If Urbanski had his way, teachers' unions as they exist today would be a thing of the past. That would include the 3,500-member RTA, which he has led since 1981. In its place, Urbanski and some of his like-minded colleagues are trying to bring about what he calls "a comfortable marriage between unionism and professionalism.'' Their new union would be concerned not only with the welfare of its members but also with the welfare of public education--the union's "industry,'' as Urbanski calls it--and of children, its "clients.''
In a 15-day tour (July 10-25), teachers, administrators, and college professors gain an in-depth view of the country's national curriculum, site-based management program, whole language teaching, and authentic assessment.
"When I'm with them, I feel a lot more grown up,'' says Miecha, who was appointed to the board as a voting member last year. "They talk to me as if I'm their equal; the conversation is always very mature.''
Miecha is one of a growing number of ambitious high school students who are helping formu- late education policy as student representatives on local boards of education. Education observers trace such involvement--which typically takes the form of nonvoting membership or observer status--to the efforts of student activists who began lobbying for student representation in the early 1970s.
Girls face pervasive barriers to achievement throughout precollegiate schooling and are "systematically discouraged'' from pursuing studies that would enhance their prospects for well-paying jobs. This is the conclusion of a new report, commissioned by the American Association of University Women, that is described as the first synthesis of existing research on girls in public schools.
How has Granville managed to make changes that many richer and more sophisticated school districts across the country have been unable to make? The answer is surely complex, but a major part of it is leadership.
"This program's purpose is twofold,'' says John Pietrowski, the project's coordinator, "to weave a close creative relationship between teachers and theater artists and to promote the importance of play writing and new play development as an integral part of theater education.''
To some, that may seem to be a rather flippant response; others may see it as a clever avoidance of a difficult and complex question. To me, the answer symbolizes the deleterious impact that the lay school board has on schooling in the United States.
In the fall of 1989, after five years of thought and planning, a group of my colleagues and I took a major risk: We implemented a restructuring project in our high school. We called it the Renaissance Program, or RenPro for short.
Teachers in all of the district's 12 schools have picked up on the message; some even display their own version of the button. "They think it's fine to ask 'why,' if something's restricting them,'' Ward says of his teachers. "We've cultivated an assurance here that questions are OK.''
According to the company's marketing brochures, more than half a million Hooked on Phonics kits have been sold since the product was first introduced five years ago. Even amid the current recession--and despite an effort by the manufacturer in recent months to tone down its advertising campaign--the product apparently continues to sell. About 6,000 purchasers, Gateway claims, have been educators.
As a middle-class, middle-age teacher, I have learned to expect teachers' unions, organizations, and publications to present the liberal point of view. Last month's letter from John Wilson ["Letters,'' March] decried the lack of two points of view in an article you published about Columbus ["What Happened In 1492?'' January]. I would like to point out to you a quote from that same issue regarding President Bush as the "education president'': "Less than a quarter of those polled gave him an A or B, a full 25 percent gave him a D or F.''
Following is a list of application deadlines for grants, fellowships, and honors available to individuals. Asterisks (
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An Issue Of Importance: American voters will be taking careful stock of congressional candidates' education platforms next November, according to a survey conducted this winter by a Republican polling firm. On a scale of 1 to 10 ("not at all important'' to "extremely important''), survey respondents gave education an 8.7 rating, the highest of 12 platform issues, which included the economy and jobs, health care, and crime and drugs.
A colleague of mine phoned me the other day very upset. He had shown a film titled Human and Animal Beginnings to his 3rd grade class. After depicting the birth of various kinds of animals, the film showed a brief shot of a human baby being born. The baby's head was shown emerging from the mother's vagina. Afterward, the children asked: "Did our parents know we were going to see this film? Were we supposed to see that? Was that X-rated?'' What messages had these children picked up about the female genitals? Clearly, they had learned somewhere that the vagina, in and of itself, even in the process of childbirth, was pornographic. What a frightening attitude to instill in young children.