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October Letters

What our readers are saying.

Tricky “Curriki”

Thanks for mentioning in Kurt Dyrli’s blog (Product Posts, Aug. 6, 2008) about “free, open source ? curricula?” As pointed out in Dyrli’s blog, there are challenges to this innovative approach to educational content, most notably:

Who is qualified to contribute content? As new models of instructional design are defined by collaboration and participation, educators and teachers (and members of the community) are just starting to participate in this new process. All content contributors must register as members of the community by providing information regarding their expertise and knowledge in a specific subject area. Users are left to their own discretion to determine the value of the content.

Can you trust the content? Experts, such as publishers and administrators, have historically been the source of curricular material. If the community is now the expert, it is undeniable that a whole new definition of validation and review is necessary.

On another note, I must correct the release date that was published, which corresponds to the release of our Web site. Curriki was created in 2004 and was formerly known as the Global Education and Learning Community.

Christine Loew, program manager, Curriki

Single-Gender School Firsts

I read with interest the News Update story “Georgia County Nixes Single-Sex Plan” (May 2008). But the proposed single- gender school plan in Georgia would not be the first public school district to have single-gender classes.

In the late 1960s, schools in Jefferson Parish, La., had classes in grades 7 through 9 that were separated by sex. And there were two single-gender high schools in the parish—one for girls and one for boys.

I attended the all-girls school, Riverdale High School, and received a wonderful education and sense of self. In those days, it was done for integration purposes, but the effect on female psyche was the same—a great feeling of self-efficacy.

Debbie Glover, reporter, St. Tammany News, Covington, La.

Editor’s note: Greene County’s plan would have made it the first entirely single-gender public K12 district.

Who Really Gets Enrichment?

In Gary Stager’s Speaking Out column (“Enrichment Programs,” August 2008), he states the word enrichment is “derived from Latin for ‘children of rich parents who complain.’” More parents should complain about the lack of intellectually challenging curricula for their capable children.

The Fordham Institute has published two studies on high-achieving students. Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution analyzed results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress and concluded the nation’s top pupils have “languished” academically while the lowest-performing youngsters have gained dramatically. Steve Farkas and Ann Duffet of Farkas Duffett Research Group conducted a national teacher survey and found most teachers feel pressure to focus primarily on their lowest-achieving students and neglect high achievers. The winners in No Child Left Behind are the lowest-achieving students, who appear to win at the expense of their high-achieving peers.

Mr. Stager notes inadequate funding has made field trips a distant memory but may be a hallmark of enrichment. He concludes his article by stating,

“Enrichment and field trips aren’t about enriching the curriculum. They are about telling one group of parents that their children are better than the rest.” I am bothered by this statement.

I agree that shortages of funding, leadership or imagination have caused rigorous, curricular-relevant gifted and talented programs to be sacrificed. I would hope administrators who read your magazine would demand rigor and relevance of the curricula for highachieving students and demand learner centered education and differentiated instruction. I would hope administrators would show that addressing educational needs does not make one group of students better than the rest.

Karen L. Brown, gifted education consultant and site supervisor, Muskingum Valley (Ohio) Educational Service Center

Letters to the Editor may be sent to, 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.