SOUTHERN ILLINOIS - Education officials throughout Illinois were not the only people happy to see the governor complete
a three-year, $90 million promise to preschools this past week by appropriating
the last $30 million installment for programs in the 2006 fiscal year
budget. A group of law enforcement officials, state's attorneys and
crime survivors promoting socially constructive programs for children
also shared the victory.
Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois is the state branch of a nationwide
organization dedicated to putting existing criminals behind bars but
nipping potential future criminals in the bud during childhood with
comprehensive educational and social community programs.
The group has hundreds of members in the state, including several in
Southern Illinois including Union, Alexander, Saline
and Franklin counties.
UnionCountyState's Attorney Allen James is a member of the group and
spoke on behalf of it earlier this year before a legislative committee
in Springfield, regarding funding of the some of the preschool programs
the group supports.
James said he learned the value of pre-kindergarten program because
his wife, a school teacher, started in a preschool.
The sooner we can get children started in education and learning,
the lower the chances are they will do any kind of criminal activity
when they get older," he said.
It's not a guarantee, James added, but he often finds the young people
getting in trouble are the same youths having trouble in school work.
It is a piece of the puzzle toward stopping criminal behavior before
it begins, he said.
"You're not going to save them all, and the schools only have them
so many hours a week; it all comes down to home life," James said.
Home life isn't what it used to be for children, with both parents often
having to work to bring in a steady household income. Even infant children
are left in the care of others most of the time, while parents work
during the day.
Angie Messer, administrator of the Southern Seven Head Start, which
covers the seven southernmost counties in the state, said if children
aren't getting enough constructive activity before they turn 5 years
old, they've missed out on some important opportunities.
"A lot of the learning that goes on, the things they are going
to learn, happens by age 5, as far as social skills," Messer said.
"Preschool teaches them how to interact among their peers."
Messer said preschool students are also learning more advanced studies
"Many of the things we might have learned in kindergarten, they
are now learning in preschool," she said.
That is not to see parents who choose not to put their child in a preschool
environment have doomed them to falling behind, Messer said.
Studious parents help children benefit just as much at home as they
would in preschool.
"If you have parents who are very involved in their children's
education they are going to develop the same as others," Messer
Preschool, she said, offers a safe environment where parents who work
know their child will be in a constructive environment.
However, Messer added school facilities generally offer services only
between the hours of and Keeping children constructively occupied after school
can be just as challenging and lead to as many problems in potential
The after-school programs also received some state funding this year,
though it is less compared to the preschool plan, said FCIK spokeswoman
She said the State Board of Education appears to have added a new budget
line item for "After School Programs, Mentoring and Student Support"
in the amount of $12.2 million.
funding increase falls short
John Krupa and Darrin
Area school superintendents really dont want to sound ungrateful
about the $330 million in additional education funding built into the
new state budget.
They say every little bit helps, and they are glad it wasnt a
"I understand people will say, You are getting all this extra
money, but it still wont be enough," said John Pearson,
superintendent of the East Alton-Wood River High School District, which
will get $299,751 in new money from the state this year -- an increase
of 19.2 percent. "We are still in deficit spending, and this will
just allow us to borrow less."
While MadisonCounty school districts get $3.2 million in additional state
money under Gov. Rod Blagojevichs new budget, according to estimates
released by the Illinois State Board of Education, superintendents say
the new revenue is simply inadequate.
The new money -- $110 million of which is earmarked for Downstate Illinois
-- does bump up the per-pupil spending level by $200 to $5,164, but
it still falls $1,241 short of the recommended level of $6,405.
And MadisonCountys increase is only half of what it received last
year, when it took in $6.3 million in new state money.
Cris Hagen, business manager for the RoxanaSchool District, said the districts $269,351 increase in state
aid barely keeps pace with inflation.
"To put it into perspective, I have a $12 million education fund
budget, so this is an approximate 2 percent increase in revenue,"
Hagen said. "This doesnt allow us to do anything
Because of varying student enrollments and property tax revenues --
the two key components in calculating general state aid -- there also
are striking disparities in the amount of new money each district took
Macoupin and Greene counties each saw a 2.5 percent increase in state
aid, and MadisonCounty followed right behind with a 2.4 percent increase.
But CalhounCounty saw only a 1.2 percent increase in state aid, and JerseyCounty got a miniscule bump up of 0.8 percent.
Edwardsville and Granite
the two largest school districts in the area -- saw zero in new cash.
Granite City Superintendent Ken Perkins said a decrease in enrollment
of nearly 200 students is largely to blame, but he admitted that property
tax revenues have fallen by close to $1 million as well, largely due
to new property tax exemptions.
With salaries and benefits climbing by $1.2 million this fiscal year,
Perkins said cuts through attrition would follow to make up the shortfall.
"Its the same situation we are all facing. Funding is never
adequate," he said. "But heres the deal: Every time
theres a problem (with funding), they look at educators, and they
say fix it.
"And we always have, and we always will."
However, budget backers say schools made out pretty well, considering
the states precarious financial position.
Over the last three years, education funding in Illinois has increased by $2.3 billion, Democrats say, making
Illinois the top-rated state in the Midwest when it comes to increases in education funding.
"And when you compare Gov. Blagojevichs investments in K-through-12
education versus his predecessors, its pretty telling in
terms of where his priorities are," said Becky Carroll, spokeswoman
for the Governors Office of Management and Budget.
Blagojevich has increased school funding by 8 percent, Carroll said,
as compared to the 2 percent increase under former Gov. George Ryan
and a 5 percent increase under former Gov. Jim Edgar.
"And Gov. Blagojevich has presided over historic deficits in our
state, while Gov. Ryan presided during the most prosperous economic
times," Carroll said. "Schools are clearly better off today
than they were three years ago."
Even state Rep. Jim Watson, R-Jacksonville, conceded that "youve
got to give credit where credit is due.
"Despite my disagreements with how this budget is financed, you
have to give (Blagojevich) credit for the commitment he has made to
education," Watson said.
But those who trumpet this budget as an example of Blagojevichs
commitment to education are simply putting a "spin" on the
issue, Pearson said.
"What we really need is to fix the structural problems in the system,"
Educators near-universal solution is reforming the way schools
are funded by shifting from a property tax-dependent system to one predicated
on income and sales taxes.
Hundreds of teachers rallied in Springfield in May for the passage of Senate Bill 750 -- which would
have put $2 billion in new money into education this year by rolling
back property taxes, raising the income tax and expanding the scope
of the sales tax.
However, much like its previous incarnations, the bill floundered under
the weight of Blagojevichs pledge to veto any bill that raises
the income or sales taxes, although theres a rumor that he might
rethink his position if he wins re-election in 2006.
"Youve got to reform the system if its going to run
right. All we are doing is putting Band-Aids on it right now,"
Perkins said. "But one of these days, its going to be broken
beyond repair." TOP OF PAGE
Education spending will grow by $313 million next year in Illinois, but at least six Southland school districts will lose
The drop can be attributed to increases in local property values or
decreases in enrollment, said Becky Watts, spokeswoman for the Illinois
State Board of Education.
"It is a concept people do not grasp," said Mike Sass, superintendent
122, which loses about $302,000 in general state aid despite skyrocketing
"When local property taxes go up, we see it, but the state takes
it out of another pocket," he said.
District leaders said the losses were expected and worked into 2005-06
school year budgets.
"It was in our financial plan, but we are disappointed because
we are in a fast-growing district," said Keith Pain, superintendent
161, which loses $686,850 in general state aid at a time when it is
building a new school.
The preliminary allocations were released last week based on the state
budget and the latest district data collected by the state.
The General Assembly approved an almost 5.5 percent increase in education
spending. It is enough to increase the "foundation level"
of funding guaranteed for each student by $200 to $5,164, but still
far short of the $6,400 experts recommend.
Most Southland districts will see a gain due to the foundation level,
poverty grants and enrollment increases.
General state aid for Lincoln-Way High School District 210 will increase
about $1.3 million, while Consolidated School District 230 will gain
about $1.6 million.
"Our enrollment went up about 300 students that's $700,000
right there," said Steve Langert, assistant superintendent for
business services at District 230.
Southland school leaders were disappointed the General Assembly cut
a fast-growth grant and did not increase the cigarette tax to pay for
school construction, as suggested by Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
Sass estimated his district could have received $7 million in matching
construction grants had the sin tax passed.
"In growing areas of the southwest suburbs, we need to make sure
that's funded," he said.
SPRINGFIELD The 1999 expulsion of six black students in Decatur set off a surge of reports showing minorities in Illinois and elsewhere being expelled at much higher rates than
That trend continues, according to the latest state records.
Black students in the suburbs were nine times more likely to be expelled
than white students, and minorities as a whole were four times more
likely to be expelled than whites, according to the latest figures from
the Illinois State Board of Education.
Suspensions followed a similar pattern. Suburban black students were
4.7 times more likely to be suspended than white students, and minorities
as a whole were twice as likely to be suspended.
No one seems to agree on exactly why this is occurring. Experts have
researched differences in economic backgrounds and culture. Some politicians
say its simply racial attitudes.
The one thing they agree on is statistics show there is a clear difference.
It almost appears that theres a window being opened and
some people either wittingly or unwittingly are pushing African-American
males out of schools and into prisons, said state Rep. Monique
Davis, a Chicago Democrat, who is black.
Racial disparities in discipline are not just a suburban trend. Statewide,
during the 2002-03 school year, the expulsion and suspension rate for
black students was three times higher than for white students. There
were similar disparities for Latino students, too, according to a Daily
Herald analysis of state records.
Expulsions in Illinois public schools peaked at 2,779 in 1999, the year of
the Decatur incident.
Decaturs infamous expulsions occurred after a fight broke
out among seven black students in the grandstands of a football game.
Videotaped footage of the brawl saturated television news and district
officials voted to expel six students. The seventh withdrew from classes.
In Decatur, the expulsions provoked a wave of protests and marches
led by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, but federal courts later upheld the expulsions.
The expulsions were criticized as an overreaction to a brawl in which
no weapons were used and no one was seriously injured.
The following year, Illinois expulsions dropped to 2,058 the lowest in recent
years. But ever since, expulsions have crept up. In 2003, the most recent
year for which data is available, there were 2,530 expulsions.
In some cases, school administrators hands are tied. Zero-tolerance
policies require schools to expel students for infractions such as possession
of weapons or drugs. Many of these policies grew out of high-profile
school shooting cases across the country. The Decatur
expulsions prompted debate about whether they were applied fairly. Yet
the policies remain and administrators say they must enforce them.
Given the situation, schools need to intervene in the lower grades to
help students find alternatives to violent behavior before it leads
to something as drastic as getting kicked out of school, said Kathleen
Williams, superintendent of East Maine Elementary District 63 in Des Plaines.
An IndianaUniversity professor examined thousands of middle school student
disciplinary reports looking for clues. His 2000 report, The Color
of Discipline, found neither economic background nor personality
traits could explain why minorities are often disciplined more frequently
and severely than whites.
When we confront something like this there is a tendency to want
to rationalize it or deny that in 2005 there could still be racial inequities
in our society, said Russ Skiba, a professor of counseling and
educational psychology. He studied the disciplinary records of 11,000
urban Midwestern middle school students.
His study found white students are disciplined more for infractions
such as vandalism, smoking or leaving class without permission, while
black students are disciplined more for subjective behavior such as
disrespect, loitering and threats.
A new study by the University of Missouri-Columbia found large, high-poverty
schools are more likely to expel and suspend students. Researcher Motoko
Akiba, who studied 2,270 schools nationwide, also found fewer than 5
percent of severe disciplinary actions were weapons-related.
Suburban school administrators contacted by the Daily Herald were reluctant
to discuss racial disparities, saying race does not affect the decisions
they make when disciplining students.
We try to deal with every discipline situation on a case-by-case
basis, said Jim Muir, assistant superintendent of Schaumburg Township
Elementary District 54.
Skiba urged school officials to talk about whats going on and
why the numbers are skewed, saying nothing will change until there are
Ken Arndt was the Decatur superintendent who expelled the black students in 1999.
Now superintendent of Community Unit District 300 in KaneCounty, Arndt says he did the right thing in Decatur and advises other administrators not to be intimidated.
They have to do what they have to do, Arndt said. The
easiest thing, which is the worst thing, is to ignore it and hope itll
go away, and I would never recommend that because it would come back
to haunt them
During the 2002-03 school year, state statistics show, District 300
expelled 31 students, including 16 white students, seven black students
and eight Hispanic students. The district has more than 18,000 students,
68 percent of whom are white, 4 percent are black and 24 percent are
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - An analysis of state records found that minority students
in Illinois were about twice as likely as white students to be expelled
from public schools, prompting concern from one lawmaker about racial
disparity in school discipline.
In the Chicago suburbs, black students were nine times more likely
than whites to be expelled and nearly five times more likely to be suspended,
according to the analysis by the (Arlington Heights)
Statewide, black students were three times more likely to be expelled
or suspended and Hispanic students were 1.3 times more likely, the records
The newspaper reviewed Illinois State Board of Education records for
the 2002-2003 school year, the most recent year for which data was available.
"It almost appears that there's a window being opened and some
people either wittingly or unwittingly are pushing African-American
males out of schools and into prisons," said state Rep. Monique
Davis, a Chicago Democrat.
State Board of Education spokeswoman Becky Watts said Monday that while
the board does not want to second guess decisions made by school administrators,
the issue will be addressed.
"These statistics show a troubling gap in discipline outcomes for
students, and as school leaders we need to continue to look at this,"
During the school year the newspaper analyzed, white students made up
about 51 percent of the state's public school population and 39 percent
of the expulsions, while black students accounted for 21 percent of
the students but 46 percent of expulsions. Hispanic students were 17
percent of the school population and 14 of the expulsions, the newspaper
Suburban school administrators said race does not affect the decisions
they make when disciplining students.
"We try to deal with every discipline situation on a case-by-case
basis," said Jim Muir, assistant superintendent of Schaumburg Township
Elementary District 54.
Statewide, 2,530 students were expelled in 2003. The year before, 2,543
students were expelled.
Expulsions of minority students caught the public's attention in 1999
when the Rev. Jesse Jackson took up the cause of six black students
who were expelled, and another who withdrew, from DecaturSchool
following a bleacher-clearing fist fight at a high school football game. TOP OF PAGE
Illinois officials are moving to lower passing scores on the
high-stakes reading test given to immigrant children learning English.
The new scores, scheduled for a vote this week by the Illinois State
Board of Education, would make it easier for thousands more students
to pass the Illinois Measure of Annual Growth in English (IMAGE) in
reading, state officials say. The test is one of the exams used to determine
whether public schools pass or fail standards under No Child Left Behind
The new passing scores would coincide with an expected surge in the
number of children who will take the IMAGE next year as Illinois ramps up its state testing schedule and more immigrant
children enroll in public schools.
An estimated 95,000 children are expected to take the IMAGE reading
test, up from about 63,000 in 2003-04.
State and local educators say the proposed change isn't about lowering
standards. Instead, the move addresses long-standing criticism and frustration
about the use of the IMAGE test, said Becky McCabe, who oversees assessment
at the state board.
IMAGE was designed to measure a child's progress in learning English
rather than his mastery of a particular academic subject, she said.
Passing scores were set high in 1998, in part to make sure children
weren't moved too quickly out of special bilingual programs that help
them become English proficient.
But with the advent of the 2002 No Child Left Behind reforms, IMAGE
has been used to measure how well students have mastered reading and
math as required by the state and federal government. If children don't
meet standards, schools can be labeled as failing and face sanctions.
The problem is that a child who doesn't pass the test in English, might,
in fact, show mastery of those skills if he took the exam in his native
McCabe said lowering passing scores is a first step toward addressing
the criticisms, and the state may consider other changes, including
a Spanish version of the regular reading test given to youngsters who
already speak English.
Under the proposals, the passing score on the 3rd-grade IMAGE reading
test would be set at 194, down from 205. The 5th-grade passing score
would be 207, down from 230; the 8th-grade score would be 228, down
from 250; and the 11th-grade score would be 249, down from 295.
A perfect score on the tests is 450. The passing score is based generally
on the number of questions answered correctly, with questions weighted
Passing scores for the IMAGE math test would not change under the proposals.
If approved, the new passing scores also would apply to 2004-05 test
results on the IMAGE reading test taken this spring.
Local educators had a mixed reaction to the proposal.
"This is a quick fix, but it doesn't fix the basic problem with
this test," said Margo Gottlieb, a state expert on bilingual education
assessments. "The state's done everything they can to make this
more palatable. For the school officials who don't know the history
of IMAGE, they'll probably be happy with the results. The others will
Xavier Botana, director of No Child Left Behind programs for Chicago
Public Schools, said the change in the passing criteria is likely to
have a big impact in city schools with large numbers of immigrant children.
About half of the limited-English students who take the IMAGE attend
"We're not lowering the standards," Botana said. "We're
just taking the test and using it the way it was supposed to be used."
In West Chicago Elementary School District 33, Assistant Supt. Angel
Rivera applauded the state's move, saying it would likely help some
of the district's schools avoid a failing label under No Child Left
"The old [cut-off] scores weren't fair," Rivera said.
PARK RIDGE -- If Ald. Frank Wsol's plan comes to fruition, Park Ridge teens will someday get an offer they can--but might
not--refuse: Pass a drug test, win a prize.
It's an idea that's catching on around the country. In exchange for
coming up clean on a voluntary drug test, students get movie tickets,
discount gas cards, even preference for local jobs.
"When you [offer] that, you put something in place that gives the
teens two things," said Wsol, who was elected to the City Council
"It does reward positive behavior, and when teens are in a peer
pressure situation, they can turn to someone who is trying to sway them
and say: `I can't do that. I'm going to be tested.'"
Speaking of positive, getting that result on a drug test doesn't mean
that a teen will be turned over to police.
That's against the law, said William J. Judge, an Oak Park attorney who specializes in testing law and is reviewing
Details would have to be worked out, but most likely parents would be
informed of a positive test.
"Treatment and counseling are the goal, not punishment," Judge
One question about voluntary tests is whether many kids would take them.
Judge said the number is greater than you might think.
"One school in North
said 85 percent of the student body is participating," he said.
"The difference is the kind of incentives that are offered. It's
not just a clothing store discount."
Suggested rewards vary widely. Sharon Block, a state legislator in Idaho, has suggested offering college scholarships to those
who pass the tests.
A few teens, playing baseball Thursday afternoon at Maine South High
School after classes let out for the summer, were unimpressed by the
rewards other towns offered and doubted they would affect anyone's decision
about using drugs.
"They're not going to stop unless they get something good,"
said Luke Nuccio, 16, who will be a senior in the fall.
When three StevensonHigh
students in north suburban Lincolnshire chose to explore the 1964 murders of three civil rights workers as a
National History Day project, they never imagined it would lead to a
But their 2004 documentary is credited with renewing interest in the
41-year-old "Mississippi Burning" case, and helping bring
murder charges this year against a reputed Ku Klux Klansman whose trial
began Monday in NeshobaCounty, Miss.
"This was a milestone for American justice," said Rep. Mark
Kirk (D-Ill.). "I could not be more proud of these three young
women in Lincolnshire. They have played a critical role in cracking open a
Allison Nichols of Buffalo
Grove and partners
Sarah Siegel and Brittany Saltiel of Lincolnshire were 16 years old when they began researching their
10-minute documentary, "The C.O.R.E. of the Solution," in
While teacher and project supervisor Barry Bradford offered a host of
possible subjects for a national contest, the girls said they were drawn
to the June 21, 1964, murders of James Chaney, 21, a black man, and
his two white companions, Andrew Goodman, 20, and Michael Schwerner,
24, because the victims were not much older than they.
"It's important to show future generations that people were willing
to rectify the wrongs done during the civil rights movement," said
Sarah. "Now that the trial has come to fruition, we're hopeful
justice will finally be served."
Chaney, from Mississippi, and Goodman and Schwerner, from New York,
were volunteers with the Congress of Racial Equality's Freedom Summer
1964, an effort to register blacks in the South to vote. They disappeared.
The FBI found their bodies 44 days later, buried in an earthen dam.
They had been beaten and shot to death, allegedly by Klansmen.
In 1964, Mississippi refused to prosecute anyone for the murders. In 1967,
the U.S. Justice Department took the case and tried 19 people, many
of them Klansman, on federal civil rights violations.
Accused of setting it up
Seven were convicted and sentenced to prison terms of three to 10 years
in the case the FBI dubbed "Mississippi Burning," which became
the subject of a 1988 film starring Gene Hackman.
Edgar Ray Killen, accused of having organized the carloads of Klansmen
who waylaid the three voting rights workers, was freed after his trial
ended in a hung jury.
Youths won wide support
For their documentary, the girls garnered a rare interview with Killen,
79 at the time, in which he calls the slain workers "communists"
on a tape that was turned over to the Justice Department and Mississippi
Attorney General Jim Hood.
Killen was indicted for murder in January. Hood said the girls' interview
provided new evidence.
"It's a victory for us personally, but even moreso for the family
members, and for everyone in Mississippi who sought justice in this case for so long," said
Allison. "But it's disappointing they've still only indicted one
Eight of those originally prosecuted are still alive.
As part of their research, the girls used more than 160 sources and
traveled to Mississippi and New York.
They pored over 2,000 pages of court trial transcripts.
They interviewed witnesses, civil rights veterans, former prosecutors
and investigators, and government officials, many of whom pledged their
support to help re-open the case.
"One of the most meaningful interviews was with [Goodman's mother]
Dr. Carolyn Goodman, in her home in New York where Andrew grew up," Brittany said. "We sat in her living room and she showed
us old photo albums and we really connected with the personal aspect
Community Unit District 300 school board members are writing criminal
laws and setting fines and their first targets are residents
who falsely allege ethics violations.
Only months after absolving three of its own who were accused of ethics
violations, the board now is considering a revision in district ethics
policy that says filing a false ethics complaint is a crime punishable
by as much as a $5,000 fine.
Board member Mary Fioretti, who as a member of the boards policy
committee helped draft the revisions, said the wording comes directly
from the Illinois School Code.
The purpose, Fioretti said, is to protect board members from residents
with vendettas, or those who simply hate school boards.
For frivolous kinds of things there should be a penalty,
Experts on the U.S. Constitution might find that objectionable.
Theres a constitutional right to petition the government
for a redress of grievances, said Steven Lubert, a professor at
the Northwestern University School of Law, citing the First Amendment.
I think government bodies need to brace themselves to listen to
Ordinarily, Lubert said, people who file complaints against government
representatives are protected except in cases where the complaints
are found to be false and malicious.
For instance, the state ethics law, which the District 300 policy is
based on, does outline instances where a false and malicious complaint
could be punishable.
But in the section referred to in the districts ethics policy,
there is no mention of a possible fine for an intentionally false report.
Either way, the legislature is empowered to write criminal laws. School
boards are not.
Defining criminal activity or attaching penalties for such falls outside
the school boards authority, which is why board members said they
did not in the current policy include a similar section that would lay
out the penalties for those who do break the law.
I think that will be an issue of discussion, board President John Court said, whether or not thats appropriate to
have in our policy.
The revisions are now on their way back to committee and will likely
come up again at the June 27 board meeting.
A Glenbard High School District 87 education may cost more this fall.
But the district is going to take some of the sting out of paying the
The school board Monday approved a plan that would allow parents to
pay some of the fees over as many as four installments.
Eligible under this option are such required costs as a $180 registration/activity
charge and fees for physical education, art and family/consumer science
Parents can also defer the $300 price tag for driver education if the
course is taken during the second semester. Payments can be automatically
deducted from a checking account.
Not eligible are optional fees such as the parking, sports, late registration
and course changes. Those fees run $160, $140, $40 and $35 respectively.
Fees were raised dramatically this year to help preserve extra-curricular
and athletic programs and meet rising costs for some courses, district
Acting Supt. Michael Warner said the installment plan would enable parents
to pay a child's education over time.
Fees are waived for 800 students who are on the free-lunch program.
Payments are deferred for 600 students on the federal reduced-lunch
program or other students who qualify on a case-by-case basis, said
John Moss, the district's director for special services.
It has not yet been determined how the new plan will affect those 600
students, Moss said.
Also Monday, the school board gave its blessing to the efforts of the
student support committee, directing members to come back with some
recommendations later this summer.
At the same time, representatives from United4Glenbard--an organization
created last year to support the district's failed tax rate-hike drives--announced
that any of its unused cash, about $4,700, would go to a student-support
That money will be directed to the Glenbard Partnership for Educational
Progress fund. Glenbard PEP is part of a larger non-profit foundation
that supports educational efforts in the high school and all of the
elementary feeder districts.
As a political committee, United4Glenbard is limited by state law in
how its leftover cash is used. Funds can be returned to contributors
or given to a charitable organization such as PEP. The money can also
be transferred to another political committee if another referendum
drive is mounted.
Additional money for the support committee could come this summer as,
for the second year, parents can donate money for Glenbard PEP during
registration. Last year $3,000 was raised for programs. Parents this
time can decide whether to donate money toward class materials or to
the support committee.
Private tutoring firms have exploded almost overnight in response to
the federal No Child Left Behind law. Though public schools are being
held strictly accountable for raising student achievement under that
landmark education reform, the same can't be said for the $200-million-a
year tutoring industry.
Providing extra instruction is vital to the success of No Child Left
Behind, yet monitoring the effectiveness of the tutoring industry has
been lax here and elsewhere in the country. That's a problem, because
many firms are new and untested, and the supply of firms has not yet
caught up to the sudden and huge demand.
In Illinois, the state's monitoring of 75 approved tutoring companies
has been almost non-existent. Chicago and some other local school districts have been forced
to try to police these firms on their own.
Fortunately, under pressure from the federal government, that promises
to change soon.
Officials with the State Board of Education on Wednesday proposed emergency
rules that would vastly increase state oversight of the financial and
academic effectiveness of the private tutors. If the full board approves
these rules on Thursday, Illinois will boast some of the strictest oversight in the nation.
Better oversight means taxpayers will be more likely to get their money's
worth out of after-school tutoring. And students who need the extra
help will be more likely to get it. This has been a long time coming.
Under the law, the state board should have done this three years ago.
The proposed rules call for closely analyzing student achievement gains
from the beginning to the end of the year, comparing tutored children
to untutored children. This information will help determine which private
tutoring companies raise student achievement and which ones don't. The
data also should help parents choose among tutoring companies and inform
school officials about which firms to drop.
The new rules also require private firms to reveal far more information
about their costs in an effort to make tutoring available to as many
kids as possible. Chicago has the largest number of kids who need tutoring, but
can provide it only to a small share of those kids. This coming school
year, Chicago expects 230,000 public school students to be eligible
for extra after-school help. But with $50 million from the federal government
and a state cap of $2,000 per student, only 25,000 students may get
The state's finally moving in the right direction. Until now, the state's
effort has consisted of three staffers who review simple applications
from prospective tutor firms. There are plans now to contract for the
analysis of the far more voluminous information that will come in under
the new rules. It will take a real effort to assure that the state's
students are getting the most they can from the demands and promise
of No Child Left Behind.
Illinois school districts now have the option to buy supplies
and services through a pooled-purchasing program intended to cut costs,
state School Superintendent Randy Dunn said Thursday.
Through the new Illinois School Purchasing Network, the Illinois State
Board of Education is partnering with U.S. Communities, a national not-for-profit
governmental purchasing cooperative, Dunn said at a news conference
at ISBE headquarters in Springfield.
"We don't want local school districts spending any more on supplies
and services than they need to," Dunn said.
The network will provide "access to high-quality services at the
best government prices that are available," he said.
Chris Robb of U.S. Communities said the cooperative has competitively
solicited contracts with suppliers. For example, U.S. Communities has
a contract with Office Depot to provide office and school supplies.
It also has contracts with Haworth, Herman Miller, Knoll and Steelcase
for office furniture, according to U.S. Communities' Web site. Other
available materials include technology products, janitorial products
and physical education and playground equipment.
Illinois school districts can get more information online at
www.isbe.net/savings. Contracts through the network are free, voluntary
and carry no minimum spending amounts, Dunn said.
Eric Trimberger, director of finance for the Plainfield school district in suburban Chicago, said his district has been working with Office Depot
through U.S. Communities since late last year. The district has been
saving about $6,000 a month since then, he said.
When Gov. Rod Blagojevich delivered his January 2004 State of the State
address, he said money could be saved by creating a central purchasing
unit to buy school supplies and by centralizing benefits such as health
insurance. A law was passed allowing the governor to appoint seven of
the board's nine members. TOP OF PAGE
It just got easier for 61,000 limited-English schoolchildren to meet
the testing standards of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
The state Board of Education on Thursday approved new, lower passing
scores for an exam given to students in bilingual programs for less
than three years. They will be applied to tests given this spring.
Since the No Child law passed in 2002, critics have said the test's
scoring system treated limited-English students unfairly. The new scoring
cutoff is meant to rectify that, the state said.
This is just the latest proposal to make it easier for Illinois children to pass the No Child standards. The feds recently
said states could let more special-education students take modified
state exams. Illinois is waiting for the feds to OK its plan, which could
affect 11,500 kids.
Both the special-education and limited-English changes generally garnered
broad support, but a more controversial set of changes also is awaiting
No Child says a certain percentage of each subgroup -- including racial
and ethnic groups as well as bilingual and special education -- are
expected to meet grade-level standards in reading and math annually.
Among other changes, Illinois wants to increase the minimum size of the subgroups,
from 40 to 50. Had that been in effect last year, 144 more schools and
58 more districts would have met No Child standards. The state says
this will make the results more reliable.
'A step in the right direction'
Thursday's change to the bilingual test, known as IMAGE, will likely
usher in major change. Last year, just 8.9 percent of 11th-grade students
who took IMAGE met reading standards. Had the new cutoff scores been
in place, that would have jumped to 52 percent.
Altering the IMAGE cutoff scores was overdue because the test's purpose
changed with the No Child law, state officials said. IMAGE was intended
to test proficiency in English, to see if a student could exit a bilingual
program and take the regular state exam.
IMAGE is now used to measure academic progress. That's a more challenging
standard, especially since the test is in English and these children
haven't mastered English. To accommodate that, the cutoff scores were
Advocates applaud the change but are hopeful the state will replace
IMAGE with an exam designed to test academic progress.
"The new cutoff scores are a step in the right direction,"
said Josie Yanguas, spokeswoman for the Illinois Association for Multilingual,
Also Thursday, the board passed a new, tougher system for monitoring
the private tutors who worked with 120,000 children after school this
year, a program mandated by the No Child law. TOP OF PAGE
SD 168 official with subpoena
Associate superintendent to appear before grand jury investigation into
By Linda Lutton, Daily Southtown Staff writer, 6/17/05
The criminal investigation involving Supt. Thomas E. Ryan in SaukVillage's elementary school district spilled into public view
Wednesday when investigators from the CookCounty state's attorney's office arrived at a school board
meeting with a subpoena.
A few minutes before the meeting's scheduled start, the investigator
told Associate Supt. George Kunkel to appear Thursday before a CookCounty grand jury. Kunkel was to bring with him all meeting
minutes and audio recordings from district board meetings, the Southtown
Several board members and school employees were present at the time.
Kunkel declined to answer questions Thursday about the subpoena or his
scheduled appearance before the grand jury.
The grand jury was convened to investigate problems uncovered in Community
Consolidated School District 168's most recent audit, sources close
to the investigation have told the Daily Southtown, as well as additional
unusual payments authorized by Ryan revealed in a Southtown investigation.
Board members at Wednesday's meeting did not discuss the state's attorney's
probe or the issues raised by auditors. They have not acted on a recommendation
by auditors to order a further review of the district's books.
They did vote to keep secret all minutes from closed-session board meetings
for the past 15 years. Only board member Alex Sustek voted against it.
The minutes date back to Ryan's first year in the district. Closed-session
meetings can only deal with a limited number of issues, including litigation,
land purchases, personnel issues and student discipline.
The state's Open Meetings Act requires school districts and other public
bodies to review closed-session minutes every six months and to release
minutes or portions of minutes once confidentiality is no longer an
Sustek, a foreman with SaukVillage's public works department, was elected to the board
in April. His vote constitutes the first "no" vote of any
board member on any issue since 2002.
Before the board meeting Wednesday, in a small room in District 168's
administrative center, board members Cecial Tates and Debra Carl pored
over district payments, flagging questionable expenditures. Board president
Louise Morales also was present.
The three-member finance committee is an oversight body formed in the
wake of the audit, which found that "no one in a position above
the superintendent is currently reviewing and approving payments."
State education officials have requested proof that the committee is
meeting and doing its job.
The district released a policy Wednesday to govern the committee, to
be voted on by board members next month, that calls for the committee
to review district audits and expenditures. One provision of the policy
requires the committee to "discuss all recommendations with the
District Superintendent of Schools prior to presenting them to the full
board for approval."
Carl said the committee has reviewed all "accounts payable"
expenditures from November 2004 through May.
It has not looked at any expenditures from the district's Homework Lab
account though the policy calls for such activity accounts to
be reviewed quarterly. The Southtown reported last month that thousands
of dollars in donations to the Homework Lab account that were supposed
to pay for tutoring instead were spent on graduation gifts to Ryan's
daughters, Blackhawks tickets, gift certificates to restaurants and
Recently, the school board authorized several bonuses for employees.
Ed Bernacki, the district's supervisor of buildings and grounds, was
among 15 school employees to be paid a bonus this week. Bernacki, mentioned
in the audit because he received a $72,000 no-bid lighting contract
from the district, got a bonus check for $1,750.
Records indicate Bernacki drew the district's highest salary last school
year after Ryan and Kunkel, earning $76,353 more than any principal
The $20,750 in "salary incentive checks," which ranged from
$750 to $4,000, were approved unanimously at a "study session"
a week before the regular board meeting. Only Kunkel, who got a check
for $4,000, received a larger bonus than Bernacki. No teachers were
on the list.
Others who received bonuses include: Ryan's secretary Lenore Brentine,
$1,500; maintenance employee Michael Eiermann, $1,500; and payroll clerk
April Metcalf, $750. TOP OF PAGE
Superintendent Dennis Thompson said the Rockford public schools know who the truants are. They know where
they live, why they are truant and what agencies have tried to help
There's one problem. The schools have no enforcement ability, no hammer
to get the kids back in class.
That's where the city of Rockford
can help. Speaking to school principals at a training session this week,
Mayor Larry Morrissey signaled his commitment to a greater city role
on truancy. That's a relief.
The problem has reached alarming levels in Rockford. More than 8 percent of students have been identified
as chronically truant, a figure four times the state average.
The details about a city-school partnership have yet to be filled in.
But Morrissey wants to hire a hearing officer at City Hall who could
handle truancy cases. Then, the city wouldn't have to wait a full year
to take legal action against truants, as is the current rule. The city
could use existing ordinances to act before then, assigning cases to
the hearing officer and giving students and families the intervention
they need now.
"The key is to catch them early," Thompson said.
Hands down, he said, the reason for truancy is the parents -- and that's
especially true with younger children. When district counselors go to
homes and investigate truancy cases, the story is the same. The parents
don't get up in time. There's no supervision.
Morrissey is on the right track by suggesting the city levy some punishment
for parents, short of a fine. He supports a community service penalty,
such as volunteering in the schools.
Community service, yes. Helping out in the schools, no. It's a good
idea to hold the parents accountable. But not in the schools, where
they aren't likely to be appropriate role models. After all, they can't
get their kids to school.
How about if they pick up trash? That would be a good reminder when
the alarm goes off. Even better, how about parenting classes?
The superintendent said he and the mayor have met on three separate
occasions and have had long discussions on city involvement. The goal
is to have a tougher truancy system in place by the fall.
We admire the aggressiveness on a problem that residents have consistently
identified as one of the most serious facing the city. We worry, however,
about creating a dual system on truancy, with coordination a nightmare.
All it may take, though, is a few well-publicized prosecutions to be
an effective deterrent, to send the message that truancy will not be
tolerated. And mean it. TOP OF PAGE
Reading, Writing and Recruiting Column by Diane Paul, who has worked for Human Rights Watch in Bosnia
and has served as a consultant to UNICEF and other U.N. agencies, Washington
Across the country military recruiters are working overtime in schools,
trying to persuade young people to join a military desperate for soldiers.
But this is a country at war, and we have to ask ourselves whether children
between the ages of 14 and 17 have the maturity to make what may be
life-or-death decisions based on promises of easy cash and a college
education -- promises that sometimes don't come true.
Poor children (often minorities) without money for college are recruiters'
easiest targets. Far too many of our nation's disadvantaged youth are
forced to gamble with their lives for an opportunity other Americans
take for granted. During one-on-one chats with our children, recruiters
provide a false image of what joining up means. Images of tough guys
and gals in snappy uniforms piloting attack helicopters and driving
big Humvees seem pretty exciting to many kids. But the gruesome realities
of war and the chance of serving in Iraq or Afghanistan before ever setting foot on a college campus are details
left out of slick recruitment brochures. It is beyond heartbreaking
to wonder how many 18-year-olds -- still so young -- understood, when
told of the opportunities awaiting them, that they might never come
How has it happened that recruiters -- who used to come only on career
days -- are now present in our schools much of the time? I would wager
that most parents have no idea that the No Child Left Behind Act offers
public high schools a choice: Provide access to and information about
students "for purposes of military recruitment" or risk losing
What does this have to do with educational reform, what No Child Left
Behind is supposed to be about? A letter sent to educators in October
2002 by then-Education Secretary Rod Paige and Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld is revealing. It states: "Sustaining that heritage [defending
freedom] requires the active support of public institutions in presenting
military opportunities to our young people for their consideration.
Recognizing the challenges faced by military recruiters, Congress recently
passed legislation that requires high schools to provide to recruiters,
upon request, access to secondary school students and directory information
on those students. Both the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the
National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2002 reflect these
requirements." It seems obvious that recruitment drives in schools
have nothing to with educational reform. This is about our government
solving its recruitment problem.
What is a concerned parent to do, especially as recruitment efforts
are redoubled? In my town of Cookeville, Tenn., when Quakers and Vietnam War veterans informed students
how they could serve their country in other ways, they were banned from
the high school for months and called "anti-American." But
when an Army recruiter presented a program called "What Patriotism
Is" to all the second-graders (7-year-olds) in our county, no one
said a word.
Under the No Child Left Behind Act, schools are legally obligated to
inform parents of their right to "opt out" of having information
about their children given to the military. But the schools often fail
to inform, or bury opt-out information in legally obscure language at
the back of a student handbook. Opting out seems rather insignificant
given the fact that recruiters have physical access on a frequent basis
to our schoolchildren.
Without doubt, a great debt is owed to our military, and a military
career can be a path of pride and opportunity. The government has a
duty to ensure that the military has the soldiers and equipment it needs.
But the government must also ensure the protection of our children and
safeguard the role of public schools as places of learning. The military
should not be permitted to use our schools as vehicles to send young
people to war.
Educators, parents and students should demand that Congress rescind
those laws that violate the fundamental trust parents have in public
schools by requiring schools to become recruitment offices.
Last spring, a sixth-grade MontgomeryCounty girl was thrown down in the back of her school bus by
several older boys who, the girl said, grabbed her breasts and buttocks
and feigned sex acts.
In December, a 6-year-old FrederickCounty girl was allegedly fondled by a middle-schooler while
riding a bus to her gifted student program. Her mother said she didn't
learn of the incident until May, when the driver told her.
Two months ago, an 11-year-old girl was allegedly attacked by two girls
and three boys during a bus ride home from her elementary school, south
of Richmond. The group, the girl said, held her down, groped her
and penetrated her with an object.
Every day, 440,000 school buses ferry 18 million children to and from
schools and activities across the United States. Accidents, seat belts and safe crossings generally
are the matters parents worry about. But experts say sexual assaults
on school buses, one of the fastest-growing forms of school violence,
seldom register as a safety concern.
Although many school systems don't identify bus assaults independently
of all school violence, administrators, teachers and bus drivers say
the nature and frequency of the attacks are increasing, and at younger
ages. The incident involving the Germantown girl was one of four alleged
sexual assaults on Montgomery County's school buses this school year;
the alleged attackers in Virginia were as young as 8.
A 2001 report commissioned by the American Association of University
Women found that eight of every 10 students in grades 8 through 11 report
having been sexually harassed at school, most often by peers. One-third
of students surveyed said they were first harassed in grade school.
"I've never experienced the problems and the degenerate actions
of kids as I have this past year," said bus driver Bob Baxley of
Hagerstown, Md., who has been driving school buses for 12 years. He
was driving during the alleged attack in Frederick. On the same bus, Baxley saw middle school boys describe
sex acts to first-graders and one boy try to shove a condom into another
"Sexual harassment is a much more serious issue in public schools
than most people have been willing to admit," said Robert Shoop,
a professor at KansasStateUniversity. "And it's much more likely to occur in unsupervised
venues -- like buses or bathrooms."
Buses are "more dangerous, in that society has become more sexualized
and less civil," Shoop added. "Now many more kids are saying,
'I don't want to ride the bus.' They're scared."
Yet, he said, only about 5 to 10 percent of students report being victimized.
"It takes a lot of courage on the kid's part and money on the parent's
part" to press forward with charges, Shoop said.
Schools, safety advocates say, need to improve school bus supervision,
teach students about appropriate behavior and encourage students to
report incidents that cross the line. When incidents do occur, quick
and decisive action by schools and police is vital, Shoop said. "Kids
have to see there are consequences," he said. Otherwise, "they
don't see it as serious."
Sometimes neither participants nor victims know when bad behavior becomes
In March last year, Jessica Killian found her daughter Ashley, then
11, crying in her bedroom in the family's Germantown home. She told her mom her stomach hurt. She couldn't
bring herself to tell her mother that on the bus ride home from Roberto
Clemente Middle School that afternoon, six older boys allegedly held
her down on the bus floor, groped and lay on top of her. It wasn't until
the next day, when she got on the bus and the boys threatened to "finish
what they started," her mother said, that Ashley told an assistant
principal what happened. The school called her mother, and her mother
Two students were transferred, two others suspended. A police report
was completed, and the state's attorney's office recommended charges.
But the case file was misplaced by police. By the time it resurfaced,
the statute of limitations governing the crimes had expired.
"We recognize we made a mistake" in the case, said Lt. Eric
Burnett, a MontgomeryCounty police spokesman, and the department is working to ensure
it doesn't recur.
Since the beginning of the school year, there have been 26 alleged incidents
of sexual harassment on school buses in Montgomery, including one two
weeks ago involving five students at White Oak Middle School and one
in February at Clemente, system spokesman Brian Edwards said. Only four
were serious enough to involve police, but the incidents have spurred
school officials to take action.
In May, school administrators formed a work group to help improve communication
among bus drivers, schools and the central office. In the fall, school
officials will launch a campaign to educate students about proper bus
behavior. They are also considering whether to add cameras on buses;
of the 1,200 buses in the system's fleet, only 20 are equipped with
Clemente Principal Rosalva Rosas said she's found that middle-schoolers,
on the cusp between child- and adulthood, "don't always know how
to act appropriately."
That seemed the case in December in Frederick, when, in the last few
days before Christmas vacation, the 6-year-old girl, bundled in her
lavender parka, climbed aboard the middle school bus that shuttled her
to a gifted program at Urbana Elementary School. For two 40-minute trips
each day, the child was one of two or three first-graders on a bus for
That winter morning, the girl was sitting in a front seat with a classmate
when one of the middle-school boys sat nearby and began "tickling
her" in a way that "could have been construed" as sexual
harassment, said Baxley, her bus driver. The girl later said the tickling
included her "private parts." In early May, Baxley mentioned
the incident to the child's mother, who hadn't known about it.
"He called it 'fondling,' " the girl's mother said. "I
was crying and shaking." She said the driver told her that he'd
told school officials, who say they have no record of that. Last week,
FrederickCounty police detective Willie Ollie said no charges would
be brought because statements from the girl and Baxley did not support
a sexual assault charge. But the girl's family disputes that; they have
yet to decide their course of action, said the family's attorney, Eugene
Schools often handle discipline issues internally, making it hard to
judge the scope of the assault problem, said Beverly Glenn, executive
director of the Hamilton Fish Institute in Washington,
which studies school and community violence. "Under No Child Left
Behind, you don't want your school to be characterized as an 'unsafe'
school," she said, because "you lose students, you lose money."
Other districts, however, believe swift and decisive action is the way
to prevent such incidents from becoming regular occurrences.
It was a Friday afternoon and the bus was full when an 11-year-old girl
boarded it for the trip home from LakeviewElementary
near Richmond. Before the first stop, three boys and two girls ages
8 to 13 allegedly grabbed the child, held her down in the back of the
bus and assaulted her with an object.
The driver saw the incident, notified supervisors and the school, drove
the child to her stop and told her mother. Police and the school coordinated
investigations: Colonial Heights School Superintendent Joseph Cox told
local media that he wanted "the maximum discipline available"
for the children, who were placed on house arrest, with electronic monitoring.
Within a week, police announced they were seeking charges ranging in
severity from abduction to aggravated sexual battery.
Immediately after the incident, adult patrols were put on all Colonial Heights school buses. Two of the children involved have been
expelled, and the School Board plans action on the remaining three.
"I went through this school system, and I couldn't even imagine
that something like that would've taken place," Cox said. Now that
it has, "we're going to go back and do better." TOP OF PAGE
offers tutoring guidance
AP, 6/13/05 WASHINGTON -- How can parents find tips for no-cost tutoring for
their kids? Just thumb through the manual the government put out Monday
to elaborate on a key goal of the No Child Left Behind Act.
The new guidance, issued by the Department of Education to states and
school districts, seeks to clarify their roles in providing tutoring
for pupils in poorly performing schools.
The document also has ideas on how to connect parents to providers of
supplemental educational services, who offer free tutoring and other
academic activities to students.
Under the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's signature educaton
policy, pupils from poor families who attend schools that have not made
"adequate yearly progress" are eligible for such tutoring
The new guide runs more than 60 pages and clarifies steps that states
and school districts must take when a district is identified as being
"in need of improvement."
Also included as a model letter that districts may use or emulate when
informing parents of the opportunity to sign up their children for no-cost
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings said the guidance, last updated
in August 2003, provides important information for states, school districts
and providers about their roles and responsibilities regarding supplemental
"We hope it enables more families to access high-quality supplemental
educational services programs, and helps schools across the country
close the achievement gap," she said in a written statement. TOP OF PAGE
Bill targets abusive
Proposed legislation prompted by Detroit News report requires monthly
By Marisa Schultz, The Detroit News, 6/14/05
School and day care employees would be required to self-report any felonies
or certain misdemeanors under legislation introduced today to protect
children from abusive educators.
Employees would face a two-year felony for not reporting a sex crime
arrest to their employer and to the Department of Education and a one-year
misdemeanor for other crimes. To ensure compliance, the teachers' criminal
history would be checked monthly with a state police database.
"It's a giant step in the right direction," said an Ann Arbor
father whose daughter was sexually abused by her fourth-grade teacher,
Worlee Dennis Jr., who retained his teaching certificate even after
two criminal convictions involving sexual misconduct. "We've had
quite a few situations where the system failed, and the children in
the state need that protection."
The News is not naming the father because of a general policy not to
identify the victims of sexual assault.
The proposed legislation is part of a package of bills, called the Student
Safety Initiative, that was prompted by a Detroit News special report
in April that found communication lapses between prosecutors, courts
and the state mean some teachers convicted of sexual misconduct remain
certified; and state officials sometimes learn about convicted educators
through the media.
After the report, Gov. Jennifer Granholm asked the Department of Education
to review its practices, and House Speaker Craig DeRoche, R-Novi, called
on the Legislature to review state laws.
"Schools are supposed to be a safe environment for our children,"
DeRoche said in a statement. "The terrifying reality, however,
is that right now, many children are at risk."
Also under the proposed legislation, teachers convicted of a sex offense
would be prohibited from teaching again; evidence of prior child molestation
and sexual assault would be admissible in court; and sex offenders would
be banned from working or volunteering at a day care center, school,
playground or youth league.
Charol Shakeshaft, an expert on educator sex abuse, warned against the
false sense of security of background checks.
"I think it is important to stress teaching kids and other teachers
about how to identify adults who are likely to be at risk for being
abusers," Shakeshaft said when the bills were being considered.
TOP OF PAGE
remain in Ohio on school science standards
State was first to incorporate critical analysis of evolution
By Diane Carroll, Kansas
Kansas is getting a lot of attention as it considers adopting
science standards that call for studying what some call the shortcomings
But it is not the first state to do so. Ohio receives that designation.
When Ohio adopted science standards in December 2002, both sides
in the debate claimed victory. Thats because evolution proponents
read compromise language in the standards one way, while intelligent
design proponents read it quite another.
But there is no debate over which side won in March 2004 when the Ohio
Board of Education approved a lesson plan for teachers on how to critically
analyze Darwins theory.
Of course scientists are not against critical analysis,
said evolution defender Patricia Princehouse. She teaches evolutionary
biology and the history and philosophy of science at CaseWestern ReserveUniversity in Cleveland. That would be like the Chiquita company being
against bananas. But this is not critical analysis. These are well-known
creationist lies about science.
A national group that promotes intelligent design, however, sees the
lesson plan as a splendid example of how you can do something
that is based on good science and good pedagogy without treating
Darwins theory like its some sort of sacred
dogma. We would think that something similar in Kansas would be a great result, said John West, a senior
fellow with the Seattle-based Discovery Institute.
On Wednesday the Kansas Board of Education will receive a report recommending
that new teaching standards include strong criticism of evolution. The
report from a three-member board subcommittee stops short of endorsing
intelligent design, the theory that the universe is too complex to be
explained by natural causes alone.
Watching both Ohio and Kansas is Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
The Washington-based group has joined with the American Civil Liberties
Union in a lawsuit against a school board in Dover,
Pa., which included intelligent design in its curriculum.
That case, pending in federal court, has attracted national attention.
Intelligent design proponents have tried to distance themselves from
creationism because the courts have ruled that teaching creationism
is unconstitutional, said Robert Boston, a spokesman for Americans United.
Deborah Owens-Fink, an Ohio board
member who promoted the intelligent design view, said the standards
and the lesson plan have nothing to do with creationism. Owens-Fink
said she was not concerned about possible litigation.
The man who ignited the debate over the standards in Ohio was John Calvert of LakeQuivira.
In the Kansas debate, Calvert is the attorney for eight members of
the 26-member science standards committee who want students to study
evolution more critically.
Ohio began work on its standards in 2001. It was the same
year that Calvert retired early from the Lathrop & Gage law firm
to devote his time to the Intelligent Design Network of Shawnee Mission,
which he had co-founded.
On a cold January night in 2002, Calvert was in Columbus, Ohio, to address the standards committee of the Ohio Board
of Education. The committee is comprised of about half of the state
boards 19 members.
One of them, evolution defender Martha Wise, remembers Calvert well.
I sat through his half-hour presentation and thought, What
is he talking about a higher power? During a break, I remember
going over to some people who are recognized as our Ohio Academy of
Science and I said to them: It sounds like he is talking about
God and they said: You got it. I was flabbergasted.
Also in the audience was Robert Lattimer, a chemist and leader of an
Ohio group set up to lobby the board for more criticism of
evolution. Lattimer met Calvert in the summer of 2001, when Calverts
group was host of a seminar in Kansas
Evolution defenders heard about Calverts appearance in advance,
They were just really aghast that they (the committee) would let
this guy come in from Kansas and challenge evolution, Lattimer said.
But Owens-Fink and other members of the Ohio board were impressed enough with what Calvert said to
agree to hold a debate between proponents of evolution and intelligent
The evolutionists were represented by biologist Ken Miller of BrownUniversity and Lawrence Krauss, chairman of the physics department
ReserveUniversity. The intelligent design side was represented by Stephen
Meyer and Jonathan Wells of the Discovery Institute.
Early on, some people in Ohio wanted
to require the teaching of intelligent design, said West, of the Discovery
Institute. When we got involved, we made it very clear we didnt
Instead, Meyer proposed that teachers teach the controversy
over evolution. The idea was not new to Discovery Institute leaders,
West said, but it might be correct to say it was the first time
it rose to national prominence.
The debate in Ohio drew so much attention that the state board was inundated
with 40,000 e-mails, letters and petitions, said Owens-Fink, the board
member who promoted the intelligent design view. That kind of pressure,
many agreed, helped push the board in October 2002 to insert language
into the standards that said: Describe how scientists continue
to investigate and critically analyze aspects of evolution.
When the Discovery Institute immediately claimed victory, Wise said,
she negotiated additional language that said the October clause did
not mandate the teaching or testing of intelligent design. The board
included that language when it approved the standards unanimously in
But the controversy did not end there.
A committee then began working on suggested lesson plans for teachers
who wanted help implementing the standards. By late 2003, rumors began
circulating of lesson plans that contained intelligent design concepts.
The board ended up approving one of the plans that called for critical
analysis of evolution.
Calvert says Ohio now has standards that are friendlier to intelligent
design than any other state. But Kansas will take over that spot if its board adopts the subcommittees
report, which does not specifically mention intelligent design but spreads
concepts related to it throughout the proposed standards. A decision
is expected later this summer. TOP OF PAGE
Charter schools have failed in their promise to reform the public school
system and improve student academic achievement, a study released last
month by ArizonaStateUniversity concludes.
The study reviewed research about charter schools in seven states, including
Arizona, and found that charter and district schools are producing
similar student test scores. Despite smaller classes on smaller campuses,
charters are not improving academic achievement of needy students, who
traditionally lag behind their wealthier peers.
"The failure becomes even harder to understand given the advantages
that charters enjoy in their freedom from the rules, regulations and
contracts that are said to bureaucratically burden the public schools,"
reported author Gerald Bracey of GeorgeMasonUniversity in Virginia. advertisement
Clint Bolick, president of the Arizona-based Alliance for School Choice, called the report "ideology,
not scholarship" and said competition from charters has forced
district schools to improve.
Charters are privately operated schools funded by state education money.
The state does not require charters to conform to many state regulations,
such as hiring licensed teachers, but the state ranks both district
and charter schools based on students' standardized test scores. About
82,000 students attend 500 charter schools in Arizona.
Kurt Davis, president of the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools,
said the charter movement has " numerous examples of excellence
and, in some cases, a need to improve."
"The charter experience in Arizona is a success in progress," Davis said. TOP OF PAGE Digital divide
Computer use among the young is prevalent, for poor and affluent
By Mike Sherry, The Kansas
As Connie Crumble worked her way through a room full of computers, she
came upon JaRiver Dunlap.
Find N nnnnnnnnnn, Crumble enunciated
to the 5-year-old student.
With no computer at home, JaRiver is like many children in the
computer center of Operation Breakthrough, a Midtown agency that serves
families, including those with low incomes.
Yet JaRiver, who was learning basic computer skills needed in
todays wired world, can be viewed as a symbol of progress in the
effort to erase the digital divide a gap that often means the
nations poor do not have the same access to technology as members
of the middle and upper class.
Exposure is the key word, Crumble said.
There is fresh evidence that, unlike low-income adults, children like
JaRiver are not too far behind their more well-off counterparts
in getting that exposure.
The data comes from a U.S. Department of Education report released this
The report used annual household income more than $75,000 versus
less than $20,000 and the educational levels of adults in those
homes graduate education versus high school dropouts to
compare computer usage among classes.
In general, the report said that wealthier and better educated adults
were three or four times more likely to use computers than the poorer
and less-educated adults.
Yet the gulf that separated students living in those varied circumstances
was only about a quarter or a third as large as the one experienced
At the same time, the study found that computer use among students is
prevalent, even at a very young age.
According to the report, more than two-thirds of children in nursery
school are computer users.
One of those youngsters is Dominique Campbell, 5, who was also at Operation
Though the boy uses computers at his aunts homes, Dominiques
grandmother, Connie Campbell, is thankful for the instruction he gets
The computer work at Operation Breakthrough is helping him with his
motor skills and better preparing him for kindergarten, she said.
Its really good, Campbell said. Thats what it is all about now
The Education Department reports findings illustrate that children
today are persistent in finding ways to take advantage of the technology,
said Susan Patrick, director of the Education Departments Office
of Educational Technology.
We live in a technology-rich world, she said in a telephone
interview, and they are just exploring what exists around them,
whether that is at home or school or some other place.
When that other place is a child-care setting, those same
parents who have limited access to computers can be the driving force
in making sure technology is available for their children.
Thats the experience of Ramona Downs, director of quality initiatives
for the Family Conservancy, a Kansas City, Kan.-based operation that
provides technical assistance to about 350 child-care operators across
the metropolitan area.
More and more of these operators have computers for the children, Downs
said: When its important to the parents, its also
important to the providers.
Schools also are making a concerted effort to ensure that the neediest
students spend time on computers.
The North Kansas City School District, for instance, uses state grant
money to provide additional classroom computers for the neediest students
who may not have computers at home, said Janet Herdman, the districts
director of technology services.
Were looking at: How do you level the playing field?
Advocates who serve poor children cautioned that, even though these
children may have nearly as much access to computers as wealthier students,
it still does not mean the two groups experiences are comparable.
Thats because the low-income students often are working on donated
computers that lag behind the latest technology.
Associated Youth Services in Kansas City, Kan., for example, is unable to use some reading software
given to the agency because its computers are not modern enough, said
Tina Richardson, the agencys education director.
Meanwhile, Operation Breakthrough co-director Sister Berta Sailer said
the structured time at her center may not be the best way for students
My gut feeling is that they get good on computers by just messing
with them, she said, and kids using them here and in school
dont have that luxury.
But that did not keep Crumble from her nonstop work in the computer
center, as she helped two, three, four children at a time.
Sitting sideways in her rolling chair at one point, she put her arm
around a little girl and helped her move the mouse.
Then, she leaned back a little and directed her attention to 5-year-old
Are you matching? Crumble asked Myracle.
Crumble watched a bit and was pleased.
Good girl. Good girl, she said. Yeah, good girl.
AMHERST, Mass. - Two eighth-graders who spent months working on a science
project to prove how dangerous BB guns can be were disqualified from
the state middle school science fair. The reason for the dismissal:
BB guns are too dangerous.
Nathan C. Woodard and Nathaniel A. Gorlin-Crenshaw spent seven months
researching and testing their hypothesis that BB guns can be deadly
and should not be used by children.
The students spent about $200 on ballistics gelatin, which has the same
density and consistency as human flesh, to use during their tests.
We had a good point to prove
Nancy G. Degon, vice president of Massachusetts State Science Fair Inc.
and co-chair of the middle-school fair, said fair rules prohibit hazardous
substances and devices.
The scientific review committee does not consider science projects
involving firearms to be safe for middle school students, Degon
The boys were invited to present their findings to some judges and receive
a certificate of accomplishment, but they rejected the offer because
they were not allowed to compete.
I was really disappointed, Woodard said. We had a
good point to prove.
Edison in Chester: How plan failed
A school privatization effort in Chester Upland ends in disappointment
By Dale Mezzacappa, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer, 6/16/05
Edison Schools Inc. will leave the Chester Upland School District this
month with losses the company puts at $30 million and modest improvements
in student achievement, having failed in its effort to show that a private
company could rescue such a troubled urban district.
It leaves in its wake a disappointed community, vexing questions for
policymakers over what to do next, and doubts about privatization -
one of the key strategies of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
The state-imposed partnership was troubled from the start. Edison
shared authority with a wary district administration, and lost crucial
support in the community when it could not deliver on its lofty promises.
From the beginning, Edison said it lacked accurate information on what it could
expect from the district.
"It may be erroneous to assume it is easy to turn around achievement
in public schools simply by changing management structures," said
Chad d'Entremont, assistant director for the NationalCenter for the Study of Privatization in Education at ColumbiaUniversity's Teachers College.
Chris Whittle, Edison's founder and president, said he believed that privatization
can work and that Chester is an anomaly.
"I don't think anyone, us or the state, fully understood the extent
of Chester's financial plight," Whittle said.
Edison's losses consist of $8.6 million in infrastructure investments,
such as wiring and computers, and more than $20 million in operating
costs, Edison officials said. Edison
said it is still owed $2.2 million in fees.
Chester Upland has a decades-long history of problems.
In deep debt, it was declared fiscally distressed and taken over by
the state in 1994. In 2000, the legislature passed the Education Empowerment
Act targeting low-performing districts; for Chester Upland, it meant
an immediate takeover and privatization.
The partnership, pushed by the state onto a reluctant district, had
too many problems, Whittle said. A more cooperative partnership could
have worked better, he said, pointing to Edison's records in Philadelphia, where it operates 20 schools, and Baltimore, where it operates three. Philadelphia, encouraged by Edison's
progress, recently awarded the company control of two additional schools.
Thomas Persing, a member of the Board of Control that hired Edison,
agrees that the hybrid administrative arrangement and confused lines
of authority in Chester made Edison's job tougher.
"I would think that if there ever is going to be a school district
that is going to be totally run by an organization such as Edison, it
has to take complete control of the district, everything," he said.
Within 90 days of starting to run the schools - on Sept. 11, 2001 - Edison knew it faced heavy losses, said Richard O'Neill, the
company's top-ranking official in Chester. He said financial records and enrollment projections
from the district were not accurate.
The company decided to stay because Chester provided one of the nation's first examples of a state's
taking over a district and employing a company to fix it, O'Neill said.
"If you look at state intervention as a line of new business, it
had strategic value, and we were prepared to take financial losses as
well as to honor the original spirit of the five-year engagement,"
Persing, chairman of the Board of Control at the time, said he found
it hard to believe Edison lost as much money as it says. He also denied that the
district somehow misled Edison about enrollment.
"We gave them the numbers that were enrolled in the district schools,
we gave them the numbers enrolled in the charter schools," he said.
"Their contention was that when they put together their wonderful
curriculum, they would bring back kids from charters and parochial schools.
They thought students would flock back, but it didn't happen."
Many were rooting for Edison to succeed.
"It was my personal hope that they would use Chester as a laboratory,"
said Charles Gray, a community activist who was on the Board of Control
that brought the company in. "Give it a couple of years here, they
could have turned this district around and taken it to market, to larger
districts around the country."
Gov. Tom Ridge and other legislative leaders, unwilling to simply pour
more state aid into an impoverished district, hoped that Chester Upland
would be a shining example of the value of private management. And the
people of Chester Upland hoped the experiment would provide them with
the things they and their children did not have: state-of-the-art technology,
small classes, better trained teachers.
All of those hopes were dashed.
"Edison had promised it would offer a second language starting
in elementary school, they promised technology for those who didn't
have technology in the home; that never happened," said Portia
West, who initially opposed privatization but later spoke up for Edison.
"They made promises they didn't keep."
Still, she said, "I loved the curriculum that they had. My daughter
did extremely well in fourth grade when Edison came in."
In hindsight, too many things went wrong.
"The district controlled too many things that were directly related
to instruction for us to be successful: personnel, security, maintenance,
technology," O'Neill said. It could hire and fire teachers, and
many of them declined to attend company-run professional development
The three-member Board of Control that ran the district had wanted competition
for school management and initially awarded contracts to three companies
after each had made presentations at community meetings.
But when the dust settled, Edison bought out one of the companies, Learn Now, while the
other, Mosaica, pulled out.
As a result, both sides agree, the board and the district administration
came to regard Edison as an adversary, not a partner in improving learning.
Things got so bad, Edison officials said, that maintenance workers refused to
move books and materials from storage rooms to classrooms.
Juan Baughn, who grew up in Chester,
worked for Learn Now and then became Edison's first chief
operating officer, said, "The community felt that Edison
came in arrogantly. I also think that people would have been much more
receptive if Mosaica and Learn Now had still been a part of the picture.
I think they saw it as Big Brother bullying the little kids."
Founded by Whittle in 1992 as a private company, Edison
went public in 1999. But its stock price plummeted after the company
received a contract in Philadelphia that was not as large as expected, and Whittle and the
stockholders took it private in November 2003.
Mark Jackson, an analyst for EduVentures Inc., said Edison's
losses in Chester do not "put Edison
at risk financially."
Since going private, he said, the company had done well by diversifying
services and products it offers to districts.
"The expectations for profit in whole-school management that existed
in the [privatization] movement... is not nearly as attractive as it
was in the early days," he said. "It's laden with obstacles."
Chester Upland is searching for a new superintendent and school principals,
even as it tries to deal with a charter school population that is still
Edison's chief supporter in Chester Upland, former Pennsylvania
Education Secretary Charles Zogby, said he was disappointed.
"Bringing in a management company, I thought we'd be bringing in
the necessary capacity to really operate the schools as they needed
to be. Obviously, not all of it went according to plan."
What will work in Chester now? "That's a good question, I truly don't know,"
Zogby said. TOP OF PAGE
Va., Md. Get Slack On 'No Child' Rules
Changes Could Head Off Penalties for Some Schools
By Rosalind S. Helderman and Nick Anderson, Washington Post Staff Writers, 6/16/05
Federal regulators have granted Virginia and Maryland new flexibility in enforcing the No Child Left Behind
educational standards -- changes that could keep some schools from facing
sanctions later this year.
In Virginia, the move ended five months of conflict between state
and federal education officials over how best to apply the complex law
in the commonwealth, but it did not satisfy Board of Education President
Thomas M. Jackson Jr., who had asked that the state be exempt from even
more of the requirements.
In a statement, he called the federal decision "at best, halting
progress" and said the U.S. Department of Education "continues
on a course that undercuts support for [No Child Left Behind] . . .
and encourages confrontation."
State officials in Maryland, who have been less critical of the law, said yesterday
that they also have won permission from the federal government to loosen
slightly their school accountability rules. Ronald A. Peiffer, Maryland's deputy superintendent for academic policy, welcomed
the change. "If you're going to have an accountability system,
you have to have it measured accurately and fairly," he said.
No Child Left Behind requires that students take math and reading tests
each year in grades 3 through 8 and in high school. By 2014, all students
must be proficient. Until then, schools must show they are making adequate
Test scores for groups of students, including racial minorities, low-income
students, children learning English and those in special education classes,
are published separately and also must rise. Schools that do not show
progress for two consecutive years face such sanctions as allowing parents
to transfer their children at the district's expense.
In January, Virginia's Board of Education asked for waivers from 10 areas
of the law, and it has since asked for two more. Monday, the U.S. department granted four of those requests, state officials
said. Five others were rejected and three are still under review.
Virginia's new flexibility comes in the complex formula for deciding
whether schools and school districts are making yearly progress. One
of the most significant changes give credit to students who fail a state
Standards of Learning exam but then pass an exam in the same subject.
A request to count the second tests had been denied in the past.
Maryland's change comes in the issue of testing special education
students. It will allow educators in some cases to exclude some of disabled-student
test scores when judging whether schools are making adequate yearly
Virginia educators and politicians have been among the most vocal
in a national outcry that No Child Left Behind has been a costly and
confusing federal burden for local schools. The state's General Assembly
voted in February to study how much federal funding the state would
lose if it were to withdraw from participation entirely, a step that
has been explored in other states.
In his statement, Jackson complained that Virginia has waited too long for answers, especially because
some of the requests were similar to those already granted to other
states. Texas and Oregon both learned in 2004, for instance, that they would
be permitted to allow students take tests more than once and count only
their best score.
"This continued disrespect toward a state that has faithfully implemented
the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is bewildering," he wrote.
Susan Aspey, a spokeswoman for the U.S. department, responded that regulators "spent a
great deal of time working with the state's education leaders, so these
claims are perplexing at best."
As complaints about the law have mounted, negotiations between the states
and the federal department have been intense, especially since Secretary
of Education Margaret Spellings announced in April that she was looking
for ways to give states new flexibility.,
"She's doing a balancing act," said Jack Jennings, president
and chief executive of the Center on Education Policy and a supporter
of the law. "How far must she go to relieve political pressure
without giving away the essence of the federal law?" TOP OF PAGE
PHILADELPHIA --Nancy Carroll didn't know schools were giving military
recruiters her family's contact information until a recruiter called
her 17-year-old granddaughter.
That didn't sit well with Carroll, who believes recruiters unfairly
target minority students. So she joined activists across the country
who are urging families to notify schools that they don't want their
children's contact information given out.
"People of color who go into the military are put on the front
line," said the 67-year-old Carroll, who is black.
A provision of President Bush's No Child Left Behind Act requires school
districts to provide military recruiters with student phone numbers
and addresses or risk losing millions in federal education funding.
Parents or students 18 and over can "opt out" by submitting
a written request to keep the information private.
But critics say schools do not always convey that message. In New Mexico, the American Civil Liberties Union chapter sued the
last month, charging it does not adequately inform parents of the opt-out
Some critics oppose the federal law on privacy grounds, but others say
it provides an unfair opportunity for the military to sway young minds
-- especially in economically depressed communities.
"They're not going to all the schools. They're going to the schools
where they figure the kids will have less chance to go to college,"
said U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash. "It's an insidious kind of
draft, quite frankly."
Carroll, who is raising three grandchildren in a working-class neighborhood
of Philadelphia, agrees that the practice is unfair. "I wouldn't
want them to join" the military, she said of her grandchildren.
But Pentagon officials say the military deserves the same access to
students that schools give to colleges and employers.
"In the past, it was all too common for a school district to make
student directory information readily available to vendors, prospective
employers and post-secondary institutions while intentionally excluding
the services," Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke, a Pentagon spokeswoman,
said in an e-mail.
As military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan drag on, the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are having
trouble attracting recruits to their reserve forces, though only the
Army is falling short in attracting people for its active-duty ranks.
Andrew Rinaldi, a senior at EdisonHigh School in Edison,
N.J., filed an opt-out letter with his school but said he
was contacted by a recruiter anyway. He said the recruiter mocked his
pacifist views. "They're becoming more aggressive," he said.
None of the nation's approximately 22,600 high schools has failed to
comply with the military provision of No Child Left Behind, and just
one is "finalizing its compliance," Krenke said. None has
Before No Child Left Behind was signed into law in 2002, about 12 percent
of the nation's schools refused to turn over student records to military
recruiters, Pentagon officials said. U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La.,
who sponsored the recruitment provision, called the actions of those
Now, activists are holding rallies and awareness campaigns to make sure
students know they can opt out.
In left-leaning Montclair, N.J., more than 80 percent of MontclairHigh
students have opted out since a student-led effort began last year.
"It's a place where military recruiters are not likely to have
a ton of success, anyway, partly because ... a lot of parents can assist
their kids with going to college," school district spokeswoman
Laura Federico said.
In the urban blight of North
Gordy said the lure of college money led him to join the Army reserves
at age 17. Recruiters at his high school told him he could earn $35,000
for college, he said.
That hasn't happened. Gordy, a 20-year-old reservist, said he apparently
failed to send in the right paperwork in time. He hopes to enroll in
community college this fall.
McDermott, a psychiatrist, faults the military for enticing students
with talk of patriotism, adventure and college funds, instead of giving
them a realistic view of combat.
McDermott is among those in Congress trying to change the law so that
students instead "opt-in" for recruitment.
"There's nothing dishonorable with serving in the military,"
said McDermott, a psychiatrist who served stateside during Vietnam. "But it ought to be done with your eyes open." TOP OF PAGE
Kansas legal battles threaten to keep schools closed AP, 6/16/05 TOPEKA, Kansas -- Still smarting from a fight over evolution, Kansas schools now face an almost unthinkable possibility:
They might not reopen in the fall because of a political and legal battle
over education funding.
The Kansas Supreme Court has ordered legislators to provide millions
more in aid to schools by July 1. Gov. Kathleen Sebelius has called
a special legislative session for June 22 to act on the order.
Some Republicans who control the Legislature want to defy the court,
arguing it cannot tell them exactly what to spend on anything. Their
tough talk has educators and others worried the court will order schools
to remain closed until legislators comply.
Such orders have been issued or threatened in other states, and a Kansas judge even told the state last year that it could not
spend a penny on its schools until legislators fixed the funding system,
a decision that would have kept classrooms closed -- and 445,000 students
at home -- had the Supreme Court not put it on hold.
"It truly does seem to me to be the natural consequence,"
said Dan Biles, an attorney for the State Board of Education.
Such a development would represent another embarrassment for the Kansas school system, which was ridiculed around the country
in 1999 when the state school board deleted most references to evolution.
The school system later reversed course. But now it is likely to adopt
new science standards that are critical of evolution.
Michele Henry, a Topeka mother of two daughters, ages 7 and 9, said legislators
need to provide enough money for schools.
"Other people are not allowed not to do their jobs," said
Henry, who is the president of the parent-teacher organization at her
daughters' school. "Their job is to fund education programs for
The Supreme Court's directive June 3 came in a six-year-old lawsuit
from Dodge City and Salina, where parents and administrators claimed Kansas spends too little money on education and distributes
its aid unfairly, shortchanging poor children, minorities and struggling
In January, the Supreme Court said legislators had failed to do their
duty under the Kansas Constitution to provide a suitable education for
all children. But the justices were not specific about a fix.
GOP leaders pushed through a plan to increase state school aid by $142
million, or about 5 percent, while avoiding the tax increases that Sebelius
and other Democrats saw as necessary.
The high court said that the plan was inadequate and that the increase
for the next school year must be $285 million, or 10 percent. The court
also said it could order much larger spending increases in the future.
The governor and legislators received new, more optimistic revenue projections
this week, which they said eliminated the need to consider an immediate
Kansas' Republican legislators, particularly conservatives,
were furious with the court when it ruled and remained so even after
the good fiscal news.
"I think it's high time we confronted the court," said Rep.
Frank Miller. "One thing we could do is just refuse to obey."
Such rhetoric has some educators worried about the next school term.
"Families organize their lives around the school system,"
said Andrea Ewert, a counselor at HutchinsonHigh School. "When school is in session, children don't only
have breakfast here but lunch here, and in many elementary schools,
there are after-school programs to keep them in a safe environment."
In a similar dispute in New York
state, a master appointed by the state's highest court recently said
New York City's schools need an additional $5.6 billion over the next
four years. In New
in 1976, the state's highest court ordered schools to remain closed,
successfully forcing legislators to improve funding. Threats from high
courts in Arizona and Texas compelled legislators in those states to do the same.
"That is a remedy that clearly is within the court's power,"
said Michael Rebell, executive director of the Campaign for Fiscal Equity,
which sued over New
education funding. "The threat is usually very effective."
The Kansas court has not said what it would do if lawmakers defied
"I would just as soon not learn the answer to that question,"
said Senate Majority Leader Derek Schmidt, a Republican. TOP OF PAGE
for teacher aides
Aides receive extra time to become highly qualified
AP, 6/16/05 WASHINGTON -- Teacher aides, under federal pressure to prove they
are qualified to stay in the classroom, will get extra time to comply
under a new Education Department policy.
To keep their jobs, aides in schools that receive federal poverty aid
have been told to become highly qualified by January 2006 -- marking
four years since Congress passed the No Child Left Behind law. That
deadline, set in the law, applies to aides hired before the law passed.
Now the time frame for aides to get qualified will be pushed back to
the end of the 2005-06 school year, the same deadline for teachers in
poor schools to prove their qualifications.
Deputy Secretary Ray Simon said Wednesday it was unusual to have a deadline
for aides that fell in the middle of the school year and that differed
from the teachers' deadline.
In a letter to Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, who sought the extended deadline,
Simon said the idea was reasonable and he confirmed his agency would
give aides the extra time.
Simpson said he was grateful for the change.
The American Federation of Teachers, whose members include instructional
aides, had also sought the change in a letter to Education Secretary
Margaret Spellings. The union's president, Edward McElroy, said it was
"simply a matter of fairness."
To be deemed highly qualified, aides, or paraprofessionals, must compile
at least two years of college study or earn at least an associate's
degree. Their other option is to pass a test proving their knowledge
of reading, writing and math and their ability to help teach.
Newly hired aides must have such qualifications before they can get
Overall, roughly 1 million teacher aides help run the nation's classrooms.
They work with students individually, reinforce the teacher's lessons
and help keep order in class. TOP OF PAGE
The U.S. Department of Education on June 13 urged states to make sure
that private companies and groups offering tutoring under the No Child
Left Behind Act are not engaging in unfair business practices.
In new, nonregulatory guidance about how states and districts should
implement the supplemental educational services portion
of the federal law, the Education Department says states are obligated
to ensure that tutoring providers dont advertise falsely about
their programs, or offer kickbacks to people who encourage parents to
choose their services. The 55-page document suggests that states also
develop policies governing the circumstances under which private providers
can use incentives to boost enrollment, maintain attendance, or reward
The guidance was issued after many requests by states, districts, and
tutoring providers for clarification on their roles and duties under
the law. Schools that fail to make adequate yearly progress, or AYP,
on student achievement for three consecutive years must offer free tutoring
to low-income children using part of their districts federal Title
I money. Some districts and states have been scolded informally by Education
Department officials for stepping beyond, or not fully embracing, their
responsibilities in offering tutoring.
The new documentthe first written update of guidance on supplemental
services since August 2003outlines what states, districts, and
providers should and shouldnt do to ensure tutoring is handled
well. Much of the guidance has already been made public, piece by piece,
in the departments responses to states or districts in specific
For instance, the guidance clarifies that districts that have been serving
as tutoring providers, and are then deemed to themselves be in need
of improvement, may not finish out the school year as providers, but
must cease the services as soon as possible. Chicago has clashed with federal officials over that issue.
("Chicago Resisting Federal Directive on NCLB Tutoring,"
Jan. 5, 2005.)
Federal officials advise states to tell districts about their AYP status
before the start of the school year to avoid having them begin as tutors
and risk having to stop midyear. State should consider using preliminary
AYP data if necessary to make that deadline is met, the guidance says.
The guidance offers other cautions for districts. Districts cant
refuse to let a state-approved provider serve their students, nor can
they evaluate a providers effectiveness. Only the state may judge
program design and evaluate providers, the guidance states. TOP OF PAGE
Students in Tennessees HamiltonCounty schools wont trudge to classrooms in the syrupy
July heat for summer school. Instead, they can boot up a computer at
home or almost any place else with an Internet connection and take classes
The summer Web-based classes will supplant the 40,000-student districts
traditional summer school courses, according to a district official.
More and more school districts, as well as for-profit companies and
nonprofit organizations, are offering Internet-based summer classes
in core subjects, such as algebra and reading, and electives such as
The logistical ease of anytime, anywhere learning, the courses
relatively low cost to parents, and the increased need for students
to meet state academic standards are some of the reasons online summer
enrollment is continuing to rise, school and company officials say.
Students dont have to go to school, they dont have
to put on [school] clothes, and the teacher can sit with a cup of coffee
or with a baby on her knee while [she teaches], said Charlene
Becker, the director of instruction for secondary schools for the Hamilton
County district, which includes the city of Chattanooga.
The district charges students $185 for each summer course. Students
eligible for free school lunches can take the online courses for free,
and students who receive reduced-price lunches get 50 percent off.
The Orlando-based FloridaVirtualSchool is on track to triple its student enrollment, from about
4,000 last summer to 12,000 this summer, said Julie E. Young, the president
of the state-sponsored public online school. Another 12,000 students
remain on a waiting list.
Its an explosion, Ms. Young said. Last year,
we really started to open up the summer to a broader audience. We realized
the demand for it.
Meanwhile, summer enrollment may rise 50 percent for the VirtualHigh
a nonprofit organization in Maynard, Mass., that teaches about 6,000 students in 29 states and
23 countries. Students find they must take or retake a course to stay
on track for graduation, or they want to free up a period in the coming
school year for an elective course, said Sandra P. Rowe, the global-services
director for the school.
The summer students, Ms. Rowe said, are an even mix of those who take
the courses for credit recovery and those who take them primarily for
In addition, more schools themselves, not just parents, are paying for
students to take the online classes, Ms. Rowe said. That way, she pointed
out, school officials dont have to deal with the logistical headaches
of providing summer school. And families who travel in the summer find
the online courses better suited to their lifestyles.
Were getting a lot more [student] registrations, and were
getting them earlier, she said. The idea of taking a class
online is not a flimsy solution anymore. Its a solid option.
Susan D. Patrick, the director of educational technology for the U.S.
Department of Education, said the increasing popularity of online summer
school reflects the overall growth of distance education.
If you think about 10 years ago, there were almost no classes
done online, she said. But in 2002-03, 36 percent of school
districts had students in distance education classes, and 72 percent
of those districts continue to expand [these] options.
Will Williams, a student at Georgias HarrisCountyHigh
broke his leg trying to skateboard down a hill over spring break last
year. Immobilized for months, the then-sophomore took a U.S. history course through the VirtualHigh
last summer so he would stay on track to graduate with his class in
The difficulty level of the online course was about the same
as that of a traditional class, said Mr. Williams. But the commitment
level is higher.
You have to be driven because its not a face-to-face thing,
His mother, Robin Williams-McCormack, said she expected a little more
guidance than her son received, but added that the $400 price tag was
well worth it.
The school year schedule for 17-year-old Dianne de la Veaux is jam-packed.
At the private WilmingtonFriendsSchool in Wilmington, Del., shes on the cross-country team, acts in school
musicals, and is on the yearbook and newspaper staffs. She also works
So she decided to take an online U.S. history course this summer from
the Virtual High School, said her mother, Paulette de la Veaux.
This is her one chance to fit this class into her schedule,
Ms. de la Veaux said of her daughter.
Students who need to polish their reading and math skills are also a
big contingent of online summer school attendees. Baltimore-based Catapult
Learning Inc., which serves more than 150 school districts, offers real-time
online tutoring to students who need remedial help. The company has
grown from working with a handful of districts in the summer to a
good number of them, according to company officials, who would
not disclose the actual number of districts it serves in the summer.
Districts can use leftover Title I supplemental-educational-services
money for online summer school remedial classes, said Jeffrey H. Cohen,
the president of Catapult Learning, a subsidiary of for-profit Educate
Inc., also based in Baltimore.
The summer is a great way to attack particular challenges,
said Mr. Cohen. For students who are far behind and dont
want to get tutored in a group because they find it stigmatizing, this
is a private way.
Participation in Achieve 3000 Inc.s Summer Success
program has mushroomed from two schools in 2003 to some 200 school districts
this summer. The Lakewood, N.J.-based company offers individualized
Web-based instruction in reading comprehension, writing, and vocabulary.
Summer is the time to see tremendous [academic] growth,
said Saki Dodelson, the chief executive officer of Achieve 3000. TOP OF PAGE
A report released last week on the first year of a comprehensive study
of Head Start showed that the federal preschool program had a modest
impact on participating children in the areas of cognitive development,
emotional and social well-being, and health.
The studys data, however, are being interpreted in significantly
different ways. The Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees
Head Start, said the results showed that most of the programs
pupils and its graduates continue to lag behind their peers.
But the National Head Start Association, an advocacy group representing
Head Start parents and teachers, crowed over the studys results,
saying they showcased the 40-year-old programs effectiveness.
You can look at these findings and either conclude that the glass
is half empty or half full, said Wade F. Horn, the Health and
Human Services Departments assistant secretary for children and
The study, released June 9 and conducted by Westat, a Rockville, Md., research company on behalf of the HHS Department, followed
5,000 3- and 4-year-olds beginning in the fall of 2002.
Some of the children entered local Head Start programs for the first
time, while the rest were enrolled in non-Head Start preschool programs
in their communities. The study compared the progress of the two groups
on a variety of factors that ranged from their academic progress to
the quality of their health care. The monitoring will continue through
2006, following the children through the spring of 1st grade.
The first-year results found that 3-year-olds in Head Start got the
most benefits from the program, which serves about 900,000 poor children
nationwide. But 4-year-olds entering the program for the first time
also showed some benefits.
Results found that both 3- and 4-year-olds, compared with the preschool
pupils not enrolled in Head Start, had small to moderate improvements
in pre-reading, pre-writing, vocabulary, and parental reports of childrens
literacy skills. But neither age group showed a significant improvement
in oral comprehension or early math skills.
Three-year-olds also saw a decrease, compared with the non-Head Start
group, in behavior problems such as hyperactivity and in their health
status, including a moderate increase in the dental care they received.
The 3-year-olds parents were found to have small improvements
in what the study characterized as their parenting skills. The study
found that parents increased the number of times they read to their
children and decreased the frequency of spanking their children.
While a moderate number of 4-year-olds received more professional dental
care, and the research revealed slight gains in the number of times
their parents read to them, 4-year-olds did not show improvement in
various other areas cited in the study, such as behavior problems, vocabulary,
and general health status.
The researchers found no significant gains for either 3- or 4-year-olds
in early math learning, oral comprehension, or social competencies,
including the ability to interact with peers and teachers. The report
cautions, however, that it provides only a partial set of preliminary
Future reports will look at other factors such as whether the Head Start
group was in a full- or partial-day program.
In a statement, the Health and Human Services Department said that despite
the gains shown in several areas, Head Start programs are not closing
the gap between poor children and the general population.
Theres room for improvement,
Mr. Horn said in an interview. We see this as evidence that we
can do a better job. But Sarah M. Greene, the president of the
Alexandria, Va.-based National Head Start Association, said the study
showed very good progress for the program.
Sure they still have a ways to go, but it is having a positive
impact, she said of the Head Start program overall. The fact that
3-year-olds saw more of an improvement, she said, shows the younger
the children [are] exposed to the program, the better the result.
She contended that the Bush administrations less rosy interpretation
of the report follows a pattern of trying to twist everything
into a very negative situation when that isnt the case.
The NHSA and the administration have been at odds over the Head Start
program for several years. Theyve battled over a failed administration
plan to move the program to the Department of Education and over the
effectiveness of the National Reporting System the administration put
in place to evaluate how much Head Start students were learning. ("Criticism
Over New Head Start Testing Program Mounts," January 14, 2004.)
The $6 billion preschool program is also in the middle of a Congressional
reauthorization, with both the House and Senate education committees
having approved bills. Ms. Greene said the association remains concerned
about provisions that would limit parental involvement in the program.
But Mr. Horn said that the Head Start group wanted to safeguard the
program itself, without regard to whether it is effective.
What concerns me most about the NHSA stance over the last four
years is that they seem to be unwilling to entertain the idea
that the Head Start program could be improved, he said. My
allegiance, frankly, is not to the Head Start program, but to the children
in it. TOP OF PAGE
Washington - Some of President Bushs top education prioritiesespecially
his plans for improving the nations high schoolsare rebuffed
in a spending bill making its way through the Republican-controlled
House of Representatives.
The House measure, approved by an appropriations subcommittee last week,
would inch up the current discretionary budget for the Department of
Education by $118 million, to a total of $56.7 billion, or by less than
1 percent, in fiscal 2006. While Democrats were quick to denounce the
bills education figures, the proposed amount for the department
was nearly $650 million more than the presidents request for the
coming budget year.
Lawmakers ponied up none of the $1.5 billion Mr. Bush requested for
a new High School Intervention program and new high school testing.
They also fell well short of his asking price in some other areas, from
the Title I program for disadvantaged students to an adolescent-literacy
program Mr. Bush hoped to dramatically scale up.
The subcommittee did go along with the presidents plans to create
a Teacher Incentive Fund under the spending bill, which covers the departments
of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. That program, which
Mr. Bush first proposed during his 2004 re-election campaign, would
reward effective teachers and offer incentives to attract qualified
teachers to high-need schools. But here, too, House lawmakers didnt
come close to Mr. Bushs request. He wanted $500 million; they
have proposed $100 million.
Very Tough Decisions
The spending measure won approval June 9 on a voice vote. Only one of
the subcommittees 17 members, Rep. David R. Obey of Wisconsin, the ranking Democrat, called out nay when
it came time to vote, though other Democrats made plain their displeasure
with the bill.
The next step for the legislation is action by the full Appropriations
Committee, then consideration on the House floor.
[W]e had to make some very tough decisions, Rep. Ralph Regula,
R-Ohio, the chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor,
Health and Human Services, and Education, said at the outset of the
panels meeting last week. Every one of these programs touches
the lives of people in one way or another. Our job is to set
priorities within the constraints of the amount of money we have.
Rep. Obey complimented the chairman for his efforts, but blamed the
GOP leadership in Congress and President Bush for circumstancesespecially
the enactment of recent tax cutsthat he says led to the situation.
[T]his bill didnt get here by immaculate conception,
he said at the subcommittee meeting. This bill is here as the
direct result of previous actions.
Mr. Obey highlighted his concerns with federal spending in a variety
of areas, including education.
The two largest K-12 programs, both of which have seen relatively aggressive
growth in recent years, would get only slight upward bumps under the
House bill. Title I would increase by just $100 million, or less than
1 percent, to $12.7 billion. Special education state grants would grow
by $150 million, or 1.4 percent, to $10.7 billion.
A Few Cuts
The White House plan, issued in February, would cut overall Education
Department spending for the first time in a decade. Mr. Bushs
plan for fiscal 2006, which begins Oct. 1, would lower the agencys
discretionary budget by $530 million, or nearly 1 percent, to $56 billion.
The proposal calls for abolishing 48 programs in the department. ("Cuts
Proposed in Bush Budget Hit Education," February 16, 2005.)
President Bush has especially highlighted his new initiatives for high
schools. But in a tight fiscal climate, Congress appears unlikely to
fund his core priorities there: more testing and a pricey new intervention
fund for high schools. Mr. Bush may not have helped matters by proposing
to pay for those programs by seeking the elimination of funding for
programs under the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education
Act, which has many friends on Capitol Hill.
Not only did the House subcommittee decline to abolish vocational fundingit
froze spending at roughly $1.3 billionbut it also did not agree
to kill many other programs Mr. Bush targeted, from state grants under
the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Program, to civic education,
to the Even Start family-literacy program, to education technology state
Not every education program escaped the scalpel. The House bill echoes
Mr. Bushs plans to eliminate an $11 million program for the education
of gifted and talented students, $18 million for foreign-language assistance,
and $5 million for dropout prevention.
The creation of a $100 million Teacher Incentive Fund caught the eye
of some GOP leaders, who praised the action last week.
I support President Bushs call for incentives that reward
dedicated teachers who demonstrate success in the classroom, Rep.
John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, the chairman of the House Education and the
Workforce Committee, said in a June 9 press release.
Promises to Keep?
Democrats spoke at length during the appropriations subcommittee meeting
about the No Child Left Behind Act, citing their frustration that funding
levels are falling further below those authorized under the law. In
fact, a House budget document says total spending for programs included
in the federal school law, which it placed at $24.6 billion, would decline
by some $800 million next year under the House bill.
Rep. Obey is apparently contemplating a dramatic response.
Im rapidly arriving at the point where I think that if we
are not going to meet the financial obligations that we indicated the
federal government would meet when we passed No Child Left Behind, then
we ought to repeal the mandates, he said. Mr. Obey said he intended
to offer an amendment that would do so during the full committee action,
which is scheduled for June 16.
Republicans argue that the laws authorization levels dont
reflect a spending promise, noting that Congress often does not fully
fund programs at the levels authorized.
I want to give members time to think about this before we actually
proceed, Mr. Obey said. I can nolonger go home and defend
No Child Left Behind if we dont follow up the dollars that we
promised to provide.
Meanwhile, the subcommittee plan would eliminate $23 million in funding
for the Ready-to-Learn Television program, which helps fund such educational
shows as Sesame Street and Postcards from Buster. It would
also greatly reduce funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
TOP OF PAGE
Cleveland - The teenager walks into the empty classroom and crams
his lanky frame into a desk. Three teachers, the high school psychologist,
and the principal sit in a circle around him. This 17-year-old 10th
grader knows hes been summoned here because his classwork has
What he doesnt know is that hes part of an expanding national
effort to keep students like himwho are overage for their gradesfrom
slipping away from school altogether. The creation of this Cleveland program five years ago reflects a growing national awareness
that overage students are far more likely to drop out than those who
progress with their peers.
We want you to pass. We want you to do better, says Karen
Scebbi, the psychologist. I believe you want that, too.
Silent, the young man fidgets. He cant explain why he raps and
jokes in class more often than he completes his work. Nearly grown and
only a sophomore, he had fallen so far behind at his neighborhood school
that he came here to the Options Complex at Margaret A. Ireland School
to catch up. But his teachers are worried.
Were losing you, says English teacher Dan Timko. We
need to know what we can do to keep you.
Hanging onto kids who might otherwise leave school is the mission of
the Options Complex, a program for students in grades 6-12 who are behind
in school by two or more years. Much of the concern about dropout rates
has focused on improving high schools. But experts say that struggling
middle schoolers, a too-often-overlooked group, are likely to flounder
in 9th grade and stop attending school.
The best way to improve high schools is to salvage the middle
school experience, said John M. Beam, the executive director of
the NationalCenter for Schools and Communities at FordhamUniversity. Somethings happening in middle school.
Thats ultimately where the policy fix may need to be.
The Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington advocacy organization, released figures this month showing
that 28 percent of the nations 8th graders are at risk of dropping
out of high school because of poor reading skills. Students who enter
high school reading poorly are 20 times more likely to drop out than
their highest-achieving classmates, the group said.
The Philadelphia Education Fund and JohnsHopkinsUniversity reported in a recent study that four risk factors among
6th graders make dropping out likely: failing either English or mathematics,
attending school less than 80 percent of the time, or receiving poor
marks for behavior.
The field is definitely starting to look at younger kids,
said Robert Balfanz, a Johns Hopkins research scientist and a co-author
of the report. The idea is, if we can identify the kids who might
fall off the graduation track earlier on, we might be able to intervene
Accordingly, some school districts are making a special effort to reach
middle schoolers who are overage for their grade. Recognizing that they
can teeter on dropping out for varying reasonsfrequent moves,
a need to work after school, difficulty learning English, academic troubles,
family crises, chronic misbehaviordistricts are offering a portfolio
of approaches rather than a fixed route.
The New York
City department of education is working with community groups
to expand options for overage students as part of an approach it calls
multiple pathways to graduation.
Some of the New
programs are geared to teenagers who fell behind in high school, and
others to older students with more serious life issues who need to complete
their credits in the evening. Both kinds provide personalized, intensive
Educators are also stepping up literacy instruction for struggling readers
in middle schools. New
is opening many small high schools that are intended to provide better
learning environments for adolescents, said Michele Cahill, a senior
adviser on education to Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein.
The thinking used to be, We have a large, comprehensive
high school on this schedule, and you have to fit into it,
Ms. Cahill said. Now, we start with where the kids are, set demanding
standards, and plan what we need in the system to get them there.
Cincinnatis 9-year-old program for overage middle schoolers
features classes of 15 to 18 students, an accelerated curriculum, and
after-school tutors. Seeing 95 percent of each 8th grade group complete
the program and move on to high school has convinced Principal Joseph
Porter of the programs value.
If kids are held back a year or two, [and] theyre sitting
in a 5th grade class and theyre 13, their self-esteem goes down.
Theyre frustrated. There are going to be behavior problems,
said Mr. Porter, the principal of Lafayette Bloom Back on TrackMiddle
They need to be with kids their own age.
Doing Things Differently
Dallas has expanded its reconnection centers for
overage high school students downward to serve middle schoolers after
officials noticed that many middle school students were too old for
I looked at the data and knew we had to do something differently,
said H.B. Bell, Dallas associate superintendent for dropout prevention.
The numbers were astounding.
Philadelphia has opened three new high schools for overage students
with too few credits, and has begun an accelerated pilot program for
about 170 overage middle school students.
Clevelands program, which also includes two other schools
for overage middle school students, began when the districts chief
executive officer, Barbara Byrd-Bennett, noticed that the 9th grade
had the largest group of children too old for their grade.
The district also offers programs for high school students who are overage,
or have returned after dropping out. Most end in a regular high school
diploma rather than an equivalency credential.
We need to give these kids the instruction and the diploma they
need to compete in society, Ms. Byrd-Bennett said. If in
fact you create what have been traditionally called alternative
schools, youre essentially tracking a subculture.
The Options Complexs 175 students have fallen behind at their
regular schools because theyve failed grades. Once they transfer,
they work on an accelerated curriculum designed to catch them up with
their peers. Then they can return to their former schools or stay on
to graduate. Most stay. Some still fall off the radar screen.
The teaching approach is informal and emphasizes active engagementa
recognition that many students have had difficulty connecting with their
A recent day in Algebra 1, for example, finds middle schoolers working
with plastic pieces to fit equations together. A high school social
studies teacher downstairs ignores students legs draped over their
desks, and lets them speak out as they wish in a lively discussion about
the jury system.
Students with behavior problemsa sizable portion of those at the
Complexhave adult mentors in the building. Teachers draw up customized
plans for getting students on track that require daily monitoring and
teacher feedback. The school has one full-time psychologist for the
middle school students, and another for the high school students.
With a pupil-teacher ratio of 25-to-1, the classes are smaller than
those districtwide, but have grown from an average of 15 because of
budget-driven staff cuts.
With 500 of the districts nearly 16,000 middle schoolers overage
this school year, the Options Complex has a waiting list. Though the
district spends an average of $2,000 more on each Options student, the
school was spared from a round of school closures this spring forced
by a budget shortfall.
Ms. Byrd-Bennett views the program as effective. According to district
figures, less than 3 percent of its 6,500 9th graders are overage this
year, compared with 8.5 percent in 2002-03.
Its state test scores varyfewer than a third of the schools
9th graders scored at the proficient level in mathematics or science
last year, while more than 80 percent hit that mark in writing. The
schools scores lag behind district averages, and the proportion
of students who receive disciplinary action is higher than in regular
But it isnt hard to find Options students who believe the program
has turned their lives around. They cite as crucial the smaller classes,
individualized attention, and the never-give-up attitude of their teachers.
At my old school, there were 40 kids in my classes, and I was
just getting into fights, coming back, getting behind on my work, and
getting into trouble again, said Shannon Bell, 18, who made it
to 12th grade this year after being two years behind.
Here, they break it down and make sure you understand, he
said. You feel you belong. Its a second chance to do something
with your life instead of just act a fool.
Some activists worry that such programs can let schools push out borderline
students by counseling them out of regular schools.
Anne Wheelock, an independent researcher in Boston, contends that its best to provide overage children
with customized academic and emotional support in their regular schools.
Too often, she says, separate programs use a one-size-fits-all approach
that doesnt work with children of widely varying needs.
It also gives the mainstream school an escape hatch, she
said. They always have in the back of their mind, Oh, we
can refer our overage kids to the school for overage kids, and
they never have to do anything to stop the production of overage kids
to begin with.
But Ephraim Weisstein, a vice president of Bostons Commonwealth Corp., a nonprofit group that designed
the Diploma Plus model used in that city for students considered at
risk of dropping out, said such teenagers often need separate programs
because most traditional schools cannot offer enough support. He rejects
the criticism that separate schools create a subclass of students who
cant successfully re-enter the mainstream.
Dont we have that kind of system right now? he said,
noting that large percentages of students fall out of the school system
or finish without sufficient skills for college or work. The issue
isnt, are we creating a second-class set of schools? We have one.
The issue is, what are we going to do about it? TOP OF PAGE
Floridas Opportunity Scholarships faced their most crucial
test last week, as the state supreme court heard arguments in a case
about the constitutionality of the voucher program.
In more than an hour of oral arguments in Bush v. Holmes, held June
7 in Tallahassee and shown live on the Internet, lawyers sparred over
the implications for school vouchers of language in the Florida Constitution
that bars religious institutions from receiving state money.
Plaintiffs lawyer John M. West said that religious schools using
the vouchers are involved in the religious indoctrination of young
children, suggesting there is no way to square the program with
the state constitution.
But the states lawyers asked the court to keep the vouchers, which
they argued are no different from other common forms of public aid that
go to religious colleges, hospitals, and other entities. They also stressed
that the vouchers primarily help poor and minority students.
The Opportunity Scholarship program is in aid of Floridas childrenperiod, Florida Solicitor
General Christopher M. Kise said. Its not a clandestine
way to fund religious or sectarian schools. This program is constitutional.
A decision in the 4-year-old lawsuit challenging the vouchers, which
about 720 students statewide used to pay school tuition in 2004-05,
could determine the future of vouchers in the state, and slow or fuel
the growth of private school choice nationwide.
Two lower courts have ruled the Opportunity Scholarships unconstitutional,
citing the states so-called Blaine amendment on funding for religious institutions.
Although the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Cleveland voucher program, which includes religious schools, passes
muster under the federal constitution, other state constitutions also
include Blaine-style language that voucher opponents argue prohibits
state tuition aid for such schooling.
Justice Kenneth B. Bell wanted to know last week why the U.S. high courts 2002 decision in the Cleveland case, Zelman v. Simmons-Harris, didnt trump the
Florida Constitution. He also suggested that overturning the Florida program might show hostility toward religious institutions,
which federal law prohibits.
Mr. West, a private lawyer hired to represent the plaintiffs by the
Florida Education Association, responded that the state constitutions
Blaine amendment contains a far more specific restriction
on the use of public funds than does the federal establishment clause
[of the First Amendment].
The Florida justices weighed other factors, including whether the
Opportunity Scholarships affect the state constitutions pledge
to provide a uniform public education system for all students.
Justice Harry Lee Anstead asked why the court should leave the vouchers
in place. Wouldnt that basically, completely, undermine
the system that has been provided in the [state] constitution, for the
free system of public schools? he said.
Mr. Kise argued for the state that the vouchers are designed only to
help students leave the lowest-rated public schools. That is very,
very different than a wholesale abdication of the public education system,
The court hearing also focused on whether the vouchers have improved
education in Florida. In 1999, there were 78 failing schools, and last
year there were 14, Justice Bell pointed out.
That may be, sir, but their assertion that that result
was linked to the Opportunity Scholarship program is not supported,
Mr. West replied.
Lawyers defending the Opportunity Scholarships said last week that if
the Florida Supreme Court rules the program unconstitutional under the
Blaine amendment, they will appeal the decision to the U.S.
Bush v. Holmes, which takes its name from Gov. Jeb Bush, a Republican
who first proposed the Opportunity Scholarships, and retired educator
and teachers union official Ruth D. Holmes, could affect more
than 25,000 Florida students ability to leave public schools through
a variety of state-sponsored tuition programs.
The 700-plus students who used the Opportunity Scholarships in the past
school year were eligible to leave public schools that had received
Fs on their state report cards in two of the previous four years.
Judges in the lower courts have allowed students to keep using the vouchers
until the court case is settled.
If the state supreme court rules the Opportunity Scholarships unconstitutional,
the states McKay Scholarships, which allowed 14,300 students with
disabilities to attend religious or other private schools in the 2004-05
school year, likely would face an immediate legal challenge. Other Florida school choice programs also could be at legal risk.
("Court Showdown Over Fla. Vouchers
Nears," May 25, 2005.)
Floridas Blaine amendmenta reference to James G. Blaine,
the nationally prominent Maine Republican who pushed for such constitutional
language in the late 1800ssays in part that no revenue of
the state shall ever be taken from the public treasury directly
or indirectly in aid of any church, sect, or religious denomination.
Such amendments were seen as a way to keep public money from going to
non-Protestant religious institutions.
A State Issue
The Blaine amendments or similar provisions in 37 state constitutions
have been challenged before.
In 1998, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that its state constitution
did not prohibit the Milwaukee voucher program. ("Court Allows Vouchers in Milwaukee," June 17, 1998.)
And in 1999, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled the states individual-tax-credit
scholarships, which rely on private donations to help finance tuition
at secular and religious private schools, did not violate the state
constitution. ("TaxCreditsPass Muster In Arizona," February 3, 1999.)
But in 2004, the Colorado Supreme Court overturned that states
vouchers, which were aimed at helping low-income students in urban areas.
The suit against Colorados vouchers was a Blaine-related challenge, but
the ruling avoided the church-state issue, citing local-control provisions
instead. ("Colo. Vouchers Now Back In Political Arena," July 14, 2004.)
Then the U.S. Supreme Court, in its 2004 Locke v. Davey decision from
Washington state, allowed state aid to religious collegesexcept
for scholarships to students majoring in theology. ("High Court
Upholds State's Bar On Aid to Theology Majors," March 3, 2004.)
Outside the Florida court last week, an estimated 2,500 marchers braved
the Tallahassee heat and humidity to show their support for the Opportunity
Scholarships and other forms of school choice in the state, voucher
Among them was Howard L. Fuller, the national board president of the
Black Alliance for Educational Options and the director of the Institute
for the Transformation of Learning at MarquetteUniversity in Milwaukee.
Mr. Fuller, a former superintendent of the Milwaukee schools, said after the march that the court should
allow the voucher program to continue.
After 15 years [in Milwaukee], we can clearly say that people have not been indoctrinated,
people have not been intimidated if they use vouchers to attend
religious schools, he said.
John McKay, a Republican and former Florida Senate president who helped
enact the McKay Scholarships for students with disabilities, said if
the state high court rules against the Opportunity Scholarships, he
hopes state legislators will move to protect the McKay program from
I fortunately was able to pay for private school for my daughter
after a public school didnt meet her needs, added Mr. McKay,
the father of a grown daughter who was diagnosed with learning disabilities,
in an interview after the march. We have developed an education
system where only those of means have choices.
National opponents of school vouchers also monitored last weeks
A decision to end this voucher program and presumably other programs
would be a major blow to groups who want to promote the use of public
dollars in private schools across the country, said Marc Egan,
the director of the voucher strategy center for the National School
Boards Association, based in Alexandria, Va.
The court could issue a decision before most Florida schools reopen in August. TOP OF PAGE
With the help of a federal grant, North Carolina is expanding an early-childhood program it started with
the goals of closing the achievement gap between minority and white
students and moving underrepresented groups into education for the gifted.
Students in Project Bright IDEA, which stands for Interest Development
Early Abilities, have shown growth in language arts and mathematics,
state educators say. Bright IDEA began in the 2001-02 school year with
12 classrooms in six school districts and a budget of $10,000 for materials.
About 1,000 students went through the pilot program over three years.
Several teachers continued the program on their own during the 2004-05
The results were intriguing enough that the U.S. Department of Education
a five-year, $2.5 million grant through the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and
Talented Students Education Program to study the approach further and
expand it into classrooms in six more districts. Eventually, the project
will train more than 200 teachers in 36 schools across North Carolina, who will reach more than 5,000 students in kindergarten
through 2nd grade. The first full year of the federally financed research
program will begin this fall.
Its making a difference, said Valorie Hargett, the
state consultant for the academically and intellectually gifted for
the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and a principal
designer of the program. These are schools who need help. Theyre
wanting to do things differently.
Project Bright IDEA trains teachers in how to encourage the same characteristics
in their students that gifted people are believed to possess, such as
flexibility, persistence, and an ability to grasp larger concepts. The
young students are asked to find the big ideas behind every
lesson, are given content-rich literature, and are constantly instructed
in using intelligent behaviors.
The goal, Ms. Hargett said, is for children to learn to go beyond the
If theyre focusing just on knowledge, theyre leaving
the classroom thinking theyve got everything, she said.
They must leave our classrooms asking questions.
Schools with large populations of minority students and schools receiving
federal Title I aid were chosen for the pilot study. Students were not
screened to enter the program, but teachers underwent extensive training.
The results have been encouraging so far.
Students were assessed using the North Carolina K-2 Assessments for
Literacy and Mathematics, and they showed significant gains by the end
of the school year. The students were not measured against their peers
in regular classes, though that will be a part of the expanded, federally
Achievement among black and Hispanic students increased close to the
levels reached by non-Hispanic white students and Asian-American students.
in the 2,600-student Thomasville city district, decided on its own to compare Bright
IDEA 2nd graders with their peers in regular classrooms. The results
showed Bright IDEA students scoring in the 80th percentile in reading
on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, compared with the 39th percentile
for students who were not in the special program.
The 659-student school is almost evenly divided among Hispanic, black,
and white students.
We found out that we are nurturing all our students by doing this,
Principal Phyllis Lupton said. Even if we have brought children
who were below average to average, thats a good thing.
Amie Cook, a 2nd grade teacher at Thomasville Primary, has taught two
classes of Bright IDEA students. The program forces teachers to think
conceptually about every lesson, she said. Instead of doing a collage
after reading a piece of literature, Ms. Cook said, her students may
write a letter to the editor or engage in a debateanything
to get them thinking deeply about the work theyre doing.
Too often, schoolwork for students considered to be low-achieving focuses
on drill-based instruction and memorization, she said. But the important
thing, Ms. Cook said, is not what children do when they know the
answer. Its what they do when they dont know the answer.
Margaret Gayle, the executive director of the American Association for
Gifted Children, based at Duke University in Durham, N.C., and another
designer of the program, said she was looking forward to what further
study of the program would bring. In the federal study, children will
be compared with control groups that are not in Bright IDEA classrooms.
We want to know if we will continue to see gains that will make
the project worth all the work, Ms. Gayle said. TOP OF PAGE
Dover, Pa., Board Race Takes Intelligent Design to Voters Slates on Both Sides of
Science Policy Court Residents for Fall Ballot
By Sean Cavanagh, Education Week, 6/15/05
Dover, Pa. - Bernadette Reinking is a retired nurse, a registered
Republican, and at 58, a first-time candidate for the school board.
But this is no ordinary election, as the political novice is often reminded
as she canvasses front porches and farmhouses for votes in this community
in south-central Pennsylvania.
Some locals greet her warmly, offering promises of support on the fall
ballot. Others, she has found, listen to her in stony silence, gritting
their teeth, the veins in their necks bulging. A few encounters have
prompted a more visceral reaction. One resident responded to her introduction
by bounding around near his front doorstep, in an apparent imitation
of a gorilla.
Do you think we come from apes? he demanded of the candidate.
I told him he was going to have a coronary if he didnt settle
down, Ms. Reinking recalled with a chuckle and a shake of her
head. He went over the divide.
Such chasms may prove difficult to bridge here this summer and fall.
The upcoming school board election is likely to focus squarely on Charles
Darwins theory of evolutionand claims of alternatives to
itwith results that could echo far beyond the 3,600-student DoverAreaSchool
On Nov. 8, voters will elect seven candidates to the school board from
a list of 14 contenders, whose opinions on the classroom role of intelligent
design are expected to dominate stump speeches and campaign ads the
way property taxes and school repairs might in other years.
The agenda for this election was set last October, when the nine-member
Dover school board voted 6-3 to require that high school biology students
be made aware of purported flaws in Darwins theory and be told
of intelligent design. Seven current school board members, all of whom
will appear on the ballot as Republicans, are running and have campaigned
in favor of the board policy.
Those incumbents will face seven opponents. At least three of those
challengers are registered Republicans, though all seven will be listed
on the ballot as Democrats because they finished as the top vote-getters
in the Democratic primary in May, according to a group representing
them, Dover CARES, or Citizens Actively Reviewing Educational Strategies.
The boards decision angered some district teachers and drew a
federal lawsuit from American Civil Liberties Union, which, like many
critics, regards intelligent design as religious belief in disguise.
Similar debates over intelligent designs place in science classes
are playing out in states and school districts around the country. But
while those fights have addressed the concept primarily on scientific
and philosophical grounds, intelligent design may be facing its most
visible grassroots political test in Dover.
Intelligent design is the belief that natural phenomena, including human
life, are too complex to have developed without the guidance of a master
architect, or designer. That view contrasts with the theory of evolution
as advanced in the mid-19th century by the British naturalist Darwin,
who concluded that species evolve through natural selection and random
The theory of evolutionaccepted by the vast majority of scientists,
who stress that such a theory is no mere hypothesis or hunchprovides
evidence of links between humans and ancestral hominids that scientists
believe walked the earth millions of years ago. That picture of human
origins still rankles some voters on the campaign trail, as Ms. Reinking
Is That All There Is?
Ms. Reinking opposes the school boards policythough not,
she says, intelligent design itself. She and the other members of Dover
CARES define themselves as people of faith who believe intelligent design
should be allowed in Dovers schoolsjust not in science class.
When I go door to door, people want to know where I stand on intelligent
design, said Ms. Reinking. We feel its a matter of
the heart, and the soul, and the mind. Its not a scientific theory.
That view is not shared by Alan Bonsell, an auto-repair-shop owner in
his fourth year on the board who said the district policy on intelligent
design is routinely distorted by political opponents and the news media.
Why wouldnt you be for expanding kids science education?
Mr. Bonsell asked. We have confidence in the people in our area.
We have to find a way to get the truth out to the people, because they
wont get it in the newspaper.
The science curriculum approved by Dovers board says that 9th grade biology students will
be made aware of gaps/problems in Darwins theory and of other theories of evolution, including,
but not limited to, intelligent design.
But Mr. Bonsell and school administrators say the policy requires only
that students be given a brief introduction to the design concept, through
the reading of a single statement, rather than be exposed to it throughout
biology class. (That issue is a subject of dispute in the ACLU lawsuit,
in which one of the Dover CARES candidates, Bryan Rehm, is a plaintiff.)
In January, Dover school administrators read that four-paragraph statement,
which says that Darwins
theory is not a fact, to students after several Dover science teachers refused to do so.
What, in that statement, is religion? Mr. Bonsell said.
When I tell people [about the statement], they kind of look at
me strange, like, Is that all there is?
Other campaign issues are decidedly more local. Dover CARES has attacked
the incumbents for approving property-tax increases, which averaged
6.5 percent over the past three years, district records show. But Mr.
Bonsell said that the tax rate was comparable with those of surrounding
school systems, and that the board has managed district dollars wisely.
Throughout the primary season, candidates sounded competing themes on
yard signs, brochures, and roadside billboards, while often playing
not so subtly on the evolution issue. The Intelligent
Choice, one roadside ad for the incumbents announced. Quality
Education With Fiscal Responsibility, a Dover CARES display responded.
Common SenseCommon Cause.
The election is drawing interest from outside parties. The Pennsylvania affiliate of the National Education Association donated
$2,100 through its political action committee to a PAC run by Dover
CARES, records show.
Yet as the nationwide debate over attempts to bring intelligent design
into public school classes has grown increasingly polarized, Ms. Reinking
and Dover CARES seem intent on conveying a centrist message to voters.
Her group supports allowing discussion of intelligent designin
social studies, comparative religion, or similar classes, not as a biology
They explain their stance this way: Intelligent design is not credible
science; teaching it in science class would violate the constitutional
separation of church and state. Talking to students about it in nonscience
classes, on the other hand, allows teachers to discuss the concept broadly,
with less fear of a lawsuit and less worry about whether it is a legitimate
If you put it in a class where people can talk about all religions,
Im a perfectly happy woman, Ms. Reinking said.
Dover CARES members also let it be known that they are Christians who
dont regard evolution and religion as mutually exclusive. Their
spokesman, Warren M. Eshbach, is a retired pastor in the Church of the
Brethren. I dont believe that science is antithetical to
faith, he said recently, sitting outside his farmhouse, nor
faith antithetical to science.
But to win in November, Dover CARES will need the backing of a different
flock of the faithful: Republicans. Democratic Sen. John Kerry won Pennsylvania in the 2004 presidential election, but President Bush
soundly defeated him in YorkCounty, which includes Dover.
Alluding to his groups mix of Republicans and Democrats, Mr. Eshbach
said: Were a bipartisan ticket. TOP OF PAGE
Only 20 percent of Pennsylvanias school districts have chosen to take part in
a plan that uses state gambling money to reduce property taxes. The
low level of participation dealt a setback to Gov. Edward G. Rendells
efforts to fulfill campaign promises.
Act 72, which became law last July, allows districts to use slot-machine
proceeds to reduce local property taxes if they raise their earned income
taxes by one-tenth of 1 percent and accept certain limits on local tax
increases. By the May 30 deadline, only 111 of the states 501
districts had accepted the trade-off.
That makes it harder for Gov. Rendell to deliver on two of his major
goals: cutting property taxes statewide, and shifting a greater share
of education spending to the state. The Democratic governor had urged
school boards to join the plan.
There is no doubt that
there was political damage to the governor, said G. Terry Madonna,
the director of the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & MarshallCollege in Lancaster, Pa. The question is, will it be sufficient to defeat
him [in 2006]?
In a Keystone Poll, supervised by Mr. Madonna and released last week,
only 38 percent of registered voters said Gov. Rendell deserves re-election;
47 percent said it was time for a change, and 15 percent
didnt know. The poll of 467 registered voters had a margin of
error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.
Thomas J. Gentzel, the executive director of the Pennsylvania School
Boards Association, said districts spurned Act 72 for many reasons,
including citizens opposition to raising the earned-income tax.
Some, he said, believed that the projected tax relief$190 to $330
per household on average, depending on gambling proceedsmight
not justify boosting the tax on citizens income and having districts
ask voters permission to raise taxes above an inflation-pegged
cap, as required by Act 72.
Some advocates contended that school boards opposed Act 72 primarily
because they sought to preserve their unfettered budgetary authority.
This wasnt about school boards protecting their power,
Mr. Gentzel said. It was about doing the right thing, balancing
the interests of the taxpayers with the need to provide education for
The Road Ahead
Gov. Rendell will continue to work with the Republican-controlled legislature
to reduce property taxes, said his policy director, Donna Cooper. She
said he would support imposing Act 72s requirements on all districts,
a proposal being discussed in the legislature. The Keystone Poll showed
voters divided on that idea.
In the meantime, Ms. Cooper said, she worries that education advocates
focus on Act 72 could distract them from helping push the governors
fiscal 2006 education budget through the legislature. His proposed 3
percent hike in spending on precollegiate schooling has been questioned
because it comes as high health-care costs force the state to consider
cutbacks, she said.
The PSBA had contended there were many unanswered questions about Act
72, including whether districts share of gaming proceeds would
vary depending upon how many districts participated.
Drew Crompton, chief counsel to Sen. Robert C. Jubelirer,
a Republican and one of the laws co-sponsors, said that before
any distribution can be made, $400 million in gaming proceeds must be
collected for a reserve fund, and another $500 million for the distribution
The 111 districts that chose to participate in Act 72 would share about
one-third of the amount in the distribution fund, according to a formula
that assumes the participation of all 501 districts and takes into account
their relative wealth and tax burdens, Mr. Crompton said. The rest is
used for other purposes, including economic-development projects, he
Ms. Cooper noted that the law guarantees participating districts a minimum
distribution$190 on average per household if $500 million is collected
in the distribution fund. If $1 billion is collected, that projected
figure rises to $330. TOP OF PAGE
Kansas Court Orders More Aid to Schools By David J. Hoff, Education Week, 6/15/05
Kansas lawmakers plan to return to work next weekgrudgingly.
Legislative leaders scheduled a special session, to begin June 22, after
the state supreme court released an opinion this month declaring that
the legislature must come up with $143 million for the new school year
as a first step toward fixing the states school finance system.
To find the money, the legislature would have to raise taxes, generate
new gambling revenues, or cut funds from other programs, said Rep. Becky
J. Hutchins, the Republican who chairs the House education budget committee.
But Ms. Hutchins added that the legislature could do something else:
If lawmakers take that route, the justices would have little recourse,
according to one expert on the state constitution.
If it comes right down to a direct confrontation in which the
legislature is willing to disregard the rule of law, its
hard to know ultimately what the court can do to force the legislature
into line, said Richard E. Levy, a law professor at the University
of Kansas in Lawrence.
The Kansas Supreme Courts unanimous June 3 opinion is notable
for its specificity and urgency.
Additional funding must be made available for the 2005-06 school
year to assist in meeting the school districts immediate needs,
the court said in explaining why it was ordering an additional $143
million for next school year.
Whats more, the court warned that it might order the legislature
to increase financing by an additional $568 million for the 2006-07
school year, unless the legislature completes a valid analysis of education
costs by the time it appropriates money for that school year.
For 2004-05, the state spent $2.4 billion on K-12 education. If the
court ordered the second year of increases, K-12 spending would rise
by more than 35 percent by 2006-07.
The court based its demands for additional funding on a 2002 study by
school finance experts estimating that it would cost an extra $853 million
to offer the suitable education that the Kansas Constitution
guarantees the states children. In coming up with that total,
justices adjusted the 2002 figures for inflation and considered the
funding increases that the legislature has provided since then, including
the $142 million increase already appropriated for 2005-06.
The court appears to have watched finance cases in other states, where
legislatures failure to comply with general orders from courts
has meant protracted litigation and several years to produce remedies,
said the lead lawyer for the Kansas parents and school districts that sued the state.
I think the Kansas Supreme Court has learned from the experiences
of other states to put this matter in a situation where its
going to get resolved pretty quickly, said Alan L. Rupe, who is
based in Wichita.
Other states havent completed their work on school finance decisions
as quickly as the Kansas court proposes.
For example, a New
case that is seeking more financing for New York City schools is still unresolved almost two years after the
states highest court ordered the state to provide additional funds
to the city. The state has appealed a trial judges order to increase
school spending in the city by 44 percent.
In the 1990s, New Jersey wrapped up its long-running finance suit only
after the states highest court ordered the legislature to provide
an additional $250 million for the poorest districts, said David G.
Sciarra, the executive director of the Newark-based Education Law Center,
which represents students in that case.
It said: Provide it. Right away. Weve had enough,
Some Kansas legislators, however, are reluctant to enact the court-ordered
spending for the upcoming school year.
Rep. Hutchins suggested that the court is relying on a study that assumes
schools should supply services that go far beyond what the state constitution
should provide for. Somehow, it morphed into something that the
legislature did not want, she said. The study, she said, was all
But Mr. Rupe said the court order was not an unreasonable chunk
of change, given that lawmakers provided $900 million in tax relief
on property and other items in the 1990s, he said.
As lawmakers in Kansas debate how much the state should spend on schools, some
there are also suggesting the state needs a new way to select its supreme
Bigger Role for Voters?
The governor now appoints justices based on recommendations of a panel
composed of citizens and of lawyers who are members of the Kansas Supreme
Court bar. After justices have served six years, their names are put
on a statewide ballot, and voters have the opportunity to recall them.
Though such a vote is held every six years for each justice, none has
ever been recalled through the process.
Of the six sitting justices, four were appointed by Republican governors
and two by Democrats, including one by first-term Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
The court has one vacancy.
The system doesnt give voters enough power over their supreme
court, says a Republican group lobbying to change the state constitution
so supreme court justices are elected to their posts outright.
If justices are going to rule the people, they ought to be accountable
to them, said Tamara Cooper, the executive director of the Republican
Assembly, a grassroots group of conservative Republicans.
To change the way justices are chosen, the legislature would have to
put a proposal on the ballot for voters approval.
For now, though, the high court is sending signals that it will oversee
the school finance systemat least until lawmakers come up with
an acceptable fix.
In the concluding paragraphs of its opinion this month, the court said
it would keep tabs on the case and review the legislatures response.
If necessary, further action will be taken by this court as is
deemed advisable to ensure compliance with this opinion, it concluded.
TOP OF PAGE
Illinois State Board of Education
100 North First Street
Springfield, IL 62777