"ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT FOR ALL"

HEARING

BEFORE THE

COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND

THE WORKFORCE

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED SIXTH CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION

 

HEARING HELD IN LEXINGTON, KY, APRIL 20, 2000

 

Serial No. 106-102

 

Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce


Committee on Education and the Workforce

Field hearing on "Academic Achievement for All"

Lafayette High School

Lexington, Kentucky

April 20, 2000

 

STATEMENT OF MR. JOSEPH T. CLARK, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF PROGRAM RESOURCES, KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY *

STATEMENT OF MR. RICHARD DAY, PRINCIPAL, CASSIDY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY *

STATEMENT OF MS. BARBARA MCGRAW, PARENT, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY *

STATEMENT OF MS. PATRICE JONES, COMMUNITY EDUCATION COORDINATOR, JESSAMINE COUNTY SCHOOLS, NICHOLASVILLE, KENTUCKY *

STATEMENT OF MR. RONALD (SONNY) FENTRESS, SUPERINTENDENT, ANDERSON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, LAWRENCEBURG, KENTUCKY *

STATEMENT OF MS. BRENDA D. BUNTING, PARENT, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY *

STATEMENT OF MS. VIRGINIA FOX, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, KENTUCKY EDUCATIONAL TELEVISION, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY *

STATEMENT OF MICHAEL OSBORNE, STUDENT, LAFAYETTE HIGH SCHOOL *

ATTACHMENT A -- THE OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE WILLIAM F. GOODLING, A REPRESENTATIVE IN CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF PENNSYLVANIA *

ATTACHMENT B -- THE WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF MR. JOSEPH T. CLARK, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF PROGRAM RESOURCES, KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY *

ATTACHEMENT C -- THE WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF MR. RICHARD DAY, PRINCIPAL, CASSIDY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY *

ATTACHMENT D -- THE WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF MS. BARBARA MCGRAW, PARENT, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY *

ATTACHMENT E --THE WRITTEN TESTIMONY OF MS. PATRICE JONES, COMMUNITY EDUCATION COORDINATOR, JESSAMINE COUNTY SCHOOLS, NICHOLASVILLE, KENTUCKY *

Committee on Education and the Workforce

Field hearing on "Academic Achievement for All"

Lafayette High School

Lexington, Kentucky

April 20, 2000

 

The Committee met, pursuant to call, at 9:40 a.m., in the Auditorium, Lafayette High School, Lexington, Kentucky, Hon. William Goodling [Chairman of the Committee] presiding.

Present: Chairman Goodling, Representatives Petri and Fletcher.

Staff Present: Kevin Talley, Chief of Staff; Kent Talbert, Professional Staff Member and Alex Nock, Minority Legislative Associate.

Chairman Goodling. Good morning. I am Congressman Bill Goodling, Chairman of the Education and the Workforce Committee in the House of Representatives. I am very happy to be here in this part of the country for many reasons. First of all, I am very pleased to be here with Congressman Fletcher, a breath of fresh air on our Education and Workforce Committee. He does not rubber stamp what has not worked in the last 40 years and he does not buy into fads if he does not believe they can work. So he is a valuable member of our committee. I am also happy to be here because I happen to raise thoroughbred horses at home not of the quality and the quantity that you have surrounding Lexington. I have not had the money to go to Deputy Minister, even though he stands at my very good friend's Brookdale Farm in Versailles, Fred and Peppy Sites. So I am very happy to be here this morning.

We are particularly interested in hearing what you have to say, what we can do to help you on the front lines. I at one time was there with many of you as a principal, a guidance counselor, a superintendent of schools and a school board president and you name it. So I know what you go through to try to provide quality education for all the students.

I particularly want to thank the seniors. I know they are all here because they volunteered to be here, they said they would not miss it if they possibly could. They all told me that. I am very happy to have them with us today.

We also have a few staffers from Washington here with us today. Our Chief of Staff Kevin Talley is behind me. Kent Talbert and Alex Nock. Alex is going to advise Mr. Petri, who will be arriving shortly I am sure, since Congressman Scott from the minority side of the committee chose to go to California instead of Kentucky and I cannot imagine anybody doing that, but he decided to do that. So Alex will now assist our side during this hearing. I will have to be careful on how he advises Mr. Petri.

I want to also thank Mr. Michael McKenzie, Principal of Lafayette High School; Ms. Stephanie McDermott, Vice Principal; Mrs. Margie Wilson, Vice Principal; the staff of the high school; and of course Congressman Fletcher and his staff, Phillip Brown and Lorrie Cash; and all the others who have been instrumental in making this hearing possible.

Over the past years, our committee's responsibility to review all of the federal programs authorized under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, and to make changes in the law as appropriate has been foremost on our mind. In that process, we have been asking several important questions, such as:

Are federal education programs emphasizing quantity over quality?

Is there too much of a one-size-fits-all mentality in federal education programs?

Are we giving states and local school districts adequate flexibility in how they use federal education fund?

Today, we particularly want to focus on the third question -- are states and school districts given adequate flexibility in how they use federal education funds?

I am pleased that our committee has begun to move away from a top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to education and towards an approach that emphasizes more local control and flexibility. In each of our education bills, we have sought to incorporate several key principles: local control and flexibility, quality, increased accountability, more dollars to the classroom and parental involvement and responsibility.

In 1999, we enacted the Education Flexibility Partnership Act, known as Ed-Flex. It gives states, school districts and schools more freedom to tailor federal education programs to meet their needs.

Our committee and Congress followed up with the Teacher Empowerment Act, which emphasizes the single most important factor in improving education -- a quality teaching force. The bill consolidated the Eisenhower professional development program with similar programs to give maximum flexibility at the local level in improving teacher quality.

I might also add in the higher education bill that we passed two years ago, I guess, we really went after the institutions of higher education, indicating that they have a real responsibility to make sure that we have quality teachers who are ready to go to work in the 21st century, since that is the century we now find ourselves in.

We then passed the Student Results Act that was our bill to extend Title I and other programs targeted at the educationally disadvantaged. This legislation provides for greater academic accountability in Title I, provides public school choice to students in low performing schools, and provides greater flexibility in the operation of several other K through 12 programs.

Next, the House passed the Academic Achievement for All or Straight A's bill that gives up to 10 states and localities unprecedented flexibility in how they use K through 12 funds. The flexibility given is in exchange for strict accountability for improving academic achievement for all students. States that choose to participate in the pilot program would sign a five-year performance agreement with the Department of Education.

Our last ESEA bill that we just reported from the committee last week is called the Education OPTIONS Act. It gives states and school districts substantial new authority to transfer federal education funds from one program to another to best meet the needs of the locality.

Though these are the things we have been doing to change federal law, I am well aware that many states and local communities have already heeded the call for change. I tell them all the time we are so far behind in Washington, that when you look at local areas and states, they are moving rapidly ahead. In this regard, there is much the federal government can learn from states such as Kentucky.

Kentucky certainly has been at the forefront of education reform and improved student achievement. With the work of members like Representatives Fletcher and Anne Northrup, we hope to learn by example. Just a few years ago, you made comprehensive top to bottom changes in your education code and have made many other positive adjustments. It is important that Washington not get in the way of such changes and we will certainly do all we can to make sure Washington complements what you are doing, not obstructs.

Today, we are fortunate to be able to hear from several witnesses on the issue of state and local flexibility. We will hear from a superintendent, two elementary school principals, a local PBS affiliate, a community education coordinator, one of the directors in the state department of education and two parents. I want to thank each of you for being here today. Your testimony is very valuable as we continue to learn more about how federal education programs operate at the state and local levels.

My interest in horses, incidentally, the inflammation in the tendons apparently came from cleaning stables over the weekend. So I now have this nonsense on my hand.

Again, I want to thank Congressman Fletcher for his hard work in putting together this hearing. It has been a pleasure to have your counsel and advice as a member of the committee. I look forward to working with you in the days ahead.

In just a few minutes, we will proceed with the introduction of the witnesses, but before we do that, I want to yield to our host, Congressman Fletcher.

Mr. Fletcher. Chairman Goodling, we are certainly honored and privileged to have you here and we appreciate you bringing the full education committee to Kentucky. I believe education is one of our greatest responsibilities.

I also want to recognize a couple of people, Kevin Atkins, representing Senator McConnell and Bill Lambdon, representing Senator Bunning, we are glad to have you here this morning. I also want to thank Mike McKenzie also for opening up the school. It is good for me to be back to my alma mater. I think back to the years when I was on this stage playing the saxophone. But it is good to be back here.

Chairman Goodling. We will not ask you to repeat that.

[Laughter]

Mr. Fletcher. That is too bad, I brought it.

Ms. Stephanie McDermott, thank you; and certainly there are several other people that have helped, like Margie Wilson, that have put a lot of effort into this. Our staff and, the Chairman, I think you have recognized them. I want to just recognize too the teachers, thank you. I also want to acknowledge the seniors. I know on such a beautiful day and I hope it does not cloud up too much here. I know you have a lot on your minds and I thank you for being here with us today. Ms. Connie Tucker, an art teacher, thank you for your work with our Congressional Arts Contest; Ms. Genelle Salley, Ms. Mary Ware, Ms. Jan Myatt, Mr. Jim Gentry, Chris Webb, Roxanne Fuchs, Judy Day, Linda Whitley, Pat Arnold, Jason Darnell, Mark Montgomery, Janet Graham, Ken Northington and Shannon Kersey; thank you all for your work with the students and thank you certainly for being here today.

Again, it is a great privilege to be here today. Let me say that I know all of you that have come here today and the witnesses, when we introduce you, have concerns about education and what we can do to make it the better. It has been an honor for me to serve you, and other Members of Congress who actually make up government, which plays really an increasing role in education. I think as we look at what we have done over the last few years, we have recognized some very important principles and those principles come from the fact that one-size-fits-all does not work necessarily; we realize that the problems and concerns that may be right here in Lexington or in Powell County, Kentucky or in inner-city Philadelphia or in Los Angeles are different, that students and parents and teachers and administrators have different concerns in different areas; and that I believe we have a wonderful resource and just outstanding talent in our communities. Some of you are here today and we want to hear from you.

I think as we move into this next millennium and offer students really the greatest future and the best potential for achieving all that they want and reaching their hopes and dreams, it is important that we give back local control and flexibility, that when the resources come back, they get right to where the rubber meets the road, they allow the local communities to really make the changes that are needed to ensure that they address the very personal needs of every particular student.

We have had policies in the past that have sent down a large number of mandates to the states and localities, some of them have worked, some of them have not worked. But when we test students over the years, particularly when we were addressing those low-income students, what we found was there was not substantial improvement. Many times the scores were lower, sometimes they were insignificantly higher. But overall, there really was no improvement. What we have seen when we began to give some states more flexibility, local control and allow them to use the talent that they have there locally, we see improvements.

For example, Texas, whose minority and low-income students actually perform higher than the average in the state. That is because of the flexibility and giving the resources back and allowing them to design and tailor a system that fits specifically their needs in that area.

So as we are trying to pass legislation that works, we wanted to come here, and I am particularly honored to be in my alma mater because certainly I know how much our education forms your life. I never thought I would be on this stage again, when I graduated, I was sitting out there, as many of you seniors are, being a participant in a hearing from the Congressional Committee on Education, especially in my own school. Many of you do not know what the future holds, but each of you know that your experiences here in the public schools have had a tremendous impact on you and will have a tremendous impact on your future.

So it is a great honor to be here today, and Mr. Chairman, again, thank you for this very great privilege.

Chairman Goodling. Congressman Petri from Wisconsin has arrived and I would recognize Congressman Petri at this time.

Mr. Petri. Well, I would just like to thank Representative Fletcher for inviting me to come to Lexington to participate in this panel. I am looking forward very much to hearing from the people assembled at this hearing and I think we have a lot to learn from the changes and the challenges that Kentucky has faced in the K through 12 education area.

So thank you very much, Ernie, for inviting me.

Mr. Fletcher. Thank you, Congressman Petri.

Chairman Goodling. I would now recognize Congressman Fletcher to introduce the panel.

Mr. Fletcher. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

I will first introduce Mr. Joseph T. Clark. Mr. Clark is the Director of the Division of Program Resources for the Kentucky Department of Education in Frankfort. This division administers Kentucky's federal programs funded through the Improving America's Schools Act.

Prior to joining the Kentucky Department of Education, Mr. Clark served as language arts coordinator for Fayette County Public Schools; as President of the Kentucky Council of the International Reading Association; and as a board member of the Kentucky Council of Teachers of English and the Kentucky Association of Educational Supervisors. Last, but certainly not least, Mr. Clark has been a teacher in both Kentucky and Florida schools.

I would like to also introduce Mr. Richard E. Day. Mr. Day is the Principal of the Cassidy Elementary School in Lexington, where he has served for 12 years. Mr. Day's extensive experience in education includes serving as the principal for several other elementary schools in Kentucky, and as an instructor for the College of Mt. Joseph in Cincinnati, Ohio, and as a teacher in Edgewood, Kentucky.

Mr. Day's other accomplishments include serving as a member of the State Advisory Council for Adult Education and Literacy; the State Board for Adult and Technical Education and as a Commissioner for the Governor's Commission on Literacy.

I would also like to welcome Ms. Barbara McGraw. Ms. McGraw is here today as a concerned and involved parent -- the most important role of anyone here. We welcome you and certainly look forward to your testimony of what we can do to help improve the education of your child.

Ms. Patrice Jones. Ms. Jones is a Community Education Coordinator for Jessamine County Schools in Nicholasville, Kentucky where she also serves as a program director for the Jessamine County 21st Century Community Learning Center Program. She is also the President-elect of the Kentucky Community Education Association.

Prior to becoming the Community Education Coordinator, Ms. Jones served as the Director for the Early Childhood Education Center that hosted before and after school programs serving students K through 8.

Mr. Ronald (Sonny) Fentress. Mr. Fentress is the Superintendent of the Anderson County School District in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky, where he has served for 15 years. His 36 years of experience in education also includes serving as an elementary and high school principal as well as a teacher and basketball coach. We welcome you and certainly want to hear your perspective in the local education administration and those things going on in Anderson County.

I would also like to introduce Ms. Brenda Bunting. Ms. Bunting is another one of our parents, and we are pleased to have you join us here today. She has two children attending schools in the Kentucky school system and again, we welcome you and look forward to your testimony and we know that your testimony will certainly enlighten us as to what we can do specifically for your two children and for their future. Thank you.

We also have one other witness and we will introduce her as she arrives.

Thank you.

Chairman Goodling. Our first witness is Mr. Joseph T. Clark. Mr. Clark, if you will pull that microphone close to you and summarize your testimony. Just give us what you would like us to know; and if all of you will do that, that will allow time for us to ask questions or make comments. Mr. Clark.

 

STATEMENT OF MR. JOSEPH T. CLARK, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF PROGRAM RESOURCES, KENTUCKY DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, FRANKFORT, KENTUCKY

Mr. Clark. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. I appreciate the opportunity to bring testimony before you today.

As you heard in my introduction, I am Director of Program Resources in the Kentucky Department of Education and in that position handle most of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act programs that come to Kentucky as well as Goals 2000, Class Size Reduction, Homeless Education and Emergency Immigrant Aid. I say that to explain that I am familiar with many of the existing federal programs, both the positives and the negatives, in relation to administering programs.

You also indicated and I know are very familiar with the fact that Kentucky has been engaged in major educational reform for a decade now. As a matter of fact, we celebrated our 10-year anniversary of the Kentucky Education Reform Act just last week.

We have seen through that period of time many things, many very good things beginning to happen in Kentucky schools. We, however, as Kentuckians and as people who are very involved in education reform, can testify definitely to the fact that improving schools and improving student achievement in those schools cannot be done quickly or cheaply. Because of that, federal funds are very critical to the support and, as you said, to the complementing of what we are doing with state and local funds. I think it is very important, the work that you are talking about, as far as flexibility in that area.

We have found, through a process we pioneered in Kentucky and begun implementing with all of our districts and with our schools that there is existing flexibility in many programs. It has to be sought out, it has to be maneuvered and manipulated, but by using that, we have made great progress. We pioneered what we call a consolidated plan being used by schools and districts in the state. It serves as a means of both identifying and addressing student needs and as an application for state and federal funds. They are handled still as separate funds with separate requirements and responsibilities for reporting, but this consolidated plan does give the school and the district an opportunity to see what needs exist and what resources are coming to that level, district or school, that can assist them in addressing those.

We accomplished what we have done so far through the flexibility that exists in the programs, but realize that it could be much more effective if the state and district did not have to track and report on each program separately, which is our current policy and requirement.

The consolidated plan has as its ultimate goal improved student achievement levels for all students. Many of the individual programs, however, require collection of data about participation, utilization and implementation, ignoring the fact of whether or not students are performing at a higher level as a result of the use of those programs and those funds. The kind of information they ask for does help in understanding what the program is doing, but it does not really help understand or show that student performance has changed as a result.

Flexibility that would allow states and districts to report on the demonstrated improvements in student achievement would align well with Kentucky's assessment and accountability process. In essence, a consolidated reporting format, much like we've got a consolidated planning format.

In order for a state to be able to do that, however, it is very important that the state has a strong assessment and accountability process in place. Kentucky is fortunate in that regard, that with the advent of education reform in this state, such a system was put in place. It has gone through modifications, but it still serves effectively to do and to enable us to report the kinds of things that are necessary.

The current Title I legislation actually mandates such a process for those states which receive Title I funds, and has established this year, 2000, as the deadline for all states to have made substantial progress toward meeting that mandate.

I am pleased to tell you that Kentucky was the first state to submit its assessment or final assessment for Title I purposes to the U.S. Department of Education for review, in February, along with I believe three other states, to have that determination made of whether or not we meet all of those requirements. Unfortunately, we are still awaiting word on that. We have, through the grapevine, very positive response and feel that we certainly qualify as having made substantial progress, if actually there may be a few areas that we need to make some fine-tuning on.

We are also interested in the results of that review because that will be significant in our application for the current Ed-Flex capability or authority that is available to all states now. We are very interested in pursuing that authority and the Title I assessment piece is a critical part of being able to qualify for that authority, and we will proceed with that as soon as we have the outcome of the review.

I think it is important to understand too that in Kentucky, the assessment system that is established and the accountability system that results from that is for all schools and all students. It is not something designed specifically for students served with federal funds or for a particular population within the population of the state, but actually for all students. Consequently, what we do with federal funds is very complementary as far as the overall goal of education in the state.

The fact that we do have a strong accountability system falling out of our assessment system does provide the incentive for each school and district to continually monitor its progress and assess the performance of students. This emphasis also recognizes the need to coordinate all the resources coming to the school or district so that greater benefits can be derived from them.

The underlying purpose of the consolidated plan is to let the school and district see the total picture of both need and available resources. Additionally, they can see whether there is a common need among all schools that can be addressed by the district as a general initiative or whether it is specific to a single site. If the need is common among many schools and many districts, the state itself has that data available and can provide that kind of assistance. Even though the mechanism identifies the need, the schools and district still need support in addressing the need. That kind of support comes through intermediate and state systems. It is especially true in states such as Kentucky where school districts are relatively small and do not necessarily have the staff to provide all of the kinds of assistance that is necessary to improve student achievement.

Intermediate agencies such as Kentucky's regional service centers and the state education agency itself can provide support services such as the training of staff, linkages to networks of information, technical assistance and external audits and monitoring that are all necessary in order to enable a school or a school district to make the changes necessary to improve student achievement.

This kind of state support is possible, not only because of a strong funding for education in the state, but because federal programs themselves permit small set-asides that can be used to manage the program and provide the support services needed by the schools and districts. This is a more cost-effective process in many instances than having each of the recipients of funds try to provide all of those services out of the funds that they do receive. These would be costs related to training, coaching, monitoring, the kinds of things we are doing now with what we call staff development or professional development, which is frequently embedded in the school program as opposed to being, as someone mentioned in a conference just the other day, a drive-by sort of staff development that's not necessarily effective in that regard at all.

A program that we recently implemented that I think is a good example of some of the changes that are underway, both from the federal level as well as our implementation at the state and local level, is the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Program, which actually directs low performing schools to adopt research-based models. A number of models were put forth as exemplary. In our process of providing funds to those low performing schools, we allowed them to choose any model that met the components of the law, whether they were in that particular catalog or not, actually all wound up choosing from nationally recognized models, and we are seeing early in the implementation stages in these 42 schools some very, very positive things happening. They are happening, however, not because of that program by itself, but because that program is being coordinated with other things already in place in Kentucky, including the federal Title I program, our Goals 2000 program, Kentucky's Regional Service Centers, Kentucky's Program of Highly Skilled Educators and Kentucky's funding for commonwealth school improvement. Those kinds of things working together with the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration funds that the schools receive definitely are making some very, very positive strides as far as improving performance in what had previously been identified as low-performing schools. And that information is generated again from our state assessment program.

That kind of coordinated effort and mutual support from programs is the sort of flexibility that I am talking about that we currently are able to marshal from the programs that we have in the state.

The flexibility that can assist the schools and districts and state education agencies is the flexibility that will continue to allow program funds to be used together to improve student achievement, continue to provide the support services that schools and districts need and use improved student achievement as a means of determining compliance with the requirements of the program.

Kentucky and other states have been able to establish systems that capitalize on the flexibility already available in many federal programs. Greater flexibility can certainly be of assistance to the schools, districts and states, but should not be provided at the expense of support services that are critical to the improvement of student achievement. In essence, simply flowing more money to schools and districts may not achieve the desired results if that kind of support that they need to make those changes is not available to them.

Kentucky can provide many examples of coordinated efforts that are designed to improve student achievement and that are beginning to show these results. I mentioned at the beginning of my comments that it has not come quickly. We are talking about 10 years into a process and we are now seeing results.

We also recognize the many levels of support the schools and districts need and attempt to provide them through state initiatives and regional service centers that can be more attuned to regional and local needs, based on an analysis of information that is contained in their consolidated plans.

In essence, all of the kinds of things that are provided through many of the federal programs provide services to school districts. The flexibility to utilize those intended services and intended populations to be served are the kinds of things that will assist us and assist the schools and districts in achieving the kind of improved performance on the part of students that we are really looking for, both in Kentucky and in other states.

I thank you for the opportunity of presenting this information.

Chairman Goodling. Thank you, Mr. Clark.

When I begin fidgeting with the gavel, it means that you are supposed to slow down, knowing that you are all politically astute, when you answer questions you will say whatever it is you wanted to say that you did not get said during your testimony.

Mr. Day.

See Appendix B for the Written Testimony of Mr. Joseph T. Clark

 

STATEMENT OF MR. RICHARD DAY, PRINCIPAL, CASSIDY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY

Mr. Day. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, members of the committee.

Thank you for this opportunity to present my views. I am particularly thankful to Congressman Fletcher for his efforts in arranging field hearings right here in Kentucky, which I believe it is fair to say, has been a hot bed of educational reform for at least the past decade.

When Congressman Fletcher's office called and invited me to appear this morning, I was told the committee was interested in a local school principal's opinion about the transferability of federal funding. Most of what I know about this issue I learned from this committee. Your web site allowed me to review testimony as well as the chairman's comments over the past two years. But I also sought dissenting opinions, and had no trouble finding them among some of our more prominent professional groups.

What I have read is tempered by a couple of decades of practical experience and a strong belief that the decisions we make now regarding the education of our children will have an impact that goes far beyond today's classrooms, and extends into the middle of the new century.

I am here this morning to share my opinion about transferability, and I like the idea, but with some important reservations.

In Kentucky, with our laws promoting local school-based decision-making councils, we are working more closely with parents than ever before. Parents and other community members have a stake in our schools and they have proven to be effective partners for change. It would be good for all of us to keep in mind that these schools belong to the communities they serve.

Our school councils are becoming increasingly comfortable with the idea of evaluating our resources and planning for our schools. We create positions, we cut positions, we develop programs for children. It is helpful to us if we know our resources in advance, and that should include our federal resources as well. When schools are able to transfer dollars between programs, they can have an even greater flexibility to create positive change.

Frequently, we find ourselves a few thousand dollars away from being able to afford a new character education program, purchase additional reading materials or extend summer school hours.

While H.R. 4141 endeavors to increase flexibility at the local level, H.R. 2300 makes it possible for one individual, one governor, to take those funds away. The Congress, in my opinion, should act to ensure that funding reaches the schools, by title, without being siphoned off at the state level. Since our purpose is to educate children, not to maintain bureaucracies or further individual political goals, why not pass federal title funds largely intact to the schools, where school councils would be accountable for budgeting?

Let me mention one related issue, that of portability of Title I funds. When NEA president Bob Chase addressed you last June, he said that efforts to make Title I benefits portable ``represent an attempt to defuse and dilute the effectiveness of Title I.'' Mr. chairman, you have already commented on Title I's cost and questionable effectiveness over the years. I would like to discuss the issue from a slightly different point of view.

When I began my career as an elementary school administrator some 22 years ago, the rules were very different. In those days, if 70 percent of our children scored above the norm on nationally standardized tests, we were considered to be a great success.

But that has not been the standard of excellence for some time now. All children, including all demographic subgroups of children, must be taught to achieve at high levels. While gaps in achievement may exist for many social reasons, it is the public school that is charged with the responsibility of addressing this achievement gap. Every day I see dedicated professionals attempting to do just this. I also talk to a lot of parents who are seeking assistance for their own children. I would like to think that there would be no more excuses for why resources should not be allocated so as to guarantee that every public school child in need receives his or her fair share of the benefit from federal funding.

Let me illustrate with an example. We have the Bluegrass/Aspendale housing project here in town. Children from this area are sent to a few different schools. Our goals for all of these children are the same, to perform up to our state's rigorous academic standards. But students in one home attend a school where Title I programs abound, while students in a home 50 yards away attend our school and receive no such assistance. Instead, we are frequently asked what we are going to do about the achievement gap, with no additional resources. These students represent a full 27 percent of our population. I am not interested in defusing Title I's effectiveness, but my students are as needy and as deserving as any others. They need your help too.

In a larger sense, our whole nation depends on you, our federal legislators, to express our highest aspirations as a country, as stated through our laws. Throughout our history, even when individuals have failed, it has been our laws that have expressed America's best intentions. When men stood to block the schoolhouse door, it was the law that ensured that we opened the door of opportunity to all people. Our most prized and most conservative values have not changed, we strive to fulfill the promises of liberty and justice for all.

All. That used to mean all white male landowners. But over the years we have come to understand that all means all -- all men, all women, all Americans. This is what we teach our children.

When our lawmakers debate issues involving how we educate our children, we are truly debating our country's future. What kinds of places will these 21st century schools be?

No matter what other kinds of educational opportunities may come to exist in the future, our public schools, the ones we trust you to nurture, must be places that promote the common good. Our public funds should be used to build the best schools we can build, schools that make us proud, schools that do not discriminate based on economics, race or religion, schools where everyone is welcome to an excellent education.

In my opinion, if there is any possibility that under the provisions of H.R. 2300 some governor out there might collect all of the federal dollars for education and roll them into a program for school vouchers, then this new flexibility should not be attempted regardless of how appealing the idea might otherwise be. On the other hand, if transferability really means that federal resources will arrive at the school with less red tape and more flexibility, then bring it on.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to share some thoughts with you this morning. I certainly hope the members will enjoy their time in the Bluegrass.

Chairman Goodling. Thank you. Ms. McGraw.

See Appendix C for the Written Testimony of Mr. Richard Day

 

STATEMENT OF MS. BARBARA MCGRAW, PARENT, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY

Ms. McGraw. Good morning. I would like to thank you for allowing me the opportunity to give my views on the general status of elementary and secondary education around Kentucky and the nation.

As a single mother of two; Ashley McGraw, a graduate of Tates Creek High School, currently studying in Strasbourg, France, and Leah McGraw, a seventh grader at Crawford Middle School, I have seen through serving as a PTSA President at Northern Elementary the importance of parental involvement and how it plays a vital role in the education of our children. I also feel that being a single parent makes it difficult to devote as much time as you would like, and the lack of involvement often affects our children and the attention or lack of attention that they receive from teachers within the classrooms. Oftentimes a parent's absence is viewed as a parent that has little or no concern of their children's education. I have come to let you know that is not true. It is not so much the absence of the parent as it is the lack thereof of programs that allow parents to participate.

Programs and volunteer activities need to be offered to parents who stay at home, parents with flexible work schedules and those without flexible work schedules. Whether it is a parent, a grandparent, an auntie, an uncle, a sister or brother, they want to give of their time and show their interest. Therefore, they should be given the opportunity. I believe that personalized attention from committed parents and teachers boosts a child's confidence and helps them to realize success sooner. I feel in some ways we are all failing at providing all students with fair academic achievement opportunities. I have found that involving myself I have sent a message to my child as well as my child's teacher that I care about the type of curriculum being offered by the school and whether or not it addresses and eliminates issues pertaining to my child.

The purpose of the education system is to transform all youth into literate citizens; a responsibility we cannot solely place on our administrators, but that we as parents have to also place on ourselves. If we do not become more involved with their daily routines, we are cheating our children out of a more productive supervised education. By offering more assistance to the teachers, we are freeing up more time for them to spend with our children. This will also allow teachers to identify skill gaps, determining the exact learning experiences our children need.

I also feel that funding received from the national level should be re-evaluated and distributed on a state level. This will allow each state to focus specifically on the programs for which funding is needed and to better distribute through the school system.

I have found that by making myself more visible in the school system have offered my children more opportunities that may not have been afforded to them if I had not been involved. I know because of first-hand experience, I have one studying abroad and the other who has already set her own goals, whom I believe will achieve them as long as I remain an active, involved and caring parent.

The old saying states what goes around comes around and what you give is what you receive. Therefore, we need to give your children more positive reinforcement. After a time, students will begin to see that learning has its own reward for which they will benefit in school and far beyond.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Chairman Goodling. Thank you. Ms. Jones.

See Appendix D for the Written Testimony of Ms. Barbara McGraw

 

STATEMENT OF MS. PATRICE JONES, COMMUNITY EDUCATION COORDINATOR, JESSAMINE COUNTY SCHOOLS, NICHOLASVILLE, KENTUCKY

Ms. Jones. Thank you for this opportunity to appear today. I am here to present testimony specifically pertaining to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.

I serve as the Community Education Coordinator for the Jessamine County, Kentucky School District and also as the Project Director for the district's 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. This dual role is a happy marriage and is indicative of the very nature of the 21st Century program, which was originally designed to assist public schools in partnership with community agencies to serve the educational needs of the entire community. By the same token, community education is a process that provides leadership to initiate learning opportunities for persons of all ages and needs, to expand the use of public school facilities and to initiate community-wide collaboration.

It has been my experience that the distribution of 21st Century funds from the federal level directly to the local districts allows for the flexibility to address community needs while ensuring that the funds are received by those most in need. Block grant federal funds for state distribution would serve to add another layer of bureaucracy to this process. Funds coming from the federal level directly to the district does not hamper local flexibility. Rather, this method enhances local opportunity by eliminating partisanship and bias at the state level. Equitable distribution is a concern, particularly for smaller, more rural districts. Monies coming directly from the federal government go to fund programs without losing a substantial portion to state administration. I am concerned that the program goals and legislative intent will be lost or distorted if the 21st Century program is combined with another program or handed to the states. Although there are other programs which address some components of the 21st Century legislation, there are none of which I am aware that have such a broad focus and include student achievement as well as strive to meet the needs of the entire community in such a comprehensive manner.

An additional concern is the removal of the legislative requirement to carry out expanded activities in conjunction with after-school programs. Included in the 21st Century legislation is a list of 13 activities that can be funded by and provided for in a 21st Century program. Applicants are required to carry out four of these 13. These activities, which include senior citizen programs, literacy programs, technology for all ages, expanded library hours and parenting skills training are vital to the success of the 21st Century programs. They provide important linkages with the community, maximizing the utilization of local resources and avoiding duplication of services. Local control and flexibility are built into the 21st Century program through the inclusion of these required components, as they allow each community to expand or add services as needed. The removal of this mandate making these activities allowable but not required would stray from the original intent of the legislation, which is to open school buildings for the entire community.

This brings us to the issue of efficient utilization of resources and facilities through the 21st Century program. Consider this a new public school building costs anywhere from six to ten million dollars. Out of almost 8800 hours in a calendar year, regular school day students utilize that facility for around 1200 hours. I ask you this if the building is not utilized during the remaining 7000-plus hours, is that a good return on the taxpayers' investment?

We want to move our schools from self-contained institutions to well-utilized community centers and resources for the entire community. We want the involvement of parents and community members in decision-making and the educational system. We want to maximize community resources through collaboration with business, community agencies and community groups. We want broad opportunities for enrichment and recreation after school. We want to not only be concerned with the academic needs of students, but also to address their social and emotional needs. To summarize, we want the schools to bring the community together to build a stronger, safer community. These things can all happen through a process of engaging community members and residents in the assessment of community needs, and designing programs that build partnerships to utilize local resources to meet those needs. That is what the 21st Century program is all about and it is working.

Thank you.

Chairman Goodling. Thank you. Mr. Fentress.

See Appendix E for the Written Testimony of Ms. Patrice Jones

 

STATEMENT OF MR. RONALD (SONNY) FENTRESS, SUPERINTENDENT, ANDERSON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT, LAWRENCEBURG, KENTUCKY

Mr. Fentress. Mr. Chair and committee members, thank you for this opportunity.

Academic Achievement for All is an excellent title for this hearing. The philosophy of our school system, the Anderson County School System is built around a belief that all students can learn, and we have high expectations. Our mission statement is:

The mission of the Anderson County Public Schools is to prepare each student to be an independent, productive citizen who is decisive and motivated to reach his/her highest potential in all areas of life by providing a safe, comfortable learning environment, appropriate educational resources, and a qualified, caring staff.

In our school system, we have about 3300 kids in kindergarten through 12th grade. We are a bedroom community to Lexington, Louisville, Georgetown and Frankfort.

We only have about 17.6 percent of our students on free lunch. Most federal programs that are based on income, we do not qualify for as much money as many other school districts. We do qualify for $768,830 in non-competitive federal funds, and I would like to emphasize that that could be duplicated through school systems all over America. So there is numerous dollars going into schools from federal funds, and we are very appreciative of that fact and it is very helpful. These funds do help educate our children. So we want to say thank you for what you are doing, along with some comments about improvements.

I have listed here, just for example, in our district some of the funding we receive, we have for Title I, Part A Basic $210,547 in that. We also receive Migrant Education funding, you have a record of that, I will not go through all the numbers, but we have Title II Eisenhower funds, Safe and Drug-Free School funds, Title VI Innovative Educational Strategies, Special Education, IDEA, Part B, IDEA Preschool -- lots of research on preschool that shows that that is a very good way to utilize expenditures. Then we have Carl D. Perkins Vocational funds and then last year we got our Class Size Reduction funds.

I would like to emphasize that local flexibility in education is very important. We feel that we should have more local input and flexibility in usage of those monies. For example, the Carl D. Perkins Vocational money is difficult to utilize. We need to have more flexibility at the local level to help our students. We feel that we know best what our studentís need. For example, we have most of our Title I funds in a reading program called Reading Recovery. This is a research-based program that has excellent results in teaching students to read. The most basic thing that we can do for our students is teach them to read.

Some federal funds have more flexibility than others do. For example, the Class Size Reduction and IDEA PreSchool and IDEA Basic are user friendly. I would like to encourage you to give us that kind of freedom for other programs.

The Kentucky Education Reform Act, established in 1990 because 66 school districts sued the state legislature, and I am glad to say that my school district was one of those 66, has just celebrated its 10th birthday. I believe it is a model for other states. A good example of its success, Fancy Farm, an elementary school in Graves County in western Kentucky, 40 percent of the students are eligible for free and reduced price meals, was the highest performing school of the elementary schools in reading in the state of Kentucky. The second highest was Anchorage, the richest district in the state of Kentucky with almost no students on free or reduced price lunch. The third place elementary school readers are Wrigley in Morgan County where there are more than 80 percent eligible for free or reduced price lunches.

In our own school system in Anderson County, our highest free lunch school, Western Elementary, was our highest performing school on state assessment. So I believe that this is evidence that flexibility is good and that local educators can be trusted to make good decisions for what is good for students.

Congressman Ernie Fletcher and his staff were instrumental in Anderson County Schools' successful E-rate grant of $1.4 million to upgrade our technology infrastructure in our six school buildings. Our students will benefit from this endeavor for many years. Just yesterday afternoon I went to our high school and they have a model 486, which is a lower performing computer, that is hooked to one of these high-powered file servers, and they were accessing the Internet at a faster rate than our newest Pentium computers because we were able to use these E-rate funds to hook those in and it serves as a hard drive in that file server rather than in the computer. So hundreds of 486s in our county, we were going to try to figure out a way to get rid of them, to discard them, and now maybe with this information and this technology, we can utilize them for several years to come. Just an example of really how things will tie together if everyone works together.

In closing, I would like to say that I have spent my entire life, since I was four years old, in public schools. My heart is in public schools and my children were educated in public schools.

Thank you for this opportunity.

Chairman Goodling. Ms. Bunting.

See Appendix F for the Written Testimony of Mr. Ronald (Sonny) Fentress

 

 

 

STATEMENT OF MS. BRENDA D. BUNTING, PARENT, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY

 

 

Ms. Bunting. To the members of the committee and all others, my name is Brenda Bunting, and my 14-year old daughter attends Crawford Middle School. My 16-year old son attends Henry Clay High School. For these reasons, I have been asked to give my views as a parent regarding the issues at today's hearing.

Educational reform and KERA in the state of Kentucky appear to be the bywords of political rhetoric that enfolds itself in an overwhelming battery of tests, assessments, and score comparisons that continue to confuse the simplistic goal of education. Teaching children how to make responsible decisions while dealing lawfully and successfully within society seems to be forgotten.

The rapid increase of juvenile delinquency, drug usage, teenage pregnancy and lack of parental involvement and control have turned even the most mild school environment into a war zone. Teachers and educators alike are ill prepared and, in some instances, unwilling to deal with these harsh realities. When old answers and solutions do not work, new ones must be given.

It is true that the United States needs to be able to compete with the global markets of the world. We definitely want to continue to advance into the 21st century as a leader, producer and example of innovation and technology. But the primary elements needed to achieve these goals are mature, educated, responsible adults.

Schools in Kentucky and across the country need to focus their energies in the environment where they have the power; that is in the classroom, the school itself. Help children, young and old, to see the significance of what they are learning, show how geometry is going to help them if they want to become a carpenter, show how English and proper grammar is going to aid them in a job interview, how good manners can take them where money will not. We have enough facts, enough tests, enough statistics, but where is the change? Just like some educators cannot see the big picture, neither can children. Most children do not even know why they go to school. Ask them, you would be surprised at the answer. A disjointed, chaotic picture of learning, discipline and activities is presented before the public at large and continues to remain an unsolved mystery with very few puzzle solvers.

Parental participation in school and school activities is probably about 25 percent participating and 75 percent non-participating. When I attended my son's open house at Henry Clay last year, I was sometimes one of maybe eight parents in the classroom, and in some instances, the only parent in the classroom. I was appalled and saddened by the apathetic response of the parental community, but not surprised. Many children are raising children with no guidance and support. Many parents are so caught up in their lifestyle, they do not consider the nurturing and time needed for children. With these unfortunate circumstances in mind, teachers and educators should consider parental participation as optional. Therefore, the school's various programs and activities should reflect this. The ideological vision of school, teachers and parents working together to form a well-rounded individual is a nice one, but in the real world very rare.

Federal education programs, in my mind, mostly means funding. I have very little to say in this particular area because I know many people in the educational arena are part time magicians. They know where they money went, but no one else does.

My children are constantly participating in school fundraisers for the school to buy supplies, computers, to go on trips or to participate in some sort of sport; yet educators, teachers, aides, substitutes, bus drivers and monitors do not get paid enough. A dollar-tracking program with earmarked money that specially trained dogs can detect where the money is going needs to be started. In other words, the unprincipled susceptibility of greedy individuals permeates the very fabric of American society to a ridiculous extent and the educational arena is no exception.

My comments are not intended to offend, but instead to offer the objective, rational voice of a very concerned parent. Thank you for giving me this opportunity and for your time.

See Appendix G for the Written Testimony of Ms. Brenda Bunting

 

Chairman Goodling. I thank you. I will turn to Congressman Fletcher to introduce our next participant.

Mr. Fletcher. Thank you. Yes, Ms. Virginia Fox. Ms. Fox is the Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer for the Kentucky Educational Television System in Lexington, Kentucky, where she previously served as Deputy Executive Director.

Her previous experience includes serving as the president of the Southern Educational Communications Association, where she also served as the founding director of the Satellite Educational Resources Consortium, a provider of distance learning channels.

Ms. Fox is the recipient of the Woman of the Year Award in Progressive Education and the 21st Century Award from America's Public Television Stations.

Let me say, as I work in Washington and talk to folks in public television, Ms. Ginny Fox has an outstanding reputation of being one of the leaders of interfacing public television with education in the schools.

So we welcome you here today.

 

STATEMENT OF MS. VIRGINIA FOX, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, KENTUCKY EDUCATIONAL TELEVISION, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY

Ms. Fox. Thank you so much, Congressman Fletcher, and thank you, Chairman Goodling, for organizing this hearing and for inviting me to participate with you today.

I will tell you, and I have the forms that I will give you afterwards, about my perspective on this thing is that I have participated as an operating officer in four multiple state consortia that received Star Schools funding and have first-hand knowledge of the local service and flexibility afforded to schools by the creation and provision of high quality, on line video and print materials that are based on national and state standards, but which can be adapted, customized and put on that file server and made available on demand to teachers.

For 32 years, KET has been an agency of state government charged with technology planning, implementation and program services.

Congressman Fletcher, I want to take this opportunity to thank you for your work on behalf of education for Kentucky and the nation. Your seat on this committee and the leadership of this committee represented by the gentlemen here, are so important to perhaps the most important issue of our day and all of our speakers have alluded to it, that is the reform and improvement of our education system. Kentucky and the nation are indeed fortunate for your leadership.

I particularly want to thank you for your co-sponsorship of the Digital Education Act, H.R. 2965, as a part of the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. KET helped develop this legislative proposal and strongly supports its inclusion. Because of your work, two of the nation's most effective education technology programs were included in the reauthorization bill reported out of your committee on April 13. These programs, both administered by public television in concert with local and state education authorities, Ready-to-Learn and Telecommunications Program. Ready-to-Learn provides quality education television that reaches all of America's children regardless of where they live or whether they have access to cable.

Through Ready-to-Learn funding, KET, along with other state networks, departments of education and local child care providers, continues to train parents and caregivers in the wise use of television in helping prepare children to enter the classroom. The elements of Ready-to-Learn provide a natural means to increase adult/child interaction in a very busy life and improve literacy levels for children and adults.

The second program, and we already know that Ready-to-Learn has been very, very successful. It was evaluated by the University of Alabama over a two-year period and found that parents who participate in those workshops, and there have been thousands of them in Kentucky alone, read more with their children, read more for educational and informational resources personally and take their children to libraries and to bookstores more often.

We just saw in USA Today the other day that Kentucky has one of the lowest rates of purchases of books by and for juveniles outside the school setting. Ready-to-Learn last year distributed over 35,000 low cost books to children and parents each month. The same was true in Kentucky.

I know that you as a committee face a daunting task in completing the reauthorization of ESEA. You have had to make some very difficult decisions. I do not have to tell you, these people have done a better job of that, how important it is that Congress provide maximum flexibility to states and local schools in the use of education funds. Bureaucratic red tape and rigid regulations stifle our local educators in carrying out needed reforms.

But the speed with which technology is changing also underscores the need for flexibility in spending that federal money. Your efforts to move dollars to the classroom are to be applauded. At the same time, what your committee has recommended, that will ensure the continuation of resources provided centrally but very adaptable locally through digital content to be provided to students and teachers and to assure that disadvantaged students fully benefit from the new education technology programs. Ready-to-Learn and the Telecom Program are examples of such programs.

Frankly, I have given you my bias, I hope that you will move very carefully with a program like Star Schools. KET and students in every state have benefited from this program over the years and continues to provide opportunities. For example, a distance learning program, I was thinking about this school administrator, if that administrator has the money to hire one teacher and yet they need calculus, no teacher; physics, no teacher; Latin, no teacher; German, no teacher. How much better to have these central resources that are provided on that digital server so that perhaps they can hire a teacher in another area that serves more students and use the digital content material to provide those necessary courses and give them flexibility. We have a tremendous infrastructure in this state and country and it will get much bigger with the conversion to digital.

I thank you for your leadership, for coming here, and for the assistance that you have given to literally millions of Americans through these programs.

See Appendix H for the Written Testimony of Ms. Virginia Fox

 

Chairman Goodling. I thank you.

I want to indicate to the students that when we are finished with the questioning here, I am going to ask you to send one student forward and that student then will tell us up front here what you believe the federal government's role should be in public education, K through 12, and what suggestions you have for improving the system. I am sure there is a leader back there that cannot wait to come forward and discuss this with us.

Let me start the questioning, first of all, Mr. Clark, you talked about the interest of Kentucky in Ed-Flex, and I am delighted to hear that. I was interviewed probably two weeks ago and the reporter said people do not seem to be jumping out since you gave 50 states the opportunity to get Ed-Flex. I said well, unfortunately, I suppose there are those out there who are not very creative and those out there who would rather just have the status quo. That is much easier and just take the rules and regulations as they come from D.C., or there may be those who do not want to accept a challenge because we say Ed-Flex, but you have to show the accountability part of it, that you have improved the academic achievement of all students.

You mentioned something about professional development and this has been a sore spot of mine for years, even when I was a teacher and a principal and superintendent. When we passed one of the pieces of legislation, we indicated that if the local teachers could not get worthwhile professional development programs, that they could get a voucher in order to seek good professional development.

What role is the state playing in trying to make sure that the professional development is truly an opportunity to develop professionally rather than as my wife used to say, she taught first grade for 40 years, "and to think they took me away from my children for a half day or a day for that nonsense."

Would you care to comment?

Mr. Clark. I would be glad to and I concur, because having been a teacher, I was one of those people who was frequently subjected to that here is three hours of whatever, now go back and do great things. Kentucky is very much opposed to the notion of professional development. I need to give you just a piece of background information. Kentucky, fortunately, is a state that puts a great deal of state funding into professional development. As a matter of fact, the amount of money that the state itself puts in far exceeds what we receive from the federal Title I, excuse me, Title II Eisenhower Professional Development Program. Consequently, we try to work the two things in conjunction. Eisenhower, of course, puts greater emphasis on math and science professional development, but the state program uses the consolidated plan, as I mentioned earlier, has a basis for establishing the kinds of needs that exist. The whole notion there is that it is all geared to information coming from student performance. Consequently the professional development is keyed to things that teachers are specifically encountering in their schools.

We are also advocating very strongly the notion of site-based or school-based professional development as opposed to, you know, bringing them altogether. Now there are opportunities for that, there are times when that kind of general training is needed, but the research that we have done and the research that school systems are doing shows that the most effective, as far as effecting a change in what happens is the professional development that is actually tied very closely to the need of the school and occurs, in many instances, right in the school setting. I mentioned the idea of embedded professional development, and that is the kind of thing we are very interested in. It is a much more expensive type of professional development, it is not particularly cost-effective in that regard because it is much more individualized, it is much more time intensive, that kind of thing. But we are moving definitely that way and see many schools beginning to utilize that approach.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Day, I would enjoy visiting your school. I think there is no question that how well a school does depends an awful lot on the leadership of that particular school. Listening to you, I have a feeling that the students and teachers are very fortunate to have you as a leader in that school. It sounded to me like every child is very important to you and I am glad to hear that.

You mentioned portability, you had some, I think, if I understood it correctly, you were very much interested in portability, you may have had some reservations also?

Mr. Day. Well, itís hard to look at this issue without being very aware that my view is perhaps a minority view here. Historically, when federal dollars have come to the state, the state has chosen under the old model, what we used to be trying to achieve with our students was to just get a large percentage performing above average. The idea was that we needed to address all of those funds in larger clumps to schools that were the most needy.

So what states historically have done and have tried to maintain is they will take the total amount of money that is received in a certain district, they will not give funds to schools that have low percentages of free and reduced lunch students, they will take those dollars, roll them into higher sums of money and give those funds to the most needy.

 

That perhaps was a reasonable enough approach if we did not care about everyone achieving the goals that we have set. But with our new standards and our new efforts to assure that all children are achieving at higher levels than those schools that historically have not received Title I funds, have the same need that other schools have, even if to a slightly smaller degree.

Now I do not know exactly, I did not come today prepared with any sort of specific recommendations. I do not think it has to be an all or nothing kind of a circumstance. I did provide the committee with some data just to kind of give you a snapshot of how things are in our neighborhood in terms of the amount of federal dollars received at the various four schools that are involved in the area that I have mentioned.

It is possible, in my mind, to meet somewhere in the middle. Maybe we do give a higher per-pupil dollar amount to some schools that have a heavier burden to achieve. That still may be a reasonable way to go. But for our school to have students with identified needs, to have goals, to make sure that all of those children get those needs addressed and to have no additional funding with which to meet that goal seems to me to be no longer an appropriate approach to use with Title I funding. Now if this means that we should advocate for additional funds for Title I, so be it. If it means that we look at the structure differently, okay. But our children, all of our children, who are in need must be able to benefit from this.

Chairman Goodling. Well, our whole hope, of course, has been to allow the flexibility and the portability so locals can make the important decisions and in return, of course, is accountability. It is not something, here is the money, go blow it; it is here is the money, we expect every child to improve academically.

When we gave the 12 states that opportunity some years ago, I was very disappointed because only two states really took advantage of that flexibility -- Texas, being the leader I suppose. I think they got about 4000 waivers. They can now show that their black students and their Hispanic students are achieving above the average of all the other students, because they accepted the responsibility, the challenge part of it. Maryland has done fair.

This is where the president and I do battle all the time, because I always tell him he puts the cart before the horse, so when he talked about national testing, I said well, all you are going to do, if that is all you are going to do, is tell 50 percent of the students one more time they are not doing very well, they already know that, they have heard that a million times. First, you have to set the high standards and then you have to prepare the teacher to teach to the high standards, then you have to test the teacher to see whether the teacher is ready to teach to the high standards, and then after the teacher teaches to the high standards, you finally test the children. But do not spend $150 million up front. We had the same arguments about 100,000 new teachers because when you think of that, there are 15,000 public school districts, there are over a million classrooms and you are talking about 100,000 teachers. Everybody wants to reduce class size, but I reminded him that if you do not have a quality teacher to put in that classroom, you are not helping the child at all and the very first 30 some percent of those new teachers were totally unqualified to teach in the subject area in which they were teaching.

So we are trying to get that flexibility down to the local level when we say 95 percent of the money should get down to the local level. So I appreciate your comments.

Mr. Day. We certainly appreciate that. You mentioned Texas, I guess my only comment there, we hear a lot about Texas, I really wish their standards were higher. I do not think it is just state pride when I say I think if you will set the Texas exam next to the KAT test, we may be measuring some different things. Now I do not say this to advocate for a national test, I think you are correct on that point. But we do have to be careful about what statistics tell us and what is really going on.

Chairman Goodling. My greatest concern whenever I visit schools is that parents and teachers and administrators do not expect enough, the expectations are not high enough, it does not matter whether the child is a special education student or what category the child may fall in.

Mr. Day. Yes, sir, and Mr. Chairman, I think the point you made with Mr. Clark about professional development activities, I think also we have not always been careful to assure that what we really expected out of professional development activities were better teachers, we tended to be more focused on programs. Here is a new program, we have got to teach you about this. But in fact, what every teacher needs to do to be effective with children is to understand children, understand their content, be knowledgeable but understand things like classroom management, ways to deal with children that are not going to be confrontational, ways that will make our classes more effective and make our time more productive.

Chairman Goodling. The Chairman is taking liberty with the fact that he is chairman, with the amount of time that I am taking.

So I am going to go to Ms. McGraw next and then I will catch the rest of you in the second round of questioning.

Ms. McGraw, I think your introduction is probably the most important thing we can say. ``Ms. McGraw is here today as a concerned and involved parent.'' I think we have to find some way to insist that every school, teacher, administrator does everything they possibly can to get a parent involved and concerned and keep them involved and concerned. We have to find a way to get every parent involved and concerned.

In your third paragraph of your testimony you say, ``I also feel funding received from the national level should be re-evaluated and distributed on a state level.'' I think I know what you are driving at, but I wanted to make sure that I understood your statement. ``This will allow each state to focus specifically on the program for which funding is needed, to better distribute the money.''

Will you make sure I understand what you are saying?

Ms. McGraw. Well, I guess just to put it in simple terms I am saying that I can control the money better. I know where the money needs to be used best in my home and you know where the money needs to be used best in your home. So Washington cannot distribute the funding to the different parts of programs that they think we need. The state level knows best where the monies need to be, in what specific programs and what schools and what school systems that they need to be in.

Chairman Goodling. I thank you very much. Mr. Petri, would you like to interrogate next?

Mr. Petri. Yes. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

I do not know if the administrators who are here on the panel have the answer to this question off the top of their heads, but I was enjoined by one of our colleagues, Mr. Peterson from Pennsylvania, who told me that when he got to Washington as a Congressman, he kept hearing from the federal Department of Education that the federal taxpayer was paying six or seven percent of the cost of local education. So he started asking his principals and superintendents in his own district how much of their school budget was federal dollars and he was hearing about three percent. So I started asking people in my district and was introduced to the superintendent of schools in a community recently who belonged to the Rotary Club, what percentage, if he could tell me roughly off the top of his head, of his local school budget was federal dollars and he said well, it is about one percent, but it is a very important one percent.

So we need to keep in perspective, I think as we talk about all of the different array of federal programs, the fact that we are still trying to hopefully be helpful at the national level and this is a major national issue and concern, the primary responsibility still rests with the communities and the states of our country to fund this important national need.

Maybe I could ask Mr. Clark and Ms. Jones and Mr. Fentress if you have any idea about the percentages in your school districts.

Mr. Fentress. I know in our district about six or seven percent of our money is federal money. That is based on income, so the lower income would have a higher percentage of federal dollars for the most part.

Mr. Clark. On the state level, I think our actual percentage of funding that comes in from the federal level in relation to our total educational budget in the state is just around 10 percent total, and as Mr. Fentress said, that gets broken out differently based on the poverty population or percentage of poverty in the various districts. But you are exactly correct, it is a small portion of the total amount of money that goes into education.

Mr. Petri. Well, it sounds as though you have very effective representatives in this area to be able to get a good percentage of the pie, compared with us up in our part and some other places in the country.

Another question had to do with the comments of Mr. Clark in terms of the importance of flexibility and at the same time things being done at the state level to measure accountability.

I know a lot of people are doing studies in education because this is the new mantra, to measure outputs, not inputs, measure results, not inputs. Could you explain to us some ideas that have worked in Kentucky for fairly measuring improvements or outputs?

Mr. Clark. The accountability system as it is established in Kentucky is actually school based. Each school, at the time of its assessment, is given what we will call a base line and then our assessments for accountability purposes is set up on a biennial cycle two years to make a certain amount of growth. The intervening year gives them an indication of how much growth has been made, whether they are going in the right direction or not and then they have another year to complete that. It is very school-oriented because of the kind of data that is generated, it allows the school to make some determinations of what kinds of things need to be done, which areas of the assessment are going well, which ones need reinforcement. But I think the fact that it is a continuing process, one that is very visible, is part of what makes it effective.

You heard other presenters this morning mention the fact that we are seeing very positive results in high poverty schools as well as in affluent schools. Actually, from my perspective, that is a very strong piece as far as our understanding of what is happening, that we do not arbitrarily say that because a school happens to serve a large high poverty population, we do not expect it to make the same degree of progress that we would expect another school to make. I believe Mr. Day mentioned the fact that we are serving all students. In Kentucky, although all is a very short word, three letters, it has been a very hard word for lots of people to understand. But it does mean all students.

We are very pleased too that in our assessment system, virtually all of our students served through Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are included in the same assessment, some with accommodations that are necessary in their IEPs and so on, but nevertheless, they are being held to the same standards, as are Title I students, as are migrant students, as are homeless students, et cetera. So I think that is a message that is very strong in this state as well as in others.

Mr. Petri. Just one quick, I have probably used my time already, but what do you do when you set these standards and measure it on a school basis and they do not meet them.

Mr. Clark. Okay.

Mr. Petri. I mean it is sort of maybe you should fine them or not provide as much money, but then that hurts the students who have greater need because they are not doing as well. Or do you reward them, and that does not make any sense either.

Mr. Clark. Okay.

Mr. Petri. So what is the consequences for schools who do not perform well?

Mr. Clark. That is part of the accountability. If they have not made the progress that has been established in the two-year cycle, they fall into various levels of not meeting that. The most serious level, in other words, if they have gone backwards rather than forwards, they receive the services of what we call a highly skilled educator. This is an individual from a school system in Kentucky who has been through a training program, who is assigned to work very closely with that school on an almost full time basis. Typically that individual is assigned to work with only one school. They have multiple functions that they provide in that school, and I think a reference was made perhaps by the Chairman as far as the leadership of the school. If that is where effort is needed, then the effort is targeted there. They also have some resources that they can marshal to support the school, the Commonwealth School Improvement Fund provides those. They also look and I will reference again the consolidated plan we mentioned, they look at how the resources that do go to the school are being used and are they being used effectively.

Although I handle the Title I program, I am the first to admit that in many instances we do not see the funds being used very effectively. We will go in, support the highly skilled educator, work with the school to reallocate those resources, target them in more effective ways. I mentioned also some of the research-based programs that have been identified and I believe Mr. Fentress mentioned Reading Recovery as an example. Those are the kinds of things that we will begin looking at.

We are very proud of the fact that in our history of the highly skilled educators working in the schools I do not handle that program directly, so I may not get my numbers exactly right, but virtually all of those schools have shown improvement over the period of time that they have worked with them. That also goes in to the notion of professional development that we discussed a minute ago, because the kind of service that individual provides in the school is, in my mind, probably the most effective kind of professional development that can be provided again, a very costly kind.

Chairman Goodling. Congressman Fletcher.

Mr. Fletcher. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Certainly we thank each of you for your testimony here today. I think it has been very enlightening and you certainly bring a good perspective from the different aspects of education.

It seems too, as I listened, that there is probably a healthy tension here between state and the local school districts and the parents. I think that is healthy, because, you know, it is very difficult as we look at programs or legislation that would want to send money for the express purpose of improving student performance and giving them the best education in the world.

Talking to folks at the state level, we would like more to come back to the state because we know best where it should go. Certainly there are some caveats in that. As we talk and yesterday, as I was visiting a middle school in Bourbon County and spoke to one of the principals there, they were talking about how much of their time is taken on a lot of bureaucracy and red tape. This was a principal that had a great deal of input into the development of KERA and certainly pleased with much of what has transpired. Sometimes there seems to be so much emphasis on the process of obtaining certain goals, that we lose sight of the goal. I know she gave me an example of how there used to be a teacher evaluation that she would do on one page that is now 15 pages. It takes several days to evaluate a teacher. She used to be able to go into the classroom, evaluate, give immediate feedback, see improvement, go back, re-evaluate. Site-based council is an excellent idea but there are so many mandates on it that it seems like the process takes precedence over the purpose.

I would like to hear from Mr. Clark, Mr. Day and maybe Mr. Fentress and then I want to ask some other questions to some of the other witnesses. But from your perspective, what are some of the principles we need to have when we develop programs or we look at flexibility, portability and transferability, what can we do to make sure that the money is spent most wisely, that we do take into account the special needs of the local district and the local education administrators, principals, teachers and parents, but we also realize that the oversight from the state is critical and very important. So if you could just share a few principles that may help us as we develop legislation to make sure we meet those goals.

Mr. Clark. I mentioned a number of different programs that I handle through my division. If you total the funds Kentucky receives from those programs, it is less than $200 million, and if you try to distribute that through 176 school districts and about 1500 schools in the state, obviously the amounts diminish as you go out. Many of the programs I handle are formula allocations, some of them are competitive. But those kinds of things I think are the things that have to be considered.

I do not disagree at all with the fact that you have looked at combining some of the smaller programs or the intent of some of the smaller programs into a single program related to teacher quality. It strikes me that when I look at individual programs such as the Eisenhower Professional Development Program, the funds we have got in Goals 2000, even the Title VI Innovative Education Strategies Program, what we wind up in this state doing with those programs at the district and school level is all very much the same thing, a lot of it is tied into professional development in a broad sense of the word. So combining that kind of funding into a single program could be very beneficial.

The thing that I think, I am going to speak from the state perspective, but it is also district because the district feeds the information to us, is the notion of consolidating the reporting process. Granted, you have mentioned accountability and that is information that is important, if that information is the kind of information that we retrieve in relation to our reporting back to U.S. Department of Education on the success or our implementation of those programs. That is a much simpler process than having to collect the information on how many teachers participated in how many kinds of training on how many different days, for whatever the purpose might have been.

Mr. Fletcher. Let me interrupt.

Could it be that you all could more develop the particular aspects of the accountability if we set the entire goal so that we do not mandate a change in your process that is already established?

Mr. Clark. Right.

Mr. Fletcher. I wanted to make sure I get the principle down.

Mr. Clark. In other words, if the information generated through our accountability system would be sufficient to address or to respond to the requirements of Congress in regard to these programs, it certainly would keep us from asking districts so many detailed types of questions and would enable us to compile data to respond, and actually in many cases we might be able to respond on the basis of statewide data as opposed to having to get individual district data.

Mr. Fletcher. Thank you. Mr. Day.

Mr. Day. Congressman Fletcher, you have raised the issue that is probably most at the heart of principles that I talked to. I do not know, frankly, what the federal government could do to assist us because we have created our own problems here by trying to do more. So on the one hand, it is a good thing, but we have not managed the change much at all, in my opinion.

If you will take a look over the past decade in Kentucky and think back to what reform has meant to our schools and take a look at the number and volume of programs that have shifted from the state level to the local level and from the local level to the school level without a commensurate increase to any significant degree in just administrative staff at the school level, I think it would probably be a pretty easy kind of a thing given just a little bit of study to see where a lot of the problem lies.

Now we are told that principals are becoming an endangered species. When we have vacancies, they are becoming increasingly difficult to fill because people are seeing and understanding the job and it is daunting. I can just tell you as an individual who reaches his 27th year in June it gives one pause to consider certain options.

I do not really know what the answer is because I strongly believe that the most effective unit for change in any kind of an educational program that we would hope to implement is the school, and so it is focused in the right direction. The accountability should be at the school level, the councils are very important pieces. I do not know that school councils increase student achievement, but they certainly do make sure that the school belongs to the community because you cannot ignore a school council. I do not think that is terribly possible. We should not.

So in my mind, I think the amount of change that has come about over the past decade has not been accompanied by the kinds of administrative assistance that is needed at the local school level to pick up the extra duties, the consolidated plans, the school council activities. We now manage our own professional development committees, our own technology efforts, internships, and the list is long. It is in fact so long that in Fayette County this year, we have a group of administrators that are working on a principal's planner that will actually be creating a checklist of activities that are required of our school administrators on a month-by-month basis, along with the reports and the forms that are necessary to accompany those tasks. I believe this summer late when we have this list and we see everything that we are asking schools to do, we are going to take a step back and say it is amazing anybody is getting this stuff done.

Now the danger is this, when I was a younger principal, I do not think this has to do with my age, but maybe it does, when I was a younger principal, I fairly well knew 80 percent of my students, I would either know their first name, their last name, I would generally know their parents, I could usually recognize them by sight. I knew something, not because I read student achievement data that said how they were reading, but I knew something about how they were performing in class because I saw them in class performing, I understood something of how they could read, I understood something about how they could compute.

I am nowhere close to that these days. If I know 40 percent of my students, I would say the correct answer is probably somewhere in there. Now I do not know what it is worth to our community, our state and our country to have an elementary school principal really know students to the level that he understands something about the child, but it was certainly worth something to me when I chose education as my profession and it is the biggest thing I see us losing and it is the thing that scares me to death.

Now on the anniversary of Columbine, how hard do we have to think about how important it is to know our children.

Mr. Fletcher. I think you bring a good point. I have visited several schools around here and the principals say the same thing, and I do not know if you knew Ms. Cunningham at Arlington Elementary, she probably knew me a little better than I wanted her to at that time, but we knew her, she knew my parents well, which often was not good for me, but it certainly seems to have changed. I think the complexity of the process makes us lose some of the better part. So I know as we look, we would like to make sure we can simplify some things, at least from our standpoint, so that we allow that personal attention, because that means more to a student than anything. I can still remember Ms. Cunningham well.

Mr. Fentress, and then I will yield back to the Chairman.

Mr. Fentress. I would like to make a comment. One of the hardest things that I have to do is to talk with people in our community, people I eat lunch with, and convince them that kids today, students today, know many times more than what they did when they graduated in the 1950s and 1960s. They have gotten the perception that kids that are getting out of schools and the students in our schools do not know as much as they did when they were in school. I do not know how they got that idea, because I want to say that education in general is doing an extremely good job.

I heard Colin Powell speak in the last week and he credited the public schools that he went to in New York City with providing him the abilities that he could do what he has done in his life. Every time you hear someone interviewed on television that has been successful, they normally will go back to some significant adult, and many times that is a teacher or a principal that has made a difference in their life. Although there are things that we need to correct, and I appreciate you helping us work on that, we need to go back and say that many things are coming out of our schools today.

One particular point that Mr. Day alluded to, I think I am reading what he is saying. In a school, if you have many low-income children, you have more resources. If you have a school that does not have very many low-income children, then there are not many resources to help those few low-income students that are there, and those kids need just as much help as if they are located in a school where you have many. Now maybe they do not need the number of dollars in the school because they do not have as many needy children, but we have needy children in all schools. It might not always be the low income many times it is not. If a child is having a difficult time reading, we do not need to make the decision based on his income about whether he can read or not, we need to give him the services that he needs to learn to read, whether he is in the high income or low income. I do not know how we get to doing that, but that is an important concept.

Chairman Goodling. We are losing our students, and one has been pacing back in the doorway for a long time. I think he might be the selected one. Could we have the student come forth at this time and then we will get back to questions. Mr. Clark, if you would give the student your seat and microphone temporarily.

Is the student still here? I thought it was the young man that was pacing in the doorway back there.

If you will please introduce yourself.

 

STATEMENT OF MICHAEL OSBORNE, STUDENT, LAFAYETTE HIGH SCHOOL

Mr. Osborne. My name is Michael Osborne, I am a senior at Lafayette High School.

Chairman Goodling. Pull that a little closer to you. We would be happy to hear what you believe our role should be and what you think needs to be done, what you think is good, what could be improved and whatever is on your mind and those of the students who I might say were the best disciplined, self-disciplined students I have seen in a long, long time.

If you will proceed.

Mr. Osborne. First of all, I am under no jurisdiction to tell the federal government how to do your jobs, sir, but based on my experiences, my parents are both educators, the most important relationship, by far, is student to teacher. The teachers are the only ones that actually educate the students. The students are in their classroom every day and it is critical to have good teachers.

As far as allocation of funds, the local school systems have more knowledge of how their schools should be run in their individual counties. Fayette County, the administration knows more about Fayette County than the state education department would. I believe that as much money as possible should go locally, even down to the individual high schools, if possible, because the closer you get to understanding how the teachers and students interact on a personal basis, the better it would be to have control of those funds.

Chairman Goodling. Very good.

Do you have, whether subtly or a specific program that deals with character education, or have you had any experience in character education?

Mr. Osborne. At Lafayette High School?

Chairman Goodling. Yes.

Mr. Osborne. I believe it is integrated into the curriculum by the teachers on their own, sir; I do not know of a specific class that teaches it per se.

Chairman Goodling. How about in our Safe and Drug-Free Schools Program, do you have a meaningful program in your school so that students understand the dangers and the concerns about safety in schools and the dangerous effects of drugs?

Mr. Osborne. Yes, sir, I feel safer at Lafayette High School than I do most other places.

Chairman Goodling. Do you have a student organization, Students Against Drunk Driving, for instance?

Mr. Osborne. Yes, sir, Students Against Drunk Driving and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Chairman Goodling. As I keep reminding everyone, we old folks can talk until the cows come home and nobody will hear us, but peers can talk to peers and it makes all the difference in the world. So I am glad to hear that.

Mr. Osborne. Yes, sir.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Petri, do you have any questions for this articulate young man who came forth?

Mr. Petri. Well, I actually have a question I would like to address both to him and to the two parents who are here, just to I think follow up on what you were asking about.

That was they emphasized the importance of parental involvement in education. You indicated the most important relationship of all is the teacher, although if you do not have parental involvement, it undercuts the ability of the teacher and the school to do its job.

Mr. Osborne. That is absolutely correct.

Mr. Petri. So maybe you are sort of assuming a level of parental involvement or concern about education that we, unfortunately, cannot assume in every instance. But the Chairman has been working and has been very concerned as a former teacher and school administrator about parental support for the education process and has come up with a bill called LIFT, which stands for Literacy Involves Families Together. The idea is to try to involve parents who often may not be able to read themselves without making it difficult for them psychologically in the education process, so they recognize the importance of it and are able to support it.

Are there other ideas that we can get to get the 75 percent of parents who, for one reason or another, do not understand the purpose of schools or are not involved in it or just do not seem to have the time to be more involved or supportive of the education process? I know both of your parents are obviously very involved and you recognize the importance of it for your children. Other children are being short-changed. There may not be anything we can do from the top down except programs like the one the Chairman of the committee is working on to try to reach out to the most educationally disadvantaged parents and get them involved in education, but are there any ideas on that? I would certainly appreciate it.

Ms. Bunting. I think that realistically it is very, very hard to get the parents involved in some instances and it is not always just the fact of their job schedules and different things like that. You have a communication gap in a lot of instances, papers and different things for events get lost and different things like that.

It might sound very simplistic, but a lot of times when the school has an event, if they would directly mail something to the parent, as opposed to telling the child take this home to your parent, we are going to do this, kids just, you know, they get off the bus, they are running around, it gets caught up in their backpack, different things happen. A lot of times, the day before an event, a parent is suddenly told we have this. So I just think that if the parents were made aware by mail about different events that are coming up. Some schools have instituted a newsletter. I think a lot of parents toss newsletters to the side. I read mine, but I am just saying that in all fairness and reality.

I am not talking about the percentage of parents who are involved I am talking about the great percentage of parents who are not. If you just get things from the school, a lot of times I think that that would help.

Ms. McGraw. I agree with her to a certain extent, a lot of times kids do not make it home with their report cards, but the school system takes it upon themselves to mail them to us through the mail so they will know we are getting them.

The other thing I just cannot push enough of, it is up to that parent to just be visible in the school. The more visible you are, the more you are going to know what is going on in that school. I mean I feel I am probably blessed because I have a flexible job to where I can make a drop in at the school at least once a week or once every two weeks. My child knows she is going to see me and she knows the teachers are going to see me, so therefore, she does not want to have that teacher tell me anything negative.

[Laughter.]

Ms. McGraw. Therefore, I also have a general idea of what is going on in that school. I know all parents are not that flexible and are not that blessed to be that flexible, but I just think we need to find a way to communicate to the parents it is their job to become more involved in the school. We cannot say because Johnny dropped his paper; we need to know what is going on in that school on a weekly basis. That is our most important job, is our kids.

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Fletcher, do you have anything for the student of the hour?

Mr. Fletcher. Let me certainly commend you for approaching your graduation here, you are graduating from one of the best high schools in the state.

Mr. Petri. He is biased.

Mr. Fletcher. I am slightly biased, but also accurate.

[Laughter.]

Mr. Fletcher. I was going to ask, I do not know if your parent or parents are involved, but has the school in general been very friendly to your parents as far as participation? If not, what could change in that regard?

Mr. Osborne. The administration here at Lafayette is wonderful with dealing with parents. The only concern that I would have is that we have had maybe two open houses this year. I know that is pretty much the case around the city. If the parents have a reason to come to the school and do not feel like they are intruding, or if it is not during a normal school hour but after school where all the teachers are there, all the students are there and all the parents are there, that would be a very good thing. It goes back to PTA and I think that needs to be emphasized a little more with the parents involvement along with the teachers involvement.

Mr. Fletcher. Let me ask you another question. Do you feel like there are students or groups of students, I know when I was here we participated in some sports and band, which gave you a lot more interaction and made you feel a part of the group, but we have had obviously some problems with school violence that came or arose from students that felt alienated or alone, separated, isolated. How does the school deal with that and what has been your experience in that throughout your years in school here?

Mr. Osborne. There will always be groups of people that will hang out together that are friends, and that do not necessarily want to interact with other groups. But unifying all the students as students of the school and not students in general classes, advanced, any sort of differences. To do that, I think Lafayette has done, from my personal experience, everything that they could have to bring the students together as a student body, not individuals.

Mr. Fletcher. Thank you.

Chairman Goodling. Thank you very much, we appreciate your participation, unannounced to you that you were going to be participating. You did very well and you did not have near as much time to get nervous as the rest of the panel, thinking about what you were going to say and do. So thank you very much for participating.

Mr. Osborne. Thank you very much.

Chairman Goodling. Let me go through my list very quickly because I realize time is running out. Maybe it will be comments more than questions.

To Ms. Jones, I was interested in your comments about the 21st Century Learning Center Program. We had a hearing recently and some of the originators of the program were disappointed in that they said the focus got shifted to pretty much students only in most places for an after-school program. I was pleased to hear you say that it was a program designed, which it was intended to be, open for the entire community and it is a partnership that we want to promote. The after-school programs for students are very, very important, but the legislation was designed, and we recently combined it with the Safe and Drug-Free Schools program in H.R. 4141, the Education OPTIONS Act, because we wanted to get enough money into the pot so that if you decided that 21st Century Learning Centers were the most important thing in the world, you would have more money to deal with that issue. If, on the other hand, you had a serious problem with safe and drug-free schools, you may want to concentrate more on that. But the idea was to get a bigger pot of money, because our problem has always been that we design so many programs and then the pot of money is so small because there are so many programs.

Then we passed the Ed-Flex bill to allow states the opportunity to waive certain federal requirements to best fit their needs. That bill was easy to pass because 50 governors wanted it, so that made it much easier for us as a committee to do it. Title I, we did not have that much trouble, we insisted that we now have to make sure that the accountability is very important to everyone. The Teacher Empowerment Act (TEA) was not all that difficult, but I kept telling our members now when we get to the last part where we do all the rest of the programs, Safe and Drug-Free Schools, 21st Century Learning Centers, et al, every one has somebody's name on it. Either a present member or a former member, and boy, it is tough to eliminate or revamp those programs. Whether they are working well or not, or whether the program is too small, but we get into the combination business and then we run into trouble. In fact, when Ms. Fox was testifying, I was thinking we have at least seven technology programs on the books, five of which are funded, but they are all funded. There is not that much funds in place since there are so many the programs. So we said well, why do we not have a technology pot and then if it is wiring you need or if it is equipment you need or if it is preparing your teachers to use that technology, whatever is most important, use the larger amount of money.

Then moving on to Mr. Fentress, I appreciated it when you said local educators can be trusted because, of course, the battle we have in Washington all the time is you cannot trust the state legislature, you cannot trust the state government, you cannot trust the local school districts, they are not going to do it right. The only people who know how to do it right are those of us who sit in the Congress of the United States. So I was glad to hear you once again say that you can trust the local educators to do what is right.

Ms. Bunting, you talked about voluntary participation, and I am at the point where I would like to find some way to make it mandated. In Even Start, that is exactly what we say. In Even Start, we say if you do not deal with the entire family when you are dealing with literacy problems, you are not going to accomplish very much, because the entire family must participate and that is what LIFT, of course, is all about also. But in Even Start, we said to those that were running the programs, the most difficult job you are going to have is to get the parent to participate, but it is the most important job that you are going to have, because the parent must be the child's first and most important teacher.

You talked about voluntary participation of parents and I am at the point where I wish there were some way that we could first, mandate that the schools insist and welcome with open arms the participation of the parents because some places that does not happen. Then on the other hand, demand that somehow or other the parent does participate. Then I think we would have a far better situation.

Ms. Fox, I just mentioned I hope I go into some schools where technology is being used very, very well, because the teachers were very well prepared to do it. I go into other schools where I hope and pray that the first and second grade students are so far ahead in technology, that they are going to help the teacher do the job, because the teacher has not had much opportunity for any training in that technology, and of course, that is what you are all about. I appreciate that very much.

My last comment is we are doing everything we can to get that 40 percent of excess money back to the states and the local school districts that we indicated would come to you in special education, the 40 percent we said of the national average, and the national average most recently that I have a record of was $6300 per pupil expenditure. That would mean that every special needs child that you have, should be receiving $2520 from the federal government. You are presently receiving $800. You could do so much in reducing pupil/teacher ratio, you could do so much to improve your school building or even construct new ones, if you were getting that 40 percent that we said up to 40 percent would be coming to you.

Just some statistics, in Lincoln County, instead of getting $33 million, you would get $139 million. In the state of Kentucky, you would get an additional $139,839,900. Now I do always caution, however, we have to find a way to stop over-identifying special education students or we will never get to the 40 percent, which means that we have to make sure that all of those children that are in there simply because they have some reading difficulty, that problem is handled before it becomes a serious reading problem, so that you do not get into the special ed setting.

But I just want to point out, our one staff staffs Mr. Kildee, and when he was in the majority and I was in the minority and were both on the Budget Committee, we thought boy, we will do wonders here. The two of us, we are going to get that 40 percent. Well, we did not get anything in six years of serving there. I am happy to report we got about $2 billion extra I think the last three years, there will be another $2 billion this year and we just passed a resolution out of committee that says by the end of the 10-year period, we will be at that 40 percent. But I know what that means to you back at the local level and hopefully we will be able to come through.

Again, I thank all of you for testifying here today and ask for any last words that either of my colleagues may have.

Mr. Petri. I would just like to thank Representative Fletcher for organizing this very informative hearing, and all of you for the effort you put into your testimony.

Mr. Fletcher. Again, thank you, Mr. Chairman. You have spent your life improving the education of children and I know you will be retiring this year it is going to be a great loss to the Committee on Education and the Workforce.

Chairman Goodling. I do not know whether they would all agree with that.

[Laughter.]

Mr. Fletcher. Well, you bring a wealth of experience and I know a true concern on literacy where you have been a champion of literacy and itís recognize throughout the nation.

So, thank you. It is again a great honor to come here.

I want to thank each one of you, the parents, Ms. McGraw, Ms. Bunting, I was going to ask some more questions but we have run out of time. I really do appreciate it your appearance here today. You were recommended as witnesses because of your involvement, your enthusiasm, your energy and your knowledge, and it clearly shows. I would love to spend more time with you and I think you have added a tremendous amount to the testimony today and I appreciate your frankness.

Ms. Jones, I have worked with Louise Summers in Community Education, 21st Century Learning Centers. Hopefully we can have more involvement there. I know a lot of activities you all do is very, very important. Thank you for coming.

Ginny Fox, we certainly appreciate you in helping decrease what some call the digital divide, but what we say is just like getting that information. When we do not have the teachers, as you talked about, being able to provide just outstanding curriculum on a digital basis that allows so much more flexibility, so we are glad to work with you on that and laud your national efforts on that. Again, at the national level, you are highly recognized for that.

I guess I got the chance to at least question Mr. Clark, Mr. Day, Mr. Fentress. Thank you. You bring different perspectives and please feel free any time to contact my office both here locally and in Washington. Some of you have, and quite often, we are here to serve you and thank you for all of your hard work.

You have been very helpful to me in making sure we work to provide the best education for all of our children. Thank you.

Chairman Goodling. Let me just again, someone take the message, the students could not have been a better audience. I did not even have to put on one time my mean principal look. I do not know whether it would do any good any more, it used to be effective. But I did not have to do that one time today. They were just a wonderful, wonderful audience.

You know, you never get to read about those wonderful students, you only get to read about the few that are disruptive. So again thank you very much, I am sorry we do not have more time. But again, these are the people, these staffers, if you have some real burning issues, get a hold of them. They are not like the Senate staffers, they run the Senate, these staffers understand that the members run the House. However, they are very influential when it comes to telling their bosses the direction they think they should go and how to get there.

So thank you very much for participating.

Mr. Fletcher. Mr. Chairman, let me say one other thing before you hit that gavel, and that is I wanted to especially thank Phillip Brown, a staff member who does my Education Committee work. Ms. Jones, he is from Jessamine County. He has worked very hard and has been a tremendous support in this, as well as the other staff, Lorrie, as you mentioned before, from my office. But I just wanted to make that final comment. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Chairman Goodling. Thank you, very good. The committee stands adjourned.

[Whereupon, at 11:45 a.m., the Committee was adjourned.]