National News Roundup
The National Center for Research in Vocational Education has convened a panel of experts representing education, business, and labor, to examine vocational education in the high schools and offer recommendations for improvement.
In an attempt to address what has been called the "unfinished agenda" of the various reports on education, panel members will examine the vocational curriculum as it relates to preparation for work, according to Linda Lotto, the center's project director.
In addition, the commission will focus on student access to vocational education, changing job requirements and working conditions, and the coordination of vocational and academic training.
The efforts of the National Commission on Secondary Vocational Education are being sponsored by the U.S. Education Department through its contract with the national center.
The commission, which is chaired by Harry F. Silberman, professor of education at the University of California at Los Angeles, will hold the first of a series of public hearings on April 17 in Columbus, Ohio. The commission also has scheduled hearings in Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Hartford, Los Angeles, Portland, and Washington, D.C.
The commission members are: William Castorena, principal, Alamogordo, N.M.; Jack R. Frymier, professor of education, Ohio State University; Thomas Furtado, United Technologies Inc., Hartford, Conn.; Edwin Herr, professor of education, Pennsylvania State University; Marion W. Holmes, vocational-education director, School District of Philadelphia; Ruth Hughes, professor of home economics, Iowa State University; Mac Irving, vice president, Frit Industries, Ozark, Ala.; Carl McDaniels, professor of education, Virginia Polytechnical Institute and State University; E.D. Peeler, Genesco Inc., Nashville; Allen Phelps, professor of vocational and technical education, University of Illinois; Beatrice Reubens, senior research associate, Columbia University; Larry G. Selland, vocational-education administrator, Idaho Department of Education; and Dorothy Shields, education director, afl-cio.
Five organizations representing officials who make education policy at the state level have formed a consortium intended to provide their members with better information and thus improve the quality of policymaking.
The consortium includes the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National Governors Association, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the Education Commission of the States. It is funded for two years with a $621,386 grant from the National Institute of Education.
The State Education Policy Consortium, as the consortium is officially called, has outlined broad goals: to find ways for the individual organizations to better gauge and meet needs of their members; to reduce redundancy in the information gathering of the organizations; and to foster closer ties between the organizations and the education-research community.
Michael Cohen, who formerly directed research on effective schools at the nie, has been appointed to direct the consortium.
He said it will pay particular attention to ways of improving the state policymakers' understanding in three areas: so-called "excellence issues," such as higher standards for the teaching profession; mathematics and science education; and the educational uses of technology.
The first project of the consortium, he noted, will be a report on where the policymakers get their information and how they use it.
Sherleen Sue Sisney, a teacher of history, political science, and economics at Ballard High School in Louisville, Ky., has been named the National Teacher of the Year for 1984. Ms. Sisney was honored at a special White House ceremony, during which President Reagan presented her with a golden apple.
Ms. Sisney is the 33rd teacher to be recognized in the program, which is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers, Encyclopaedia Britannica, and Good Housekeeping magazine.
The 37-year-old teacher has taught for 13 years at Ballard High, where she is co-chairman of the social-studies department and teaches 11th-grade advanced American history and 12th-grade economics and political science.
The economics class, one of the most popular at the school, includes debates, seminars, guest speakers, discussions, and "simulation games" to help make students aware of the importance of understanding economics and the principles behind economic policy, according to the new teacher of the year.
Ms. Sisney has long been involved in efforts to combat "economic illiteracy," which she says undermines the ability of most people to vote intelligently on important issues and also manage their personal finances.
Only about 50 percent of young Americans are able to differentiate between the economies of the United States and the Soviet Union, and 24 percent of the general population cannot define "private enterprise,'' she says, but only 13 states require economics courses for high-school students.
Ms. Sisney also developed a collaborative project between her school, local businesses, and the community at large that is now being replicated in other parts of Kentucky. The project encourages businesses and volunteers to provide manpower, money, and materials to help upgrade the quality of schools faced with financial and academic crises.
The other three finalists for the award were:
C. Ray Baker, a teacher of social studies at Southside High School in Fort Smith, Ark.; Francis Clark Chamberlain, a teacher of mathematics, English, and social studies at the Community School in Napa, Calif.; and Kim Natale, a physics teacher at Pomona Senior High School in Arvada, Colo.