Thank you for your ELL story ("Successful Strategies for English Language Learners," February 2011). Our district has a large Spanish-speaking population, and we are always anxious to read about ELL programs to see how our program compares with others and to gain an insight into new approaches and materials. We focus on having every ELL student succeed, graduate and go on to a postsecondary program.
We are also anxiously awaiting information about a new video that the U.S. Department of Education produced for Spanish-speaking families that shows how going to college is more attainable and more affordable than ever, which the story mentioned. Our high school makes every effort to keep our Spanish-speaking families informed about college opportunities for their children, including providing workshops on obtaining financial aid for college and on the college application and acceptance process.
Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services
Mamaroneck (N.Y.) Union Free School District
In response to DA's Going Mobile blog post "Carts of iPads = Carts of Laptops = D?j? vu all over again" (March 16), a reader says: The iPad is perhaps not all bad. It works wonders for children learning how to read or for computer-illiterate people, and it is convenient for college students and people who have a lot of online reading. However, I do not see iPads ever becoming a tool for people who use their computers for productivity, and therefore I consider them irrelevant for use in a K12 teaching environment.
Blogger and doctoral student
University of North Texas
We asked several industry leaders to preview a story "District-level Downsizing" that we are running in this month's issue (p. 29) and respond. Here are their responses:
Rather than pit teachers against administrators to preserve jobs, districts should use the budget crisis to become more efficient. The Center for American Progress' recent report on return on educational investment demonstrates that even after adjusting for variables in student demographics, there are vast differences in how much money districts spend to achieve similar levels of student outcomes.
Making better use of administrators will require new ways of doing business. Responsibilities will need to be shifted, and old assumptions will need to be reconsidered. States also need to improve in providing districts with the tools and training to do more with less and to help struggling districts build grassroots support for reform.
Senior Education Policy Analyst Center for American Progress
In bringing attention to administrator layoffs, the article reinforces what educators and families are painfully aware of: Districts are being forced to make tough choices with dwindling resources. Yet the article stops short of examining issues that are critical to understanding how these choices are being made as well as their likely impact.
Do administrator layoffs weigh more heavily on low-income students and students of color?
What, if any, protections are in place to ensure that students who most need stability in school aren't first in line to lose their principals, curriculum specialists and others? And what supports are available to educators who are already stretched thin?
Asking questions like these is the first step toward ensuring that even the most difficult choices are made thoughtfully and with the best interests of students in mind.
Director of K-12 Policy
The Education Trust
There has been an unrelenting attack on educators that began with ill-informed demands for business-model school reforms. Schools are not corporations. Children are not raw materials. We educate human beings, and each one is diverse and unique. The idea of downsizing implies that we save money. There is no evidence that saving money will improve the delivery of services to students. I would say that services will suffer through increased class sizes and diminished morale. And the efforts being made to comply with many education reform policies will be severely undercut.
The continual downsizing of school-based administrators such as principals, vice principals and curriculum supervisors erodes a district's ability to effectively manage, evaluate and supervise its school programs. We must concentrate on ensuring that our schools are staffed and run to benefit the children and the community at large.
American Federation of School Administrators
Letters to the Editor may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailed to Judy F. Hartnett, District Administration, 488 Main Avenue, Norwalk, CT 06851. Selections that are published may be edited for length and clarity, and become the property of District Administration.