Serial No. 105-90


Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce



Friday, March 20, 1998


House of Representatives,

Subcommittee on Oversight

and Investigations,

Committee on Education and the Workforce,


Washington, D.C.


Table of Contents



















The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:00 a.m., in the Timnath Elementary School, 3909 Main Street, Timnath, Colorado, Hon. Pete Hoekstra [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.

Present: Representatives Hoekstra and Schaffer.

Staff Present: Christine Olson, Professional Staff Member; Andrea Weiss, Legislative Assistant; Nancy Hunter, Press Secretary; Cheryl Johnson, Legislative Associate.



Chairman Hoekstra. Let's get started. Good morning. My name is Pete Hoekstra. I am from Michigan, and I chair a subcommittee in Washington of the Education in the Workforce Committee. The chair of the subcommittee that I chair is called the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee, so we have oversight responsibility for the education programs that we run out of Washington, labor law, equal employment opportunity commission, a whole series of different areas in Washington.

For the last 15 to 18 months, we have been involved in a process, which we call Education at a Crossroads. This, I believe, makes the 17th field hearing that we have had. We are basically going through a process where we are going around the country, and we are asking people what is working and what is not working in education in America today, and we thought that the best way to find that out would be to go to the different states and see what they are working on, what they are trying to do in improving education, and we are focused primarily at the K through 12 level.

Recognizing that about six percent of K through 12 education funding comes from Washington, 94 percent of it is driven from the state and local level, we ought to really hear from grassroots America what was going on. We have also combined that with six hearings in Washington, but the effort really here is to take a look at what we need to do in Washington to help make education at the state and local level more effective.

We have heard lots of exciting different things. We have been all over the country. We have been in inner city New York, inner city Chicago, Milwaukee. We have been in inner city LA. We have been to rural America, small towns, middle-size city USA, so we have been all over America seeing lots of great things.

That is actually when you get to the local level, you see lots of people doing lots of things that are helping kids each and every day. The picture isn't quite as pretty when we look at what we are doing in Washington or when we hear from the local areas about the impact that Washington is having on education in America. We are trying to help, but we may not be doing it as effectively or as efficiently as what we think we might be able to.

One of the questions that we asked when we started this process has been the focus of some of the hearings in Washington is, we asked question, how does Washington define education? And we identified, through different program registries in Washington, that Washington has over 760 programs that are defined as "educational."

Now, those aren't all K through 12. They are over a whole broad range of things. Some of them are higher ed. Some of them are K through 12. Some of them deal with industry safety and all those types of things, but over 700 different educational programs.

Then we said, hell, at least we have an education department where these things can all be coordinated through. We found out, no, that is not correct either. There are over 39 different departments and agencies that run different kinds of educational programs, many of which do come into the K through 12 area. So we believe that it is not necessarily a coordinated effective strategy.

The other thing that we have heard lots about, and we did not find this out in Washington, we found this out when we came to grassroots America, is that there is concern about the level of mandates and the cost of rules and regulations on local school boards, and some believe that when you send a dollar to Washington from Colorado, and it goes back to the, it comes back here, then through that process, Washington may, kind of like PacMan, gobble up about 30 to 40 cents of that dollar before it ever gets back to a child; but we are here to find out what is going on in this corner of America, this corner of Colorado. We spend most of our time listening, that is after we get done with our opening statements, but we do spend most of our time listening. We started off this morning taking a tour of Loveland High School and seeing when they are doing. I think we were going to have breakfast there. I think they had an eggroll for us, but they had a slight problem, somebody made the oil too hot, so that was one of the darkest eggrolls I had ever seen; so if we smell a little bit like burnt eggroll, it is because there was a cloud throughout that school this morning, but we had a good time taking a look at what they are doing, so that is the process of where this hearing fits in, and we expect that by the end of this year, we will have a series of recommendations as a result of this process that we hope will facilitate and help education at the local level and make Washington programs more effective and efficient.

Bob, do you have something that you would like to say?




Mr. Schaffer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to begin by thanking Chairman Hoekstra for coming to Colorado and would like to thank, in advance, all the witnesses who are joining us here today. We hope to learn from you, and we hope that you will feel free to speak candidly about what you believe is and is not working in our education system.

Many people in Washington like to talk about federal role in education, but it rarely seems that people stop and consider the impact of over 760 federal education programs on students, parents and teachers across the country.

Now, when I first heard that there were 760 federal programs that spanned 40 different agencies and cost you all, the taxpayer, nearly $100 billion per year, I was amazed. Most people in Washington don't like to talk about all that because it is obvious you cannot have 760 federal education programs without having a lot of red tape.

So across the country, we have heard that even though the federal government provides six to seven percent of most states' education funding, it generally accounts for about 50 percent of the paperwork burden; and in any opinion, that is a system we can improve.

I have some other opening remarks, but I am anxious to get to the testimony, Mr. Chairman, so without objection, or I would ask unanimous consent that I be able to reserve for the record.




Chairman Hoekstra. That will be part of the record. Let me just give you how this process works. You see these little lights up here: green, yellow, red; and what we ask the witnesses who have agreed to testify today, we ask them to kind of limit their comments to five minutes.

Your complete written statement will be put into the record. I don't have a very firm gavel, so I mean this is kind of like advisory. Kind of like green says, you got plenty of time. Yellow says you are kind of running out of time; and red kind of means okay, we are hoping you are kind of just about done, okay? But this is not like Jeopardy or anything like that where, at the end of your time, the gavel comes down and we move on to the next person, but it is kind of just advisory so that we can just kind of stay on schedule.

The panel that we have this morning: we have Pamela Schmidt, who is a teacher, and she is the 1997 teacher of the year. Good morning.

We have Mr. Dan Balcerak, who is the principal here. Good morning, and thank you for hosting us. I think you are also feeding us lunch.


Mr. Balcerak. Yes, school lunch program.


Chairman Hoekstra. We have also have Mr. Tripper Riggs, who is a student at the University of Northern Colorado Lab School in Greeley. Mr. Richard Schleusener, who is a parent from Fort Collins. Good morning to you. And Mrs. Jane Anderson, who is a parent with the Liberty Commons Charter School.


Chairman Hoekstra. So thank you all for being here and participating with us, and we will begin with you, Pam.

We will kind of go in the order that I called off, if that is okay.




Ms. Schmidt. Good morning, and let me begin this morning by telling you that I am proud to be a teacher. On a day-in, day-out basis there is no other job that I would rather be doing. In my opinion, being a teacher is the most important, most influential career that there is.

I know that doctors are important. They keep you alive and all that; but on top of being healthy, what can be more important than a strong education.

I am starting with this preface today because I will be talking about some things that I think might help improve our nation's educational system, but I don't want you to get the impression that in any way I am dissatisfied with my career choice, so I will say it again, I love being a teacher.

What does it mean to be a teacher? I brought my book bag. Normally I have three, but I just brought one. Let's see what it says here. "Just a teacher?" Therapist, doctor, judge, custodian, mom, nurse, referee, organizer" and on and on and on.

In today's society, teachers are expected to do more than teach as if that wasn't already a full-time job. As the structure of the American family and the lifestyles of U.S. Citizens change, so does the role of the teacher and the schools.

We really are expected to be dad, police officer, preacher, lawyer, coach, referee, philosopher, psychologist; but remember, on top of all that, we must still educate our children, all of them. We may or may not be able to change this newer, more heavily laden job description, but there are some things we can do to ensure that our children are getting the best education possible.

First, I want to talk about what I will call the public relations issue. Good PR is important to education, and there is simply not enough of it happening. I am sorry, but I don't really buy the statement that public education systems are riddled with excellence and rife with mediocrity. I think exemplary teaching and learning is going on in many classrooms around the country. We just don't hear about it. Nobody is making a big enough deal about it all. Teachers are partly to blame.

Many of us just go along doing fabulous things with our kids in our classrooms, but we never publicize it in any way. School districts and school administrators get so caught up in running their system that they let the communication of outstanding programs go by the wayside.

Parents and involved community members are not doing their jobs either. It is not just enough to be satisfied with your school. You have to spread the word about why you are so pleased with your child's education.

And the media, I really shouldn't even go there, but I will. We literally at our school have begged for coverage of some of the really cool things that we are doing, and we are just ignored. And yet one negative thing happens and everybody shows up in full force.

Now, I know that good news doesn't sell and that whole story, but these are our kids that we are talking about. Shouldn't the media personnel be finding a way to make the good news sell?

There is a lot more that is right about education than what is wrong with it, but that is not the image we have, and everybody needs to do their part in changing that perception.

Changing that negative image is going to have a lot of benefits. A very important one deals with attracting talented young adults to become educators. I have personally experienced the pressure put on students who excel in math and science to choose careers other than teaching.

There is, of course, the salary problem. Teachers often get paid tens of thousands less than other professionals with equal or even less education preparation. But let's put the salary issue aside for the sake of this discussion.

How do we get the bright young adults to become teachers if they are not going to make as much money as they could elsewhere? We have to make it a prestigious thing to pursue. We must encourage the idea the noble, respected and worthwhile career. We must demand excellence in our profession and then ensure that the best of the best are choosing to become educators.

Another connection in the education network that is not being fully utilized is the link between the school, the family and the community. I realize, again, like I said, structure and lifestyles of American families have changed even since I was in middle school. Student population has changed. We are teaching a much broader spectrum of children.

Students are coming to school with a greater variety of mental and physical abilities, family backgrounds and lifestyles. I applaud these changes. As a scientist, I know that a more diverse population is a healthier, more resilient one, but the schools and educators cannot be expected to take on more and more of the responsibility of raising the next generation of Americans.

Mrs. Clinton made famous the "it takes a village" message, and I think it is a very appropriate message, but from my position on the inside, it doesn't feel like the whole village is participating.

All the parents are going to have to make time to become positively and actively involved in their children's education, and that participation needs to be on a regular basis, not just the concert once each thing like that or conferences.

In addition, parents have to behave in a manner that supports the importance and value of a good education. I put in here a little example. When I was in school, grades K through 12, I missed one day of school for family vacation, and the only reason I missed that day is because we got snowed in and couldn't get back, and yet today I am just amazed at the number of parents who pull their kids out for a week or two for vacations; or even more amazing, kids whose parents excuse them so they can stay home and baby-sit or clean house because relatives are coming into town or even go shopping.

And I am not trying to say these parents, they are not necessarily bad parents; but the example they are setting, the message they are sending to the kids is not the right one about the importance of their education.

Even if you have a situation, though, where the parents and the teachers are doing everything they can, the village picture is still not complete.

In the most recent statistics that I saw, only 25 percent of the adults in America have kids that are in grades K through 12. That means we have got to find a way to get that other 75 percent to become involved and to become a viable part of the local schools. Getting students involved out in the community is a specialty of mine. I think that these are incredibly valuable learning experiences, and I found a lot of ways to involve students in the community right around our school as well as the whole Denver community and even the state-wide community, but it has to be a two-way street.

The local schools, the kids and the staff there and the members of the community in general can be and really should be each others' greatest assets; but it must flow in both directions.

Finally, and I will, I still got time. Great. I just want to touch real quickly on education reform because I know that is what we are here about, but actually I think a lot of other things need to be addressed before you can start to talk about reform.

One more thing that has to be addressed before reforms can be initiated is class size reduction. It has to be taken seriously because it doesn't matter how good the curriculum is, how good the teacher is, what great parent or community support you have, students cannot achieve their maximum potential in classes that are too large.

And we keep hearing that class size will be reduced, it will be reduced and many districts report out that the student/teacher ratio is something like 19 to 1. That is ridiculous. By the time you take out all the activities for counselors, special ed, teachers aides, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, it goes on and on, that 19 to 1 ratio in reality is 30 to 32 kids in every school class. Sometimes even more. That has to change, and it needs to change at all grade levels, just not K-3.

Classes should never have more than 24 kids. It may seem like 30 or 32 is not that many. People from the outside looking say, what is the difference between 24 and 30? It is only six kids. It is not an additive effect. It is exponential.

Everybody involved needs to put forward a genuine effort to get the class sizes down where they need to be and keep them there. That is when we can finally start to be in a position where we could truly evaluate what curriculum and what programs are going to be effective for kids.

If we can ever reach that point, I think some things that will help with the education system in America would be, first of all, alignment of standards, curriculum and assessment that includes buy-in and participation from the universities. You have come here to find out what we are doing on a grassroots level. We are doing a lot of really neat things only to hit the wall because those things maybe don't address exactly what is on the SATs, and so we are caught in a position. Many colleges are still accepting students based on tests that don't measure critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Out in the public and working world, people are demanding students that can think on their feet and function effectively in this changing workplace, but parents are demanding kids who have high test scores on these factoid tests, and so you put the K-12 system right in the middle.

Another thing that will help, and you mentioned it in your introduction, federal and state governing bodies have to stop creating mandates without knowing how the people down here in the trenches could possibly put them into place, and anything that has to be done is going to have to be funded. That should be your bottom line.

Another really radical thing, maybe, educational programs, curriculum standards or assessments should be designed by teachers who are currently or at least recently in the classroom. We are the ones who are trained to do it. We are the ones most qualified, but that is going to have some major time implications on teacher's workday. It has to be restructured to include that time for developing programs with colleagues. It shouldn't be, oh, do it on your weekends or do it because you are already grading papers at night.

Finally, before you get, begin all of these reforms, if it isn't broken, please don't fix it, or please stop trying to reinvent the wheel. There are a lot of things that we are doing that work. I invite you to come down to Thunder Ridge Middle School anytime you like because you will see an exemplary middle school program working, that doesn't water down curriculum, it does demand high standards and still meets the needs of the kids.

A lot of what we are doing has at least good parts, so stop asking schools and teachers to jump from this new program to that new program. Identify, embrace and then expand on the programs that are working.

And real quick here, my principal has this little phrase he always brings us back to whenever we have to make a decision at our school. He says, the bottom line is, we do what is best for kids. Shouldn't that be our bottom line in our whole nation for all of our kids?




Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you. I feel like I am kind of in church. There is a grey Voyager - Plymouth Voyager with FHE1820, is the license plate. Your lights are on; and as my second announcement, there is a Jeep Cherokee, ACP2553, that is in the fire lane.



Mr. Balcerak. First of all, I would like to welcome everybody to Timnath School. I am really pleased that the panel is here and that we have an opportunity to speak and me directly as Principal of Timnath School.

I, too, am very proud of my profession. I have been in education for about 20 years, and I have been here at Timnath. It is my second year as principal. This is the best job I have ever had in my life. It is a great school and a great place to be because it is such a dynamic job. I love working with kids; and the staff here, I sense that from them too.

I have been asked to respond to some questions here. The first question was "Which teaching methods and curricula have produced the best results?"

There is a lot of ways to go about answering that question. There is a lot of good curriculum out there and a lot of good teaching methods out there. What I want to focus my comments on today is the fact that reform in education is about systems change, that we have to have people working together to have an effective change.

It doesn't do a lot of good to have teachers changing in isolation or new programs adopted on a chaotic basis. We really need to do system thinking, and I want to focus on a system of a school this size. We are talking about 550 kids here. At least 30 teachers.

The best practice, we reviewed best practices like for literacy in our school here as a changed process and a changed model and it takes a lot of unification. We start with the school goals. What are the goals for the whole school? Well, literacy became the top goal; and then from that, how do we get people all focused on that: the goal of literacy?

Well, it takes a lot of collaboration among the teachers, the instructional staff, the parents have to be aware of that goal. They have to support that, too. One of the things that is nebulous and difficult in that situation is coordinating a special program with what happens in the classroom; and for me as principal what happens in the classroom is the most important place, but I want my special education teachers working with my classroom, and I want my Title One reading teachers working with my classroom teachers and in some cases, there is some federal regulations that restrict that.

The regulations that are probably loosest, most loose, in special education right now, but Chapter One traditionally has had a lot of restrictions where you can't commingle those dollars and those students, and so materials that they have for their program can't be checked out to those classroom teachers, and those are some of the regulations that I would like to see loosened and relaxed so that as we do our literacy focus and work together, we can relax some of those regulations.

Now, the other part of elementary programs is that we have to teach how to learn as much as we teach what to learn; and so we do spend a lot of time on that. Kindergarten kids who have preschool experiences and early childhood experiences like Head Start or private situations, they come to school ready to learn because they have some practice, and those kids really come at an advantage, but not all kids do.

And so, you know, I would encourage you to continue to support all those preschool mandates that happen before we get to the elementary school; because coming to school ready to learn is very, very important. There is a parental part of that too, but early childhood education is just so critical and that helps us with that how to learn piece and we work on that all through elementary school.

I am going to go on to the second question now, which is "What is it about parental and community involvement that works and how is it being encouraged throughout the country?"

Well, in the last decade, we have seen a lot more parental involvement, and some of it has been mandated and some of it has been by policy of the school districts, and we have got site-based counsel and shared governance in this school, and that has been very, very popular and I see it as very effective.

Now, I am working on my dissertation and some of the research that I have come across in the last ten years is, there is no causal relationship between student achievement and shared governance that we are doing right now. It is very, very good for communication, and it is very good to keep all the stakeholders informed of what is happening in schools; but in terms of the connection to achievement, that is not the connection from the site-based management and shared governance committees, so we are seeing it more from a communication process, so, you know, we need to encourage that, but the connection to achievement isn't there.

If I can make just a couple more comments. I know I am running out of time here. I want to talk about the value of an education. The value of an education does come from home. We reinforce it here at school, but that has to be an American value, and we have to have parental support, and I am blessed with wonderful parental support here, but I know it is not that way across the whole nation, and that value of an education has to be inculcated from the home.

So I will stop there and won't get to the third or fourth question.




Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you.




Mr. Riggs. My name is Tripper Riggs, and I am a junior at the University High School in Greeley, Colorado. It is the high school run by the college, and what she was saying about the size of classes: in my pre-calculus class, I have nine kids with me and the learning in there and the teacher I have got - not only is the teacher great, I respect this teacher more than any other teacher in my high school, and I thoroughly enjoy his class, but he doesn't have to baby-sit anybody in the class.

There are only nine of us, so he turns around and he sees everyone within one shot, and that is really nice.

Through my little paper here, I guess, I wrote a lot about flexibility and how flexibility in the classroom and with, just in general, helps education.

At my school, it is a K-12. It is the laboratory school, and I was able to take German One as an eighth grader which, you know, may not seem like a whole lot, but it was. It made my transition into high school much, much easier. I had some friends in there already. I had already taken one high school class and it really helped; and now as a junior, I am planning my senior year schedule, I am going to take German One at the college and then I can make another great transition; and if we had been in different buildings or there hadn't been that flexibility within our school, I wouldn't have that benefit. A lot of my friends do that with math classes and other courses like that.

Something else I wrote a lot about was, like, curriculum and the flexibility of the curriculum that, you know, the biology and plant life of the western slope in Colorado is going to be a lot different than that of the eastern plains, and that you need to have that flexibility and that difference in those type of curriculum and what is required in the class, and the same works on a national basis too.

The geology of the Rocky Mountains is amazing. It is a great thing to learn about. The Everglades is a lot different than the Rocky Mountains, and so you are going to have, you need to have that flexibility and different types of curriculum.

At my school, being somewhat small, they try a lot of different stuff all the time, and they kind of joke about how the lab school never stays the same for more than two years; but one of the things they have stayed with and it seems to work really, really well is the Advisor Program and what it is, we have one guidance counselor for about 270 high school students, but then 15 to 17_in groups of 15 or 17, we go to a teacher, and there is enough teachers that it is 15 to 17 for each group and in that group, we spend half an hour a day, every day my teacher is Mr. Wagner, he is the same pre-calculus teacher and he helps us with life problems and just talks about school and how, you know, you need to learn how to do this because, you know, the SATs are - you have to do all right on them, but this is a more skilled, problem solving and critical thinking and stuff like that.

I really respect him, and he has helped a lot in my learning. He has taught me the desire to learn in high school for myself, not just because everybody says, you know, you need to get good grades and stuff. I get good grades for myself because I want to learn what is out there.

Let's see. I kind of, my last little, I will turn in my… We have, I just think that like the role of the federal government in education is to support new and different programs in small areas, so that if the, okay, so let's say we finance this in eastern Colorado; and if it works great, you know, wow, the little literacy rate of these children has gone up amazingly. You know, if some state is having a problem, you can say, look, it worked here. We were able to do it in two years and this is the result we had. You know, you can try it and here is the funding for it, and so it will be a lot easier to try new things.

I want to get one more point in really quick. At our high school, they require three half-day shadowings and internships and one 50-hour internship and that helps a lot because, well, I thought I wanted to be a technician and I don't anymore because I shadowed the guy, and it wasn't very fun, and it - I have done a couple other things like that and it is kind of directed me on what kind of vocation I would like to look into, and I am looking into what I would like to do for an internship right now, but I don't know. That is about all.


Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you.




Mr. Richard Schleusener.




Mr. Schleusener. Good morning. I appreciate the opportunity to testify, and I would like to thank you that we don't all have to shave our heads to come here this morning.

My name is Rick Schleusener. I am the father of four children who are all in the Poudre School System. My three youngest children have a disability called Fragile X Syndrome. Fragile X is a cognitive deficit that manifests itself in a range of learning disabilities to profound mental retardation; and what I want to do today is to describe the experiences that my kids have had and my family has had in education here and the influence that IDEA has had on these experiences.

My son Jeff, who is now eight years old, was diagnosed with Fragile X four years ago. When he went into first grade, his first grade teacher had no special education training, but she enthusiastically welcomed him into the classroom. She solicited my help and my wife Julie's help in understanding what kind of support we could give Jeff so that he could be successful in the classroom; and whenever any issues came up, she would pull the right people together, and we started out - we figured out what we had to do for Jeff.

She obviously valued having Jeff in that classroom, and Jeff loved school because of it. Julie and I are big proponents of full inclusion in the classroom and the reason we are is because the research on inclusion is clear. Kids with disabilities do better in inclusive settings, both academically and socially. Kids without disabilities have no drop-off in what they are able to learn and they gain an appreciation of human differences.

Kids that grow up in segregated schools live segregated lives and Julie and I don't want that for our family. So we are fortunate now because Jeff is fully included in the third grade. He has made tremendous strides. His abilities go beyond what we had hoped he would achieve this year.

He does require special attention and support and his teacher freely gives it to him. She has high expectations of Jeff, values Jeff and that rubs off on the other students in the class, so Jeff is a valued member in that classroom both in class and his life outside his school.

I would like to contrast those experiences with a couple other experiences that I have had in education.

My son, Christian, who is now four years old, has Down's Syndrome and Fragile X Syndrome. My wife, Julie, tried to enroll him in a preschool program, it is a play program on Friday mornings, and she was told that they didn't have the resources to do that. They had no experience with Christian. It was a two- to four-year-old program. Christian was excluded because he had Down's Syndrome.

Julie and I had another experience supporting a family going through an IEP at the same school my kids were at, and this family wanted an inclusive setting for their daughter, and there was resistance to providing that because the teacher in that program couldn't see how she could accommodate this child and do the teaching at the same time, and there was no belief in this little girl's ability either academically or socially and it is for those reasons. Those two examples are why I am a big proponent of IDEA.

It offers a mandate for all kids to have the kind of experience that my son, Jeff, is having today. I think without IDEA, it is easy to compartmentalize kids with disabilities, put them in a room down the hall where they are out of sight and out of mind.

IDEA offers a paradigm shift from, not does this kid belong in the classroom, but instead, what support do we give this kid so that they can be successful in the classroom.

It is not just a question of social justice for kids with disabilities. It is also a question of our economic prowess. It affects all our kids. I work for a large manufacturing company here in northern Colorado. We recently spent tens of millions of dollars to improve a new process line, and we didn't get the forecast productivity when we put that in place.

We did get those productivity forecasts when a department manager came in who solicited input from all members, taught these members to collaborate. When everybody was included in developing solutions, we exceeded the forecasted productivity.

So the question is, why doesn't that happen naturally? Why don't we collaborate and get everybody involved nationally, and I think it is because we don't learn to operate that way in school.

An IDEA offers a chance for that to happen. Kids can know the strengths that all kids bring to the table. When we create a school system where kids have the ability to operate that way, we are going to give them the gift of being able to work well together as adults.

My oldest daughter, Kelsey, is a 7th-grader and a straight A student. She does not have Fragile X Syndrome. We have high expectations of Kelsey in school and beyond school, and we have high expectations for Courtney, Jeff and Christian as well, and I am confident that they will realize those expectations if we provide them the opportunity, so I want to leave here making the case that if we don't offer this benefit to all kids, it is an issue for all kids, not just kids with disabilities. If we do offer it for all kids, we are going to leverage these dollars to have a lot better system than we have in place today.


Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you.


Mrs. Anderson.





Mrs. Anderson. Thank you for allowing me to appear before you today on behalf of all parents who value parental involvement in schools.

My name is Jane Anderson. I am married, the mother of two children, ages 11 and 9, and am currently the co-coordinator of all volunteers at the Liberty Common Charter School in Fort Collins.

My involvement in school began when my first child entered kindergarten, and I have been actively involved in their education as a parent ever since.

My role as co-coordinator is to gather information from all volunteers as to their interest area or skill in which they would like to serve and to distribute that information to the classroom volunteer coordinator or CVC, and to designate committees.

Number two, we are to communicate school-wide information pertinent to volunteers through monthly meetings or CVCs or in the weekly school newsletter.

Three, I am to train, assist and support our CVCs; and four, to communicate with our board of directors, headmaster and teachers of Liberty Common School on a regular basis.

We have 18 CVCs supporting us, and their role is to find out what the teacher's volunteer needs are and to accommodate those needs as much as possible through information supplied by our volunteer registration program and to communicate guidelines to volunteers in the classroom. CVCs are also encouraged to attend monthly CVC meetings.

We, the parents at Liberty Common School, understand that we are to enhance the teacher's teaching and respect the teacher's instruction time as well as his or her free time.

We realized that we are all working toward the academic mission of the school for our children's sake and not for our own benefit. We also believe that volunteering is a privilege and not a right. We must serve with respect and consideration for all.

There are many ways that a parent can be involved in the classroom. At our school, we offer filing, organizing Friday folders, parties, copying, bulletin boards, field trips, tutoring math and reading and assisting with science, history, English, art, music and physical education. Also offer at-home projects for parents who are not able to come in during school hours. Our parents are also encouraged to serve in the lunchroom, playground, traffic control, library, computer lab, health office and provide office support to our school secretary. They may also involve themselves in fund-raising, book fairs, social events, staff appreciation, literature festival, collecting soup labels and boxtops, Odyssey of the Mind, instrumental program and school pictures.

Many important committees involve our parents as well. We have an assessment and accountability committee which fields grievances and concerns from our parents. They also create an accountability process that meets the improvement goals of our charter school while meeting state and district accountability.

Our facilities committee determines needs of our buildings, playground and traffic, and procures material and labor to meet those needs. We have a parent council which reviews the discipline code for our school, defines the staff's needs, defines how the staff will support this code and supports our headmaster and staff in dealing with students and works at providing additional training for staff in areas of discipline as needed.

Our personnel committee last summer served to locate and interview qualified candidates for a headmaster, teachers and teacher aide position. One of our more unique committees is our curriculum resource committee. They organize and file resource material to assist our teaching staff in delivery of the curriculum.

When asked, they supply teachers with the material to enhance or deliver a specific unit of study. They also in obtaining additional material as needed.

All of these committees report directly to either our headmaster or our board of directors, which is our governing board and made up entirely of parents at the Liberty Common School.

As you can see, parental involvement in Liberty Common School is vital to its success. Our parents are involved in everything from cutting and pasting to assessing and holding our charter school accountable to our district and state requirements. Our parents put in 1,500 hours in starting up our school which involved cleaning, painting, setting up classrooms, and building a fence for our playground.

From September 2nd, 1997 through January 31st, 1998, we have 3,676 record parent volunteers. People have asked why we feel we have a greater commitment of parental involvement at our school than at other schools in Fort Collins. My response is that our parents would be just as involved in any other school if they were allowed to be. We also have a sense of ownership, which comes from the "sweat equity" we have put into this school. It is not always an easy decision to enroll children in a charter school.

Transportation is provided only by parents and carpools. Some amenities such as lockers, playground equipment, flooring for hallways and classrooms and sod for the playground are put on hold until money becomes available. We are united by why we chose to enroll our children here.

Like all parents, we want the best for our children, and we are determined to make their educational experience the best that it can be. As a mother, I see my volunteer efforts as a way to support my children's education. My involvement is no greater than any other parents'. My children see me at school and understand that their education is important to me.

I am able to witness their learning process and get to know their classmates. The students respect me because I have developed a relationship with them through my involvement.

I am able to develop a special rapport with the staff as they view me as a valuable asset and not as an intruder or someone to tolerate. I am there to serve others, the children, their parents, the teachers, the community, and ultimately, our country.

Parental involvement is a privilege that we, the parents at Liberty Common School, enjoy and value.

On behalf of these parents, I want to thank the distinguished members of this committee for allowing me to testify before you today.

I will be available to answer any questions you may have following this time of testimony.



Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you very much to all of you. We also go by the lights, and then we are also going to have some time for any questions or comments from the audience when we get done.

Pam and Dan, one of the things we are looking at in Washington is, we have we call them "funding funnels," and we have got a funnel that comes down here that says we need money for, you know, for special ed. There is a funding stream or if you need money for technology, here is another funding stream and now they are talking about money for teacher training or for technology or a whole. That is how we get 760 programs, but a whole range of them coming from K through 12.

Each of these have a set of rules and regulations with them. Each of them have an application process of, you, we tell you what programs we have, you say back - you send us back and say that you are interested. We send you back an application. You send the application back. We decide whether you are really justified in getting the money. You may be. We send you the money and then we know that you are not going to spend the money the way we want you to, so we require you to send reports back saying, we spent it the way we want you to, and then we know that some people don't necessarily do that so then we have to send out auditors that can make sure that you actually did your paperwork.

I don't know how much money comes back into this school district from Washington; but one of things that we are taking a look at, is we are taking a look at taking a small set of these programs, about 40 of them, and sending them back into a school district and saying you want to focus on teacher training, you know, if that is your problem and your issue, take it and upgrade your teachers this year or really put them through an intensive effort.

If it is class size, to focus on class size. If it is technology, you know, do it in technology, but trying to move as much of that decision making back to the local schools, the local parents, and then eliminate as many rules and regulations. We think we can send as much if not more money back and give you more freedom.

I mean, you know, it is the old block grant type of concept. We have teachers that do lots of things, and I trust the people at the local level that they can, for the kids, because they are the only ones that know the name of the kids and their parents and what their needs are. Reaction to that?


Ms. Schmidt. I think it is a wonderful idea, and I think you should do that whenever possible. If you can figure out a way to get less hoops that we have to jump through to get federal money, I think that would be fabulous.

Teachers in my building - a lot of teachers do amazing things that you can't do on our school budget; and speaking for myself, I can't even deal with the federal grant system. It is exactly how you described. This and this and this and then this; and by that time, you know, months have passed, and I needed it way back then.

So I have resorted to there is a lot of local ways to get money that I have resorted to that are far more trusting. So you want to do that with your kids, great. Here, go do it; and then if you want to come back in the fall and report to a meeting and say, yeah, we did this. It was really cool, and have the kids come say thank you, and that is fine, but there is not tons and tons of paperwork that you have to do.

So, yeah, we could really use a system like that so that we don't have to keep going out and begging off of local businesses and organizations.


Mr. Balcerak. I would love to respond to the question. The idea of the block grant, I think, is very welcome at this level.

We don't have any problem with the accountability for the money we get and we are glad to be very accountable. I think you will see the money, as you found, at the local level is spent very, very well.

A good example, I spent two hours here last night with the PTO board on budget requests from teachers, and we are talking, you know, a very minuscule amount of money. We have $12,000 for whole year, and we are doling it out in little amounts.

You can block grant the PTO, and they would be very accountable. You would find that the money would not be spent frivolously, so there is a lot of ways to channel that to get very high accountability.

You look at our school, there is a lot of parental involvement there, and that is one thing that has changed. There is so much more parental involvement now that the accountability for the budgets is there, and I don't know of a system to simplify it, but certainly we can be very, very accountable for the money in the block grant system.


Chairman Hoekstra. You can send me a copy of your dissertation. I would love to see it. I don't know if you go as far as saying that parental involvement is not a factor, you don't go that far?


Mr. Balcerak. No.


Chairman Hoekstra. Okay. That would be helpful. We think that if we do the block grant approach, we think we might be able to get somewhere between if we can get from 65 to 70 cents of every dollar in education back to the classroom and move that up to 90 to 95 cents, we think per classroom that might be somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,500 to $2,000 more per classroom. It might be a bigger class than that you would want, but we can…but that is a lot of money.


Ms. Schmidt. We could put all that money to use.


Chairman Hoekstra. Okay. I should stick by the light, I will turn it over to Mr. Schaffer.


Mr. Schaffer. Richard, I just wanted… Your testimony was the driving force really behind the authorization of IDEA, and I am curious, though, as to within a school district or educational setting, there must be some schools that seem to thrive and succeed with the challenge of the children with special needs, others that may not be very good at it, frankly.

For a parent who is interested in making sure their kids are in a setting that is going to be the greatest benefit to them, do you find that you have much flexibility in choosing schools within a district or is that important to you at all?


Mr. Schleusener. It is important to us. We are very fortunate in that we have a good relationship going with the administrators at our school, and that is not to say that we completely agree on all the issues that come up, because we don't.

One of the things, the ways to learn our way around the system has come from some effort by the Colorado Department of Education, where they put the parents together to work with each other, learn the system, learn how to accommodate the system and network with other professionals as well, so we have seen some benefits come out of that in terms of knowing ways to work with the schools and work around the schools.

To date, we have not tried to move my kids out of our school or to any other school, and we have been very successful working with the principal there and finding teachers that will work best with my kids, so I can't say right now that we are limited in our answer. And my answer is also that if there was a need for us to leave our school and to try to find a place that would suit one of my other kids better, my sense is we can make that happen today.

So the CDE support in terms of parent training, the networking that is going on and the partnership that I believe we have with our school, even though it is not perfect, offers us lots of options.


Mr. Schaffer. Let me jump to a different topic with you, Pam, if I can for a minute.

You know, I am like you, I view teaching as a very noble profession. My parents were in education, and I grew up in a household where my parents persuaded me of that every day, and I think there is a big barrier to promoting the profession within the industry, if you call it that, right now.

I think teachers train themselves and view themselves as going through school in very lofty terms and have very high objectives and expectations for themselves, and it seems to me that teachers get pretty frustrated getting beat down all the time and the things they thought they were learning to develop and employ in a classroom setting, sometimes you don't get to do that, and I would like you to comment on that.

What can we do to unleash the professional instincts in teachers, first of all, and promote some freedom in teachings; but secondly, I want to ask about how we treat teachers, in general. I think teachers ought to be able to be fabulously wealthy. If they are the best and the brightest, then they succeed; and by the same token, I think we ought to find a system where those who are don't do the job that well, either need to find gentle urgings to find a new line of work, and that is very difficult to do. We don't reward teachers, the best teachers, in optimal sorts of ways, and I think one of my missions and goals in politics is to find ways to bring teaching back to the lofty post because they do their job better than anyone else, and we can't seem to do that. Do you have any suggestions about how we can do that?


Ms. Schmidt. If I did, I would already be fabulously rich because everybody is looking for that, and you say to unleash their professionalism, it is right the way you started it. We do come out of college thinking yeah, okay, here we go. These kids are going I am going to have a president there and that one is going to be a great lawyer. We are ready. We are up there for that, but we do get downtrodden and very frustrated because it is a profession where your professionalism is questioned day-in and day-out and day-in. We went to school to learn this. It is like me going in to my doctor and him saying, you need to do this and me saying, okay, I don't think so.

I mean, okay, it is all right to get a second opinion but not over and over and over and over and over, and there are many people trying to say no, I don't think you know what you are doing, and yet that is what we were trained to do.

You said a lot of things that were very important. We do need to make, maintain high standards. We have to expect all teachers to be the very best or, and there has to be remediation just like there is in any profession. If it is not working, you need help; and if it is still not working, we need to get out of the profession.

I agree, that should happen; but on the other hand, why should people who are really great become teachers? We have people who get angry when we have a professional day because, my, God, we have got to get day care or something now. We are not a day care system. That is not what teachers and schools are, and that is not what we should be expected to be. We have a job to do and it is to educate the next generation of Americans and the generation after that and the one after that.

So it is going to take a whole shift in how education is viewed. They have it in some countries. There are some places that we can look like Japan, where being a teacher is an honored person and I wouldn't want to go completely to their education system because I think a lot of what we do with the American kids is very important. I think we get more well rounded people out of our system, but I think, imagine what we could get if we had that well-rounded system, and if everybody was teaching their kids that an education is the most valuable thing you can have.


Chairman Hoekstra. We kind of feel the same way in our profession every once in a while.


Mr. Riggs. I want to…I think one of the neat things about my homeroom teacher advisor, Mr. Wagner, is that he has probably 20 years of - not 20 years, like 10 or 15 years experience of real-world experience. He was an electrician. He was, you know, a carpenter. He did all kinds of things before he decided, you know, I want to teach, and when he comes into the classroom, he takes all of those years of experience with the in the real world and tries to help his students become better because of his experience and stuff like that.

I think that is one reason why he is such a good teacher is because he has had all those years of experience, not in teaching, not primarily just in teaching, and I am not saying that that is bad, because you come out of college, you have got all of your degrees in teaching and then you go straight into teaching, so it is all fresh; but to have some of that real world job, you know, just all that stuff having learned that in person and not being a teacher for directly out of college, I think helped him be a better teacher. I don't know if that has anything. Thank you.


Chairman Hoekstra. All right. Richard, I think we are responsible for one of the problems that has happened with IDEA around the country, and only, if my memory is correct, when that legislation passed, Congress promised to provide 40 percent of the funding to the local school districts to implement IDEA, and I believe we provide I think it is at the highest level now over the last three years of funding. It is the highest level it has ever been. It is up to 10 or 11, and I think that creates a lot of perhaps unnecessary conflict because there is such a demand in competition for spending at the local level, and this is one example, and I think maybe Dan mentioned it too.

The federal government came down with a whole bunch of mandates in this area and said, "We're going to pick up 40 percent of the tab," and that is only around 10 or 11 percent. That is a problem in Washington, so…but thank you for your comments on that.

Why don't we, are there any questions or comments from the audience; and if there are, would you just stand and we can maybe get the mike over to you; and since we are on the official record, if you can just, very intimidating right, official record.

We do have a court reporter, stenographer, here. If you would just state your name and your question or your comment.


Ms. Schleusener. I would like to address Mr. Schaffer. I have the same four kids as Rick, so I can yell too.

Your comment about moving a child across town - that can't be taken lightly by any parent, even a parent of a typical child, because the child's whole community is the school. That is where the Cub Scout troop comes from, the soccer team. We know the parents of the kids they play with, there is some natural support there, so what we need to do is make every neighborhood school accepting of our kids, not take our child to that neighborhood school because they will be more accepting. Do you see what I mean?


Mr. Schaffer. I agree. I want to listen more than speak, and I think you are right. I think every school ought to be accepting and do everything that they can to try to serve their communities as well as they can; but the reality is, some are going to do better than others, and I guess my question is, the question I asked is, is this ability to select the site that best earns your confidence important or is there some other solution we ought to pursue?


Ms. Schleusener. I think what I wanted to do is kind of tag onto what Rick had said and say that yes, that is an option, but it is a very, very bad option for a child.


Chairman Hoekstra. Let me just state that one of the… We have, in some cases, we have lost we had conflicting objectives in education, all right. We went to one of the schools that we went to in inner city L.A., it was a charter school, and L.A. had been under a desegregation plan, and I am not saying whether it is right or wrong, but, you know, these kids have been bused all over L.A. for the purpose of integration, and so what had happened there is they that area had lost a sense of community for their schools because the school was no longer your neighbors. It was no longer the, you know, the Cub Scout troop and all that because you were going, you might be on a bus for a half hour, and so what they did is, they started a charter school there and this school now has become again, because it is a low income, high minority, you know, troubled area, but now the school has become the focal point of the community, and so, you know, it is how do we balance all of those different interests and, you know, turning the focus on what needs to be done for the kids and they are all good objectives.

Racial reconciliation is a good objective. Community is a good objective; and how do we balance those out? Sometimes we have moved the mandates either through the courts or from Washington saying one is better than the other rather than letting the community try to wrestle with these problems by themselves and maybe coming up with a better answer.

I think Washington has to set goals and objectives as to what we think is important and then, I believe, provide a tremendous amount of latitude to the local communities to try to wrestle with those issues.


Ms. Schleusener. Thank you.


Chairman Hoekstra. More questions or comments?


Mr. Thayer. Good morning. I want to thank you for the opportunity to be here, for holding the hearing and inviting us to comment.

I would like to make a comment about a program that is working with your support and that is the federal Trio program. As you know, the federal Trio program assists students from first generation and low-income backgrounds to complete secondary school and then enter and complete also post secondary education.

I think there are some important reasons why the programs are working and some of those have been referred to today - some of those factors. The first is partnership. The program has really cultured a partnership with schools, with students, with families and with the community.

I think some other factors have to do with the fact that there is a high level of information and exposure to students so that they can reach beyond what they first perceived to be their potential.

I think another factor is that we are able to expect that a great deal of the students have very high expectations including a high level of expectation engaged with academics.

Finally, I think an important issue is that we expect a lot of accountability of students for performance, a high level of accountability of programs for student outcomes; but most particularly, my comment really is to come and thank you. I came this morning specifically to thank you for your support in continuing the programs and even more specifically for your support in rejecting changes that would have altered the programs and made them weaker, so we thank you very much for the opportunity to talk about education, but specifically for your support of the federal Trio programs. Thank you.


Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you. That was a program that I had when I got to Congress five years ago, and I wasn't sure about that program, and it is one where I don't know, you guys have a good network because the, you know, and they invited me in to take a look, and I spent about half a day with them going through what they do and talking about what they do; and, again, what makes those kinds of program work is Washington is nice because we have a little bit of money and the catalyst is, is the people with the vision at the local level in the partnership and putting all the pieces together, so you guys do a fantastic job. Thank you.


Mr. Thayer. Let me also thank you, Mr. Schaffer, for the opportunity that we had to meet with Marcus Dunn yesterday to visit with our students. We really appreciate it.


Ms. Champagne. Hi. My name is Kim Champagne. I have a child with autism in the Aurora Public Schools, and I am one of those parents that begged the school to give me an option to place my son in other than our home school and they didn't allow me that option, and it has taken me about 12 meetings, a federal complaint, and two hearings and a mediation to get a program that is just adequate enough to support my son, and all I have had to rely on is IDEA.

It is all I have to make sure that the school does what they are supposed to do, and I am glad that it is working in Fort Collins, but it is not working that way in Aurora. If IDEA were changed, I feel like I would be in a lot of trouble.


Chairman Hoekstra. Great. Thank you.


Ms. Haase. Carolyn Haase, Fort Collins. I am former chairman of the state advisory committee for exceptional children and my sympathies to you with your circumstances that you just cited in Aurora. Come to Fort Collins. I would like to highlight something that Pamela Schmidt has mentioned and also touched on by Trigger Riggs; that is, we have a pronounced need today for a planned program, a sophisticated planned program at the national level through, perhaps, the American Association of School Administrators, the National Association of School Principals and the National Education Association to encourage and identify qualified, bright students to become interested in our wonderful profession of education, and we are going to find a dearth especially of bright girls in the future and working as a college selection counselor over a span of several years, increasingly it was apparent that some of our best and brightest girls especially and also the young men had too many other career alternatives with richer economic rewards, and plus in returning, for example, to the profession of high school counseling within the past few years of contrasting the quality of youth that were seeing teaching as their career in the 1950s and 1960s in quantity there is a pronounced decrease which requires a planned program of teacher recruitment; and one of the sources, and Trigger has mentioned this, people who come, for example, with a military career background, and I am citing this just as an example, or from other professions and occupations, vocational education that want to make a real commitment to the teaching profession and education are a wonderful pool and source.

Many of these people are in their late 30s, even their 40s and their 50s, and they bring, as Trigger has pointed out vividly with the teacher that he has at the lab school, life experiences that enrich and inspire youth, and I challenge the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the American Association of School Administrators, commissioners of education and certainly the NEA to reach out and to identify and encourage the future teachers of the next generation and especially to zero in on the gifted and the talented youth. Thank you.


Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you. We are going to have to break. I just want to build on that comment. I am not going to disagree with you on class size; but one thought that sticks vividly in my mind is a former Army drill sergeant whose teaches at Focus Hope in inner city Detroit.

They are taking kids that have failed the traditional school system, and he is teaching 100 kids in a class at a time, and it is all computer based. He is raising them three grade levels in math, reading, writing and math in about 11 weeks, so there are alternative ways to do different things with different kind of kids but that, you know, he just sticks in my mind. We go back there, I am not from the Detroit area, but we go back, and it is just an exceptional program that they are running there.


Ms. Schmidt. That is what Trigger said about flexibility.


Chairman Hoekstra. Yes, flexibility.


Ms. Schmidt. To be open-minded and be flexible and do what is best for the kids in that situation.


Mr. Schaffer. Before we adjourn, there is no mistake with his hairstyle. He is headed from here to go compete in the state swimming tournament, and so we wish you luck. He is headed there right now.


Chairman Hoekstra. I thought it was he made a bet with somebody that Colorado could beat Michigan in football. With that, we will adjourn this session.

[Lunch recess.]


Chairman Hoekstra. Let me in introduce the second panel. We will use pretty much the same format.

We are going to begin with Dr. Don Unger. I was looking around the panel, and it is doctor, doctor, doctor, doctor, so we are expecting to really - the pressure is on. We are expecting to learn a lot this afternoon.


Dr. Unger Is a superintendent of the…


Dr. Unger. Poudre.


Chairman Hoekstra. _Poudre School District. Then we have Dr. Moloney, who is the Commissioner of Education for the Colorado Department of Education. Thank you for being here.

We have Mr. Bob Selle, who is a superintendent of the East Yuma County School District. Thank you for being here.

Then we have Mr. Clair Orr, who is with the Colorado State Board of Education.


Mr. Orr. And I need a doctor.


Chairman Hoekstra. All right. Then we have Ms. Pat Chase, who is President of the Colorado Association of School Boards.

We have Dr. Brian McNulty, who is the assistant commissioner of the Office of Special Services for the Colorado Department of Education, and we have Dr. Randy Everett, who is a parent and board member of the Liberty Commons Charter School, so I think I got everybody.

We are going to begin with Dr. Unger. I will just explain the lights again because I didn't explain them before.

I don't have a firm gavel. The green light means you can go on, or you have plenty of time. The yellow kind of means you are running out, and the red says kind of slow down and stop soon, and we will put the entire… If you have got a prepared statement, the entire prepared statement will go into the congressional record.


Dr. Unger, you can start. I understand you may leave, and that we shouldn't take that as a slight and that there will be somebody here to answer any questions on the material that you have, but I guess you have another commitment.

Thank you for coming down and making the time available today. Dr. Unger.



Dr. Unger. Thank you for inviting me. The person that will take my place when I leave is Monty Peterson, who is an assistant in the Poudre School District. He is in charge of all the federal programs, so he is probably better able to answer those questions than I am anyway.

My prepared statement is on the back table. It is one page, and I am looking, really, at three different concepts that I would like to talk a little bit about.

The first one is the whole concept of under-funded or unfunded mandates that come out of federal government generally related to the areas of special education, and I would like to say that we have a very, very good special education department in Poudre, and we are proud of it. We have a number of parents new to the district, so that they would have some contact with the education department, so this is not about the need for special education or the necessity or the quality of any of that. It is just that as new regulations come out, many times they cost the district money, and the funding does not follow that particular concept.

It is increased federal mandates that are under-funded or unfunded for us and then regular programs have to pick that up to make it happen.

The second concept that I would like to talk a little bit about is the whole idea of organizations, such as OCR and IDEA, and that together is a process and it is a good process where people have to have the ability to have their needs meet if the school district is not meeting them; but our problem is virtually all the time we are filling out another OCR report because somebody has made some comment that we did not meet their needs in such a way, and that is not a problem. The problem is, we would like to see some kind of a screening process because most of them are not legitimate claims when it is all said and done.


Chairman Hoekstra. Tell me what an OCR is.


Dr. Unger. Office of Civil Rights, and so that is an area where people can go to and make complaints against the district. Every time we get a complaint, the district has to gear up the same way. It takes a tremendous amount of resources and time and money to respond to each one of the reports.

We would like to have a screening process somewhere in the middle where somebody else can look at it and say, this is worthy of going on, or this probably does not have merit; and if we can do that, it would certainly cut down our processes by a lot of staff time and money.

What does work, though, are the block grants, and what we are very happy about are the consolidated federal programs. The reason that we like those is they meet our local needs much better. The money that comes in, we can customize for our own programs without a lot of other mandates with it, and we are finding that the schools then take that consolidated money, they found new and innovative ways to use it that helps reduce the debts with the same amount of money, so it is a better use of the money and resources that are available.

So those would be the three areas, to us, what is wasted with the under-funded and unfunded mandates, we would like to have a screening process on the federal complaints and then what works would be the block grants, the consolidated federal programs, and we are seeing more of those coming; and with that, that is all I have to say.



Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you.


Dr. Moloney.




Dr. Moloney. Well, like Dr. Unger, you have a prepared statement. I know you will all want to read that on the plane back, so just to kind of summarize.

I would bring this perspective. A third of a century ago I was working for your predecessors down in Washington as a staffer and I often ask myself the question, what has happened in the third of a century to American education?

What do we know? We know that funding is up and performance is down. What you are looking at in terms of what works and what is wasted is very simple to the challenge of American school reform.

I am in my third term of governing the board of national assessment of educational progress. We spend a great part of our time preparing our reports for you, the Congress of the United States and the American people, seeking to answer the question, what went wrong and what works?

I would offer a couple of things. The first thing we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that reform equals radical simplification. We also know that it is absolutely imperative before we organize ourselves to do the good things for our children, is to organize ourselves to stop doing the bad things.

That goes to the issue of what is wasted. I was astounded when I heard, but not surprised, when I heard that there was 760 federal programs relating to education. A member of your staff said they are still counting, and I think it is up to 780 now.

Most of us in education land have not the slightest idea what the majority of those programs are. We know they are scattered about every single executive department and many other places.

Now, if reform is radical simplification and if we must organize to stop using our teacher's time, our principal's time, our student's time towards initiatives that are not productive to student learning, then your committee can do this nation a remarkable service if you are able, not in an nibbling around the edge fashion, but in a dramatic fashion to end or at least consolidate those programs.

As Dr. Unger indicated, we have an enormous burden of mandates; and I think when we look at that, in the shortness of time, I will speak hyperbolically, if you can reduce the ills of the American public education in a single word, that single word is over regulation; and if you could reduce salvation to a single word, that word is deregulation.

What separates performing from non-performing schools, what separates the performance of American education is most recently exemplified in the recently released HIMS report from those other industrial nations is that so much of our energy, so much of the work of teachers here in Timnath and all across the nation is wasted is not aimed at what will be most appropriate for us.

As we have looked across the state of Colorado in the aftermath of our recent standards-based tests, we have asked the question, what works? What are the anomalies? Who did well, and who should have? Who among the poor achieved? And what we found were very old-fashioned stories. Very simple, work works. A narrow agenda pursued relentlessly with great focus, cohesiveness, and with a zealous determination that all children should be able to read, and those successful people, those individual teachers have often done so by subverting the central administration, by subverting the Department of Education, and subverting the federal government, and I think we should applaud them, and I think we should help them.

A long time ago a fellow wrote a book called Teaching as a Subversive Activity. We should go back and read that book.

Thank you for your efforts, and I wish you all the best. All right.



Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you.


Mr. Bob Selle.




Mr. Selle. Well, I am superintendent of a small school district in eastern Colorado that involves two communities way out on the eastern plains, and we have some unique problems that some of the larger districts don't have when it comes to federal programs; but before I get into that, I want to share a fact with the committee and with the people here. At one time, there were vast forests in the state of Kansas and then government reporting came along and now they are all gone because of the paper we have to take care of.

Just as an example, two weeks ago, I was at a federal programs workshop for this coming year and the paperwork that was given to us at that time for Title 6, which is improving American schools, is this amount and they were very happy that they had reduced one page in the application form, but then they told us they also added three pages to the evaluation form.

Safe and drug-free schools and community, this is the paper that was handed out for that particular program. These two programs in our school districts are worth about $4,000 apiece. We can't let them go by. We have to have that money. We want to address these issues.

In fact, most of the programs that come from the federal government are directed at issues that need to be addressed, and I would never question that the legislators, when they identified issues that need to be addressed, that they provide funding for that.

I am not sure grants are necessarily the way to go because of all of the paperwork and all of the restrictions that come along with them.

My opinion, the two most effective things for school today are early childhood education, what we can do in that area, Head Start, Even Start, Colorado Pre-School Program, Handicap Pre-School Program. These are all programs that are very effective in my opinion, and ones that we are certainly trying to put a lot of effort into our school district.

The other one is one-on-one help as much as we can provide it. It was very disappointing to me the other day as I took the board of education around through our school district and was showing off our elementary school, and we went from classroom to classroom; and as we looked in the regular elementary classrooms, we saw 16 to 20 students. We have an excellent student/teacher ratio in our district; but when we looked in the special ed classroom, there were 16 kids in there, too.

If the idea behind special education is to get smaller teacher/student ratios for student improvement, we are missing it by a long shot. We are not able to do it.

Parent support is another key issue, I think, in helping kids get the most they can out of education. One of the things that we are looking at right now, the special ed director for the…excuse me, the social services director in our school district and I have seriously considered putting up a cash reward to parents that would attend parent teacher conferences to make sure that we get them involved.

One of the things that I know our social services department is doing out there right now is requiring that parents put in some kind of work in order to get a welfare check, and the school district is working with them to allow those people to come and volunteer in the school system.

We need their support. We need their ideas, and we need to get them there, and this is one of the ways of doing it.


Chairman Hoekstra. Which one is the way to do it? Give them money or to require social services?


Mr. Selle. To work together. For us to work together to put a united front to have those people come and attend.

I am running out of time, and I have got a lot more to go over, so I am going to skip down here and finish up here.

I guess probably the main thing I would say is if all the federal programs could be allocated to school districts based on student count, like our PPOR, and we can go ahead and use that funding to address identified goals and needs within our school district, whether they be safe and drug-free school type of things or whether they be special education or whether they be remedial reading or whatever other area it could possibly be.

If we could identify those in a plan and an evaluation on how we are going to improve that area, and then take the funding and apply it to that plan to make it work, we would be able to address the needs in our district and probably would not fragment ourselves so much, especially in small districts like mine where we only have one chief administrator.

We wouldn't fragment ourselves so much, and we would be able to focus in on the one issue that was the biggest and most burdensome issue within our district.

I think fragmentation of effort of our school people within the school system and the constant changeover of leadership in the school system are the things that are probably hurting us the most.

We must educate all of our students, yet we have to make sure that the top students can compete in the system and in a system that is designed for the average student and it gets difficult at times.

If anybody would like copies of what I had to say, they are in my briefcase here. You don't have to get them out of my briefcase. I will get them out for you. Thank you.


Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you. I hate to take your $4,000 away from you, but can we at least see the documents or if you have an extra set?


Mr. Selle. No, there is not an extra set.


Chairman Hoekstra. Can you just make sure that we can make some notations on what they are, so we can make copies to put in the record and take a look at what you might have to go through to get your $4,000?


Mr. Selle. You bet.



Chairman Hoekstra. Mr. Orr.



Mr. Orr. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

My testimony is in the back two pages and I will be reading it here.

I am a fourth generation rancher, real estate broker, husband of 23 years and father of three daughters enrolled in the public school system: one in high school and two in Colorado universities.

I was elected to State Board of Education in 1994 representing the fourth congressional district.

Each year, I travel through the 43,000 square miles of the fourth congressional district, which entails all of the eastern plains of Colorado and northern front range in Larimer County.

School sizes range from 2,000 down to 60 students. I have met with parents, school board members, administrators, teachers and students. The purpose of my visits was to see what is working, what isn't working at the local level in the education of our students. Similar to what you are doing here today.

After four years and close to 70 school visits, you start to get a feel for what is working, what is broke and what needs broke. (sic).

Without fail, each year and in every school, the single biggest complaint is the special education program. The intent of the program is well meaning and your heart goes out for the students with disabilities and their families.

In the government's effort to rectify a wrong, the discrimination against students with disabilities, it has created a big problem in schools. Prescriptive programs that are unfunded and out of touch with reality, practicality and affordability.

Figuratively speaking, you have saddled every school with teaching all students how to ride a horse. In your benevolence, you agreed to fund 40 percent of the project since some students with disabilities will need special saddles and teachers with special training to accomplish the mission.

You have mandated the specifications for each saddle, teacher and even the horse. So far so good, now it is time to pay the bill for all the special requirements.

Your part of the bargain was 40 percent funding but the most you have ever funded, to my knowledge, was 12 percent and currently it is only 9 percent, which is $3.8 billion. We now have a big problem. Schools are trying to hold up their end of the bargain and pay your 31 percent even though their buildings are falling apart, there is not enough money to take full advantage of today's technology, and professional curriculum development are under-funded.

Horses are always easy to catch if you have oats in your bucket; but when you use pebbles to sound like oats, all you catch is hell from the boss. It is painfully clear the government has more pebbles than oats and does not intend to uphold their end of the bargain.

Two years ago, I was told by a state legislator if there is not enough money to fund a law, you don't have to obey it. If this is true, which 9 percent of the special education law should be obeyed?

It is a noble cause to give all our youth a free and appropriate education. I firmly believe that the academic education of our youth is the most important work we as a society can be about. No one will argue that education isn't more important, but it is imperative we do it with common sense, integrity and within our means.

Our children are not widgets. They are special individuals with different needs, talents and dreams. Consider the mighty oak for a moment. Where does its growth come from? It comes from the roots imbedded in fertile soil with adequate nutrients and water. The leaves and branches are the fruit of those roots. Each one is unique and different, none perfect, but together they make a beautiful forest.

For education to bear good fruit, we need to work from the roots up, not the forest down. The forest does not provide nutrients to the roots but chokes new growth out when it becomes too dense. The federal government is choking academic growth for all students with their unfunded mandates and unreasonable programs.

I have touched on one major problem. There are many other problems that need attention which can be solved at the grass roots. There are many positive things taking place in our schools in spite of all the obstacles, like the implementation of academic content standards and honest assessments.

Let me close with a couple thoughts beyond those I already mentioned. Our schools need to be safe environments for student and teachers, places where they can get a solid academic education free from agenda peddling.

In other words, they need to learn how to fish so they can feed themselves for life. Ground them in rock-solid academics delivered by masterful teachers using proven methods rather than the latest fads.

Finally, they need to learn more about public and personal virtues than they do about public and personal vices. When you plant seeds of virtue, virtue will grow, for you always reap what you sow.



Chairman Hoekstra. When I get a horse, I will figure out the oats and the pebbles. Other than that, we are okay. Thank you very much.

Ms. Chase.



Ms. Chase. Thank you. I am Pat Chase. I am president this year of the Colorado Association of School Boards and also vice president of the Thompson Board of Education, which is just down the road here in Loveland and Berthoud.

Today, I am representing CASB, which is a service organization to which 170 of the 176 school districts in Colorado belong. CASB's highest priority is to provide services to our member districts which will enable them to improve student achievement in their local districts.

CASB is in a unique position to comment on what is working and not working in public education because we have continuous interaction with our member districts and we facilitate interaction between our members and a sharing of the best practices between our member school districts.

We appreciate the opportunity this afternoon to share our concerns with you. What works in public education, particularly in Colorado, is flexibility. Colorado's Constitution is more emphatic about local control than any other in the country and that is simply common sense.

In Colorado, our 176 school districts vary in enrollment from 88,000 students in Jefferson County to 45 students in Hinsdale County. Obviously, what works in a district of 88,000 students may not be practical in a district of only 45.

Flexibility is also critical in the classroom along with a skilled teacher. Every student has individual learning needs and every classroom has different demographics and behavior patterns that a teacher has to accommodate.

The more a teacher's hands are tied by laws and regulations, the less able he is to meet the needs of individual students in his class.

During this past decade in Colorado, we have sought ways to assure a uniformly high quality of education statewide without limiting the ability of districts and teachers to be innovative and to tailor their programs to their students.

In 1993, Colorado's General Assembly passed legislation mandating that local districts adopt content standards by 1997. Last year, the first state assessment in reading and writing was administered to fourth-grade students statewide, but Colorado hasn't yet been working long enough in a standards based environment to be able to show achievement results.

We do believe this standards-based education will improve student achievement statewide. We have seen evidence of that in our district where we implemented standards in 1992. Since then, we have seen a continual growth in our student's test scores and our high school graduation rate has risen from 81.8 percent to 89.6.

Unfortunately, the implementation of content standards has come at a time of dramatically decreasing funding for Colorado's public schools. Standards-based education requires a fundamental change in classroom technique. If schools do not have the financial resources to retrain their teachers, then the results of our assessments will be irrelevant. We will have standards-based education in law, but it won't actually be implemented at the classroom level.

Clearly, local school funding isn't a federal issue, but the school resources which go into meeting requirements of federal laws and regulations deprive districts of the funds they need to implement the reforms.

My written testimony itemizes numerous federal acts such as the ADA, which are not even specifically directed at education, but which impact our district's resources.

Colorado provides no financial aid for our districts so requirements to our facilities have to be funded from local bond elections or from our operating revenues.

The educational act, which impacts our resources most heavily is the Individuals with Disability Act, which governs our special education program. Studies show that the cost of the special education program is nearly two and a half times the cost of a regular education program.

Under the IDEA, the federal government is to fund 40 percent of the program. This year's funding was 8.3 percent, and our district's only source of subsidy to cover the shortfall is from our regular education programs.

For the most part, requirements of IDEA are not objectionable. The programs mandated for our disabled students benefit those students to a large extent.

The catch, in order to provide those programs we have to divert resources from our regular education program. We would much prefer to see IDEA fully funded rather than repealed. Head Start preschool regulations are a good example of federal mandates which stifle creativity and efficiency.

In Thompson, we have integrated our Head Start classes with other preschool programs; and when we were audited by Head Start officials, they praised our program, but said that we couldn't continue to integrate because we were violating the letter of the Head Start regulations.

An excellent solution to this difficulty would be a simplified process where districts could apply for waivers from specific statutes.

Colorado has a very efficient system like that where we can get waivers from state statutes. Our district has benefited to a great extent from that process.

The final example that I had of waste is the paperwork. Federal grant programs require such a volume of paperwork that it takes literally days of administrative time to put together the reports and applications; and in some cases, the grant money received may not even cover the labor cost required to do the paperwork.

This is this year's application and report just for the Carl Perkins Technology Grant, which is routinely distributed for our district. So you get one of these-- there are 176 districts in Colorado and that is money just routinely distributed.

Federal mandates which hinder our flexibility are scattered among hundreds of laws and regulations. I can't imagine that it would be possible to identify just a few whose repeal would have a significant impact on our district resources.

We would be very be grateful, however, for a reprieve from the paperwork, for a simplified waiving process and for adequate funding.


Chairman Hoekstra. We are working on another phase on the Crossroads project. We are not sure if it is a very difficult one or it is just more paperwork for you; but what we are trying to do is collect all the paperwork that comes from a state and goes to Washington and we are trying to figure out whether it is going to be a pickup truck or whether it is going to be an 18-wheeler. We are trying to figure it out. You know, because like that is just for Carl Perkins, and then you have got stacks of paper over there that are only for $4,000 grants, and then you figure you have got 760 programs and then you figure out that you are giving that all of them combined and it ends up being $100 million and the real question is, who reads that paperwork?

We want to get the paperwork in Washington and then we want to follow it, okay, where does it go? Who reads it? And then do they make any decisions based off it that actually come back to you and help you implement that program better; because if you just send it in, but there is nobody in Washington who reads it, and it actually adds no value so your program is better back here in Colorado, why do you do it in the first place?

So maybe one of these days, we will have 150 18-wheelers coming to Washington. We just want to ask that question. Who gets it? Who reads it, and what do you do with this?

So if you can put a little… Next time you send that in, put a little chip in it, okay, so that we can kind of track by satellite and see where it is every week and where it actually ends up and see how long before it goes into the circular file.


Ms. Chase. If you discover that there is nobody out there reading them, please don't hire more folks to do that.


Chairman Hoekstra. I think and the problem that we have with that, that I have with waivers is, if you have to get waivers, you know I don't know if there is any…if there has ever been anybody and if there is anybody in the education department that would know where Timnath is; so if you sent in a request for a waiver for this school or for one of your other 176 school districts, if they don't know where Timnath is, how would they really be qualified to say you deserve a waiver or not?


Ms. Chase. You know, that is why I mentioned the state. The state is very efficient and has a process that is very efficient, and there is a federal program called Ed Flex and we haven't been able to figure out exactly how it works, but it could be nice to say, well, it doesn't have to go to Washington to get the waiver because the state administers the federal programs anywhere.


Chairman Hoekstra. There is a new proposal on Ed Flex that says, you can participate - the new rules on Ed Flex is you can participate, it is a new experimental program, I think we are on about on the sixth or eighth state that is participating in it, where the executive branch is taking a direction that this is now available to all 50 states, so you can participate in Ed Flex; if you do these things.

That is not the intent, but go ahead.


Dr. Moloney. We had a discussion of Ed Flex back in Washington last week and the consensus was, it doesn't change much.


Ms. Chase. So you still have to be exempt from an entire program, you can't opt out of individual regulations and requirements?


Dr. Moloney. Somebody said privately subversion is better, really.


Chairman Hoekstra. Well, and that is what we are thinking about because when you come out with that amount of paperwork, if you really don't believe anybody is reading it or doing anything with it, you know, we actually are sending signals that subversion is an okay behavior.

It is the totally wrong signal. We will come back and talk about this some more.



Chairman Hoekstra.

Dr. McNulty.



Dr. McNulty. Let me start, maybe, with just a couple of personal stories that I believe might be…shed light, at least on the part that I want to talk about, which is the disability piece and the IDEA authorization.

Several years ago, I was at the national Down's Syndrome conference, a very large international conference, it is like 3,000 or 5,000 people, and I was giving one of the addresses; and the night before, one was given by a young man named Chris Burke, who was in a TV show called As Life Goes On, and if 10 years ago or 15 years ago anybody had told us that kids with Down's Syndrome would be on TV, and he had to memorize 60 pages of script for his performance every week, no one would have believed it.

Such were our beliefs about people with Down's Syndrome. I think it was three years ago or so, our top performing student in the state in mathematics was a woman who was blind, and I say that because the concern that we have around disabilities, at this point in time, is setting woefully low expectations for kids with disabilities.

We really have not had the belief system that all kids do perform at much higher levels, and I use that as a backdrop for maybe where we are here in Colorado, and I have some other information in my testimony, but I won't go through all of that.

What I would like to say is that in Colorado in adopting our content standards, we were very clear to include all kids and kids with disabilities, ethnicity and disability, and we do that for a reason, such that we can look at the performance of each and every child in the state to assure that we are bringing all kids up to much higher standards.

That allows us, then, to look at what practices are most effective for kids with disabilities. In terms of the IDEA reauthorization, I did have the privilege of going before the Senate subcommittee on the reauthorization, and I want to thank you and the rest of Congress for the reauthorization. I think they did a masterful job in reauthorization, and it was a very difficult set of discussions that we went through.

The points, mostly, that I would like to focus on the IDEA re-authorization would be raised expectations for kids with disabilities. Specifically, and this is right out of the introduction of the new IDEA. The implementation of the Act has been impeded by low expectations. The Congress went on to say that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by having higher expectations for children and by assuring their access to the general ed curriculum, strengthening the role of parents, coordinating the Act with other school improvement efforts, providing support in the regular classroom, and providing incentives for whole school approaches, and those, to us, are the key. We have to raise the expectations for all of the kids in school, but also that the concept of whole school models, we have found to be very, very effective.

Under the Improving American Schools Act, there is a component called School-Wide Programs that does allow school buildings to blend their resources for all of the kids.

In our state, this program has been very, very widely adopted. We have gone in the last three years from 30 schools to 60 schools to 160 schools this year. It is literally doubling each year. Those schools have gone through a process whereby they look at what are the needs of all of the students in the school, how do we use our resources from across the entire school to meet the needs of every single student, and then how do we use our resources to do that?

Under the new IDEA, you are allowed to be a part of those school-wide programs. That, I think, is a very, very big step forward. It does not diminish any of the rights of the kids, but it allows the whole school to look at how they might use those resources, and that does include Eisenhower Math, Science, Drug-Free Schools and all of the other federal programs that are there.

That approach has been very, very effective not only for kids with disabilities, but for all of the kids in the schools.

If we look at where things might not be working, the issue of funding is one the people certainly have mentioned, and it is one that challenges us because of the costs of special education, and I have to say, it has not just been an issue from the federal government, it has been an issue for the state government also. States say they fund 80 percent and the highest they ever got was about 60 percent and that is dropped to about 33 percent, so everybody has been struggling with, how do we finance that, but financing is an issue because it does take away from the general education programs, so funding is clearly one issue.

Another issue that we would, at least, like to look at is some pilots across the country that would allow us to move into prevention of serving kids even earlier rather than waiting until kids fail and have to be placed into special education; and instead sort of blur that boundary line that maybe you can do in school what we would like to see done on a broader basis that would allow us really to look at certain kids prevention instead of waiting until kids have failed and have to be placed in special education.



Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you. The expectations - it is an interesting focus and I just want everybody to recognize these people. It is also adults with disabilities that benefit from higher expectations.

The other project we are working on is evaluating all the labor laws and tax laws; and one of the greatest advancements of technology here, we can and do expect alternative solutions. Adults with disabilities who like to go to work, if they now go to work, as soon as they start going to work, every dollar they earn above a certain very low threshold, they lose all federal assistance. This is not smart. We would like for them to be productive and, you know, I would just as soon give them all the federal government assistance they need, but we really…the model for much of this was done so long ago. It is an old model that there have been so many advances, we just need to implement.

Go ahead, Dr. Everett.



Dr. Everett. My name is Randy Everett. I am a urologic surgeon. My wife is an English teacher. We are the parents of five sons, ages 4 through 12.

For the last six years, we have been involved in grassroots education reform aimed at the public school system to which we remain committed. We designed the academic program for an alternative school in our local public school system. Then we helped write charter school legislation, worked towards its passage and have helped to form and establish Liberty Common School, the first charter school in Fort Collins, Colorado. I currently serve on its Board of Directors.

Several key issues have driven us in our efforts to improve public schools; namely a belief that implementation of sound ideas can improve the academic results and the fairness of our public schools. Also, it is apparent that over time, the public has become increasingly removed from any meaningful influence over public schools. This is due to the large size of most school districts and the disproportionate influence that employees have over policy, philosophy, and the election of school board members.

We have witnessed that when true local control is experienced, and by this, I mean, decision-making authority at the school level, not the district versus the state, when true local control is experienced, parental involvement follows naturally.

For example, we estimate between 20,000 and 60,000 hours of volunteer time spent on behalf of Liberty Common School this year. Jane Anderson, one of our parents, talked to you earlier today about that.

The Crossroads Project asks, which teaching methods and curricula have produced the best results? Here in the United States, we have the most unfair educational system in the world.

In 1967, Coleman and others published the first of 14 major studies showing that urban minority children start out behind their suburban peers and get farther behind as time goes on. The federal government has spent billions of dollars in concern over this issue. Now, finally, we have the answer.

The way to level the playing field between the academic haves and have-nots is not to be found in money, but in knowledge. Teaching knowledge, that is. This book, The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them, by E. D. Hirsch, made the front cover of Time, Newsweek, and U. S. News and World Report one and a half years ago.

It discusses the fundamental role that teaching a broad base of fundamental, background knowledge in science, history, geography, English, cultures, math, music, art and architecture plays in providing the intellectual capital children need to compound their learning. We learn by building on what we already know. The more we know, the more we can learn.

These simple truths underlie the Core Knowledge Foundation's curricular success. School after school, entire districts are switching to the Core Knowledge Foundation's Sequence and finding that all children do better and the ones at the bottom make the greatest gains. Everyone wants fairness to improve, and this is the only real way shown to do just that.

The second issue is literacy. We are experiencing an unprecedented level of illiteracy in this country. Three fundamental things are needed. The evidence is overwhelming that kids with reading problems need phonics-based instruction. They need background knowledge, such as is presented in the best knowledge-based curriculum in the United States to date; namely, the Core Knowledge Sequence previously mentioned, and they need early immersion in high quality literature.

Such are the clear findings of an ongoing 30-year, $200 million study of reading disabilities by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, a division of the NIH. The same findings were reported in the research compilation, Beginning to Read, by Marilyn Jaeger Adams, commissioned by Congress in 1987.

In light of these voluminous findings, teaching methods variously termed, "Look and Say," "Sight Method," "Whole World," and the latest incarnation "Whole Language," have dominated the education landscape for almost seven decades. As a result, millions of kids are consigned to a lifetime of unnecessary reading troubles because most policy makers and educators have either willfully ignored the NIH-funding research or are unaware of its existence.

This is clearly evident in the America Reads Challenge Act of 1997, President Clinton's five-year $2.75 billion proposal to place volunteer reading tutors with minimal training in low-income schools.

The program would hire reading specialists to give cram courses to these volunteers, but declines to incorporate the NICHD's findings into its recommendations. Its official literature tepidly states, "The U.S. Department of Education does not specify any particular reading instruction method."

In addition, the federal government gives elementary schools $7 billion a year in aid to programs for special education, bilingual education, and low income students without insisting that the instruction be research-based.

What role do Americans believe the federal government should have in education?

This American believes it should be very limited. What is needed is not money, but the implementation of ideas that work. For that to happen, parents and professionals need clear assessments of voluntary standards so they can choose; and for choice, we need more charter schools and other options that allow the public back into public education.

The entire U.S. Department of Education should have a budget of no more than $1 billion to apportion among changing activities meant to share research and results of state initiatives with each other.

As a transition, the current successful expenditures should be capped and shipped back to the states as unencumbered block grants until they are phased out over five years. Projects already shown by the CBO to be ineffective should be phased out over three years.

This is easier said than done, but my comments are meant to say, this American believes that federal involvement in education is, on the whole, ineffective and overly politicized.

What studies exist that can give us insight into the success and shortcomings of our current educational system?

To that end, I recommend the National Association of School Boards' pick of the year book re97, The Schools We Need and Why We Don't Have Them by E. D. Hirsch, Jr.

In closing, let me quote to you from Pages 62 and 63 of Hirsch's book. "At this point, I wish to present a positive foil to the educational outlook I shall be criticizing in this book. For my aim in challenging inadequate theories is to leave space for better ones.

Let us suppose that among the schools from which a parent could choose was one that subscribed to the following philosophy.

All teachers at out school have not only pedagogical training, but also a detailed knowledge of the subject matter that they teach. We instill in all children an ethic of toleration, civility, orderliness, responsibility, and hard work.

Our staff has agreed on a definite core of knowledge and skill that all children will attain in each grade. We make sure that every child learns this core and gains the specific knowledge and skill needed to build at the next grade level, thus enabling knowledge to build upon knowledge. Our teachers continually confer with their colleagues about effective ways of stimulating children to learn and integrated this specific knowledge and skill.

The specificity of our goals enables us to monitor children and give focused attention where necessary. To this end, we provide parents with a detailed outline of the specific knowledge and skill goals for each grade, and we stay in constant touch with them regarding the child's progress. Through this knowledge-based approach, we make sure that all normal children perform at grade level, while, in addition, the most talented children are challenged to excel. Attaining this specific and well-integrated knowledge and skill gives our students pleasure in learning, as well as self-respect, and it ensures that they will enter the next grade ready and eager to learn more.

When American parents are offered that kind of choice, there is evidence that they will send their children long distances to attend such a school. Unfortunately, the choice I have just described is not available to most parents within the United States.

Although such a philosophy guides the best-performing school systems of Europe and Asia, any attempt in present-day America to create a public school that focuses on knowledge is usually met with disparagement and fierce resistance. In 1992, for example, a group of parents in Fort Collins, Colorado, tried to start an elementary school on the principles described above. The educational community fought bitterly at every step, threatening to retaliate against teachers who wished to cooperate, and going so far as to hire lawyers to help restrain parents from promulgating such heresy.

Fortunately, the savvy parents managed to carry the day, and their public school, Liberty Common School, and its predecessor, the Washington Core Knowledge School, are flourishing, evidence that the principle of choice combined with independence of the intellectual monopoly can effect change. The school has a long waiting list, which includes a large number of children of minority parents who see such rigorous education as the foundation of their children's economic autonomy."



Chairman Hoekstra. Thank you. One of the struggles that we have had with Crossroads - I have gotten some questions like, how do you define programs to meet all the students' needs in all communities? We have also been in inner city New York and seeing what kinds of needs and problems are consistent between inner city New York and Colorado.

You guys have hit very hard on issue of whether we make commitments or whether we don't.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for taking the time to come here this afternoon. The session is adjourned.

[Whereupon, at 1:25 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]