CHICAGO - A task force studying state pension obligations backed
away Friday from the controversial idea of reducing retirement raises
for pensioners and current public employees but pushed to study other
suggestions likely to rile labor unions.
The Governor's Commission on State Pensions unanimously rejected the
notion of cutting the cost-of-living adjustments required by statute
for members of state government's five retirement systems. The concept,
analyzed in recent weeks, is believed to clash with an Illinois
constitutional provision that protects pension benefits from being "diminished."
The panel, however, voted to have a consultant run projections on alternatives
that include raising state workers' pension contributions by 1 percentage
point. Members also agreed to examine a "second tier" for
new hires, who would receive fewer retirement benefits.
"We're never going to mess with current employees or current retirees
- it's just new hires, so we see where we're at," one of the commission
members, state Rep. Bob Molaro, D-Chicago, said during the panel's latest
meeting at the JamesR.ThompsonCenter.
Representatives of the Illinois Federation of Teachers and the Illinois
Education Association told the task force they're against any two-tier
systems and said lawmakers should consider another pension-bond sale
or a tax increase to meet retirement obligations to workers.
The pension commission is working toward a final report for Gov. Rod
Blagojevich. The Democratic governor created the panel early this year
to examine pension obligations in the tens of billions of dollars that
put stress on current and future state budgets.
State Sen. Jeff Schoenberg, an Evanston Democrat who serves on the panel,
envisions giving lawmakers several cost-saving options, some more politically
viable than others, with financial estimates.
"We'd better know what alternative ingredients can be substituted
for the recipe so that it all tastes the same at the end," he said.
Also Friday, the commission OK'd a resolution urging lawmakers not to
approve any pension enhancements until the group issues its final recommendations
in 2005. The resolution exempts an early-retirement plan for teachers
because it currently is in negotiations.
All pension systems are being reviewed. They are the State Employees
Retirement System, the State Universities Retirement System, the Teachers'
Retirement System and the pension funds for judges and the General Assembly.
CHAMPAIGN – Students in Champaign schools next year will take their first look at geometry in kindergarten.
"Understanding Geometry" is one of three new books to be purchased
for kindergarten students' math studies, accompanied by "Everyday
Counts" and "Developing Number Concepts." Students in
grades 1 through 5 will learn math from "Everyday Mathematics."
The textbook changes took three years to plan, and choices were made
by 25 teachers who reviewed math materials, picked favorites and tried
them out this fall on their students.
Polly Hill, coordinator of district elementary mathematics programs,
said the new curriculum replaces books and materials that have been
in use since 1999.
"Math standards have changed," Hill said. "Technology
has changed. I like this curriculum because it helps kids really understand
math. They think and have conversations mathematically. They're not
just spitting back rote figures. These curriculums are designed to allow
kids to think mathematically."
Middle and high school students will also get new math books, but those
choices haven't been approved by the school board yet.
Hill said an "adoption," as a curriculum change is called,
is costly because new materials must be purchased, many of them disposable
at the elementary level, and also because teachers must be trained to
use the new materials. The estimated cost for the curriculum change
from kindergarten through 12th grade exceeds $700,000. Some costs are
underwritten by the state, and book manufacturers also offer incentives.
Hill and 25 "pilot teachers" spent months planning the changes.
"We reviewed current research, we developed an analysis tool and
we used that to look at a wide variety of materials," she said.
She said kindergarten students won't have math books, but teachers will
have materials like "manipulatives" to set up math centers
in their rooms to help students learn concepts.
Starting at first grade, children will have textbooks.
"For 1 through 5, this kind of curriculum is new to the district,"
Hill said. "It's conceptual, blending understanding and procedures.
The other way is simply math procedures."
Children in some grades will keep math journals. Reference books and
manipulatives will also be new to some classrooms. Hill said manipulatives
are materials, physical models that help children understand concepts
like geometry, making abstract ideas concrete.
She said teachers may need help shifting to the new curriculum.
"Typically, elementary teachers don't go into elementary teaching
because they're great mathematicians," Hill said. "They may
not understand the underlying mathematical thinking and they'll struggle
with that in the beginning, but we're here to support them."
Hill said by fourth grade, students will be introduced to algebraic
concepts, and by eighth grade, they'll be actively studying the subject.
Deb Foertsch, a Carrie Busey fifth-grade teacher, was one of Hill's
pilot teachers, and she endorsed the new curriculum.
"I've taught the current math since we adopted it in 1999, and
I love this new system," Foertsch said. "I've struggled with
math. Everyday math takes longer to prepare, but I'm learning a new
method to teach the subject, and I'm a better teacher because of it."
State: 'No Child' plan needs work
Some officials say Illinois complies with federal mandate in a way that sets schools
up to fail
Molly Parker, Peoria Journal Star, 12/14/04
EAST PEORIA - Education officials will attempt to tweak the state's
No Child Left Behind compliance plan in response to statewide complaints
that current guidelines set schools up to fail, interim state Superintendent
Randy Dunn said Monday.
"It could be rather difficult," Dunn told a group of East Peoria teachers and administrators at a meeting he requested
to gather input on ways to reduce red tape for schools. "But it's
worth it given what this is doing to schools."
Though a federal mandate, President Bush's massive education law gave
states the ability to set individualized plans for meeting the requirements.
Illinois, under the direction of a former superintendent, implemented
a plan that was not realistic for most school districts, Dunn said.
One of the most common complaints among schools is that even if the
majority of their students meet testing standards, the school can still
be slapped with the "failing" label if students in certain
subgroups do not, such as the poor, minority students or special education
for example, was labeled "failing" this year because the school's
poor students did not meet testing standards in math for the second
Principal Paul Whittington said he is challenging this year's data.
But even if successful, Whittington said he is still stuck shaking the
stigma of the "failing" label, a task that's particularly
frustrating since the majority of his students met or exceeded testing
Dunn said the testing of subgroups, and what constitutes a subgroup,
is one of the problem areas that will be looked at as the state attempts
to rewrite its compliance plan "to prevent our schools from being
hit on the head with a failing label."
Dunn also wants Illinois to be part of the national debate on whether student
achievement should be measured on how much is learned, rather than only
on raw numbers determining what a student knows.
"What is being called a failing school is probably quite the opposite
if we could look at a value-added approach," he said, adding any
changes, which would require federal approval, are not meant to lower
standards, but to implement achievable goals.
It's also an attempt to reduce administrative rules that can be a paperwork
nightmare for administrators, said Dunn, who was appointed interim superintendent
of the state board after Gov. Rod Blagojevich labeled it a "Soviet-style
bureaucracy" in his January state-of-the-state speech.
Dunn's visit to East
marked his first day of the "less red tape" feedback sessions
he's holding in various schools statewide.
Dunn also told the group he planned to recommend to the board that the
state keep a college entrance exam, currently the ACT, as part of the
test all juniors must take, another controversial issue among schools.
The ACT was added to the achievement test three years ago, but some
schools have complained that a college entrance exam should not be part
of a general achievement test, and that some students don't take it
seriously because they either don't plan on seeking higher education,
or know they will struggle with it.
I am astonished that our school district lacks programs that promote
both abstinence and the benefits of certain forms of contraception in
preventing HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections.
While the people quoted in the paper said it was District 186 policy,
I was not able to get a copy of that policy from the district office.
Instead I was told that the policy was in line with the Illinois State
Board of Education policy. Upon reading the ISBE policy, it does not
state that districts must teach abstinence-only programs.
Age-appropriate, medically accurate sex education has a proven record
of helping teens make responsible reproductive decisions. Effective
balanced sex education programs are languishing for lack of funds while
our precious community resources go to untested and biased programs
that leave our youth in the dark. It is our youth who suffer most when
politics is allowed to trump their health and education needs.
Unfortunately, those taught abstinence only don't realize that they
can get sexually transmitted infections from oral and anal sex and yes,
virgins can indeed get STIs. The truth is, parents want their children
to have information that will save their lives. What kind of government
and school district would deny them that safety and that right?
I have seen firsthand what HIV/AIDS does to children and families in
Let's not go there.
CHAMPAIGN – Randy Dunn visited CentralHigh
Monday to ask teachers and administrators how the Springfield office can make their work easier.
"The devil's in the details," said Dunn, state school superintendent,
of the 2,800-page book of rules that govern the way state schools operate,
rules he's vowed to streamline.
"We have to maintain accountability, but we have rules on the books
for programs that no longer exist, rules that don't do anything to add
value to education," Dunn said. "There's an ongoing study
to look at the state code, but nothing's been done to the rules and
regulations that bring the statutes to life."
He said he's making periodic visits to schools all over the state, and
Central's the first.
"We're trying to hit all parts of the state and schools at all
levels as the schedule allows," said Dunn, who succeeded Robert
Schiller as the state's top school official in September.
In November, he announced priorities for the State Board of Education
that include reducing a backlog in teacher certification and reducing
regulations for local districts.
"We want to clean out what's in the gutter," Dunn said. "We're
soliciting guidance, getting information from teachers and principals.
Our agency is looking internally at rules, we've created an e-mail address
for suggestions and we've received about 200 of them."
The address is email@example.com.
"But we want to talk face-to-face, too, about what's difficult,
interfering with work," he said.
At Central, he talked to teachers about certification and recertification,
a process that's changed recently and has created confusion. Dunn said
teachers also asked about meeting federal No Child Left Behind requirements
and truancy rules.
"In general, teachers focused on areas near to their hearts,"
Dunn said the state's going to step up accountability to help schools
wrestle with federal requirements. "We're going to make it more
workable for schools so they can serve students to the best of what
the law intends," he said.
Central Principal Don Hansen said it's a "huge positive sign"
that the state superintendent's going right to teachers and administrators
to get information.
"His whole campaign has been to cut the red tape, and only people
who've had to deal with the state board realize how much red tape there
is. In the past, you couldn't even talk to someone on the telephone.
He's turned that around."
Hansen said Dunn made an impression early on by extending deadlines
for standardized test scores so they could be rechecked. Those scores,
which determine whether schools meet federal and state standards, will
be released Wednesday.
He said the state office has also made certification procedures much
faster and easier by turning the process over to a local committee,
in Champaign, the Champaign Federation of Teachers, instead of handling
the paperwork in Springfield.
"I asked him about the future for the regional offices," Hansen
said. "We use the Rantoul office for many things. He said his office needs to
have a local go-between. He said he's not sure we need 45 regional offices,
but we do need them. I was glad to hear that."
Gov. Rod Blagojevich has talked in the past about eliminating regional
Hansen said he gives Dunn credit for going into unfamiliar territory
where people might have some hostility toward his office and trying
to find out what the problems are.
"Our teachers had a chance to meet with him, and that's good,"
he said. "Everyone has the perception that the state board's a
legalistic institution because of all the rules, but he's breaking them
down into simple things."
TOP OF PAGE More Illinois schools meet federal
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. The State Board of Education says 150 more Illinois schools made federal achievement guidelines last year.
But according to state data released today, nearly 30 percent of public
schools still fell short.
Education officials report that one-thousand-86 schools failed to make
"adequate yearly progress" last school year. That number represents
about 29 percent of the three-thousand-801 schools statewide.
It also amounts to a 12 percent drop from the one-thousand-237 Illinois schools listed as failing in 2002-2003.
State board spokeswoman Becky Watts calls the results very positive.
Adequate yearly progress is a requirement of the "No Child Left
Behind" law signed by President Bush. The primary gauge is achievement
on each state's assessment test.
No Child Left Behind School staffs adjusting to additional paperwork
Grace Aduroja, Chicago Tribune, 12/15/04
As assistant superintendent for instruction at WheatonWarrenvilleUnitSchool
200, Margo Sorrick typically uses the end of the summer to tweak curriculum
and jump-start staff development.
Instead, she spent two weeks this summer poring over bubbles on standardized
tests, to ensure that each student in the district was properly identified
by the subgroups--such as low income, limited-English proficiency and
racial minority--required under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
After an error-filled debacle last year, administrators across the state
have devoted long hours making sure that students are identified properly
and verifying that state report card data matches other school records.
It's an unexpected consequence of the federal mandate that some educators
say is consuming valuable time and money that could be spent on teaching.
"It does take a lot of manpower and a lot of time to make that
happen," Sorrick said. "That's huge."
Last year, hundreds of schools were incorrectly labeled as failing because
of reporting errors, a tangle that took the Illinois State Board of
Education more than six months to unravel.
This year, administrators were informed of potentially faulty student
identifications in the summer, before the state compiled the report
card data--but corrections were still being submitted to the state this
With schools facing federal sanctions if state achievement goals and
test participation weren't met, districts devoted staff members to checking
tests in order to prevent incurring penalties for incorrectly classified
"Those kinds of things are always a concern when you're dealing
with a high-stakes test like this," said Supt. Jim Blanche of Lombard
Elementary School District 44.
This year, principals in the west suburban district were in charge of
checking for discrepancies between district records and state figures.
The Chicago Public Schools system reallocated administrative positions
and built data systems to deal with the painstaking work it takes to
make sure each student is properly classified.
Principals are expected to check student tests against the district
"It's distracting to have to spend a great deal of time on compliance
instead of instruction," said Xavier Botana, director of NCLB (No
Child Left Behind) accountability, whose position didn't exist three
Botana estimates that the Chicago
district has shifted about $3 million a year toward making sure that
the federal law is properly administered.
"All of those dollars that are spent on administration are dollars
that could be spent on instruction," Botana said. "We definitely
look at that as the hidden cost of NCLB."
MURPHYSBORO -- A 4-year-old boy on the way to preschool Tuesday was
left on a school bus for a short period of time in the MurphysboroMiddle
parking lot, according to family members and school officials.
Cindy Covington, 38, of Murphysboro said she received a call at her
workplace in Coulterville Tuesday afternoon about her grandson, Joey
Copple-Kane, a pre-K student in the Southern Region Early Childhood
Program at GeneralJohnA.LoganSchool. Officials told her a neighbor found him unattended
on the bus shortly before
in the middle school parking lot.
Murphysboro School Superintendent Lori James-Gross said the boy had
fallen asleep on the ride to school, and the bus driver missed the fact
he didn't get off the vehicle.
James-Gross said the driver parked the bus at the holding garage at
the middle school and left without checking the aisle.
"The bus driver had generally counted the number of kids when they
get on the bus and had apparently miscounted," she said.
Murphysboro contracts its bus service through West Bus Service. James-Gross
said the company will have to decide what happens to the driver, but
the school said employees do walk-through checks of the buses before
James-Gross estimated the total time the boy was unattended in the bus
at 10 to 15 minutes. She said a person who lives next to the middle
school saw the child inside the bus Tuesday afternoon, let him out and
took him inside the facility.
Covington said her grandson generally gets on the bus for school
about each day.
He is generally home by on the bus' schedule. A teacher in the Southern Region Early Childhood
Program took the child home Tuesday afternoon.
Covington said she was very upset driving home from work after
being told about her grandson.
"I started bawling on my way home," she said. "I sped
the whole way, and that's just not what grandma does."
Copple-Kane was safe in his grandmother's arms Tuesday evening, and
Covington said she is going to have trouble trusting the school
to transport him from now on.
"You just wonder how many people this has happened to that don't
say anything about it," Covington
Barbara Grace, director of the Southern Region Early Childhood Program,
whose funding is administered by Southern Illinois University Carbondale,
said "unfortunate incidents" like Tuesday's don't happen too
"Our program is in its 17th year this year, and we've never had
a situation like this with West Bus Service or any other service,"
Tuesday's incident recalled an event in September in which two SIUC
Head Start children were left inside a school bus after the driver failed
to drop them off. SIUC spokeswoman Sue Davis said the university administers
the pre-K program at Gen. John A. Logan School but is not connected
with the transportation of students there.
SPRINGFIELD — Gov. Rod Blagojevich's top education officials canceled
a meeting on policy priorities planned for Thursday after being questioned
about an internal memo that suggested the meeting be kept as secret
The meeting was canceled Wednesday night after The Associated Press
also questioned whether the State Board of Education had violated the
state Open Meetings Act, which requires that notices of such meetings
be publicly posted 48 hours in advance.
Board spokeswoman Becky Watts said officials decided to cancel the meeting
because of "clerical errors" in posting requirements. She
said the memo represented "an error in judgment."
Blagojevich has repeatedly described open government and public participation
as a hallmark of his administration.
Blagojevich's education adviser, his hand-picked Board of Education
chairman, the state schools superintendent and a quorum of the board
were to meet early Thursday to discuss the Democratic governor's order
for the agency to develop a "major policy initiative."
In a Dec. 8 internal memo obtained by the AP, board services coordinator
Jean Ladage lists that meeting among activities "in addition to
the publicly posted meetings" during the board's two-day monthly
meeting in Chicago.
"This meeting will be posted on the Web as late as possible to
conform with the Open Meetings Act," the memo says. It also says
that because the law doesn't require it, there would be no telephone
connection to allow members of the public to listen in, even though
lines are available for five of the board's other six posted sessions
during the two-day meeting.
The memo, Watts said, was "an error in judgment that does not reflect
the philosophy of this agency." After questions about it, she said
officials decided to reschedule the meeting with additional public notice.
"We're just not comfortable with moving forward with the meeting
when we did not do it to the letter," Watts said.
Blagojevich spokeswoman Rebecca Rausch had no immediate comment on the
The meeting is on the state board's Web site, although in a spot separate
from the rest of the board's agenda for the two-day meeting. Watts
said it was posted online Tuesday morning, within the legally required
48 hours prior to a meeting.
But state law also requires notice of a meeting be posted at the government
body's headquarters, and information about the meeting was not available
at either the board's Springfield or Chicago offices Wednesday.
The session was called to discuss Blagojevich's charge to newly appointed
board members to develop a "major policy initiative" in education
to push in 2005. Watts said participants would be "brainstorming"
and not taking any action.
Blagojevich, who attacked the state board as an unnecessarily bureaucratic
monolith in his State of the State address last winter, called for a
newly created Department of Education under the governor's control.
He compromised with the Legislature in a move that gives governors the
power to appoint new board members when they take office. Blagojevich
appointed seven new members to the nine-member board in September.
CHICAGO - It's a "moral outrage" that new federal standards
for school achievement don't reflect the strides made by special-needs
students, the state's top education official said Wednesday while discussing
the latest data.
Interim State School Superintendent Randy Dunn said federal officials
should consider adjusting the No Child Left Behind program to gauge
whether special-education students and pupils learning English are making
measurable progress, even if they're not collectively meeting the government's
benchmarks for testing.
Of the 339 school districts in the state that didn't make "adequate
yearly progress" requirements last year, 235 were considered sub-par
solely because of how they were required to measure outcomes for the
challenged students, the Illinois State Board of Education said.
"We're seeing this scapegoating effect on these children, and that's
where I come to the issue of moral outrage about this," Dunn said
at Chicago news conference. "Anything that leads to this impression
that, oh, but for the achievement of these kids, we would be meeting
the requirements of (the new law), I think, is an indefensible position."
Dunn said a dyslexic student whose reading skills jump two grade levels
could still be considered a failure under the "arbitrary"
standards of No Child Left Behind, which might set three levels as the
goal. He didn't offer specific ideas for reform, saying he hopes federal
policymakers revisit the program.
In the SpringfieldSchool
students with disabilities accounted for two of the three categories
that caused the district to fail to make "adequate yearly progress"
during the 2003-04 school year.
Apart from the three failing categories - the third involved substandard
reading scores among black students - the Springfield schools met requirements
in the other 27 areas that measure progress as determined by No Child
Springfield school officials agree with Dunn that expecting students
with disabilities to perform as well as others makes little sense.
"Children who have diagnosed disabilities don't grow at the same
rate as those who don't have disabilities," said Michele Seelbach,
the district's director of school improvement. "But unless a child
has severe cognitive delay, they are expected to take the state assessment
at grade level."
For example, Seelbach said high school juniors with disabilities are
required to take the Prairie State Achievement Examination, a rigorous
test that also includes the ACT college entrance exam. They are expected
to do as well as any other student, meaning that at least 40 percent
of them had to meet state standards in reading and in math. The percentage
is supposed to bump up to 47.5 percent this year.
It's a requirement that many educators consider impossible to meet.
"There's no way they can make AYP," Seelbach said.
Congress in 2001 approved No Child Left Behind, which obligates schools
to meet academic-achievement standards that get tougher each year. Consistently
failing schools must offer students the option of transferring to another
school, and they face potential penalties.
Illinois schools fared better in the 2003-04 school year. The
number of schools not making "adequate yearly progress" decreased
to 1,086 from 1,237 in 2002-03.
The data was released with the State Board of Education's latest "School
Report Card," which contains information about each school district's
academic performance and student makeup.
CHICAGO - When Illinois schools compile test results as required by the No Child
Left Behind Act, often poor, minority and disabled students are not
counted because they slip through a variety of loopholes and exemptions,
according to a published report.
In 2004, nearly 72,000 reading and math tests were not counted because
Illinois does not include results for students who skipped major
portions of the tests or who enrolled after Sept. 30, according to the
Chicago Tribune, which conducted an analysis of public records.
The exemption for incomplete tests disproportionately applies to disabled
students, according to the Tribune's analysis, published in Thursday's
editions. The paper also found the moving exemption disproportionately
applies to minority and low-income students, who are most likely to
move during a school year.
Also, about 56,000 minority students - or one in five tested last spring
- were not counted when schools were judged on the performance of separate
racial groups, a critical component of the federal law.
Illinois policy says there must be at least 40 children of a
particular group, such as a racial minority, to consider it a "subgroup"
under No Child Left Behind. If a school has 30 low-income students,
or 25 Hispanic pupils, those tests are not counted separately when judging
the school's progress, the Tribune reported.
The Illinois State Board of Education reported that 1,086 schools failed
to make "adequate yearly progress" last school year. The number,
which represents about 28.5 percent of the 3,801 schools statewide,
is a 12 percent drop from the 1,237 Illinois schools listed as failing in 2002-03.
The reports are a requirement of the nearly three-year-old No Child
Left Behind law signed by President Bush. The primary gauge of progress
is achievement on each state's assessment test. A school can also be
listed as failing to make progress if too few of its students take that
test, if its graduation rate falls below 66 percent or if its attendance
rate falls below 89 percent.
Schools considered failing two years in a row must offer their students
a chance to transfer to a different school. If a school continues to
fail, steeper sanctions take effect.
But practically speaking, this decision could cause more harm than good
for the students involved.
and 10 other districts in Illinois
are running in-house supplemental education programs. They set them
up with the blessing of the state. But now as a result of this federal
decision, they have 30 days to switch to private providers or else lose
Logistically, it's going to be difficult to comply in just a few weeks.
Even if the schools can find the outside providers, educators worry
it will be at a higher cost, which could mean that not all students
who want extra help will get it.
No Child Left Behind is admittedly an experiment in improving education
in America. So now that programs in these 11 districts are already
in place, why not let them continue as part of that experiment? It may
be that superintendents like Madison's Sandra Schroeder are right, and that local districts
are in the best position to know what extra help their students need.
In Madison's case, the program sounds promising. It was designed
by the University of Illinois, and most of the instructors are from outside the district.
If student test scores don't improve as a result of these in-house programs,
the U.S. Department of Education can always require the school districts
to look outside for tutoring. But at this point, it makes no sense for
federal officials to be so inflexible.
Punished for protest Holiday play: Content upsets bus driver; she hands out fliers
on her route
By Janet Lundquist, Herald News Staff Writer, 12/17/04
PLAINFIELD — A bus driver for CentralSchool children said she was pulled off her route this week
because she objected to a song in the school's holiday program she described
School officials say she was taken off the Plainfield route because she passed out unauthorized fliers criticizing
the program along her route.
Carmen Brown, whose son is a third-grader at Central, said she made
up fliers encouraging people to boycott the school's holiday program
because it included a song called, "I Hate This Holiday."
She handed out the fliers Monday afternoon as she drove her bus route.
Brown said on Tuesday that she was reprimanded by the First Student
bus company for handing out unapproved letters. On Tuesday afternoon,
her supervisor said Superintendent John Harper requested Brown be taken
off the Plainfield bus route, she said.
"They took my school bus job away from me because I protested my
child singing an anti-Christ song," Brown said.
"I'm a churchgoer, I believe in Jesus and believe Christmas is
a Christian holiday," she said. "But when they hand my child
a piece of paper to learn a song that says, 'I hate the holidays and
everything it stands for,' my son is confused."
Central Principal Linda DiLeo said she believes the song makes sense
when taken in the context of the holiday program. The song was sung
during the play along with a character named "Mr. Crabby,"
DiLeo said. The character is modeled after Scrooge, who starts out in
the play opposing the holidays but eventually changes his mind, she
Brown said First Student did not fire her, but offered her a choice
of available bus routes. The routes available were too far away for
her to be able to get home when her son gets home from school, she said.
"I am furious that they took my job," said Brown, who stood
outside the school Thursday handing out protest fliers. "I could
maybe squeeze a baby sitter in, but I personally don't want to."
Harper said the decision to pull Brown off the bus route had to do with
her handing out fliers that were not approved first.
"In a very general sense, District 202 does not permit our bus
drivers to distribute literature of any sort to students without first
obtaining administrative approval," he said. "The issue at
hand ... focuses more on the distribution of materials than the content
Harper declined further comment on the situation because Brown is not
an employee of the school district.
The school district has no overall policy regarding holiday programs,
Harper said. There is, however, a legal precedent influencing the decision
of many schools to avoid mixing religion and holiday celebrations, he
said. It is legal to include Christian songs in a school holiday program,
just as it is legal to include songs from other faiths, he said. The
school district tries to strike a balance in holiday program selections,
Harper said. There are no Christian songs in this year's CentralSchool program to avoid promoting one religion over another,
DiLeo said. That is also why the program is called a "holiday"
or "winter" program and not a Christmas program, she said.
"We have Jewish children, we have children who celebrated Ramadan
a couple weeks ago," DiLeo said. "We take into account that
we aren't all celebrating the same holiday and try to put on programs
that everyone can celebrate."
Brown said some parents on her block kept their children out of school
Thursday in protest of the program, but DiLeo said only Brown's son
was absent for that reason.
DiLeo said she received several calls this week asking about the song.
One parent told her that she did not like that the word "hate"
was in the song, she said.
"The sad thing is I think it could have been avoided, had someone
come in (earlier) and asked about the program," DiLeo said. "No
one asked what it was about. The kids were caught in the middle. People
were jumping to conclusions." TOP OF PAGE
LEMONT — The community will soon vote on a new nickname for LemontHigh School, replacing the controversial "Injuns" that
school teams have had for decades.
Voters will choose from among 127 nominations between Dec. 31 and Jan.
10. The top five selected in the voting, and their corresponding mascot
images, will be put to a second community vote later in the year.
A new nickname is being selected because the school board deemed "Injuns"
an offensive term to American Indians that does not reflect well on
The move has stirred passions, with many residents and alumni viewing
"Injuns" as inoffensive and arguing to keep the name to maintain
District officials declined to identify any of the 127 nominations.
"Unfortunately, we're not going to give out any of the names yet
to ensure that the voting remains completely unbiased," district
spokeswoman Sue Arvesen said.
The school district received 450 nominations between Nov. 3 and Nov.
15. Eliminating duplicate nominations, the total number of proposed
nicknames was 195, Arvesen said.
On Nov. 22, a district committee reviewed the list against criteria
set by the school board, including that nominations:
- Not refer to Native Americans;
- Be politically correct; and
- Not be similar to others in LemontHigh School's athletic conference.
The committee determined that 54 nominations did not meet the criteria,
and 11 were questionable, Arvesen said.
At its meeting Monday, the school board rejected those 65 nominations
and three others that it determined did not meet the criteria.
"The majority of those taken off the list were not due to Native
American connotations. Some were, but other considerations were alcohol
or sexual connotations, names that presented gender inequity, ethnic
issues and religious ideology, to name a few," Arvesen said.
The nickname vote is open to the entire Lemont community, including
students, staff and graduates of LemontHigh School.
Ballots will be inserted into a local newspaper Dec. 31 and will be
distributed to parochial, elementary and high school students on Jan.
3. Voters also will be able to cast a ballot online at www.lhs210.net.
Individuals can vote only once and must include their name, address
and, if no longer living in Lemont, the year they graduated from the
high school. TOP OF PAGE
Class cycles of 45 days: Panel says plan could boost capacity by one-third
By Ryan Pagelow, News Sun Staff Writer, 12/16/04
WAUKEGAN — With elementary schools overfilled with students,
members of the Year-Round Education Committee presented the School Board
some possible scheduling solutions involving year-round instruction
that would allow more students to attend class in one building.
Using ClearviewSchool, the committee split the students into four tracks,
each on repeating 45-day sessions followed by a 15-day intercessions.
Year-round education would allow 40 classes to be held in a building
with capacity for 30 classes.
"Just taking everybody and moving them up a grade, we need four
classrooms next year," said Erik Christianson, a member of the
committee. "We have 100 less fifth-graders than there are kindergartners."
"We hit the wall next time," Superintendent Richard Olson
said. "The lower grades is where the enrollment is the biggest."
Because of holidays, the committee found it would have to schedule 172
days of school for each student, requiring a waiver to add six minutes
to each school day to make up for having less than 176 days of school.
The committee estimated that converting to a year-round schedule at
Clearview and Glenwood elementary schools would cost $826,000 more in
salary, transportation, air conditioning and miscellaneous costs. Some
expenses, such as installing air conditioning and extra lockers, would
Olson said the committee was considering having five public meetings
about year-round education if the board is serious about considering
it as a viable solution to overcrowding.
"If you do have these meetings, you're going to have an awful lot
of people tell you not to do it. But that's okay," Olson said.
School Board member June Maguire asked, "Well, what's the alternative?"
Board president Patricia Foley said most of the phone calls she received
were about what kids would do during the two weeks of intersession every
Jeff McBride asked if the kids in large families would be able to be
in the same track as their siblings.
Christianson said each track would have one monolingual and one bilingual
session so it would be possible to be in the same session as brothers
and sisters in the same school.
In other business, in an effort to encourage low-income students who
have average grades to strive for college, WaukeganHigh
is considering implementing a program next year called Advancement Via
Individual Determination (AVID). About 95 percent of the students who
graduate from AVID go on to college, said Valerie Connelly, a teacher
who attended a conference about the program in Indianapolis. Of those, 17 percent go to community colleges and 77
percent go to universities.
Waukegan High School Principal Kim Zupec said, "We're thinking
about starting it at the nineth-grade center with 25 to 30 students."
The program will cost $2.72 a day per student for 30 students. By the
third year the program will cost $0.96 per day per student for 90 students.
AVID students would meet together once a day and attend mainstream classes
the rest of the day. The goal of the program is to teach students organizational
skills and note-taking skills.
Olson said, "At my former district, we were the first district
to have it in the Midwest. I believe in this. In five or six years, it's going
to be a shinning star."
Also, just in time for the upcoming winter break for students, Deputy
Superintendent Donaldo Batiste asked the board to approve a proposal
to have the Boys and Girls Club supervise 300 children while their parents
are at work. He said the cost to the district would be 75 cents per
pupil, or a total of $5,193 for the remaining year.
Foley said the superintendent has discretionary funds to start the program
Dec. 20, the first day of winter break for students. Whether or not
to continue that program will be addressed at the January board meeting.
The special education department received a $30,000 grant from the state
to pay for a parent mentor for special education parents to coach and
mentor them, said Associate Superintendent Karen Carlson. TOP OF PAGE
Arne Duncan knew he was taking a risk. The Chicago Public Schools chief
knew the No Child Left Behind law calls for children who need tutoring
to get that help from outside agencies, not the local school board.
But Duncan chose to ignore that teensy detail in the law and hoped
the feds wouldn't notice. Unfortunately, they did, and they've given
Chicago schools until January to make changes.
Or lose the use of $53 million in federal funds slotted for student
Duncan is livid about the feds' reaction, and while his sentiments
are in the right place, he did have plenty of warning this could happen.
Officials from the U.S. Department of Education said just a few months
ago that Chicago Public Schools never should have allowed their teachers
to tutor kids who needed remedial help. Why? Because the CPS was on
the failing list of school districts in 2003, and it's on the list in
2004. Our public school children didn't receive high enough scores on
national tests to meet federal standards. Washington argued that if these schools are such poor performers,
how can they tutor children?
Half of the 83,000 Chicago students who are getting extra help with reading and
math are doing so with private firms in classes of eight to 10. The
other half are being tutored by CPS teachers in classes of about 15.
(So it's not tutoring as we normally think of it, as one-to-one; it's
remedial education.) The students and their parents are allowed to choose
which they want. But the U.S. Department of Education says all the kids
should be assigned private tutors. And this is where the feds and Duncan parted paths and where Duncan adopted his maverick stance.
He does have compelling reasons. A large proportion of the tutors hired
by private agencies are moonlighting ChicagoPublic
teachers anyway; it costs $400 per child to tutor kids within the CPS
vs. $1,200 with private teachers, so the savings allow more kids to
get remedial help. And, most significantly, no one yet knows how effective
CPS tutoring is since the program is so new. Duncan argues, "I think we are a model of tutoring for
after-school programming." He may be right, but there is that little
matter of the law. Other school districts such as New York have obeyed it, although they help fewer students.
Duncan has become a little wild-eyed about the federal threat,
intimating he'll sue the Department of Education. And the feds have
been equally intransigent. They refuse to wait to see how successful
the CPS program is and are sticking to the January deadline. But we
can't pull the plug on 83,000 students. Both sides need to figure things
out before the kids head back from winter break. It's time to head to
the negotiating table. As Duncan himself noted, "We adults have to work together
to make things better for the kids." TOP OF PAGE
Most days, whenever he has a free moment, Mark Twain Elementary School
Principal Scott Ebbrecht can be found peering at the screen of the gray
computer on his desk, trying to see exactly how well each student at
his Westerville, Ohio, school is doing.
He is using something called value-added assessment, the hottest new
tool in the national effort to improve public schools. At 485-student
Mark Twain Elementary, a one-story modern brick building on East Walnut Street, the method has already brought results. Ebbrecht recently
discovered that his top students, despite their high scores, were not
improving as much as the value-added equations predicted, and he quickly
Value-added, which uses test scores to compare each child's progress
to predictions based on past performance, has its critics. Some experts
say that the tests are too narrow and that the analysis ignores differences
in subject matter. But 16 state school chiefs have asked U.S. Education
Secretary Roderick R. Paige to let them use the system or similar measures
to meet federal requirements, and districts in at least 35 states have
shown interest in using it.
The data on Ebbrecht's screen are very technical, such as a line showing
that his five lowest-performing third-graders are 11.3 points ahead
of their predicted progress in reading, with a standard error of 5.6
points. But it works for him. "Without data, you're just another
person with an opinion," he said.
Educational researchers have been experimenting with measuring each
child's academic progress for several decades. The best-known recent
research was done by William Sanders, a former University of Tennessee researcher now working for a private company in North Carolina. Ebbrecht had Sanders speak to a group of principals
during one of his trips to Ohio.
Value-added assessment has also become a political irritant because
some school boards and superintendents want to pay teachers based on
how much value they are adding, as measured by individual student test
scores, for students in their classes. In Ohio and most other states, the system is being used only
to diagnose student needs, leaving the question of teacher pay for later.
"We use it to improve instruction, not to evaluate teachers,"
Ebbrecht said. Among his teachers, however, its potential for affecting
salaries "is a big fear," he said.
Ebbrecht gets his data from the Web site of Battelle for Kids, a nonprofit
group in nearby Columbus that is supporting a value-added pilot project for 200,000
Ohio third- through eighth-graders in 718 schools. The reaction
has been positive enough to persuade state officials to make the method
part of the assessment process for all Ohio schools by the 2007-08 school year.
"This puts positive pressure on the system and everyone in it,"
said Jim Mahoney, a former Ohio school superintendent who is Battelle for Kids's executive
Tom Luce, chairman of the NationalCenter for Educational Accountability in Texas, applauded that development. "The ability to track
students over time is absolutely essential," he said.
Other states working to include value-added or other growth data in
their tracking systems include Arizona,
Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Tennessee, said Lynn Olson, a senior editor at the Bethesda-based
newspaper Education Week. Arkansas, California,
and Minnesota are considering the assessment system.
Some districts in Maryland and Virginia are experimenting with value-added assessment, but neither
state nor any D.C. school has adopted it.
The growth of value-added assessment has been accompanied by scholarly
debate over its usefulness and validity. George Mason University educational
psychologist Gerald W. Bracey, summarizing several studies in his research
column for the December issue of the magazine Phi Delta Kappan, said
value-added assessment "rests on what appears to me to be an untested
hypothesis: good teachers raise test scores. Given the hysteria about
test scores created by the high-stakes testing juggernaut . . . it is
easy to see how that hypothesis might be mistakenly taken for an assumption."
David H. Monk, dean of the College of Education at PennStateUniversity, said that as a former inner-city teacher, he is intrigued
by the method's potential but has some doubts.
The value-added model "is entirely dependent on test results and
can be only as good as the tests, which can miss important outcomes,"
Monk said. "The model is also retrospective and reveals more about
where past successes occurred than about what needs to be done."
Many educators working with the assessment method said they appreciate
its limits but consider it better than the way test scores are used
now. Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, schools are judged
not by individual student progress, but by the average score attained
by all students, and subgroups of students, at each school, compared
with the average scores of different groups and subgroups of students
the previous year.
Brad Jupp, a teacher-coordinator for a new teacher evaluation system
in Denver that will use some value-added concepts, said he believes
the new assessment method will spread because it provides "better
measures of what schools and teachers do than simple performance measures."
Karen B. Wolf, principal of WickliffeElementary
in Wickliffe, Ohio, said she has found the value-added system useful in
keeping effective teachers from becoming discouraged when they don't
quite reach the state and federal test-score targets.
"You don't have control year to year over what kinds of students
you are getting in your classroom," Wolf said. When her teachers
saw in the value-added data that they were making significant progress
with even low-performing children, they stuck with their methods and
eventually reached all their targets, as well as won a statewide award
for the school.
At Mark Twain Elementary, Ebbrecht met with his third-grade teachers
last week to discuss enriched readings and other challenging assignments
that he thinks will bring more progress for the high-achieving students
that needed help.
With value-added, he said, he was able to ask and answer a vital question:
"They are performing at an advanced level, but are they really
growing as much as they should be?"
For decades the United States has not been producing a population that is fully competent
and confident in mathematics. Recent test data from the Program for
International Student Assessment indicate that 15-year-old students
in the United States perform below average in mathematics literacy and problem
solving compared with teenagers in other developed nations. Why are
students not learning to solve math problems like those they might encounter
in the workplace or other real-world situations?
One view is that we should build on the traditional mathematics curriculum
we grew up with, in which we learned a procedure and then practiced
it on pages of problems. Yet too often this approach goes no further,
giving students skills without the knowledge needed to apply them. When
James Stigler of UCLA and and James Hiebert of the University of Delaware
studied eighth-grade classrooms in countries such as Hong Kong, Japan,
and the Netherlands, where students outperform US students, they concluded
that US students rarely spend time on "serious study of mathematical
Another view says that before students practice procedures, they should
focus on the ideas behind those procedures: ideas about how numbers
are related, how our base 10 number system works, what the arithmetic
operations do and how they are related to each other. The National Science
Foundation has funded the development of elementary, middle, and high
school curriculums grounded in this approach.
TERC, a nonprofit research and development organization based in Cambridge, designed one of the elementary curriculums, "Investigations
in Number, Data, and Space." Investigations has been extensively
tested, with thousands of hours spent in urban and suburban classrooms
documenting student learning to inform the development of the materials.
Given the current state of mathematics education, it is worth trying
different approaches. But we must monitor them. Student performance
on state-mandated tests shows that school systems incorporating curriculums
funded by the National Science Foundation into a long-term plan for
mathematics -- including Boston -- can make marked improvement.
In Boston, the percentage of failing students on the MCAS in grade
4 decreased from 46 percent to 30 percent between 2000 and 2004. During
the same period, students scoring in the Proficient and Advanced categories
increased from 14 percent to 22 percent.
A study by Comap Inc. included more than 100,000 students in Massachusetts, Illinois,
and Washington. About half had studied at one of the three Science
Foundation-funded elementary curriculums for at least two years; the
other half, from comparison schools, were rigorously matched by reading
level, socioeconomic status, and other variables.
The average scores in the first group, including scores on all computation
subtests, were significantly higher than in the comparison schools.
These results hold across different ethnic and income groups, and across
the different state-mandated tests, including the MCAS.
Should students learn basic facts? Yes. Should they learn to add, subtract,
multiply, and divide fluently? Certainly. But too often we lose sight
of the fact that we must achieve both good computation skills and a
good understanding of the mathematics. Curriculums, new or old, are
only tools to improve mathematics in the classroom. Those who advocate
a more traditional approach have a responsibility to show how they plan
to go beyond the failed implementations of the past.
Schools must commit to coherent plans that include establishing learning
goals, providing professional development to support teachers in learning
more about mathematics and how children learn it, and implementing good
assessment tools to evaluate progress. There is no such thing as a low-maintenance
We must not succumb to the fantasy that there is an easy way out. Educators
must provide --and parents should demand -- a balanced, rigorous curriculum
in which all children, not just those in privileged communities, learn
serious mathematics in a serious way -- with understanding.
William McCallum is a professor of mathematics at the University of Arizona. Susan Jo Russell, a mathematics educator at the Education Research Collaborative
at TERC, directed the development of the Investigations curriculum.
U.S. Gets Better Showing on Latest International Math and
TIMSS Shows Improvement for U.S. Minorities, But Standing of 4th Graders Declines
By Sean Cavanagh, Education Week, 12/14/04
Washington - Less than a week after a major international study cast
doubts on the problem-solving abilities of teenagers in the United States,
a second nation-by-nation comparison offers what some regard as a more
encouraging view of younger Americans’ grasp of mathematics and science.
Fourth and 8th graders in the United States scored above international averages in both math and
science on the third version of the Trends in International Mathematics
and Science Study, or TIMSS, which was released here Dec. 14.
The TIMSS assessment seeks to measure students’ mastery of specific
content they have learned in science and mathematics classes. In doing
so, the study contrasts with the goal of a separate international comparison
released Dec. 6, the Program for International Student Assessment, or
PISA, which gauges 15-year-olds’ abilities at applying math
skills to real-world contexts. U.S. students scored below international averages in mathematical
literacy and problem-solving on that test (“U.S. Students Fare Poorly
in International Math Comparison,” Dec. 7, 2004.)
Yet the new TIMSS results also show that despite U.S. students’ beating international averages, relative to
other countries, the standing of American 4th grade pupils in mathematics
and science declined between 1995 and 2003. The relative standing of
U.S. 8th graders compared with their international peers
improved during that time.
“While their scores are better, the fact is they’re not keeping up with
their peers in other nations,” said Eugene W. Hickok, the deputy secretary
of the U.S. Department of Education, at an event here to announce the
results. At the elementary school level, he said, “we need to continue
to climb that mountain.”
Pointing to the rise in scores among minority subgroups, Mr. Hickok
said he believed that U.S. reforms such as the No Child Left Behind Act were having an effect. But
he also said that U.S. officials need to do much more to improve the
quality and consistency of mathematics and science instruction and make
the teaching profession an appealing one to young people—a trend that
is occurring in many of the top-performing TIMSS countries.
But on the heels of the discouraging PISA results, some U.S. education and testing officials said they were generally
heartened by the findings for TIMSS—particularly those that showed 4th
and 8th graders and some minority groups had improved in various categories
since the mid-1990s.
“American kids are doing better at the math that’s taught to them in
school, and the achievement gap is closing,” said Jack Jennings, the
president of the Center on Education Policy, a Washington research and
policy organization. “The TIMSS findings are good news.”
Mr. Jennings cautioned that education officials in the United States need to consider the results of both tests, as well
as recent trends in the National Assessment of Educational Progress,
or NAEP, which focuses solely on students in the United States, to judge the overall progress of American students.
The public’s ability to make sense of the data, he added, will not be
helped by the one-two release of PISA and TIMSS, a sequence that will likely leave many Americans
wondering whether their schools are improving or declining. Education
leaders in the United States would be wise to acknowledge some progress,
Mr. Jennings said, while also using the PISA results to consider whether
students need to be taught more of the problem-solving skills that PISA
Others, however, saw little reason for optimism in the TIMSS results.
Ross Weiner, the policy director for the Education Trust, a Washington-based
organization that focuses on raising achievement for all students, noted
that children in the United States were still being outperformed by students from many
industrialized countries in science and math. He attributed that stagnation
partly to a lack of consistent standards among states and school districts
for what students should know.
Above Average, Below Asia
“It comes down to our unwillingness to get serious about a few systematic
problems,” said Mr. Weiner, who also pointed to deficiencies in teachers’
content knowledge in math, particularly in middle schools.
In math, U.S. 4th graders scored an average of 518 on TIMSS, higher
than the international average of 495. The United States ranked 12th out of 25 industrialized and developing
countries participating in that portion of the study. Asian countries
dominated the mathematics results for that age group, with Singapore taking a top score of 594, followed by Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, then Belgium, the Netherlands, and Latvia.
Eighth graders in the United States also fared well in math, scoring
504, above the international average of 466, making it 20th out of 45
nations in that category. Singapore, with an average score of 605, again ranked highest
at that grade level, followed by South Korea, Hong
Kong, and Taiwan.
But while U.S. 8th graders improved from their results on earlier tests
conducted four and eight years ago in mathematics and science, Mr. Weiner
noted that scores among 4th grade pupils were stagnant. The U.S. results for math were also less encouraging when compared
only against nations belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development, an intergovernmental group representing industrialized
countries. American 4th graders ranked sixth out of children in 11 nations
in math, while 8th grade students ranked 11th out of 13 countries belonging
to the OECD in that subject.
Minority Students’ Scores Rise
The TIMSS results reflect efforts by states and schools to improve the
basic mathematical skills of low-performing students, as well as their
attempts to introduce subjects such as algebra at earlier grade levels,
said Phil Daro, a senior fellow at the NationalCenter on Education and the Economy, a research organization
in Washington. “It’s good to see that investment paying off,” Mr.
Daro said. Compared with other industrialized countries, particularly
Japan, the U.S. education system spent far more time encouraging students
to memorize mathematical concepts through repetitive drills and activities,
according to Mr. Daro, who has studied textbooks and curricula in Asian
countries. The benefits of Japan’s more streamlined, conceptual approach to instruction
were evident in that country’s high scores on both PISA and TIMSS, he said.
“We can’t look to our past [performance] to judge how we should be doing,”
Mr. Daro said. “We should be looking at our competition.”
In science, U.S. 4th graders outperformed an even greater percentage
of their global peers, scoring a 536, above the average 489. That placed
the United States ninth out of 25 countries participating in that section
of the test, and fourth out of 11 industrialized nations. U.S. 8th grade students scored 527, also better than the
international average of 473, ranking them 12th out of their peers in
32 nations and eighth out of 13 industrialized nations participating
TIMSS generally puts a greater emphasis on factual knowledge of mathematics
and science than does PISA, which requires more critical thinking by students,
according to an analysis provided by the NationalCenter for Education Statistics, the U.S. Department of Education
branch that administers both tests in the United States. For 4th grade pupils, TIMSS is a 72-minute assessment,
which was given to 248 randomly selected schools and 10,795 pupils;
the 8th grade test takes 90 minutes and was administered at 232 schools,
to 8,912 students.
Minority students in the United States showed improvement in several categories. Scores for
African-American students in both the 4th and 8th grades increased from
the TIMSS results in 1995, two testing cycles ago. Among Hispanic students,
8th graders improved in math, but the younger students did not. In science,
black students improved their scores in both grades between 1995 and
2003, while Hispanic 4th graders’ scores declined slightly and 8th grade
students’ scores improved.
“That is encouraging,” Mr. Daro said. “There’s a lot of interest in
[improving the skills of struggling students] in mathematics in the
same way there has been in the past in reading.”
Is a smaller school
always a better school?
School districts across the US are seizing on size as the key to reform. But some experts
worry that the rush to create smaller schools is happening too fast.
By Teresa Méndez, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor, 12/14/04
NEW YORK - Veiled in scaffolding and green netting, the old high
school stretches six stories skyward, covering half a city block in
Manhattan. High up on the building's facade, the words "JuliaRichmanHigh
are still etched in stone. But a smaller blue-and-white sign near the
door identifies its current incarnation as the "Julia Richman Education
The tale of how, by the early '90s, JuliaRichmanHigh
had devolved into one of New
worst, only to later see six successful small schools re-emerge, phoenix-like,
within its hulking walls, has served as a national model for the small-schools
movement. Today, the schools boast a high school graduation rate of
around 90 percent (compared with a citywide rate of closer to 50 percent).
Across the United
districts are embracing the small-school movement.
City alone has pledged to open 200 new small schools by 2008
with help from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Nationwide,
the foundation has worked with more than 1,500 schools in 42 states
to reduce large high schools to communities of 400 students or fewer.
Los Angeles and Chicago are also launching ambitious plans to splinter their
largest schools into smaller units.
Administrators in all of these districts point to an early body of research
suggesting that smaller schools - particularly those in low-income and
minority neighborhoods - produce higher graduation rates and test scores,
fewer dropouts, and a better, safer sense of community.
Yet even as some small-school advocates insist that reducing size will
cure much of what ails US public education, others are urging more caution. Unless small schools
are created thoughtfully and deliberately, they say, reducing size will
not solve this country's education crisis.
"Small is not the answer," says Deborah Meier, the education
reformer who is sometimes known as "the grandmother of small schools"
because of her part in the reorganization of Julia Richman and the creation
of some of New York's first small schools in the 1970s. Small schools are
a strategy, she points out - not a panacea.
Proponents like Ms. Meier fear the culture change and approach to education
that they originally conceived of may get lost in the headlong rush
to downsize American schools. And there have been other unintended side
effects to the rapid proliferation of small schools. In some places,
increased pressure on existing large schools, where the vast majority
of students will continue to go, has led to battles over limited space
Of course, success stories are easy to find at smaller schools. At the
UrbanAcademy - one of the six small schools now housed within Julie
Richman - students Frenchie Duarte and Taina Camacho talk of their pleasure
in finding themselves both academically engaged and personally recognized
at their new 120-student high school. Frenchie says he's been transformed
from a frequent truant into an enthusiastic learner now planning a career
The two students transferred together from WashingtonIrvingHigh
two years ago. Like many urban high schools, the school Frenchie and
Taina left behind is overcrowded and struggling. Last year, 2,861 students
were enrolled at Washington Irving, according to the school's annual
report, bumping it to 105 percent capacity. This year, the city's education
department website lists enrollment at 3,070 - in part because it absorbed
students forced out when nearby large high schools were broken down
into smaller schools.
But as much as reformers are eager to see the end of conditions like
those at Washington Irving, most agree that while a school's problems
may be aggravated by overcrowding, it's not the only challenge failing
Small schools are absolutely essential to improving education, especially
for inner-city students, says Tom Vander Ark, education director of the Gates Foundation. But he
also recognizes that while 'small' creates opportunity for success,
it certainly doesn't by itself make success.
Some educators argue that rather than simply mass producing small schools,
the entire approach to education must be rethought. Otherwise the result
may be what one researcher has called "small schools in drag"
- all the problems of a big school reproduced in a smaller package.
"Small was just the door," says Michelle Fine, a professor
of psychology and urban education at the City University of New York.
"Now I think people are worried that people are just creating smaller
versions of what we know to be problematic structures."
Of 145 small schools visited by insideschools.org, an independent group
that evaluates New
schools, director Clara Hemphill writes that about one-quarter "replicated
many of the problems of the large schools they replaced." These
problems include low achievement and demoralized students and staff.
Others worry that the current trend toward judging schools based on
standardized test scores will work against the individual approach to
education of many small schools. "Information retrieval" and
"formulaic writing" clash with what the best small schools
offer, says UrbanAcademy codirector Ann Cook. "Assessment in the end will
undo and ruin the promise of small schools," she predicts.
Small schools are not new to the US. Before the 1950s - when the model of the large, comprehensive
high school took hold - small schools were the norm. In the 1990s, the
national Annenberg Challenge led to the re-creation of small schools
across the country.
In the wake of the 1999 school shootings at Columbine High in Colorado, the US Department of Education started a grant program
to foster the development of smaller communities within large schools.
But never has the cause of small schools been taken up with so much
gusto and enthusiasm as in the past few years.
For her part, Meier worries that this breathless drive - and unrealistic
expectations - may set small schools up for failure. "Every time
we have a good [education-reform] idea that we don't do well,"
she says, "it increases the cynicism."
Kansas board again taking up evolution
By DIANE CARROLL, The Kansas
The debate over evolution will be revived formally in Kansas on Tuesday. That's when the state Board of Education
begins discussing a committee's first draft of proposed changes to science
Also before the board will be a recommendation from some committee members
that the theory of evolution be held up to more rigorous analysis.
A committee of 26 educators spent six months reviewing the standards
and prepared the first draft. Members agreed on all changes except those
regarding evolution, said committee co-chairman Steve Case, an assistant
research professor who directs the University of Kansas Center for Science
A minority report on evolution was issued Friday to the education board.
Case said he was surprised that the report was issued but not surprised
by its concerns.
“They are the well-known areas that we need to finish discussions on,”
Updating the standards is expected to take months. Public hearings are
to be scheduled in January. After they are held, the committee will
prepare a second draft, which will be submitted to a review outside
the department. Case expects a third draft in April and board action
sometime after that.
Kansas received international attention in 1999 when a conservative-led
board succeeded in downplaying the teaching of evolution. In 2001, moderates
regained control of the board and reversed the earlier vote.
The state board establishes standards for every area of the curriculum
and updates them periodically, usually every four years. The standards
represent the basic tenets of what every student should know.
In this year's elections, the balance of power on the board swung back
to the conservatives. They will have a 6-4 majority in January when
the new board is sworn in.
Board Chairwoman Janet Waugh, a Democrat from Kansas City, Kan., said she would be interested to hear from conservative
members of the board on Tuesday. One of them, Steve Abrams, a Republican
from ArkansasCity, declined to comment Friday. Another, Republican John
Bacon of Olathe, did not return a telephone call.
In 1999, the debate was influenced by advocates of young-earth creationism,
the idea that God created the universe in six days. This time it is
expected to center more on intelligent design, the idea that life and
its diversity are the result of planned processes and not chance and
necessity. It runs counter to evolution — the theory most scientists
accept — which holds that living things share common ancestors but have
changed over time.
Case said that most committee members think that “the intelligent design
theory is not ready as a developed science theory to be included in
the science standards.”
He said he thought those who signed the minority report were pushing
for the eventual inclusion of the theory.
The report includes a three-page cover letter to the board signed by
committee member William Harris, a medical school professor at the University
of Missouri-Kansas City, and 23 pages of proposed revisions. Harris
referred questions to John Calvert, a founder of Intelligent Design
Network Inc., a nonprofit group that seeks objectivity in origins science.
Calvert issued a statement Friday that said the proposed revisions in
the minority report “encourage the teaching of origins science consistent
with the nature of scientific inquiry.”
The minority report supports the teaching of evolution and does not
advocate the teaching of intelligent design. However, it suggests that
teachers be allowed to address scientific alternatives.
Case said that those who signed the minority report “are trying to take
little bitty steps to change the nature of science so that their philosophy
can be introduced” and that that philosophy is intelligent design.
At 36, he retains the clean-cut good looks of the tough Irish kid who
anchored the defensive line for Lou Holtz' 1988 championship football
team at the University of Notre Dame.
But in Columbus, the former Democratic state representative from Lakewood has become a guerrilla fighter in the long, bloody battle
over school funding.
Flannery is pushing a plan that he says would radically overhaul the
way Ohio pays for public education by cutting local property
taxes, eliminating the unending requests for operating levies and forcing
the state to find money for education.
He's waging the war as an outsider who is unwelcome in the halls of
the Statehouse or in the meeting rooms of Gov. Bob Taft's commission
on school funding, which is expected to issue its own recommendations
later this week.
Flannery is taking his battle to the streets, gathering signatures on
a petition drive that would force the legislature to address his plan.
He has about 70 percent of the 100,000 signatures he needs by Dec. 21,
and he is reasonably confident he will get the rest.
That would force the legislature, by law, to vote on the measure. After
lawmakers reject the proposal - as Flannery is sure they will - he will
launch another petition drive to put his plan on the ballot next November
for voters to decide.
"Going down the same path we've been going down won't work,"
said William Phillis, executive director of the Ohio Coalition for Equity
and Adequacy of School Funding. The group, which recently endorsed Flannery's
plan, sued the state and secured four Ohio Supreme Court rulings declaring
the funding system unconstitutional.
The system - as well as Flannery's proposal - are complex enough to
be grist for doctoral dissertations. But boiled down, Flannery proposes
to dramatically shift the burden of paying for education from homeowners
to the state.
His proposal would:
Establish a commission that would determine what constitutes an adequate
education for all children - special needs, vocational, gifted, poor
- and what it would cost. The legislature would be required to pay for
all of that cost, minus local property taxes equal to 20 mills (or $20
for every $1,000 of property value.) The makeup of the commission is
not outlined in the proposal.
Discontinue all local school property taxes over 20 mills, and prohibit
districts from going to the ballot to seek tax hikes for operating expenses.
For high-wealth districts that lose revenue as a result, the state would
be required to make up the difference. Flannery estimates local property
taxes would be cut by at least $1.7 billion.
More than double Homestead Exemption benefits for elderly and disabled
Prohibit the state from raising sales, income or other taxes to pay
for the commission's recommendation.
But if you cut property taxes and don't raise other taxes, critics ask,
where does the money come from? From social service programs? Higher
education? Shouldn't affluent districts that can afford a greater share
pay it? Won't the bill the state gets for their lost revenue be staggering?
"Some districts have the ability to provide ample support for their
schools," said Barbara Shaner, director of legislative services
for the Ohio Association of School Business Officials. "Under Bryan's proposal, the state would be picking up the tab."
But Flannery insists that the money is there if the state simply conducts
business differently and cuts waste and spending abuses. State officials
agree that hundreds of millions of dollars could be saved by Medicaid
reform, for example.
Flannery said that if at least $1 billion of the STAR Ohio Fund money
were invested in Ohio instead of out of state, some $7.5 billion would become
available to boost the state economy. The fund takes public investment
dollars and pools them to attract a higher rate of return.
Some who don't question Flannery's math do question his timing. The
Ohio School Boards Association, in concert with other groups, may come
up with its own ballot initiative but will first wait for the recommendations
from the governor's commission.
Some argue that if Ohioans reject Flannery's proposal, it could invite
the broad interpretation that the voting public doesn't really care
much about school funding.
"If we need to go to the ballot, we need to get everyone on board
- we really can't afford to be running off in different directions,"
said Ohio Federation of Teachers President Tom Mooney. "We just
thought the Flannery petition was premature, although there definitely
is some merit to his proposal. And the plan is attracting some grassroots
support, because there's really nothing else out there now."
Critics also suggest that Flannery, who now lives in Strongsville and works as a health-care consultant, is using the
issue as a political launching pad. He lost to Secretary of State Ken
Blackwell two years ago and is rumored to be considering another run.
Flannery shrugged off the criticism.
"There's a fear of change, a fear of upsetting the apple cart,"
he said. "As far as the secretary of state job goes, I will look
at it, I want to be honest about it. But I've had my name out there
before. That's not why I'm doing this."
To many, Flannery and his plan are the only hope in a long battle over
school funding. They point out that the Ohio Supreme Court ruled four
times that the state's reliance on local property taxes breeds inequities.
Even so, the system is more reliant today on property taxes than it
was when the case began.
"I think he's the messiah," said John Emery of LiverpoolTownship, one of the 2,500 volunteers who is circulating Flannery's
petitions. "He is somebody who is actually going ahead and doing
something about this problem."
And he's getting noticed. Some 6,000 petitions have been downloaded
from his Web site, www.flanneryforohio.com, and he's becoming a ubiquitous
presence on local radio and television shows.
But Flannery's most significant - and, to some, surprising - support
come from Phillis' coalition, which represents 550 of Ohio's 613 public school districts.
"The question we ask ourselves now is, 'What's left?' " Phillis
said. "If government doesn't serve the people - and government
isn't serving them when it comes to school funding - you look for other
A Lake Tahoe-area school district runs two middle schools: one in Truckee, one in TahoeCity. Both are failing to meet federal education standards,
but only the TahoeCity school is being pressured by the federal government
The Truckee school isn't poor enough.
Even in name, the No Child Left Behind education law, which President
Bush signed in 2002, promised to apply tough standards universally,
but parents and teachers are discovering a huge loophole in it.
Sanctions for failing schools - starting with offering tutoring and
transferring students to better schools and eventually closing the failing
ones - apply only to those getting specific federal grants.
Because the grants are offered only to high-poverty schools, those in
wealthier districts don't face federal penalties for not meeting standards.
But because many schools eligible for federal money don't accept it,
even some of the students supposedly targeted by the law - poorly performing
students from low-income homes - are being left behind.
At least 13 schools in the Sacramento
region would be facing penalties if they were receiving the grants.
Statewide, at least 445 schools fall into that category, according to
a Bee analysis of state education data.
"There is a general idea out there that it applies to every student
at every school," said Scott Loehr, assistant superintendent for
instruction at CenterUnifiedSchool
in Antelope. "The sanctions obviously do not."
Districts are free to assign the funds to schools with two constraints:
Those with more than 75 percent of students in poverty must receive
a grant, and those with less than 35 percent cannot.
And so SierraMountainMiddle
in Truckee, where a quarter of students were in poverty last year, faced no sanctions
even though it failed to pass federal standards the last two years.
in TahoeCity has the same academic record but nearly half of its
children live in poverty. It is in its third year of federal scrutiny.
The disparities between California
schools forced to comply with the federal law and those that aren't
will become even more stark next year.
For the schools that face sanctions, 2005 is the first year they could
be shut down. And even more schools are expected to be labeled as failing
next year, because twice as many students will be expected to be proficient
in English and math for a school to meet standards.
By 2014, the state Department of Education expects nearly all the state's
9,000 schools to be labeled failing because the federal law will require
all students to be proficient in math and English, which many education
officials believe is an unrealistically high bar.
But even then there will be formal consequences only for those schools
that receive federal grants, known as Title I funds.
That makes George Griffin one of the lucky ones, in his eyes.
He's principal of WintersHigh
where about 50 percent of students are poor. Last year, his school met
21 of its 22 No Child Left Behind criteria.
Because of the one he missed - too few of his school's English learners
were judged proficient in English - the school is considered failing.
Four years ago, Griffin was given the option of accepting Title I money. He
declined - believing that the $12,000 his school would receive each
year wouldn't be worth the added red tape and that the money could be
better spent on younger grades.
That decision means Griffin won't be penalized now for being one measure short of
"After No Child Left Behind came out, am I thrilled to death that
I said no? You bet," he said.
Many districts favor younger grades for Title I grants.
Nationwide, about two-thirds of elementary schools, but only one-third
of high schools, receive Title I funds, said Jack Jennings, director
of the Center on Education Policy in Washington, D.C.
the largest in Northern
California, no Title
I schools are failing. The district directs those federal funds only
to its elementary schools. So, federal sanctions aren't a threat for
three of its high schools and a middle school that are below standards.
Elk Grove has decided to concentrate all its Title I money on the younger
grades, because that's where the district believes the cash can make
the biggest difference, said Nancy Lucia, Elk Grove's director of learning
Still, that means omitting Valley and Florin high schools
from the strictest provisions of No Child Left Behind. At both south
Sacramento schools, test scores aren't meeting federal standards
and a majority of students last year were poor enough to qualify for
free or reduced-price lunches, the most common measure of poverty.
Both Lucia and Griffin emphasized that the schools are diligently trying to
improve student achievement, even if they don't face federal sanctions.
Indeed, many schools not in Title I are in a state program for low-performing
schools that also includes a system of grants and penalties. But unlike
the more rigid federal standards for achievement, the state's accountability
system is individually tailored, requiring only that schools show a
certain percentage of growth from year to year.
Other provisions of No Child Left Behind, including the requirement
that teachers be "highly qualified" in the subjects they teach,
apply to all schools.
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Education said the department
requires sanctions only for Title I schools because that is how the
law was written.
A spokeswoman for Judd Gregg, the Republican chairman of the Senate
Education Committee, said it "hardly seemed fair to apply the federal
accountability system to schools that do not receive federal education
The law passed Congress with bipartisan support in 2001, but has since
been attacked by Democrats who believe the Bush administration has not
provided the program enough money.
Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, the committee's ranking Democrat, said through
a spokeswoman that even without consequences for low performance, non-Title
I schools benefit from No Child Left Behind.
"The evidence is clear - high standards, good teachers, and accountability
for results are the right reforms for every public school," Kennedy
Frank Ramos, whose five children have attended Winters High, said he
agreed with the school's decision to opt out of Title I. He's deeply
involved with the school and believes that Griffin,
the principal, is doing what he can to improve scores for English learners.
If the school had accepted Title I money, it could have been penalized.
"The strings that would have been attached to it would have made
it very difficult for us," Ramos said.
State to ax high
Legislature replaces controversial test with college entrance-type exam,
effective in '07.
By Mark Hornbeck, Detroit News Lansing Bureau
LANSING -- Michigan's high school MEAP test soon will be permanently expelled,
after a controversial run that spanned three decades.
Lawmakers on Thursday gave final passage to a package of bills that
will replace the Michigan Educational Assessment Program (MEAP) tests
in the spring of 2007 with the Michigan Merit Exam, a new battery of
tests for 11th-graders that can be used for college admission.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm is expected to sign the bills after she receives
a report next week from her higher education panel. A draft of the report
includes a recommendation to swap the high school MEAP for a college
entrance-type test, according to members of the commission.
The MEAP was never intended to measure a student's ability to succeed
in college. It was originally crafted to pinpoint strengths and weaknesses
in the local curriculum. A college entrance exam not only tests what
a student has learned, but also is intended to be an indicator of future
Paula Steiger of ShelbyTownship was pleased to hear that the old test almost certainly
will be scrapped and her 11-year-old son won't have to take it.
"I find it hypocritical that my child has to practice and study
for things they're supposed to have known already," said Steiger,
whose son, Dirk, attends CrissmanElementary
"The MEAP is a big waste of taxpayer money and time."
The reworked high school test will be used to mete out the $2,500 merit
scholarships awarded to qualifying students to help pay their college
tuition. The MEAP exams will continue to be given in elementary and
middle school grades.
The chief selling point of the new exam, proponents say, is that it
will be taken more seriously by students because state legislators expect
colleges will use it as an entrance requirement, like the ACT or SAT.
The state will work with an outfit that designs college admissions tests
to develop its new exam.
"No university used the MEAP as an admission test, so what use
was it?" asked James McCann, superintendent of Lamphere Schools
in Madison Heights. "When you're testing high school students they
have to see a reason to take the test."
Bloomfield Hills mom Cindy Stevens supports eliminating the MEAP.
"If they take the MEAP in the 11th grade and they don't do well,
it's kind of too late for the school to do anything about it anyway,"
said Stevens, whose son, Michael, 15, is a freshman at LahserHigh School.
"They take the ACTs and SATs anyway, so for the state to look at
those things isn't a bad thing," Stevens added. "The ACTs
and SATs are good for all colleges, and the MEAP is just for our state."
Discarding the MEAP initially ran into resistance from educators who
feared that years of effort spent aligning school courses with the state
tests would be wasted. But the final version of the legislation, rather
than adopting the ACT wholesale, calls for the revamped exam to line
up with the state's existing curriculum standards.
"What we've done is take the best from the MEAP and college entrance
exams and blended them together in a test that will help better prepare
all our children for the 21st-century knowledge economy," said
schools Supt. Tom Watkins.
The bills passed overwhelmingly in the House on Wednesday and the Senate
on Thursday. But some lawmakers remain concerned that the new test may
be a step backward for education in the state.
"I'm not comfortable tossing out the MEAP and replacing it with
a brand new test without first deciding exactly where we want to go
in education in this state," said Rep. John Stakoe, R-Highland.
"We spend 10 years teaching to the MEAP, and now we're going to
change the test? Couldn't we just adjust the MEAP to test what we want?"
The Michigan Merit Exam will be given in three parts, two of them resembling
the ACT college entrance test. Reading, writing, math, science and social studies will be tested.
A work skills test also will be part of the new exam.
"The social studies and science components will be similar to MEAP,
the reading and math will be more aligned with the ACT or SAT,"
said Sen. Wayne Kuipers, R-Holland, a sponsor of the package.
"This test will be great for students and parents. We'll be giving
a meaningful test to students, we'll get results in a timely fashion
and in a way that will help students identify their strengths and weaknesses
and schools to better arrange their curriculum."
The MEAP, which has been given to high schoolers since 1978, has often
been criticized as irrelevant; large groups of students in high-achieving
districts such as Birmingham and Bloomfield Hills refused to take it because low
scores could possibly hurt them -- but not help them -- in getting into
college. Test participation increased a few years ago when the state
started giving out $2,500 scholarships to those who passed all parts
of the test.
"I hate the MEAP test -- it's just a big waste of time," said
Andrew Galante, 18, a senior at Birmingham Seaholm. "All the students
I know hate it, too. They just blow it off. And circle the "A's"
on every question. It's just not worth it to spend too much time studying
for this remedial test."
About 119,000 students take the MEAP each year and 38,000 take a re-test.
Currently, students can take the test three times in an attempt to qualify
for the scholarships. The new exam allows only one re-test.
Students have to pay a $25 to $45 fee to take college entrance tests,
but the cost of the new test will be picked up by the state when the
new exam is put in place. The state now spends $8.5 million to administer
the high school MEAP, and that cost will rise to at least $10 million
when the revamped exam is launched, according to one legislative analysis.
The MEAP also has been slammed because it takes five days out of the
school year. The Michigan Merit Exam is supposed to be a streamlined
version that requires less time. Exactly how much time won't be known
until 2006 when the new test is given in some pilot districts.
"We're hoping the new test is less disruptive," said Bob Freehan,
spokesman for the WarrenConsolidated
"Shutting down a high school for five days has been extremely problematic."
Supt. McCann at Lamphere said he's somewhat concerned that low-achieving
students who have no plans to attend college will be required to take
a college entrance-style test.
"These students who struggle in school and are not college-bound
will not take the test seriously," McCann said.
Dearborn Height mom Peggy Lenart said the MEAP Scholarship program favors
kids who are good test-takers. Amanda Lenart, 17, will take her 11th
grade MEAP at CrestwoodHigh
this school year, but she probably won't score well enough for a scholarship.
"She'll study for it the whole week, and then go in the day of
the test and study with the teacher," Lenart said. "Some of
these kids really try, but they don't get (the scholarship) because
they're not good test takers."
Lenart would prefer the state to require that each student complete
an ACT or SAT test.
"These kids need to know what they're up against, and if they do
good on an ACT or an SAT, it might encourage them to go to college,"
Lenart said. "That would have more value than the MEAP."
Justin King, executive director of the Michigan Association of School
Boards, said the experience in Illinois
has shown that many students who thought they weren't college material
have fared well on the test given there and they've reconsidered their
post-high school plans.
"The evidence on this absolutely weighed on the side of the change,"
Several months ago, the State Board of Education voted against replacing
the high school MEAP. But board members now say they support the move.
"It's not a complete replacement of the MEAP, so I'm more comfortable
with it," said board President Kathleen Straus, D-Detroit.
"Getting rid of the MEAP seemed to take on a life of its own and
you have to face political realities sometimes."
Granholm is "open to doing the test a different way," said
her spokeswoman, Liz Boyd. But the governor won't commit to signing
the package until she receives the report from Lt. Gov. John Cherry's
Commission on Higher Education next Wednesday.
Besides needing Granholm's approval, the new exam must be OK'd by the
U.S. Department of Education.
ast year, when it came time to give a holiday gift to his son's kindergarten
teacher at Public School 321 in Park Slope, Brooklyn, Adam Klein and
other parents donated about $20 each, and together they bought the teacher
a digital camera.
This year, teachers should not count on such lavish gifts.
City parents who want to buy holiday gifts for teachers have
a new $5 per student spending limit, according to a rule Schools Chancellor
Joel I. Klein imposed earlier this year.
The rule falls under the conflict-of-interest section of the Chancellor's
Regulations, and was intended to help students who could not afford
to contribute money to class gifts, officials said. The regulations
also state that individual gifts from students or parents to school
employees should be "principally sentimental in nature and of insignificant
Some parents and teachers are arguing that the rules are examples of
micromanagement by the Department of Education and send a message to
teachers that they are underappreciated.
"I don't quite see the rationale to denying teachers a gift,"
said Mr. Klein, whose son is now in first grade. "We're not trying
to curry favor with the teacher."
Sandra Arnold, a baby sitter with a daughter in high school, objected
to the $5 limit."That's too cheap for a teacher. You can't get
anything good for $5, especially for a good teacher. I don't think it's
Some teachers said a holiday gift was one of the few perks they could
One teacher, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said she wanted
students to "give as much as they want to give."
"At lunch, when I was talking to other teachers, some of them were
saying things about how nice it is when kids make them something,"
the teacher said. "I was like, 'Give me the big gift certificate.'
She said she was worth more than a $5 gift, adding "there's been
no raise. I'm broke all the time." The teachers' contract expired
at the end of May 2003.
Chancellor Klein disagreed.
"A number of parents had some concerns," he said when asked
about the gift cap, which was described in The Daily News yesterday.
"They were feeling that they were under pressure and they wanted
to know what was expected of them."
Mr. Klein said he "wanted to support the recognition of teachers"
while not pressuring parents and students to give more than they comfortably
"They pleaded with us to come up with a dollar value," a spokeswoman
for the school system, Margie Feinberg, said of parents who contacted
the education agency. "And in January, the Department of Education
proposed a change in the policy."
Other school districts in the region have similar guidelines. In White Plains, school policy suggests homemade gifts of minimal value.
In Scarsdale, individual gifts should be worth no more than $15,
a school official said.
When asked how the city schools might go about enforcing the spending
limit, Mr. Klein said: "We should try to do this in a way that's
sensible. I think we leave it to the judgment of parents."
Mr. Klein said that if everyone used common sense, the holiday gift-giving
tradition would "not become some sort of flow of cash or other
gifts that could be misconstrued."
Lindsay Hershenhorn, a teacher at P.S. 321, said, "Teachers should
be paid enough so that parents don't feel they need to give gifts to
teachers and teachers don't feel they need to accept them."
State education officials want to shut down a nearly bankrupt Roxbury
charter school next week, marking the first time one of the experimental
schools has been closed mid-year since the charter school movement started
in Massachusetts in 1993.
Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll said yesterday he will ask
the state Board of Education to revoke the school's charter next week.
If the board agrees, the two-year-old RoxburyCharterHigh
for Business, Finance and Entrepreneurship will not reopen after winter
break starts next week and the 107 students will be forced to go to
other Boston public schools.
Driscoll said the school is plagued by a $113,000 deficit and bad financial
management, and has no plan for a home after its lease on a former parochial
school expires at the end of next year.
''They're not going to be able to survive financially," Driscoll
said. ''I sympathize with them. They've worked hard. I feel terrible
about having to do it."
He said it would be less disruptive to close the school between semesters
than in the middle of the spring, when the school is projected to run
out of money.
Officials at the school -- which was created to point poor students
to careers in business and finance and which board members say is the
only charter school in Boston founded by black educators -- vowed to
fight to stay open.
Judy Burnette, one of the school's founders and its chief executive
officer, said yesterday that the school should be given more time to
fix its problems.
''They think we're not going to fight back but we certainly are,"
Burnette said. ''Shut down? That's not going to happen."
Closing the Roxbury school would come at an awkward time for charter
school advocates, who just filed legislation to expand the number of
charters in lowest-performing districts, including Boston.
''We obviously regret seeing a school in trouble," said Marc Kenen,
executive director of the Massachusetts Charter School Association.
''Charter schools are held to a very high level of accountability and
the difference between charter schools and district schools is when
a charter school doesn't do well, it's closed. District schools, we
just throw more money at it."
But Boston Teachers Union President Richard Stutman, whose group opposes
expanding charter schools, said yesterday the problems with the Roxbury
school show that more charter schools aren't the solution to improving
The state has 56 charter schools, with three more to open next fall,
according to the Massachusetts Charter School Association. State law
limits how much each school district can spend on charter schools, and
some, including Boston, are at or near the cap.
Driscoll said the situation in Roxbury does not reflect on other charter
schools. ''There are going to be some that aren't going to make it,"
Driscoll said. ''I don't think anybody should draw any big conclusion
from this one instance."
While no other school's charter has been revoked, the state declined
in 2002 to renew the LynnCommunityCharterSchool because of low test scores. The school was allowed to
finish the academic year. Three other charters closed on their own.
Charter schools are publicly funded, but they are run by an independent
governing board. All are overseen by the state Board of Education, which
grants or revokes the charters. Charter schools are required to file
annual reports with the state on student achievement and other measures.
The state Board of Education has been friendly to charter schools. The
board chairman, James Peyser, is a partner in New Schools Venture Fund,
a nonprofit that funds charter schools across the nation but did not
give any money to the Roxbury school.
Peyser said yesterday he would take a hard look at shutting down the
In late November, after state officials visited the school, the department
of education asked the school's seven-member board to voluntarily give
up its charter, but the board voted not to do so, Burnette said. Instead,
it submitted a previously planned reorganization and fund-raising plan
to the state's charter school office, as well as budgets for this school
year and the next one, Burnette said.
The school, whose five-year charter expires in June 2007, opened in
September 2003 with 70 freshmen. It now enrolls 107 freshmen and sophomores,
but had projected 175 students this year, said Curtis Wells, the school's
director. By 2007 when the first senior class was scheduled to graduate,
enrollment was supposed to reach 400.
Driscoll said he sent a letter with his closure recommendation to school
leaders Monday night. Rumors about the school's potential closure began
circulating throughout the brick building early yesterday as administrators
debated whether to tell students.
At , instead of attending their usual one-hour sessions
with tutors, about 100 students crowded into the school's basement cafeteria.
Wells looked out into the sea of pressed khakis and light blue shirts
and delivered the news.
''The commissioner recommends immediate closure of RoxburyHigh
he said. ''It's not like you're going to be in the street come the first
of January. You will have a place to go, but it may not be here."
Students clamored to ask questions. Some clapped. Others just sat and
stared. Wells raised two fingers in a peace sign until they calmed down.
''You will continue coming to this school until you're told you don't
come," he told them.
He urged them to mobilize their parents to attend an emergency meeting
at the school last evening, as well as next week's state board of education
meeting where the closing will be decided.
Freshman Djenaba Williams said she is reluctant to leave a school that
has felt like a family to her in just four months.
''I've grown attached to it," said Williams, 15. ''We get our education.
Yeah, we have some things we need to fix but I love this school."
Students, who come from Dorchester, Mattapan, Roxbury and other Boston neighborhoods attend classes from to ,
longer than most public schools. Any scores they get below 75 count
as an F, a tougher standard than public schools.
Cynthia Brown, co-chairwoman of the school's parent advisory committee,
said the school's closure would disrupt her daughter's life.
''We're still new," said Brown, who said she chose the school because
it is small and encourages minority teenagers to take care of their
own. ''It's going to have its bumps and its hills to get over."
State officials completed a regularly scheduled visit on Nov. 16 and
17. On Dec. 8, they issued a 13-page report that criticized charter
school board members for not raising enough money to supplement the
$9,800-per-student tuition that comes from the state. The report also
complained about the school's high administrative costs, including paying
$90,000 last year for an outside business manager.
Tiffany Roach, the school's current in-house business manager, said
she is being paid $50,000 for doing the same job.
The state report also said that the school building, housed in the former
St. Joseph's Elementary School on Hulbert Street, is not accessible to the disabled nor big enough to
accommodate future enrollment growth.
Wells said that rather than spend thousands of dollars renovating the
building, the school planned to install a handicap-accessible modular
The American Civil Liberties Union and Americans United for Separation
of Church and State filed a lawsuit yesterday in Federal District Court in Harrisburg, Pa., against the school board of Dover,
Pa., saying the board violated the religious rights of several
parents and students by requiring the teaching of an alternative theory
to evolution in public schools.
Situated 20 miles south of Harrisburg,
Dover is apparently the first school district in the United States to require high school biology teachers to introduce
students to the alternate theory, known as intelligent design. The theory
says the development of the universe and earth was guided at each step
by an "intelligent agent."
Proponents say it provides scientific answers for gaps and inconsistencies
in the theory of evolution.
Critics, including the groups suing, say intelligent design is a watered-down
version of creationism, which the Supreme Court has repudiated in public
Initiatives to introduce intelligent design in curriculums are percolating
nationally, and this case could test how far opponents of evolution
can go in shaping the teaching of science, said advocates and critics
of intelligent design.
"There is reason that the eyes of the nation will be on this,"
the assistant legal director at Americans United, Richard B. Katskee,
said, "because these kind of efforts are going on in other places
or are imminent there."
Recent surveys have shown that a majority of Americans favor teaching
alternatives in school, and local boards have stepped up efforts to
challenge the teaching of evolution. In Cobb County, Ga., the civil liberties group has sued the school district
over a disclaimer about evolution inserted into textbooks. In Kansas, conservatives who favor challenging the teaching of
evolution recently won a majority on the state school board, and they
are generally expected to change the state science curriculum as early
as the spring.
The two groups in Pennsylvania say teaching intelligent design violates the Establishment
Clause of the First Amendment, which calls for the separation of church
The Dover district said in a statement on its Web site that it
was reviewing the case.
A major proponent of intelligent design, the Discovery Institute in
Seattle, said that the Dover policy was misguided because it was unclear and that
it should be withdrawn and rewritten.
Other proponents said the theory was not based on any religion's holdings
about creation but on science.
"Students will be made aware of gaps and problems in evolution,"
said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel of the ThomasMoreLawCenter, a public interest law firm in Ann Arbor, Mich., that promotes Christian values. "What's wrong
with that? What gets the A.C.L.U. and others all upset is that those
alternatives to evolution might include intelligent design, which might
lead to God."
Charter vs. Traditional
Two Types of D.C.Public
Are Not Easy to Compare
By Michael Dobbs, Washington Post Staff Writer, 12/15/04
Caroline Hoxby, a Harvard economics professor, has data showing that
District charter schools do a better job of teaching students than regular
public schools. Nonsense, says Howard Nelson of the American Federation
of Teachers. His research suggests the opposite.
With more students attending charter schools than any other city in
the country, Washington has become ground zero in a heated nationwide debate
about the effects of school choice. To prove its case, each side has
drawn on rival teams of researchers armed with complicated statistical
Independent researchers and many teachers believe that it is far too
early to reach grand conclusions about which kind of education is better.
"There are some charter schools that are doing fabulously and some
that aren't doing a good job at all," said Mary Levy, an attorney
for the education advocacy group D.C. Parents United, who has tried
to remain neutral. "The same is true of public schools."
The debate is likely to intensify todaywhen the National Assessment
for Education Progress, an independent body that styles itself "the
nation's report card," publishes results from the first nationwide
comparison of charter schools and regular public schools. Its data are
likely to provide fresh ammunition for both charter supporters and skeptics.
Visits to two neighboring District schools that have become part of
the debate -- MeridianPublicCharterSchool and GarrisonElementary
-- and conversations with researchers on both sides of the argument
bring to mind Winston Churchill's dictum about three kinds of lies:
"lies, damn lies and statistics."
The number of students attending Garrison is shrinking, while the number
going to Meridian is growing rapidly. On the other hand, Garrison students
are doing better on standardized tests than their charter school counterparts.
The student-teacher ratio is lower at the charter school, but the regular
school has more teachers rated "highly qualified." And so
Other school matchups in the District and across the country produce
similarly confusing results.
Since the first charter school was founded in Massachusetts in 1991, almost 3,300 have opened across the country,
serving nearly 1 million children nationwide. They have proved particularly
popular in the District, where nearly 20 percent of all students attend
charter schools. The alternative schools are part of the school district
but operate with a high degree of managerial and educational autonomy.
Arguments over which type of school is superior heated up over the summer
when Nelson published preliminary National Assessment for Education
Progress data indicating that charter school students lagged behind
their traditional school counterparts by roughly a half year on standardized
test scores . The study caused a furor among school choice advocates
who argued that it was based on highly selective data. Hoxby struck
back with a paper claiming a huge academic gap in favor of charter schools
It turns out that Hoxby's rebuttal to the American Federation of Teachers
study was based on faulty statistics. In a telephone interview last
week, the Harvard researcher acknowledged that she had used misleading
data to measure the proficiency of public school students in the District,
resulting in an unfair comparison with the charters. She attributed
the mix-up to the difficulty of downloading data from different Web
sites. New data provided by Hoxby showed a 7.4 percent advantage for
the charter schools in math proficiency rather than a 40 percent advantage.
Nelson also acknowledged that he had mistakenly provided faulty data
to The Washington Post, underestimating the proportion of low-income
students in some District charter schools, which affects the comparison
with regular schools. He stood by the data in his original report.
Jeffrey Henig, a ColumbiaUniversity professor of education, bemoaned "a rush to print"
by researchers who want to be part of a topical debate. Henig said his
own research into District charter schools showed "what anybody
would find if they are being honest -- a mixed picture."
The academic feuding seems oddly detached from the ground-level reality
at Meridian, which is housed in a converted laundry at 14th Street and
Florida Avenue NW. Administrators and parents concede that the school
has experienced significant growing pains in the last five years, as
enrollment grew from 84 students in 1999 to 585 today.
During that period, the for-profit school has gone through three principals
and two management companies. It introduced an entirely new math and
reading curriculum this year, in an effort to raise disappointing test
scores. Despite the turmoil, parents have remained remarkably loyal,
viewing the school as safer and more welcoming than many of its traditional
"Meridian's test scores may not be as high as Garrison's, but
the school is newer," said Frank Padgett, who heads the parent-teacher
association. "Things are getting better every year." Padgett
said he decided to enroll his two children at Meridian because he was impressed by Principal Robinette Breedlove,
who had "a passion I didn't see in a lot of other principals I
Teachers at Meridian say that test results are only one imperfect measure
of how a school is doing. "There's a lot more parent involvement
here than there," said Ola Bailey, a Meridian preschool teacher
who previously worked at Garrison. At Garrison, a half-dozen blocks
away at 1200 S St. NW, enrollment has been dropping steadily for two
decades. Administrators cite flight to the suburbs, the gentrification
of the area and competition from charter schools. Just 316 students
remain in a building designed for almost twice that number, down from
356 when Geneva Williams took over as principal two years ago.
The 40-year-old building seems in better repair than many District public
schools. Even so, it is beginning to show its age.
Williams insists that the students go to the restroom in pairs because
it is impossible to know for sure who is walking around the cavernous
building, despite the guard at the entrance. She has instituted a strict
school uniform policy and is proud that teacher turnover is low. Many
veteran teachers prefer regular public schools to the charter schools,
citing better benefits and job security.
In contrast to Meridian, Garrison has met its "adequate yearly progress"
target on standardized tests for the last two years, placing it in a
select group of District schools that are in compliance with requirements
of the 2002 No Child Left Behind Act. As a regular public school, it
is also obliged to pay more attention to special education students.
Some children with special education needs have switched back to Garrison
after trying nearby charter schools.
"The charter schools persuade parents to enroll their children
by saying everything is going to be better, but that's not always the
case," said Gwendolyn Brown, a special education teacher who withdrew
her child from a District charter school because she believed he was
not receiving enough individual attention.
For all the heat generated by the school choice debate, researchers
agree that much depends on parents' preferences and the quality of individual
teachers and principals. "I would never claim that every charter
school is better than every regular public school," said Hoxby,
the Harvard economist.
As he attempts to make sense of an ever-growing pile of data, Nelson
goes somewhat further. "In the end," the AFT researcher said,
"it's a draw."
TALLAHASSEE -- The latest ruling that Florida's original school voucher law is unconstitutional has
been appealed to the Florida Supreme Court by Gov. Jeb Bush and other
The Supreme Court announced Tuesday it had received the appeal notices
late Monday. Because the issue is the status of a state law that has
been found unconstitutional by a lower court, the court is required
to take the case.
The state has been allowed to issue vouchers since the first ruling,
nearly five years ago, that the law was unconstitutional.
Last month, the 1st District Court of Appeal agreed with a trial judge
who said the 1999 law violates the state constitution because it lets
tax dollars be spent on religious schools.
That decision was the third against the law, which lets students attending
public schools that earn failing grades two years out of four attend
private schools on state vouchers.
The program is the centerpiece of Bush's education program and is the
first and smallest of Florida's three school voucher laws.
This school year, about 700 students in seven districts filed to attend
private schools under the law, up about 100 from last year. More than
half will attend a religious school, according to the state.
Under the law, voucher students can be taught about religion but cannot
be made to pray, worship or profess a religious belief.
Opponents, including the state's teacher union, the Florida PTA, the
Florida League of Women Voters and the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People, challenged the law in court the day after
Bush signed it.
Florida's other voucher programs are larger than the 1999 law.
One offers vouchers for children with disabilities, the other is a corporate
income tax credit program that funds private scholarships for poor children.
Both are open to religious schools, but neither was added to the lawsuit
against the original.
Not getting enough sleep is an age-old complaint among adolescents,
who struggle to stay awake, much less learn, during the early hours
Backed by plenty of research showing how a lack of sleep negatively
affects learning and even behavior, the San DiegoUnifiedSchool
is considering later start times. Other districts in the nation also
are having that discussion and some have already pushed back start times.
San Diego schools are soliciting input from students, teachers
and district employees through three online surveys, which are being
conducted through Friday. The district has received more than 500 responses
on each of the three surveys.
A fourth survey designed for parents will be conducted next month. The
goal is for the board of education to consider changes in April and
implement them next fall.
A work group of principals, district union representatives, teachers
and parents meets regularly to discuss the implications of changing
Michael Price, who heads the office of school support and financial
operations division, said this is the first time the district is considering
changing school start times based on research about adolescent achievement,
brain functions and their biological clock.
Changes are being considered as the district continues to struggle with
high school students' low achievement. This fall, the district experimented
with breaking three large high schools into small academies to create
more personalized environments for learning.
At the same time, the district is also trying to find more efficient
ways to operate school buses and elementary and middle schools, which
in the past rotated every five years to a new start time.
School schedule changes can have enormous consequences for the community.
Parents might have to rearrange their day to accommodate pickups and
drop-offs of their children, as well as child care.
Elementary and middle school schedules would have to be tweaked, too,
to accommodate school bus transportation and other aspects of school
And with school ending later in the day, students may be forced to cut
back on after-school athletics and club activities in order to get home
Generally, high schools begin at For the 22,000 students who ride school buses across town for magnet
or racial integration programs, it means getting up at or earlier to get ready for school.
The district's student survey lists a number of late-start options ranging
from to , the latter of which would put the end of school at
Michael Thompson, student body president at La JollaHigh
who chaired a recent meeting of student leaders on start times, said
making a change is appealing and unappealing at the same time.
Thompson, who confesses to falling asleep during the first three periods
of school, would like to get more sleep, but he said "way too many
problems would come along with it."
For example, he said, if school ends past ,
parents and school buses would be fighting rush-hour traffic to get
students home. He also wondered what would happen to parents who need
to get to work before school starts.
But Thompson is concerned that some students chug high-caffeine soft
drinks or take caffeine pills to stay awake. Robin Stern, principal
at Hearst Elementary School in Del Cerro and a member of the start-times
working group, said the committee has made a lengthy list of issues
that would have to be addressed if start times are pushed back.
One concern, she said, is the safety of young children going home late
in the afternoon. They are more suited to the current early starts and
leaving early because young children tend to naturally go to bed early,
unlike adolescents whose biological clock favors going to bed later
and getting up later.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, which published a report
summarizing research on sleep and young people, adolescents need 8½
to 9¼ hours of sleep each night. A 1997 BrownUniversity study found that teens don't generally fall asleep until
or later, even
if they go to bed earlier.
The report also says a lack of sleep not only affects achievement, but
it can cause negative moods, such as anger and sadness, and increase
the likelihood of stimulant use, such as coffee and cigarettes.
Studies cited in the foundation's report show some schools have seen
higher student attendance, a decrease in tardiness and an increase in
student alertness after implementing a later start.
But later starts also have resulted in fewer students participating
in extracurricular activities and impacted students' ability to work
MUSTANG, Okla. -- Voters incensed over a superintendent's decision
to remove a Nativity scene from an elementary school Christmas program
took out their anger at the ballot box, helping to defeat bond measures
worth nearly $11 million.
Tuesday's rejection of the two measures -- one of which would have paid
for construction of an elementary school -- marked the first time in
more than a decade that voters in this bedroom community west of Oklahoma
City denied additional money for their school district.
The day before the election, dozens of parents at a school board meeting
expressed outrage at Superintendent Karl Springer's decision to end
the school's tradition of closing the Christmas play with a manger scene.
''You've got to tell them you're not going to sit by and let them take
away your rights,'' said Tim Pope, a former Republican legislator.
Concerned over the issue of separation of church and state, Springer
had sought advice from the school board attorney, who recommended that
the Nativity scene be removed. The children still got to sing ''Silent
Night,'' but Springer took out the manger scene.
''Probably in my life I've never had to make a decision as difficult
as this,'' said Springer, who added that he thinks his choice hurt support
for the bond measures. ''But I had two strong legal opinions that said
something we had planned could be illegal.''
Sybil Arum's eighth-grade granddaughter came home this week worried
that she was on the verge of being drafted by the military and sent
off to war.
The reason for her fear was the Department of Education's annual privacy
notice, which says contact information for secondary students as young
as sixth-graders may be released to military recruiters unless the student,
parent or legal guardian requests otherwise.
Arum, who is the child's guardian, quickly determined that her granddaughter
was not being shipped off to Iraq, but became alarmed anyway.
"I'm very upset with the age level that this policy encompasses,"
DOE and U.S. Department of Defense officials, however, stress that the
military is only interested in students who are 17 and older and will
not be following up with students as young as sixth-graders.
"We don't just automatically release (the information to recruiters);
it would have to be on request," said DOE spokesman Greg Knudsen.
"Recruiters have told us that their interest is in juniors and
The privacy form, which also includes other disclosure information,
goes to all public school students across the state. Many schools have
sent the form out; at others, it is making its way to homes this week.
The form has been sent out for years as part of routine DOE information
gathering to be used in the release of such things as honors and awards.
But this is only the second year that it has included the notice of
potential disclosure to the military.
The release of information is part of the federal No Child Left Behind
Act, which requires all school systems receiving NCLB money to make
the contact information available to military recruiters or risk losing
federal money. The law also requires schools to give military recruiters
the same on-campus access they would give to prospective employers,
colleges and other post-secondary education institutions.
Because private schools are not affected by NCLB, Arum is concerned
that only public school students will be included in the recruiters'
"Who are the military going to call on first?" she asked.
"The kids that are going to be in that file are public school kids,
not the private school kids."
Middle-school principals reached yesterday declined to comment on the
issue, but said no recruiters had ever requested information on their
students in sixth through eighth grade.
"In some way, this (form) might be needlessly alarming people,"
DOE's Knudsen acknowledged. However, he noted that there have not been
Maj. Chuck Anthony, spokesman for the state Department of Defense, confirmed
that no one under the age of 17 should receive recruitment materials.
In fact, he added that if younger students request information about
enlisting, the recruiters tell them to come back when they turn 17.
Further, even if students' information is released to recruiters, this
does not obligate them to do anything.
"If the mother is that concerned or the daughter is uninterested,
all they have to do is say no," Anthony said. "It's not like
a sheriff comes with a summons and says, 'You've been served.' "
Paul Vierling, the Hawai'i Parent Teacher Student Association's community
relations specialist, said concern over having information released
to the military is unfounded. "I don't see any problem with it,"
Countries that require military service have seen positive outcomes
on their society because the military teaches the importance of community
service, giving back and making contributions, Vierling said.
But parents who don't agree can just request that their children's information
be kept private. "If people don't want their information shared,
I think that's fine, as long as they have the choice," said Vierling.
Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, the DOE is required
to send home a notice every year that includes several types of disclosures,
including that student contact information could be given to military
Knudsen said the notice sent home this year was similar to the one last
year, when the notice about release of information to military recruiters
was more prominent.
Arum said she regularly requests that her child's information be withheld,
but does not remember the military recruiter part from last year. She
suspects that other parents could miss it as well, unless they carefully
read the form.
"It can be very intimidating and confusing for someone who is not
going to read the whole thing," she said.
She said kids are confused because they think if they do not allow their
information to be disclosed, they won't be able to appear in the yearbook.
Lois Perrin, legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union, said
the issue came up last year when it turned out that information was
released to recruiters about students who specifically asked that it
She said the DOE has since rectified the problem and is adjusting the
way nondisclosure statements are handled.
By next year, in addition to the annual disclosure notice, a separate
notice will be mailed to secondary students and their parents or guardians
specifically on releasing information to military recruiters and how
to opt out.
School administrators will be asked for written verification that both
notices were distributed.
In addition, the nondisclosure requests from the previous year will
be retained until this school year's requests are processed.
Perrin, who is concerned about privacy issues for public school students,
said the ideal process would be to have student opt in if they want
their contact information released.
However, Knudsen said NCLB stipulates that the parents or students must
initiate the request to restrict disclosure. TOP OF PAGE
Paddling on hold
School board approves 2-month moratorium to study discipline issue
By TAWNELL D. HOBBS, The Dallas Morning News, 12/17/04
The Dallas school board banned paddling in schools at Thursday
night's meeting – at least temporarily.
Trustees voted to implement a two-month moratorium on corporal punishment
to allow administrators to come up with a proposal to ban paddling and
provide alternatives to discipline students. Such a proposal would still
require broad approval.
Trustee Ron Price, who supports paddling, suggested the moratorium that
took the place of a recommendation to immediately ban paddling in the
"This gives our administration the opportunity to go back and study
these issues ... and bring forth a legitimate plan," he said.
The moratorium passed in a 6-2 vote. Trustees Hollis Brashear and Lew
Blackburn abstained, and Joe May was absent.
The issue has split the board. Mr. Brashear, who supports paddling,
accused his colleagues of not properly posting the corporal punishment
item on the agenda. An attorney for the district disagreed.
The number of parents in the district who have signed forms allowing
their children to be paddled has dwindled. As of last week, 453 parents
had given consent, compared with 3,335 last year.
Trustee Ken Zornes, who opposes corporal punishment, said it has had
permanent harmful effects on children. He said even one child harmed
is too many.
"How can we take that risk?" Mr. Zornes said. TOP OF PAGE
Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777