FIELD HEARING ON EDUCATION AT A CROSSROADS: "WHAT WORKS, WHAT’S WASTED?"

HEARING

BEFORE THE

SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS

OF THE

COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND

THE WORKFORCE

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS

SECOND SESSION

 

HEARING HELD IN LEWISBERRY, PA, MARCH 30, 1998

 

Serial No. 105-93

 

Printed for the use of the Committee on Education

and the Workforce


FIELD HEARING ON EDUCATION AT A CROSSROADS:

"WHAT WORKS, WHAT'S WASTED?"

MONDAY, MARCH 30, 1998

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,

SUBCOMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND INVESTIGATIONS,

COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE,

WASHINGTON DC

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS…………………………………………………………………………………iii

 

STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EUGENE HICKOK, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA *

STATEMENT OF SENATOR HOWARD MOWERY, VICE CHAIRMAN, SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA *

STATEMENT OF DR. JACK VAN NEWKIRK, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF YORK *

STATEMENT OF REVEREND KENNETH NEWMAN, GRANDPARENT, SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF YORK *

STATEMENT OF JENNIFER B. WEIKERT, PARENT, YORK CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, YORK, PA. *

STATEMENT OF SEAN DUFFY, VICE PRESIDENT, THE COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION, HARRISBURG, PA. *

STATEMENT OF BRENT FREY, SUPERVISOR OF COMPUTER SERVICES, WEST SHORE SCHOOL DISTRICT, NEW CUMBERLAND, PA. *

STATEMENT OF ERIN McCONNELL, STUDENT, CROSSROADS MIDDLE SCHOOL *

STATEMENT OF MATT KNICKMAN, STUDENT, CROSSROADS MIDDLE SCHOOL *

APPENDIX A – STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EUGENE HICKOK, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, PENNSYLVANIA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, HARRISBURG, PA. *

APPENDIX B – STATEMENT OF SENATOR HAROLD MOWERY, VICE CHAIRMAN, SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, HARRISBURG, PA. *

APPENDIX C – STATEMENT OF DR. JACK VAN NEWIRK, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF YORK, YORK, PA. *

APPENDIX D - STATEMENT OF BRENT FREY, SUPERVISOR OF COMPUTER SERVICES, WEST SHORE SCHOOL DISTRICT, NEW CUMBERLAND, PA. *

APPENDIX E – STATEMENT OF JENNIFER WEIKERT, PARENT, YORK CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, YORK, PA. *

APPENDIX F - STATEMENT OF WILLIAM H. SCHMIDT *

APPENDIX G – STATEMENT OF SEAN DUFFY, VICE PRESIDENT, THE COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION, HARRISBURG, PA. *

Table of Indexes…………………………………………………………………………………………...125

The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 9:08 a.m., in the Auditorium of Crossroads Middle School, 535 Fishing Creek Drive, Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, Hon. William Goodling [chairman of the subcommittee] presiding.

 

Present: Representatives Goodling, Hoekstra, Fattah, and Peterson.

Chairman Goodling. The Education at a Crossroads Hearing will begin. Two other colleagues will be here, Subcommittee Chairman who usually conducts these hearings all over the country is trying to get here from Michigan, and Congressman Fattah will be coming from Philadelphia, so hopefully they will arrive in the very near future. I want to take this opportunity to welcome everyone, thank the people of the Crossroads Middle School, this is an appropriately named place for our Crossroads Hearing. I want to thank everyone here for their hospitality in hosting us. I especially want to thank Mr. Barry Hauser, the Principal at Crossroads for working with us to make the hearing possible. Governor Ridge and Secretary Hickok have developed bold initiatives in Pennsylvania to ensure that children in this state receive a high quality education. And I'm pleased to be here to see and hear about some of the results of their work at the local level. And I want to thank my colleague, Mr. Peterson, for coming down from State College this morning, on his way to Washington. And Mr. Fattah will be joining us later. And Mr. Hoekstra, as I said, is the Chairman of the Subcommittee of Oversight and Investigations. He spearheaded the Education at a Crossroads Project and he will be joining us shortly. His scheduled flight into Harrisburg International did not coincide with the early timetable we had for the hearing. This is the 18th, Carol, I said 26th, this is the 18th hearing of what is known as the Education at a Crossroads Project. Mr. Hoekstra and members of his subcommittee have traveled around the country to examine federal education programs, to determine which are helping students and which are a waste of the taxpayers' money. In other words, we want to find out what works and what's wasted. You would think that the bureaucrats at the Department of Education would want to do that, but they don't. They're too busy trying to generate new federal education programs of dubious merit and mounds of red tape. This Crossroads Project started over a year ago when we asked the very simply question, how many education programs are administered out of Washington, D.C.? As a result of that investigation, we found that there are more than 760 different education and training programs, spanning 39 federal agencies and departments and costing over $100 billion. Any comments you have regarding your specific involvement with any federal education programs will be very helpful. Thanks to this Crossroads Project, we have information which we never had before on federal education programs and we'll use that information to change education for the better. The Crossroads Project has visited, here's where the 26 came from, Carol, 26 schools, and heard from over 200 witnesses. Across the country, witnesses have told us that we need to focus our reform efforts on three things. Helping children master basic academics, parental involvement, and dollars directly to the classroom, not the bureaucracy. One of the primary concerns we have heard is the amount of paperwork and bureaucracy involved in federal education money. Governor Ridge is one of several governors who has helped us determine the full extent of the burden federal education programs place on states and local school districts. Today we'll hear more about programs at work at the local level and how federal programs and requirements affect them. As Chairman of the Committee, I continue to be concerned that many federal funds never reach the classroom and that state and local resources are diverted from the classroom to apply for these funds and comply with their requirements. There are too many examples from around the country of one-size-fits-all federal education programs getting in the way of truly effective reforms and programs at the local level. Federal programs often require schools to spend their resources on federal priorities, which do not always match the unique needs of local school districts. Innovative projects and partnerships implemented apart from federal requirements, such as the partnership this school has with AMP, are better tailored to match the unique needs of schools and school districts. Over the past two years, my committee has reduced the federal burden on states and local school districts by consolidating or repealing 145 unnecessary federal education programs. We must, however, continue our efforts to determine how federal education funds are being spent and how programs could be reformed to ensure that they are effective. And I look forward to hearing from all of you as to what is working at the local level and what we can do at the federal level to help you put children first. Mr. Peterson, would you have an opening statement?

 

Mr. Peterson. I don't have a prepared statement. I'll just share my pleasure of joining you here this morning, Chairman Goodling and your district at this Crossroads Hearing. It's good to see my old friends, the Secretary and Senator Phil Mowry whom I served with on the Education Committee my last term in the Senate. It was sort of like old times this morning, driving down 11 and 15 on this side of the river. If I came in at night, when I stayed at the Quality Inn up there, I used to come down that road. I usually came in the night before, but occasionally in the morning. It was similar to my ride in this morning and it's since I've been in Washington the last year-and-a-half, there hasn't been much time to remember the old times, but for 19 years I sincerely enjoyed working here with state government. I'm just pleased to be a part of the Education Committee, to try to work with the local school districts so that our resources get to them and into the classroom. It's frustrating to me that we're, in Pennsylvania, 5.6 percent of the budget for education and we're probably three-quarters of the paperwork. And those are two examples, that's one thing we can change and certainly support the concept of getting 90 percent of our money into the classroom. And if we do that, I know we'll have to cut a lot of the paperwork. And not everybody in Congress agrees with that. We don't get the kind of support I'd like to see from across the country on the willingness to cut the paperwork. I don't think the federal government is equipped to design the priorities and all of the educational procedures in 50 diverse states like we have in this country and we need to leave that up to the states and mostly to the local governments to make those decisions. So I'm just delighted to be a part of this hearing today and look forward to hearing the testimony from some of my friends.

 

Chairman Goodling. And I'll explain the system here. We would ask every presenter to give their testimony, if they can, in five minutes, and that gives us more time to ask questions. We don't get overly excited if you have some very important things to say when the light turns red. But we'll start out with a green light and then when we get to the amber, does that mean a minute left? I think it's a minute left when we get to the amber. And then the red. And so we will begin our hearing with the Honorable Eugene Hickok, Secretary of Education, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. He has served as the Secretary of Education for Pennsylvania since 1995. Since 1980, he has taught political science at Dickinson College. Up until his appointment, Dr. Hickok served as an elected member of the Carlisle Area School Board. He's married to the former Katherine Pauley and is the father of two school-age children, who attend the Carlisle Public Schools. In his testimony, Dr. Hickok will discuss recent education initiatives, as well as how federal programs and requirements advance those programs or hinder those programs, whichever it may be. Dr. Hickok?

 

 

STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EUGENE HICKOK, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA

 

 

Mr. Hickok. Thank you, Congressman Goodling, and thank you very much for the invitation to be here. It is indeed a fantastic school. I just got a brief tour as I walked in. Let me say at the outset that I think it is appropriate that we meet today to talk about Crossroads in Education at Crossroads Middle School.

I've been Secretary of Education since 1995 and I must tell you that I feel blessed to have the position. Governor Ridge has advanced an ambitious education reform agenda that we believe is working to improve public education throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

I've got formal testimony, which I'll submit for the record. And rather than read from the testimony, I'll just give you some of my comments. It seems to us that certain basic principles ought to underwrite the way we look at reforming education. We think not just in Pennsylvania but perhaps in the nation. First and foremost, we ought to get beyond this fascination with the system as it currently exists. I like to argue that we need to get beyond thinking about funding districts, although obviously we fund districts, and think about funding education. Secondly, we feel that it should be a student-centered approach in everything we do. This is a very expensive proposition, public education, it is highly regulated and Pennsylvania has a rich tradition of local control. But it seems to us that the most important person in that whole discussion has always got to be the student. And if we can keep that foremost in our thoughts, all of our proposals for reform will benefit the students more and more.

We think that we need to emphasize performance and accountability. The fact is, in all of education, not just K through secondary school, but higher education as well, there has not been enough emphasis on performance and accountability. We need to develop educational bottom lines so we're able to understand how well our students are doing, how well our schools are doing and what we need to do to improve things. Finally, we want to be radical. By radical, I mean getting back to the root. Most of what we are attempting to do in Pennsylvania is all about getting back to basics. And I'm not talking about basics in the sense of the good old days, I'm talking about basics in the sense that you get people working together to improve education. Let me highlight a few of our initiatives and then get us into some discussion.

In 1997, the General Assembly and the Governor established charter public schools in Pennsylvania, we're the 28th state in the Union to enact such legislation. Already we have more than 1000 students in charter schools across Pennsylvania. We anticipate another 32 schools opening sometime in the next year, or this year. Why do we think they're important? Because they're all about parents and students and community members getting together, working together and collaborating. They're getting beyond, as you put it yourself, Congressman Goodling, the one-size-fits-all approach to education. And arguing that, indeed, there should be a variety of ways to approach educating all of our kids. Although the charter school movement in Pennsylvania is relatively new, the fact is that already we are hearing very positive things out of our most urban settings, such as Philadelphia, and some of our most rural settings, such as Mercer County.

We think that we ought to emphasize and continue to push for school choice as well. We recognize this is a tough political issue, but the fact is it's all about getting beyond the system, it's all about competition and opportunities for parents. And this Administration, Governor Ridge, will continue to argue that one of the many things we should introduce to improve education in Pennsylvania is school choice.

Perhaps nothing is more important than rigorous academic standards. Governor Ridge, a little over a year ago had the report of his Commission on Academic Standards delivered to the State Board of Education. That Board of Education just a few weeks ago took an important first step to adopt rigorous standards in reading and writing and math. And we think this is a positive step in the right direction. If I could, let me just take this in a more personal way. I'm a college professor by trade. I can't imagine starting a class the beginning of the school year without giving my students a syllabus, which would explain to those students what they will have to do to complete the course successfully. It's got the assignments and the topics, it's got the reading list, it's got how they'll be assessed and graded. It gives the student a sense of what to expect. It gives the teacher a way to hold the students accountable, and indeed, it gives students a way to hold me accountable. It's all about academics and common sense. And right now, Pennsylvania is among the nation’s leaders in pushing for rigorous academic standards. We also want to couple those standards with state tests, so that in the end, we can find out how well our kids are doing in the schools. That is an educational bottom line that has been missing in Pennsylvania for far too long. In addition, we want to make sure that information is available to all institutes in the citizens of the Commonwealth. We are the only state in the union, as far as I know, where you can go to the Internet and get a profile of every public school in Pennsylvania, all 3,000 and some private schools. You can find out enrollments, you can look at library holdings, technology, you can look at how well they're doing on state assessments. If there's a high school, whether they're taking advanced placement courses and how well they're doing in advanced placement tests, curriculum, instruction, budget, literally at your fingertips. Anybody can find out a lot about any public school in Pennsylvania and we're getting more than 10,000 hits a month from people all over the world. So this is another way of providing information for citizens so they can make wise choices.

In addition to rigorous standards for students, we want to raise the bar for teachers. We think it's the most important profession in the country. We would argue that if you're going to be a secondary school teacher in Pennsylvania, you need to take more content-based course work in college and teacher preparation programs to become a teacher. We also think that you ought to be able to demonstrate a higher level of proficiency on certification tests. Traditionally, certification has been a minimal requirement. We want to raise the bar. We want to encourage the best and the brightest to come to Pennsylvania to become teachers and we think the profession demands nothing less than that. We also think there ought to be alternative ways to become a teacher, alternative certification is very important to us. We have met far too many people who are well qualified to teach, but because they didn't go through traditional teacher preparation programs, are not certified. We want to open the door to alternative certification.

Finally, technology. We are beginning the third year of Governor Ridge's Link-to-Learn Initiative. It was an initiative that has made national and international news. $132 million in a model education technology program, some of which is being demonstrated right here for us today. It has given the Governor, it has given the General Assembly and it has given the citizens of Pennsylvania the chance to be national leaders in education. Bill Gates has referred to Link-to-Learn as a national model. We're talking to other nations, Canada, the Far East, talking to them about links for our students. And let me finish with that one point. I was in a school district in a very rural part of Pennsylvania, Clinton County, self-described as one of the largest in terms of geographic size, and one of the least wealthy. Through Link-to-Learn, in partnership with higher education in the private sector, I met students via distance learning and teachers and community members whose entire approach to education has been revolutionized through technology. Now they can pull down courses from all over the world and they can visit campuses all over the world, and they do it. It's not just a gimmick, it's part of the way they education themselves. We think technology holds vast opportunities for the citizens of Pennsylvania.

My one concern with regard to Washington is, as you suggested earlier, Congressman Goodling, that we don't let the bureaucracy govern the way we education our children. That it should be child-centered, it should be driven by the local citizens in their school districts and in their schools and there should be every attempt made to return as much as we can the power and the money the citizens with whom, in a democracy, the money and the power is supposed to reside. Thank you very much.

 

WRITTEN OPENING STATEMENT OF THE HONORABLE EUGENE HICKOK, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA – SEE APPENDIX A

 

Chairman Goodling. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. A couple of questions I would have for you. Could you explain what the difference is in your charter schools in relationship to any other public school in Pennsylvania?

 

Mr. Hickok. Okay. Charter schools, first of all, are public schools and there are a lot of misperceptions out there. In Pennsylvania, and the law is different among the states that have charter laws, in Pennsylvania, to receive a charter, it has to be granted by the local school board, the local school board of directors. The way it would work in Pennsylvania is an individual, a group, a corporation, or whatever would come together and would put together an education plan or charter plan. Typically these are mission oriented, they're very specific with regard to what grades would be included, what curriculum would be included. You put together your request and you submit it to the local school board. If it is granted by the local board, then it becomes another public school, operating within the district, but with its own directors or with its own Board of Trustees. So it's a relatively autonomous public school within the public school setting with its own Board of Trustees. It doesn't - It reports to the school board, but it's run by its trustees. In addition, charter schools start out with fewer regulations than public schools. That's the whole point of a charter school, to peel away all those regulations you are referring to and get back to the opportunity that parents and students might put together their own approach to education. As far as funding, the money that goes per student in the district goes with the student to the charter school, backing out of those non-education related expenses. So it's typically about 75 percent of the per pupil average spending in the district. So, indeed, with charter schools, you're educating students for less money than the average student in the district. So far, we have found a great deal of enthusiasm because, and this is what's critical, we think, by definition you've got accountability and you've got parental involvement. And if the school doesn't work, you can do something you can't do with any other public school, you can close it. You can leave it. That kind of built-in accountability makes charter schools very, very important.

 

Chairman Goodling. Then why not do all of that in public schools in the same manner, eliminate the regulations and…

 

Mr. Hickok. I think we would love to do nothing more than that. And I'm being very sincere.

 

Chairman Goodling. Can you not?

 

Mr. Hickok. Well, it would require legislation and a positive act on the part of the General Assembly and probably a positive act on the part of Congress as well, given the degree of federal regulation. One reason we are emphasizing charter schools is if we're right and they do work, then that does provide additional rationale, additional support at the grass roots level, for a lot more deregulation for all of education.

 

Chairman Goodling. Are the teachers covered by union?

 

Mr. Hickok. The teachers, it's a local decision. Typically what we've seen are teachers going into charter schools who remain protected with a lot of the contract protections they have in their districts. But it's not required. And across the country, we've seen some teachers, not a small number, who give up the protections of a contract in a public school to go to a charter school, sometimes even for less money because it's where they want to be. They feel they have more authority and more power. But right now, it's locally decided.

 

Chairman Goodling. The member from Michigan has arrived, Subcommittee Chairman Hoekstra's plane has touched down in Harrisburg International and arrived. Teacher preparation you mentioned and you talked about secondary certification. I am even more interested in elementary certification, particularly in subject matter. Are you changing anything to make sure that as a matter of fact that elementary teachers who has to teach all subjects is prepared to teach all subjects and has had in-depth training in teaching of reading?

 

Mr. Hickok. Right now, our initiative that I described briefly is focusing on secondary school teachers. Our next step is to look at elementary school teachers, and we have a couple of things we're looking at. And one is the trade off, and there always is a trade off in teacher prep, between content-based instruction in teacher preparation programs and pedagogy. Most elementary education students major in elementary education. And because elementary education is such a specialized field, what we anticipate recommending is that as that major, you should emphasize more of a content in mathematics and especially in reading. We think there's an emphasis that needs to be placed there. In addition, we're looking at the middle school years. Since we're in a middle school, I ought to mention that. And perhaps carve out a separate initiative with regard to the middle school, because of both the range of challenges those students confront and those teachers confront, and how critical it seems to be that emphasis be placed on context in those middle years as well. We have found in our more challenged school districts, in the elementary years, things are still pretty solid, as you would expect. Kids are sponges, they soak it up, they want to learn. But, as they enter the middle years, that's where things begin to get difficult and in suburban settings, that's where we have most of our students falling by the way. So teacher prep, all those areas need to be emphasized and we agree with you, I think, and that is more emphasis on content throughout.

 

Chairman Goodling. I think I'd like to put in a plug for the fact that if that happens in middle, I think it has a lot to do with the fact that in elementary school, the math and the science effort to challenge the youngsters may not be there.

 

Mr. Hickok. Yeah.

 

Chairman Goodling. And that's why I'm emphasizing those elementary teachers, because you don't turn a youngster on to math and science by the time they get to junior high school or middle school, unless they've had parents at home who are engineers and what have you. One last question. I had a teacher tell me on Saturday that she fears walking away at any time dealing with other students or something else at that particular time, when her students are on the Internet. What do we do to deal with that issue, because she said they've been known to have, a little like my staff, they might turn to solitaire on the computer, which of course is not part of their daily work. But what do they do if, what do you do to protect, I suppose, students from what they might get on the Internet?

 

Mr. Hickok. Well, I guess I have a couple of observations. One, the Internet is sort of a brand new frontier for a lot of us. And with most instances like that, especially with younger folks, it seems to me that we have a high priority to make sure that we monitor the use of the computer, that we encourage the use of the computer, that we try to encourage the outstanding resources available on the computer, but that we have to monitor its use. Plus, there are ways to program the Internet so that you can't get to certain things. And I think most school districts are well aware of that and we are trying to make sure that they are able to protect young minds from the kind of questionable material you might inadvertently run into on the Internet.

 

Chairman Goodling. The Secretary must leave at 9:30 and it's 9:30 and I'm asking all the questions. Do you have one quick question, Mr. Peterson?

 

Mr. Peterson. Over the years, when I visited your department, it always seemed like most of the cubicles I walked by with people there were working on implementing a federal program. What percentage of your staff is there to do the paperwork in regards to meeting federal guidelines for programs?

 

Mr. Hickok. I can't give you a percentage, I can tell you that it's the majority. And I can tell you this as well. We live in an age where it is possible, through computers and technology, too literally, and I say this with some trepidation, do away with conventional notions of bureaucracy. There are more than 700 people under my direct supervision at the Department of Education, many of whom are either implementing federal programs, overseeing federal programs or being paid through federal programs or all three. It is possible to greatly reduce the size of government and to save money, to be more efficient and to spend that money where it needs to be spent, at the local level in education. And as you look at the future in the Crossroads of Education, I would encourage the committee to consider that possibility. At the federal level as well as we're trying to do it at the state level, and try to have true education reformation in this country that would provide, at the grass roots, the kind of, I think, empowerment that leads to fanatic educational opportunities.

 

Chairman Goodling. Are you pressed or can…

 

Mr. Hickok. Go ahead.

 

Mr. Peterson. I'd just like to ask one more. Give us two or three regulations or mandates you'd like us to just go back and cut?

 

Mr. Hickok. Well, there's one that's, and I guess I raise this again with some trepidation. The whole special education area is tremendously difficult. I know you've all heard this and I know you've just gone through IDEA reauthorization. And we're looking at that now in Pennsylvania and what it means for us in Pennsylvania. We know it's very litigious, we know it's very expensive, we know it's very emotional, but we think as an issue, it needs another look, to be honest with you. In addition, I think almost all the monies that the federal government sends to the states have strings attached, some fewer strings in the past but still strings. And I guess I'm old fashioned. I don't consider it to be the federal government's money, any more than I consider it to be the state government's money. I consider it to be the citizens' money. And so rather than pulling in a particular number, besides IDEA, I would argue that by and large, whatever we can do to deregulate is important. And, again, it gets back to the notion of de-bureaucratize as well. There's just not the need for it any more.

 

Mr. Peterson. Could you send us a plan…

 

Mr. Hickok. I'd be glad to.

 

Mr. Peterson. …of how we could cut your federal employees in half, that are doing federal programs, something concrete?

 

Mr. Hickok. Um-hum.

 

Chairman Goodling. I would indicate that we're going to have joint hearing with the Senate, because the proposed regulations, in relationship to what we think we passed in IDEA, don't seem to match. And we're getting a lot of flak from all over the country because we thought we did such a magnificent job, so did everybody else unless recently. Now they're not so sure that we did such a magnificent bipartisan, bicameral job. Mr. Hoekstra, do you have any question you would like to ask the Secretary?

 

Mr. Hoekstra. Not any questions. I, since I missed your testimony, we've done this now, I think this is the 17th or 18th hearing and I think…

 

Chairman Goodling. 18th in 26 schools.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. Yeah. I think the special ed has come up at every location, as has the issue of federal bureaucracy and the impact that it has on the state. We're working on one further component of trying to quantify that. We've asked a number of states, and we would ask you to consider trying to collect all of the paperwork that you prepare for Washington.

 

Mr. Hickok. Are you sure you want to see that?

 

Mr. Hoekstra. Well, I think, yeah, we'd love to see it. And the other thing that we're going to do is as a number of these states send us paperwork for Washington, we're going to track it to see whether anybody in Washington actually reads it or adds any value to it or responds to even say we have reviewed your paperwork and we recommend that you maybe implement things kinds of things. I mean, do you get many recommendations back from Washington, based on the paperwork that you do send there?

 

Mr. Hickok. Not, well, I don't know if they're recommendations as much as instructions, to be honest with you. If I could just point out one thing, and I wish I had brought it with me, and I should have. Special education, in Pennsylvania, what we're trying to do, since we have rules and regulations that come to us from Washington, is trying to find ways to make it easier at the local level to deal with those. I can show you the contract that we get from the feds on special ed, it's about this thick. Every school entity in Pennsylvania has to look at this huge contract and sign it, every year, and there are 17 others just like it. We have just consolidated all of our federal contracts so that that huge contract is now about that thick and has five-year riders on it. So instead of every year, 17 multi-volume contracts, you get one small one and then you just update it every year for five years. That's our attempt to deal with the federal rules and regulations in a way that is more user friendly at the local level. And I'll be glad to send you that as well because perhaps there might be something there that can be used at the federal level.

 

Chairman Goodling. Thank you. Mr. Fattah?

 

Mr. Fattah. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. It's good to see you this morning. I'm sorry if I'm being here a few minutes late but I have a couple of quick questions. One is in regards to the whole issue of equity in our state, in Pennsylvania, and the range of what's being spent per pupil. In some of our 501 school districts versus others, it is quite significant. Could you tell, first of all, to put the facts on the record, what's the lowest spending per pupil district in the state and what's the highest spending?

 

Mr. Hickok. The issue of equity, and let me make sure I get your question correct. In Pennsylvania, funding of public education is through a combination of state funds, state appropriations, and locally generated funds, primarily through the property tax.

 

Mr. Fattah. I'm talking about those combined figures, in terms of student instructional spending?

 

Mr. Hickok. I would argue, I think the lowest is probably around $4,000 per student and the highest is probably over $8,500 per student.

 

Mr. Fattah. For instance, in Radnor Township, isn't it true that they spend well over $14,000?

 

Mr. Hickok. On an average, per pupil expenditure, I don't believe so. I might be wrong, but my point would be this…

 

Mr. Fattah. Well, let me, Mr. Secretary, please. But let's just take your numbers for a minute.

 

Mr. Hickok. Okay.

 

Mr. Fattah. $4,000 to $8,000. Do you think that a child could get and receive a similar education having, in one case having twice as much spent in one school district versus another?

 

Mr. Hickok. Well, we think that first of all, the amount spent per student is only one of several indicators to look at on education. We do know that in some of the districts where you're spending the lower end, you're getting a superior education than some of the districts where you're spending over the $8,000.

 

Mr. Fattah. Let me follow this. So if you got $4,000 per pupil and you got, you know, 20, 25 kids in a classroom, versus, take your upper number of $8,000 over 12 years, per classroom spending, there's a significant differential, somewhere around $400,000, $500,000 in a classroom of one kid versus another kid. And at the end of those 12 years, they would take the SAT and both of them would apply to Penn State, you think they both would be relatively in the same position in terms of, so that we could cut everyone down to $4,000?

 

Mr. Hickok. Well, I think the argument really is too simplistic if you're looking only at how much you spend per student, and we give two examples. One from an area near you. One of our more challenged school districts in terms of performance, in terms of success is Chester-Upland, where the school district stands on a per pupil average over I think $8,300, $8,500 a piece. I can take you to a school district in western part of the state where it's almost half of that and the students are doing very well. Now, I don't know what explains that, lots of things do.

 

Mr. Fattah. Do you think that there's some thing, some concern in terms of a rational program that would have us, if money doesn't matter, why wouldn't we just make it all equal all across the board?

 

Mr. Hickok. I didn't say money doesn't matter. I'm saying that we need to get beyond the notion that only money matters. I think what takes place in the classroom can take place in a classroom that is brand new with all the technology or take place in a classroom that was built in the turn of the century.

 

Mr. Fattah. Let me try to get to the emphasis of this, because I'll be willing to stipulate that there are other facts.

 

Mr. Hickok. Sure.

 

Mr. Fattah. So if we could now stipulate to that and now focus in on the money. In many states, as in Michigan, Kentucky and across the country now, states have been moving to trade a more equitable financing system, because even though money is not everything, it is one of the items, one of the inputs in this process. In our state, we have a very significant differential and just to take your numbers, we would be spending on some children in our state twice as much as others, each year for every year of their 12 years of education. And as the Secretary of Education, do you think that's a practice that the state should continue?

 

Mr. Hickok. Well, as long as the state funds education the way it does, and you leave up to the local citizens the amount of tax effort they would wish to expend on education, you will always have, unless you're going to minimize that possibility, constrain the ability at the local level to raise the revenues, it seems to me you're going to have some inequities in the amount spent. At the state level, what we try to do…

 

Mr. Fattah. Do you think that we should continue to do this the way we are doing it?

 

Mr. Hickok. I think the way we are doing it right now provides, at the state level, every attempt to make educational spending more equitable in the way we distribute state funds.

 

Mr. Fattah. Let me thank you, Mr. Secretary.

 

Chairman Goodling. I don't know whether it's changed, but when I taught, at the very beginning, the general reimbursement, the general formula, as I understand, at least at that time, was very equitable. It was the special programs where there seemed to be inequities. For instance, in the district I taught, 69 percent of all the spending came from the state. In another district, not too many miles way, 79 percent of it came from the state, 73 percent came from the state. Then another district, only 10 percent came from the state and that was a grandfathered kind of thing. Is that the same kind of formula that you use now?

 

Mr. Hickok. Yeah, that's what I was referring to when I said the state tries to do it equitably. The state looks at relative wealth of the school district, enrollment and other facts and tries to direct more state monies toward the least wealth districts. So in the wealthiest districts, we'll spend, of state money, maybe $400 per student. In the poorest or least wealthy districts, we'll be upwards of $3,800 per student of state money. So the state certainly attempts to take equity into consideration.

 

Mr. Fattah. Well, that's partially true, Mr. Secretary, but I think they have a fuller appreciation what we have to see of that, about half of the state dollars run through the basic educational funding formula. About another half are straight-line contributions in terms of retirement, contributions of transportation costs, that are not factored in terms of this question of equity. So that in the wealthier districts, there is a dollar for dollar process as the same in the poorer districts in which the state's funding of those programs actually increases the disparity between what's being spent.

 

Chairman Goodling. That's why I said the basic formula, as I understand, is equitable.

 

Mr. Fattah. Yeah, but only about half of the dollars now run through the formula.

 

Mr. Hickok. Actually, it's a bit more than half and…

Mr. Fattah. Could you put on the record what the percentage is?

 

Mr. Hickok. I would have to get back to you on that. I don't know the percentage. But I know it's over $35 billion this year. So a lot of money. And the other point would be that many of the other things we do spend money on do have a equity component in the way it's distributed. You mentioned transportation, it does not.

 

Chairman Goodling. Thank you, Mr. Secretary. I'm sorry we're holding you over.

 

Mr. Hickok. That's all right.

 

Chairman Goodling. I guess the next group will wait for you until you arrive.

 

Mr. Hickok. Thank you very much.

 

Chairman Goodling. While the second panel is coming, I want to welcome subcommittee Chairman Hoekstra who has been conducting these hearings all over the country and would have been conducting this one had we had better plane connections from Michigan to here. If the second panel would come up, and Congressman Fattah, has joined us, as I indicated earlier that he would be. So we have at least four members from our committee. We'll wait until everybody gets organized. If either of you two have any opening statement that you may wish to give?

 

Mr. Fattah. I'll yield to my senior congressman.

 

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Hoekstra, do you have any?

 

Mr. Hoekstra. I'm assuming you gave a little bit of an introduction?

 

Chairman Goodling. To the program, right.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. So you've probably taken everything that I was going to add or begin with. I'm just glad that we have the opportunity to be here and to listen from one more state exactly what they are trying to do to improve education. So, I'm glad we're here.

 

Chairman Goodling. I wanted to tell the Secretary and I forgot, I hope every place he goes, he says there's only one curriculum mandate from the federal level, because every place I go, I hear this mandate, this mandate and curriculum mandates, there's only one. I finally realize it's a real problem, and that's called special education. And that's a mandate to the state, who of course mandates to that then on down to the local level. But all the rest of the programs are not mandates, curriculum mandates from federal level.

At this time, we have, how many people are we having on this panel? I thought. Mr. Van Newkirk, I was looking for the rest, and I saw only two over here and I thought geez, what happened? Senator Mowery is the Vice Chairman, Senate Education Committee. I share his district with him, as far as representation is concerned. And Superintendent Jack Van Newkirk is the York City School District superintendent. And Sean Duffy is from the Commonwealth Foundation. Jennifer Weikert is a parent from McKinley Elementary School. And Reverend Newman is a Grandparent from York, Pennsylvania. And we'll start, well, why don't we start with Senator Mowery.

 

STATEMENT OF SENATOR HOWARD MOWERY, VICE CHAIRMAN, SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA

 

 

Mr. Mowery. Thank you very much, and welcome to the 31st Senatorial District. We're happy to have you here today. And former Senator Peterson and Senator Fattah, certainly were with me in the Senate and are now down in Washington doing the good things they did when they were here in Pennsylvania as Senators. I am not totally aware, Congressman, exactly how this panel is to work. Do I have five minutes?

 

Chairman Goodling. Yes. You have five minutes.

 

Mr. Mowery. I have five minutes. Okay, fine. Well, since we heard from our good Secretary of Education, who I feel has done an outstanding job in his tenure so far here in Pennsylvania, some of this will be a repeat maybe or a little close but not quite exactly as he presented this information to you. But since we have a couple of people who have arrived since he spoke, I'm going to proceed from my prepared notes.

I want to thank you for the opportunity to testify on the exciting education changes taking place in Pennsylvania. I'm very fortunate to have participated in an historic event in the history of education in Pennsylvania. I was the prime sponsor of Act 22 of 1997, the Charter School Act. I'm proud to be associated with this major education reform. For the next school year, there will be 70 charter school applications, with an additional 26 schools receiving approval.

The first charter school in Mercer County has doubled its enrollment since opening just last year. However, positive events such as this are offset by concerns over fair and factual deliberating by school boards and the impact of charter school funding on the district schools themselves. So, our implementation path has not been completely smooth. But the Charter School Law is a big step toward education improvement in the Commonwealth. As with any change, discovery and challenge continue. We will certainly be learning from our experience as the new law is implemented across the Commonwealth.

The state's course of discovery and challenge is also evident as we continue to work on educational standards. Without Governor Ridge's commitment to rigorous, academic and measurable standards, this process could not have occurred. Last week, the State Board of Education passed the proposed regulations on academic standards and assessment. The math and reading standards are excepted to pass in early April. The State Board and the Secretary of Education have conducted public discussions on the standards across the Commonwealth. The Education Committee in the House and Senate will also review the standards. I believe that educational standards are a critical first step in any school reform strategy.

I want to make some remarks regarding the role of the federal government in state education policy. I do not pretend to be an expert in this area, but I know that our schools depend on many federal programs. For example, the school food program, Title I and IDEA, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. These are significant programs to our schools. The importance of technology is something that both the state and federal government have recognized and worked cooperatively to improve. The Governor's Link-to-Learn initiative of more then $127 million and the federal Universal Service Fund provisions of discounts are critical to the improvement of technology in our schools and public libraries.

There are still challenges in education. The federal government should just be a partner to the Commonwealth and local school districts to provide improved education. The federal government must recognize that reform efforts require resources and that those resources need to come with a minimum of red tape. At the state level, we live in fear of the words "unfunded mandate." I know that I never consider legislation without first examining the fiscal impact. Taxpayers are entitled to nothing less than our best efforts in controlling government expenditures. We need to coordinate federal, state, local and private resources to ensure effective school reform efforts that integrate educational standards, parental and community involvement, and improved teacher preparation. We do not need mandatory national testing.

I know that the Congress is looking at job training and vocational legislation. Vocational education is a critical area for the state of Pennsylvania. Again, I urge you, in your deliberations, to be mindful of Governor Ridge's efforts in this area and to support the vo-tech programs in the Commonwealth in conjunction with the programs offered by our community colleges.

I am also concerned about the increasing cost of higher education and the improvement of higher education assistance opportunities for students. Your continued support of higher education assistance grants, loans, and work-study programs makes all the difference in the improvement of educational opportunities for post-secondary students.

One last area that has caused enormous distress is the area of special education. We need help in funding this area. I understand that there is discussion in Congress of distributing special education funds in the form of block grants. I believe that such an idea deserves serious consideration. At the state level, we are struggling with this program funding in the state budget process. There have been suggestions that the Commonwealth needs to provide more than $100 million additional this year to support special education. At the state level, this one line item in the budget currently exceeds $630 million. The cost of these programs is driven, at least in part, by federal mandates. I am also concerned about the impact of the new Individuals with Disabilities Education Act on our schools and the state budget for special education. We also need to help our charter schools cope with the requirements related to special education. We need to be able to utilize federal dollars in more innovative ways with greater flexibility.

I appreciate the opportunity to testify before the Committee and I appreciate the job that you do for the people of Pennsylvania. I know how difficult the job is at the state level. I cannot even imagine the complexities of federal policy making. I think you for your expertise and your diligent performance. I thank the Committee for its consideration of my remarks.

 

WRITTEN OPENING STATEMENT OF SENATOR HAROLD MOWERY, VICE CHAIRMAN, SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE, COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, HARRISBURG, PA. - SEE APPENDIX B

 

Chairman Goodling. Thank you, Senator Mowery. Dr. Van Newkirk.

 

STATEMENT OF DR. JACK VAN NEWKIRK, SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF YORK

 

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. Does everybody have a copy of my testimony? I'm going to do a synopsis of my testimony so that I will not read it all to you. But as you glance through, I think it would be appropriate to get a sense of what my concerns are, based on the content therein. I've given you some general background for the School District of the City of York. I think you will see that we are a poor school district. Free and reduced lunch has risen in 1981 to 41.2 percent to 71.8 percent in 1998. That, in and of itself, is a telling story about the poverty increase. We have significant need for the assistance that we are receiving from federal programs and we are extremely appreciative of that. Out of the 501 school districts, only 33 or 34 tax higher than we do and our aid ratio is .78 on a scale of .15 to .85. The list of services and programs that are paid for out of federal money are numerous. I want to be clear that the School District of the City of York would have none of the following without federal dollars. In Title II, everything we do in technology, our local area network, our wide area network, all a result of federal money. Our educational reforms designed for effective instruction based on Madeline Hunter's program prescription for improved learning, all of the training over the last several years has been from Title II. We do no teacher training without the help of Title VI. The only money that we use as contractual obligation from local money is for our teacher reimbursement for advanced credit work. Core Knowledge and training for the teachers in Core Knowledge comes from Title VI. Multiple Age Class comes from Title VI. Flex program at the middle school comes from Title VI. Continuous Program Curriculum, all curricular changes and all teacher travel to conferences comes from Title VI. We have no money in our regular budget to accommodate that. We are the highest taxed school district in the county and yet our expenditures are right in the middle.

Title I provides us with secretarial support for Even Start, the Even Start contract stands alone. The Josten's Reading assistance program for elementary students is paid for by Title I. English Language Learners, or non-English speaking students, have increased from 8 percent in 1981 to just over 23 percent in 1998. We get no state assistance, and if it were not for Title I, our English Language Learner Program would be a serious problem. The Community/Parent/Pupil Personnel Services, basically our student services reform has all be paid for out of Title I and of course reading recovery in the elementary schools. The dropout prevention money we're using for Army JROTC, an outstanding program, but again, we need federal support to make that work. The National School Lunch Program, breakfast and lunch is indicative as a need in the school district and we have a special grant for project connections, and that is the only federal grant that we have where we have a sole director to monitor that program, per the contract. All of the other federal monies, we use regular staff to implement the programs.

Let me share some serious concerns, and I see the yellow light on, for the next century. I have a serious concern about the concept of education being a partnership that appears to be disappearing. The parent involvement in educating children, which was long a staple in making it work is diminishing in emphasis. We should be concerned about that. And parent involvement, ladies and gentlemen, in my opinion, begins with making sure the students get up and come to school, making sure the student behaves, making sure the student does all of their work and assignments, make sure the student knows that the parent has success in school as the highest priority in the home, not the soccer club, not the swim club, not the ballet, and not hanging out. But a parent is involved in those four categories with 100 percent effort, educational success is on the horizon and reachable for all. If the desire for the public is to place all of these things on the schools, then the industry of school must be retooled and it does not have the resources to accomplish it. We cannot retool education to assume the total role of educational involvement, via the parent, doing the role of the parent, without being retooled.

The overall increase in special education identification should be a concern. I often wonder, for example, about LD and LS, learning disability and learning support. They are increasing in uncontrollable numbers. Our special education increased 171 last year between that and the previous year, even with IST, instructional support teams, in place in every school. I believe every human being is either LD or LS, but they have parents that stuck with them and parented them through the difficult part of learning multiplication tables, learning vocabulary, learning spelling and not taking the position, oh, it's too hard, I can't do it, therefore I'm not going to spend any more time. Learning is a two-way activity. It takes effort on the part of the learner to learn. And if you have a tremendous increase nationwide in ADHD, attention deficit hyperactive disorder. And yet many, many of those children are able to watch television uninterrupted for three and four hours. And if they can do that, they can study algebra for an extended period of time.

Please permit me to ask you look at Attachment A at your leisure, it shows you the kinds of students who will be coming into the school district with special needs from our IU pre-school program and the challenges with those low-incidence students will be monumental. I have also taken the opportunity to list the types of students in special education that make an inordinate demand on the school district like York City. 16 percent of our students are in special ed. And with the increased regulations in IDEA, please be, recognize our concern. The procedural safeguards for parents, which must be gone over with every parent, have increased from eight to 19 pages. I have a copy attached. The IEP has increased from four to nine pages. Keep in mind that the procedural safeguard for parents must be mailed to every parent, every time there's a change in the IEP and to prepare for the IEP meeting. I am not opposed to making sure the parent is informed, that is a critical part of the operation. What you must understand, however, is another regulation with IDEA, as I understand it, is the inclusion of special teachers in the, or regular teachers in the IDEA conference at the request of the parent. If you look at the number of students that we have in special education, trying to coordinate IEPs with the regular teacher involved, because we are stressing inclusion, is a nightmare facing us in terms of substitutes and being able to have all the people at the right place at the right time. You must look at that. Also keep in mind, it is not possible for SSI to be used in a more effective way with the students that it was intended to help. As I understand it now, there is virtually no control on the expenditure of SSI money and yet parents whose children are diagnosed with special needs can qualify. Why not make it a requirement that that additional income be used for additional counseling or additional educational need?

Parental involvement does not exist in the lives of many of our special ed students and the school has no legal grounds to demand participation. We cannot monitor this lack of involvement without appropriate resources. Maybe it would make sense for an agency like family services to be responsible and to monitor and mandate the attending of conferences and the involvement in oversight of the child's program. It should not be a regulation for the school district to bear on its own.

The implementation of the time line for IDEA would have been much more logical if we could have rolled it into the entire academic year so that when we change the IEP, which is examined every year, instead of having to do it between January and July, we could have rolled it through March, April, May, into September, October, November, December as you meet with the parents for the adjustment of the IEP. We're not going to be able to comply, ladies and gentlemen, and I apologize.

We appreciate the school-wide reform in Title I and the flexibility is acknowledged and appreciated. But many of our schools must choose to be targeted assistance schools. And the statute which requires targeted dollars to be based on a formula which deals with student poverty, inhibits the ability of some schools to plan consistent programs. We support the logic that the money should go to the poorest schools. But there should be a scale of what poor means. The mobility in our schools is such that the least mobility in an elementary school is 31 percent of our students will turn over. In several of our elementary schools, it reaches as high as 67 and 71 percent. They do not leave town, they just change schools. And with the requirement for the targeted assistance, the percentage points may change in such a way of one point up, one point down, and would require us to readjust how we're spending our money. Why not have a range that we can stay within, ladies and gentlemen, because I guarantee you within two years, the number will change again with the mobility of the students again.

I believe the curriculum for the future should be geared to accommodate only one goal, and that is analytical problem solving skills. Can the student ascertain that a problem exists? Can the student determine what is required to solve the problem? Does the student know where to go to get the information to solve the problem? And can the student transfer knowledge from one situation to another? You will need tangential curriculum to address human socialization, tolerances and understanding of differences and emotional expression through the Arts. The future will require the work force will draw upon a more comprehensive knowledge base then ever before, one that will be impossible for human recall. At the same time, technological storage capacity will make it available to everyone at the click of a mouse. With the click of a mouse, the ability to determine that there is a problem, where to get the information and how to solve the problem is critical for curriculum of the future. Everything we do in the school should be geared to this handling of this mass of information that is going to be out there for our students. Lon Watters has said that a "school building has four walls with tomorrow inside." Perhaps for the future, it might be well said that learning will have no boundaries per parameters and school will have no defined space or location. Using the Internet to secure data for problem solving will be an ordinary routine part of a student's day. Access to full educational opportunity therefore is the key to a student's educational future and place of birth, of residency, should not determine the degree of access. That is why, for the School District of the City of York, continued assistance via Title I, Title IV and Title VI is absolutely imperative. Thank you.

 

WRITTEN STATEMENT OF DR. JACK VAN NEWKIRK, SUPERINTENDENT, OF SCHOOLS, SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY YORK, YORK, PA. – SEE APPENDIX C

 

Chairman Goodling. Thank you.

 

Mr. Mowery. Congressman Goodling, I do have to be excused. I thank you for the opportunity of being here. And if I could, I would like to hear from your office.

 

Chairman Goodling. Watch two things on your charter school experiment, make sure that it continues to be a lottery, I assume it's a lottery at the present time, as to how students get in to charter schools.

 

Mr. Mowery. It depends on the enrollment.

 

Chairman Goodling. And the second thing I would have concern about is that as children who leave and the parents who are the trustees, I'm concerned about the continuity, because if the child leaves, the parent may lose interest in being a good trustee.

 

STATEMENT OF REVEREND KENNETH NEWMAN, GRANDPARENT, SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF YORK

 

 

Rev. Newman. First of all, I would like to express my thanks for being able to testify before the panel. I'm Reverend Kenneth Newman, I am a grandparent of a child in McKinley School District in the City of York. And I guess I should start off by saying I didn't come prepared…

 

Chairman Goodling. Could you speak a little louder?

 

Rev. Newman. Excuse me. My name is Kenneth Newman and I'm the parent of a child in the school District in the City of York, in McKinley Elementary School. And I guess I should start off by saying that I'm a pastor and that I didn't come with a lot of technical information. I just basically came to talk about what was given as an understanding was what works and what doesn't. And, so consequently, I would like to start out by saying that as a pastor, I was formerly a Sunday school Superintendent and in education and that particular capacity. And I'd like to talk about a situation that I had some 18, 20 years ago with a young man who was a part of my Sunday school class. I had the intermediate and seniors, which would be junior and senior high school ages. And this young man was a part of my class, a very good athlete, and in the York City School System. But he couldn't read and he couldn't write well, and I knew that because I had him as a Sunday school teacher. In fact, I had a third, I guess fourth grade daughter who was more capable in reading. But he went on to college because he was a good athlete but he didn't stay very long because of the fact that he was not equipped for that aspect of the educational process. And I say that as an inroad as I give my testimony in this particular way. I also raised three children that came thorough the York City School District. And there are a number of things that have disturbed me over the years as I have looked at the process of education. Because, as a pastor, I have to look at these folks and try to help them to get jobs and to move into the life of the community. So they have to be equipped to be able to articulate in the things that are done in the every day community and in community life and to be able to acquire jobs and to function properly in society. And some of the things that have disturbed me over the years are some of the changing processes that have happened in the educational community whereby when my children were going to school, and I often times was involved with teachers, that often times I didn't get answers to simple questions of how can I help my children at home, because the processes were changing so rapidly that often times they were not well equipped to deal with that process as it was coming through the schools. I think the most disturbing thing that ever happened was when I had my two sons, who were both in York City High School at one time, and were not scheduled to have homework because they had classes that only had enough books in order to supply a one class situation and they didn't have materials that they were able to take home because there was not enough funding to have books in order for them to have homework or regular homework assignments. And I think that that is essential in the involvement of the parents in the educational process of the student, as it relates to all of these things that you have been talking about, such as certifications and standardized testing and things such as this.

I then became the guardian of a grandson who has had to go into the educational process and be a part of this new happening called Core Knowledge that has come into the York City School Districts in the elementary school level. And as a grandparent and I and my wife both have become very excited about something that we see in education that seems to be something that works. It has been, first of all, something that has stimulated us in the fact that we have teachers that are involved with the students in such a factor and such a way that we're able to talk with them about the educational process of this grandson. The things that I like most about is it teaches the basics, that those things that are going to be necessary skills for him as he grows and develops in the system of education, that he will have those basic things. The reading, the writing, the arithmetic type things that we have always talked about as being standard and traditional. But the things that were more important to us also were that there were values that were taught in the Core Knowledge system and that was something that we had looked for quite some time and not seen as part of the process. Also, in working with more than just my grandson, but other young people that are in this process, I hear young people talking about being excited about going to school and being involved in that which is going on. One of the things that I think is most outstanding in that category is the fact that they're talking about diversity, I hear them talking about Native Americans, I hear them talking about figures in different areas of life and experience that talk about the diversity of our nation. And it is not such as segmented, if I could use that word, way of approaching things such as history and social studies and these types of things that I think that are very important as the children grow and develop. Also, I like the team concept that is used. I don't know if that is generic to Core Knowledge, but I know that in McKinley they have a team concept that they use in the classroom and those teams are made up of various students within that classroom and they work together and they have the opportunity to support one another in the things that they are doing. And I see this particular facet of education as being something that just excites me because when I talk to my grandson, and I have a grandson that will take and remove his Power Ranger toy that was so important to him when he was involved in watching and maneuvering with that and replace it with an anatomically correct dummy or a statute that was, that he helped me put together, that was a part of the curriculum that was a part of this Core Knowledge. And to see him begin to change in what becomes important, not just in the age group that he is in but in the way that he is approaching the whole educational process. These things have become the types of things that would bring me to take the time to come and to testify before a panel such as yourselves.

Also, the homework. Clearly defined homework that came home with requirements of what was to be done with it and how it was to be returned to school. Clearly defined goals for what the week is going to be and what they are intended to learn. Clear definition as to how they would like the participation of the family to be involved in this process of getting this educational standard up and running and this educational process moving the way that it should. The home involvement, beyond the homework, where he brings things home that are independent projects that he can work with, that also show a great deal of diversity in the educational matrix of how he is working. But I think more than anything else, the educational process in the Core Knowledge has at least as far as we have seen it in our home, taken, I think as I heard Dr. Van Newkirk say, has taken the classroom beyond four walls. That he's not limited to just what goes on in the hours that he spends in McKinley School, but he comes home challenged to learn and to understand other things beyond that. So the, whatever entitlement or programs that helps in these processes, I'm, I guess, here to say that I've seen its working, not just in this one individual grandson, but in small children that are going to school, to different schools within the York City School District and what it is doing and the sharing of their knowledge and experiences. And so I have come basically just to share my experiential testimony about what I feel is working as opposed to some of the things that I've seen going down through the years when I've gone in and asked the teacher about new math processes where I was able to get to the level of trigonometry in school and I couldn't sit down and understand it and I was geared that I was supposed to help my sons and daughters to understand something that I couldn't even fathom exactly what the process was that they were using to do it. So I see this as something that is progressing in the educational process as I, as a parent, would like to know that my grandson will one day be able to do what my son was not able to do when he graduated from school, I want to see him do his own taxes. Thank you.

 

WRITTEN STATEMENT OF REVERAND KENNETH NEWMAN, GRANDPARENT, SCHOOL DISTRICT OF THE CITY OF YORK, YORK, PA. – SEE APPENDIX D

 

Chairman Goodling. Thank you. We have three over here. Ms. Weikert.

 

STATEMENT OF JENNIFER B. WEIKERT, PARENT, YORK CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, YORK, PA.

 

 

Ms. Weikert. I, too, would like to thank you for inviting me to testify here. I, like Reverend Newman, am I a parent at McKinley Elementary and I, too, have had some quite profound experiences with Core Knowledge. I have had the opportunity to write testimony and I just would like to read it for you. My father has instilled in his children and grandchildren a philosophy that values learning as the true, never-ending adventure. In the traditional approaches to educating children, this adventure is often lost in the shuffle of ditto sheets and abstract thought at too young an age. He has listened to his frustrated children often complaining about how his grandchildren's interests and academic needs have gone unmet for the educational system that they are in is not challenging them to learn. But for my nine-year-old son, Tim, the adventure in learning that installs a life-long pursuit of knowledge exists at McKinley Elementary and it is called the Core Knowledge Curriculum.

Core Knowledge gives Tim's teachers the freedom to teach to all the senses of the human body, not just his mind. In this way, Tim's retention of important facts is strengthened as he creates papier-mâché "Egyptian Mummies" or posters depicting the life and importance of Albert Einstein. His knowledge of Greek mythology is so strong that he has impressed a cousin who has studied the subject in Athens, Greece for two semesters in her own college career. He has debated the characteristics of what makes a hero with his grandfather, and successfully proved his point that by those virtues, Jackie Robinson, the great American baseball player should be labeled as a true American hero. On a recent trip to the Smithsonian Institution, Tim asked if he could visit "that round museum," meaning the Hirshhorn Museum of Modern Art. While viewing the art from a distance, he could pick out the works of Picasso by style alone. Of course, we then had to go check to see if he was right.

Because of the integrated nature of Core Knowledge, Tim understands the relationships of science to math and history, history to reading and composition, music to art and literature, and human culture to history and literature. He continually amazes us with the knowledge and connections he makes between subjects as we go about our daily lives. And although his father and I may think Tim is an exceptional child, he is not gifted in the academic sense. And as parents, we are not alone in our amazement of the effects that Core Knowledge has had on the children in our school district. If could have attended McKinley's "Agora" or Ancient History Market Place last month, you would have seen the looks of amazement on parents' faces as they listened to their children recite the Greek alphabet, crawled through Labyrinth created out of boxes, or sampled traditional dates and honey. For Tim and his classmates, an excitement about education is now an integral part of their learning styles. Core Knowledge is their passage to the true, never-ending adventure of learning.

And I would just like to add an addendum to that. Last year, in second grade, while he was studying a unit on the War of 1812 and my eighth-grade daughter, Sarah, was also studying American History, she became very irate and angry and left the dining room table one evening because Tim was learning more about the war than she was and she thought it was highly unfair. And that's the effect of Core Knowledge as we see it.

 

WRITTEN STATEMENT OF JENNIFER WEIKERT, PARENT, YORK CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT, YORK, PA. – SEE APPENDIX E

 

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Duffy.

 

STATEMENT OF SEAN DUFFY, VICE PRESIDENT, THE COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION, HARRISBURG, PA.

 

Mr.. Duffy. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm delighted to be here and I want to compliment the committee and the subcommittee for their work.

 

 

Chairman Goodling. Do you want to pull the mike over now?

 

Mr. Duffy. Sure. We need some education and technology, I'm afraid. We meet here just about two weeks from the magic day in April when Americans are due to file their taxes. And it occurs to me, if there's a time of year when the thoughts of men and women focus on their individual investment in the federal government, it's in the spring. So I want to compliment the committee for taking a look at this very important question, which is for the billions in federal tax dollars that are spend on myriad programs, ostensibly to aid in the quality of education, why are we still dissatisfied with the results we are getting from our schools?

A number of my suggestions come from my direct experience in working with the state education bureaucracy. From 1995 until 1997, I had the honor of serving Secretary Hickok as his press secretary at the Department. In that role, I received an education in the workings of an excessively large bureaucracy that does too many things to too many school districts, students, parents and teachers with precious little regard for how it could help improve the education provided to children in the public school, as I think the Secretary alluded to earlier.

Let me share two anecdotes with you, very briefly, about how your investment through the Congress, of federal funds is viewed by bureaucrats I dealt with and we continue to deal with at the Department of Education. Very often, as part of the charge that the Secretary received from the governor, we would attempt to examine some of the effectiveness of some of the programs. As that examination commenced, it was often said there's not much you can do about what they're doing, it's a federal program, they have to do it that way.

Secondly, and of even deeper concern, is that many administrators of federal programs often seem to be unconcerned about some proliferate spending and seem to believe that they are less accountable for their spending practices than others who are spending state funds, for example. The phrase most often spoken is don't worry about it, it's federal money. The last time I checked, none of us were exempt from paying federal taxes and clearly it's precisely this attitude that there is a tree in Washington that not only sprouts dollar bills along with cherry blossoms has brought this subcommittee to central Pennsylvania today. Certainly parents and educators, including those we've heard from this morning, could find better use for the dollars that are treated in such a cavalier manner.

We all know that the bureaucracy can go on a diet. A good example of how this could be done was the 17 percent cut in operating cost that Secretary Hickok oversaw at the Department of Education just two years ago. This saved Pennsylvania taxpayers $3 million and that's just in overhead costs. And there was little, if any, effect on the education provided in Pennsylvania's 3,000 plus public schools.

Let me touch on a couple of programs that in my opinion and in the research I've done, seem to need another look. A good example of the nexus between federal bureaucrats, state bureaucrats and the top-down agenda that's detrimental to local control and innovation is the School to Work program. No one can deny that a central aim of education, but not the only aim, is to thoroughly prepare Pennsylvanians to be productive, independent and successful workers. However, despite the good motivation for the school-to-work program, it's clear that as Lynne Cheney has written, the program assumes unwarranted authority over children's lives. An equally serious concern is that education is merely a training ground for the competencies that workers may need. And I think the testimony of Ms. Weikert spoke eloquently to education being much more than that. The views of Lynne Cheney and other prominent, credible critics of the over-reaching school-to-work program is borne out in my own experience again in editing the Pennsylvania school-to-work manual produced by the Department of Education. Both the early drafts and the final product of this document, which I have come in to you, showed me that this program is aimed not simply at insuring the important connection between school and employment, but rather a system that prematurely places work above school.

It, this is a good example of the testimony that this committee received from both Secretary Bill Bennett and Lamar Alexander, who underscored to you the simple fact that too many bureaucrats at the U.S. Department of Education believe it's their role to substitute their decisions and their judgment for the choices and the common sense of households and communities across the nation.

And let me wrap up, since I see the red light on, with a couple of pleas about some education innovations that I think are deserving of the Congress' support. First of all, it seems to me that the core of the committee's examination, getting federal dollars into the classroom, needs to be coupled with insuring that the freedom and the creativity of families, children and educators is not encumbered. Therefore, the Congress should go well beyond merely insuring that more dollars reach public school classrooms. You should ensure that the federal government empowers parents and children to shape their own lives and futures. Without question, the proposal now being considered for educational savings accounts would empower more parents to have the broad array of educational choices that is now limited only to a few.

Secondly, the Congress should take a careful look at the desire of the U.S. Department Education, to encumber and in my opinion, interfere with the charter school movement that is just now in its infancy. At the Commonwealth Foundation, I direct a charter school resource bank. And at a department conference I attended last fall, one message was sent loud and clear, although an inadvertent message on their part, that the federal government really is not interested in a wide array of new, vibrant and often unique schools. Rather, it's interested in charter schools so long as they are heavily regulated and as controlled as conventional public schools, which is clearly at odds with what the experiment and the innovation the charter schools are all about. As the subcommittee knows, that is the opposite of what charter schools are designed to do. So in our opinion, it's time for the Congress and many of you have done, is to act boldly and decisively to defang the federal education bureaucracy and I certainly want to compliment all the members for the time you're taking to look at the over-reaching and return the mission of the Department of Education back to a child-centered one, focused on kids and families and schools. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

WRITTEN STATEMENT OF SEAN DUFFY, VICE PRESIDENT, THE COMMONWEALTH FOUNDATION, HARRISBURG, PA. – SEE APPENDIX F

 

Chairman Goodling. Thank you. Mr. Hoekstra?

 

Mr. Hoekstra. Thank you. Mr. Duffy, I'm interested in your comment that you went to a conference by the Department of Education that you said the department conference sent one message loud and clear, the federal government is not interested in a wide array of new, vibrant, often unique schools. How do we send, how did they send that message?

 

Mr. Duffy. Well, they did that in a very specific way. The conference was a two-day conference, last fall on charter schools. It was very well attended, hundreds and hundreds of folks who are interested in charter schools attended. And it was real exciting to see so many people interested in new ideas in education. But the large direction that came from attorney after attorney and staff member after staff member who spoke was about how to focus on regulation, how to focus on control, how to focus not on your educational mission, but how to ensure frankly, and in the opinion of many of the charter school operators who were there, how to make charter schools exactly like the schools we have now. And so many folks who were there took the sense from those presentations that indeed the charter schools, if the federal department of education had its way, would be re-regulated in any number of ways. And it certainly was an eye-opener to a number of the folks who were there and those people took a lot of really stern warning from the department that they really needed to pay attention to federal regulations, much more than they had anticipated.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. Ms. Weikert and Reverend Newman, one of the questions that parents always have is understanding exactly the quality of education that their kids or grandchildren are receiving. In Washington, we talk about national testing as a benchmark or whatever to provide parents with information perhaps. How do you react when we get a study back recently on international test scores and how our kids are comparing to kids around the planet and we end up, what, 19th out of 21 in science and math. Do you feel that you've got the knowledge or the background to really understand whether your kids are getting the kind of education that they need to compete globally?

 

Ms. Weikert. Well, for me it's one of the exciting things about Core Knowledge is that, I think this new curriculum we've instilled in the school now will help boost those scores because it does scare me that we are academically behind many of the other leading nations in the world, especially in this new global market where I really think my children's competitors for the job market will not just be Americans, they'll be Canadians and British and Germans and they'll just be moving all over the planet. And if our kids cannot compete with that, how will they be, you know, in a good position for a decent job.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. Reverend Newman?

 

Rev. Newman. From my vantage point it's a little bit different and yet in the same light. When you talk about how we score internationally, my home is made up of different ethnic backgrounds. My wife is Asian, and so consequently the processes and things that she went through in her educational process as she was going through was one of those things that comes into play as we look at both our children and at our grandson and his educational process. And it's interesting that you should ask the question, because she just returned from a visit to her home and came back talking about children on a level younger than my grandson, learning things that my grandson is just beginning to grapple with in his educational process. But the reality is that that's a whole lot better than it was with my children because children younger than them in that environment were much ahead of them in what they were receiving in the educational process. So I agree with Mr. Weikert in that I think that the Core Knowledge program and this curriculum will be such that it will make our young people more competitive in the future of the job market because of the way that they are encountering education now at this level.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. Thank you. Dr. Van Newkirk, have you taken a look at how much paperwork and federal costs are incurred for the dollar, for every dollar that you receive from Washington?

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. We have not taken the time to examine that, no, sir.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. Do you have an idea and estimate, do you think it's minimal or…

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. Well, my assessment from afar as I watch the federal programs office function, is that the request for proposal for a $10,000 award is identical to that for a $500,000 award.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. Well, we value every dollar highly. That, you said that, I think, in your testimony you said that you weren't going to be able to meet part of the requirements under the IDEA?

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. That is correct.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. What's the impact to you if you don't meet our requirements?

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. I don't know, sir.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. Are you going to take a look?

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. We will get there, we cannot do it by July.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. You won't do it this year?

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. That's correct, well, this year, yes. We will, we review, you know, a rolling kind of activity.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. You won't hit the first deadline?

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. That is correct.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. Thank you.

 

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Fattah.

 

Mr. Fattah. Now, in a school district closer to me, say Radnor, Pennsylvania, the per pupil expenditure is somewhere between $12,000 and $15,000.

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. I've heard that.

 

Mr. Fattah. The secretary has a disagreement about that number but do you think that it's, that the state funding formula, which would allow for such a wide disparity is fair to the children and families that are in your school district?

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. Congressman Fattah, we were the first urban school district to sign on in the lawsuit.

 

Mr. Fattah. Okay.

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. But…

 

Mr. Fattah. That answers that question.

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. That answers that question. We did that because we believe there is a lack of consistency in terms of opportunity. If you were in our elementary schools now, and I'm really pleased that the parents are excited about Core, we think it is a new dimension, A.D. Hersh's Curriculum out of the University of Virginia makes a lot of sense. But they only get art in our elementary schools once every 12 days, because we only have two art teachers for 4,100 elementary students. We have no physical education in our elementary schools because we do not have the money to pay for that.

 

Mr. Fattah. Let me try to get to the issue, because many people, when confronted with this question, those who don't share your viewpoint, those districts that are not part of the lawsuit, we have about 195 school districts in our state, principally rural, poor school districts, some urban districts who have sued in state court, questioning the equity, similar to the Michigan, I guess circumstances. But, nonetheless, they said money, you heard the Secretary of Education. The money is not the only factor and it's not the deciding factor. And the question of whether these children are going to get a quality education, how do you respond to that?

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. May I have a moment to think?

 

Mr. Fattah. Absolutely.

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. In the perfect world, money would probably not be so important, if indeed there was a true partnership in every school district between parent and the school for every child. We made the decision to rearrange our student services, with limited dollars and eliminate guidance counselors because we needed to reach out on a more active basis with the home. When I indicated that learning is a two-way activity, I believe the schools have to present knowledge and the learner has to work to absorb it. You don't just put a book under your arm, take three deep breaths and understand the Pythagorean Theorem. Yet, you have to use your head and you have to do some practice. But to want to do that, education must be a priority, it must be important. And at the risk of really being ran out of the room, there are a significant number of people in our country who do not believe it's important because it won't make any difference in what's going to happen to their life in the future. They're part of a mainstream that feels disconnected to what other people feel is important.

 

Mr. Fattah. Let me just ask one more question.

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. Excuse me. And I need the money to help change that position.

 

Mr. Fattah. Right. I got you, and I sympathize with your position. Let me ask one last question. Pennsylvania, our state, unfortunately ranks about 49 out of the 50 states in the country in terms of the number of our young people going on to college. And this question is always one that interests me because we have such fine higher education institutions in our state. And we have a lot of assistance to help young people pursue college education, both in terms of federal resources and state resources through PHEAA. I have and the committee has just acted on a proposal that would help us intervene with middle school children, give them an early commitment in terms of financial assistance, as a way of hopefully giving them an incentive to really think about college and work towards college, because they would know, in fact, that there would be financial resources for them six years later, if they, in fact enrolled. Could you, as the only Superintendent on the panel, respond to that? Any comments you'd like to offer?

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. Congressman, it's a very complex issue. I agree and concur with incentives that help people set goals and objectives and feel that they can achieve something and there's someone here who wants to work with them. I would reiterate, however, that you must develop a base that it's worth setting the goal that indeed it makes sense. Part of the complex issue in middle schools today in many parts of the country, if you ask the young person what are you going to do for a living, the answer is NFL, NBA, and they believe it. And they believe it because the whole commercial network has brought to bear on these young minds, hey, you can do this, you don't have to do anything else. All I'm saying is, you have to turn that corner first to get them to set another goal and objective and then the incentive works beautifully.

 

Mr. Fattah. Thank you.

 

Chairman Goodling. You might mention project connections.

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. Yes, we've been fortunate to be one of four national models in the middle school, school-to-work program. The school-to-work program started in the middle school, that's where it's designed, sixth, seventh and eighth grade. And there the whole plan was to introduce students, at an early age, if you wait to high school, it's too late, it just isn't going to work if you wait until tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade. And the introduction by a sixth grader to a business mentor, which goes over the seventh grade, into eighth grade, helps establish a set of parameters that says I can do that, I can be part of that. And we have noticed that they are setting some goals. We did not, however, and we're doing some additional work on it, anticipate the influence of the high school scene in peer groups, having the impact that it has. So we had a little set back in there. But we are finding that it does allow them to have this reason to establish a goal and therefore work for an incentive.

 

Mr. Fattah. I would ask another question, but the red light is on.

 

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Peterson.

 

Mr. Peterson. Yes. First, to Dr. Van Newkirk. What percentage of your school funding comes from the federal government?

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. About, I'm better at math than this. I'm drawing a blank.

 

Mr. Peterson. Okay, well I think statewide it's 5.6.

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. Okay, about five percent.

 

Mr. Peterson. So you're on average. I have a very rural district and the majority of my school districts are only two and three and the reason is the complexity of the applications for $10,000 or $20,000 and they don't have people to do it, so they just don't apply. I think that's the reason. I think nationally it's 6.3. Isn't it? 6.3 and Pennsylvania is 5.6 which shows we're not even in the median, we're not average. We're getting less for some reason. The question has been raised by a member here, parental involvement is disappearing. I think you used that in your testimony. How do we fix that? I mean, how does the federal government fix parental involvement or how does the state government fix it? I mean, I, the problem I see, and this problem may have been long-term from the cities, but it's equally a problem in rural America today. We have a lot of young people who are totally disconnected. They don't really have plans for their future, they, many of them do not know who their father is, or know him well, they don't have a family tree like we do, with aunts and uncles and grandparents who are very much a part of your growing up. And how does the school become parents? I mean, how, these young, these are the young people that I think are causing a huge disruption in the school system. Teachers tell me, you know, long time teachers, that in 35 years of teaching they always had a Johnny or a Susan that needed mothered in the morning, now it can be a third of the class that need mothered because they just haven't had any parental. How do we deal with that?

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. With all due respect, Congressman, I'd like to initially say that many single-parent homes have turned out very fine citizens. I think this is part of the complexity of our issue in the society. I think students at every economic level are disconnected because there is not someone who invests the most important asset with young people today and that is time. You must talk with a youngster over and over and over about what is right, what is wrong, what is good, what is bad, what you need to do in terms of the future, what you need to do in terms of the future. Every economic level has this problem. And that's because a significant number of people in this world, this country, believe they need more than they need and to do it, it disconnects them from their children. The children come to school with a void. Now, I am not advocating that we take over the role of the parent. But I believe that society must determine how is it going to fill this void. The need for love and the need for attention does not disappear merely because there's more stuff in the house. The need for love, the need for attention is an absolute basic component of an adolescent as they go from kindergarten through 12th grade. And anyone who has had children knows what I'm talking about. We cannot substitute in its entirety but I believe that if we had connection, either with social service staff or something, where we can be more one-on-one with the parent, we might be able to strike that conscious that says, yes, I must give more time. Do you know, our youngsters today don't even know how to play a pick up game of softball or kick-the-can, because their whole life has been so organized and people are looking here from afar rather than allowing this natural development to occur. Boy, that sounds far out, doesn't it? But I've seen it, I've watched it. And, you know, young people need, you need to treat young people like you do a bird in the nest. You have got to have a foundation there of all kinds of support that allows them to grow, to feel, to develop, but you've got to allow it so that they can flap their wings when the time is right. And the only way they'll do that with confidence is to know that that support is still there if they need it and that somebody cares about them. Students tell us, and I've traveled across the country, and I've heard it other places, nobody cares what I do.

 

Mr. Peterson. Thank you. I just have one other question if I can have a moment? We have differing views here on school-to-work. I have a lot of schools, I don't have a lot of schools, I think it's been a pilot more or less, I don't think all the schools have had a shot at that yet, have they? But our pilot schools speak very highly of school-to-work, making a difference, getting kids involved in what the potential jobs are out there. You said negatively. Can we have a little exchange on that?

 

Mr. Duffy. Well, I think the point I was trying to make was that school-to-work began with a good concept, which is that at, that an aim of the education system is to prepare people to be independent, productive workers, successful workers. However, and most people would probably argue that is the sum and substance of what it should be. Unfortunately, and I think in, there's been criticisms raised for a number of years, widespread, that is has gone well beyond that common sense connection, it has gotten much more into a counseling attitudinal scenario.

 

Mr. Fattah. Mr. Duffy, can I ask you, is there any school district in the state of Pennsylvania that has criticized school-to-work or has turned down participation in it?

 

Mr. Duffy. I'm not aware of any that have turned down, nor has the state turned down their money, Congressman.

 

Mr. Fattah. Because I was wondering, when you say widespread, because we heard the superintendent, I think that's what Representative Peterson's point was, he spoke very highly of it.

 

Mr. Duffy. Yes, sir.

 

Mr. Fattah. When you said it's widespread concern about it, could you help the committee understand?

 

Mr. Duffy. Yes, sir.

 

Mr. Fattah. Who is, in fact…

 

 

Mr. Duffy. I'm referring to people who look at education policy, such as Lynne Cheney, who I referred to in my remarks who has written about it, others who have looked at the program as not just the aim of the program, but as to what the program has evolved into. And I think, as I would not disagree with what the superintendent said about the initial formulation of the school-to-work program as a way to expose students. This happened when I was in school, in public school, where you would expose sixth, seventh, eighth graders to this is what it means to be a worker. But I think it has gone well beyond that and certainly the manual that the State Education Department produces for the School-to-Work program goes well beyond that common sense mission.

 

Mr. Peterson. Can you respond to that?

 

Chairman Goodling. What's that?

 

Mr. Peterson. I was asking the superintendent if he wanted to respond to that.

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. We've put our emphasis on the middle school and we still do, DE, Directed Occupations and Distributive Education at the high school as a way of continuing the contact. We have done shadowing for years as a partnership with Rotary and have found that to be very effective and JTPA as an introduction in the summer for students that qualify. I don't believe that we are hung up on the manual or follow what you are referring to, I really don't.

 

Mr. Peterson. I guess I look to school-to-work as a program that was geared at those who did not plan to go on to college. I mean, not going to seek an academic education. And at least it would give them a taste of what's out there. I mean, I think some think education ought to be run that everybody gets an academic education and then does something else. But we have a lot of young people that are not going, they're not even looking at college, they would never get into a college to begin with, they haven't really been turned on all that much to learning. Until they can put their hands on what might be a job out there and then they get a little more interested in learning how they can have a chance at that job. I mean, I guess that was what the focus I thought the program had.

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. We have attempted, Congressman, to pick up some of the key points of the school-to-work concept. You heard, for example, what we do in Core Knowledge in terms of cooperative learning, and integrated learning. But we try to have a thrust that cooperative education is an absolute must in every level, whether it's college prep, whether it's business education, whether it is vocational education, because we think that is one of the mainstays of school-to-work and the work world as it exists today. So it's a matter of including some of those concepts into your regular curriculum.

 

Chairman Goodling. We're running behind schedule and we have a technology demonstration that I want to get to. So I'll just ask one question. You talked about the important of Title I, II, IV, and VI and IV doesn't ring a bell with me.

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. Well, I really don't keep track of the titles, Congressman, but Mrs. Weikert does.

 

Chairman Goodling. Because Title II has become Title or Chapter II has become Title VI,

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. All right, just give me one minute.

 

Chairman Goodling. And IV doesn't ring a bell.

 

Mr. Fattah. While the superintendent is doing that, can I just thank the two parents here for coming since we talked about parental involvement. We appreciate your attendance and your comments.

 

Mr. Van Newkirk. My apologizes. I had my Roman Numerals turned around. I, IV and VI, thank you.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. Mr. Chairman?

 

Chairman Goodling. Yes.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. I brought up the TIMSS Study. I would like to put in a statement from William Schmidt from Michigan State who was a U.S. representative on that panel, explaining the TIMSS Study for the record, so I could.

STATEMENT OF WILLIAM H. SCHMIDT. SEE APPENDIX F

 

Mr. Fattah. And, Chairman, for the record, can I also renew my request, I was verbal to the Secretary of Education to supply the committee and the subcommittee with information. I would ask him about the highest spending school district per pupil and the lowest in our state and also looking at the state funding, the proportion of that that goes through the formula that takes into account the wealth of the district in apportioning that. It does not take into account that formula.

 

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Frey will tell us a little bit about the partnership his school district has formed with the AMP Company and in addition to demonstrating the technology, we'll hear from three students, you might not hear from me, Ben, Erin and Matt, about their involvement with the technology. It will be somewhat informal, it will provide us the opportunity to ask the students questions through interactive television as well as have them ask us questions.

 

STATEMENT OF BRENT FREY, SUPERVISOR OF COMPUTER SERVICES, WEST SHORE SCHOOL DISTRICT, NEW CUMBERLAND, PA.

Mr. Frey. Good morning and thank you for coming to Crossroads Middle School, again. It's a privilege to have you here. On behalf of the West Shore School District, I would like to again welcome you. And I'd like to introduce, if I could, the Superintendent of Schools here, Dr. Sayer, back here, and the Principal of the building, Mr. Barry Hauser, who is sitting here in the second row.

This school has had the opportunity of working with a number of individuals through companies. One in particular is AMP, Incorporated. We beta-tested a new product for them, back, we started with them back in about May of 1996. And the product was in essence a way to transport interactive video within a school building. So what we have here today, we'll be assembling some students in the library, which you're looking at in the television on the floor right in front of you, that's the library upstairs. What this system does is it allows interactive video, full motion, between any room in this school. It's very quick to set up. We can go into any room, set up a camcorder and interact and speak with each other within the building. I asked a couple of students today to talk about Crossroads Middle School because I think there are a lot of programs here in the school that go well above and beyond technology. But certainly this is a school that has a lot to offer its students, and it’s a school district that offers a lot to its students. You had asked the question earlier about funding. Our school district is funded with about 70 percent coming from local source, 28, 29 percent from the state and one percent from the federal government. So if that gives you a sense of the dollars that come to our school district. I have to apologize, the cafeteria, as you can tell, is in full operation, and of course, that's part of the school day, so that's what you get.

 

WRITTEN STATEMENT OF BRENT FREY, SUPERVISOR OF COMPUTER SERVICES, WEST SHORE SCHOOL DISTRICT, NEW CUMBERLAND, PA. SEE APPENDIX D

 

Mr. Frey. I'm going to let Erin start and she'll tell you a little bit about the student assistance team here and some things that are happening at Crossroads.

 

STATEMENT OF ERIN McCONNELL, STUDENT, CROSSROADS MIDDLE SCHOOL

 

 

Ms. McConnell. One very important program at Crossroads Middle School is SAT, which stands for Students Assistance Team. The team will get referrals from teachers, peers and parents. The student usually is referred for suspected use of drugs, alcohol, depression or at risk behavior. Also it could be if their parents are involved with the same problems. After the team receives the referral, they send out a checklist to all the student's teachers. This list will tell if grades have dropped, if their personality changes or changes in friends. Before members from the team can talk with the student, they must have the parents' permission. Then the student will meet with a team member about once a week. The team member can refer the student to drug and alcohol counselors, mental health counselors or family counselors from Holy Spirit Hospital. Everything that is said is kept confidential. This program is very excellent because you see students being helped to make a positive difference in their life and their future.

 

Mr. Frey. And this is Ben. Ben's going to continue with a little more about the school. Go ahead.

STATEMENT OF BEN JENKINS, STUDENT, CROSSROADS MIDDLE SCHOOL

 

Mr. Jenkins. Okay. I'll be talking about the Peer Helper Program that the school has. And we just won an award from Winning Association of the Year Award for being a good group of students that help out a lot. And every year they help out at the Apple Festival, which is every, the last Saturday in September. They help clean up the park and they sort of like trash people around the Apple Festival Grounds. And they, I'm sorry.

 

Mr. Frey. You can't think of anything else?

 

Mr. Jenkins. No, I can't think of anything else.

Mr. Frey. Matt has some things as well.

 

STATEMENT OF MATT KNICKMAN, STUDENT, CROSSROADS MIDDLE SCHOOL

 

 

Mr. Knickman. I'll be talking about the arts in Crossroads. I'm part of the Art Department, they have a scholastic art competition where students enter their artwork in. Pam Metrosky won. These people were the winners: Pam Metrosky won for art design, Emily Burns won ceramics, Cathy Tracy got printmaking. Jessie Markovick got art design. And Jeremy Hart got for printmaking. In our news department where we have a band where there's a song dedicated to Crossroads called "At the Crossroads" by Robert Smith. It was written to dedicate the opening of Crossroads in 1993. It was also used at the inauguration of the president. Every year also we put band people as a soloist. Last year was a clarinet soloist and this year will be a trombonist whose name is Matt Neice. In the chorus, there is a group called "Can you See Last Year", who won a superior rating and first place trophy at the Music in the Park Competition. And also the Judge's Choice Award. The director was Mrs. Book but this year it's Mrs. Lewis. She went to, Mrs. Book went to the Philippines to teach a brand new chorus. And also I would like to add that we have a musical called "Phantom of the Opera" performing in April. Last year, we had also one called "Gone with the Breeze."

 

Mr. Frey. Okay. Do you have any questions of the students? I think that…

 

Chairman Goodling. Are these people going to participate?

Mr. Frey. These people are going to participate in, can you hear us in the library? Okay. We need to turn the television up here a little bit.

 

Mr. Fattah. I have a question.

 

Chairman Goodling. Mr. Fattah has a question.

 

Mr. Frey. Okay.

 

Mr. Fattah. Is the Student Assistance Team, is that a peer group counseling effort, student to student or is that…

 

Ms. McConnell. It's teachers, like there's certain teachers at this school that are involved with it.

 

Mr. Fattah. Okay. I understand. So, now, the gentleman sitting next to you talked about a peer program.

 

Mr. Jenkins. Peer Helpers.

 

Mr. Fattah. All right. And that's the group that won the award?

 

Mr. Jenkins. Yeah. And they also sometimes they also have peer mediators in the school.

 

Mr. Fattah. These problems with drugs, alcohol, depression, at-risk behaviors, is this a, do you think that these two programs are helping in response to some of these problems?

 

Ms. McConnell. Yes.

 

Mr. Fattah. How big a problem are these here at this school?

 

Ms. McConnell. Yeah, they really…

 

Mr. Knickman. Even the Advisor program, I must say, teachers and a group of students.

 

Mr. Frey. Maybe we could ask the students in the library, whether or not they, is anyone in the library, could you speak to the Peer Helper program? You'll need to go to the microphone. No? Okay. How about are any of you involved in Peer Mediation? No. Okay. Anyone in the library, could you talk to a program here at Crossroads, would you like to tell the Congressmen about something you're involved in at Crossroads Middle School?

Library Student. I'm involved in Student Counsel which obviously we go there and we make a lot decisions for things like dances and fund raisers and stuff like that. And that helps build leadership qualities and helps us like improve the school by putting our opinions in.

 

Mr. Frey. Okay. If you'd like to talk with them, you can freely talk to those students via the interactive system that we have. And they can see you as well. But it is a little difficult technology to deal with when you're…

 

Chairman Goodling. Is education the most important thing in the world to you at this time?

Library Student. I think definitely because like things like sports can get in the way, like without education that's not going to help you in life at all.

 

Mr. Fattah. So whose all for a longer school year and a longer school day?

[No response]

 

Mr. Fattah. Thank you.

 

Chairman Goodling. And how about Saturday classes?

[No response]

 

Mr. Peterson. How serious is the drug problem in your school?

Library Student. I think compared to other schools, our drug problem is very small but it's still too high to make a lot of people comfortable. I think that we should shoot for 100 percent drug-free school and shouldn't be satisfied with anything less.

 

Mr. Fattah. Can I just see a show of hands of anybody who knows someone who has used drugs?

 

Mr. Peterson. Raise your hand if you could buy drugs if you wanted them. What, how do we solve the drug problem? How do we get a drug-free system?

Library Student. I think that it comes to the point where we need training, like dogs being to search lockers and stuff like that. That we should take the necessary steps but just things like watching the halls more closely and having the teacher check in the bathroom would probably help.

 

Chairman Goodling. Do you have, when you talk about peer pressure, do you deal with that issue in relationship to drugs and alcohol? How do you reinforce each other?

Library Student. Well, I don't think that there's a big problem with the drugs and I think with like peer pressure, I haven't really dealt with people asking me for, if I want some, so I don't really know.

 

Mr. Fattah. What grades are they?

 

Mr. Frey. They're in the eighth grade. Okay. I think we can thank the students in the library and maybe you could all wave goodbye. We're going to thank you.

On of the federal program I can tell you as the supervisor of Educational Technology for the district that I'm dealing with now is the EREA and I realize a lot of that may not be operated out of the Department of Education but I can tell you, having gone through the initial process, that it's been very, very difficult.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. Excuse me. What program is that?

 

Mr. Frey. The EREA program, the universal service fund. And I'm not sure if you're familiar with that program in its entirety but essentially this is the FCC created the School Library Corporation and from that schools are applying for technology infrastructure, basic telephone service reductions that are based on their free and reduced lunch. In going through this process, the amount of paperwork that's involved. I can tell you in the two months that the program has been up and running, I have a full three-ring binder, a notebook filled with communications from the federal government on changes in the regulations, it happens daily. We've gone through the application process but I'm not hopeful that we'll ever see the funding because one of the problems we've run into with contractors is that they're afraid they will not be paid in turn. The process works in such a way that, for example, if we are to network cable our buildings, like this building, that is a reimbursable project, based on the EREA. We would fill out a form to have that process put out on the Internet so that any company in the country can bid on it. We wait for a series of days. We select the bids and file another form, the 471 Form, it's known as. And from there, after filling that form out, we have to then fill out a third form so that we can indicate who they should pay to reimburse this project. The money really doesn't come to the school district, it goes to the contractors. So for a cabling contractor, who is looking at a major renovation job like we had in our two high schools this year, where the job might be worth $200,000 and in our case, we would get a 40 percent reimbursement for that. The 40 percent payment to that contractor goes, comes from the School Library Corporation to the contractor. The contractors are asking us whether or not they'll get paid by the federal government. And certainly you cannot wait for funding. We called the School Library Corporation and found that it could take as long as 90 to 120 days for that contractor to be paid, they're not sure. But we're finding that contractors do not want to work with school districts now because they're afraid they won't get their money. And that's a big concern. I think that it, certainly all of us believe that the funding for technology infrastructure is important and we need to do things like this. But I can tell you that the process is difficult and it probably will get more difficult as we move through it.

 

Mr. Peterson. I wasn't in Congress when that bill was passed, that was the telecommunications bill. But I guess my understanding was that it was to give you Internet access or telephone access at a lower rate.

 

Mr. Frey. That's the intent, that's the intent of the Telecommunications Act.

 

Mr. Peterson. Of course, if we leave it up to the federal government or some branch of it, I mean, it would seem kind of, you would either qualify for it or you won't. If you qualified for it, then you should just get the lower rate from the utility supplying the service and then they should get the money from them.

 

Mr. Frey. In a simple world, that sounds…

 

Mr. Peterson. Would it be better to just lower the rates of access and not get involved in putting new systems in your school or re-wiring and that sort of thing?

 

Mr. Frey. I would think it would be, if we could in some way lower the rates or feed the money back to the telecommunications operators.

 

Mr. Peterson. If you're going to get into the contracting business and all the federal requirements, I mean that's a nightmare. I mean, lots of companies don't even want to do business with the Department.

 

Mr. Frey. That's the business that we're in. I personally am filling that paperwork out now to attempt to get these funds.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. But does it also now require you to pay prevailing wage?

 

Mr. Frey. We have always been required to pay prevailing wage, but that would continue, sure.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. Okay. But that's under state law?

 

Mr. Frey. State law, yes.

 

Mr. Hoekstra. Okay.

 

Mr. Peterson. But you agree it would be better to lower the rate on the Internet service or the telephone service, period, and not get involved in rewiring schools?

 

Mr. Frey. Well, I think that lots of small, rural school districts need the funding to build the infrastructure, to put networking in place so they can get Internet to the classroom. But in many cases, it's so difficult. It comes back to resources. Small school districts typically will have a superintendent, a business manager, maybe one or two other administrators to do the various things that have to occur. This adds one more level of bureaucracy to attempt to get money that you may never see. You're just not sure if it will come through. And it appears to be a difficult process. We've created a new, whole, a new business in the government, the School Library Corporation, to actually run this thing. And again, I can tell you, it's a significant problem. And that's in the first two months of operation.

Do you have any questions of the students here a Crossroads, the principal, the superintendent, that we might be able to address? I know it's been a long morning for you. We'd be glad to take you through the building and show you some of the areas. This building has three computer labs, they're all hooked to the Internet. Students use the Internet virtually every day, whether through a computer lab or in their classroom. One of the questions that was asked earlier today was related to Internet access, how do we control it, contain it? I think you asked that of the Secretary. In our situation, we filter the Internet. We have a filtering system. And I can tell you that initially we fought against putting Internet filtering in place because we had a Board policy and we had an acceptable use policy and other protections, we thought, in place that would protect students, they would follow these rules. Well, they didn't do that. So we were forced to filter. And I think it really comes down to a community concern. If you are in a conservative community and your parents and families want their children to be protected from some of the harshness that's out there, then you should filter. And so we are doing that. And it has worked very well. We have not had a problem since we did that.

 

Mr. Peterson. What grade do you offer computer courses in how to use the computer?

 

Mr. Frey. We start in kindergarten. We have computer teachers in our elementary schools, students have computer education in all grades from K to eight. In the middle school, computer education is a major subject. It meets five days out of our six-day cycle in sixth, seventh and eighth grades. We attempt to get to computer literacy by the end of the eighth grade and we have some standards set to tell us what that computer literacy is. But we have computer instruction all the way through our K to 12 program.

 

Mr. Peterson. That's not an optional course, it's just everybody?

 

Mr. Frey. It's not an optional course in K to eight. In the high school, it is.

 

Mr. Peterson. High school is?

 

Mr. Frey. In the high school, it is. But I would tell you that our high school technology courses, computer courses are among the highest elected courses in the school.

 

Chairman Goodling. Unfortunately, we have votes later this afternoon, so we are unable to spend a lot of time here.

 

Mr. Frey. Okay.

 

Chairman Goodling. But I do want to thank you and thank Ben, Erin and Matt for giving us the demonstration and certainly, again, I want to thank the principal for having us here. If there are no other questions, we will declare the hearing adjourned and thank you all, again.

 

Mr. Frey. Thank you.

 

 

[Whereupon, at 11:21 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]