- and 14-year-olds is going too far.

Gunn High School in Palo Alto, Calif., has one of the highest Advanced Placement participation rates in the country, yet its AP guidance counselor, Noreen Likins, said she rejects the notion of college-level courses for such young students. "One of our school's goals is to reduce the levels of stress and pressure for our students, not increase them," she said, "and so we have no intention of trying to push students into college-level courses when they barely have their feet on the ground in high school."

Evan West, a high school English teacher in Charles County, where AP classes have not yet reached the ninth grade, said: "I'm not against challenging students to reach beyond their grasp . . . but there is a fine line between challenging students and setting them up for failure."

Although the total number of AP tests taken by ninth- and 10th-graders represented only 4 percent of the 1.75 million exams given last May, many more schools are signing on.

In the Washington region, besides the ninth-grade AP government classes at Walter Johnson and ninth-grade AP American history classes at Wootton High School in Montgomery County, Stafford County offers AP World History to freshmen at all four of its high schools.

Most Washington area school districts are now offering 10th-grade AP courses, usually American government, American history or world history.

The dispute over AP for younger students is growing nationally. Ann H. Barr, coordinator for advanced learners for the Guilford County school system in North Carolina, said that many students may not be ready, but "we feel that some of these courses offer an opportunity for a student to test the water in an earlier grade so that launching into a number of AP courses in his or her junior and senior years is not as daunting."

This still sounds risky to Dotty Merrill, senior director for public policy, accountability and assessment in the Washoe County school district in Nevada, which has some 10th-graders in AP but no ninth-graders.

"High school administrators have advised me that students in ninth grade or 10th grade rarely have the analytical writing skills that are required for successful completion of AP courses involving compositional essay-writing strategies," Merrill said. Lee Jones, vice president for K-12 operations at the College Board, said it is important that "schools evaluate whether a student is well-prepared to take on challenging AP courses."

Lyapustina and the other freshmen who gather each day in two AP government classes at Walter Johnson High seem to be absorbing the intricacies of political analysis, statistical anomalies and constitutional theories, according to their teacher, Steve Miller, a former U.S. Senate staffer.

Most of the students said that each night they read, reread and take detailed notes on the assignments in their 624-page textbook, "American Government," by James Q. Wilson and John J. DiIulio Jr. There are also weekly supplementary readings, such as Michael D. Barone's article "The Power of the President's Pollsters" in the journal Public Opinion.

The tests Miller gives after each chapter "are not really that hard from what we have had so far, as long as you study hard," said Tommy Shekarchi, a ninth-grader in the class.

Last year, 80 percent of the 46 ninth-graders who took Miller's class got scores of 5, 4 or 3, the equivalent of a college A, B or C, on the final exam. This was 26 percentage points above the national passing rate.

Sophomores who took AP government last year said that much of it was fun, including participating in mock Supreme Court sessions. "I was an appellee with three of my classmates and presented the Michigan affirmative action case, which was going on at the time," said Stephanie Postar, a sophomore at Walter Johnson. "In the end, our mock court came to the same conclusion that the real Supreme Court came to."

Officials in school districts that introduce AP courses in lower grades said they are trying to make their students' lives easier, not harder. Montgomery County brought AP into lower grades in part to help students spread out the college-level courses so they would not all be jammed into already-frantic junior and senior years, officials said.

They are also responding to students who complained of ninth- and 10th-grade social studies courses being too slow and elementary. "The teachers in the advanced program are the better teachers in the school, and they are much more dedicated to their subject, therefore making even the least-interesting classes manageable and not boring," said Natasha Savranskaya, one of Miller's students.

Teaching a lesson on political polling recently, Miller asked what the students thought of President Bush's statement that he didn't pay attention to polls. One student gave the answer that Miller himself had planned to give, not thinking a teenager could come up with it: "Pollsters told him that is what the people want to hear."

Miller said he was once concerned that 13- and 14-year-olds could not see such subtle twists in political logic, but the high scores on last May's AP test calmed his fears. "I was really pleased by that," he said, "because I wasn't really sure this was going to work."


Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777




Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777