Simon's School Group Issues Report

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Washington--With little fanfare, a task force established by Senator Paul Simon, Democrat of Illinois, has released a series of recommendations to improve Chicago's public-school system, including making available preschool education and expanding adult-literacy courses.

The task force, established by Senator Simon last May in the wake of several reports highly critical of the city's school system--one calling its dropout problem "a human tragedy of enormous dimensions"--was aimed at turning Chicago into an "urban laboratory" for educational experimentation. (See Education Week, May 15, 1985.)

Released last month by the 25-member committee, which included top state and local education officials as well as Secretary of Education William J. Bennett as an unofficial member, the report offered many recommendations already being considered by the Chicago Board of Education as part of a major reorganization effort begun in May, Chicago officials said last week.

Major Recommendations

The report recommends: that pre-school education be made available--and perhaps mandatory--for all 4-year-olds by 1987 and for all 3-year-olds by 1988; greater authority for principals in such areas as teacher selection, removal, and transfer; a $20,000 minimum starting salary for teachers; greater parental involvement; and expanded adult-literacy programs. The commission4calls on Chicago to launch "the most comprehensive adult-basic-literacy program anywhere in the nation."

Robert Saigh, a spokesman for the school board, said it is investigating what education-reform funding may be available at the state level for early-childhood education and has already approved an extra $1 million to fund a 12-month year for principals.

He said the board is also working with community colleges to develop additional adult-literacy courses.

The task force's recommendations are "consistent with efforts already under way," Mr. Saigh said. "We appreciate Senator Simon's efforts and the attention his committee has focused on the problems."

The task force now plans to divide into subcommittees to "follow up on implementing the major recommendations," according to William A. Blakey, senior education aide to Senator Simon.--at

Vol. 05, Issue 08

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