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Immigrant Youths Are Not Criminal

To the Editor:

Two recent articles, taken together, make clear the shortsighted and inhumane policy of denying educational opportunities to undocumented immigrants.

Your front-page article "Talented But Not Legal" (May 31, 2000) described the struggle of promising young immigrant students who overcome linguistic, cultural, and economic obstacles to achieve academic success. These young people, like many of my own students, represent ideals valued by American society. They are true American success stories. Your article the following week on the high level of achievement among recent immigrants ("Generation Gap," June 7, 2000) further demonstrated that immigrant students eagerly seize the educational opportunities offered them in this country.

Immigrant students come to America willing to work hard and become economically and socially valuable members of society. The statement by Evelyn Miller of the California Coalition for Immigration Reform that we are "harboring criminals" by providing educational benefits for undocumented immigrant students represents a point of view that ignores the benefits these students can bring to our country. Branding intelligent and promising young people as criminals is shameful.

Joseph Luft
Brooklyn, N.Y.

Testing Race Offers No Bow to Hardship

To the Editor:

"Fixing the Race" by Donald B. Gratz (Commentary, June 7, 2000) offers a clear and cogent explanation of the serious errors that dominate the high-stakes testing now pervading American schools. Using the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or MCAS, as an example, Mr. Gratz employs the analogy of a footrace to define the troubles that emerge from the misuse of tests. This simplistic but powerful statement might even awaken the new "educational leaders" (governors and CEOs) who have entrenched their view of measuring learning throughout the land.

My only suggestion to Mr. Gratz picks up his footrace analogy. Many racers have the advantage of a well-designed and safe running track or trail. Others not only run farther, they also find their progress harried by rough ground surfaces, mad dogs, and confusing signs. Translated to test-score prospects, this difference is accompanied by larger classes, less experienced teachers, high turnover of teachers, more student turnover annually, inadequate learning materials, lower per-pupil financing, more student families with serious difficulties, and limited community resources for children and youths. Yet expectations for test scores are the same as those for runners with shorter distances and better running tracks.

In addition to all of these crosscurrents, teachers are being judged on test scores that are powerfully controlled by elements beyond their control.

The situation brings to mind the story of a police guard armed with a shotgun and overseeing a chain gang of prisoners cleaning out the ditches of a back-country road in Louisiana. Water moccasins were rampant. The guard said, "You guys with boots on get in there and cut the brush; and you guys who are barefoot get right in there with 'em."

Harold Howe II
Hanover, N.H.

Language Arts Scores Rise With Computers

To the Editor:

In response to Tina Rappaport's letter on electronic writing, I want to point out that there have been a handful of studies that provide some evidence that students who are accustomed to writing on a computer underperform on tests that require them to write long-hand ("Is Writing Longhand 'a Thing of the Past'?," Letters, June 7, 2000).

The latest study, which was released by the National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy in mid-May, reports that the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System's language arts tests underestimate the achievement of students accustomed to writing on a computer by 4 to 8 points (on an 80-point scale).

In addition, the study reports that if students were allowed to compose their responses on a computer during testing, the number of students in the district in which the study was conducted performing at the "proficient" level would increase by 19 percent in grade 4, and the number of students deemed "advanced" would double in grade 4. Similar effects were found in grades 8 and 10.

I strongly encourage you to run a story on these studies. As an increasing number of schools invest in computers to help improve students' writing, and as the stakes associated with state testing programs continue to increase, it is vital that tests provide valid information about student achievement.

The three studies conducted to date, however, provide evidence that test scores for students accustomed to writing on computers are not valid. As a result, the decisions made about students, schools, and the impact of computers on student learning may be equally invalid.

Michael Russell
Wellesley, Mass.

Stereotypes Filled Letter on Principals

To the Editor:

Bill Harshbarger's June 7, 2000, letter misses the point ("Principals as Paladins: Schools Need Administrators, Not 'Educational Leaders,'" Letters). He questions whether administrators can be instructional leaders and argues that they should take care of the minutiae of running the school. This alone, he says, would prove too much for some, if not most administrators. I would encourage Mr. Harshbarger to see a much larger picture.

All across the nation, educators are being challenged to produce results, usually in the form of improved test scores on exams linked to state and national standards. School communities as a whole are responsible for ensuring that this occurs. Principals are acutely aware of this push for accountability. They must focus schoolwide efforts on ensuring that continuous progress takes place.

Good principals do whatever is necessary to see that progress is made. If that means teaching teachers, then that is what they do. They take information gleaned from years of classroom observations and teaching experiences and share it with new or struggling teachers. They provide opportunities for teachers to teach one another the craft by allowing for peer coaching. They make sure the copy machine is working, they fight for resources for their school, and they invite input from teachers who sit on committees. They ensure that the environment in the school is conducive to learning by implementing sound discipline policies. This list could go on and on. And yes, as Mr. Harshbarger states, sometimes principals just get out of the way of teachers and let them teach.

The most disturbing aspect of Mr. Harshbarger's letter was that he attacked administrators in a not-too-original way, stating that "they get out [of teaching] because they aren't good at it ... or simply need more money." Like many statements, in some cases this is true, but in most cases it's not.

Mr. Harshbarger seems to have difficulty with administrators as "instructional leaders." Perhaps it would be more palatable to him if the term "instructional facilitator" were used. It wouldn't matter to me, as long as we work together to improve education for all kids.

Mark Everett
Assistant Principal
Milwaukie High School
Milwaukie, Ore.

To the Editor:

Bill Harshbarger, in his very articulate letter to the editor, perpetuates the idea that school principals leave teaching because "they aren't good at it, are tired of coaching, are burned out, or simply need more money to feed their families." I take exception to this stereotype as much as I take exception to the stereotype, "Those that can, do; those that can't, teach."

Few of the new generation of school administrators I know left teaching without regrets. Although we were, by and large, exceptional teachers, we left the classroom because our ideas about education had become too large for one single classroom. We wanted to help teachers become the very best educators possible, we wanted to create schools in which all children would have the opportunity for an excellent education, and we wanted to help transform education itself.

I, for one, certainly did not become a principal so that I could "fix machines, order supplies," or do any of the paper- shuffling tasks Mr. Harshbarger seems to want to make the exclusive realm of principals. In fact, I took administrative classes specifically to fulfill the role of "educational leader"—not because I craved to become like the "old style" principals for whom I worked.

School leaders are changing, just as schools and education itself are changing. Administrators, teachers, and education in the larger sense cannot hope to meet the challenges of the present or the future if we cling to the ways of the past.

Kathryn A. Roe
Elkhart Lake-Glenbeulah Elementary/Middle School
Elkhart Lake, Wis.

Laptop Story Leaves Gaps, Misimpression

To the Editor:

Your front-page article on the use of laptop computers in schools ("Laptops for All Doesn't Mean They're Always Used," June 7, 2000) presented an interesting picture of the use of technology in classrooms. But I was dismayed when I read your headline. It gives the impression that the laptop program at the Mott Hall School in New York City, and possibly those at other schools, are not being used to capacity. Why should schools and parents invest time and money in laptops when they are not "always used"?

As I read the article itself, I was pleased to find that the headline had been misleading. The article explained that at Mott Hall, teachers do not incorporate the use of laptops into everyday teaching and learning. Certain days of the week are designated as "laptop days," and in some classes, the laptops are used only in small groups. Laptop use is apparently limited by the program's setup.

Though the article did note some of the many positive effects that are possible with a one-to-one laptop program, such as collaboration in groups, multidimensional instruction, and extrapolation, much of the potential benefit was left out.

I teach 5th and 6th grade students at Mantua Elementary School in Fairfax, Va., where a one-to- one laptop program allows every 5th and 6th grader in the building to use a laptop 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The students are assigned laptops just as they are textbooks, and are responsible for maintaining them throughout the school year. The program, which began three years ago, uses Macintosh Emates (which are, unfortunately, no longer in production).

Our teachers and students have benefited in countless ways from this program. Walking through a 5th or 6th grade classroom, a visitor would be able to see students putting their laptops to good use throughout the school day: taking notes for history; creating spreadsheets to organize numerical data for math and science; writing, editing, and rewriting for English; graphing linear functions in math; creating sketches for science-lab reports; recording and organizing their grades; and much more. Teachers have woven laptop use almost invisibly into the curriculum, and no one here could imagine life without out "little green machines."

Even at the elementary level, we, as educators, have a responsibility to prepare students for the world they will enter as adults. Today, this is not a paper- and-pencil world; it is one of word processing and e-mail. It is not a world of dusty encyclopedias, but one of Internet technology and interactive learning. And it is not a world of individual accomplishments, but of collaboration and mergers.

Our students leave the 6th grade with tools for today's world. They know how to effectively organize data, material, facts, information, and numbers. Many who were reluctant writers have opened themselves to the process, while gaining valuable composition skills. In short, providing these 12-year- olds access to laptops and technology has aided their development of life skills.

Your article adressed some of the frustrating realities of having a school laptop program. We, too, have struggled with assessment, maintenance, funding, and other challenges. But the success of our program despite these obstacles should encourage others to consider the use of such technology in their schools.

Your article represented but one look into one school. Many others are reaping great benefits—for their teachers as well as their students— from one-to-one laptop programs.

Suzzette Rodriguez
Mantua Elementary School
Fairfax, Va.

To the Editor:

Your story about laptop computers at the Mott Hall School was misleading on several points. First, Mott Hall is the most selective public school in New York City's Community District 6, and one of the most selective in the city. This is the main reason its students annually rank at the top on the city's standardized reading test (and did so before the students had laptops). No doubt, this was the reason Bill Gates visited the school a few years back when he initiated the laptop program. It is hardly the place to carry out a serious experiment on the efficacy of laptop learning.

Furthermore, while Mott Hall certainly has underprivileged students, they are, on average, better off than other students in the district. Proof of this lies in the $36 monthly fee parents at Mott Hall pay for their computers. I taught in a comparably poor district and had few families that would have forked over $36 a month for anything.

You also neglect to mention that the New York City board of education member you quoted, Irvin S. Hamer Jr., is the co-founder of a new Internet company called TestU that is already selling its test-preparation services to the city's schools. He is not a dispassionate voice when it comes to assessing technology in the classroom.

I challenge Mr. Hamer to explain, in plain English, what he means when he says that "the ability to do multidimensional instruction in the classroom is increased by some order of magnitude." Is he referring to students, teachers, or the computers themselves?

Billy Tashman
Brooklyn, N.Y.

'10 Worst Disasters': Best Reform Lesson

To the Editor:

I have been on the Williamson County, Tenn., board of education for almost two years. Through the generosity of our district, each of our board members receives a copy of your newspaper. I have found it interesting and enlightening on many issues, but I have never felt an overwhelming urge to write until I read your June 14, 2000, issue.

The Commentary "The 10 Worst Educational Disasters of the 20th Century: A Traditionalist's List," by Kenneth M. Weinig, is the best article I have ever read on the subject of education "reform." Every concern I have had about the state of education is expressed in that essay. I will be sure that it is brought to the attention of my fellow board members—many of whom, I am aware, do not espouse my traditionalist views. I want to express my thanks to Mr. Weinig for a well-written Commentary.

Charlene Kimmel
Franklin, Tenn.

What Is 'Cognitive Collaboration' ?

To the Editor:

It was with sheer amazement that I read "Researchers Flag Six Elements of Good Secondary English Instruction" (June 14, 2000). The article centered on "research" conducted at the taxpayers' expense by a supposedly valid research center known as the "National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement." Please excuse me, but, as with many of these purported "think tanks," I have never heard of this organization.

According to its director, Judith A. Langer, the center has been hard at work over the past two years conducting a study in 25 middle schools and high schools located in several states to determine what elements constitute "good secondary English instruction." They even spent a rousing four weeks per year in classrooms. Its counterpart in mathematics would calculate this to approximately 1.6 days in each school examined. The think tank must have been overflowing with data.

With such a valid effort, surely the study has produced dramatic, earth-shattering findings. Let's see what was discovered about good English programs:

  • Teachers use several different types of lessons to teach skills and content.
  • Test preparation is integrated into instruction.
  • Teachers make connections across instruction, curriculum, grades, and so forth.
  • Students learn strategies for thinking about their work as well as doing it.
  • Teachers require students to take what they learn and probe deeper to generate knowledge.
  • Students engage in "cognitive collaboration." (I have to remember that phrase.)

Well, thank goodness these folks came along and finally cleared up this mystery. I've been in education for the past 23 years, and I always thought good teaching consisted of monotonous lectures and homework dittos.

By the way, perhaps the "researchers" can explain why these skills are exclusive to "good secondary English instruction." Silly me, I thought this is what good teaching is about at any level or discipline.

Consider that this is part of a five-year, federally funded project. The next step, according to Ms. Langer, is to "try out the six features in new classrooms." I will be waiting with bated breath.

Paul A. Murdaco
Mullica Hill, N.J.

History Texts: Who Decides What the Facts Are?

To the Editor:

As Neville Morley observed in Writing Ancient History: "The task of the historian is to uncover [the] pre-existing facts, and then to interpret them. Interpretation is always subjective and personal, and so, potentially unreliable or biased; but the facts are real." This provides considerable insight for understanding the recent Commentary on history textbooks by Gilbert T. Sewall ("History 2000," May 31, 2000).

Mr. Sewall's review of trends in school textbooks was timely and informative. He presents a good case for textbooks to become more exhaustive in their treatment of certain historical themes. But his idea that contemporary textbooks should be abandoned because they have been "increasingly deformed by identity politics and group pieties" is dead wrong. Mr. Sewall's opinions seem to reflect his personal interpretation of which historical facts should or should not be the content of our history texts.

As noted by Mr. Morley, the interpretation of historical facts has always been the domain of the historians. Therefore, we have never had a consensus over the facts; we have only had debate on what facts will be included in the texts.

Mr. Sewall mourns the fact that contemporary history texts present relevant facts about famous non-European-Americans. But he contradicts himself when he admits that heroes such as George Washington, Voltaire, Rousseau, Thomas Edison, and Magellan have not vanished.

He is upset because these Western figures and their contributions "are not much savored." I find it impossible to understand what being savored has to do with being "honest in content." The fact that new textbooks include material on Mansa Masu and Chico Mendez is no reason to abandon them. The presence of new figures in our history texts only enlightens our children about the multiethnic origins of American civilization. The presentation of new facts in history texts makes us more knowledgeable about our past—it does not "emphasize the story of outcast groups and their resistance to established order," as Mr. Sewall suggests.

He maintains that today's students will view our Anglo- European heritage "with a degree of mourning or indignation" rather than pride. This is absolute nonsense. Because of the universal appeal of today's textbooks, students learn to respect not only the Euro-American cultural contributions, but also those of Asian-American, African-American, and Native American citizens who made America what it is today.

From his discussion of history texts, it seems that Mr. Sewall is unaware of the cognitive revolution that has swept through our schools. He is upset because such texts are thinner, but he fails to admit that we can never really write a history text that presents the entire history of the world, or of America, for that matter. As a result, we must pick and choose what facts will and will not be presented. If we accepted Mr. Sewall's advice, we would white out any historical figures from our textbooks that were not European in descent.

Contemporary teachers recognize the limitations of the history text. As a result, they encourage their students to participate in engaged learning activities in which they produce their own knowledge. In many classrooms around America, students work in cooperative groups and use print media and technology to study aspects of American and world history in detail, and then present the fruits of their research to their peers. Teachers want their students to learn history intimately, and not just from a history text.

It would appear that Mr. Sewall is attacking contemporary history texts simply because he does not like the addition of new characters from our multiethnic origins. This seems a biased view of history. Today we live in an electronic age that allows students to communicate instantly with people in Japan and Kenya with the touch of a button. We cannot afford to return, as he suggests, to the use of older textbooks whose worldview was shortsighted and failed to reflect an appraisal of the authentic history of other nations and peoples.

In this new age, we cannot limit our views to the textbook writers of the 20th century. We must move forward and provide our children with the light to navigate the global world we have now entered.

Clyde Winters
Uthman dan Fodio Institute
Chicago, Ill.

To the Editor:

Gilbert T. Sewall's Commentary was right on target. He accurately identified the problems that characterize most contemporary textbooks; his assessment of agenda-driven curriculum is accurate.

Educators and legislators must heed Mr. Sewall's warning about editorializing history to push multiculturalism, lest students disdain their own culture and tire of learning. Mr. Sewall was also correct when he pointed out the damaging components of collaborative/peer learning that force students to arrive at group consensus rather than personal understanding.

As a member of the Texas Textbook Selections Panel and the chief executive officer of Paradigm Accelerated Charter School, I recognized the validity of Mr. Sewall's accusation against contemporary textbooks. I grieve for teachers and students who are forced to wade through agenda-driven, collaborative indoctrination and cluttered pages that muddle the learning process. The time is right to reject editorial imposition of a victimization mentality and multicultural agendas. Textbook selectors should flatly refuse to adopt textbooks designed by special-interest groups, and should insist on books designed to enhance learning while exposing students to the moral principles of our Founding Fathers.

Educators should demand that history texts be studies of events that actually occurred, rather than impositions of what special- interest groups wish had happened.

Ronald Johnson
Dublin, Texas

No Excuses: A Report's 'Curious Endorsement' Draws Further Comment

To the Editor:

In his recent letter to the editor, Rick Nelson, the president of the Fairfax County (Va.) Federation of Teachers, warmly endorses Samuel Casey Carter's "No Excuses" report ("Curriculum Casualties: Bureaucracy and Self-Interest Often Trump Effective Alternatives," Letters, June 14, 2000). Mr. Carter has a bachelor's degree in philosophy and mathematics, has done graduate work in theology at Oxford, and is currently finishing his doctorate on the phenomenology of Jacob Klein at the Catholic University of America. With this background, he apparently found 21 high-poverty, high-performing schools. The import of the fact that he actually could find only 17 seems to have been overlooked. One can also wonder about Mr. Carter's use of a single criterion— standardized-test scores—for judging success.

Despite Rick Nelson's endorsement, Mr. Carter's report, sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and paid for by the Bradley Foundation, has little value. In fact, its own contents refute its conclusions. According to Mr. Nelson, the report's conclusions point to "the importance of curriculum, assessment, and highly trained teachers." Actually, while these are discussed, the principal hero of the report is the principal. Indeed, a Washington Post column on the report took it to be a clarion call to "Free the Principal."

The principals in the report are mostly obsessed. They appear to work 12- to 14-hour days, seven days a week. They expect the same of their teachers, in one case providing the teachers with cellular phones and giving the students the numbers to call at any hour.

Given that the "No Excuses" report is taken by the Heritage Foundation to be an argument for vouchers, a teachers' union official's acceptance of its findings is all the more curious.

The facts contained in the report that refute the report's major conclusion about principals (and teachers and testing) concern extra resources described but not appreciated as reasons for whatever success the school has (the success of several schools is highly questionable). They include the following:

  • Longer school days, test-oriented after-school programs, and Saturday programs.
  • Longer school years. A number are open for 11 months.
  • Extra money. Several schools are quite successful at beefing up their budgets by trolling the private sector. In one instance of a charter school, such money permits salaries that start at $35,000 a year, compared with the public schools' $22,000.
  • Small size. Most are small, and some are tiny. One has 150 students in seven grades, another 285 students in 14 grades (pre-K through 12).
  • Small class sizes.
  • Selectivity. Four of the 21 schools are private (with large tuitions, up to $6,000 a year, and few scholarships. These are schools for poor people?). Others are magnet schools and charters, which also have the power to select students. The only high school in the report selects high-scoring middle school students.
  • Test-wiseness. Kids in these schools are tested, tested, tested. Some fill in answer sheets every few weeks and take "mock" tests before the "for real" tests (one can wonder what sorts of similarities the mock tests have to the actual tests).

All of the above are associated with increased achievement. They certainly should have been factored into claims for success. And, far from saying there are no excuses not to get all poor urban schools up to this level, the report presents these schools as quite extraordinary. Indeed, one of the principals was closer to reality than either Mr. Carter or Mr. Nelson when he said that to reproduce these schools on a larger scale "would take a pool of educators that does not exist today."

A slightly longer refutation of the "No Excuses" report than this letter can be found at www.america- tomorrow.com.bracey/EDDRA. My complete analysis can be found at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Center for Education Research, Analysis, and Innovation, www.uwm.edu/Dept/CERAI.

Gerald W. Bracey
Alexandria, Va.

To the Editor:

Rick Nelson, the president of the Fairfax County Federation of Teachers, asks the imperative question: Why do school officials force teachers to conduct reading instruction, such as the whole-language approach, that is not corroborated by experimental evidence? He infers that this is caused by "bureaucratic self-protection." But that is an unsatisfactory answer.

A far more likely answer is that the educational bureaucrats to whom Mr. Nelson refers have been indoctrinated into an ideological belief in whole-language teaching by a host of sources: education professors; leading organizations such as the International Reading Association and the National Council of Teachers of English; the journals of these and other educational associations; state departments of education; the views of the teachers' unions; school board indifference; parents' lack of knowledge about experimental research findings; organizations that disparage standardized reading tests; plus "The 10 Worst Educational Disasters of the 20th Century: A Traditionalist's List," as detailed by Kenneth M. Weinig (Commentary, June 14, 2000).

In short, the list of reasons why today's children are systematically denied full opportunity to learn to read is a lengthy one. Thus, there is a lot of guilt to go around for the fact that educational executives display so little trenchant insight into the effectiveness of their management practices.

Patrick Groff
Professor of Education Emeritus
San Diego State University
San Diego, Calif.

To the Editor:

The June 14, 2000, letter headlined "Curriculum Casualties" contained inaccurate information about the Fairfax County, Va., public schools. For the record, reading-series textbooks were never banned, the teaching of phonics was never forbidden, and teachers were never told, "Don't teach math facts."

The writer of the letter cited math scores from a test that has not been used in the district since 1996. He did not include the most recent two years of data from the Stanford Achievement Test. On this test, 4th, 6th, and 9th grade students scored well above the national average in math.

In addition, the letter highlighted the lower reading scores of minority students at one grade level. While these scores are lower than we would like, they had improved from the previous year. The letter also omitted saying that minority students' reading scores were at the national average in two other grade levels.

Most of our students are achieving well; however, like many other districts, we are concerned about the achievement levels of minority students. Until there is no gap between the achievement of minority students and majority students, our district will continue to make this challenge a priority.

Fairfax County has an excellent and well-deserved national reputation for providing solid instruction for students and excellent staff-development opportunities for teachers. Despite significant changes in the demographic profile of our student population, students' standardized-test scores are among the best in the nation. A majority of mean achievement-test scores are at or above the 70th percentile, with some mean scores as high as the 80th percentile in 6th grade math and the 82nd percentile in 9th grade science.

Unfortunately, the letter's author provided a distorted view of elementary and middle school curriculum and instruction in Fairfax County. His letter did not do justice to the excellent teaching that occurs daily in our schools.

Daniel A. Domenech
Superintendent of Schools
Fairfax County Public Schools
Fairfax, Va.

Chicago's Parental 'Checklists' Pit Teachers Against Parents

To the Editor:

We were disturbed to read the article "Chicago To Size Up Parents With Checklists"(May 31, 2000). Such a "checklist" whereby teachers evaluate parents on their children's readiness to learn, health and well-being, homework completion, and similar items will not foster productive relationships between families and schools. Instead, it will perpetuate the obvious communication problems that exist in the Chicago public schools. How can there be a meaningful dialogue if school authorities seem only to be looking for someone to blame? The checklist implies that if students' grades are bad, the fault must lie with the parents.

Why pit parents and teachers against each other? Why not instead define what families and schools should each be doing to make sure students succeed? Positive relationships with parents emerge from collaboration and cooperation. The family-school compact, as described in the Title I legislation of the Improving America's Schools Act of 1994, is a strategy that provides for precisely this shared responsibility between families and schools. When implemented well, a compact can build partnerships and foster positive relationships through collaboration and conversation.

The act's language is clear: "As a component of the school-level parental-involvement policy ... each school ... shall jointly develop with parents ... a school-parent compact that outlines how parents, the entire school staff, and the students will share the responsibility for improved student achievement and the means by which the school and parents will build and develop a partnership to help children achieve the state's high standards." Jointly develop with and share the responsibility are the compact's pivotal phrases.

The National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education has also identified keys to successful partnerships in its brochure "Developing Family/School Partnerships: Guidelines for Schools and School Districts." This resource is based on information from programs that have successfully involved parents in their children's education. The recommendations include:

•Assess parents' needs and interests about ways of working with the schools.

•Hire and train a parent liaison to directly contact parents and coordinate parent activities. The liaison should be bilingual as needed and sensitive to the needs of parents and the community.

•Provide professional development for teachers and administrators to enable them to work effectively with parents and with each other as partners in the educational process.

•Schedule programs and activities flexibly to reach diverse parent groups.

The point is, there are successful strategies and successful family-involvement programs. A checklist that evaluates or grades families is not one of them. We know that building strong, sustainable partnerships between families and schools is not a simple task. It requires energy, creativity, perseverance, and genuine dedication to make it happen.

Sue Ferguson
National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education
Washington, D.C.

Anne Henderson
Washington, D.C.

Arnold Fege
Public Advocacy for Kids
Annandale, Va.

Bob Witherspoon
National Coalition of Title I/Chapter 1 Parents
Washington, D.C.

Vol. 19, Issue 42, Pages 50-53

Published in Print: July 12, 2000, as Letters

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