The priest had an idea. He said the parish school needed teachers and that Romano ought to give teaching a try. That was more than 30 years ago. Now Romano (whose real name is not being used here in the interest of candor) has decided to call it quits. He is almost 61 years old and will retire next year from a public school district in a small city in northern New Jersey, where he has spent nearly his entire career.
Frustrated with the cost and time associated with recruiting bilingual teachers, an increasing number of districts are looking to their own language-minority students for prospective instructors. The Fontana program, which helps student participants pay for college, is seen as one of the most comprehensive models in this nascent movement.
As Nievas points out, it not only helps the district but gives the students a leg up, as well. "There are kids you may think are going straight to McDonald's, but who are trying to improve,'' Nievas says. "This program is something our schools aren't doing enough of: saying, 'We can help you achieve your goals.' ''
For years, leading conservative critics of the public schools have argued that increases in education spending do not translate into improved student performance. In making that argument, many cite the research findings of Eric Hanushek, an economist and political science professor at Rochester University.
But if ACOT is high-tech, Timothy Hamilton's 2nd grade classroom, just down the hall, is decidedly low-tech. Everywhere you look there are books, books, and more books. Big books. Little books. Hardcover books. Paperback books. Serious books. Silly books.
The arrangement is part of Kids' House--a program that places junior high students in a neighbor's home three hours a day, three days a week. The concept is deceptively simple, says Elliott Medrich, a board member of the Marcus Foster Educational Institute, a nonprofit organization that promotes community partnerships with the Oakland public schools. No new infrastructure has to be put in place. Rather, the program combines the dynamics of caring adult role models, the school, parents or guardians, and adolescents. "It's got exactly the right mix of school, parent, community,'' says Medrich, a sociologist at the University of California at Berkeley.
Adds Ada Cole, the institute's executive director, "We think Kids' House has the potential to build back the sense of communities taking care of kids.''
I agree with John Merrow's argument that schools must find a way to teach values ["Our Policy Of Cowardice,'' April 1994], but I do not believe that it is possible to teach values in a common school without causing serious offense to someone's beliefs.
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GRANTS AND FELLOWSHIPS
The Indian River, Del., school board voted in March to reinstate Adele Jones, the algebra teacher whose firing a year ago for giving too many students poor grades touched off a national debate. [See "The High Price Of Failure,'' October 1993.] The 5-4 vote came after a Delaware Superior Court judge ordered the school board to take another vote on Jones' case. The vote to fire Jones in June 1993 was 6-4. Since that time, three new members have joined the board, all of whom voted for reinstatement. Administrators had argued that Jones was an incompetent teacher because large numbers of her students received D's and F's, but the teacher insisted that she could not pass students who did not do their work and study hard. Those who did, she said, earned acceptable grades in her class.
HBO's Lifestories: Families in Crisis series presents "Brotherly Love: The Trevor Ferrell Story,'' about a Philadelphia boy whose social consciousness is awakened by a homeless man. Air time: 7:30 p.m. (EDT).
Several others will notice him while he waits, sometimes for five minutes, sometimes for a half-hour. You may think that you know a lot about him from that quick glance, but you do not. I do. I should. He is my best friend.