Serial No. 106-43


Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce






















TUESDAY, MAY 25, 1999












The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 1:30 p.m., in Room 2175, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Michael Castle [Chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.

Present: Representatives Castle, Goodling, Petri, Roukema, Schaffer, Kildee, Owens, Scott, McCarthy, Ford, Kucinich, and Wu.

Staff Present: Michael Reynard, Media Assistant; Rich Stombres, Professional Staff Member; Kent Talbert, Professional Staff Member; Shane Wright, Legislative Assistant; Kristen Duncan, Staff Assistant; Alex Nock, Legislative Associate, Education; June Harris, Education Coordinator; Mark Zuckerman, General Counsel, and Roxana Folescu, Staff Assistant, Education.




Chairman Castle. [presiding] The Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Youth, and Families, will come to order.

Our witnesses have assumed their places without even being instructed to do so. This is an experienced crowd we're dealing with here today. We're glad to have you all here.

I will make an opening statement. Mr. Kildee will make an opening statement, and then we'll turn to you for your statements.

Many of the problems that we face in education today are different then when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act was first created in 1965. Although access to education is now virtually universal, access to a quality education is not.

When tested against students from around the world, United States children rank in the middle in reading, and near the bottom in science, math, and geography. In fact, the National Assessment of Educational Progress reports that 38 percent of our country's fourth-grade students cannot read at a basic level. In math, 38 percent of eighth-graders score below the basic level, as do 43 percent of twelfth-graders in science.

Achievement and school completion levels for minority children and inner-city residents are even more disturbing. Once the pacesetter in graduation rates, the United States now trails far behind other industrialized nations.

Since 1965, the Federal Government has focused its efforts to provide equal educational opportunities for all children. Unfortunately, after spending billions of dollars, study after study has shown that we failed, and the gap in student achievement has only grown larger.

Now is the time to re-think Washington's role in education policy. For too long, Federal programs have tied dollars to bureaucracies and institutions, not to students. We must re-orient our Federal education programs and attach the highest priority to strategies that improve student performance.

Many States have heeded this call and have launched bold school reform. These States, in partnership with localities and the private sector, are now the source of many new ideas in education, from student learning standards to new teacher accreditation practices. They are today's innovators, and Washington needs to provide the necessary support to allow these innovations to continue.

The 106th Congress has an opportunity to turn the Elementary and Secondary Education Act into a real force for change. As a first step, today's hearing will examine the education reforms that are actually working in many parts of the country.

As you listen to the witnesses from the Edison Project, the Progressive Policy Institute, the Education Leaders Council, the Center for School Change, and the Council of Chief State School Officers, you will learn that they have very different ideas about education reform. They may agree on certain strategies, and disagree on others.

I believe it is important to hear a variety of approaches to education reform, as there is no one way to help children learn better. As we evaluate these different reform ideas, my primary measure of success will not be whether it is good for the system, or it maintains the best intentions of the status quo, but if that particular approach is good for our children.

I hope all education policy decisions will be made with the best interests of our children in mind. With that, I would like to thank each of our witnesses for their appearance before this Subcommittee this afternoon. I do look forward to your testimony, and will yield at this time to the ranking member of the Subcommittee for his opening statement.






Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I know both of us are looking forward to the testimony of these witnesses on this very important topic.

The passage of Goals 2000 and the Improving America's Schools Act in 1994, which was passed when I was chairman in 1994 dramatically re-structured Federal education funding in favor of systemic educational reform.

Under both statutes, States have adopted challenging academic standards, and many are near completion of their aligned assessments. This re-focusing arose out of the realization that Federal dollars, especially those under Title I, Part A, could more effectively drive academic results and foster educational excellence.

Where is systemic reform today? Fortunately, we have begun to see the initial successes of the changes we adopted in 1994. The Department of Education recently released the National Assessment of Title I, which reported that 9 of 13 large urban districts surveyed produced gains in the proportion of elementary students in the highest poverty schools who met district or State proficiency standards in math or reading.

Five districts, including Houston, Miami-Dade, New York, Philadelphia, and San Antonio, made progress in both subjects. In addition, State assessments reveal even more substantial progress with math scores of students in high-poverty schools, up over three years in four of five States examined, and reading achievement up in five of six States. Clearly, systemic reform is beginning to produce the results envisioned in 1994.

I believe those two bills which passed in 1994 were a departure from existing methods, a new direction for the Federal role in education. Generally, we targeted specific groups and specific purposes, but, we really wanted to broaden it out to systemic reform of the whole educational system.

Coupled with systemic reform, the general concept of education reform can mean many different things to many different people. Charter schools, and other forms of public school choice, when implemented properly, are viable options for States and localities seeking to spur reform. In addition, intensive, high-quality, professional development is a must for any type of reform to produce results. Without significant investment in the teachers of our country, even the best designed reform plan will fall short.

There are still others who would advocate private school vouchers and block grants as solutions to poor academic achievement. Both of these proposals strike me as unproductive in our efforts to continue the positive going that is made possible by the present focus in law.

As Governor Castle and I proceed with our work to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act this Congress, your comments and your testimony will prove very, very valuable. It is my hope that we can apply your experiences and your knowledge as we consider changes in our Federal education programs.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Kildee. We appreciate your words, as well as your presence here today. I am going to introduce the witnesses. I'll go through all five summations of your bios. You are all experienced individuals in the field of education, obviously, but we'll get a little more specific about that, and then we'll turn to you for your statements.

We'll go in order, and, of course, first is Mr. Benno Schmidt, who has joined us, who is chairman of the board of The Edison Project, based in New York. The Edison Project, founded in 1991, is the country's leading private manager of public schools. The Edison Project design has been implemented in 51 public schools, containing approximately 24,000 students, which operates under management contract with local schools districts and charter school boards.

Dr. Joe Nathan is the Director for The Center for School Change in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Center for School Change is a program of the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. The mission of the center is to work with educators, parents, business people, students, and policymakers throughout the country to increase student achievement, raise graduation rates, and improve student's attitudes toward learning, and strengthen communities by building stronger working relationships among educators, parents, and students.

Next is Mr. Gary Huggins, who is the Executive Director for The Education Leaders Council in Washington, D.C. The Education Leaders Council, founded in 1995, consists of chief State school officers from various States and has grown to include a wide variety of State Boards of Education, local and State board members, administrators, teachers, parents, and other community groups in 28 States.

Mr. Andrew Rotherham is next, and is the Director of the 21st Century Schools Project, which is part of the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. The mission of the Progressive Policy Institute is to define and promote a new progressive political agenda for America in the 21st century. Through its research, policies, and perspective, the Institute is fashioning a new governing philosophy and an agenda for public innovation geared to the information age.

The final speaker will be Mr. Gordon Ambach, who is the Executive Director for the Council of Chief State School Officers in Washington, D.C. The Council of Chief State School Officers is a nationwide non-profit organization composed of the public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education around the country. Through its structure of standing special committees, the Council responds to a broad range of concerns about education, and provides leadership on major education issues.

Let me just go over the ground rules for a moment, since we had a little trouble at one of our recent hearings in terms of length of time. I have looked over a couple of your statements, and, believe me, they're not five minutes. You can't even read them in five minutes, much less speak them in five minutes. So, I would hope that all of you understand that we really would like to do all statements in five minutes. The green light, if this machine works correctly, and we've had trouble with that too, if it does, there will be a green light for four minutes, there will be a yellow light for one minute, there will be a red light for, hopefully, a very limited period of time.

When you see the red light, hopefully, you can really start to wrap up. If you hear some banging up here, you realize that the time has really come to wrap it up. Frankly, we have some Members here, and we'd really like to have a discussion, and what happens is we start to lose Members because of other obligations, so we do have your statements for the full record. We do appreciate them. They're thoughtful, and we don't mean, in any way, to belittle them by suggesting that you don't read 20 minutes worth of a statement, but we'd rather hear the highlights and then leave time for some meaningful discussion so we can really try to learn from each other today.

So, Mr. Schmidt is the guinea pig for this way of doing business. He is an excellent person to fill that role. We appreciate him being here, and we'll start with Mr. Schmidt.




Mr. Schmidt. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate, very much, the invitation that you and the other Members of the Committee have given to me to come and brief the Committee on some of the work of The Edison Project.

I think The Edison Project's approach to public education reform rests on a number of basic premises. First, it is our view that public education can benefit from well-researched and systemic innovation with thoughtful new approaches integrated carefully into a comprehensive school design.

We think that the private sector may have a constructive role to play in this, in partnership with public education authorities, and State chartering authorities. We're a private company which manages public schools, in partnership with our public partners. We are, if you will, one of the examples of the re-inventing government phenomenon, where public agencies turn to private sector partners to deliver public services and get the benefit of entrepreneurship, private investment, private sector research and development, and so on. As you mentioned, Mr. Chairman, The Edison Project is now managing 51 public schools and charter schools, and we expect to be opening some 25 to 30 additional partnership schools this coming fall of 1999.

In every case, our partnership is a true partnership with the local public school authorities. Our contracts call for us to be completely accountable, first to all of the parents in our schools, secondly, to our public school board partners, who can terminate our contract at any time if they are dissatisfied with our performance for any reason. All parents are in our schools as a matter of choice, and can leave if they wish to, for any reason.

We represent the ability, through a private-public partnership, for school districts to broaden and enhance the choices that parents and teachers have on a voluntary basis within the public school system to work for innovative and new systemic programs of reform. Some of the elements of our schools that I think have proven attractive to parents and teachers, and are proving their value to students, are a longer school day, and a longer school year. Our school year is about 20 to 25 days longer than the norm, our school day about 2 hours longer than the norm.

We offer a rich and a very challenging ambitious curriculum, focused very much on basic, core academic subjects, but including careful consideration of art, music, literature, history, the whole range of the liberal arts and sciences.

We offer our teachers a large amount of professional development support; five full weeks for all of the teachers in our schools before they open the doors; eight to ten weeks for the principals and the lead teachers in our schools. We make extensive use of technology. All of our teachers are given laptops on the first day of their training. Our curriculum and instructional programs are all on electronic framework, and, we provide, at our expense, computers in the homes of all of the children who are in our school. So, our schools are networked from the school to the home via technology.

Our schools around the country together form a national family of innovative public schools that are integrated with respect to technology, curriculum research, training, and the like.

To date, our results on student achievement tests are, on the whole, very good. We have stumbled in one or two schools, but, on the whole, our children are making strong, systematic progress, as measured by the standardized tests that our public school district partners ask us to use, and we do use, in our schools.

I think this is why all of our schools have waiting lists. Parents who would like to have their children in our schools, and in most of our partnerships, we've seen growth as the result of our public school partners asking us to expand the size of our schools.

We are very proud of our record to date, Mr. Chairman. I would be very happy to answer any questions that you or your colleagues have about The Edison Project. Thank you again for this opportunity to appear before you.

[The statement of Mr. Schmidt follows:]




Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Schmidt, and congratulations on doing a great job on the timing. With that, we turn to Dr. Nathan.




Dr. Nathan. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Members of this Committee, and ladies and gentleman. My name is Joe Nathan. I am Director, as you mentioned, of The Center for School Change, at the University of Minneapolis.

I would like to take 30 seconds to say a little bit more about my experience. Mr. Chair, you and I met when I worked for the National Governors Association, coordinating that project. Most of my professional career has been as an inner-city public school teacher and administrator. I am proud to be the parent of two youngsters who recently graduated from an inner-city public school. I have been a local PTA president. My wife is an inner-city public school teacher today, and made sure that I included a few things about the perspective of inner-city teachers who are working this afternoon with youngsters, and I have, as I said, been a PTA president, and done a variety of other things.

The Center for School Change, funded with Annenberg and Blandin Foundation funds, has, over the last decade, helped improve student achievement in a variety of schools; inner-city schools, rural schools. We found that it is hard work, but it is not terrible surprising. You increase family involvement, there are a variety of ways to do that, you get kids involved in active projects. We work with a school where the kids solve consumer problems that adults refer to them, and in the process of solving consumer problems, they learn academic skills.

We work with a rural school where the kids discovered hundreds of frogs that had three or five legs, rather than the typical four, and have gone on to do a lot of research about this kind of thing.

I won't take your time to say much more about this, other than, we found that increasing family involvement, combining classroom work with community service, having clear, explicit goals, and being serious about accountability, produces increased achievement. I could say a lot more about that.

I'm here to ask for your help in three areas. First, the National Collegiate Athletic Association is making it much more difficult for high schools throughout the United States to reform their schools. Representative Kildee, recently, the Detroit News had an article talking about 90,000 dashed hopes, the number of youngsters throughout the United States who have been told by the NCAA that, despite the fact that they have excellent academic records, in some cases National Merit Scholars, including some from your State, and even class valedictorians, that they cannot participate in college sports because the NCAA had the audacity to reject one course that the youngster took.

Representative Goodling, this last Sunday, the Philadelphia Inquirer had a column by Mike Bruton, talking about the impact of the NCAA. Talking about how the NCAA was taking thousands of hours away of counselors time that could be used to work with students to fill our the NCAA forms. The NCAA has written to every high school in the United States and said they want a list of courses, and the NCAA will tell high schools all over the United States which courses are and are not acceptable.

I believe the Congress wisely rejected national standards, but we now have the National Collegiate Athletic Association setting national education standards.

In the prepared testimony, I want to call your attention to two quick things. First, just after page 13 is a letter written to a Minnesota school district rejecting an interdisciplinary english-social studies course. You'll notice, in that three sentence memo, there are three grammatical mistakes.

This is the organization that purports to tell the nation's schools how to run themselves. The next page is a memo. I want to call your attention to a particular sentence, "the self-paced and performance-based approach are not acceptable."

Now, who is the NCAA to be telling the nation's schools how to run their schools, and, by the way, there is a grammatical problem in here. It should be self-paced approach is, or approaches are. I include a variety of documents, including an editorial from USA Today blasting the NCAA. This is the second editorial they have written. There is an article from the New York Times describing a class valedictorian who was told he couldn't participate in college sports, and this goes on and on.

Now, it is laughable, except there are thousands and thousands of teachers, throughout the United States, who have had their efforts frustrated, because the NCAA's standards are so absurd. We had a hearing recently in Minnesota in which the NCAA acknowledged that they won't access any social studies course that spends more than 25 percent of its time on current issues.

There is more to say about this, but I want to get on to two other things. Representative Owens has urged Congress, and I think, appropriately, to get serious about school buildings. I believe that school buildings, and thoughtful funding of innovations in school buildings, with shared facilities, is one of the highest priorities in the nation.

When we work with schools throughout the United States, we have found that some buildings are in marvelous shape, and some are a disaster. Federal money can be used very skillfully to mobilize, to catalyze, extraordinary efforts.

A museum in Northern Arizona created a charter public school in cooperation with the Arizona State teacher of the year on the grounds. An insurance company in Florida has created a public school. Thoughtful use of Federal dollars, as Representative Owens has suggested, I think, can produce a new generation of American schools which are not just huge boxes with lots of computers in them.

Finally, I want to encourage you to carefully consider not putting all of your eggs in one basket, as you talk about attracting and retaining teachers, and I described some things that we're doing.

Last sentence: Just Monday, the Minnesota legislature, with bipartisan support, passed the new teacher training program that says we're going to identify, in Minnesota, five outstanding public schools, and let them be in charge of teacher training, and I would be delighted to tell you more about that if you're interested. Thank you very much.

[The statement of Dr. Nathan follows:]




Chairman Castle. Thank you, Dr. Nathan, and thank you for the effort to keep within the time limit. You talked almost as fast as I do most of the time. Mr. Huggins, we're pleased to have you here as well.




Mr. Huggins. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Committee, for the opportunity to be here to talk to you today. As you mentioned in your opening statement, I represent The Education Leaders Council, a group of reform-minded State education chiefs from seven States.

Our members believe that there is a great need for a shift in focus for education policy at all levels; Federal, State, and local. We believe this shift should include maxims like policies that put the needs of children and parents over systems, policies that focus on driving student achievement rather than process and procedures, and those that empower the creativity, energy, and unique abilities of community, enterprising school leaders, and teachers.

We start with high expectations for all students. In our States, and in many others, these are expressed in clear and challenging measurable standards backed by rigorous assessments. We think that standards and assessments are simply window dressing, however, and accountability becomes another buzz word, if they're not paired with consequences, and remediation, and failure, and rewards, and incentives, for success. Those affected by rewards and consequences must include students, teachers, principals, and schools.

We, too, believe in increasing educational choices. No reform today has unleashed the forces of freedom, enterprise, and accountability more effectively, we believe, than the vibrant charter school movement that is taking place in a number of States right now.

They provide a level of accountability that is unmatched anywhere in our public system today. We also believe that they embody most important elements for improving all of our schools. They are accountable, autonomous, provide healthy competition, and they show the value of pushing freedom and regulation away, pushing authority to the school level, and giving choices to parents.

They also provide new professional opportunities for teachers. Now, in these that I've mentioned quickly and briefly, and the reform examples from our States that are in my written testimony, there is a common thread, and we think it is a model for Federal education policy.

We began in our States, again, with high standards and expectations for results, identify clear indicators to measure our progress toward those results, and are flexible with regard to the means of accomplishing those results.

This is the same approach that almost every successful modern enterprise has adopted to boost their performance and productivity, and, we believe, again, it is a good model for Federal education policy, as well.

In my written statement, I think there is more evidence of how this dynamism is taking place in the States with different reforms, and I would like to have that, as you said, put into the record, along with that, ELC has a statement on ESEA reauthorization that is included with that. We would like to also include that.

I wanted to finish by saying a few words about ESEA. We believe that the challenge before Congress is to craft Federal education policies that will support and reinforce the initiatives being taken in States, rather than constraining it. The charter school model is a great model for this type of approach, and we've got some experience with that in ELC States.

In our seven States, we have 65 percent of the nation's charter schools, for instance. We're pushing control to the school level, and, most importantly, we're trusting local educators. We think that charters are a very powerful reform in our States, not only for the school themselves, but they leverage change in the entire public system, and that is very important. It is not just the charter schools and other choice programs and the students in them that are being helped, it is the leverage that they bring to the system, and there is a good example from Arizona in my written testimony that you may want to look at, along with studies that talk about other examples.

We would like to see Congress apply that same freedom and accountability to the States. We believe that Federal policy should reflect the positive leverage, as evidenced with charter schools, and that you get from freedom and accountability, rather than the dead weight, frankly, of the top-down approach that exists today.

We think it is time to liberate States from the categorical mindset and the compliance mentality that exists today, and, I think, Ed-Flex was a great step in that direction. We think we need to go further. We think that States should be the senior partners, and be given more freedom to innovate.

Unfortunately, the White House proposal on ESEA reinforces and adds to the categorical approach. If I can use a poker metaphor, the White House has, essentially, said, "We see your categorical programs, and we raise you more categorical program."

We believe this goes against the tide of freedom and innovation that is working in the States, and, frankly, driving accountability in the States. In our area, at least, the walls are coming down, and in Washington, they are still building bricks.

You also will have a very different proposal in front of you to consider, the Straight A's proposal. We see that as a very positive way to liberate States, at least those States that want to be liberated, to follow their own paths that they see producing results in their States today.

We think that that liberation, with accountability, not asking, again, to send money and forget about it, but accountability that would go with it, would focus Federal efforts, and leverage Federal efforts to support student achievement, rather than simple compliance, which is where we are today.

We hope you will strongly consider the Straight A's approach, or, at least, doing both. We have the universe of having those who continue with categoricals if they prefer, or, let States that wish to innovate and have shown ability to do so, do so.

But, with the current approach that is failing our kids, we believe, we can't let our answer be that we are going to give you more of the same. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

[The statement of Mr. Huggins follows:]




Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Huggins. We appreciate that. Mr. Rotherham, you're next, sir.




Mr. Rotherham. Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you very much for the opportunity to share some Progressive Policy Institute ideas on school improvement and how, here in Washington, we can most effectively play a role in that process. I appreciate the opportunity to be with you.

The mission of PPI's 21st Century Schools Project is to develop and advance policy initiatives aimed at strengthening America's public schools. The project works with leaders in education at all levels, government, academia, and the non-profit sector, to help make the role of government in facilitating quality public education as effective and constructive as it can be.

Mr. Chairman, I believe in the past few years, those of us who favor substantial improvement of schools have been painted into the corner. A false choice has been established in the public dialogue about education, which asserts that if you are not for private school vouchers, then you must find the status quo acceptable.

This debate is a disservice to school children because it distracts policy makers from the serious work of improving schools. Rather than a dialogue about how to improve education to all American students, our discussion gets bogged down in a debate over whether or not to give a handful of students vouchers. This is distracting, and ignores the widespread support for market-based solutions and private sector involvement in public schools by those who do not necessarily support vouchers.

PPI believes that a combination of market-based accountability and public accountability is the recipe for educational success. Parents should have choice, and there should be competition within a public system. The taxpayers have a right to expect that their tax dollars are being invested in publicly accountable entities.

Two example of recent successes that have garnered a lot of attention of late, charter schools, and the dramatic turnaround in public schools in Chicago, have two things in common; local flexibility, and accountability for results. This is the crux of PPI's philosophy on education. There are 50 States and more than 14,000 school districts across this country struggling with diverse challenges. Any program designed to help them must, by definition, be flexible. But, by the same token, we must expect results and accountability from investments in education, and performance indicators must be met.

The recent passage of the Ed-Flex bill under your leadership, Mr. Chairman, was an important first step in this direction. During reauthorization of ESEA, PPI urges you to build upon the framework laid by Ed-Flex and introduce more flexibility into Federal education programs, while at the same time, increasing the focus on results.

PPI's proposal for ESEA is too long to cover completely in the time that we have here. With your permission, I would like to include it in the record with my statement. In short, PPI proposes that Congress break out of the left-right debate over the Federal role in education, with a third-way approach that maximizes flexibility for local school districts and States, while instilling greater consequences for results.

PPI is calling for neither an abandonment of the Federal role, nor continuation of it in its present form, rather, we seek a redefinition of Washington's role in K-12 education. We want ESEA retooled for the knowledge economy. Washington will be more active in areas such as benchmark and quality, measuring performance, empowering citizens with information, and researching and disseminating effective strategies, but it will be less active in micromanaging and process-based accountability.

In 1965, equity was measured in terms of access and spending. That was an important response at that time. In 1999, however, equity must be measured by quality. It is not enough only to target money where poor children are. Washington must guarantee that that money is driving results.

PPI proposed consolidating the more than 50 ESEA programs into broad, performance-based grants around 5 key areas of national interest. These are: strengthening compensatory education for impoverished students; helping limited english proficient students learn english; promoting teacher and leadership professional development; driving innovative practices; and ensuring State oversight and accountability. On the accountable note, we also support a public school choice title similar to what the Administration has proposed, and we support the Impact Aid program, which plays an important role in local school finance.

By shifting from a programmatic approach to a strategic one, the Federal government better utilizes its strengths; providing resources and monitoring results. While at the same time, minimizing its weaknesses; overly prescriptive, top-down, distant from the action approaches that often frustrate local educators.

However, consolidating programs without defining performance benchmarks does nothing to clarify the Federal role in elementary and secondary education, and does not ensure the taxpayer dollars are driving effective practices.

PPI believes that these benchmarks should build on the standard based approach that was incorporated into ESEA in 1994; drive activities to raise teacher quality, guarantee that non-English speaking students are gaining English proficiency, ensure that States and school districts are taking steps to turn around or close failing schools. Washington shouldn't tell States and localities how to do these things, but it should ensure that they are happening.

In addition, while PPI continues to support national standards, in the absence of these standards, we believe that school districts and State performance should be linked to disaggregated results for students of all socio-economic backgrounds on State assessments.

Performance-based grants differ from block grants because they provide clarity of purpose, define benchmarks for success, and hold recipients accountable for achieving these purposes. However, they differ from categorical programs because they are broader in purpose, and the accountability mechanism built into them are result-based rather than profit-based.

In short, we're proposing reregulation, not deregulation. Washington can play a tremendous role in elementary and secondary education. Those who call for an end to the Federal role ignore the gains that impoverished and minority students have made as the result of Federal leadership over the past 35 years. While the achievement gap still remains disconcertingly large, Washington has focused the attention of educators on the needs of poor students over the past 35 years, which likely wouldn't have occurred in the absence of this role.

We must recognize and honor this legacy during reauthorization of ESEA, while at the same time, it is very important that ESEA be updated to the reality of the information age. Thank you very much for this opportunity.

[The statement of Mr. Rotherham follows:]




Chairman Castle. Thank you very much. Mr. Ambach will finish up.




Mr. Ambach. Mr. Chairman, and Members of the Subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity to be at this extremely important hearing.

I want to go back, Mr. Chairman, to your opening remarks. I think that you properly put the focus on children, the needs of children. If you'll forgive me, I've transformed that a bit to talk about children who should be first in the world. The most important thing that should be done in this reauthorization and considering of education reform is to make sure that our children are not performing in the middle of the pack, but they are, in fact, at the top of the pack, and there is nothing in this country that should restrain us from achieving that goal.

I also want to go back to your opening comment, which was about the variety of reforms, and in my remarks, speak to one type of reform, the most significant reform in my judgement, that we've had over these past several years, and I must make a few points with respect to what the Federal government has had to do with these reforms, and how you might reshape the ESEA program in order to further advance them.

The first and foremost point about our reforms and their variety, it seems to me, has to do with scale. All of the reforms that you've heard about today have, in fact, been funded by Federal programs, one way or the other; all of them. So, it is not a question of whether it is an authority available to be able to support these. The support is going to States through localities and then, in turn, into the several proposals that you've heard.

The question is scale. We have 53 million students in this country. That is the projection for this year. If you total up all of the charter schools, all of the voucher programs, all of the alternative programs, and we supported these kinds of alternatives and charters, they serve now less than half a million students. What do we do about the other 52-and-a-half million? The answer is, you have to be working at that with large scale reforms, large scale changes, systemic changes.

It is in these kinds of changes which we have a set of reforms that are extraordinarily important to keep in mind by way of how this Subcommittee proceeds. We have provided for you a book which was done just last September, that indicates State by State what has happened on these reforms. You could do the same thing with a book on district reform.

I have also provided, for the record, a set of recommendations that might be considered. But, without belaboring what has happened in these State by State and district-wide reforms, let me note that the prime points have been, one, as several of my colleagues said, you start with standards. That is the most significant aspect. You move from standards to align the different parts of the system, and then what you do is to focus the resources that you have on those students and those schools and those school districts which are having the least success in meeting the standards.

There are really five lessons, it seems to me, from large scale reforms efforts that are important. I've just mentioned the first one, the setting of high expectations for all students. In terms of your reauthorization, please consider the role of the government in setting benchmarkings, the international studies, the NAEP, the research work, and the standards that must go on through the schools and the States which push excellence.

Second, it is the targeting of dollars for the acceleration of performance for those students who are least likely to succeed. That has been the hallmark since 1965 of the Federal role. In a variety of ways, it must be strengthened. In 1994, you put in place standards, the same for all students. Keep it. You must keep in place concentration, emphasis on those who are lowest-performing. Keep that.

The third key point is to do with directing funds to improve quality in classrooms. This is the issue about several different categorical programs, or streamlining them. There are a few key functions that need to be attended to, and should be attended to, by direct, Federal support. They are professional development, instructional technology, and safe schools. These kinds of functions, you maintain. The balance between Federal taxing, and accountability with targeted programs, and flexibility can be maintained.

The fourth key lesson on reform is that reforms are needed in private schools as well as public schools. Private schools tend to have results slightly higher than public schools, but they are not results which are world class. They are not first in the world results. We have to move up the results for both private and public. Federal programs, for 40 years, have provided support for both public and private schools, in constitutionally accepted means, and in mutual support of the systems. Keep it that way. Provide for strengthening that mutual support.

Finally, may I point out, Mr. Chairman, that in all of the reform efforts, and my colleagues have referred to this, you have to have leadership where the jurisdictional responsibility is, either at the State level, or at the district level. It is absolutely essential to move the vision, to move the alignment, to make certain that the resources get allocated to those most in need, to do quality control, and, ultimately, to evaluate and provide accountability.

These five concepts have been seen in the reforms of the last five years. Many of them are associated with Federal funding. As you look toward the next round on ESEA, I would simply urge that you keep those key points in mind on the reauthorization. Thank you very kindly.

[The statement of Mr. Ambach follows:]




Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Ambach.

We will now go to our question period. The same rules apply. We have, basically, five minutes in which to ask questions and get answers. With five of you there, please don't try to comment on every question that we give. Perhaps we can keep the comments relatively brief so that we can get in a number of questions.

I'm going to start the questioning. I'm going to start with Mr. Schmidt. I believe that you stated that The Edison School Project is looking at 25 extra days per year and 2 hours per day, on average.


Mr. Schmidt. Roughly, yes.


Chairman Castle. Tell me your thoughts on that. Has it worked? Do parents receive it? Has it worked in terms of how the kids react to it? I've always been interested in this.


Mr. Schmidt. Mr. Chairman, I think this is very, very valuable reform. The research shows that, particularly for disadvantaged youngsters, America's extremely short school year, which had its roots in the days when America was an agrarian society, and has remained, just as a matter of inertia ever since, as the schedule most schools adopt. This very, very short school year has a very bad effect, particularly on disadvantaged youngsters, Mr. Chairman, who forget over the course of our long summers most of what they have learned in the previous year. So, we have found that parents like this longer schedule. Very few families are organized to have kids at home for three months in the summer, and we found that the children like this longer year, and longer days. So, yes, Mr. Chairman, I think this is a very valuable element of our overall school reform package.


Chairman Castle. Very briefly, what do you do in that extra two hours in the day? Is it that you just spread your academic day, or, at a certain time, say 3:00, you go into different activities?


Mr. Schmidt. We do several things, Mr. Chairman. First, we assure that every child has no less than 90 minutes a day focused on reading. Literacy is the key to success, particularly in elementary school. There is an additional hour, by the way, on language arts and literature. So, the longer day permits a focus of two-and-a-half hours every day, for every child, on literacy and literature, reading and writing.

The second thing, we believe, teachers need more than 45 or 50 minutes to run a varied and interesting class, so we believe no instructional period should be less than an hour, and these are two of the features of our longer day that, I think, have proven very valuable.


Chairman Castle. I could ask more questions about that, but I want to go to Dr. Nathan about something he said. I believe you made some discussion about Congress considering providing financial encouragement for schools, businesses, and community entities to share facilities. Talk about that a little bit to me. I think it is an interesting idea, and maybe it is a heck of a lot less expensive than rebuilding all of the schools, or whatever, but I'd like you to expand on that if you could.


Dr. Nathan. Representative Castle, a decade ago, when you and your colleagues produced this report, we made the point that it can be far less expensive and better use of the tax dollars, and, most important, a better program--


Chairman Castle. It is that report that has me thinking like this, because I've often thought this.


Dr. Nathan. When you see a program such as, for example, El Puente, an extraordinary program in Brooklyn, which is a shared facility, where social service agencies and schools share space -- or I could go right down the line -- I was in Philadelphia last week and saw public schools sharing space with some local businesses. It seems to me that we can provide some encouragement and save, literally, billions of dollars. Instead of putting up new, huge buildings, we can recognize the research about the value of small schools, and we can recognize the value of getting various groups together, and there are many, many examples of this.

In our community, a YMCA shares space with a school. There are many examples of this. Representative Owens has suggested providing $10 million. I'd like to see an incentive fund of three of four times that much to encourage local districts, social service agencies, schools, and businesses, come together. One last example, we have banks that are provided. Target discount center provides space right within its headquarters for a public school.


Chairman Castle. Do you believe in the research for smaller schools? Yes or no if you could.


Dr. Nathan. Yes, sir. Absolutely.


Chairman Castle. Mr. Ambach, you heard what Dr. Nathan has just stated. You have been involved with more traditional aspects of schools over the years in the work you've done. Do you believe that the school districts, the superintendents, and others administering schools are ready for the concept of sharing space? My sense is that they are. We're seeing more of that.


Mr. Ambach. Yes.


Chairman Castle. Both people coming into the schools, and then schools going out to other locations?


Mr. Ambach. Yes, no question about it.


Chairman Castle. Good. Mr. Kildee.


Mr. Kildee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We passed Ed-Flex recently, and it was signed into law by the President. Mr. Rotherham suggests that we divide the bill into seven separate titles, and now there is the majority proposal for a "Super Ed-Flex". I would like to first start with Mr. Ambach. What is your view of "Super Ed-Flex"?


Mr. Ambach. First of all, having just passed Ed-Flex a month ago, or two months ago, it seems to me it is extremely important, in this reauthorization, to give Ed-Flex a real run, and to see by way of analysis as to how it works.

The second point I would make is that super-flex is, essentially, a revenue sharing bill, with a promissory note five years due. That is essentially what it is. It doesn't provide the kind of flexibility, which is complete flexibility, but, to the extent, for example, an $8 billion program of targeted funds to children with economic disadvantage, doesn't end up being that kind of program. Under the Super-Flex, a State can, virtually, use those funds for any aspect of education, and any children to be served that they choose. There are no limits whatsoever as to the way in which the funds get used. That is all to be negotiated with the secretary of education.

In my opinion, in the ESEA reauthorization, you should not put this super-flex provision. I think it will undercut, very badly, what is being attempted by way of strengthening provisions for the other aspects of it. Granted, that it is completely a choice item, but, I think the question is, whether you want to start a revenue sharing program as a part of an ESEA reauthorization. Perhaps it ought to be given a separate airing. Perhaps it ought to be considered separately, and maybe even as an entitlement program or on another side of the budget. But, not within ESEA.


Mr. Kildee. I can recall back in 1981 when Mr. Stockman and Mr. Reagan were around. We had chapter one and chapter two, and chapter two was supposed to be a block grant. The trouble is, chapter two funding dropped significantly. Very often this causes a program to lose its identity, then it loses advocacy, then it loses money. I always worry about that.

Let me ask Mr. Rotherham, why do you feel that PPI's proposal to consolidate ESEA into seven performance-based programs is better than the Super-Flex proposal?


Mr. Rotherham. That is a great question, Congressman. I have seen a lot of specs and theme papers on Super Ed-Flex. I haven't actually seen specific legislation, so I'm leery to make comments about the specific bill, but, based on what I understand, with anything like this, the devil is in details, and I have not yet seen them.

But, our proposal is, first of all, markedly different in that we define a Federal role. PPI believes strongly that there is a Federal role in education. It needs to be defined around what is quality, what is benchmark, and around targeting money. Based on what I've seen with Super Ed-Flex so far, it abdicates that role to the States.

Secondly, as I said, we define performance benchmarks, things like raising teacher quality, turning around failing schools, raising student achievement, and, in that way, and by putting things on the bill somewhat similar to what the President has proposed, it is sort of, if you will, flywheel federalism. You drive what you know to be effective, research based practices at the local level.

Third, and I think, most importantly, there's got to be some sort of targeting language or some sort of hold harmless, and I haven't seen exactly how that is going to be addressed. As you know, and according to the GAO, for every dollar that is provided, a Federal dollar to a student in a school district in this country, $4.73 is provided to a poor student. At the State level, that ratio is only 62 cents additional for every poor student.

The Governors are doing some tremendous things around this country and should be encouraged, but, over all, on the aggregate, the record of getting money to where it is needed and to areas of distress is very mixed.


Mr. Kildee. You would say that there is a Federal role, and the Federal role is more than just having 50 Brinks trucks driving through State capitals loaded with money?


Mr. Rotherham. Yes, we would agree. Also, that shifting regulatory responsibility from one bureaucracy to 50 does nothing to define the purposes of those programs, to provide clarity, or, most importantly, for local school officials, to ease the regulatory burden.


Mr. Kildee. Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Kildee. Mr. Goodling, who is the Chairman of the full Committee, will be the next to ask questions.


Mr. Goodling. Mr. Schmidt, do you negotiate the contracts when you take over a school, or do you have to live with whatever has been negotiated?


Mr. Schmidt. No, sir.


Mr. Goodling. As far as the instructional and non-instructional employees are concerned?


Mr. Schmidt. No, sir. We negotiate a special contract when we take over a public school. A majority of our contracts with school districts have involved agreements with the local teachers union to amend their overall collective bargaining contract so it will fit with our program.


Mr. Goodling. When you extend the school day and the school year, is that reflected in the contract?


Mr. Schmidt. Yes, sir. When we extend the school day and year, we work out different, but appropriate, compensation arrangements for the teachers. There are many elements of our program that are quite different from the usual public school, and all of that has to be reflected in a special contract with the teachers or their collective bargaining agent.


Mr. Goodling. And as you expand all over the country, do you have something in place to make sure that you are not developing a national curriculum?


Mr. Schmidt. Well, we do have a core curriculum that is common in all of our schools, Mr. Goodling. But, it is a curriculum that permits the local community to add to it, to revise it in certain respects if they wish, so each of our schools is a reflection of its local community, as well as getting the benefit of a national core curriculum, if you will.


Mr. Goodling. Dr. Nathan, I was glad that you talked about the school building problems, because one of the greatest debts is putting up building after building after building when you have other buildings in the community that should be used.

Harrisburg just recently joined together with the school district, and they are refurbishing many of the buildings that are there that aren't being used, and are transforming them into school buildings. Do you run into, "I want the school building in my district to look like the school buildings in other district," particularly from parents?


Dr. Nathan. Representative, one of the marvelous things about public school choice, about which we've talked a number of times over the last 20 years, is that families can have options, and there certainly are parents that want the school building to look like the traditional school building. On the other hand, there are literally millions of families using public school choice programs, which I favor, by the way, while opposing vouchers, but there are many, many people throughout the United States in rural, urban, and suburban areas who selected programs.

On other example is a suburban area in Minneapolis where they have a public school located at the zoo. It is a public school choice. Hundreds of families are selecting that, even though it doesn't look at all like a traditional school building, because it provides a high quality option within the district. So, I think that one can accomplish the goal of stretching tax dollars, and, at the same time, as the chairman said, with the small school idea.

By the way, in my testimony, you will see, supported by both ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and the American Federation of Teachers, the value of small schools. That is interesting when you get that range of support for an idea. So, yes, sir, I believe there is very strong evidence throughout the United States that many, many families will select non-traditional school buildings and arrangements based on the kind of program that they offer.


Mr. Goodling. Do you have any academic data to indicate whether your charter schools in Minnesota are doing better, worse, or the same as traditional public schools?


Dr. Nathan. Mr. Chairman, we have conducted research that has been featured in places like the New York Times that shows major, measurable, improvement in a number of the charter schools. Charter schools are enrolling a very different population than other public schools. Some fear that the charter public schools in Minnesota would cream off the kids who were doing well, and exactly the opposite. But, we have identified a number of charter schools that are producing major, measurable improvements, in some cases, greater gains than schools in the same neighborhoods.

Two of the schools have been closed, as several people said. Part of the charter idea is that schools that are not effective should be closed, and as a person who helped write the Nation's first charter legislation, talked about it, written about it, I believe, as several people have said, in accountability.

So, the record is encouraging, and the legislature, on a bipartisan basis, has just put millions of dollars, following the Federal lead, into start-up funds and to building facilities start-up funds. But, the record is mixed, but encouraging.


Mr. Goodling. My time is up. I'd be interested in knowing, later, Mr. Huggins, if you've improved the critically low-performance schools, and also, those that are not quite critically low-performing? Have you done equally as well?


Chairman Castle. Mr. Huggins, if you would like to take a brief moment to answer that. It is the Chairman who asked the questions. We'll extend it a little bit for him.


Mr. Huggins. Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I don't know that we can see that we have. I think that one of the important things of setting high standards and having high expectations for all children is that we don't ignore any of the folks that are involved in that process.

Another point that I think that brings up, that is important, is, I think, we should look at our standards setting as a starting point. The Florida example with critically low-performing schools. That was based on a standard that said if two-thirds of your kids in this school are able to do reading, writing, and math, at the basic level, then your school is so defined, and that got 158 initially identified on that list.

Three years later, not one of those schools remains on this list, but the folks in Florida, Frank Brogan and those folks who started the program, would tell you that was just a first step, that was just a starting point, and the A Plus program that just passed will be based on the State's standard based exam, and that is a little higher bar, and, I think, even those bars that States have set now ought to be living documents, and we ought not to feel like we've reached an end here.


Chairman Castle. Thank you. Mrs. McCarthy?


Mrs. McCarthy. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Schmidt, what is the average amount of children in each classroom through The Edison Projects?


Mr. Schmidt. It varies, Mrs. McCarthy, because we have different size classrooms for different instructional aims. Our reading classes tend to be very small, usually 15 children or fewer. We regroup those children every eight weeks based on individual assessment, so, no child is every way ahead or way behind of his or her cohort in reading.

Likewise, our math classes tend to be quite small, fewer than 18. Our other classes, as a result, tend to be somewhat larger. In general, the teacher-student ratio in Edison partnership schools are just about the same as the student-teacher ratios in the public school districts which are our partners. But, we divide the children up into different size groups depending on what the instructional aim is.


Mrs. McCarthy. Just a follow-up with that, what, basically, is the average cost for each student in one of the schools?


Mr. Schmidt. We receive, from the school districts, a per pupil revenue that is based on what the school district is spending otherwise in support of the education of all of it's students. So, our per pupil revenue varies tremendously depending on where we are. It averages, across all of the districts, with which we're now partnering, just a little less than $6,000.


Mrs. McCarthy. All of you had mentioned earlier that the majority of the parents are very involved in the schools. We see that in our very successful schools on Long Island. Those that have higher parent involvement, those kids are terrific, it didn't matter where they were.

In those areas where poverty is and issue, and where we don't have high level of parents, those students don't do well. How do you motivate, or are your parents already motivated because they're sending their children to one of your schools? Is that why their children are doing so well?


Mr. Schmidt. Well, I don't think it is, Mrs. McCarthy. Some of our schools are neighborhood schools in which the parents in the neighborhood have the right to come if they wish. They have the right to opt out, but, virtually all come. So, these are schools serving the same neighborhoods. We're getting about 95 percent regular parent involvement. I think we're doing that for three reasons. One is our report card system. In a quarterly meeting, four times a year, teachers invite the parents in to hear a report on their child, and teachers follow-up with that with telephone invitations, and whatever it takes.

Secondly, our schools are open all day, so parents who work can find time to come into the school and meet with the teacher. The computer that I described that networks each home to the school, I think that is a very important electronic link that the parents have with the schools and the teachers.

We found that in our schools in inner-city communities with more impoverished student bodies, that parent involvement is just as high as it is in our schools that are located in more middle-class areas. So, I think if schools are open, parents will tend to want to be very much involved.


Mrs. McCarthy. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mrs. McCarthy. Ms. Roukema?


Mrs. Roukema. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am really very interested in everything that has been said here, and want a little bit of amplification, perhaps. I heard what you said about benchmarking, and particularly as you compare our standards to other schools, particularly European, and even some Asian schools. I can remember a time, and it wasn't in the too distant past, that we used to call that the back to basics movement, and I don't know if you would agree with that. I see a couple of smiles there.

But, I would certainly agree with that. I don't know if you want to comment further on that, back to basics, but I do think they're related to something that you did talk about, and that was class size and teacher training, and I want you to know that we've heard that, and that should, definitely, be one of our top priorities in terms of, under State and local control, how we give that kind of help. Anything more you can say on that? I hope not too many people are going to look askance at me, but, as a Republican, I think we do need at least 100,000 new teachers, okay? So, I'd like to hear your comments on that.

But, in addition, one of things that bothers me, and I do like the Ed-Flex, and I like State and local responsibility and local control, but what bothers me is, how can we get the accountability at the State and local level when we give this help and give this money without becoming too bureaucratic? I wonder if any of you, with your own experience, could help us out in that policy concern? Anyone? Yes, Mr. Ambach, and then Mr. Huggins.


Mr. Ambach. First, I'd like to respond to your points about professional development, and to put a very, very heavy emphasis on the necessity for professional development. Throughout this country, as the standards have been established, as the assessment systems have been set, and you know this from your experiences in New Jersey, then the issue is, can the system produce? In fact, can the teachers teach? Do they have the equipment? Do they have the curriculum? Do they have the capacity to be able to teach to the standards?

The answer in many cases is no. The most critical need, and the one that, it seems to me, that ESEA can very, very heavily target on is the provision of professional development. You have the model of the Eisenhower Program. There are ways to move funds out to the States, and, in turn, to the localities, but they have to be targeted on standards.

Just to pick up briefly on your second point about how do we assure this ripe mix between a certain focus, for example, on professional development, or learning technology, from the Federal perspective, and yet assure that there is a flexibility at the local and the State level in using it with accountability. Yes, there are some important lessons that have been learned in the last several years on this, about how to do that, and how to do it without a lot of bureaucratic machinery. The answer is, you start with having a local school and school district plan that says, "this is what we intend to do, and this is what our objectives are," and you measure against that. It is as simple as that. You have the objectives and the targets set by the local user, and then you measure against it and you report back on that. Take the actions, whether it is improvement needed, or whether it is a blessing that they keep going.

That is a pattern that has been used in several of the Federal programs. The last point I would make, it is not cheap. You can't do that for nothing. You have to put money into the process of evaluation and into the process of correction.


Mrs. Roukema. Thank you. Mr. Huggins, please?


Mr. Huggins. Okay. First on the 100,000 teachers point, I don't know if I would put the number 100,000 on it, but it may be in a lot of areas, they need more teachers. We believe that States ought to be able to decide if that is their most pressing need. As they receive these kinds of funds targeted for these things, we think that ability to decide, do we need to put it here or do we need that money to help us accomplish something more important.

I also think that we ought not to get into defining how that is accomplished. One of the things in my written testimony that I think is great example is the alternative certification program just announced in Pennsylvania, where you've opened up for qualified professionals the teaching profession that weren't able to do that before. I gave an example of our chairman and Pennsylvania Chairman of Education, Gene Hickok. He is a political science professor, a Constitutional law professor, renowned expert on the Constitution and the law, and he is not qualified, or wasn't previously qualified, to teach in a Pennsylvania high school, or in most other States.

Changing those kinds of things, and attracting those kinds of people to the teaching profession, I think there are some creative things that can happen without us getting too prescriptive. On the standards, I agree with you that we're not world class. We've got a good start in a lot of States, and we're headed in the right direction, but we've got to look at that as an evolving process, I think.

On the accountability question, on the Straight A's proposal, I would argue that we have nothing like accountability right now. It is simply compliance. Do you have a program? Do you fill in this blank? Do you do this paperwork? I think the Straight A's proposal is unique and exciting because State's that choose to participate would say, ``this is how we're going to define accountability in agreement with the Secretary of Education. This is what we say we're going to achieve.'' They set about the business of doing it, with total flexibility to go about it. You know at the end of the game if they've moved student achievement, and if you've had true accountability. I think that is a good setup.


Chairman Castle. Dr. Nathan, do you want to comment briefly on that? Then we need to move on to the next question.


Dr. Nathan. Representative, I'm going to speak now as a person who has been a PTA president. I'm not speaking officially for the PTA, but I've also been site counsel, and currently on our site counsel, and have been involved in all of these issues, either as a parent or a public school teacher or administrator in an inner-city for 25 years.

Money needs to get to schools. The pipeline is very leaky. The reality is that the dollars that are paid in taxes, it gets funneled to the State, to the district, and by the time it gets to the schools, which is where the action is, far less of the money actually gets there. I want to plea to you as a parent, and as a representative of my wife, a public school teacher. She talks about all these great Federal programs, Eisenhower, all of these Federal programs, by the time it actually gets to schools, very, very little money is left. The responsibility and the authority ought to be at the local school level. Thank you.


Chairman Castle. Thank you.


Mrs. Roukema. Thank you.


Chairman Castle. Mr. Scott?


Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'd like to ask all of the panelists, in terms of research, did they benefit from the research done by OERI? Anybody? Mr. Ambach?


Mr. Ambach. I hesitate because I went first last time, and I wanted to be sure my colleagues did. The answer is absolutely, yes. When you refer to the research at OERI, are you referring to both research and development work, as well as the NAEP, as well as the other studies?


Mr. Scott. Well, basically, you have 50 States and however many localities trying to reinvent the wheel to try to develop the best teaching techniques. It seems to me that somewhere there ought to be a repository of research that can tell you what the best practices are so you don't have a couple of States doing well, a couple of localities doing well, and everybody else trying to figure out what to do.


Mr. Ambach. Agreed. I think OERI provides a very good switching station for that purpose, in terms of information about the various aspects of research around the country. I can give you some specific studies or specific activities, which I would say are positive by way of OERI. The work in reading, for example, has been extremely important.


Mr. Rotherham. I think that is an important question. Does it benefit me personally? Yes, it is very helpful for my work as an analyst here in Washington. But when I travel around to talk to local school officials around the country, is it permeating into what they are doing day to day in the classroom and in the schools? No, it is not.

I think that one of the areas that the Federal Government needs to play a much greater role in is in researching effective practices, disseminating those strategies out to localities. You're exactly right, in a lot of places, we do have 50 States and 14,000 school districts reinventing the wheel.

To help disseminate some practices to help get around that is an area that the Federal Government needs to play a much greater role and needs to be much more conscious to make sure it is getting in the hands of actual practitioners. School reform or school improvement, whatever you want to call it, happens classroom by classroom, building by building, and if people aren't getting these practices and being brought into them, then everything we are doing is for naught.


Mr. Huggins. Mostly an echo here. I think that is an appropriate role for the Federal Government, to provide research, and I would say that in States, things like NAEP are a very useful guide in where we stand. I think it is a useful way of knowing whether State standards may be too low. When you get disjointed is where a State's students may score very high, but their NAEP scores are still low. Those kinds of things are very useful.


Mr. Scott. Mr. Huggins, you indicated that the need to get more experts as teachers and pass by the regulations, is teaching a skill that you need special training for, or can anybody do it?


Mr. Huggins. I wouldn't go as far as to say that anybody can do it, and there is probably some special training that everyone should have. I would say that that is not limited to graduating from an education school. I think that business experience is very relevant. I think that experience in the field, if you're a scientist is very relevant.


Mr. Scott. Do you have any quantitative data to show whether the people with a teaching background and expertise in teaching can do better or worse than those who just happen to know the material better?


Mr. Huggins. No. I think that would actually be a very interesting study, to see if those from education schools or background, that may not be rich in the disciplines being taught, indeed teach better than someone who might have a better background in the information, but not as much education theory. I think that is a good idea.


Mr. Schmidt. I think there is some data, Mr. Scott, to suggest that teachers that know their subject better produce better results for the children with whom they work, rather than a teacher who may be teaching math who doesn't understand math very well.


Mr. Scott. If you could provide us with those studies, I would appreciate it.


Dr. Nathan. Mr. Scott, we just surveyed every public school superintendent and principal in Minnesota and had a very strong response rate about this precise issue of who are effective young teachers, and we found many, many public school administrators pleased that young teachers knew their subject matter, and were very disturbed about how poorly they know how to actually teach, which is why the State of Minnesota just adopted this law that says that we're going to start basing teacher preparation right in public schools that have demonstrated they can't improve student achievement.

We did a study a couple of years ago asking the last 20 State Teachers of the Year how many of them had ever been asked to teach in a college or university, and found that only half of them had, and none of them more than once. Last year's National Teacher of the Year was from Minnesota. An extraordinary teacher who you might want to invite if you have not talked with her, Mary Beth Blegen, cannot get a job teaching in most colleges of education in Minnesota because she does not have a PhD.

I think we really have to challenge the way we prepare people, and Representative McCarthy asked about family involvement. We did a study of family involvement training all over the United States because some very powerful research, which we can share, from Joyce Epstein at Johns Hopkins, says, "the best predictor of family involvement is what the school does to promote it."

When I was in inner-city schools, we learned some ways to get families involved, sometimes by going to where they felt comfortable. Yet, all over the country, teachers say they know very little about how to involve families, in part because they say the preparation they receive in colleges and universities does not prepare them to do that.

So, I think I agree with the thrust of your point, which is that there are some very definite skills which people need to learn, and I think we need to rethink the way we're getting people in, not just in terms of degrees, but in terms of who is providing the preparation for those folks to get into the education profession.


Mr. Scott. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Scott. Mr. Schaffer is next, who is also the Vice-Chairman of this Subcommittee.


Mr. Schaffer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Dr. Nathan, you mention the obvious need to try to get as many dollars to the classroom as we can and do what we can to prevent those dollars from going to other places. This is a two-part question, one is, are you familiar with the President's proposal to reauthorize ESEA, and within the context of helping to get resources to the classroom where they're needed, do you view the President's proposal as helpful or otherwise?


Dr. Nathan. Representative, I have not read in detail the President's report. I would be glad to look at it carefully and get back to you.


Mr. Schaffer. That's fine. Then let me jump to Mr. Ambach. The President's proposal on reauthorizing ESEA does a number of things, one, it sets the Federal standard on class size. It also has a number of accountability provisions on classroom behavior of students, discipline policies, and so forth, and there is also a teacher qualification mandate that is imposed in the bill as well.

I'm curious as to whether your organization has a position, first of all, on the whole proposal by the Clinton Administration, but, more specifically, those three mandates that I just mentioned?


Mr. Ambach. Congressman, first of all, on the overall bill, it was released just a week ago. So, we have not a position on the entire bill. We do have reactions on certain parts of it, which are based on positions which are membership has taken earlier. The provisions you were referring to, having to do with certification, or having to do with various aspects of the provision of service are in the accountability section.

Our organization has very strongly supported any increase in accountability within the ESEA, and you heard that reflected here on several members of the panel.


Mr. Schaffer. Let me just clarify. Does that mean your organization supports the notion that 95 percent of teachers must have full teacher certificates?


Mr. Ambach. We have not specifically taken a position on that, but I can indicate that the likelihood is that yes, we will support that.


Mr. Schaffer. Do you think it is appropriate for the Federal Government to establish the terms of contractual arrangements between--


Mr. Ambach. I think it is appropriate that where there are Federal funds involved, that, in fact, the Federal funds are accompanied by certain provisions of accountability, of expectations. I think it is very important to note that on this particular point, the requirement that 95 percent of the teachers who are teaching in the schools who are certified is a requirement to be put in place within four years. But, I would have to point out that the expectation in every single State right now is that you have certified teachers in every classroom. I would yet to find a superintendent, a commissioner in a State, who would say, "it is acceptable to us, and we will live with having less than a well qualified teacher in every classroom."


Mr. Schaffer. So, in your view, and in the view of your council, the possession of a certificate somehow has a relationship that you place great confidence in, that the teacher is somehow now qualified to teach where others, perhaps, wouldn't be?


Mr. Ambach. Yes, sir, just in the same way that we expect that licensed doctors are qualified to be good doctors, or licensed architects, or engineers. One may question certain specifications on licensure for teachers, but the expectation clearly is that we have licensure in order to ensure that everyone is well qualified. And, I repeat, on the fundamental point, that the expectation for all of our schools is that every single classroom has a qualified, licensed or certified teacher.

So, the issue in this bill is whether the pressure to move to assure that there is not less than 95 percent certainly is very consistent with State requirements that it ought to be 100 percent.


Mr. Schaffer. Mr. Huggins, do you have a comment?


Mr. Huggins. Yes, I think we would take precisely the opposite approach. Requiring 95 percent of teachers to be certified doesn't really help in cases where certification doesn't really mean very much, and that is often that case.

Worse yet, in most States, you are going to limit the market for teachers for qualified people who could come in and help and do a lot for schools at the worst possible time. As we're going to need more teachers coming into the system, we can't limit it to the small thin track that is available now, and the one defined by the White House proposal.


Mr. Schaffer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Schaffer. Because we have dwindled to a precious few, I'm going to allow a second round of questions that shouldn't hold you very long, so if you have airplanes or anything you're missing, you should be in fairly good shape. I will start it off.

Mr. Scott is not here now, but I believe he asked the question about OERI, the research component here. I agree with those of you who commented, and something he said, which is, and I think this is true of all Federal programs, when you have 50 States out there who are really running education, who have done a lot of innovative things, you have your organizations which are looking at it a little differently and doing some innovative things as an overlay to that, if you will.

It seems to be that OERI, and I agree with Mr. Ambach, that it provides some valuable services now, but it could provide even more valuable services. I think that is really one of the hallmarks of what the Federal Government should be doing. We should be looking at what is working out there, not just in education, but in everything. What is working out there, and we should formulate it so it can be replicated, so that people can carry it out in other parts of the country. It just bothers me that we don't do a better job of that. I just wanted to get that off my chest. I don't necessarily need a comment on it. Mr. Schmidt looks like he can't resist a quick comment on that.


Mr. Schmidt. I just wanted to comment that I think one of the problems with education research is that, as a Nation, we're doing it without two of the most instructive institutions that generally contribute to research in other areas. Our universities generally contribute a quality of educational research that is very, very poor, and unreliable, if you compare it to the quality of work that is supported by NIH, for example. In the sciences, the education research coming out of our ed schools is not worth a lot.

Second, we have no private sector organizations, for the most part, that are investing in research in order to improve the quality of their services. Pharmaceutical companies, for example, computer companies, and others where there is a strong private sector element. You see strong private sector investment in R and D, and it tends to be tied directly to the quality of the goods and services that are afforded. So, I think that improvement in education research would come about if our universities were held to higher standards in their education research work, and if we had more private sector investment in education R and D.


Chairman Castle. Mr. Rotherham, can you comment briefly, please?


Mr. Rotherham. I think Dr. Schmidt raises a good point, but when you look at a market, one area where you're going to have a market shortcoming in education is in R and D. There is no profit motive, and that speaks to why the Federal Government needs to take a greater role in sponsoring that research, either here or by giving out grants for it to be done elsewhere. Until we get at the market, we'll never fill in the need for that kind of research on a large scale.


Chairman Castle. Mr. Ambach, even briefer.


Mr. Ambach. Very brief. Wouldn't it be wonderful to take over one of the NIHs and put it into education research? The fact of the matter is, it is peanuts. The fact of the matter is, the total budget in education research in the Federal Government is very, very small, and if we are serious about really trying to have a major research agenda, which we should have, and it is a long-standing Federal role, then you've got to think about it in terms of--


Chairman Castle. Sometimes it is public relations and impact, like the NAEP tests for better or worse. Obviously, the standards used this last time were a little bit dubious, but that gets people's attention, at least. Believe me, as a former Governor, when they ranked Delaware, I paid a hell of a lot of attention to that. That caught my attention real fast.


I think it was the musical Carnival, and there was a song in it, and the little girl sang about a village somewhere where everybody knew her name. That leads me to what some of the kids from Columbine and some of the kids from the other schools said to us in the second panel we had last week, I believe, talking about the incidences in our schools. Are we better off with schools where everyone knows everyone's name? Are there any studies on that? You might have an opinion on it, but are there any studies on the benefits of this?

I'm thinking a little more broadly than just the educational benefits. I'm thinking about the social benefits of a kid who could play football, or a kid who could be recognized in some way as the head of a newspaper who might not make it in a big school of say 2,000 or more students, but might make it in a smaller school.

Some of you run schools; some of you have done some theoretical things. I would be interested in your views, and I'm talking about high schools at this point. I'm not talking about class size. I'm talking about the whole society that is the school. Any comments on that?


Dr. Nathan. Mr. Chairman, I'm directing your staff to the last few pages of my testimony which includes a Federally funded research on this precise point. I would like to read two brief paragraphs from this research about very large, and frankly, well-funded Federal studies on this precise issue. Not just about academic achievement. These findings are of a large representative national sample that smaller high schools are more engaging environments and produce greater gains in student achievement. They have better morale, they have fewer problems with student misconduct, class cutting, absenteeism, dropping out, so a whole range of things.

The Federal Government has funded research. It is cited here, documented here. There are other examples of this research elsewhere in the testimony.

I want to give you a somewhat different perspective about educational research. I believe that we have a lot of research about what works, and I believe that The Edison Project is an example of a group who looked around and took some of the best research. Bob Slavin is highly regarded throughout the world for the work he has done,

I think one of the problems we have goes back to what this gentleman said. It is about accountability. Schools right now, in many places, get money regardless of what happens to kids, and I am a strong public school supporter, but I think the reality is, that we would have a lot more use of educational research if the people at the local school level knew that their jobs depended on improving student achievement.


Mr. Schmidt. Mr. Chairman, may I just add a comment? Just two quick comments: The greatest of all education philosophers, John Henry Newman, a Victorian English educator, once wrote, "an alma mater must know her children one by one."

There is a lot of research that indicates that schools that permit teachers and children to form durable relationships, actually lasting for longer than a single, academic year, will produce better academic results, much stronger family involvement, and will build a culture of discipline and order, as well.


Mr. Rotherham. You raise a great point. I was just going to point out that, in a recent evaluation by the Department of Education, the number one reason parents chose charter schools over traditional public schools was small school size, ahead of discipline, ahead of curriculum, ahead of standards, and ahead of class size. I will get to your staff an article I wrote recently for Education Week about this. There is a tremendous body of research that small schools can offer an equally comparable curriculum to large schools, an equal number of extra-curricular activities, and the outcomes are better academically and socially.


Chairman Castle. Good. Thank you. We'll go to Mr. Kildee. That is a vote, by the way, and we are 15 minutes away from that closing out. So, we'll go to Mr. Kildee.


Mr. Kildee. John Henry Newman, I haven't heard his name for a long time, but his famous book, The Ideal University, I read it many times and took tests on it.


Mr. Schmidt. So did I.



Mr. Kildee. You mentioned the licensing of doctors, and, back in 1912, there was a famous Flexner Report on medical education, which probably had the most profound effect on medical education than anything produced to date.

In 1996, the National Commission on America's Teachers, issued a report. Has this report had any similar effect on professional development as the Flexner Report had? Anyone?


Mr. Ambach. The Flexner Report was actually 1912. The practice of medicine in 1812 was a lot different. The fact of the matter is, it took quite a lot of time for the Flexner revisions to take hold. It was not an overnight success. It was a long battle by way of changing the nature of medical education, and actually developing certified and accredited schools.

So, if you look back to 1996 and try to look at the comparison, I would have to say that it is quite early to determine--


Mr. Kildee. Does this report have the potential of having the effect that the Flexner Report of 1912 had?


Mr. Ambach. I'm not certain whether it has the potential. In a way, it is much more complicated to change each institution right now than it was back in the early part of the century. But, it seems to me that the core ingredients of changing education as preparation for teaching are really very well known at this point. They are summarized in that particular commissioned report, but they've been summarized in other reports. In fact, they are largely contained in your Title III of HEA that you passed last year in terms of how to help provide guidance or to support innovations or changes in the institutions to bring that about.

So, to translate it into some kinds of Federal action, pursue the kinds of ideas which are in Title II, and it will advance, particularly if that jumps up to $150 and $300 million, it will advance the cause of transforming preparation for teachers, and push it much more, as was mentioned here earlier, as a combination of what institutions of higher education and schools systems do together.


Mr. Kildee. I taught school for 10 years. There are people that know what to teach, they know the field, but they do not know how to teach. This is where I really think our teacher training institutions have not done their job well. I probably learned more about how to teach in my first year in the classroom then I ever learned in college. Very often it was three pages ahead of the kids and catch me if you can. But, I really learned what worked and what didn't work after I was already a licensed teacher. And I think that what we have to do in our teacher training institutions is do more classroom training of teachers. I want a calculus teacher to be a good mathematician, but, also, know how to teach.


Mr. Ambach. The key, Congressman Kildee, in Flexner, was to move to the residency and internship design, and that is exactly what you are talking about.


Mr. Kildee. Michigan State University is doing that quite well, by the way.


Mr. Ambach. With the other professional development schools.


Dr. Nathan. But the professional development schools are not necessarily excellent schools, which is one of the fundamental problems of this concept. That is why our State has said, well, we'll try that some. But, let's identify some really terrific schools, because the superintendents and the principals said exactly what you said, Representative. They said, "These kids coming out of college know a lot about the field, but they don't know how to work with kids."

Let's identify some schools that are really doing their job, and give them a lot more opportunity to be involved in this.


Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Kildee. We'll go to Mr. Schaffer for the final five minutes.


Mr. Schaffer. Thank you. I want to start out with Mr. Schmidt this second round. You mentioned in your comments and opening testimony about the emphasis that your school places on the entrepreneurism among the administrators, teachers, and so on. With respect to teachers, can you comment on what the greatest barrier under the current education system in America is to an entrepreneurial spirit among educators?


Mr. Schmidt. Well, I think the greatest barrier is that there, by and large, have been no incentives for educators to encourage them to do a better job. Most teachers are compensated under a system in which seniority is, pretty much, the only--


Mr. Schaffer. What about at your schools? Do you practice the typical National tradition of paying the worst teachers the same as the best?


Mr. Schmidt. No, we try to tie compensation to performance, but we try to do so, to get back to something Mr. Kildee was saying, we try to do so in an atmosphere of real teamwork. One of the great problems with education at as a profession is that teachers are so isolated. It is the only profession that doesn't use mentoring and internships, residencies, one way or the other, in the way that medicine, law, architecture, and other professions, do. So, we try to set up teams of teachers where young teachers can be mentored and where they work as a team. But, yes, we believe that teachers, like other professionals, ought to be rewarded on the basis of their performance, and if they perform well, they should be rewarded very well.


Mr. Schaffer. But that concept of treating teachers like real professionals is something we need to move toward with light speed, I would suggest.

There was a previous comment that you made about the research. I think that if we were capable as a Nation to move in that direction of treating teachers like real professionals, either as individuals, as physicians sometimes are, or as members of teams, as lawyers and other physicians sometimes are in their professional capacity, you would create that marketplace that some believe does not exist today with respect to research, from private providers as well as universities. Could you comment on that?


Mr. Schmidt. I think you will see precisely that if you permit public schools, whether charter schools or otherwise, to come into being that are different. You will find public schools that organize themselves fundamentally around the idea of teachers as a professional team, treating them as professionals, and those schools will enjoy a lot of success.


Dr. Nathan. I want to say one sentence. I want to encourage you not to require the States to have 95 percent certified teachers. I think that kind of flexibility is critical for results and less on how do you do it.


Mr. Schaffer. Thank you. Can I ask one question of Mr. Rotherham? In Chicago, you mentioned the example of the Chicago public schools and the remarkable turnaround under Paul Valis. Do principals in the Chicago public schools have the ability to fire those teachers who are not performing up to professional standards, or do they have to go through a district office?


Mr. Rotherham. No, they have overhauled the personnel system. They still have to go through a district office, but they have made it much easier to get teachers who shouldn't be in the classroom out of the classroom. Also, likewise, to get principals who shouldn't be leading school buildings. They have let go over 40 principals. My understanding is that they used to dismiss 1 or 2 teachers a year; now they are dismissing about 50. I don't want to use firing people as a benchmark of success, unless you believe that the regarding the kids in Chicago, there was something in the water and they just couldn't learn. There obviously was something going on.


Mr. Schaffer. You view that added liberty or flexibility at the local level as significant?


Mr. Rotherham. I view principal autonomy to be crucial above all else. A good principal can get around a bad superintendent, but a good superintendent can never get around a bad principal. Likewise, the same goes for teachers. They goes back to comments that Congressman Castle made. One of the best way to facilitate this, quite frankly, it to make schools smaller so that principals can have a better idea of what is going on, more interaction with their staff, and get away from the isolation that Joe talked about.


Chairman Castle. Thank you, Mr. Schaffer. Let me thank the panel. We're going to have to run. We're running pretty late to this vote, so we can't say goodbye in person. But, we do thank you all. It has been an interesting panel. I think we all learned a lot today, and we have your written testimony too, all for the record. Thank you.




[Whereupon, at 3:08 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]