EDUCATING HOMELESS CHILDREN
SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD,
YOUTH AND FAMILIES
COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS
HEARING HELD IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA, SEPTEMBER 5, 2000
Serial No. 106-118
Printed for the use of the Committee on Education
and the Workforce
Table of Contents *
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MATT SALMON, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES *
STATEMENT OF LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, PHOENIX, ARIZONA. *
STATEMENT OF EDDIE BASHA, BASHA'S MARKETS, CHANDLER, ARIZONA *
STATEMENT OF DR. SANDRA E. DOWLING, SUPERINTENDENT, MARICOPA COUNTY SCHOOLS, PHOENIX, ARIZONA *
STATEMENT OF EDITH SIMS, EDUCATION SPECIALIST, SPOKANE PUBLIC SCHOOLS, SPOKANE, WASHINGTON. *
STATEMENT OF SARA GARFIELD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ST. MARY'S INTERFAITH TRANSITIONAL LEARNING CENTER, STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA *
STATEMENT OF CHUCK BACON, FORMER STUDENT, THOMAS P. PAPPAS SCHOOL, PHOENIX, ARIZONA *
STATEMENT OF TAMMY WELLS, PARENT *
STATEMENT OF WALTER VARNER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THE EDUCATION OF HOMELESS CHILDREN AND YOUTH, BALTIMORE, MD *
STATEMENT OF DR. LUISA STARK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PHOENIX CONSORTIUM TO END HOMELESSNESS, PHOENIX, AZ *
APPENDIX A -- WRITTEN OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MATT SALMON, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES *
APPENDIX B -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, PHOENIX, ARIZONA *
APPENDIX C -- WRITTEN STATEMENT OF EDDIE BASHA, BASHA'S MARKETS, CHANDLER, ARIZONA *
Committee on Education and the Workforce,
Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth
Hearing on "Educating Homeless Children"
355 North 5th Avenue
Tuesday, September 5, 2000
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 1:00 p.m., at the Thomas J. Pappas School, 355 North 5th Avenue, Phoenix, Arizona, Hon. Matt Salmon [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.
Present: Representatives Salmon, Shadegg and Scott.
Staff Present: Rich Stombres, Professional Staff Member on subcommittee majority staff.
OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MATT SALMON, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Chairman Salmon. My name is Matt Salmon. I am the Congressman from Arizona's First District, and to my immediate left is Congressman John Shadegg from the Fourth District here in Arizona. To my right is Congressman Bobby Scott from Virginia, and Congressman Scott and I serve on the Education Committee together.
The seating here it not any kind of a philosophical position. Bobby is to my right; John is to my left. It is really not that way, but anyhow, we are very, very pleased to be here today for many reasons.
We are here at the Pappas School, which has been a very, very positive impact for the children of our community.
First of all, I would like to thank Superintendent Sandra Dowling, Dick Brice, and Erna Lee Phelps for all of their hard work in making this hearing a reality.
You know, it is really a privilege to be here today to witness the first day of school and see hundreds of nervous and excited children heading to their new classrooms. It is a familiar, reassuring site. It is something we have come to expect as parents.
But you should know something about these particular children. Though they look no different from any other children, these children have no home. Yet when you look at these kids, you see optimism and opportunity. What you see is success in a small area of the public school system, success that would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of dedicated professionals and the constant support of this community for over ten years.
It is the preservation of this very success that brings us here today. In 1987, Congress passed the Stuart B. McKinney Homeless Assistance Act. At that time less than half of the nation's homeless youth were enrolled in school. These kids had not received immunizations. They lacked transportation. They lacked food, and they lacked clothing.
Many of them were being physically and sexually abused and had to stay away from public places like school because their lives were at risk.
Schools had little incentive to track these kids. They were behind academically, expensive to educate, and sometimes exhibited behavioral problems and poor hygiene.
At school, they were taunted, ostracized and ultimately neglected. When these children were thrown into mainstream public schools, many of them simply drown.
In response, with the help of McKinney funding, local educators began to create environments where homeless children could learn and grow. Today more than 40 schools for homeless children exist throughout the nation. These are institutions so diverse and innovative that no one description actually defines any of them or defines all of them.
But imagine a school that functions as a kind of institutional safety net and works to insure that children are attending school every day in a stable environment. This school meets every child's physical needs by providing food, clothing, basic living supplies, even medical and dental care, and for many of the children with emotional disabilities, this school provides psychological counseling and individual mentors.
Moreover, this school will assess a student's educational status and work to improve those areas of knowledge where the student has fallen behind.
And finally, when parents and school personnel agree that little Sara or Robert is ready, this school will mainstream the child into a traditional public school, while insuring that the student continues to receive support services, that lifeline.
And it calls itself a traditional school because its students live in a world that is constantly changing, and the beauty of this school is that it makes children's lives change for the better.
It may be hard to imagine why anyone would oppose a school such as Pappas, but as one joker suggested, Washington breed’s people with big heads and little minds.
The National Law Center, Department of Education, and the Coalition for Homeless contend that Pappas and other transition schools provide segregated education services. They even suggest that parents who choose to enroll their children in Pappas type schools are discriminating against them in a way similar to the ugly racial segregation of yesteryear. How ridiculous.
They argue that transitional schools cannot provide a quality education, while ignoring the fact that many students make extraordinary progress in such a nurturing and need specific environment. They submit as evidence a report that makes inaccurate claims about teachers and programs at these schools.
Finally, they demand that all homeless children be mainstreamed without regard to whether such placement is in the best interest of the student or represents the desire of the parents.
But I do not intend to let Washington, D.C. bureaucrats who have never been out here and who rejected our invitation to appear at today's hearing, you will find that later there will be an empty seat where the Department of Education is supposed to be, succeed in shutting down Pappas or other transition schools.
Certainly, we cannot let them succeed when the evidence suggests that these schools are helping homeless children succeed against great odds.
Federal law, while admittedly in need of clarification, does not prohibit the use of McKinney funds for Pappas or other special schools that meet the needs of the homeless. If it did, the U.S. Department of Education would not continue to seek a legislative remedy to shut down these schools. The department has even admitted in response to congressional inquiries that the existence of transitional schools per se is not in violation of the McKinney Act.
However, the passage of the major House education bill, the Student Results Act, H.R. 2, included administrative language to deny McKinney funding to students that segregate a child either in a separate school or in a separate program within a school.
Think about that for a second. The House passed a bill that would not only lead to the end of Pappas type schools, but would bar mainstream public schools from offering special programs to the homeless even within the school. This language is so restrictive that it would eliminate an option proposed by the National Coalition for the Homeless, which assisted in drafting the administration language.
Here is a quote from a packet that the Coalition distributes to homeless educators, and this is their quote. ``When a student does not attend school because he/she does not feel safe in school, cannot cope with the school environment, has failed in the regular system or has been abused or ridiculed to the point of withdrawal, one solution is to provide alternative schooling within the shelter or an alternative setting more acceptable to the children.''
I ask the National Coalition: doesn't Pappas provide that very solution?
Fortunately, the Student Results Act included the Salmon amendment, which would permit McKinney funding to continue to flow to states with homeless only schools already in existence. So it grandfathered those like the Pappas schools that already exist.
Without the Salmon amendment, which the administration hopes to strip in the Senate, Arizona would face a horrible choice: cut off all state funding for Pappas, which would lead to the school's demise, or lose 440,000 in McKinney funding that several other schools in the state rely on to educate homeless children, a true Hobson's choice.
Aware that Congress would almost have certainly included language protecting the existing homeless schools in any education bill sent to the President, the Department of Education attempted to circumvent the legislative process. The department sent an opinion letter to the states arguing that homelessness alone should not be sufficient reason to separate students from the mainstream school environment.
The Arizona Department of Education, after asking the federal Department of Education to clarify this position, received the reply that the issue was still unclear. Therefore, Superintendent Lisa Graham Keegan announced today that Pappas would receive McKinney funding this year. We commend her for this decisive action.
As it now stands, McKinney funding has been taken away from all but a few of the transitional schools nationwide. You will hear today from Sarah Garfield, an educator whose school has been honored by Presidents Clinton and Bush, but recently lost its $110,000 McKinney grant, a quarter of the annual budget.
In another disappointing case, the Homeless Coordinator's Office in Oregon with the National Coalition for the Homeless standing behind them forced the Oregon Public School District to withdraw their funding from a homeless school by threatening to take away funds for the entire school district. To say heavy-handed would be a big understatement.
But why? Why take the safety net away from our homeless population? Why return these children to the failed policies of the past? Why shut down programs that are successful in helping homeless children get an education? Why not let parents have the choice of an alternative program? Shouldn't we be talking about more flexibility, not less?
If the administration shuts the doors to Pappas, they will slam in the face of these children. They will slam another door in the face of these children, and have these children not been kicked around enough already? They have lost their homes. Please do not take away their schools.
Before I close, I would like to submit for the record support from a few people who have stood behind these schools. We have here a letter from Tipper Gore to the Director of the Mustard Seed School in Sacramento, California. Here she says, ``I wish that there were more places like this around the country.''
Here is an article describing how Bill Gates donated $1 million to the First Place School in Seattle Washington. Here is the pledge from Positive Tomorrows School in Oklahoma, by which Colin Powell's organization, America's Promise made Positive Tomorrows the first School of Promise in the state. And here is an article from Colin Powell's meeting with a student from Positive Tomorrows.
Finally, this letter from Jonathan Kozall, a nationally acclaimed writer and educator who has spent his life fighting segregation and educational inequality. This is what he says about the Mustard Seed School, which is similar in nature to the Pappas School. ``Mustard Seed is a truly remarkable and inspired little school. I hope that it will win the strongest possible support because it represents a model of what should be done for homeless children all over the nation.''
(Refer to the appendix for the above articles)
At the federal government, we are supposed to do what is right on behalf of children, on behalf of families. Folks, I do not know about you, but I am nervous about the future when I see that American children scored twentieth on the international test scores in math and science, behind war torn Slovenia. It tells me we have got some work to do.
And that work is not about closing off options for families and parents. We ought to be about what helps people to thrive and to succeed and children to get a quality education. It ought not be about turf. It ought not be about power plays. It ought to be what is best for the children, what gives them the most quality education they can receive, what keeps them in school and learning, and what gives them the opportunity to thrive.
That is why we have conducted this hearing today. We want this to survive public scrutiny. We want the public light of day on this issue. We would like those who want to close Pappas School and want to close schools like it to defend their position, to be able to convince people out there that this is right. If not, they then ought to pack.
So I appreciate this opportunity. I appreciate the fact that Congressman Scott has gone to great trouble to come here today from Virginia. Congressman Shadegg is here. I appreciate our esteemed panelists whom I will introduce in just a few minutes.
But I would like to turn to my right, Bobby Scott, and ask him if there are any comments that he would like to make before the hearing.
WRITTEN OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE MATT SALMON, SUBCOMMITTEE ON EARLY CHILDHOOD, YOUTH AND FAMILIES, COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES – SEE APPENDIX A
Mr. Scott. Well, thank you. And I want to thank you, Matt, for convening the hearing on the issue of education for homeless children here at the Thomas J. Pappas School.
As Matt mentioned, we both serve on the Education Committee. So, I am well aware of his interest and dedication to public education. I am also pleased to be here with John Shadegg, who serves on the Commerce Committee. We work on a number of different issues together. I also want to thank our witnesses who will be providing testimony today, which will develop a hearing record for the formulation of appropriate federal policy on the education of homeless children.
It is in our national interest to educate all children regardless of their family's income, race, ethnicity, disability, or housing status. We know our competitiveness in the global economy depends on a workforce, which is highly educated, and we know that there is a significant correlation between lack of education and future incidence of crime and welfare dependency.
Reaching the goal of educational opportunity for all is especially challenging when the focus is on educating homeless children. Logistical barriers exist, such as lack of birth certificates, medical records, and other documents usually needed to register for school, and transportation to school is a unique problem for those without a permanent address.
The Stuart McKinney Homeless Assistance Act has provided funding which has removed some of these barriers and, in fact, prohibited outright many of those obstacles, and so many homeless children now have access to educational services that had previously been denied.
Unfortunately a lot more work needs to be done to insure that all barriers to education faced by homeless children are overcome. Today's specific focus on education provided by the Pappas School raises some important questions about how we as a nation should provide for the education of homeless children.
The Pappas School segregates homeless children from their non-homeless peers, while children who attend Pappas School are clearly better served than those who receive no educational services whatsoever. We do know successful models, which currently exist which do not practice this form of segregation. In fact, since the McKinney Act passed in 1990, the percentage of homeless children attending school has increased from 50 percent to almost 90 percent.
We, therefore, have to consider the appropriateness of the separate but equal educational setting for homeless children. The practice of racially separate but equal education was invalidated by the United States Supreme Court in 1954 in the landmark decision Brown v. Board of Education. In that decision, the Court provided us with the foundation of federal educational policy that is still instructive.
In 1954 the Court said, ``Today education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the Armed Forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is the principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values and preparing him for later professional training and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education.''
The Court went on to reason that separating children based on race creates a feeling of inferiority in black children who recognize the insidious purpose of segregation, and that the state sanctioned stamp of inferiority has long-term adverse effects on the child's future development. So, the Court concluded by stating that in the field of public education the doctrine of separate but equal has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.
Brown v. Board of Education dealt with the issue of race. The arguments are applicable towards any educational setting involving forms of segregation, including the model here found at Pappas, and Pappas segregates people by homeless status alone. It's not children at risk. It's not special needs students. It's homelessness alone.
So we have to remember, therefore, that we are discussing federal policy and must be particularly cognizant of the implications that this model has for federal education policy for homeless children throughout the nation. Many other school districts have chosen to educate homeless children alongside their non-homeless counterparts and are achieving good results because they are providing the necessary support services for these children.
And we need to study the kinds of services, which will make a difference to all homeless children because even in Phoenix, Arizona, the Pappas School only serves ten to 15 percent of the homeless children. So we don't want to do anything to leave the other 85 to 90 percent behind.
It is, therefore, my hope that today we will hear the research for all successful strategies in order to gain a fuller understanding of how we can continue to provide all children with quality educational opportunities.
Now, a fair comparison between the Pappas model and other strategies will be difficult because the Pappas School is blessed with substantial private sector support, and as we establish federal policy for the education of homeless children across the nation, we cannot reasonably assume that essential educational and social services will be funded by the private sector, and in fact, it would be wrong to adopt a federal policy which conditions the homeless child's opportunity to an education on the charity of local businesses.
And, I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this important hearing, and I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses.
Chairman Salmon. Thank you, Mr. Scott.
Mr. Shadegg. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you very much.
I want to thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding this hearing today and express my appreciation. I also want to particularly thank Congressman Bobby Scott for flying all the way from Virginia to be here. I think it is his participation, which is critically important because it is easy for those of us who live in Phoenix, Arizona to know the good the Thomas Pappas School, does. Unfortunately, not everyone in America understands that. Not everyone in America recognizes the good that is done, nor does every member of Congress take the time and put in the energy to fly all the way across the country and to get a different view.
I want to thank both of you for holding this hearing. As members of the Education Committee, I know you both to be tireless advocates for children and their right to a quality education and to the right of homeless children for a quality education, and for all children regardless of their family circumstances.
I think it would be inappropriate, and I will keep my remarks brief. I am not a member of the Education Committee. By tradition in the United States Congress, when a committee holds a field hearing, such as this, local members of Congress are often invited to participate. So I am here at the indulgence of the Chairman and Mr. Scott and being allowed to participate, and so I will be brief in my remarks.
But let me just say that I think it is important, first, to acknowledge before we go too much further that the Thomas J. Pappas School is a unique school. It really started in honor of Tom Pappas himself, who was a tireless advocate for inner city causes, for the cause of the homeless, for the cause of the needy.
And it has turned out to be a vastly greater success than I think perhaps anybody ever imagined. I know that there are at least two members of the Pappas family here today, and I want to express my appreciation for all the work that Tom Pappas did and for the great legacy he left us in this school.
I must concede I have a slight bias in favor of the Pappas family because one of the Pappas’s, John Pappas, is my press secretary. So, I wanted to acknowledge them.
I am particularly pleased also to be here on the first day of school. The importance of the first day of school is not lost on me, and to see many children around this room and to know that they are here and full of excitement.
Just a week ago I took my son to Thunderbird High School for his first day of school, and I watched even at that age level the anticipation that he had and felt comfortable because I knew that he was going to a school where he would get a quality education. I knew that because his sister, my daughter, graduated from Thunderbird High School earlier this year, and just a little over a week ago, we took her to college. And I will tell you it does not change. The first day is the first day whether it is kindergarten or high school or college.
Thomas J. Pappas School has been providing children in this community, children who by circumstances over which they have no control simply happen to be homeless; has been giving those children a first day of school that they can be proud of and excited about for now a number of years, and I think it is one that it would be a tragedy, an absolute tragedy to lose in this community.
I think it is important also to recognize the service that this school provides. Whether a Pappas student slept last night in a shelter or in a motel or in a park or on the street, they have at the Pappas School the unique opportunity to have some stability. They can come to this school week in and week out, and there will be no bias against them, no prejudice against them, no stigmatization of them as a result of their status in life and where they spent the night before.
And as has already been mentioned, there are many unique services that they get here at the Pappas School, which, they could not get at another school.
But I want to highlight one point in particular. Everyone agrees, and I suggest this is true of all of us who are members of Congress and all of those who are here today on whatever side of the issue, whether you're one of the people from the community who believes deeply in the Thomas J. Pappas School and wants desperately to see it continued and to see its funding continued or whether you're here as one of the advocates of the other side saying, ``No, this is a mistake. We should cut off funding.''
Everyone here agrees that we must provide a quality education to all students, and that we must do that regardless of their circumstances, including all the circumstances that Congressman Bobby Scott read off in his opening statement and with regard to Thomas J. Pappas School, regardless of their status of their home, whether they slept last night in a motel or in a car on or the street.
The issue is not whether we provide a quality education. The issue is how do we provide that quality education. Is it right to do it at a school like the Thomas J. Pappas School? And I think it is great that we are looking at that issue, but I think it is very important to understand that I am a dedicated advocate of the Thomas J. Pappas School and of the method we have here and believe it would be tragic to cut it off.
Now, the discussion you're going to hear today will focus on words like ``segregation'' and ``stigmatization.'' My colleague, Mr. Scott, just made the comment that other models work. yes, other models do work. There is no question about that.
There are children at El Hambro High School. There are children at schools all over this valley who are homeless and are getting a quality education and, indeed, other models do work all the way across the country.
And there was a reference to the notion of separate but equal, but I think it's important to remember that the separate but equal doctrine applied to an education policy in America where the children who were forced into a separate school that was allegedly equal had no choice. That was the only school that they could go to. That is not the situation at the Thomas J. Pappas School or the other 39 like it.
There is a gigantic difference between this school and the schools, which led to the decision in Brown v. Board of Education, separate but equal, and that difference is choice. At the Thomas J. Pappas School today there is not a single child, not one who is here because they are forced to. Every single child, every single child at the Thomas Pappas School today has the choice. They are here because they feel comfortable. They are here because they feel at home. They are here because they do not feel stigmatized, and every single child here has the right to leave today and to go to a neighborhood school. If they want to, they can, and if they want to, they should, and if they want to, we should make that easy for them. But if they feel more stigmatized at that school than they are here, why should we force them out of this school?
Now, no one is arguing that we ought to cut off the education for homeless children. Nobody is saying the McKinney Act is wrong in putting funding in all schools that have some students who are homeless. No one is saying we should force those homeless children into the Pappas School.
But what we are saying is that those children who prefer to come here, those children who feel less stigmatized, those children who feel more comfortable here and who don't have to feel badly about their circumstance that leads them here, for God's sake, do not take away their opportunity.
I applaud all those who are here on either side. I particularly applaud all of you from the community who have just taken the time to show up today and to show your support for the Thomas J. Pappas School because if we are to set the policy correctly in Washington, they need to know of community support for this school.
And so I also applaud, as I mentioned earlier, Congressman Bobby Scott who is here and took the time to fly across the country and hopefully has an open mind in looking at setting the right policy.
However, I want to conclude with this point, if the premise is correct that Thomas J. Pappas School stigmatized children and that separate but equal here is bad, and I would also point out separate but equal does not apply here because they can go to any school. If the children really felt more stigmatized here, felt that they were set aside here, and if their parents felt that they were set aside, since every one of them is here by choice, and if their premise is right, those who want to change the school or close it down, if their underlying argument was correct, because this hurts them and stigmatizes them, why is there a single child here? The answer is they choose this school.
Now, if the debate is to focus on doing a better job of getting them in the mainstream schools, if the focus is we should put more dollars into making sure the parents of these students know of the choice and if the debate is shall we make sure there are adequate resources at community schools for homeless children, I am all for that. But do not shut down the opportunity these kids have. Thank you very much.
Chairman Salmon. We have two very wonderful panels today. On our first panel we have Lisa Graham Keegan. She began her term as the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the state in January of 1995. As Superintendent, she oversees the Arizona Department of Education, which has an annual budget of more than $2 billion.
She serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the State Board of Education, is a member of the Board of Regents, the State Community College Board, the Board of the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, the School Facilities Board, and the State Board for Charter Schools. I was privileged to serve in the state legislature with Lisa, and believe me, she really does have our children's best interests at heart.
Another one of our esteemed panelists is Mr. Eddie Basha, the Saint of Arizona and I mean that. There really has not been a positive cause in Arizona that Mr. Basha has not been associated with. I know before I got involved with the Congress, Mr. Basha was tirelessly involved in just about every good effort that I ever became associated with and was involved in numerous ones beside.
I remember Mr. Basha and I were appointed to a group to start a shelter for the East Valley for families, for homeless services, and I know his commitment to education is unparalleled by anybody else, I know, in the state. He not only talks the talk; he walks the walk. He puts his corporate muscle behind everything that he tries to do that is positive for the children.
And moreover, he ended up, I guess, having his airline flight canceled, as so many of us do, and had to fly back here at his own expense on a corporate jet, and that really is a strong commitment. We love you, Eddie, and we appreciate it that you are here.
We were supposed to have a member from the federal Department of Education as well. We extended an invitation to them repeatedly, and they chose not to defend their position and be here today.
So with that, Lisa, I will turn the time to you first.
STATEMENT OF LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, PHOENIX, ARIZONA.
Ms. Keegan. Sinners before saints.
Mr. Basha. Then I should go first.
Mr. Basha. He did not say what kind of saint.
Ms. Keegan. No, he did not. We will talk about it later.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, it is a privilege to be here this morning. I appreciate you pulling together this hearing so that we can talk about not just Thomas J. Pappas, but what is happening to our homeless kids in Arizona and across the nation.
Obviously, I share your concern and passion for these students, and I think Thomas J. Pappas actually is one fabulous choice for a number of children, and I want to talk about why that has to remain so.
I also want to thank the staff and volunteers at Thomas J. Pappas, an amazing group of people. The volunteers here spend untold hours. The staff is extremely passionate and dedicated, and I think we have to constantly congratulate Dr. Dowling for her vision in bringing this school to us in the first place.
I want to talk briefly about the Arizona Department of Education, what we do about McKinney funds, and then talk about the larger issues, which is really, what is happening to these students.
I feel very strongly that we have to work to meet the letters of the law absolutely, but never forget that these are children. These are not chess pieces. This should not look good on a piece of paper. This should be good for a child's heart. It should be good for a child's future. It should be good for where they want to go. It should be a good choice for parents.
So the decisions that we all make and enforce through our laws and our rules and our policies have to look better in real life than they do on paper. That is just the truth for these kids.
In fiscal year 2001, our state received a little over $421,000 in funding under the McKinney Act. We serve approximately 4,000 students across the state.
We receive funding from the U.S. department, and we issue a request for applicants. Under our plan, we provide money through a competitive process that looks at number of homeless students served, coordination with regular education, coordination with other programs, basic areas supporting the child completely.
An outside panel reviews the proposals, and funds are awarded until they are gone. We received 17 applications in the current fiscal year for McKinney funding, including one from the Maricopa District, which does fund the Thomas J. Pappas School.
Thomas J. Pappas is an accommodation school, and according to state law, an accommodation school is a school operated through the County Superintendent and the County Board of Supervisors, in this case in Maricopa County, to serve a military reservation or a territory not included within the boundaries of a school district. The same section of law specifically identifies homeless children as children who can be accommodated in such a school.
Of the 17 proposals submitted, we chose to fund ten applicants. We have a very rigorous review process and, frankly, believe that that reviews process services our students well. We ask great things of these providers, and we think that they deliver.
And Thomas J. Pappas and the Maricopa District are funded this year by the state as they have been for a number of years, and that is because we believe that what they do for children is quite outstanding. We look at their test scores. We look at their gain.
Lots of people talk about test scores at Pappas, and I do not think any of us would say that the test scores, the absolute test scores that are here are what you would ultimately want for children. I know the teachers at the school would not tell you that.
But you also have to look at where the school children start and where they end up, and we have grades at the Pappas School that are making 200 percent of expected gain in a single year with children who came to us just last year. It is a phenomenal success story for the teachers in this school, and I would urge people who want to talk about academic progress and want to say that the Pappas School does not provide the academic support that students could get in another school, I would like to ask them to show me the research. I see no such evidence.
Quite to the contrary, I see academic gain that is almost unbelievable for some of the students and for the school as a whole. It is quite amazing.
The question put to us by the U.S. Department of Education is, are we in compliance with the law when we fund the Pappas School? They sent us a letter back today that Congressman Salmon alluded to, and the question was: do they know yet whether in compliance with the law? They do not know. They are not sure.
We are sure. We are in compliance with the law at Thomas J. Pappas. We will fund this school, and we will continue to do so, and it will take a great deal of argument to convince us that this setting is not an optimal setting for students academically, socially, emotionally in every way possible. It is a point of pride for us.
I want to point out, with all due respect, Congressman Scott uses the word ``segregates.'' Words are incredibly important. Unfortunately, for everybody around me, I have a linguistics degree, and I am obsessive about them.
To segregate takes a subject that is passive. In essence, the subject of segregation has it put upon them. To choose has a subject that is active. They are distinctly different words, and segregation does not apply to the Thomas J. Pappas School and should not be used.
The children who are here are not committed here. They are not assigned here. They are not here because they are incarcerated here. They are here because their parents choose to put them here.
We can never lose that fact in discussions of Pappas, and I want to go on the record explicitly objecting to the term ``segregation'' as it applies to Thomas J. Pappas. It is a wrong term. It is a false term, and I think we need to move on and talk about other reasons that the kinds of schools that we see for homeless children may or may not be positive, but that is not, in my opinion, a legitimate argument when these choose are of choice.
This is not to suggest, my support for Thomas J. Pappas, that this is the only way we should educate homeless children. I do not believe that. I believe that I personally and our department and the state generally, the education community needs to do a better job of knowing what is in the McKinney Act, what is available for homeless children.
All schools can, should and must accept children who come to them who are homeless, without immunization, without proof of residence. That should be available for every child in every school, and we work to make sure that that is possible.
In our department, in fact, we have assigned, and Congressman, I am going to share this with you; the McKinney Act only gives us about 20 percent of what it would take to assign a person to homelessness. We use money in the department to put somebody full time on making sure that children are aware of their choices through their parents. We tell them what is available, and we tell schools what the law is on homeless children.
Unfortunately, we do have schools that are not aware. When they are advised as to the law and to the requirements and their opportunities, most of them are more than happy to take these children even without immunizations, even without an address.
Schools have had it drummed into them that they cannot accept a child without immunization, and they are very loath to do so. Once they are told it is not a problem, we will do what we can to make sure these children get immunized, but take the child immediately.
We have had very few schools that ever say to us, ``that is not something we can do.'' If they do say it, we inform them that that is actually the wrong answer, and they will do it.
I am of the opinion, and I know the Arizona Congressmen know, that the federal government should be in the business of encouraging educational policies that empower parents to make choices, make choices for their children. Any change in federal policy we are going to consider regarding homeless children should be a change that simply makes it easier for parents to choose.
We give them more information. We give them more support. We provide more people who would guide them through the process of where they might put their children. These children are so precious to us, and their future and their capacity is so important that nothing should matter more than helping parents find a school.
It is almost a heroic act for a homeless parent to put a child in a school in the first place. We congratulate them and we should stand behind them.
I want to talk about what the actual McKinney Act says to us as a state and what they command that we do. It says that we have to assure that we will not isolate children. I take that very seriously, but I take it seriously in real life.
Isolation cannot be solved by simply looking at a piece of paper that says this child comes from here and this child comes from here. So we have a homeless child. We have a child who has a home, and now the child is no longer isolated because we've mixed her up and she's with lots of other kids.
Some of the most painful and dangerous sorts of isolation happen when ostensibly we are surrounded by people. These children are often isolated in the very settings that we say would be best for them because they are different, because people do not know their circumstances, because they do sleep in cars and on the street and in hotels and in places that we would not want our own children for ten minutes, much less for an evening.
That kind of isolation is very hard to overcome, and nobody but the individuals around that child can know if that child is being isolated in what seems to be a fully diverse community. That kind of isolation should not be imposed on a child who cannot handle it, and the only person who knows that that child can handle it is that person's immediate parent or whoever is taking care of that child or the teacher of that child. That decision cannot be made one time in Washington for every child in the country. That is simply not possible.
Oftentimes the kindest, most supportive and most encouraging environment for children is an environment when children can look in another child's eyes and see their own life reflected there. This is what happens at Thomas J. Pappas.
We hope that it is a transition for them. We hope these children do not remain homeless, but we know that for the period of their lives when they are in this circumstance, that there will be few places as supportive and as academically successful as this school.
The question or the answer to where we educate our homeless children is in every public school we have with as many choices as we can make available and as much passion and discipline for the task as we can muster.
Thomas J. Pappas is a school of fantastic quality, passionate staff, impressive academic gain, and a heart for these children, and I beg of you to make changes in the federal law that simply make it easier to have such a place for children to go.
It is a point of pride for Arizona. It is a point of pride for me, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak about it.
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN, SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, ARIZONA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, PHOENIX, ARIZONA – SEE APPENDIX B
Chairman Salmon. Mr. Basha.
STATEMENT OF EDDIE BASHA, BASHA'S MARKETS, CHANDLER, ARIZONA
Mr. Basha. Mr. Chairman, I am sorry that you did not call me first after that very eloquent presentation.
Chairman Salmon, Congressman Scott, Congressman Shadegg, my name is Eddie Basha. I am CEO of Basha's, a family owned Arizona based grocery chain, my avocation. I want to underline that, my avocation.
I am a native Arizonan, and I have been involved in public policy and community service in our state for over 30 years. My particular focus is on education, especially the creation of educational opportunities for underserved and disadvantaged children, my vocation.
I have served on the school board in my hometown of Chandler, on the state Board of Education, and on the Arizona Board of Regents a total of 29 years of service. I tell you this not to impress you with my bona fides, but to place my testimony in the context of someone with more than a casual understanding of the needs and the realities of education in Arizona.
I am here today because I am distressed at the threats that have been made against the Thomas J. Pappas School for Homeless Children and which could conceivably impact on the continuation of this school.
It is certainly not my intention to question the intent of the language of the McKinney Act, nor do I wish to impugn the motives of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. I am sure both are well intentioned.
But, Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, to the degree that both of these actions imperil the future of the Pappas School, I believe they are wrong.
I have been personally involved in supporting the Pappas School, as has our company. I have seen first hand the success of the school in providing an educational, social, medical, and personal safe haven for the homeless children of this community and for any act of government or any organization to threaten the ability of the Pappas School to continue to provide these services to the neediest children in our society is an act of cruelty that I can scarcely imagine.
It is suggested that because of its specialized purpose the Pappas School segregates, stigmatizes, and isolates homeless students, thus causing them to be educationally disadvantaged. But, Mr. Chairman, I respectfully suggest to you that perhaps the only time in their lives when these children are not segregated, stigmatized or isolated is when they are on the Pappas School campus attending their school, receiving services in a holistic manner that they would not be likely to receive anywhere else.
The Pappas School concept exists because there is a desperate need for it. The Pappas School succeeds because it meets the myriad needs that these children have, and it meets them in a way that is respectful, is sensitive, is comprehensive, and provides an uplifting period to days that would otherwise likely be none of these things.
Mr. Chairman, the Pappas School serves young people whose needs are so unique that I could not conceive that they would be even remotely met in regular school and regular classroom settings, at least not currently in Arizona with its abominable record of inadequate support for public education.
We do not consider schools for the deaf, schools for the blind to be segregating, isolating, or stigmatizing because they bring together the specialized educated and related services that deaf children or blind children need in order to receive a quality educational opportunity.
Why then should the federal government in a private advocacy agency not be able to recognize that the educational needs of homeless children are in their own way as specialized as the needs of deaf and blind children?
In many respects, homelessness is as severe a handicapping condition as almost any other, and it deserves a specialized treatment commensurate with the needs of these particular students.
Mr. Chairman, I cannot imagine a more grievous wrong that could be inflicted on the homeless children of this community and on their families than for the one institution that has not turned its back on them to be forced by our government to do so.
I believe deeply in our system of government and in the duty of our government to cast that safety net we hear so much about under those who truly need it. If ever there were children who truly need it, it is the homeless children, and if ever there were an institution that not only meets, but also exceeds the concept of an educational and social safety net, it is the Pappas School.
Ideally, Mr. Chairman, these hearings will generate renewed interest in the comprehensive needs of these homeless children and their families. Hopefully, through additional funding of the McKinney Act, as well as additional support at the state and local levels, both public and private, our communities will unite together with aggressive resolve and total commitment to address the plight of homeless children and families in a holistic manner.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the members of your subcommittee for coming to Arizona to hear our concerns.
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF EDDIE BASHA, BASHA'S MARKETS, CHANDLER, ARIZONA – SEE APPENDIX C
Chairman Salmon. Before we get to the questioning, I have a message. If there is a June Johnson in the audience, you have an urgent message. Please see Rosie right here at the door. Thank you.
Thank you both very, very much for being here and for your eloquent testimonies. It is obvious your passion runs deep, both of you, and we in Arizona are very, very fortunate to have two such committed people to the education of our children.
Ms. Keegan and Mr. Basha, either one of you that would be willing to answer this question. Mr. Basha, you brought up the point that nobody really accuses segregation in terms of the schools for the deaf or the blind, but we have examples throughout all of education where children are placed in special type schools depending on the needs of those children.
I think of the magnet schools, the fact that we have a magnet school here in Phoenix dealing with more vocational type education, and kids who have an aptitude and an interest in that area are allowed. They choose to go to these schools, and they thrive and they succeed.
Magnet schools for the fine arts are just another example. I do not hear anybody screaming segregation about that.
I know another debate I have been involved in, bilingual education. They take the children out of the mainstream classrooms; place them in bilingual education in a homogenous type setting, in our state predominantly Hispanic children who do not speak any English. I do not hear anybody screaming segregation about that.
Do you have any thoughts? You know, Lisa, you eloquently talked about the fact that to be segregated it is an act against you. It is something you have no choice and you are forced to do something you do not want to do, and that was the example back in the 1960s in the Brown v. Department of Education.
So I would just like to flesh that out a little bit more. Do you think that or wouldn't you agree, Eddie, you once said to me that teachers have different teaching styles, but children have different learning styles and we ought to be flexible?
I am just interested in what either of you has to say about that.
Mr. Basha. I defer to you.
Ms. Keegan. Congressman Salmon, absolutely what you just said, what you ended with is true. Children have different learning styles. Their parents have a different idea of what they are looking for in a school, and all of the circumstances you mentioned, we embrace those actually in Arizona. We let public charter schools; we encourage them, in fact, to specialize in a particular kind of focus. We do not let them off the hook for the academic standards, nor do we let Thomas J. Pappas off the hook for academic standards. That is what our public education is all about.
So we embrace these choices.
I have to say again ``segregation'' is the wrong word. Segregation has to be done to you. It cannot exist in an environment of choice.
All of the things that you say about schools for the deaf and blind, as Eddie pointed out, schools for the arts, magnet schools are, in fact, the only public schools in the state that can actually select their student body. This school cannot do that. No other public school can do that.
And so to a large extent a magnet school is less open than the Thomas J. Pappas School because not everybody gets to go there. They get to pick their kids in. It does not happen here.
Chairman Salmon. Mr. Basha.
Mr. Basha. Well, Congressman Salmon, I am not sure that I can shed any light on your question. It just seems to me that these young students are being placed as pawns on some kind of philosophical chessboard here, and what I perceive is important is how can we provide holistic education to these students. You know, with the dysfunctional families that many of these come from, with crime and violence and alcoholism and not knowing where to live, it is incumbent upon, in my opinion, those of us in the society to provide a threshold for these students, and I think that threshold is first and foremost in assuring them an educational opportunity, and I think the fact that the Thomas J. Pappas School provides this holistic environment for these children, that where would they get it.
You know, Congressman, that education does not fund, you know, to the extent that other states do. So we have limited resources within our public school facilities, but the Thomas J. Pappas School recognizes this need and provides these needs to these children.
It is a threshold. Ultimately the hope is that they will be transitioned out, but until then, they are getting that holistic kind of sensitive, compassionate treatment in education that I think they need.
Chairman Salmon. Ms. Keegan, could you explain to us what removal of McKinney funds to the state, what kind of an impact that would have on the State of Arizona? And are you concerned at all that it is possible that the Department of Education may remove McKinney funds from this state because of the existence of schools like the Pappas School? I am interested in your thoughts.
Ms. Keegan. Well, Congressman Salmon, my thoughts are that they would be crazy to do that and would not be able to sustain the public outcry should they try.
So, no, I agree with what Mr. Basha has said. They will have to believe that intentions are on the side of right all around here, but when it comes to our defending what is available to our students, we will do everything that we have to do and force those who believe that this is not a great setting for students to come to Arizona, stand right in front of us, and tell us why.
It represents a little over $100 per pupil in the kind of funding that is available if you figure, you know, you have a couple of hundred kids in your school. That can buy you something. That can buy you some support.
What is frightening to me is the tone of the letters that are now coming from the U.S. department, including not just we will eliminate your federal funds, but we will prevent you from using state funds.
Congressmen, you know how I feel about the Tenth Amendment. I see no circumstances under which the federal government has an opportunity to reach into Arizona and tell us which schools we can and cannot fund. The first time I read that in a letter; I believe I came to your office, I saw it this morning. I was not pleased.
I think that we need to call these things out immediately when they happen and ask: who says and under what circumstances and are you kidding? We will not stand by while that happens.
Chairman Salmon. I just have one last question. You stated in your testimony that you believed that the Pappas School is certifiable under the law; that it is in compliance with the law. Could you expand on that?
Ms. Keegan. Congressman Shadegg, and Congressman Salmon, and Congressman Scott, you actually in your comments, Congressman Salmon, talked about the McKinney Act a little bit and the fact that the Department of Education itself is pursuing legislation to change the law in order to be able to eliminate this kind of an opportunity.
I want to have confidence that our congressional delegations across the nation will not participate in such an act, but the fact that they feel they have to change the law in order to act means to me that they know, as we know, that schools like Thomas J. Pappas comport fully with the intention of the McKinney Act; that all public schools must, in fact, participate with the McKinney Act, must welcome homeless children into their schools.
As I said, we needed to do a better job of making sure that all students have access. Congressman Scott makes the excellent point that this school only serves a very small percentage, unfortunately, of the number of homeless children who are in the State of Arizona. So it's incumbent upon all schools to make sure that they have services available.
But we have read, reread, looked at up-ways, down-ways, sideways, the McKinney Act. Everything we know about the Thomas J. Pappas School says to me that this school comports with the law.
Chairman Salmon. Thank you. Congressman Scott.
Mr. Scott. Thank you.
Ms. Keegan, I did not mean to get into a debate over words, particularly with a linguist.
But the word ``segregation'' was used in the H.R. 2, and ``separation,'' certainly maybe we could use that word.
One problem we have is that homelessness is not an aptitude, and it is not a need. All children who are homeless are not involved in crime and violence and that kind of thing.
If we can have a school that addresses needs, then that would not be volatile at all. The problem is that your status of homelessness is the quantifying factor.
You could find a home and still be in need, and a school like this should be able to provide that without the qualifying factor of homelessness.
Mr. Basha, the Pappas School enjoys a lot of private sector support, yours included. Can you tell us what difference that private sector support makes?
Mr. Basha. Well, sir, I can tell you that I received in the mail today some information that this last year the Pappas Foundation provided $300,000 worth of funds to the Pappas School. I think that's a tremendous outpouring of private support for this facility.
Mr. Scott. And what difference did it make?
Mr. Basha. Well, sir, I am not cognizant of that. I cannot answer your question. I think certainly it was_
Mr. Scott. I will ask some others on the next panel. Obviously it would be hard to imagine that that kind of support did not make a major difference.
Mr. Basha. Well, absolutely, but specifically I cannot answer your question. I am sure it went for medical. It went for supplies. It went for clothing. It went, once again, to holistically serve the children that are here.
Mr. Scott. Ms. Keegan, you mentioned you had $400,000 in McKinney funds to serve 4,000 children.
Ms. Keegan. Right.
Mr. Scott. A little quick arithmetic, that is about 100 bucks a child. Is that a sufficient budget, or how does that compare to the marginal cost of educating homeless children with all of the extra challenges that that provides? Can you make a comment on the adequacy of that kind of funding?
Ms. Keegan. Congressman Scott, first of all, Arizona on average is spending about four to $700 per pupil operationally. Arizona's formula is progressive in that we fund students and not particular districts, and so it does not matter where the students would go. The money attaches to those students and that amount of money, depending on special need, et cetera, if there is a special educational need, for example, there's a multiplication factor for the child now, not the district.
So regardless of where these children would go, they would be entitled, if you will, to the same amount of money. So as I am sure you well known, I and any advocates for homeless children will tell you that an extra $100 a year is not enough to cover what it costs. We do rely heavily in all of our public schools on contributions from corporate sector, and we encourage in Arizona direct investment into schools through private tax credits so that we say to people, ``you determine where your tax dollars are going,'' and we encourage them to direct their investments directly into public schools.
They can do that here. They can do it in any public school. So it is a small amount, but as I say, when you multiply that by a couple hundred children it makes a difference.
Mr. Scott. Well, what happens at Pappas that doesn't happen at other schools that would make it advantageous for a student to be here rather than somewhere else?
Ms. Keegan. Well, Mr. Chairman and Congressman Scott, as Mr. Basha has said in his comments, there are a whole host of ancillary services. You speak about homelessness not being a trait in and of itself, and I would grant you that.
However, homelessness has secondary traits. These children are often unhealthy and the school provides them medical care. They often do not have clothes. The school finds them clothes. They often do not have support after school. The school finds them someone to take care of. The school provides attempts to provide an infrastructure the children temporarily do not have.
Mr. Scott. And the other 90 percent of homeless children that go to school somewhere else would be in need of those same services.
Ms. Keegan. Absolutely, Mr. Chairman, Congressman Scott, and oftentimes they are not only entitled to them, but get them. We have a number of public school districts that do provide medical health care on their facilities, that do provide after school care, that are extremely sensitive to the needs of their kids.
Sensitivity to children does not only exist at Thomas J. Pappas. Educators in Arizona across the board are extremely sensitive to this issue. I believe we can always do better, but I cannot make the accusation that schools in Arizona are not attempting to meet this need.
Mr. Scott. If we are developing a national public policy, should the focus of that policy be focused on making sure that the 90 percent of the students who attend mainstream schools get those ancillary services, or does the alternative strategy of establishing separate schools for the homeless divert attention from that and make it less likely that those in the mainstream schools might get those services?
Ms. Keegan. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Scott, I think that is a false choice. Both of those things can and do exist, and we ought to make our investments fully. We ought to make all choices available and make certain that anywhere a child would choose through the choice of their parents to be at school is going to be a great choice for that child. I do not think we ought to be pitting facilities like this against the rest of public education.
Mr. Basha. Congressman Scott, may I just post script what Superintendent Keegan said? In our own Chandler District, sir, we have a school that provides holistic programs for our children, and it is only anecdotal when I share this with you.
I was talking with the nurse and the doctor last year about a child that was brought in after school for medical care, and the child had a horrible ear infection, and the doctor took care of it, and on the way out, the nurse said to the grandmother, ``Well, what would you have done had the doctor not been here?''
And the person said, ``well, as usual, we would have taken a stick and we would have poked the ear with a stick.''
So I tell you this because there are schools around Arizona, only to substantiate what the Superintendent says; there are schools around this state that are providing needs to our students, but it is, as she said, a matter of choice. This is one choice.
There are choices throughout Arizona, but this is a very fine choice in my humble opinion.
Ms. Keegan. Thank you.
Chairman Salmon. Thank you. I wanted to also maybe piggyback on the question about how influential the private sector funds are to this organization and what the differences are, how much it impacts. The chief difference is that 100 percent of the private sector funds go here to Pappas to the children as opposed to when it comes from Washington they get a fraction of the money; pennies on the dollar. So, that is one difference.
The other difference is they have the flexibility to spend it according to the needs of the families and not some dictate out of Washington.
Mr. Shadegg. Thank you very much.
Let me start with health quickly. So we are going to key in, your department encourages and advises all schools in the State of Arizona as a result of McKinney that they have to accept and educate homeless children; is that right?
Ms. Keegan. We welcomed that law, Congressman Shadegg.
Mr. Shadegg. And you try to keep schools apprised of that, and if they say, ``Wait a minute. Where is his or her immunization?'' you deal with those issues and make sure those kids get in.
Ms. Keegan. That is correct.
Mr. Shadegg. And there is no requirement that any child who attends the Thomas J. Pappas School must go here. They have the right if they choose to go to their neighborhood or community school.
Ms. Keegan. Absolutely.
Mr. Shadegg. I want to understand one point you made because I thought it was excellent. We are, I am sure, going to get into a lengthy discussion about performance later, and as I understood your testimony, you said clearly that you are not aware of any study which shows that measured against their own starting point, homeless children who attend a neighborhood school do better than homeless children who attend a specialized school for homeless children; is that right?
Ms. Keegan. That is correct. There has been no such study, so far as I am concerned or have ever been made aware of.
Mr. Shadegg. One quick point, and correct me if I am wrong about this, but at least to a certain degree, Arizona is in the lead in allowing private support for all schools, are we not, in the sense that Mr. Scott focused on private sector support for this school. The reality is that Arizona has adopted a very far looking policy that says any family in America that wants to support a private school _ excuse me _ a public school, whether it is their neighborhood school or one 50 miles away or 200 miles away may do so with private dollars. Isn't that correct?
Ms. Keegan. Right, any family in Arizona Congressman, not America. Although, that would be great because then we would have all of that money available for Arizona public schools.
Mr. Shadegg. Well, I would just like you to know I would like it to be as to_
Ms. Keegan. Exactly. You and I were sharing a thought.
That is absolutely right. Arizona's tax credit law encourages families to make up to a $200 donation to any public school of their choice, and that is rebated dollar per dollar to them in their income tax, correct.
Mr. Shadegg. The last part I want to conclude with is to your knowledge, and as a matter of fact, there has been no change in the law on the issue of funding of the Thomas J. Pappas School. What there has been is a change in the policy of the Department of Education.
Ms. Keegan. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Shadegg that is exactly right. I do not know how this all originated, but, yes, changes in the tenor of the language used by officials at the Department of Education, changed in suggesting that perhaps a new interpretation is on the horizon, but Congressman Shadegg, that is not the result of any change in the law that we are aware of.
Mr. Shadegg. They are trying to pressure you into cutting off funds for this school without being able to point to a change in the language that the Congress enacted.
Ms. Keegan. Mr. Chairman, Congressman Shadegg, I think they would object to the term that they are trying to pressure us to cut off funds. I would tell you _
Mr. Shadegg. Let them object. They did not show.
Ms. Keegan. I will tell you, number one, that will not be successful, and secondly, I think they are heartily encouraging school chiefs, such as myself, to consider cutting funding off from facilities like this, and I would likewise encourage my colleagues across the nation not to do it.
Mr. Shadegg. Great. Good for you.
I will be formal here because it is a formal hearing. Mr. Basha, I was thrilled by your remark that the only place that a homeless child may not feel stigmatized is here at the Thomas J. Pappas School, and I would wholeheartedly agree with that.
You also say in your testimony that the Thomas J. Pappas School exists because there is a desperate need for it. We just heard an exchange over the issue of the 90 percent versus the ten percent.
If the Thomas J. Pappas were closed as a result of a change in public policy by the United States Congress, then it is true, of course, that none of those 90 percent of children who are homeless and in some other school would have even the option of going to school where they did not feel stigmatized, would they?
Mr. Basha. Congressman, I am not sure that I can answer that question. I think it depends upon the school and how the school addresses and respects those students. I think that is what is paramount. That would be my response.
Mr. Shadegg. Let me ask another question because I have difficulty with this. We seem to be talking about homeless children having the ability to go to their neighborhood school or their community school as if that were kind of just a norm. Of course, they could go to a neighborhood school rather than a specialized school like Thomas J. Pappas, but by definition if you are homeless, what_and maybe you are not the right person to ask this, though I thought your comments about the need and the stigmatization would go to this issue_if you are a homeless child and in one week or one day you are sleeping at 59th Avenue and Glendale and the next week or the next day you are sleeping at Rural and Guadalupe or some place out in the East Valley and the third day you are sleeping or the third week you are sleeping at Van Buren and 16th Street, which neighborhood school is it that you are supposed to go and get sufficient_
Mr. Basha. I think that that begs two questions. I think the first is, Congressman Shadegg, how many homeless students are not going to school, but because of mobility and because of other factors that we have already discussed? I think that is a critical question.
And the second question is, as you say, many of these students do not know where to go, and if I could quote you the adage, instead of moving Mohammed to the mountain, we are moving the mountain to Mohammed, and I think that is what the Thomas J. Pappas School does. It goes out and seeks these students in a demonstrable way, in a comprehensive way, in a respectful way.
Mr. Shadegg. Thank you very much.
Chairman Salmon. Thank you very much.
We will go to the second panel.
Chairman Salmon. We will go ahead and convene.
I would like to introduce, first, in the middle of the panel here and the kind of center of attention today is Dr. Sandra Dowling, who is the Superintendent of Public Instruction for Maricopa County School System.
Chairman Salmon. And if it were not for Dr. Dowling, this school would not exist. She is the one that had the vision, the foresight, the passion to develop this school many, many years ago. In fact, I think that if it had a second name besides the Thomas J. Pappas, it would be called the Sandra Dowling School.
So we are really, proud to have you here today, too, and very honored.
I will go ahead and start at the other end of the table, too. We have Ms. Edith Sims. She is the facilitator of the Homeless Education Program for Spokane Public Schools in Washington, D.C. Oh, excuse me. Washington. I have this D.C. thing on the mind. I am sorry. It is a Freudian slip, I am sure.
Let me move to Dr. Luisa Stark, who is the chair of the Phoenix Consortium to End Homelessness.
Next is Mr. Walter Varner, who is the President of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth.
Next, we have Ms. Garfield, Sara Garfield. She is the founder and Executive Director of St. Mary's Interfaith Transitional Learning Center in Stockholm, California.
We have Mr. Bacon. Mr. Bacon is a former graduate of the Thomas J. Pappas School, is currently a student at Phoenix College. Great.
Chairman Salmon. It is Chuck Bacon. Excuse me.
Thank you, Mr. Scott.
Then finally, we have Ms. Tammy Wells, who is the mother of four children, and you deserve a Medal of Honor for that in and of itself, and a supporter of the Thomas J. Pappas School. So, we would like to thank our distinguished panelists for being here today, and I would like to start with Dr. Dowling.
STATEMENT OF DR. SANDRA E. DOWLING, SUPERINTENDENT, MARICOPA COUNTY SCHOOLS, PHOENIX, ARIZONA
Dr. Dowling. Thank you, Congressman Salmon, members of the committee.
I would like to thank you for the opportunity to discuss the issues regarding the education of children who are homeless. There are three major topics I would like to place before you. They include the history of the Thomas J. Pappas Elementary School, a school known nationally as an exemplary model for these children.
Next, I would like to discuss the fallacy concerning the advantages of mainstreaming students.
Finally, I want to discuss the virtue of local control of education policy.
The Pappas Elementary School is providing the most progressive, reform minded, elementary education in the United States. The school is complete with both educational and social services. The school's social service program is entirely funded by the private sector. Corporations, small businesses, government, and private sector employees, community service organizations, retirees and local high school students provide financial resources and volunteer services that are unduplicated anywhere.
Our school is the perfect model for improving the imperfect lives of innocent victims, homeless children. For many years, the word ``homeless'' meant the dirty, grungy people sleeping on the grounds of the old Carnegie Library at 12th Street in Washington.
Maricopa County and the City of Phoenix established a temporary shelter forcing our community to develop a realization of homelessness. Then, to the surprise of many, the unfortunate and innocent victims of homelessness, the children, were discovered.
Neighborhood schools in the downtown Phoenix area were under pressure to find classroom space for the children of their taxpaying residents. Local shelters had attempted to enroll their students in these neighborhood schools only to find resistance.
After continual rejection, the shelter staff decided to halt any attempts to enroll children in the neighborhood public school. Instead, they began offering their own program. At this moment in history, as newly elected county school Superintendent, I became involved with the Phoenix fire fighters, the Episcopal Diocese of Phoenix, the Central Arizona Shelter Services, and several private individuals in an attempt to make a difference in the lives of these innocent victims.
A one-room schoolhouse began in donated space provided by the Episcopal Diocese of Phoenix at Trinity Cathedral, staffed by the regional school district and with local fire fighters as classroom volunteers and mentors.
The Thomas J. Pappas Elementary School for Homeless Children was born. While not exactly in a manger, it was definitely a miracle in progress.
Shelter staff insured me that the maximum enrollment at any one time would never be more than 25 students. Within a month, there were 50 students. Another facility was identified and renovation began.
A new shelter at an old model in the seediest part of Phoenix allowed us to use the former front desk and office area for classrooms. The junior high program was located in the area that was once the motel bar.
As enrollment continued escalating to the staggering proportions of nearly 150 students, the school was forced to relocate for a fourth time in less than three years. A former automobile dealership that had just finished serving, as the Pastor for Congress Committee headquarters was available.
After remodeling, the school would be able to serve 330 children. The following year the school was dangerously close to capacity again. After two years of negotiations in a community fund-raising project that netted over $1.8 million, the current Thomas J. Pappas School for homeless children was a reality. Its capacity was 550 children.
During the second year in the new facility, over 700 students greeted the teachers and staff. Again, there was a wild scramble to find space for the overflow of students. Once more, we turned to an ecclesiastical partner, the Presbyterian Church one block away.
The junior high students were sent to the church instead of to the bar this time. Currently we have relocated back to the car dealership building for our 300 junior high and high school students. Additional classroom space has been added for this school year at the main campus, increasing our capacity here to 700 students.
The school year 2000-2001 projected enrollment is estimated to be 1,000 students on these two campuses. In addition, by the end of the 2000 calendar year, it is anticipated that we will open another site with another ecclesiastical partner, the Catholic Diocese.
Initially the Tempe site will host approximately 100 children. This is a capsulated history of the Thomas J. Pappas Program.
The Pappas Program does not recognize the value of mainstreaming children for the sake of political correctness. The enrollment at Pappas Elementary School is limited to children that qualify for admission using the criteria established by the Stuart B. McKinney Act. Neighborhood children, unless they meet this criterion, cannot attend.
Some social welfare advocates believe that all children attending school should be mainstreamed. Mainstreaming is an educational term that forces social engineering within our public schools. Although an interesting idea, it does not allow for individual differences or community involvement. Instead, this concept homogenizes everyone into a mold that is perceived to represent the ideal, but in reality reflects a nightmare.
The staff of Pappas School are experts in assisting homeless families. Many homeless parents believe the outreach staff is their only advocate when dealing with the social welfare system.
The Pappas staff provides more than an occasional food basket or kind word. These dedicated individuals are always ready to help. Yes, Mr. Congressman, they could provide you with a sheltering place to stay tonight if you needed one, as long as you met the criteria of the McKinney Act.
Forcing the public school system to provide such assistance would be an impossible challenge even for the most well-meaning public school counselor. In most public schools, the student counselor is a generalist. To the extent, public schools are able to address homeless issues; they can only act as facilitators, not experts.
Mainstreaming is not a panacea for the problems these children face. In fact, some educational researchers now believe that mainstreaming is having a negative effect on classroom performance. Those associated with Pappas Elementary School believe that if McKinney Act funds were invested exclusively on creating exemplary schools like the one you see here today, you with your individual vote would make a greater difference in the lives of many children.
Finally, I cannot let these hearings end without making a strong statement for local control. Education in general has been either the victim or the beneficiary of local control. Some people believe the system of local schools with local school boards is obsolete. However, the principle that the government closest to the individual works best has been a long held tenet of the American tradition.
In communist countries, the schools are upheld as models. They are lionized because of their presumed efficient use of resources. In reality though, look at what their efficiency brought. In most of these countries, liberty was lacking. Local decision-making was absent, and the economic forces were unable to insure their comrades with the satisfactory standard of living.
Over the long term, central planning and control proved to be the downfall of the Soviet system. On the other hand, traditional local control provides the mechanism that prohibits government and its institutions from falling down the slippery slope that ended communism as an economic system.
Interjecting federal rules and local government decision-making has a tendency to exacerbate problems rather than provide a universal solution. The obvious lesson of the 20th century has been that local decision-making works best at solving local problems.
There is no single solution. The Pappas Program has its financial problems. Additional money would certainly be helpful. However, our state on its own is also addressing some of these dollar and cent issues.
Arizona is providing additional money for teacher salaries and school counselors. The State of Arizona will fund the next building needed for the Pappas Project without federal participation.
The business community is raising additional dollars for us to hire another outreach worker and a music teacher. The City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department with local dollars is providing an after school program for our students. All of these efforts are partnerships.
I believe the committee should focus its efforts on stimulating these same types of partnerships rather than increasing sanctions and regulations.
In Phoenix, Arizona, we know the Pappas model works. Rather than wasting time and effort in the philosophical battle over the methods of instructional delivery, it would be in the children's best interest to work together in providing additional resources to meet their needs.
Partnerships should be encouraged and individual initiative rewarded.
I would like to thank you very much for coming to the Thomas J. Pappas Elementary School and providing us the opportunity to discuss this most important issue of educating homeless children.
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF DR. SANDRA E. DOWLING, SUPERINTENDENT, MARICOPA COUNTY SCHOOLS, PHOENIX, ARIZONA – SEE APPENDIX D
Chairman Salmon. Thank you.
STATEMENT OF EDITH SIMS, EDUCATION SPECIALIST, SPOKANE PUBLIC SCHOOLS, SPOKANE, WASHINGTON.
Ms. Sims. Members of the subcommittee, thank you for the invitation to speak to you today.
In 1989, a separate school to serve homeless children in Spokane, Washington began in a one-room schoolhouse at the YWCA staffed by teachers from Spokane Public Schools. I taught second, third, and fourth grades at that school.
It was a magical place. We felt absolutely passionate about our students, recognizing their very special needs physically, emotionally, and academically. During the 1998-99 school year, our district chose to move to an integrated model. Several factors led to this change.
First, there was a concern that despite all of the wonderful social services that were being offered to our families, educational curriculum was not aligned with the rest of our district, thus actually placing our homeless children further at risk for future school success.
Secondly, we had heard about successful integrated models nationwide. It made sense, and it seemed best for children to devise a model that supported the homeless children within the normal school environment while continuing to build in support services for families. We in Spokane wanted the best of both worlds.
Personally, I wept for two weeks as we began the task force to design the new model. It was terrifying and difficult to give a known model up for a model that for us was untried.
The new integrated model has far exceeded our expectations. Our community has continued to embrace us with their support. By utilizing the wonderful collaborative connections that were already established, we are still able to provide each student in our program with backpacks filled with school supplies, new clothing and new shoes to begin their school.
In addition, we still have the medical clinic, which makes recommendations to dental and vision and domestic violence counselors housed at the YWCA.
Because school staffs have now been educated to look for and identify the issues and needs of homeless children, our numbers jumped from 134 children the previous year to 339 children served last year. Of those 339 children, 217 of those children were able to remain in their school of origin with the support of our integrated team.
Teachers expressed delight to have support to be able to keep their kids. Kyle was a fourth grader referred to us by his school counselor the third week of school in September. He had been in 11 different schools, grade kindergarten through third. A thorough research of his transcripts also revealed large gaps where we strongly suspect that he was not in school at all.
With the support from the new model, Kyle was able to remain in one school the entire school year even though his mother couch served or moved 11 separate times. Because Kyle was stabilized in our school, the inappropriate behaviors that he was very obviously displaying could be corrected, and it was determined that Kyle also had something organically wrong. We discovered that Kyle was nearly deaf in both ears.
After the hearing aids were installed, Kyle's teacher reported to us that he had come to them and said, ``I can hear now, and I'm being good. I want to be a crossing guard.''
I believe it is also important here to point out that the new model also assisted Kyle's mother. Our team also has on it a social worker through the YWCA and a mental health professional supplied to us by a three-year grant by the City of Spokane.
The social worker assisted Kyle's mother with drug treatment and training and allowed the family to stabilize. Kyle and his family will be starting his second year in the same school for the first time in those children's lives. I know for a fact that this family would have been missed in the pullout separate model.
Another surprise that we had in Spokane was the number of schools where we discovered homeless children. We had expected to find children in nine to 11 schools. Instead, we served children in 36 different school sites last year.
Integrated models can and do work. I have attached copies to my testimony of other successful models. In addition to the other services that I have already mentioned, we offer one on one tutor mentors to assist students at their neighborhood schools, and we have homework centers in two of our largest shelters already up and running, staffed by a local university.
We also have plans that the rest of our shelters that serve homeless children will be in place this fall staffed again by universities within our City of Spokane.
Strong integrated models can be extremely empowering for homeless children. We served 339 children last year, 339 children that were allowed to be stabilized, stabilized within a normal school environment, that allowed them to take band and music lessons. They took baseball and basketball. They joined computer clubs.
I enjoy walking through our schools in our district and seeing the children that are involved with our program. They blend in well. Our children consider themselves Glover Falcons, Stephens Eagles, or Fair Saxons, not homeless.
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF EDITH SIMS, EDUCATION SPECIALIST,
SPOKANE PUBLIC SCHOOLS, SPOKANE, WASHINGTON – SEE APPENDIX E
Chairman Salmon. Thank you. If we can next go to Ms. Garfield.
STATEMENT OF SARA GARFIELD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ST. MARY'S INTERFAITH TRANSITIONAL LEARNING CENTER, STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA
Ms. Garfield. Thank you to the Congressmen, and I am happy to be here basically on behalf of all of the rest of the 40 schools in the United States that are considered to be segregated and isolated sites.
And, I think I can speak for my colleagues. I know many of them. Some of them are here today, that in a better world we would all be happy to close our doors, and if the public schools could provide for our children all of the services that we provide in our schools, we would be more than happy to be sending our children to these public schools.
But unfortunately, the public schools seem to be unable in our community especially to provide many of the minimum services. Our school provides extensive counseling services with three therapists for 80 children. Our public schools in our community have one counselor for eight to 900 children.
We have a ratio of one teacher to every five children because we use students from California State University, Stanislaus, who are trained interns and student teachers who work in our program.
We have health services on site, medical clinic, dental clinic, showers, and clothing. We can provide the children the services that they so desperately need while they're in transition, and until they can receive those services in every public school that they go to throughout our community, we feel very uncomfortable about sending the children off to the public schools without that support.
We are called the Transitional Learning Center, and that is our focus, to provide these extensive and intensive services for the children while they are in transition. As soon as our families get into permanent housing, we have mentor advocates that take the children to the new school, get them registered, and follow them up for at least a month visiting once a week, helping the new teacher and the child to make the transition into their new public school.
We are a collaborative program with the county Office of Education, California State University, Stanislaus, and St. Mary's Interfaith Dining Room, which is the day facility that provides all of the services I mentioned.
We also collaborate with 20 other organizations at least in our community that provide additional volunteer support, funding, field trips, et cetera.
In response to a letter that was in our local Stockton Record regarding the potential closure of our school if this legislation passed, we received 350 letters to Senator Diane Feinstein in support of the school, and I would just like to share with you what Senator Feinstein said in part of her letter.
``I support the Transitional Learning Center. It provides an invaluable service to many homeless children. Every child is entitled to a quality education, and I admire the TLC for providing homeless students with solid instruction, emphasizing the core subjects in literacy. I do not support taking federal funding away from schools for homeless children, and I will work to insure excellent educational opportunities for all students.''
But what it is really all about is the children. So I think I would just like to share a couple of stores about a few of our children because whenever I go anywhere, in my mind I bring the children with me, and that is why we are there.
And one little gal that comes to mind, her name is Michelle, and when we enrolled her on the first day of school, she said that in her last school they had been homeless and living in a car. So, her parents were very industrious. They parked the car in front of the best school in our community because they wanted their children to go to the best school.
Michelle went to that school, and on the playground the children encircled her and threw rocks and sand at her and called her ``Stinky,'' and she said to me, ``You know, Ms. Sara, I know I smelled. I was living in my car. I know my clothes were dirty, torn and ragged. We were living in a car, but we wanted to go to school.''
She said she felt humiliated. She never felt safe, and one day she wrote me a letter and said in the note, she said, ``you know, TLC makes me feel like I belong. It makes me feel comfortable. It enables me to ask for what I need without feeling embarrassed that I do not have any underwear on or that I need a shower or that I have lice or that I need medical or dental care.''
That is why we are there, to provide for these children while they are in such transition. Many of our children would be in nine schools in one year if every time they moved they had to enroll in their new neighborhood school.
Now, granted the law says that the child can stay in their school of origin, but there is no transportation provided. So, when you are looking at a community of 20 miles and the family cannot get the child back to the school of origin, they end up going from school to school or in most cases not going to school at all.
The children come to us with incredible psychological problems. They are in grief. They have faced situations that many of us do not want to even talk about or think about, but our teachers know and understand where those children are coming from. They are able to recognize the sights and signs of the children when they are having emotional problems, and we are better equipped to deal with them.
And I would like to tell you a story about a little guy named Seraphine that I think so poignantly points that message out. He was behaving very strange in his class, and his teacher knew that there was something wrong.
Of course, oftentimes our homeless children in a regular public school with 32 other children in the classroom, the teacher does not realize what is going on, does not know that child is homeless, does not know why they are behaving like that, and therefore, just assumes that they are having bad behavior.
So, our teacher sent Seraphine to our therapist. We are fortunate enough to have a form of sand trait therapy to work with the children that produces incredible results where the children take figurines and they tell their story by playing in the sand.
Too often children that are abused and physically neglected are told not to tell. ``Don't you dare tell what's going on at home at school.'' So, by being able to play and act out their problems and their fears in the sand trait therapy, they reveal to us very quickly what is going on in their lives.
And Seraphine said to our counselor in the process of his play therapy, he said, ``You know, I want to be an astronaut when I grow up.'' He said, ``I love the costume.'' And he said, ``You know, I used to have a telescope, but last night my dad came home drunk, and he saw my telescope, and he took it,'' and he said, ``I knew he was going to take my telescope and beat my mom.'' That is what had happened to the child the evening before. He witnessed his father beat his mother with his prized possession, his telescope.
Then he said afterwards, he said, ``I took the telescope. When my dad left, I took the telescope and I broke it into many pieces and threw it away so my dad could never hurt my mom again.''
Then he looked at our therapist and said, ``that is the last time I'll see the moon.'' And to me that is what this is all about. It is about the Seraphims and the Michelles and the other children that come to us with such needs and wants and desires and so eager to learn and be at school. Yes, they have a choice, and no, we are not forcing them to be there, but they need the medical care, the dental care, the clothing, and the showers. They need to be able to eat three breakfasts on Monday morning if they are that hungry.
They need to feel safe and comfortable and say, ``I do not have any underwear on. Can I please get some underwear? I do not have shoes.''
They need to be able to ask for what they want, to be given what they need without feeling humiliated or demeaned. They need to have an extensive testing done on each child, which we do on their first three days, so that we find out exactly where they are and fill in the gaps in their education because our kids our bright and they are eager and they love to learn. They just have not been in school long enough, and there are too many gaps in their education.
So, they need the intensive diagnostic, prescriptive approach that enables us to do small group instruction, working on the skills that are lacking in their education, and then help them get caught up so that when they move back into the public school system, they are able to function.
I am proud to say that we pre and post test our children at 60 days and 90 days. Last spring, 92 percent of our children showed one to two years' growth in reading, word recognition, and comprehension in 60 to 90 days, and that is due, I believe, to the intensive and extensive services that we are able to provide.
I do not know of one public school in our community that does not want our children. They would be happy to serve them, but most say, ``we cannot provide for these children what you are providing for them.''
We received for three years $120,000 of McKinney funds, and that enabled us to provide extensive services to over 350 children each year. If that money were distributed throughout the entire county, each child may receive one service for the whole year.
We lost our McKinney funds within this last granting cycle, which we just found out in August and do not know at this point. As of October 1, we are $120,000 short in our budget, but we have been told by our community members that they will go out in the community and raise the funds if that is what it takes to keep continuing to provide these services to these children.
So in closing, I guess I would just like to say that to the U.S. Department of Education, when is the last time that any of you taught in an inner city school or worked with our children or understand the constraints that the teachers face and the issues that the children bring to school with them?
And I wish that they and the National Law and Poverty Center and the Coalition would come and visit all our schools and look and see what we are doing right and help us look and see what we could be doing better and work with us. We could all work together to improve the education because it is all about the kids, and I think that is why everybody is here today.
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF SARA GARFIELD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ST. MARY'S INTERFAITH TRANSITIONAL LEARNING CENTER, STOCKTON, CALIFORNIA – SEE APPENDIX F
STATEMENT OF CHUCK BACON, FORMER STUDENT, THOMAS P. PAPPAS SCHOOL, PHOENIX, ARIZONA
Mr. Bacon. Hello. My name is Chuck Bacon. I am here to give you guys my testimony as a student.
I attended Pappas for four years. I am currently a freshman at Phoenix College.
My answers to the four questions to which I am asked to respond to are based on my personal experience as a former student at the time that my family was homeless. Each question deals with a specific aspect of educating homeless students and I have answered with the honesty, integrity, and the perspective of someone who has been there. I hope the testimony makes a difference in the lives of future Pappas students.
Okay. On that note, let's go to the next one. Thank you.
What is the difference between Pappas Schools and other mainstream schools? One of the differences between the Pappas School and other mainstream schools is that the Pappas staff expects the unexpected. The students are not expected to adapt to the school. The school is expected to adapt to the students' needs.
For example, homeless students move frequently, sometimes daily, and mainstream schools do not generally have the capacity to change bus schedules quickly. At Pappas, bus stop adjustments can be made to respond to the address changes as they occur.
At mainstream schools, bus schedules are handled at the district office. At Pappas, there is a person whose job it is to adjust the schedule, sometimes many times during the day as families move around.
Another difference between Pappas and other schools is the attendance boundary. The Pappas attendance boundary is the entire area of Maricopa County, and Maricopa County mobility problems are compounded for homeless children because with the county there are more than 40 local school districts, each with their own boundary.
In the downtown area alone, there are seven or eight districts very close to Pappas School. As a consequence of these local districts having their own attendance boundaries, one district bus will not cross over into another district to pick up another student who has moved overnight. Since the Pappas bus passes through many districts, students at Pappas are not faced with the change in schools every time they move, provided they stay in Maricopa County.
Another major difference between Pappas and other schools is the support they give through food boxes, clean clothing, and an on-site medical clinic. Many homeless students come to school hungry, having slept in their clothes and having many health problems. At Pappas, six children are treated by a pediatrician or nurse in a medical clinic located at the school. Students are given clean clothes that are donated to the school so that students never have to feel ashamed of what they are wearing or the way they look.
Since lunch meal is often the last meal that many of these students eat, the school sends home food boxes to hold them over until morning when they come to school again.
These differences may seem small, but they make huge differences in the lives of homeless children.
To touch upon another note, how do Pappas students view the separation issue? I can only answer the question of the students' view on the separation issue from my point of view. When people talk about separation, I assume they mean segregation. I suppose there is a little embarrassment of being at the school for homeless students. However, the real source of embarrassment is at being homeless.
During the homeless days if I were asked if I would rather be at Pappas or at a mainstream school, I would have answered Pappas. At Pappas everyone is the same and in the same situation, and there is never a need to feel different or explain your situation.
Okay. On another note, how do your experiences at the Pappas School prepare you for the life after you left the school? The staff at the Pappas School helped me gain confidence in myself. At Pappas teachers like my eighth grade teacher and my seventh grade teacher, they drilled into us failure was not an option. It was because of them that I felt prepared academically for high school.
When I was a student at Pappas, I was fortunate to have many mentors. It was where I met a Phoenix fire fighter. Still today, I think of him as a brother and a good friend. I know I can count on him, and I can remember in close contact with many others of my mentors. It boils down to the personal relationships that were built between the teachers and mentors that prepared me for life after Pappas.
What would be the effect of closing down Pappas School? I feel that if you closed down schools like Pappas, you would be taking one of the safest places that kids have to go. You will not only be shutting down a school. You will be shutting down kids' hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow.
Many homeless students will not be competitive in mainstream schools. High mobility will always be an issue to them. During the adjustment period when students change schools, they miss out on learning and continue to fall behind in their schoolwork, or worse, they stay out of school for long periods of time while their family attempts to find a place to stay.
In closing, I would ask that the members of the subcommittee listen carefully to all of the testimony and make their decisions of what to do with Pappas type schools based on what is right for homeless students.
Now, another thing is homeless does not come with a book. I mean to be homeless and be an adult is one thing, but be homeless and be a child is another. I mean for most of the kids that ended up at Pappas, yes, we had a choice to come here, but did we know it was going to be a safe place? No.
I have been through many, many public schools. I have been behind academically in many, many public schools, and shoved aside by many public school teachers just because I cannot keep up in the work.
Okay, but when you come to Pappas, it is as I said. They expect the unexpected. They are there for you. You do not have to adjust for them. They adjust to you.
I mean, it is; I am stuck, participants. No, you are not.
I do not understand why they would want to shut down something that is doing such a great thing for us. I mean, they say everybody is supposed to get an equal opportunity. How are we as homeless children getting an equal opportunity when you are sending us into a mainstream school unprepared?
Okay. What does a mother or a father do for their child before the school starts? They go out and buy them school clothes. They go out, you know, and everything they need to start school. How are we supposed to go out and get everything we need to start school to be competitive if we cannot even find a place to stay?
There are many times; I mean, one time my family has to stay in a field on 44th Street and Van Buren. In the morning, I had to get my little brother up, go to the nearest gas station to wash up and walk about a mile and a half just to get to the bus stop to make it to Pappas.
Why? Because Pappas is like our La-la Land. As a child, you have no control over the situation. You go where you are supposed to go. I mean your parents have most of the control. As a child, you are just there. You have to deal with it, and why would you want to deal with all of the stuff happening outside of school when you can go to a school where the staff welcomes you with open arms and loving hands?
To this day, I would not be here to be able to give you this speech, to be able to tell you my side if it was not for the Pappas School. Because I would probably have just become what many people say is a statistic because I probably would not have even made it through high school, and now I am a freshman in college.
Coming from the background that I come from, we are not even expected to graduate high school, let alone go to college, and to see that we have the opportunity to become something, to go to college means a great thing.
I thought that, you know, I guess the government or whatever out there is supposed to try to help educate the youth these days, not take it away.
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF CHUCK BACON, FORMER STUDENT, THOMAS P. PAPPAS SCHOOL, PHOENIX, ARIZONA – SEE APPENDIX G
Chairman Salmon. Ms. Wells.
STATEMENT OF TAMMY WELLS, PARENT
Ms. Wells. Hello. I am Tammy Wells. I am here to speak about a few reasons why I believe T.J. Pappas should remain open.
I am a homeless mother with four children. My children are looking forward to coming back to Pappas. I have been reading some articles on why Congress and a few others would like to see Pappas shut down. It infuriates me that someone would take away something so positive in not only my kids' lives, but also many others.
I hear certain people talking of segregation of Pappas, students of public schools and comparing it to the years when black children were not allowed to be schooled with white children. This is the most ludicrous thing I have heard. The government made things that way back then.
No one said our students have to come here. It is our parents. It is our choice. Why should the government be able to take these choices away?
I believe by placing homeless children in mainstream schools is a way to close eyes to just how much homelessness there really is. Pappas provides these children with education, free clothing, counseling services, and excellent mentors, not to mention making it possible for these students or for these kids to see doctors and dentists.
But, what I really like is walking into the school and seeing a staff member know a child on a first name basis or, better yet, just giving them a hug because they need one. Let's face it, these are kids with totally different issues than most mainstream kids, and T.J. Pappas is a school that recognizes this.
Have you ever tried to live in a motel one night or a friend's house the next or your car in a river bottom and have to worry about your kids going to school? Pappas makes it possible for these children to get the education, as well as their other needs. They provide transportation to these kids no matter how many places they might live in a week's time.
I would love to have the white picket fence and be able to send my kids to one public school all year long or their whole childhood, but reality is that I am not able to do that at this time. It is a great comfort to me to know that I have Pappas there for my children.
Most of you will not ever know what it is like to be homeless or to move your children from one place to another not once a year, but every day. Unfortunately I do. Therefore, I am asking that you not take away some of these kids' own stability.
I would like to close by saying thank you to allow me to speak here today, and I think it is an honor that my kids are allowed to come to Thomas J. Pappas.
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF TAMMY WELLS, PARENT – SEE APPENDIX H
Chairman Salmon. Mr. Varner.
STATEMENT OF WALTER VARNER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THE EDUCATION OF HOMELESS CHILDREN AND YOUTH, BALTIMORE, MD
Mr. Varner. I think I might need that microphone down there.
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I thank you for this invitation to speak today.
I am President of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. The National Association represents state and local educators in all 50 states.
I am also the Maryland State Coordinator for Homeless Education. In this capacity, I am charged with carrying out the McKinney Act requirements for the State of Maryland.
The National Association opposes school segregation because homeless children do best in integrated settings and because separate is never equal. The justifications commonly offered for segregating homeless children from their housed peers do no hold up under scrutiny, and the fact that they are homeless should not be a reason to segregate them.
Some argue that separate schools are needed because of barriers to homeless children's admission to mainstream schools. Well, the creation of segregated programs merely perpetuates these barriers in violation of students obtaining Homeless Assistance Act.
Today thousands of schools across the country have eliminated barriers and successfully support homeless children's education in mainstream settings. Proponents of separate schools also claim that such settings protect homeless children from ridicule and prejudice.
We believe it is unacceptable to accommodate the prejudices of housed children against their homeless peers by separating them into different educational facilities. Integrated programs combat prejudices by insuring that homeless children have the same supplies, school supplies, clothing and materials as non-homeless children, and by successfully developing the activities to foster greater understanding of the plight of homeless students.
Another alleged justification for separate schools is that homeless children frequently need special attention and services. Integrated programs, however, successfully provide a wide variety of programs tailored to the physical, emotional, and educational needs of homeless children, and they can provide these services to far more children than is possible in a segregated setting, and they do that across the country, and they do that not in deference to special needs.
But segregation is not only unnecessary. It is harmful. Segregation increases instability. Staying in the same school that children were attending before they became homeless promotes stability by allowing children to keep the same friends, teachers, and daily routines.
Over the past 13 years, integrated programs have made great strides in helping homeless children remain in their schools or origin in contrast to segregated schools which children attend only during the time that they are homeless adds to the disruption in homeless children's lives.
Segregation also causes harm by the private homeless parents of school choice. In most segregated programs, parents are not informed of their children's right to go to a mainstream school, nor are they provided any assistance to do so.
The very existence of barriers to mainstream schools effectively precludes parental choice, integrated programs.
We also have to realize by the McKinney Act was instituted. Segregated programs serve only a small portion of homeless children in the community, generally only those who have been in shelters. Mainstream schools are in the best position to serve all homeless children regardless of where they live.
Integrated programs have developed successful models and methods of training school personnel to recognize signs of homelessness, and therefore, assist hidden homeless children with appropriate services.
In sum, there are many reasons why homeless children are best served in integrated settings, but homeless children's education should not be discussed as a mere comparison of different program models for it is fundamental to the question of civil rights.
In the historic Brown v. Board of Education decision, a unanimous Supreme Court stated that the issue in the case was the segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other tangible factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities. We believe that it does.
The Supreme Court thus held separate educational facilities to be inherently, despite any superficial, tangible equality that may exist.
An expert witness in the district court case in Brown testified that when colored children are denied the experience in schools of associating with white children who represent 90 percent of our national society in which these colored children must live, then the colored child's curriculum is greatly curtailed.
Therefore, it is with homeless children. The denial of an opportunity to associate with their housed peers deprives homeless children of equal education. So segregation would be unthinkable if the subject were segregation by race, national origin, gender, or disability, and it should be unthinkable for homeless children, as well.
Thus, the National Association supports the prohibition on segregation contained in legislation currently before the U.S. Senate. We believe that such a prohibition will help insure that federal dollars are directed exclusively to those efforts that are in the best interests of homeless children while protecting homeless children's civil rights, and we are not alone in this belief. We are encouraged and joined by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, which is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights coalitions, as well as the National Parent-Teachers Association and the National Association of State Directors of Special Education.
I have attached their letters of support to my written testimony.
In closing, segregation may be a convenient response to educating homeless children and youth, but is not the right one. To segregate homeless children from their housed peers is to derive them of the educational opportunity to resource the stability, normalcy, and relationships that can only occur in the integrated environment.
We must build on what we have learned to remove in terms of barriers, expanded support, and create equal educational opportunities for homeless children in all settings, and we must be guarded by a vision of the society. We wish to achieve an integrated society of equality and justice for all.
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF WALTER VARNER, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF THE EDUCATION OF HOMELESS CHILDREN AND YOUTH, BALTIMORE, MD – SEE APPENDIX I
Chairman Salmon. Dr. Stark.
STATEMENT OF DR. LUISA STARK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PHOENIX CONSORTIUM TO END HOMELESSNESS, PHOENIX, AZ
Dr. Stark. Thank you very much.
My name is Luisa Stark, and I want to thank you very much for the invitation to come today.
I am the person I think several of you may have mentioned obliquely that may be talking about educational standards, and I kind of feel that maybe I should be sitting where you are with my back to the wall rather than this way, but I am very happy to be here.
I serve on the Phoenix Consortium to End Homelessness.
In 1988, I was a member of the task force who drafted Arizona's first state plan on the education of homeless children and youth. The plan states that it should be the policy of the State of Arizona to eliminate the need for special shelter schools, and that homeless children should be integrated into neighborhood schools.
So, this was not just something that was being pushed on Arizona from afar. This is a task force made out of native Arizonans, well, maybe not so native because many of us have arrived here recently, who came together to put together this particular plan.
And I would like to say, and I do not know if Mr. Basha is still here, but it has to be approved by the Arizona School Board, and he at that time was chair of it.
I would also like to say that also, of course, this was reinforced by the 1990 reauthorization of the McKinney Act. Integrated homeless programs would become the model for educating homeless children and youth, and that these particular programs needed to actually be integrated rather than segregated or set apart.
I also am a linguist, and I would like to say that ``congregate'' usually means placing things together and ``segregate'' means placing things apart. Anyway, when I use ``segregate,'' I hope you will not take it to mean in a pejorative way. It just means from my perspective a program or type of situation that is set apart from others.
Today Arizona has nine integrated programs. These include excellent programs in Flagstaff, Tucson, and here in El Hambro. Some of these programs are represented here today. I do not know if the people are from Tucson hopefully and Flagstaff would be willing to stand up who are with us today.
Thank you very much.
And I do hope that this panel at one time would have a chance to visit the programs at Tucson and in Flagstaff. They are outstanding, and I think you would, especially with your interest in education and interest in homeless children, see a different kind of program, but programs that succeed very well.
One of the remaining segregated schools or set apart schools for homeless children here in Arizona, of course, is the Thomas J. Pappas School here in Phoenix. I would like to say that from the onset, despite the avalanche of news stories, no one has ever recommended that the Pappas School be shut down. I mean I don't think anybody.
There has been talk about the Pappas School perhaps not getting the funding or perhaps other kinds of funding, but nobody has, to my knowledge, and I sort of keep my ear to the ground in this community and elsewhere, has ever talked about the imminent shutdown of the Pappas School.
Rather advocates have recommended that separate schools, such as the Pappas School, change perhaps their role in helping homeless children receive a quality education and that federal funds be used to support integrative projects.
I support these recommendations because separate institutions catering to homeless children have many of the problems associated with other pullout or segregated schools. I would like to discuss a few of these in relationship to our local school, the Pappas School.
One, I would like to talk about removing barriers and providing choice because Ms. Keegan did talk a great deal about providing choice and so have some of the other speakers.
State and local education agencies that have received McKinney funds, such as the Arizona Department of Education and the Maricopa County Regional School District, which runs the Pappas School, are required by law to actively pursue removing whatever barriers may exist to homeless children's enrollment, attendance, and success in school.
They must also insure that homeless children are able to attend their school of origin or the school in the attendance area where they are living, and I would like to save you from talking to many homeless children. I personally feel that the best thing that can happen to a homeless child is for that child to remain in their school of origin. Their peers are there. The people they have grown up with are there. It is not like going into a foreign school where you are the only homeless child or you are stigmatized as a homeless child. These are people, generally your schoolmates that you have grown up with and spent a lot of time with who are going to be accepting of you even though you may no longer live in an apartment and may live in a shelter.
One of the problems, of course, always with the fact that we wish to insure that homeless children are able to attend their school of origin or the school in the attendance area, of course, is transportation, and Mr. Basha, I think, alluded to that today, that this is one of the major barriers and at times makes choice for parents very difficult.
The Pappas School, as far as the Maricopa Regional School District, through its receipt of McKinney funds is supposed, to by federal statute, insure that homeless people, kids, are able if possible to attend the school of their origin or the school in the attendance area, appears not to do this. Rather, they recruit children from the various homeless agencies with the sole purpose of enrolling them as students in this school.
They do not attempt to assist, as far as I know, homeless families in enrolling in mainstream schools. The result is that we really are removing school choice from these families, which is an important part of our Department of Education's agenda.
Ms. Keegan talked so much about choice. I think all of us in this room are very much for it. However, if we do not give students choice and say the only possibility for you is to go to the Pappas School, then we are not removing barriers, and certainly a lot of students come here.
The Pappas School, I would also like to talk about schools like the Pappas School that have some problems, I believe, with providing children with a quality education. I would like to start to talk about the school content area alignment.
The Arizona Department of Education has stated that in order for students to be successful, it is critical for the school curriculum to be aligned to Arizona academic standards. I was surprised to have to say that when I was looking at the 1999 and 2000 report card, the Pappas School asserted that their curriculum was not aligned with the Arizona state standards and that they indicated their students were not being given the opportunity necessarily to master the nine areas of curriculum which comprise Arizona school content area alignment.
Now, the fact that the Pappas School has decided to not align with the Arizona academic standard, I believe, is analogous to the situation in other pull-out or set-aside schools that we have known in the past where students that are stigmatized by our society, such as homeless kids, kids of other groups have often been believed to be unable to master the standard education curriculum offered in mainstream schools.
I also believe that not having had an aligned curriculum in the past may partially explain why 82 percent of the 70 Pappas students who were transitioned out to neighborhood schools last year returned to Pappas. Providing education to a child that differs significantly from what he or she will experience elsewhere often results in setting that child up for failure.
And I do want to also remind all of us that Pappas in reality is a transitional school. This is part of their mission, to educate homeless kids to the point that they can transition to other kids.
And if in reality the curriculum that they are studying does not match those other schools or is not in sync with them, then it makes it more difficult for these kids, I would say, to succeed.
I also wanted to talk about academic performance from the perspective of the Stanford 9 test, which is the test that the Arizona State Department of Education uses to compare student performance in Grades 2 through 11. In analyzing Stanford 9 test scores from tests administered to Pappas students in April '99 and April 2000, I think there are a few trends that occurred that are perhaps a little bit disturbing.
First, in both 1999 and 2000, the Pappas School failed to meet the average Arizona performance rank score in any subject tested at any grade level, and I really need to change that. There was one subject. I believe it was reading in the fifth grade that pretty much came up to grade level.
Second, regardless of the grade level, the average score at Pappas scored lower on Stanford 9 than students attending other high poverty schools with similar high mobility rates in the central Phoenix area.
And finally, I think of most concern was the fact that the Stanford 9 stores for the students of Pappas are much lower than those of other homeless students who are served by integrated programs in mainstream schools. This is all from information from the Arizona Department of Education.
I also would like to mention, too, that I think another thing that has been brought up, and we have interviewed teachers and talked to other people who have worked here at Pappas is that since 1992 there have been 13 different principals of Pappas School, and this lack of continuity in administration can impact the school, its programs, and the work of its teachers.
I would like to conclude that the educational attainment of children who attend Pappas is lower than that of children or at least somewhat lower than that of children where the homeless are housed in mainstream schools. As one Pappas student told me, ``I love the Pappas Schools, all of the volunteers and the parties and trips, but I only began to learn when I went to a regular school.''
I am sure that is not true for all students, and I would also like to say that I think there are some very, very dedicated teachers here at Pappas, but I have also heard teachers who have talking in the past complained about how much their days have been interrupted at times by other activities, parties, trips, tours, by visitors, and so forth.
I would also like to add that Pappas does offer very important non-educational services. The Pappas Foundation and other donors have made outstanding social services possible by providing more than $300,000 on an annual basis. There is an excellent, wonderful medical Fund a Cure that has been set up to serve the homeless children, who come here, and I am sure there are other services and other programs I am unaware of.
But I think we need to remember that Pappas, first, is a school, and as a school, if we do not educate our children well we are not only compromising their education, but in many ways their futures. There are excellent examples of formerly segregated schools that have become resource centers for homeless children, including the example that Edie gave of her program in Spokane, Washington.
A similar arrangement would allow Pappas to do what it does best, provide quality social services, quality medical services, while assisting homeless children to benefit from the educational opportunities, civility and normalcy of mainstream schools.
I should also add that it would hope to also make it possible if this type of model were adopted to be able to help more of the 5,300 children who are homeless on any one night in the greater Phoenix area.
While I am suggesting that perhaps Pappas be turned into a research center, I would also recommend that we in Arizona undertake the development and implementation of an integrated continuum of educational services for homeless children and youth, modifying or replacing the current approach that does not adequately meet their needs.
I would suggest that a task force be put together as called for by the Arizona Coalition to End Homelessness, to develop a statewide plan that will more effectively address the educational needs of the homeless children and youth.
I cannot end without one last word from a homeless child. I met Janie while she was living in a local homeless shelter. After she had moved into the shelter she continued to go to her neighborhood school. Her parents had an old car, and they used to drive her there every day.
When the car was no longer operable, Janie started going to the Pappas School in good part because they had a bus that came to the shelter every day to take her there.
Janie said to me, ``When I went to my old school even after we moved to the shelter, everybody treated me the same. I was the same person. The only problem was that I had to live in a shelter because we lost our apartment, but it has been different at the Pappas School. Everybody knows it is a homeless school. So when I tell people I go to Pappas, and I never say it's a homeless school, they know, and they begin to act real strange like I'm dangerous or something. I wish I were back in my old school. Everybody likes me there.''
I will end with that remark. Thank you very much.
WRITTEN STATEMENT OF DR. LUISA STARK, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, PHOENIX CONSORTIUM TO END HOMELESSNESS, PHOENIX, AZ -- SEE APPENDIX J
Chairman Salmon. Thank you.
I would like to start the series of questions. Mr. Varner, I would like to start with you. You talked extensively about the issue of segregation or separation, and I would like your opinion on an unrelated issue.
Here in Arizona we get significant dollars from the federal government for a program called bilingual education. Are you familiar with that program?
Basically, these children are taken out of the mainstream classes. Predominantly in Arizona, they are Hispanic children. They do not speak any English, they are placed in a class with other Hispanic children that do not speak any English, and as I said, they are taken out of the mainstream. Their lessons are taught to them in Spanish, and many of these children stay in that same curriculum for seven, eight years.
I am curious as to your opinion. Would you consider that to be segregation?
Mr. Varner. Many programs are sponsored across the country to assist kids into assimilating into a school environment. One of those happens to be bilingual education.
There are also other programs as well: special education that gets those kids working into the school environment. It is an inclusion model, and the problem with those kids is the language. In order to be instructed, they need to speak the language.
Unless that system, wherever it happens to be, is totally Hispanic and totally speaks the Hispanic language, those kids are there to be assisted in speaking English, and that's another debate in our country as to whether or not those kids should speak English or speak Spanish.
But it is not intended to put them in a separate setting. It is to assist them to do better in other settings in the school, and that is across the country.
Chairman Salmon. Thank you.
Dr. Dowling, I have a few questions for you. Number one, it was alleged in the testimony that the education at Pappas School is substandard, that your students have poorer test scores. Could you explain that?
Dr. Dowling. Congressman Salmon, members of the committee, I think that if you are just referring to the Stanford 9 testing, which is what Dr. Stark was referencing in her remarks, I would probably agree we do not measure up to those standards. Never did we expect to measure up to those standards, and you know, I am not sure that we ever will because our children come in from a very unique situation.
In many cases they have not been to school for a long time. Our job is to take them from where they begin and to demonstrate academic progress for them.
In a report that is going to be issued tomorrow, which measures academic progress for students that are attending Pappas School. It shows that in the third to fourth grade, for those same students that were with us last year and have been with us this year; or this is from year before last to last year, we had 193 percent increase. We also had 132 percent increase in Grades 5 to six, and we had 158 percent increase in reading alone as far as how each individual.
So, we are trying to measure how a child progresses once they get here. Does that mean that they are going to be at grade level or performing in conjunction with other students under the circumstances in the environment they live in? In most cases, probably not, in some cases, maybe so.
But, our job here is to demonstrate achievement and to demonstrate progress, and I think that is what we have done. You could take the same issue related to mathematics, and we have, respectively, from third to fourth grade 182 percent increase, 194 percent increase in Grade 5 to 6, and a 77 percent increase in Grades 7 to 8.
So, you know, we measure our success on the achievement of the child itself. We also measure our success on how well we meet the needs of the children once they get here. You know, many times it is not enough to say children need to be educated. Other factors cause those children not to be able to perform successfully in a classroom.
Those factors could include hunger. Those factors could include clothing. Those factors could include many, many things, psychological problems, other issues that they are forced to deal with.
So with the trained staff that we have here, we are able to provide intervention services very quickly, and we are able to provide them on an immediate basis, and I think that that truly also, in addition to the academic scores, is a measure of our success.
Chairman Salmon. Another question. There has also been reference concerning a particular student who became homeless and were forced to attend Pappas School rather than attend his or her home school. What are your recruiting policies, and could this occur? Are there situations where children are having choices taken away from them, as has been alleged, and they are being required to attend the Pappas School?
Are school districts farming off these children because they do not want to deal with them? Can you explain to us how the whole process works?
Dr. Dowling. Congressman Salmon, I cannot really speak on behalf of the other school districts and how they operate, but I can tell you that we are very aggressive in trying to identify the children that need services that are not receiving them. We do visit shelters. We do visit different institutions and other governmental agencies that we know here in the Phoenix area have access to homeless children because we want to make sure that those children are not denied the opportunity for an education.
However, if a homeless child were to say, ``I want to go to another school,'' whatever that school may be, my staff has been instructed to help them in that process and make sure that they are registered. If a child is here at Pappas and they decide they want to transition to their neighborhood school, then the staff has been requested to make sure that that transition process occurs.
This was developed as a school of choice in 1990, and this continues to be a school of choice today. We will never take away the opportunity for a child to be in control of their own destiny and for their parents to be in control of their destiny, and I think that that is a real significant component to what our school is all about.
Every child enrolled in our school today is here because they want to be. Because they know when they get here that they are going to receive what they need in order to be successful, because they know when they get here they are going to be taken care of by a very caring, loving staff, and that they are going to be welcome, and they are not going to be humiliated. They are not going to be put in a situation where they feel embarrassed or where they feel less than somebody else sitting in the chair next to them.
This school is designed to be a support base, to be a transition. It is designed to give them the foundation that they need so that when they do transition that we do not have them coming back at a later date.
Sometimes that occurs unfortunately. Children do return, but we do everything in our power to make sure that once they transition to the neighborhood school, that that is a permanent placement for them.
Chairman Salmon. One final question for you, Dr. Dowling, and I will yield the time to Representative Scott.
The issue of administrative turnover at Pappas School was raised. Dr. Dowling, could you discuss with the committee the effects of this turnover on students?
Dr. Dowling. Well, unfortunately there has been some turnover. I am not sure that it is as much as Dr. Stark referred to, but what has happened is when the turnover occurs, then interim principals are put in place for the remainder of the school year.
One of the tough decisions that I have to make as the county school Superintendent and as somebody that establishes salaries in this particular school district is where is the money going to best be spent. What I decided to do and what I have done for the last eight or nine years is I have provided the highest teaching salary in the State of Arizona. That comes as an expense.
Our teachers here are paid $31,100 a year right out of college as a first year teacher. There is nobody in Maricopa County or in the State of Arizona that can compete with that, and we know that.
The result of that is that we also have the lowest administrative salaries in the State of Arizona, and we know that. We understand that.
What I would like to be able to tell you is that I could do both, but I cannot. So, we have decided to put the money into classroom teacher rather than at the administrative level.
Many people, when they look at the opportunity to serve at Pappas because it is such an exemplary model, they think it is great for their resume. I cannot prohibit professionals from wanting to enhance their resume. I cannot prohibit them from using this as a stepping-stone or a launching pad to a bigger school district with a better position that pays more money.
I have assistant principals in public schools that pay 4,000 to $5,000 more than my regional administrators are paid. That in itself tells you that the money crunch is very right.
We are doing the best that we can. Hopefully, with the way, we have reorganized this year; we have put a stop to the hemorrhaging that has occurred. We have designated this as a regional school principal site, able to boost the salary a little bit higher, trying to be competitive with those assistant principals who are being paid more than our regional principals, but having done so we think that we can get some continuity for the next two to three years.
Chairman Salmon. Thank you.
Mr. Scott. Thank you, Matt.
Ms. Garfield, are there other programs like yours in Stockton, California? Is yours the only homeless school?
Ms. Garfield. Other programs in the United States or in_
Mr. Scott. Starting in California.
Ms. Garfield. Oh, no, no, no.
Mr. Scott. Just one.
Ms. Garfield. We are the only. There is a program in Sacramento. We are the only program.
Mr. Scott. And in Stockton, what portion of the homeless students gets into TLC?
Ms. Garfield. Well, again, it is choice. We serve all elementary age students, and as far as we know, we have pretty much identified the elementary aged students that are in San Joachin County, and we are unable to serve the junior and high school students. So we serve them through our mentor advocates and give them family support services as well as after school counseling.
But our focus is K-6. Now, I am sure there are families out there that are not identified as homeless because there is no accurate count of homelessness, but we get referrals from all of the social service agencies from the school districts. We have families that come because they know where they are at the facility.
So, as far as we know, we are serving all of the homeless K through six children in our community that want to be enrolled in our school.
Mr. Scott. What portion of the total homeless in Stockton do you serve?
Ms. Garfield. There is no accurate count of homelessness in Stockton. So, it would only be an estimate, and it is hard to tell. We serve approximately 350 to 400 homeless students per year, as well as another 100 formerly homeless that come back to our facility to receive after school services.
Mr. Scott. This report that you referred to in your testimony, Ms. Garfield, criticizes segregated schools because they do not come up to standards, and you contest that on each and every count.
Are you speaking for all 42 schools or just the TLC?
Ms. Garfield. No, I cannot speak for all 42 schools. I have visited the school in Portland, and she is here today, and I visited the school in San Diego, and I feel like in some sense I can speak for them, but in terms of that testimony, I can only speak for what we are doing at the Transitional Learning Center.
Mr. Scott. Ms. Dowling, we have heard the word ``choice'' mentioned around. Are the services that students get here at Pappas that they would not get somewhere else? For instance, transportation. If a student moves far away from their school of origin, do they get transportation back to that school of origin or if they need transportation, do they have to come to Pappas?
Dr. Dowling. Congressman Salmon, Congressman Scott, the transportation that we provide is transportation to and from Pappas. In Maricopa County, we have 58 school districts covering over 10,000 square miles, and the costs attributed to that are so significant and so astronomical that we just do not have the resources to provide them to the individual schools themselves.
If the child wants to go to the individual school and that school district provides transportation services, they are more than welcome to take advantage of those services.
Mr. Scott. Do any of the schools provide transportation from outside of their district back to that school, other than Pappas?
Dr. Dowling. None that I am aware of, Congressman.
Mr. Scott. Do you know the cost per student at Pappas compared to the cost per student at other schools?
Dr. Dowling. That is a very, very difficult thing to factor in because of the number and the amount of contribution in services that we have coming from the community itself. If you will, I would like to meet with our business manager and maybe forward that information on to you.
Mr. Scott. And if you can also provide, if you cannot right now, the portion of that budget that is provided by the private sector because we have head the figure $300,000 from one source, the foundation, and obviously there are others that contribute. Do you know, Ms. Dowling, do you know the average length of stay here at Pappas?
Dr. Dowling. That is going to depend on the individual family and the individual child. There are two types of homelessness, Mr. Congressman. Those include the transitional homeless, and then it includes the chronic homeless.
The transitional homeless are here a very, very short few months, but the chronic homeless children are here sometimes for two or three years depending on their situation and if their family life does stabilize.
In many cases, once the family life stabilizes, it only falls apart again a new months later, and the children return to us, and we have about 80 percent of the students that we transition out that do return to use because_
Mr. Scott. What percent?
Dr. Dowling. Eighty percent of the children that return to us. So we are trying to develop a system that will eliminate some of the stress that goes on and that occurs in a child's life because of that transition, and to reduce that number so that they do not have that trauma in their lives.
We have been trying to develop that over the summer months only to be implemented here in the fall to see if we are successful in our endeavors.
Mr. Scott. Ms. Stark, on page 5 of your testimony that you indicated in your verbal testimony, you indicate that the Stanford 9 scores of students at Pappas are much lower than those of homeless children who are served by integrated programs in mainstream schools.
I have seen numbers that compare Pappas students to other schools, which I think would probably be apples to oranges. Your comparison appears to be homeless students in an integrated setting towards homeless students here at Pappas; is that right?
Dr. Stark. You are correct, Representative Scott. On Appendix F in the long, it is comparison of homeless student achievements, and the Maricopa County Regional School District at the Thomas J. Pappas School is compared with the Stanford 9 reading test we just_
Mr. Scott. Of homeless students and other schools?
Dr. Stark. Right, at Flagstaff, Tucson, and Colorado.
Mr. Scott. And, Ms. Dowling, you mentioned the success you've had at Pappas of students making large gains in short periods of time.
Dr. Dowling. Yes, sir.
Mr. Scott. Do you have comparable numbers for homeless students at other schools?
Dr. Dowling. Congressman Scott, no, I do not. I do not have those available today as we speak. They are available on a statewide report issued by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and those figures showing that process are going to be released tomorrow as a matter of fact, and we are waiting on those figures to be released so that we can analyze them and assess them based on the performance of our students versus other students.
Mr. Scott. Mr. Chairman, I would ask that we try to get that report after it has been analyzed because I think your analysis would be helpful to us, too.
Ms. Dowling, can you comment just briefly, about what portion of Pappas' success is based on the private sector support and the public policy implications of relying on almost conditioning a child's opportunity to learn on the local charity?
Dr. Dowling. Congressman Scott, I think that it is important any time that you develop a school program, but specially a school program like this, that you do involve the community. We find that the community is a substantial partner with us in the education of these children.
They provide things that our educational dollars cannot, should not, and will never be able to buy. They provide things like the clothing that we saw moving toward the school earlier this morning. They provide the underwear. They provide the soap, the hand lotion, and the shoes. They provide eyeglasses for our children.
Mr. Scott. Is the provision of those services essential to the child's ability to get a decent education?
Dr. Dowling. Absolutely critical, and without those services being provided, that child will never have the self-esteem necessary to be successful in a traditional school environment.
And I do not like to use the word ``regular'' or ``normal'' because I think that a stigmatism in itself. But, I say a traditional neighborhood school. In many instances, these children at their own option would never attend school if we could not teach them and work with them on how to provide these things for themselves.
Mr. Scott. Well, Dr. Stark, do you want to comment on the question of if these are essential elements that needed to be provided to a student if they are expected to learn, why shouldn't that be part of the public education expense?
Dr. Stark. Congressman Salmon and Congressman Scott, in answer to your question, if you were to visit the Flagstaff or the Tucson Unified School Districts, you would find that indeed these things are available. Now, some of them may be purchased with non-private funds, and many of them are donated by people in the community.
I should also mention to you that here in Phoenix, in the regular, old public schools around this area, that many of the things that are provided here in Pappas are provided there. Ms. Keegan, for example, in her original written testimony talked about the Osborne School, which has a medical clinic for kids there.
I can tell you about Capital School, which we recently put in a shower so that homeless kids and poor kids in the area who had problems with showering and bathing and so forth could take advantage of this.
I can tell you that the Kennelworth School has for, again, both homeless kids and non-homeless kids that attend Kennelworth a food pantry where the donations come from the St. Mary's Food Bank, and they also have clothing which they get from St. Vincent, De Paul, and other places like that.
They tend to try to have to sort of scramble for and go to social service agencies that normally would provide these kinds of elements rather than having sort of a large number of people who are going to bring them day after day the things that they need. But they do a very good job, and they do meet the needs of their students.
I would also like to remind us that homeless students are very, very low-income children who are missing housing. In some ways I would like to say that although they have, many of them have gone through great trauma and terrible, terrible problems, as far what homelessness has done to them. The loss of housing and the mobility, we have an enormous number of other students in this community who are almost homeless or who have had incredibly traumatic lives themselves.
One of the things I like to remember is that homelessness is not permanent. It is temporary. We are dealing with children who have gone through a lot of trauma, and if we put them in an isolated school situation, why are we doing that to children whose families are involved in domestic violence cases? Why are we putting or doing this for children whose parents are going through dramatic divorces? Why are we not doing this for children who have seen an older brother or sister killed in a drive-by?
There is an enormous amount of these terrible problems that we find in our communities these days. Homelessness is certainly one of them, and a terrible one, but I do believe that our schools in general are able to deal with this.
Mr. Scott. Mr. Chairman, if I could ask one other general question.
Chairman Salmon. Please.
Mr. Scott. With your indulgence. As I understand it, seven children at Pappas are going to college next year. Is that accurate?
Dr. Dowling. Congressman Salmon, Congressman Scott, I do believe that is correct.
Mr. Scott. Ms. Stark, do you have any idea what percentage of homeless students attend college in_
Dr. Stark. In the integrated schools?
Mr. Scott. _integrated?
Dr. Stark. I do not, but let me ask the people, if I could, from Flagstaff and Tucson right behind me.
Mr. Scott. Well, if you do not have that available now, you can provide that.
Chairman Salmon. Yes. We are going to have a motion after we are all through to keep it open for a couple of weeks.
Dr. Stark. Okay. I am sorry.
Chairman Salmon. For people to submit further information.
Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your indulgence.
Chairman Salmon. Thank you.
Mr. Scott. Because I know, I went over the allotted time.
Chairman Salmon. No, please. We have no time frames here. We just want to get to the bottom of everything.
I have a question for anybody before I turn to Congressman Shadegg. We keep hearing the term ``school of origin.'' Some of us are a little bit baffled in that the definition of homeless means that they do not have an address. They do not live anywhere. What does ``school of origin'' mean as far as our neighborhood schools?
Mr. Varner. It is the school that the kid is attending when he becomes homeless, school of origin.
Chairman Salmon. Okay. Thank you.
Dr. Dowling. The school of origin is the school that they were attending when they become homeless. However, in a situation in many cases here at Pappas, many of our students are coming from out of state, and there is no school of origin. There is no local school of origin. So, they have nowhere to attend because they are not in a permanent environment and, therefore, do not have a local school.
Chairman Salmon. So, if they come from out of state or from a different county and they have relocated here, I mean, if they may have been homeless in Flagstaff and it is winter and it is too cold, so that they migrate to Phoenix as a potential, how then do we define the school of origin? Where they first landed or what?
Ms. Sims. Congressman Salmon and Scott, in Spokane, the way we have addressed that because as you saw, 217 out of the 339 were a school of origin. That meant the rest were not. They came from out of county, out of state.
What we chose to do, we also worked very hard with our housing development. I am sorry, but it concerns me when I hear that somebody has been homeless for four years here in your city. That would never be allowed in our city. We work hard together educationally and with our HUD and with our SNAP housing project, which is Spokane Neighborhood Action Programs.
We interconnect with each other. We would take those families and if they landed a shelter, we would choose to place them at the school closest to them.
We also empower those children and families. I mean we are dealing with families. We very much recognize that. We give the families the choice then that once you find housing because they are immediately connected, immediately connected with ways to find housing, permanent housing.
You have the choice to have your child remain at the school where you started as you started your search for housing, or you have the option to go ahead and have us assist you with transitioning you into your new neighborhood school. It is very much the parents' choice.
We work with them. We have behavior kids that are experiencing severe behavior concerns that we've connected with a mental health professional on a team, with the counselors in their school, that we have sat together and said, ``It is best for the child not to move until summer break."
We still assist always with that, but we keep them in one school.
Chairman Salmon. Thank you. Dr. Dowling, would you care to comment?
Dr. Dowling. Congressman Salmon, I also would share the concern that we are very concerned with the issue of chronic homelessness, but as an educational institution, we can only spread ourselves so thin and do so much.
What we try to do here at Pappas, in fact, a significant portion of our budget is for transportation, and one of the few programs that I know of that actually provides the level of transportation that we provide in order to get the children to and from school. Our transportation staff makes up to 60 bus changes a week, depending on where the child moves, and where they are at in the morning may not be where they are at in the afternoon. However, we have ten school buses that come in and out of this school every single day in order to make sure that those children have an opportunity to go to school.
If we did not provide that transportation for them, those children would have nowhere to go. For those that want to attend that local school near their shelter or wherever they are staying at, we would be more than happy to do that. We would be more than happy to register them, but with 58 school districts and the possibility that they move from morning to afternoon across the street maybe, and they would be in a different school district and a different school attendance area, both, is sometimes traumatic in itself.
Until that family stabilizes and until they have some sort of sense of organization within their own family life, we think that it is in the best interest of the child to only have to worry about one thing and one thing only: how am I going to get to school every day?
Chairman Salmon. Congressman Shadegg.
Mr. Shadegg. Thank you very much.
Let me begin by saying, you know, these hearings are always very educational, and I have learned a great deal here today, but I guess to some degree it is very easy to get your eye off the ball and not focus on the issue that confronts us at least in Congress in terms of any votes.
I have found a lot of the testimony and a lot of the written material to address some issues, which, while they may be interesting, I do not think are the question.
I am very supportive of an integrated program. I think they should be at every single school so that the kid who wants to go to a particular school and is homeless may do so, and I think there ought to be sensitivity training, and we ought to do the ideal, is to put those kids in that school. No doubt about that.
So one of the questions that I have heard discussed here today that I do not think is an issue is should there be an integrated program. I think the answer is there should, and Tucson and Flagstaff are to be complimented for doing that.
The second issue that I do not think is an issue is can you provide a good education and a good environment for kids who happen to be homeless at an integrated school, and again, I think that is not the issue. I think we can, in fact, do that.
The issue that troubles me, and I tried to bring this out in my questioning of Superintendent Keegan, is the policy question before Congress, which is the change in the law being sought right now, and the change in the law being sought right now puts this question to us as a member of Congress: given that the law says there must be an integrated opportunity, given that the law says children who want to continue to go to the school that they have been going to or want to go to the school near where they are living, even though homeless, or want to go to any school must be accommodated; the question presenting itself to Congress is should we shut off funding for specialized schools because that is, in fact, the legislation before the United States Congress, and that is, in fact, the policy that the Department of Education is trying to effectuate through these letters.
Therefore, I guess I think it is important to focus on that question because that is the issue that I may wind up voting on.
In that regard, I want to ask you, Ms. Sims. Based on the integration, you moved from a specialized school setting to an integrated school setting in the area of Spokane last year. Do I understand you to testify that there is now no specialized school left in that area?
Ms. Sims. That is correct.
Mr. Shadegg. Okay. The second question I want to ask, and I want to be fair about this, but I think there are some difficulties with a comparison. Your remark about in Spokane, Washington, we would never tolerate a family staying homeless for four years, what is the population of the Spokane metropolitan area?
Ms. Sims. I know that our population is not the same as yours, Senator, but I also, but I also recognize that nationally our percentages _ or Congressman. Sorry. I just got you elevated.
Mr. Shadegg. That is okay.
Ms. Sims. Feel good?
Congressman, I know that our population numbers are not the same, but I know that I have compared our percentages nationally with homelessness across this United States, and we unfortunately, percentage-wise, have the same percentages of homelessness that you do.
Mr. Shadegg. I guess my argument is I agree with you there ought to be an integrated system, but going back to the question: should we cut off funding for the specialized system?
And I think I would just suggest that Spokane might have a very different problem than Phoenix, Arizona. We had a gigantic transient population, and I will bet we could pull out the census data numbers and show you that the transient nature of the population of Maricopa County is dramatically greater than the transient population of Spokane, Washington.
You may have some_I just want to make that point.
I want to ask another question. There was reference in the testimony of both Ms. Stark and Ms. Sims to pullout children. I, frankly, do not understand that term, and as I have sat here listening to it, I want to ask, frankly, anybody who wants to discuss it: are we not in our discussion of homeless children here today ignoring the fact that not all homeless children are alike?
For example, isn't it true that some homeless children are homeless, but they were already in a school and being educated, and other children are homeless and perhaps have never been in a school and being pulled out?
I certainly would agree with you that you should not pull a child out of a school that is already in that school because of homelessness. And I guess, Ms. Garfield, do you pull any children out of school if they are in a neighborhood school?
Ms. Garfield. Absolutely not. We make every effort to maintain in the school of origin, but there are two major problems, which the government has not resolved. One is transportation. When the family moves to a shelter, they could be 12 miles, 15, 20 miles from that school of origin. The school will not provide transportation for that child.
The second problem is that many of our shelters in our community have a 30-day minimum stay, which means the family leaves that shelter, goes to another shelter, stays around, camps out, lives in their car, goes back to another shelter, and you see that history going on all year.
So there is a potential for the child to have them be going to the school closest to wherever they are living that week. So, that also increases the probability that they will be in nine schools in one year.
Nobody has ever answered the question or addressed the issue of, yes, we want these kids to stay in their school of origin. How are we going to pay for it?
If somebody could answer that question for me, I think that that would be a big part of the issue, but the second part is when the children need medical care, dental care, we have children with abscessed teeth at our school. We have had children with appendicitis at our school. We have children with severe medical and dental problems that the schools do not have the facilities to provide those services either.
They say become a resource center and provide those. What are we going to do, pull the kids out of school and bring them back? There is no good answer from anybody to the issue of the transportation and the fund and the constant mobility of this group of families.
Mr. Varner. Let me just_
Mr. Shadegg. Yes, sir.
Mr. Varner. Just a little bit here. Transportation is normally covered for every child.
Chairman Salmon. Pull the microphone. I think everybody would like to hear your answer.
Mr. Varner. Transportation is normally handled for every child in every school system because there is a dollar amount attached to that child. If you build over in Section A housing development, you are going to run a school bus over there to pick up that child, and you are going to count him in your budget, and if he is in school, he is going to count it in dollars that are attached to that.
That is across the country. However, there are those instances where if the kid is in one school system and another one and you try to do that. In the State of Maryland, and I can talk a lot about that because that is where the biggest issue is in terms of kids who cross counties and that sort of stuff and how do you handle that. The school budget in that local area handles that child because he has a transportation dollar attached to him, and the facility is with all of the other transportation issues.
As you look at medical services and all the other services that homeless children may need in a school system, then that school system would provide that for all other children, and I do not care if you are homeless. You can get those services.
What it amounts to is the lack of the will for the local school system to do those kinds of things and make those services available so if that child has an abscess, what would you do if you were not homeless?
Mr. Shadegg. Ms. Stark, if I could ask you, pullout child. Nobody is advocating we pull out children. What do we do _ okay. If you have a child that was in the school when they became homeless, the ideal of course has to be to leave that child in that school. How does that deal with the child whose parents, say, are farm workers who move in, they are here for two months, and move on?
They were not in the school here before the beginning of the school year, and they are not going to be wherever they go next in a school at the beginning of the school year. I guess if we all agree that pullout is not good for the child and we all agree that there should be an integrated system for those children, how do you deal with the children who are moving through?
Dr. Stark. I think it is a very good question. First, pullout also probably sounds just terrible.
Mr. Shadegg. It sounds pretty bad to me.
Dr. Stark. Grabbing and pulling them out, and essentially in education lingo it just simply means sort of a set-aside, a program where they are not going to a normal, ordinary school or in an ordinary classroom, but are sort of separated out for one reason or other, whether it is to another school or whether it is to another classroom. So, pullout is perhaps a word that does not quite live up to the way it sounds.
I like your example very much, but I need to tell you that there are farm worker programs, and of course, you may have heard on it very recently that there is a program that is talking about giving every farm worker child a laptop computer so they can keep up with their school work.
But I think your_
Mr. Shadegg. But the question is what do we do about kids who become homeless during the year. Shouldn't we be discussing two categories of homeless children or maybe multiple categories?
Dr. Stark. Who are very, very transient, and I guess my belief on this, and again, this is knowing more about these, having gotten to know more about disintegrated programs and particularly the Flagstaff models. Wherever that family first lights and stays, taking for granted that it was an outreach worker from the district went and said, ``Let us help you put your child in a local school and we will see to it that when you move on to the next county or maybe to the next town, we will have transportation to take your child back to that school where he is now enrolled."
I think the big T word, ``transportation,'' is the real problem here, and I truly hope, as I said towards the end of my discussion, that in the Arizona case we can pull together with people who are going to make this whole situation seamless. The integrated schools can have what they need, and that there really is real choice for these kids.
Mr. Shadegg. Well, I certainly agree with choice. There is no question about that. I guess there are limits at least in my mind with regard to the transportation issue. This is a 10,000-mile square acre area. I guess one of the questions I would have is if a child leaves a school, becomes homeless while living in, let's say, Fountain Hills and moves to Buckeye for a period of time, is it reasonable to transport that child back to Fountain Hills and for how long.
I guess in the example you gave, and I guess you can deal with this issue, I certainly would agree that, let's say, the young girl in your example lived in Fountain Hills and for a while her parents fortunately could drive her back to that school. What happens if because of work, an employment opportunity for her mother or father_they now live in Buckeye or for that matter Gila Bend, which I think is still in Maricopa County_what do you do about that circumstances?
And what would have happened to that little girl if there had not been a Thomas Pappas?
Dr. Stark. Well, let me just try to address that. The Flagstaff Unified School area and District, I think it would be wonderful, after we finish this discussion for some of you to be able to talk to them. They cover a huge area, going up as far as the Navajo Reservation. You want to talk about crossing boundaries.
And, I understand their buses go as far as 40 miles a day, and sometimes, you know, it takes a long time for these kids to go by bus to their school of origin, but you know, they do it. As a result, the program has been, I think, from the perspective of most people certainly as an integrated program extremely successful.
Mr. Shadegg. Let me ask you a question about the statistics you used. Like my colleague, Mr. Scott, I was interested in the number you used because it appeared to compare homeless children with homeless children, and that is better than comparing the average child at Pappas with the average child at any other school, whatever the network, whatever the school district is.
The question I have for you is: does that data look at the question of how long they have been homeless or what amount of school they have missed in the past?
Because if make it a categorization of homeless versus homeless, and one was a little girl who had become homeless this year and the other is a little girl who has been homeless virtually of her life and perhaps in eight years of school or four years of school has already missed half of those four years or half of those eight years, it is difficult to compare the numbers.
Dr. Stark. Well, in a way, yes, and in a way, no. Again, if I could refer back to the Flagstaff model, I mean, the kids that are a part of this, you know, the Flagstaff Unified School District model, I mean, these kids, some of them have been homeless for years. Some of them have been homeless or have just become homeless. They are an incredibly heterogeneous group of kids.
Mr. Shadegg. I apologize, but that is not what I am asking. What I am asking is in the study you cited, it said, ``Well, we are going to compare apples to apples, homeless to homeless.''
Dr. Stark. Right.
Mr. Shadegg. But I am asking if in that data, which, I guess, is attached to your testimony, does it break those children out into have they been homeless for three months or homeless for three years? And have they compared how long a child at Pappas, who did not perform very well on the test, was homeless before being tested compared to a child at some other school, who was also homeless, had been homeless? Because that is the only way we are going to get comparable data.
Dr. Stark. Yes. No, I would agree with you. No, that was not, but I also think I would say to you that I am sure here at Pappas at least from what I know here at the school is that the kids that come here, it is a very heterogeneous group, probably kids who have been chronically home, as well, as Dr. Dowling said. I mean, you can divide them into different categories, there are kids who have been homeless for many, many years or cycled in and out of homelessness, and I am sure there are kids who come here who have been homeless for a very short period just as you have in Flagstaff.
But that does not mean that there might not be some, you know, statistical differences that this particular data does not show.
Mr. Shadegg. Do you know any data that does compare the performance of homeless children against their starting point, the question Ms. Keegan raised at the outset? Because I would like to look at the starting point of a homeless child at Pappas to the ending point of a homeless child at Pappas, the starting point of a homeless child in Flagstaff or Tucson compared to the ending point.
Dr. Stark. I do not think there has been any study, especially in those two areas, but I am sure it would be an interesting study to do.
Mr. Shadegg. I guess is it Mr. Varner? I would like to ask you. A great deal of your written testimony focuses on the word ``segregation,'' and I absolutely agree with you. We should not segregated children based on race, color, creed, you name it, any other criteria, including homelessness status or the status of where they live.
My question of you is_and in that regard, forcing anyone into a separate school because they are homeless I would agree by definition would not be equal_my question is, again, going back to the issue that faces Congress. Should we cut off funding for a specialized school, such as Pappas? Do you believe children who choose to come here, and perhaps we are not doing a good enough job of making sure the parents know this is a choice and they have the choice of going to their neighborhood school or a neighborhood school, but assuming that we educate them and it is to that choice, do you believe they are necessarily segregated if they choose to come here to a Pappas School, a specialized school for a year or two as a transition or for whatever reason?
Mr. Varner. One of the things I mentioned was the fact that if we look at problems that led to the creation of Pappas in terms of what should happen with homeless children, the elimination barriers, that was why the McKinney Act went into existence. Yes, I would have to say the choice becomes whether or not the child continues in their school of origin or goes to another school. That is based on what is in McKinney and that law allows this to happen.
The end of that would be to say if that is, indeed, the case as Dr. Stark said, then kids who are in domestic violence should be set aside because they have inherently the same kind of problems, but all kids who come to school in our public schools across the country bring those kind of problems here.
So to separate them because they bring those problems here create the instance.
Mr. Shadegg. Well, I do not think we should separate them for that reason. I do not think we should force separation on them. I think the issue goes back to choice, but when you use a phrase, whether we should continue to allow child to go to his school of origin, I suggest that you are missing the point.
What is the school of origin? What is the option? When the school of origin for a child shows up at Pappas at the beginning of this year was in Bakersfield, California, or at the beginning of this year was in Tuba City, Arizona, which you may not know is a long way from here, we begin with the premise that a child who has a school of origin in the same area, in Maricopa County which Sandra Dowling is trying to deal with. That child should be able to stay at that school.
But the homeless family that arrives here and they arrive here by the thousands literally every day, whose school of origin is five states away or, for that matter, ten cities away, is Tuba City, I guess I do not understand the relevance of school of origin for that child.
Mr. Varner. Okay. In those instances, the child who arrives here today, is he in a shelter? Is he in a place? Is there somewhere that he is living? Is he living under a bridge, you know? Where is that child living?
If it is in a shelter near the Pappas School, this may be an appropriate choice. If he is near another shelter and living in that, it may be an appropriate choice.
The thing is to enroll the child in school and then work with him through whatever your social service agencies and other agencies are to make sure that the situation stabilizes itself.
But, the option of choice at that point becomes where the kid is located, and it is a case-by-case basis.
Mr. Shadegg. And they should not have the choice of a school close to that bridge or a school like Thomas Pappas.
Mr. Varner. Well, in Maryland, I can always go back there. It is where that kid then goes and attempts to approach a social service system because if that family is not working, that family does not have any means, what do they do? What is here in Arizona to cover their family? What does the social service system work towards in terms of that family?
Mr. Shadegg. Thank you very much.
Mr. Scott. Can I make one point?
Chairman Salmon. Please do.
Mr. Scott. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the fact that Mr. Shadegg is trying to focus us on a question. One of the questions we have is just the appropriateness of using housing status as a demarcation or criteria for getting in or not.
The question of bilingual education was brought up, and that is a functional situation. That is an educational policy, and you can argue what is the best, but that is a function of the need for that kind of education.
You do not stick people in the program because they are Hispanic. It is because they need the language, and someone in need of social services, in need of medicine, in need of transportation, those needs ought to be addressed. And if you are going to have a special needs school addressing the needs, that would be one thing, but the question of whether or not housing status in and of itself ought to be a discriminatory factor is one of the things that we ought to consider.
And if Pappas is going to be a special needs school, then those with the special needs ought to benefit.
It is also the question of whether it is, in fact, voluntary and some of the services are provided here and not provided other places.
Dr. Stark. I wonder if at this moment, just to go back for a second because I was not able to answer a question that Congressman Scott asked me, which was about students who are graduating from integrated schools. I wanted to mention to you the statistic that of the 164 students who were involved in the integrated system in Tucson who were homeless, 137, or 84 percent, went on to attend colleges and universities after they graduated.
Dr. Stark. I believe that is kind of higher than most schools, and I think it shows that the people who are part of that system, the integrated system, have worked very, very hard with these children.
Chairman Salmon. Thank you.
We are going to wrap up this committee hearing. I thank the second panel for all of your comments and answers to the questions.
I might also say that many semantics have been thrown around today. It is a good thing we have had a couple of linguists here to help us to understand the nature of those semantics.
But, I might add Representative Scott just made the point that if it is a special needs school, that that would be appropriate. From what I have heard today in the testimony from the Pappas people, this is a special needs school. That is exactly what we are talking about.
They have unique needs that are being met here, and you know, it is interesting. I have heard some that have tried to craft this debate as one of the specialty schools like Pappas versus the integrated schools, but Congressman Shadegg hit the nail on the head. We do not want to take anything away from either. The fact is when parents are desperate out there; they want options, and if it works, let us keep on doing it. Let's give them those options.
We do not want to take anything away, and the statistics that have been given as far as the Flagstaff Unified and Tucson, they are wonderful. That is great. We hope that you keep succeeding and thriving, and that the government both at the federal and local level continues to assist you to do so. That is an important value.
But, you know, this whole debate reminds me, and forgive me, of a Biblical story of how two mothers or two women went to Solomon with a baby, and they both claimed that the baby was theirs, and he did not know what to do, and so he finally said, ``We will cut the baby in half.'' And obviously the mother that loved the baby came forward and said, ``No, do not do that.''
Well, it seems like some want to give us that option. Let's cut the baby in half. I have a news flash for you. You cut the baby in half and the baby will die.
We have to give parents more options in today's society and not less options. Let's work to bolster all existing options. Let's work to strengthen them because it is not statistics that are on the line, it is human beings that are on the line.
It is not policies that are important. It is people that are important. Let's never lose sight of that fact, that this is about the quality education for all children in this country, and let's not damage their options. Let's give children every opportunity to succeed.
And let's not worry so much about turf. It does not mean that both ideas cannot succeed. You know, the Chinese have a saying. I lift you; you lift me. We both rise together. Let's get that philosophy into our heads, and let's all succeed. Let's make it win-win.
Thank you. Before I adjourn the hearing, I would like to request unanimous consent to keep the record open for two weeks for the purpose of receiving written testimony.
Without objection, so ordered.
And I would like to thank everyone that has participated today. The hearing is now adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 4:20 p.m., the subcommittee meeting was adjourned.]