January 1994

This Issue
Vol. 05, Issue 04

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The case landed in a New York state family court, where the charges against Storch, a teacher from Shokan, N.Y., were eventually dismissed.

The controversy, however, has not ended. Now Storch is planning to bring suit against the Ulster County social services agency and the facilitator who supported the sexual-abuse charges against him. Storch contends that facilitated communication--the method by which his daughter made her accusations--has never been proved conclusively to work and that county officials and others should have known that when they brought charges against him.

Following is a list of computer networks that teachers and their students may find useful.

Access Excellence: Designed to help secondary school biology teachers keep up-to-date with the latest developments in their discipline. The interactive network allows teachers to share ideas with other teachers, communicate with working scientists, access resources, and sort through other up-to-date information in the field of biology. It is available through an American Online subscription and requires a computer, modem, telephone line, and software. Access costs approximately $10 per month. For hookup through America Online, call: (800) 827-6364.

Californians Say No To Vouchers

In a stinging setback for advocates of private school choice, California voters in November rejected the nation's most ambitious school voucher initiative yet by a seven-to-three margin. Proposition 174 would have given parents a tax-funded voucher-- worth about $2,500 per child in 1994-95--to spend at any participating public, private, or parochial school.

On this dreary fall day, MacEnulty is battling an encroaching case of laryngitis. But, during a lull in play, he walks to the blackboard and, struggling to make himself heard over the roar of traffic from the Cross Bronx Expressway several floors below, begins to explain intricate opening gambits and the value of the pawn.

He sets up two pawns on a special chessboard hanging up front and notes that one is in a very good position to "undermine'' the other. Looking closely at the attentive faces around the room, he asks, "What does undermine mean?''

"But they are going to turn people away from the plan,'' Larry Daugherty, a senior at Seattle's Auburn High School, shoots back.

Unimpressed, Alex quickly counters that under Clinton's managed-competition system, all Americans would have health coverage. Seconds later, the timer beeps.

Sex Education

In his article "Sex Education: Going Too Far?'' [November/December], David Ruenzel makes many assertions about SIECUS (Sex Information and Education Council of the United States) and its Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education that are false and misleading.

DEADLINES

Following is a list of application deadlines for grants, fellowships, and honors available to individuals. Asterisks (

  • ) denote new entries.

Richard Plass of Stuyvesant High School in Manhattan has never done research more sophisticated than raising guppies with his sons. Yet he has turned out 202 semifinalists in the prestigious Westinghouse Science Talent Search, nurturing more successful research projects than probably any other teacher in the United States.

Onward To Battle

Proponents of school choice have created a new national organization that will try to get voucher programs adopted through legislation and ballot initiatives at the state level. Launched this past October, Americans for School Choice has pulled together a prestigious board of directors that includes two former U.S. secretaries of education (Lamar Alexander and William Bennett), members of Congress, two governors, and several state legislators. The group plans to organize ballot initiatives in five states this year and in eight states in 1996 and to engineer lobbying campaigns in four state legislatures this year, followed by an additional eight in 1996. According to its literature, the organization intends to "focus attention on a limited number of battles so we can marshal resources and win victories at the state and local level that will accelerate the national movement.''

They were returning home to visit their family for the first time since they had come to New York; I was hoping to improve my Spanish and break down the barriers between me, a 23-year-old white guy from the Boston suburbs, and my students, 3rd grade Latino kids from the Bronx.

Our differences had created problems for me during my first year in the classroom. For example, when I asked my kids to brainstorm a list of fruits, I had never heard of half the things they suggested. (What the heck is a guanabana, I wondered?) When they brought music to our end-of-theyear party, I still thought merengue topped lemon pies and salsa went on tortilla chips.

Among American schools, Sudbury Valley School in Framingham, Mass., is perhaps unique in that the conclusion of that old standard The Pledge of Allegiance can here be said to have literal import. "With liberty and justice for all,'' intoned as a daily formality by millions of schoolchildren, permeates all aspects of Sudbury school life. For at Sudbury Valley, an old country mansion with a wraparound porch and comfortable book-lined rooms crisscrossed with hard New England light, there are no bells, no homerooms, no assigned seats, no study halls. There are no grades, no required homework assignments, no class rankings. There isn't even a curriculum. Instead of teachers, there are "staff members,'' who work (and play) on a more or less equal footing with the students. And while there are occasional classes, they form only if there is student demand--and disband with the fading of student interest.

As an instructor in my college's applied in- formation technology program, I see every day how computers radically transform both the means and the ends of education. Nevertheless, I am far from optimistic about technology's ability to flourish in our schools--public or private. That's because technology is, in effect, begging the whole question of schools themselves.

When asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton replied, "Because that's where the money is.'' For thousands of years, people have gone to school because that's where the knowledge is. Just preserving it there has been a challenge for most societies. Thousands of peasants had to toil to support a handful of literate clerks and priests whose duties included training their replacements. Control of knowledge meant power, and its flow was vertical.

January 3, 10, 17, 24, 31.

The Arts & Entertainment Network presents The Germans in W.W. II, a series of five onehour documentaries that retraces the major events of World War II from a German point of view. Along the way, the series offers insights into how an entire nation came to embrace the murderous philosophy of Adolf Hitler. Each commercial-free segment begins at 7 a.m. (EST).

The Rabun County jail sits in the bowels of a modern, brick complex one block behind the main street in Clayton, Ga., a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The building itself is mostly given over to courtrooms, clerk's offices, tax offices, and the usual array of government services.