Perseverance Is Key
To persevere has always been my modus operandi. I think this attitude originated through the influence of Lee Kahn, the principal of William B. Ward School in New Rochelle, N.Y. when I was in elementary school, and his yearlong quest for a school motto. The entire school was involved. It was a big deal. The resulting statement had a big effect on me: "Take pride in a job well done." The editors on my staff, who sometimes give me grief for pushing them, nevertheless emulate this attitude themselves.
Each issue of DA has its challenges and requires its own level of perseverance. We assign one story, and much to the chagrin of the writer, we see a better story in what has been unfolded. Such was the case with "Arizona Divided," a story written by Ed Finkel and edited by Angela Pascopella. We asked Ed to write about the new immigration laws in Arizona and their impact on students, and what unfolded was a more important story about the segregation of English language learners. Districts have implemented a state-mandated curriculum for ELL's that separates them from mainstream students and limits their option to learn about ethnic studies.
For our special report on school spending, "The Price of a Good Education," we had our tenacious college interns research the most recent per-pupil expenditures and coinciding graduation rates that could be found, a very challenging assignment, since the data are not always as transparent as we would like them to be.
To continue our series of one-to-one conversations with people who influence K12 education, I asked Marion Herbert to contact Joanne Weiss, the chief of staff of the U.S. Department of Education, as well as the director of the Race to the Top grant competition. The word "perseverance" may have been invented for contacting DOE personnel, and one can use it as a personal test of patience, but in the end the results far outweigh the pain. Although Joanne is under the radar, she is a tremendously influential woman behind the scenes of Race to the Top.
These are just a few of the articles you will find in this issue. If you prefer digital technology, we offer in-depth coverage of all the important issues and the most up-to-date topics on our Web site, www.districtadministration.com. I welcome your thoughts on both our articles and any other issues on your mind. Send me an e-mail at jhartnett@districtadministration.