New-Schools Corporation Names Advisory Panel

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WASHINGTON--The New American Schools Development Corporation last week unveiled an education advisory panel that enlists superintendents, teachers, researchers, and others in an effort to dispel criticism that the business-dominated corporation lacks diversity.

The panel will assist the corporation in completing its request for proposals and in selecting the design teams that are to create models for schools that "break the mold" of American education. The final R.F.P. will be published Oct. 15, with bids for the initial 20 to 30 design contracts due by Jan. 31. Winners will be named April 30.

After a year of fine-tuning their proposals, half of the original teams will be granted two-year contracts to implement their plans. In 1995, 7 to 10 final contracts will be awarded to help encourage the re-creation of the best models nationwide.

Congressional leaders and educators raised concerns about a lack of diversity in the new-schools corporation this past summer when President Bush announced the formation of the privately funded organization --part of the Administration' s America 2000 education plan--and introduced its board of directors. The first directors comprised 16 white, male corporate leaders, one black businessman, and one woman. (See Education Week, July 31, 1991 .)

The corporation's president, W. Frank Blount, has repeatedly stressed since then that fears that the group would be dominated by a conservative business perspective would be dispelled when former New Jersey Commissioner of Education Saul Cooperman, the chairman of the education advisory group, named the advisory panelists.

Mr. Blount, an executive with the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, has also said that members will be added to the board of directors to increase its diversity. So far, one new member has been named: Linda Joy Wachner, chairman and chief executive officer of Warnaco Inc. of New York City. Other names are under consideration, according to David B. Sandor, a spokesman for the new-schools corporation.

The members of the newly formed education panel, meanwhile, expressed satisfaction last week with the advisory group's composition.

No 'Old Wine in New Bottles'

"The diversity of the [advisory] board speaks for itself," Joseph A. Fernandez, chancellor of the New York City Public Schools and a panel member, said at a press breakfast here marking the announcement.

Other urban educators on the panel include Ramon C. Cortines, superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District, and Peter R. Greer, interim superintendent of the Chelsea, Mass., schools.

Rural districts are represented by James R. Walker, superintendent of the North Branch, Minn., schools.

Mr. Cooperman said he wanted to select a group with name recognition and automatic credibility in education circles, but also one willing to take risks. He said he looked at some 800 names over the past three months before selecting 18.

"This group will appreciate the idea of break the mold,' "Mr. Cooperman said. "It will not accept the same old wine in a bright new bottle."

Although Mr. Cooperman said he did not want members who would divide the advisory panel by trying to satisfy all the interest groups in education, a number of panelists readily acknowledged that they would stick up for their constituencies.

Caroleen Hensgert, a former superintendent of schools for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Dallas, for example, said she would insist on a role for Catholic educators in what has been billed as a "Manhattan Project" for education.

Prominence for Researchers

Another panelist, Michael W. Kirst, a professor of education at Stanford University, said he was heartened by the prominence of education researchers on the panel.

In addition to Mr. Kirst, researchers tapped for the group include Sharon Lynn Kagan, a senior associate at the Bush Center in Child Development and Social Policy at Yale University; Judith E. Lanier, dean of the Michigan State University College of Education; and Herbert J. Walberg, a research professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Mr. Kirst had campaigned for his position on the panel after raising questions about the role of research in the new-schools effort. Pointing to the minimal impact of a federal experimental-schools initiative in the early 1970's, Mr. Kirst last summer contended that "the current Administration's demonstration schools appear long on development, and short on a research strategy to find comparative effectiveness and affordability for different education models."

Mr. Walberg stressed last week that the issue of dissemination would be a primary concern of the panel.

And Wilhelmina F. Delco, speaker pro tempore of the Texas House of Representatives and one of only two blacks on the panel, said minority concerns would have to be addressed by contract bidders.

The advisory panel includes three past national "teachers of the year": Mary Bicouvaris, a social-science teacher in Newport News, Va.; Bruce Brombacher, a mathematics teacher in Upper Arlington, Ohio; and Therese Dozier, now coordinator of professional-development schools at the University of South Carolina.

Other members are: Jill A. Eaton, principal of Walter Jackson Elementary School in Decatur, Ala.; Franklyn G. Jenifer, president of Howard University; William L. Lepley, director of the Iowa Department of Education; Stephen S. Willoughby, professor of mathematics at the University of Arizona; and Deanna Woods, an English teacher in Portland, Ore.

Vol. 11, Issue 05, Page 10

Published in Print: October 2, 1991, as New-Schools Corporation Names Advisory Panel
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