Serial No. 105-142


Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce





Wednesday, August 26, 1998


House of Representatives,

Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations,

Committee on Education and the Workforce


Washington, D.C.
















The Subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 11:04 a.m., at the Coffee Central High School, Manchester, Tennessee, Hon. Peter Hoekstra [Chairman of the Subcommittee] presiding.

Present: Representatives Hoekstra and Hilleary.



Chairman Hoekstra. Good morning. The Subcommittee will come to order.

My name is Pete Hoekstra, I am a Congressman from the State of Michigan and I chair the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations of the Committee on Education and the Workforce. And it is pretty difficult to get that all on a business card, but as you probably know, we are probably into titles in Washington.

Let me give you a little bit of background on this hearing. This hearing continues a series of hearings that we have had on education and education in America. The project has been called "Education at a Crossroads''. What we are trying to do is we are trying to find out what is working in education in America, what is not working. We are also trying to figure out the impact and the effectiveness of federal education dollars as it impacts K through 12 education.

The numbers, when you start taking a look at this stuff from a national level, the numbers are big. We spend a lot of money on education in Washington. When it actually comes back down to the local level, what you will typically find is that for a typical school district, perhaps five to ten percent of their dollars come from the federal government, the 90 to 95 percent of the dollars typically are either locally or state generated. But what we are also trying to determine is the effectiveness of, you know, the five to ten cents out of a dollar that every school district gets from the federal government and whether you are getting the bang for the buck for each one of those dollars.

We have been at this for over a year and a half. We have issued a report. We are also working on legislation. Next month, the House of Representatives is going to consider a bill that we call Dollars to the Classroom and what the direction of this bill is that it takes 31 different programs, small educational programs, and it puts them into a single flexible grant. The objective being, of this roughly $3.1 billion that we spend, today we estimate only about 65 to 70 cents of it gets to the classroom. We believe that by consolidating these 31 programs and by removing and eliminating a lot of the bureaucracy and the red tape, we hope that we can make about $800 million more available to local classrooms. So rather than spending more money, we are taking a look at this and saying let us be more effective with this money that we have. We are spending $3.1 billion, 60 to 70 cents of every federal dollar is getting to the classroom. Let us see if we cannot get 95 cents of every dollar in those 31 programs, get 95 cents of every dollar into a classroom because that is where we really think the leverage point is and that is where we think we can help kids learn in the K-12 system.

That legislation came out of the work that we have done, because we have heard from over 200 witnesses, we have been in 16 different states and we have heard from a cross section of people. We have been in the Bronx, New York, we have been in inner city Chicago, we went to public schools and housing projects in Chicago, we have been in inner city LA, we have been in Milledgeville, Georgia which is a rural district, but we have also been in Delaware, Louisville, and Little Rock. So we have been around the country. And the message is pretty consistent, whether you are in the Bronx or whether you are in Milledgeville, people are saying give us more flexibility, let us set the priorities for our schools and for our kids rather than trying to find a program that may or may not match the needs that we have, and free us up to do the types of things that we want to do for our kids. And that is why we are taking the kinds of legislative initiatives that we are in Washington.

We have heard from parents, teachers, education experts, and community leaders all of whom have been able to share their insight with us. What we do know is that we need to focus and we need to improve education. Our kids are not doing well enough, they do not, I believe, meet our standards as to what we would like them to be learning. We also see that when we test comparatively on an international basis, our kids are not scoring as well as what we would like them to score. On the flip side, as we have gone around the country, we have seen some phenomenally good, successful programs. There are lots of good things happening in education, there are lots of people who are at the local level who are involved with their kids who are getting some great results. So you know, we kind of see a mixed results out there. We do not see all of the kind of results we would like to get, but at the same time we have seen some great success stories with people really making a difference.

The question that we have as policymakers is how do we create an environment where we have more people moving towards excellence rather than people moving towards mediocrity. We think that we move people to excellence and we create an environment for excellence when we empower parents, when we return control back to the local level so that we let administrators and teachers and school boards at the local level have much more control over their children, when we get dollars out of Washington and send them directly back to a local school district and when we focus on basic academics. School districts that have those four components of parental involvement, local control, dollars being spent in the classroom and when they are focusing on basic academics, those are the places where we have seen the type of environment where we see excellence being created.

Today we are focusing on the issue of dollars to the classroom. We do not believe that enough dollars are coming to the classroom. We believe rural school districts are at a disadvantage. In the hearings that we have had both in Washington and around the country, when we get to smaller school districts, we typically find that the smaller school districts will tell us, we do not even apply for federal grants any more, it is too complicated, the paperwork is too rigorous and we cannot afford to go out and hire grant writers. So the rural school districts are the ones that are penalized. It is the large school districts that have the big infrastructure that can go out and hire the grant writers so that they can go hunting for federal dollars. We do not think that that is necessarily the way that the system works best.

One of the interesting hearings we had in Washington, you know, they say well how difficult is it go to mining for gold in Washington? There is now a cottage industry that has established itself around the beltway that send out the big binders that advertise, you know, we will help you find federal programs and federal dollars. There are over 500 programs that are spending X billions of dollars and we will give you the people to call and all these types of things. So what we have done is we have created this cottage industry. That is the great thing about America, there are lots of entrepreneurs. This is a group of people that I think I would like to put out of business, the people that have created jobs by identifying places that they can get money out of Washington and bring it back locally. We need to bring it back easier.

The other thing that we have identified is there is still a lot of paperwork because here is the process, you send money to Washington, we create a program, we tell you about the program, hopefully you find out about it, you apply for the program, we then determine whether you win the competitive grant. If you win the competitive grant, we send the money back to you, you then send us a report telling us that you spent the money the way that we wanted you to spend it and since we cannot believe you, we then send somebody out to audit you to make sure that you have spent it the way that we told you to and then the auditor submits a report back. The bottom line is this, there is a lot of paperwork in this process and this is why we believe our number of 60 to 70 cents getting back to the classroom is probably pretty accurate. When you put in the application, through the auditing and the reporting and all of this, we lose a lot of money that never helps a single child learn.

That is the process that we have been engaged in, that is the dialogue that we have been having with people around the country and that is the dialogue that we are going to continue building on. Even though we have legislative programs that we are working on, and like I said, there are somewhere between 500 and 700 different education programs, in September we are only going to be working on the first 31, which will leave a little bit more work for us in the next Congress.

I would like to turn it over and thank my colleague, Van Hilleary, for inviting me to be here today and for setting this up. I have found that every time we have gone to a hearing, I always walk away having learned something new and I have already learned that many of the people who have chosen Tennessee as home are those who have fled the state of Michigan because we do not treat singers nearly as well as what you do here in Tennessee.

But thanks and it is good to be here, Van.



Mr. Hilleary. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

You did not explain this elaborate-


Chairman Hoekstra. I will, or you can.




Mr. Hilleary. We are real high tech and this actually looks better than the system I think we usually use in Washington. You know, if you have a green light, you are still okay to talk; if you get the yellow, you are getting pretty close to be getting cut off; and if you get red, you have got to go on and let someone else talk. Everybody wants to talk up there and there is a little phrase in Washington that often everything has been said but not everybody has said it, so they keep on saying it again and again. So we have to use these very elaborate high tech systems here to give people the old hook. But I am sure you will be quite liberal today with the gavel, will you not, Mr. Chairman? I appreciate you coming down. Chairman Hoekstra did not have to do this, this is totally his discretion to where he held the field hearings, and I want to thank you for agreeing to hold one in the Fourth Congressional District. To my knowledge, this is the first time, I think, a hearing like this has been held, an official hearing of a subcommittee, certainly of a subcommittee on the Education Committee. So I thank you for doing that.

I want to thank all the folks at the Department of Education of Coffee County and the officials and principal here at the high school, and everybody, the witnesses - and I do not want you to get concerned if I use the word witnesses, I guess those who are going to give testimony and statements today, thank you all for being here, because I know it is kind of a tough time with school starting, for you all to shake free, a lot of you, and be here. So thank you very much for doing that.

I do not want to get the hook either, so I do not want to talk too long, but I did want to say that I think this is great - and I think this is great, those of you who came, we invited I think every principal, superintendent, members of school boards from all over this Congressional District, and of course in our Congressional District, when we have a district-wide meeting, it is sometimes difficult because our Congressional District goes to each end of the state, it actually touches Virginia, Mr. Chairman, and it actually touches Mississippi and one county wide in most places in between. So it is difficult to get everybody to drive to one location, but thank you all for being here out in the audience.

I would just reiterate some of the points that the Chairman made, in that it has been a concern of mine ever since I went to Washington as your representative, and even before then, it has been a concern that we send so much money to Washington and then we get often such few dollars in return. And often we get fewer dollars and we are told how we have to spend it. And this is true in almost any area where we send money to Washington, but it is painfully true in education.

And we do not have an exact figure, we do not have a precise study as to exactly how much money is actually getting to the classroom that we send to Washington, but it is somewhere between 60 and 70 cents, and it is not enough. We send so many dollars up there and then we have a bureaucracy known as the United States Department of Education and there is nothing wrong with having a department level agency, because it shows that we are interested in education, we show that we think it is very important. But the problem when you do that is that it ends up creating a life of its own every time. Every time the federal government creates a new agency, whether it is at the department level or intermediate level, it takes on a life of its own and it wants to grow. That's the nature of bureaucracies, whether they are at the federal government level or at the state government level or at the private sector. IBM has bureaucracies that grow in mid-management that often they wish they could cut back, and do on occasion. That is when you hear all these big stories that they are going through and downsizing. Well, that is because bureaucracies, whether they are in the public or the private sector, tend to want to grow. And at some point, they grow beyond that level that would be efficient.

And we would really love to see, I am speaking for myself and I think for most of the folks who have a conservative philosophy about this, we would like to see more of those dollars stay right here in Tennessee because we have graduated so many great kids for so many years and still do obviously, but the thing is what happened a few years ago when we created the United States Department of Education where the Tennessee teachers and Tennessee parents and Tennessee administrators all of a sudden did not know enough to do what they had been doing for decades quite well. What happened is that all of a sudden we figured we needed the federal government with many, many federal bureaucrats, that all of a sudden they knew more than where the rubber really hit the road, which was in the classroom with teachers in Tennessee or in Georgia or in Mississippi or wherever. I do not understand that.

And so I think it is great to have a federal role in education. I think it is great that you have an agency that can be a resource for ideas and that kind of thing, but why have we grown so large up there and so top heavy when we really need to have those dollars right in the classroom where it counts. So this Dollars to the Classroom program I think is great. And often it gets misunderstood if you say well we would rather take that money and send it right to Tennessee and let Tennesseans decide what to do with it. Sometimes that gets misinterpreted, sometimes it is purposely, consciously misinterpreted for political reasons to say oh, those people, they do not like education, they are for doing away with such and such and such and such in Washington. No, that is absolutely untrue, we just think those dollars ought to be spent in Tennessee because we think Tennesseans, we think the state Department of Education here has got some pretty sharp folks and that we do not necessarily need to be told what to do with those dollars from Washington, D.C.

So that is what this program has been about and I have had the pleasure of going to more than this hearing, we have a bunch of hearings in Washington obviously, but we have had many field hearings all across the country. I went to one in Louisville, I believe it was, not too long ago. And a lot of times we hear the same thing, you know, we wish we had more flexibility. And sometimes people are a little bit timid to say that because they are afraid that maybe if the dollars come to Tennessee, that all of a sudden they will be building prisons with them instead of putting them in the classroom and I think that is a legitimate concern, that we have tried to take pains to fix in the wording of this legislation. But I think it is a great idea.

So I just hope that everybody here will have an open mind about this idea and I want to once again thank the panelists for being here and you all for being here and the folks here at Coffee Central High School and the Coffee County Department of Education. Thank you all so much for letting us have it here.

And with that, Mr. Chairman, I will yield back.



Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you.

Let me introduce the panel today. The first witness is James Clawson, who is a sophomore at Morristown/Hamblen High School in Hamblen County; good morning, thank you for being here, you had a long drive to get here this morning. You guys make interesting Congressional Districts down here.

We also have Ms. Donna Trevathan, the principal at Warren County Junior High School. Good morning, Donna, thank you for being here.

We have Ronnie Murray, who is a science teacher at the Tullahoma High School, good morning.

We have Mr. Jack Sisk, who is the superintendent of Moore County Schools, good morning.


Mr. Sisk. I am not the superintendent.


Chairman Hoekstra. You are not Jack?


Mr. Sisk. Yes.


Chairman Hoekstra. You are Jack, you are not the superintendent.


Mr. Sisk. No.


Chairman Hoekstra. Oh, all right. So what are you, you are the assistant superintendent?


Mr. Sisk. Supervisor.


Chairman Hoekstra. You are the supervisor.


Mr. Sisk. I am the person that does what the superintendent does not do.


Chairman Hoekstra. All right. Do you supervise the superintendent?


Mr. Sisk. No.


Chairman Hoekstra. All right. We have Mr. Joe Lockavitch, who is the President of Failure Free Reading, thank you for being here.

And we have Ms. Sigrid Stewart, who is the federal legislation chair of the Tennessee PTA. Good morning to you.

We will start right over here and kind of go around, and Van explained how the lights work. Nothing bad happens if you get to red, okay? It is just kind of an advisory system. But James, we will start with you, good morning.



Mr. Clawson. My name is James Clawson and I am a sophomore at Morristown Hamblen High School. I am a product of the Hamblen County School System, having attended West Elementary and West View Middle School. My grandmother was a teacher for 30 years and my uncle is a principal at Hillcrest Elementary and my aunt is a special service teacher at the Hamblen County Alternative School.

From my personal experiences, there are several things that I think are working in Hamblen County. The lower teacher-pupil ratio. While attending West Elementary, the average number of students in my class was under 20. I have benefited from this by having received more individualized instruction. Another area which has improved my education experience has been commitment of the school system to place computers in nearly every classroom over the last three years. Furthermore, we have access to the Internet in most of my classes also.

Another good change has been the addition of block scheduling within our high schools. Block scheduling consists of four 90 minute classes. Some of the advantages of block scheduling is being able to complete most of your homework assignments during class and also it gives the teacher more time to give help to students that are having difficulty.

In relation to all the violence in schools across the nation, my high school has developed a crisis management plan. This is a plan to handle any emergency that may arise on any given day. We also have a full time security officer.

Some things that are not working in education; for example, one student brings a gun to school, gets caught and is expelled for one year. Another student brings a gun to school and is only given a 45-day suspension. The reason being the student who was given the 45-day suspension is a special education student. This constitutes a double standard and I believe all students should be treated the same for the same offense. The law I am referring to is the IDEA amendments of 1997. When the federal government mandates amendments or educational bills, I think they need to send monies to the states and local levels. The larger school systems can absorb the cost of these amendments because of the strong tax base but many rural counties, however, have to cut a lot of needed programs because they have to fund these mandates.

In conclusion, what is making a difference in Hamblen County is our teachers and administrators. They care about the students they are teaching.

I would like to thank this committee and Congressman Van Hilleary for allowing me to participate in this hearing.



Chairman Hoekstra. Good. Thank you. Ms. Trevathan.



Ms. Trevathan. I would like to begin by thanking Chairman Hoekstra and Congressman Van Hilleary for the opportunity to speak today. I would also like to congratulate James. He is the product of what we as principals are so very proud of, when a young man of his age can articulate so very well what he just did. I think that certainly does show the quality of education in Tennessee as well as his commitment to learning. Excellent speech. And we did not collaborate, as you may think we did, as I progress with my few remarks here.

As an educational professional for the last quarter century and a principal for the last six years, I have come to one very important conclusion. Nothing is more vital to the future of our country and to our children than their education. I feel that we as educators must not only provide a strong program to strengthen their minds and abilities, but also the character and sense of good citizenship as well.

We can come much closer to accomplishing this goal by encouraging and gaining more local control over both the taxpayer dollars spent on education and on the day-to-day operations in our schools.

One area in great need of more local autonomy is special education. The current special education law has some major flaws as it relates to giving every student the best education that we can possibly give.

First, the federal government has refused to fully fund special education, thus placing a heavy burden not only on the states but on our local school districts who must pick up the balance no matter the cost and the negative financial impact on all of our programs. This lack of funding for federally mandated special education laws hurts everyone - special needs students, regular education students and the taxpayers. The concept of More Dollars to the Classroom would allow local communities more funds and more control over those funds so that money could more wisely be spent. Thus, instead of money being wasted on our great federal bureaucracy, students, teachers and school districts who need to use more funds for special education could indeed use the money for that purpose.

To be specific, our local system has been told that we must now go to the local jail and provide special education services to an 18 year old high school non-graduate who was once certified as a special education student. Since this individual has become a resident of our county due to a transfer from another county's overcrowded jail, and according to federal law, our local school system has been told to serve this prisoner. Dollars for our classrooms are thus becoming dollars for our jail cells. According to the very recent studies, it has been approximated that 75 to 90 percent of the 18 to 22 year olds currently in jail either have been certified as special ed or could be certified as special ed. The concept of educating and rehabilitating these individuals is understandable, noble and certainly necessary for our society, but please, not another burden on our already overworked school staff and under-funded mandated programs.

Let me briefly mention other major problems we are experiencing. The number of related medical services that we must provide our special needs students is draining our budget. This year alone, our school system has had to double the number of nurses that we have employed in the past. Again, dollars for the classroom are being mandated for use in dollars for health services. Through IDEA authorization, we are mandated to provide an extended school year for special education students who would suffer if there was an interruption in their educational process. Are our future scientists and artists' uninterrupted educations not just as important to our country? Why cannot our local, state and communities make some of these decisions?

And how about dollars for the lawyers? The federally mandated paperwork is killing our best and brightest education teachers who come into this field to serve and strengthen these students. Instead of being allowed to spend the majority of their time on direct services to these students, they must spend an inordinate amount of time on the paperwork to ensure that it is perfect. If a parent of a special ed student disagrees with our best educational advice and placement and we are taken to a due-process hearing, if we have committed one procedural misstep or have overlooked crossing one "t" or dotting one "i", then we must pay not only our attorney's expenses, but the parent's attorney's expenses as well. Where does this money come from? Where does this time come from? It comes from dollars and time that were intended for our classroom use. We are mandated to identify these students, and once identified, they must be served. Although we have seen a slight increase in federal funding, it is still very inadequate. There are special education classes in my school - and I would hazard to say throughout the nation - that have a higher pupil-teacher ratio than the regular program. We are mandated to identify, mandated to serve and then left to figure out how to adequately serve the students with our limited resources. We need greater control at the level where we see and feel this impact. Because of the glut of attention deficit disorder certifications, many unruly children are allowed to disturb and create chaos in our learning environment. For the non-certified student, we as educators make the decisions concerning the best placement for the unruly students based on not only what is best for the student, but what is best for the classroom and all the other students that have been in this unruly environment. However, for the certified ADD and ADHD students, we can offer our educational opinion and best placement opinion, but if the parent disagrees, according to federal law, we must maintain that student in a current environment for up to 15 days until a due process hearing can be scheduled with 60 more days for that hearing to take place, at which time we will be told what to do. This practice of unequal treatment is simply unfair, both to a child who received a more severe punishment and also to the child that is suffering with ADD or ADHD. How are children ever going to learn the difference between right and wrong if all they see is unequal treatment? Our great country was founded in order to allow liberty and justice for all - that is all. That is my heart's desire.

And once again, I would just like to thank you, Chairman Hoekstra and Representative Hilleary for the opportunity to speak on a subject that is so important to the future of our children and the future of our country.



Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you very much, Donna.

A little bit of background on the IDEA, and you have given us a good overview of what some of the issues are, this is a program that individuals with disabilities, in the Education Act, we have mandated pretty much to the states and local schools how they will deal with students with special needs, not giving you a lot of flexibility. And when that law initially was passed, there was a commitment at the federal government level that we would absorb 40 percent of the costs of the mandates. That was before Van and I got there, and I think they thought - I think people thought that 40 percent was pretty generous, but by the mandate - you are going to get 100 percent of the costs. Washington said they were going to pay 40, I think this year we bumped it up significantly, I think we are up to about - we are going to pay 12 percent of the mandated cost, I think is where we are at, 11-12 percent. And I say that a little bit facetiously because we were all the way up to paying nine to ten percent of the mandated costs. So this is a case where Washington imposed a lot of costs, a lot of mandates and took away a lot of your flexibility and said this is how you are going to do it, it is how you are going to do it here, it is how you are going to do it in Michigan, and they never came through with our end of the bargain of saying how much we were - or meeting the commitment as to how much we were going to pay.

Thank you, and I had not heard - this is why we do these, we always hear something new, I had not heard this one now of prisoners qualifying for IDEA. And you can imagine what the cost is to a school district, to your school district, if you have to - and remember, these dollars come out of your normal budget, your operating budget, you do not get more to do this - you have to take the dollars and go into a prison and provide learning services to this student, who maybe very well needs them, but it comes our of your regular budget and you do not have a choice. So I learned something new.

Mr. Murray.



Mr. Murray. I would too like to thank you for the opportunity to share some ideas with you.

First let me say that as a science teacher working with statistics, quite often in our students, I often tell my students to beware of coincidence in discrepant events, that they just do not happen that way. I just met Donna and James this morning and James did not really give us an assignment for her to take part of his speech and me to take the other, but that is kind of what has happened.

James referred to the fact that part of the success he thought he had had as a student was because of the number of computers he had in his education and the fact that he had Internet access in a lot of his classes. I can tell you as a classroom teacher with 30 years of experience teaching students subjects such as biology and environmental science, computational science now and web programming, I believe the best use for our dollars for the classroom will be to provide each elementary and secondary school teacher with a modern Internet-connected computer and a large screen monitor or presentation device. Funds to accomplish this should be provided without the strict regulations that usually accompany such federal monies.

Along with that hardware should come sufficient software to allow teachers to produce their own educational materials for presentation to their classes. There are programs such as Clarisworks and one called Webwhacker, which work almost identically on the IBM and Macintosh platforms, so the local or individual teacher could choose which one they were most comfortable working with. Teachers can learn to use these programs very quickly and they would have an immediate and positive impact on student learning.

Another component that has to be provided is hands-on training and practice for the teachers.

In addition to this basic teaching station, I would like to see a video camera that can feed its images into the computer for digitization, to be provided to each group of five teachers. This camera would open up the world of microscopes, small objects, pictures and diagrams and allow them to be blended more easily into teaching units. This same group of five teachers should also be provided a digital camera for remote images. When my kids learned I was coming here this morning, they said take the camera so we can see some pictures and they want to put it on part of their web pages that they construct. So I have taken a few pictures for them to work with in class the next few days.

But this digital camera allows you to photograph school and community activities, environmental studies and various things to be used for teaching units and web page construction.

Besides outfitting each classroom with these improvements, a school needs clusters of Internet-connected computers in groups of 30, so entire classes can complete learning assignments. A cluster for each 200 students in a school is needed to allow each student adequate access time.

I myself have had the good fortune to teach with these tools for the past five years. My entire science department has had the basic teacher station for the past two years. Our students' science skills are improving by whatever means you choose to measure them - either individual teacher assessment, the various scores and tests they take - ours are on the rise.

However, we need more computer clusters in our school and we need for teachers in all learning areas to have access to the best teaching methods. This way we can provide the best possible learning environment for our children.

As you stated, if America is going to compete as a world leader in education ever again, they have got to take some high impact steps such as these. To do otherwise will keep us at the current level of mediocrity, as indicated by the results of the Third International Math and Science Study.

Thank you, sir.


Chairman Hoekstra. Good, thank you very much. Mr. Sisk.



Mr. Sisk. I would like to thank Chairman Hoekstra and Congressman Hilleary for the opportunity to share something that is close to my heart and all educators' heart, including parents, getting more dollars to the classroom.

The idea of Dollars to the Classroom has a lot of merit. We need to have more of the money that our country spends on education reach the people who truly need it. After all, schools, teachers, and most importantly, students are what make up the backbone of America's educational system, if not our whole country - not Washington bureaucrats.

Presently, federal money is distributed to our children in a flawed manner. Not only does Uncle Sam eat a tremendous amount of the money, but the actual method of allocation is poorly conceived.

One aspect in particular that I am concerned with is the plight of the small rural school district. I am in a school district that has roughly 1000 students, an elementary school and a high school.

Under the present distribution system, small schools are repeatedly overlooked with it comes time to dole out federal funds. As the supervisor of all programs in Moore County, I know that we just simply do not have the resources to fill out the mountain of paperwork required to receive federal grant funds.

Let me put it in simpler terms. Washington needs to come to Moore County because bureaucracy has not grown. In our school administration, we have a superintendent, a technology coordinator and myself. That is it, three people. If we even attempted to spend our time filling out the grant applications for federal funds, we could not run our school district in an effective manner. It is foolish. We have a hard enough time filling out the paperwork that the federal government is making us do to run our school system. It is foolish to think that taking our limited time to fill out a grant application that we will likely not receive is anything but a monumental waste of time that robs our children of a better education.

We have applied for certain grants that our teachers have written. Our good teachers write these and it drains them, not only drains them that year, but it drains them. It just drains them, they just do not have enough time to do this themselves.

Meanwhile, many large districts have hired professional grant writers to fill out the applications for them. I get these flyers every day, come to this seminar, for X amount of dollars, and we will teach you to do this. Well, I majored in 101, so it is hard for me to fill out these grant applications anyway, but we do not have the time or the money to do this. So because of this, the large school systems or the school systems that have large tax bases receive the federal grants.

I am not saying that Moore County should receive more or even the same dollars as other districts, we just would like to receive some that is apportionate for our students and our teachers. It is not a fair way to distribute the money.

The Dollars to the Classroom concept would change all of this. If states and local districts were allowed to distribute the money that principally is wasted on Washington bureaucrats, they could provide for both smaller schools and larger schools in an equitable manner. This is because state and local officials know which programs work in Tennessee. So many times we get things from Washington with programs that I am in charge of that have nothing to do with Tennessee. The funny thing is our school district almost lost our whole Title I program when it was first introduced, the new legislation, because we were not poor enough. But we are rural, our children needed the help also.

With local control, the money will get to the people who need it most, the students and the teachers. If you do away with one bureaucrat, you can give that to the students and I guarantee you I would take one student over 100 bureaucrats in Washington. Moreover, this local control will allow all parts of our society to receive the benefits of hard earned taxpayer money, not just the big guys who have the time to fill out all the forms.

In closing, if you all in Washington would just give the locals a chance, you will see education improve. Thank you.


Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you very much. Mr. Lockavitch.



Mr. Lockavitch. Thank you. Thank you for the opportunity to be here. I like to introduce myself as I go across the country as a combat veteran of 30 years of America's longest and unfortunately least known war. It is a war that has already claimed 24 million casualties and this year will take an additional or has already taken an additional one million teen-age victims. And that is the war on literacy.

What I would like to do is share with you some of my observations of the bad news and then share with you some of my observations of the good news. So we will start with the bad and work our way through the good.

Current solutions are simply not working for America's bottom of the bottom students. We have approximately one million students age 16 to 19 who are out of school and without benefit of a high school education. A recent study showed that approximately 440,000 students sitting in America's classrooms have a total sight vocabulary of somewhere between five and 50 words total. A 1993 Justice Department study saw a direct causal link between the juvenile delinquency and inability to read.

Our schools, as you listened to Donna speak, are overflowing with students who by the time they get to her ages are starting to become students who have developed a school-hates-me-and-I-hate-school attitude. And so what we are talking about, as one Detroit judge said, Judge Jeffrey Gallet stated that if you cannot read, you have two choices in life, welfare and crime. Unfortunately, in some circles, crime has the greater status.

As you can hear today, educators are just as frustrated as to what to do with the bottom of the bottom students. Many times what we see is they become long-term special ed lifers, kids that have been in special ed for three, six, nine years, coming up for re-evaluations with little or no improvement, still 16 and 17 years old with a first grade reading level. Or, what is worse, they fall into what is known as the instructional cracks, they have IQs in the low average range of 71 to 89 and they are too high for one classification, too low for another and they are reverted back to the classroom with the stipulation that now they are yours, do what you want with them.

A recent study at Ohio State University basically said that the prognosis is not hopeful. And many times educators become frustrated, and we have all heard of the three good ``Rs'' in education: reading, 'riting, 'rithmetic. But many of them are forced to refer to the three bad ``Rs'' in education, which are referral, retention and rejection.

Just to touch on those real quickly, in terms of referral, approximately two to four million students are referred every year for special services, better than half qualify, the other half do not. It costs approximately $1000 a student to do the referral and that is minimum. That is roughly - and I rounded the numbers - we are looking at approximately two to four billion dollars in psychological services wasted just for qualification into the program that the school must, by mandate, pay. And if they do not work that way, they go into an appeal process. The average cost of appeal right now is $35,000. Excuse me, a due process hearing is $35,000 and an appeal costs an additional $80,000. And what is sad in that particular case is that this must come from local money.

Three percent of the kids are retained in the United States. That can cost $5 billion and the sad thing is that these kids do not catch up, and what is worse is retention does not work for this population as well, because we cannot go back to the old days of 14 year old kids sitting in third grade classrooms with eight year old peers. That just will not work.

So what we are looking at is what do we do with these kids? We cannot turn our backs on the 9 to 15 year old students, we cannot send them out. Now what I am here for basically is good news, what I am trying to tell you is that we have developed a private sector solution after 15 years of research that is working very, very strongly with this population, and more importantly, it is showing some very, very exciting things that the research has, up until this time, said was not possible, which is, it is possible to accelerate the learning curve of lowest performing students. That the treatment does not stop after or that the growth does not stop after treatment has been discontinued. In addition to that, it does transfer to standardized tests. We have also found that the program that we have developed has very much been able to be replicated in situations and classrooms across the United States.

The program is called Failure Free Reading, it is a 21st century solution that capitalizes on the use of technology, on the use of small group instruction and on the use of integrated text material. It can be run by paraprofessionals as well as teachers, so it gives the classrooms - gives the schools more instructional flexibility.

And more importantly, we are finding that in study upon study, from the Journal of Learning Disabilities, from the Australian Journal of Learning Disabilities, that it is possible to reduce the number of students in special ed services, that it is possible to significantly reduce the retention rate in inner city schools, and more importantly that it is also possible to increase the confidence level, change the attitude, decrease inappropriate behavior on the part of the students who were considered failures and who were addressed to as James talked about, the students that develop such negative attitude that they actually bring a gun into school.

So what I am basically saying is that there is good news. It is being developed by the private sector, it is cost-effective, and what we think is that the time has come to get the money into the hands of the classroom teacher in the forms of materials and supplies rather than spurious staff development and mandates that are coming down from Washington that are tying up tons and tons of money.

And I thank you for this opportunity.



Chairman Hoekstra. You and I talked a little bit before. As you were going through your testimony and earlier, you said you had been in Detroit and you were working some programs there and in Joe's written testimony there was a fuller explanation of the success that they have had with a school in Detroit. Next time you are in Detroit, you ought to stop in and see Focus Hope. I do not know if you are familiar with them or not.


Mr. Lockavitch. Private sector?


Chairman Hoekstra. Yeah. It is a program in Detroit that has far-reaching things, but one of the things that they do is they take kids that have failed out of the school system and in using technology and putting 80 to 100 kids into a room for eight to nine hours a day and half days on Saturday, they give them the equivalent of three years reading, writing and math in eight to ten weeks. You might have something in common, you could learn and they might be interested in this program.

Ms. Stewart.




Ms. Stewart. Good morning, Chairman Hoekstra and Congressman Hilleary. I am Sigrid Stewart, State and Federal Legislative Chair for the Tennessee PTA. I would like to give you a summary of my written testimony.

I am honored to be here to represent the Tennessee PTA's views as well as the views of the 6.5 million member National PTA on how the federal government can best assist states and localities in educating America's children through the effective targeting of resources.

The National PTA has long held that the federal government must assume a role in ensuring both equity and access and supporting innovation and high quality academic standards. The Tennessee PTA also views the federal role as very essential. Without access to the funds provided by Title I, the Safe and Drug-Free School Program, the Eisenhower Professional Development Program and other programs, schools attended by low-income children would not have the resources for such children to meet challenging state academic standards. Students would suffer from increased violence and disruption and numerous teachers would go without much needed training. Equally important are the provisions within the Title I and Even Start Programs that promote the involvement and partnership of parents in their children's education. These goals are too important for the federal government to jeopardize the present role it plays in educating children.

Because the PTA recognizes the important role of the federal government in education, I must express concern about some of the legislative proposals currently in Congress. More specifically, I am referring to calls for the block granting of education programs. While I am sure these proponents of block grants are well intentioned, such efforts are not an effective means of ensuring educational accountability and student achievement at the local level.

Specifically, I would like to comment on H.R. 3248, legislation introduced by Congressman Pitts of Pennsylvania, which was approved by the full Education and the Workforce Committee on June 24. Instead of providing more dollars to the classroom, as it claims, H.R. 3248 would undo 30 years of strong bipartisan congressional support for vital federal programs that have targeted help to students and teachers in the classroom to meet their specific needs.

In late June, the National PTA sent a letter to House members stating its opposition to H.R. 3248. The Tennessee PTA agrees with the positions set forth in that letter and finds that this bill lacks sufficient accountability structure, will not target resources to areas most in need and will not provide support for positive state and local efforts aimed at increasing student achievement. Millions of other parents like myself stand with the National PTA to oppose block grants that eliminate important program requirements, including eligibility criteria or parent involvement or in any way reduce accountability for how tax dollars are spent.

The bill does not target funding to areas most in need, a primary function of federal funding for education. This bill proposes to allocate funds from the general block grant based only on student population, with no recognition that children in poverty may require more assistance.

Perhaps the biggest concern of the PTA is the risk that block grants will reduce federal education funding. Historically, block grant education and other human services programs have led to reduction of resources for these programs. We cannot and should not enact legislation which will reduce the level of funding provided to support education.

Before concluding my comments, I do want to thank Congress for providing increases in federal education funding in the last few years. These extra investments have been critical to success in Tennessee and I am sure across the nation. However, our society's commitment to education must be expanded. No federal education program has ever been fully funded. Congress will be back in session in September and will be making critical decisions about public education and child-related programs. They need to hear that federal funding for public education is an investment priority. While I know that Congress' commitment to a balanced budget has made the allocation of resources difficult among competing programs, I urge both of you to please continue to press for additional education funding. If ever there was an opportune time to invest in America's children, the time is now. Economists are currently projecting a 50 to 75 billion dollar federal budget surplus this year and a cumulative federal budget surplus of more than $1.5 trillion over the next ten years. Given the nation's economic strength, Congress has the flexibility to provide increases for public education and children's programs while still protecting other national priorities.

I am proud to report that Tennessee has seen that investments do make a difference. A four-year study done here in Tennessee found that smaller class size will yield substantial benefits. Project STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement Ratio) involved more than 11,000 students statewide. Researchers conclude that the most savings for taxpayers include increased future earnings of better performing students, fewer retention, discipline problems and incidents of school violence.

Thank you and I will be happy to try to answer questions you might have at the appropriate time.




Chairman Hoekstra. Great, thank you.

The format now goes, if we were doing this in Washington, we would have the members sitting up there and we would each get roughly five minutes to question the members of the panel or make another speech, whatever we felt like doing. What we are going to have today is I think a little bit more of an informal dialogue with the eight of us. And so the only thing that we want to do is make sure that our court reporter knows who is talking as we are going through the process. You can figure it out, right?

The Reporter. [Nods affirmatively.]


Chairman Hoekstra. This does become part of the official record.

Just James, the top two issues in your school that you think need to be addressed?


Mr. Clawson. I feel like the dress code is a very big issue in our school right now. I think our school board is currently looking at a uniform type dress code. And I do not know if it creates a better learning atmosphere or not, but that is number one.

Right off the top of my head I honestly cannot think of anything right off.


Chairman Hoekstra. All right. Donna, top two things that you are worried about or that you think are opportunities or challenges.


Ms. Trevathan. Okay. One would be the lack of overall respect for themselves, which I think is evidenced through dress code issues that we are talking about, language, behaviors that we did not see even as recently as five years ago, we see this deteriorating. And I will tie the lack of respect to also the lack of parent involvement, not only in school but the lack of parent involvement in children's lives. And I think it is very unreasonable to think that a parent is going to be involved with the school when they are really not very involved with their children. So we would certainly welcome the type of parent involvement that our PTA representative has talked about. We want it a lot. By the time parents get to middle school, they are pretty much doing the dropout act with us, even the very strong parents because that is the age when the children perceive that it is uncool to have your parents around. So even those that would like to be in the school are really not encouraged because of the peer pressure that kids receive when their parents are there and so forth.

So I would say respect issues and lack of parent involvement are two really big issues for us in education. Which is strange in that they are really not education-related things.


Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Murray, you talked a lot about computers. Is that one of the top two or do you have others, what would you say?


Mr. Murray. Actually in terms of the top two at our school, I would say the pupil-teacher ratio. Just to give you an example, right before I came, our principal stopped me and said did all 30 student in your third period biology show up yesterday? I said yes, all 30 were there. That was our first day. He said we have got a kid in a wheelchair and we cannot figure out another classroom to go to, we would really like to put him in there. I said well, we will find us a table and bring him in, we will figure out a way to serve him.

Now when I start doing labs with 30 kids and 31 tomorrow, it is almost impossible to get around and give those children personal attention. The computer-aided instruction really helps and if we had clusters where they could go one-on-one on a computer, that would help too. But just lowering the pupil-teacher ratio I think would be far more beneficial than anything else that could be done at our school in terms of an immediate thing.

Secondly is the amount of paperwork that I as a teacher have to fill out on these special education students, be they gifted or be they learning disabled in some way. I have to fill out a separate report on each child every three weeks that I get handed - or diagnosed and handed me as a special ed student in any way, form whatsoever. I have to develop for each child what we call an individualized education program for my class in which I am going to try to give him some different goals and different ways to reach those goals than all the other children in my class. Now it is a time consuming job, you spend extra time after school doing this and it is not that it is not needed, but we just do not have the resources to do this kind of work and deliver the same type of educational activities that we could be doing with a little relief in that part.

I would like to see more computers in schools, I think with Internet access and teachers learning how to use them, because we have found that to be a really successful thing to do in our science department. But in terms of the larger problems, I do not think you can ever replace people and I think we need some help in dealing with these special education requirements.


Chairman Hoekstra. Jack.

Mr. Sisk. My first big concern is special ed also, but it is the funding. For a small school system, if we receive one severely handicapped child, we receive an autistic child, we receive a blind child, we have to give them services as any other system, and we have to give them the same opportunities. And in a small school system, this can almost break us. We have to have vision specialists, we have to have OTs, PTs, and special transportation. And you have to give these same services if you have one child or ten children. And this is the problem that we are running into, just like I read in one report, a district in South Dakota, because of a severely handicapped child - in South Dakota the counties are very spread out - they had to raise their tax rate to serve one child. And these children deserve this, but when you are sitting as an administrator and you have to figure out where is this money coming from, this is our big concern.

Also our other big concern is, once again being a small school system, is the vocational program. We are having a hard time serving all the children that want to go the vocational route or the tech prep route. This is a big concern for us too, how can we offer our children the same vocational opportunities in the high school that are being offered in the comprehensive high schools around.


Chairman Hoekstra. Okay. Joe, now you have got more of a national exposure and obviously you are very committed to literacy.


Mr. Lockavitch. Well, I am also a parent of five children in the public schools, so I have got a little stake in that as well.

I think that I have got so many things I would like to say, but the two things that come quickest to mind is (1) I would like to dispel the myth that exists out there when it comes to lowest literacy and non-readers that we have to rely on labor-intensive one-on-one solutions. We can provide more cost-effective, and the technology already exists, to provide more cost-effective solutions that are there. One thing that I see as I go across the country and I know this is going to be hard to believe, but I am going to use the statement and paraphrase it, in many ways, American schools are awash with money. In some areas they have more money than they know what to do with, but they are not spending it in the most judicious manner. We have school districts that I can give you in particular, where they are spending close to a million dollars to work with 236 students with 34 teachers because somebody believes that the only way that they can work with these kids is on one-to-one instruction. And when they are done, they are spending close to $9000 a child and when they did a three-year study, they saw at best they had a 33 percent success rate. That is foolish, you do not need to do that. And so I think that there are extremely more cost-effective solutions that are available in the private sector that can go into the schools.

And then the second is, and I keep on coming back and you are going to hear this theme over and over because I was a former special ed director and university professor at the University of South Carolina where my expertise was in learning disabilities, we are spending way too much money on spurious and frivolous referrals. The classroom teacher gets so frustrated that they think I have got these five to six kids that I do not know what to do with, so what I need to do is to refer them. And so the time clock goes, we are looking at $1000 a kid, one out of every two is going to make it and when it is all over, once they get into special ed, the dirty little secret is that they do not know what to do with these kids any more than what the classroom teacher does. And so you get kids that are in there for three years, six years, nine years, become special ed lifers. And that has to stop because it is my taxpayer money as well.

An idea, which I am a firm believer in, when it comes to serious students, you go back to the notion that you said in 1976 you were going to fund 40 percent of the excess costs. It is a federally funded mandate that has cost an arm and a leg to schools and at best, now you are only getting up to 12 percent. That is diverting a ton of money away from other programs that could be more effective.


Chairman Hoekstra. Ms. Stewart.


Ms. Stewart. First of all, if I may, Jack, do not be afraid of the dress code, it works. Only do not ever call it uniform, call it a strict dress code. We just went through it and it really works, it really improves the school atmosphere. And in doing so, it does further learning too, it improves the quality.

Lack of parental involvement. Coming from me, I know this sounds awful, but we are very concerned with that too. As you stated, in elementary schools, parents are all gung-ho and go with it and then in middle school and high school, they drop off. But I think too often it still is, the PTA still has the idea or the idea is out there that we are nothing but a cookie and punch outfit. We are trying to educate parents in how important they are in their children's lives.

Another thing, one of our concerns, since the 20 percent of our student population is 100 percent of our future, all government agencies have a responsibility - the federal, the state and the local - to adequately fund public education.

In my home town right now, Hamilton County, we went into the problem of not having enough funding. We just consolidated school systems and the funding was not there and now the buses had to be curtailed. So funding, adequate funding is the main problem that I see. And that has to be on all levels, from the federal, the state and the local.


Chairman Hoekstra. As a principal and as a supervisor, what is the governance procedure for education here in Tennessee? Do you have elected school boards?


Mr. Sisk. Elected school boards.


Chairman Hoekstra. Use the mic. Excuse me.


Mr. Sisk. In the counties, the school boards are elected. They have now passed a law that superintendents will be appointed by the year 2000 by the school board. Until recently, they were elected by the county people also.


Chairman Hoekstra. So as administrators or whatever, you feel a certain accountability to the voters.


Mr. Sisk. Well, there is no superintendent here.


Chairman Hoekstra. Okay, but-


Mr. Hilleary. Nobody here is elected.


Chairman Hoekstra. No, nobody here is elected, on the panel, but the structure of the system does put in place a fairly good system for accountability of the people who run the schools to the voters.


Mr. Sisk. If I am not mistaken, the way I see it is the superintendent when he is appointed by the school board becomes the CEO and the supervisors under him also become part of that team. So yes, when my superintendent, who was elected and will be appointed maybe at the next school board meeting by the school board, they become more powerful. Not more powerful, but they are given more responsibility and the school board then decides if they are going to renew their contract or not. Well, if they want to get rid of him, they can also get rid of the administration. That is the way I see it.


Chairman Hoekstra. This is evolving.


Mr. Sisk. Right, it becomes a CEO and so you are held accountable by the school board and yes, you have to do a good job or everybody can be taken out.


Chairman Hoekstra. The reason I ask, in Michigan, we have got elected school boards and it is a pretty defined process in recognizing who works for who. I mean the school board and the administrators recognize that they work for the voters. I was in a school district yesterday meeting with the teachers and it was a school district that had had some trouble and in this past year, they passed by eight votes. In Michigan we fund school construction with millage votes. Think about this, this school district and who they are accountable to, for the first time in 40 years they just passed a millage. So the last time they did any major or significant construction in the school district was in the 1950s. The school system had not created a system where they had gotten the support of the voters.


Mr. Sisk. What did happen in Tennessee, it happened in one county in east Tennessee, they were not fulfilling their obligation, test scores, the way they spent money, the state put them on probation and I do believe they took over, I am not sure of that. But the school board is now, with the superintendent being held accountable by the state school board, and if they do not fulfill that, the state can take over that school system.


Chairman Hoekstra. This is the thing that Van and I struggle with on this education issue, and I think you guys have all - we have gotten all the points of view here and this is what Van and I have to struggle with especially as we talk about Dollars to the Classroom, is, one school the dress code might be seen as an assistance in creating discipline and respect and a better learning environment. Other schools may have an issue of parental involvement.

When we have been in the Bronx in New York, they are not worried about parent involvement, these kids are seeing drugs on the streets, they are seeing violence on the streets, they hear gunshots every day and they have got other issues to deal with. You know, you talk about student-teacher ratio, computers, paperwork or special ed. And I think what we have seen as we have gone around the country, I see it even in my own Congressional District, the school district that I was talking about and I come from what is pretty much a very prosperous district. Every time GM downsizes by 1000 people, I get 300 new jobs in my district because they are moving from Detroit to my side of the state. Unemployment rate in my home county is less than three percent. But even within my Congressional District, I also have one of the ten poorest counties in the country. So you go from a very prosperous district to a very poor district, and the needs are so different in each one of these districts. And this is why, and even what you have talked about, what your different priorities are, I have a hard time going back and I also came out of the private sector. Some of you may feel or some of your superintendents may feel they have two bosses. They have got the people at the local level that they are accountable to and then they are accountable for the federal paperwork. And I think in the private sector it never works when you have two bosses. I think, I do not know if any of you have any comments on that, but I think much of your testimony - and Ms. Stewart, I am not sure if you agree with it or not, but why we would not move more decision-making to the local level to give them the flexibility that if in this school district, you have got some of the other issues under control and you have identified an opportunity for computers, that is what you focus on. In another school district, if you identify literacy as a problem, why not give the people in that school district the opportunity to take a disproportionate amount of money and allocate it to literacy if that is what their real need is.

You know, we have been in LA, how many languages are they speaking in LA today - what is it, 90 or is it 200? So in LA the public schools have to deal with, you know, 200 different languages. In my district, I was born in the Netherlands, I live in Holland, so I am a big risk-taker, you know, we have English and Dutch. But why would you not give that authority and that autonomy to a local school district to really move the dollars back and forth?


Ms. Stewart. I am not really an expert on this, this is just my own personal feeling on this. I think I would be afraid that there may be too much, like you said, there are rich districts, rich schools and poor schools. The poor schools, from the beginning, need more than the rich schools because the parents in the rich schools can and will supply a lot more for the students.


Chairman Hoekstra. The federal government, remember we do not take care of that much of the inequities. I do not know again how you finance here in Tennessee. In Michigan, our schools now are - all the money basically goes to the state and we have narrowed the band between rich and poor. And most states are doing that now because it is the court order, equal opportunity education. Ohio just had their funding system thrown out. So that I think as a nation, we are pretty much taking care of the discrepancies in funding between rich and poor school districts.


Ms. Stewart. I am afraid it all comes down to the old saying, the wheel that squeaks loudest will get the oil. Maybe the poor districts may not be able to squeal as loud, which is what I am afraid of.


Chairman Hoekstra. I am not sure federal funding addresses the inequality. Inequality is one thing, and I think we can do that through a formula but rather than have the money come down targeted at specific programs which we do today, whether it is 31 programs or whether it is 500, why not give the local school districts so much more flexibility that says, you know, we really need to focus on literacy and maybe we can tie it with computers, maybe we cannot. But that says, hey, the people at the local level really know what needs to be done and if they need the literacy program, let them take their money and put it into literacy.

Van, have you got some questions?


Mr. Hilleary. Talking about this squeaky wheel thing just a little bit, you know, I think literacy is a perfect example and we are sitting here in Coffee County, which would be probably one of the higher per capita income counties that I represent. And I would suspect also one of the higher literacy counties that I represent, per capita. We have for your information, Mr. Chairman, an Air Force base here that is primarily a research type base, it is not operational per se, there are not a lot of pilots running around, but there are a lot of engineers and Ph.D.s running around and I think that has created a little bit of a cultural difference, little cultural island here that maybe does not exist in every county in Tennessee. It is a little bit like a microcosm of Oak Ridge, in a sense.

Your point I think is well taken in that literacy here might not be as big a problem, and I am not going to name a county where I think it might be a bigger problem, but in another county somewhere else. And it just seems to make sense to have that flexibility.

And as far as the argument on the squeaky wheel, I represent 22 counties and I hear from many of you all the time, and I am in Coffee County as often as I can be, which is fairly often, but Butch Lewis who is the state representative here lives here, and talking about being able to be squeaky, you can reach out and be squeaky to him at the grocery store, you can be squeaky to him at the Little League game, you can be squeaky to him at church, because you are around him all the time. You know, I am here and I am there and I am everywhere on every given weekend and it is maybe carrying the squeaky analogy too far maybe but I think it is easier in many ways to be squeaky, to bring the problems to people's attention if it is more localized.

And this concern about the most needy targets, the ability to target the most needy areas with the money, with the federal program situation in place now, the problem that it creates if you block grant, you know, technically speaking, you do eliminate the targeting of that money. By definition, that is what a block grant does is it eliminates targeting, but it does not necessarily at all mean that the targeting will cease to exist. It just means that those folks at the state level will then create the targets of where the most needed money is. It does not eliminate the concept of targeting the money where it is the most needed. It just says that in Washington, D.C. - we look at LA where there are 200 languages - you know, the only language problems we have in Tennessee is we go from an Appalachian twang like I have down to a Southern drawl in the other end of the state, but more or less we can understand each other. And so that is not a big need. And so in Washington, D.C. you often have the tendency to say okay, everybody has the same size and it is going to fit everybody. And to me that just does not make as much sense.

I would be concerned, however, if we said okay, we block grant it to the state and we did not put even a slight requirement on there that that money does in fact have to continue to be spent in education, because I am afraid it would then squirt out everywhere and be spent on everything else and there would be - that money would be supplanted, you do not know what would happen to it. Sometimes people I think have that concern and I think that is a legitimate concern. I know I was working closely with Dr. Jane Walters at the Tennessee State Education Department and she had that concern and I think that was partially - Jobie here who is on my staff and handles education issues - we were working with the Committee to make sure that language was put in the bill that came out of committee. So I think there are some concerns, legitimate concerns with this, but I think it is also, you know, important to think through this.

What I really got from all of you all, and I did not really mean to make a speech, I was going to ask a question, but what I got from you all is that there are some problems, IDEA is a big problem and believe you me, I hear about that all the time and we are wrestling with that and thus far have failed in fixing that problem. As Chairman Hoekstra pointed out, he and I necessarily did not create that while we were there, but we definitely have the responsibility to deal with the problem that we have inherited, and I think are not doing that as successfully as we would like.

My question to you all is what can we do at the federal level. I have heard you loud and clear on IDEA and I think you are exactly right on that. But for example, at the federal level, whether or not school uniforms are a good idea or not, I surely do not think we should mandate that at the federal level, so that is not something that we should do at the federal level.

You know, pupil-teacher ratio, that is getting closer maybe to something you might consider mandating, but once again, you know, one size does not fit all in each county in the state or from state to state.

And I know you are going to say more funding, I understand that. But is there anything beyond more funding, because what I get is that we want more funding but we do not want to have the strings attached to it. Is there anything that we could actually do besides more funding, outside the area of IDEA, that would not make it worse instead of better? In other words, is there a string that you would actually like to be attached other than the parameters that you have to spend this money in education, is there something that would be useful? Because I think there are a lot of things that would be absolutely not useful and it takes away flexibility and says that you folks do not know what you are doing, because I think you do know what you are doing.



Ms. Trevathan. I think accountability is a very good word when we talk about that and I think that in Tennessee since 1992, we have been operating under the BEP, what is called the Better Education Program, that changed the way that schools have been funded in Tennessee as well as this is when our appointed superintendent - the law for the appointed superintendent, came about. I think that Washington probably does need to see accountability from the states. I think that is very necessary if the money is coming to us. But I think that needs to be in some format and maybe with some hard data also. We are looking at the number of graduates, I know the standards that the schools have to uphold in order for us to not - what Mr. Sisk was talking about a minute ago - for us not to be taken over. I know for me to be an exemplary school, my attendance rate has to be a certain percentage, we have to be above 94 percent attendance in school every day. That is not subjective data, that is very objective. Are most of our students coming to school every day, that is important, and what are we doing to make that happen.

Although test scores are feared and there is lots of negatives that come about with the testing program, I think that test scores are one more good data source for you to look at. It should not be the beginning and the ending, but how many students do we have passing nationalized, standardized tests as compared to other folks.

I would like to see the accountability standards, something that is measurable, just not something that is so very subjective. I know that a lot of educational data must be subjective, just by the nature of what we are doing, but I think some accountability measure such as the locals have to do for the state of Tennessee would be adequate for what the states have to prove to Washington in how we are using the money. We need this control, we do not need to have to be concerned with funding for the 200 languages, they do. And if I were in that school district, I would be most insistent that we get some help with having to serve 200 different dialects or languages that are in our school system. We have to deal with maybe two and a half languages in Tennessee, so therefore we do not need nearly the funds for that, but we may be dealing with some more critical issues.

Violence across the United States is on the rise, but again, I do not think maybe for some school districts that is where the major amount of the money needs to be spent.

So again, I am just back to encouraging the things that I did in talking about IDEA. I do think the states need to have a much greater say in what we do at the local level than the federal government. We are just too diverse. If the shoe fits, wear it just does not work in educating children from Washington to Florida.


Chairman Hoekstra. Some of you have talked about, what is the barrier today, because we have heard it all over the place, what is the barrier today to parents being involved? Why are we not seeing as much parental involvement as we maybe would like to see?


Ms. Stewart. I think nowadays, much more so than some years back, it takes both parents to put the bread on the table, so to speak. And there may not be enough time left over. What we are trying to educate the parents is that they need to learn to prioritize too. To come right down to earth language, they can go to a Saturday night football game, but they cannot come to the PTA meeting.


Chairman Hoekstra. Yes. Jack, are you working on specific programs to increase parental involvement?


Mr. Sisk. Yes. In the elementary school, we are trying to make the parent involvement more fun for the parents to come to. The old saying was whenever I had a PTO meeting, a PTA meeting, you always had the children doing something because then those parents would come. So we are trying story-telling month where we bring in different story tellers from all over and the parents would come to that and then we would show them ways that they could teach their children by story telling. Or we would have a chili supper which was free for everybody to come in and the part was we would hand out brochures and we would have speakers to help them in that way.

The thing of it is, if you have a parent meeting, come. In everything now, you have to entertain and that is a sad thing to say, you have to entertain parents to get their children in - parents to get involved with their children, but you do what works, if it is for the children. So once a month we have an entertainment thing for the parents and our parent involvement has shot out the top.

You get to the high school, first of all, the students do not want you there. I have a son that is a senior up here and if he sees me here, he is going to be embarrassed, which most of the time when I am up here he needs to be embarrassed, but at the high school, it is how do you get parents involved in the high school. They have almost washed their hands of children. They said my God, I put up with them in the afternoon, he has got his car and off he goes.

Still, it is like what they are saying in education now, you about have to entertain children to teach them. That is a bad thing, but-


Chairman Hoekstra. How do you get parental involvement for either the literacy program or the computer program? Do you get parental involvement?


Mr. Lockavitch. Well, I think one of the things that the school are finding out is that as I criss-cross across the United States, there is a dichotomy in every classroom in the United States, and the class is divided primarily into two groups and two groups only. And it is not along racial lines, it is along economic lines and it is primarily the "haves and have-nots".

What you have is two different levels of participation. The "haves" and the parents of the "haves" participate, in fact maybe so much so that the teachers would prefer not to see them sometimes. On the other hand, the parents of the "have-nots" do not participate. And one of the reasons why is because illiteracy breeds illiteracy and a lot of times what you have are low-income parents of at best marginal literacy skills who did not have a very successful experience when they were in school. And there are a lot of feelings that you cannot hide, so even though they are parents, they are also former students who failed, who could not wait to get out of school. So getting them back into school has been very, very difficult.

What the schools are doing now, as I hear him say, is they are trying to make school a more inviting place so that they can have a carrot to bring them back in. But the other thing that you have to realize too is a lot of - you have got a lot of children who are parents. You have got a lot of kids that are coming from single parent homes. You are talking about 13, 14, 15 year old kids having kids and it is just not one size fits all, it just varies from region to region within the county and even within the district within the city as to the participation.


Mr. Murray. I think we read each other's minds there on the "haves" and "have-nots". We ran a computer camp this past summer at our high school open to all kids in our school system. We had approximately 100 children participate. The parents that showed up, and we let them come in if they wanted to learn too, the parents that showed up were the parents who were thinking about buying their kid a computer, which I think is great but the parents who know they cannot afford $2000 did not show up. And not many of their kids did either.

We just finished applying for a federal grant, like Jack said, we did not get it because our problem was our community was too affluent. This after-school program, we were trying to target our lower achieving students. And when you do what we call this disaggregated analysis to correlate like test scores and achievement scores with the free lunch program, you find that is where your kids are that are not succeeding in school, your kids that are on free lunch. And I think that tells you, just as Joe was saying, it is the lower economic kid that we are not reaching right now.

The program we submitted was given excellent scores, but we were given like half the points possible for the community because they said we were too affluent even though this program was designed to specifically target those kids that needed help.

So I think that is where we have a problem with some of the federal regulations, is when you try to help like the 30 percent of the kids we have that need that help, I guess they think we need to pay for it as a community, but as you say, it is hard to get tax money out of people when they do not really see the big need for their kid to have it.

But being able to reach these children of lower economic parents, I think we need to do more for them and have some specialized programs for them that we could do with local money, if it was freed up where we think it needs to go.


Mr. Hilleary. Mr. Chairman, we have been handed a note which says we need to wrap up and I guess that is what we ought to maybe do, I do not want to outstay our welcome, but I guess the bottom line is I appreciate you bringing this hearing to Coffee County and the Fourth Congressional District and Dr. Nelson Johnson, Bobby Cummings, Prager Powell and Bruce Opey from the state Department of Education. Thank you for coming. And all you folks here, I think this is great.

You all out here may not think that maybe as much was learned here, but see, we do this a lot and we get a little bit of scrap here, we get a scrap at the other place and we get a scrap of information at the other place. And cumulatively it really helps us a lot in trying to hammer out the policy, educational policy, from the federal level.

So I appreciate you all being here. James, I guess I would have singled you out. I appreciate you being here, you came the longest I suspect, and your dad. Thank you for bringing him over, Jim. And all of you all for being here, thank you very much. Mr. Chairman.


Chairman Hoekstra. Thanks, Van. Van is exactly right, you do not learn everything in one place. That is why we have now done this in 17 or 18 states and why we are going to continue the dialogue, and like I said, we learn a little bit new in every place. We build on some of the ideas that we have gotten in some of the places that we have been previously, and sometimes we get some new input that causes us to rethink perhaps a direction that we have been going. But it is a process of dialogue. This is an issue that Van and I have - I think all of you talked about it in one way or another, this is perhaps one of the most important projects that we can be working on in Washington, and none of us are bright enough to figure this out all by ourselves. And if we have a dialogue and a partnership, we will be able to learn from ourselves and we will be able to attack a problem and create an opportunity for all of our kids and that is what we are working at.

So thank you very much for being here and participating this morning. And we will be adjourned. Thank you.

[Whereupon, the subcommittee was adjourned at 12:40 p.m.]