Letters to the Editor
To the Editor:
I am extremely displeased that you continue to report the Green Brook Township, N.J., situation, vis-a-vis Education Alternatives Inc., inaccurately ("Private Enterprise,'' May 25, 1994). I have had a number of conversations with your reporter regarding Green Brook, and have previously written a letter explaining my disgruntlement. It is evident that your reporting on this subject is pro-E.A.I.
I have been a subscriber to Education Week for over a decade, and read it regularly. Every article on E.A.I. that concerns areas I know something of has contained distortions.
The distortion in the May 25 story, as it relates to Green Brook, was contained in a chart listing district actions nationally on E.A.I. I quote: "The school board began talks with E.A.I. in hopes of addressing the district's high spending and low student test scores.''
Green Brook, N.J., did not have low student test scores. These scores were misinterpreted by E.A.I. Whether that was due to the company's incompetence in understanding the Green Brook test scores, or was a way to deceive the public, only the company knows.
The chart text further states: "In spring 1992, a slate of school board candidates opposed to the move [to E.A.I. management] and backed by the [National Education Association] local easily defeated five incumbents.'' I have told your reporter again, on a number of occasions, we were not backed by the N.E.A., nor were we backed by the New Jersey Education Association.
If your paper would accurately report the situation, you would know that Green Brook did all of its own research, and that the N.E.A. and the N.J.E.A. had no knowledge of Education Alternatives Inc. during the Green Brook experience.
Further, to insinuate that we, the five candidates who won that board election, were backed by an educational entity, is an atrocity. We ran a fair and clean campaign, which was taken to the voters in Green Brook. We won an overwhelming victory, almost seven to one at the polls. If E.A.I. was the only educational alternative, would a community oust incumbents, seven to one?
I would also like to question the "prime targets'' category in the May 25 chart. Again, quoting: "E.A.I. has set up a special division for [New Jersey], which it sees as a ripe market as a result of its high per-pupil expenditures and low test scores.'' I wonder if you would be willing to put the research on the line and recognize that New Jersey has some of the highest test scores in the country.
In the future, as you report on E.A.I., I hope you will be more objective and will recognize that any privatization of the public school arena should be viewed with great scrutiny. Profit-oriented companies usually have very shallow motives.
Ronald E. Bolandi
Superintendent of Schools
Board of Education of Winslow Township
Blue Anchor, N.J.
The writer is a former president of the Green Brook Township, N.J., board of education.
To the Editor:
Your article on the New York state board of regents ("A Throne of Contention,'' April 27, 1994) presented a wide range of views about education reform. However, it might have left your readers with the mistaken impression that New York is fighting over reform and that little cooperation is going on. The controversy on which you focus masks substantial agreement about the kinds of reforms put forth by the regents in this state's school-reform program, A New Compact for Learning.
You quote several ostensible critics, but you miss a more basic point: We have just finished a Children's Education Summit at which the chairman of the Governor's special commission on educational structure, policies, and practices summarized the proceedings this way: "Today's meeting is historic. It is the first time where the regents, commissioner of education, legislature, and leadership have come together and reached consensus on time and place. Now is the time and Albany is the place to make a difference.''
You leave out several important facts which will help correct the misimpressions:
- You quote the chairman of the Governor's commission as if his words imply criticism of the board of regents. In fact, the commission's report was not critical of the regents, as the subsesquent actions of the commission have proven. At the same time, you ignore the repeated praise for the regents and the compact contained in the report: "The board of regents and the education department have launched impressive reforms to educate all children to high standards. The principles are embodied in A New Compact for Learning. ... The effort deserves fullest support.''
The commission in fact called for help from the legislature and the Governor to enact fully the goals of the compact. The report continued: "The regents cannot progress toward the goals of the compact without ongoing coordination from the executive and the legislature. The issues involved in school reform are complex and transcend the scope of the regents' authority. For example, the regents alone cannot accomplish the coordinated delivery of health and social services that children need in order to be able to learn.''
- You quote a college professor as saying that when the regents seek funding, the Governor refuses. You offer no facts. However, the record shows that the Governor praised the compact and provided $12 million in funding in this year's executive budget. The Governor continued to praise the compact at the state's just-completed education summit, and he has just submitted a legislative package which incorporates many of the reforms proposed in the compact.
- You quote one of the regent's criticisms. What your readers may not realize is that 15 of the 16 members of the board do not share those criticisms, and 15 out of 16 show a remarkable degree of unity for a subject as controversial as education now is nationwide.
- Finally, you cite the criticisms of one state senator, but you omit that fact that the regents have taken major steps toward improving communications with the legislature and are currently working very amicably with legislative leadership toward that end.
Critics of New York State's Compact for Learning charge either that it allows school districts too much flexibility or--sometimes in the very next breath--that the regents try to regulate school districts too completely. Some of the same critics who complained of the lack of regulation also attacked the recent regents' regulation that requires districts to involve parents and teachers in decisionmaking.
The regents have chosen a moderate path, very much in the mainstream. The districts are generally quite supportive and responsive. According to a recent survey, the vast majority of school superintendents cited important improvements brought through shared decisionmaking and a significant number found improvements in teaching and learning. This is true even in advance of proposed changes in curriculum and assessment that the regents have now placed before the public for review and comment.
During the next few months, New Yorkers will be able to suggest improvements in these proposals to raise and broaden academic standards and to introduce more performance-based assessments. This is a consultative process that we hope will help keep New York in the forefront of education reform. Some may consider this process to be too slow, but we believe the people will deem it the only prudent and responsible course as we pursue "top-down support for bottom-up reform'' in a state that is, as you say, "esteemed for putting in place the standard-setting regents' examination.''
R. Carlos Carballada
The New York State Board of Regents
To the Editor:
Thank you for your continued objective reporting on the development of the National Council for Private School Accreditation ("National Panel Launches Review Process for Private School Accrediting Groups,'' May 18, 1994).
I would like to clarify one point in your coverage of our recent meeting in Orlando, Fla., however. The writer refers to recognition by the N.C.P.S.A. as comparable to that given by the regional accrediting associations. Actually, many of our members work cooperatively with the regional accrediting agencies; for example, they often conduct joint or dual accreditation site visits with representatives of the regional accrediting commissions.
Also, several of the N.C.P.S.A. members will continue to encourage their member schools to retain or expand their regional accreditation status. While the N.C.P.S.A. will be recognizing private school accrediting associations that meet the required criteria, it will not be accrediting individual schools. Nor will it be competing with the regional commissions, but will work with them in a cooperative way.
Gilbert L. Plubell
National Council for Private School
To the Editor:
I was pleased to see Melville Appell's response (Letters, April 13, 1994)to my Commentary on the importance of incorporating the career-development process into the curriculum at an early stage ("Charting Career Paths--Early,'' Commentary, March 23, 1994).
Mr. Appell's comments effectively shift the discussion to the next level, which I did not have the opportunity to address. I strongly believe that pre-service counselor preparation needs to include a much stronger emphasis on career-development theory and practice.
As a matter of fact, the National Occupational Information Coordinating Committee has been moving in this direction for a number of years. The N.O.I.C.C. has worked with the National Career Development Association and the Association of Counselor Education and Supervision to focus attention on the issue of counselor competencies, training, and certification. Counselor competencies were first addressed by the N.O.I.C.C. with the development of the National Career Development Guidelines beginning in 1986. The Career Development Training Institute has just recently published a report titled "Career Counseling Credentialing and Standards Review'' and will soon be publishing another report, "Training Needs of Career Development Facilitators.''
In addition, the N.O.I.C.C. has created two in-service training programs for counselors and other career-development facilitators. The improved-career-decisionmaking program focuses on career-development theory, occupational-information resources, and the use of labor-market information in career counseling. The employee-career-development program assists counselors in understanding the career-development process as it applies to adults in the workplace. Both programs are based on the National Career Development Guidelines and are presented each year in numerous workshops by the state occupational-information coordinating committees.
The Center on Education and Work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is currently translating modules of the first training program into a self-instruction format that will be available through CD-ROM technology.
The second program, through Oakland University in California, is currently developing an in-service career-development curriculum for non-master's-level career-development facilitators, and is working with several state and university groups to create an adult career-development portfolio. We believe all these tools will eventually be made a part of pre-service counselor training.
A final note: The career-development process does not depend only on counselors, but requires a team effort. We are especially concerned that teachers and administrators also receive training in career development, and an upcoming teleconference directed toward postsecondary schools of education is an example of action the Career Development Training Institute is taking to address this concern.
Juliette N. Lester
National Occupational Information
To the Editor:
I read with interest your April 13, 1994, special report describing the plight of K-12 education and the pleas for help from higher education ("Alliance for Learning: Enlisting Higher Education in the Quest for Better Schools''). I believe we find K-12 schools today in the same position higher-education institutions were about 20 years ago, sitting on their laurels, complacent, assuming the future will be a reflection of the past, with little concern for external perceptions and market reality.
I believe K-12 education has to learn what higher education has come to accept, that, in order to succeed, it's no longer good enough to be passive, hoping things will work out. Higher education has come to accept that it needs to help itself.
Using marketing research and marketing principles, colleges and universities have been able to develop marketing plans and put them to use. I see little evidence of K-12 leadership doing this.
Wake up, K-12.
Robert S. Topor
Topor & Associates
Mountain View, Calif.
Vol. 13, Issue 38