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As a kid I grew up singing "Kids are People Too" along with Wonderama TV host Bob McAllister. Ever since I've believed that kids are people with all the rights and privileges afforded to other citizens. Apparently, members of the Supreme Court and talk-radio audiences disagree and are rolling back the rights of children with hardly a whimper of dissent.

Simple approaches often work best. They can be especially effective when tackling complex challenges like evaluating academic programs, administrative systems and organizational practices. But coming up with simple approaches that actually work is no easy task.

There are two important themes that echo through most of the articles in this issue. The first is financial. The news in this year's second annual Spending Report on page 34 confirms what most of us already knew. The recession's noose has reached education.

God Bless America

We received numerous letters supporting Dan Kinnaman's opinion in his November column, "God Bless America." This letter is representative of that sentiment.

District PLUS Tips and ideas for successful district leadership

Essential Skills for Effective School Leaders

After three years of research, the New York State Education Department is releasing "Essential Knowledge and Skills for Effective School Leadership," a profile detailing these nine essential characteristics for school leaders.

1. Leaders know and understand what it means and what it takes to be a leader

2. Leaders have a vision for schools that they constantly share and promote

3. Leaders communicate clearly and effectively

Mathematics

Teacher Training: Q&A with Francis "Skip" Fennell

Q:How has education for pre-service mathematics teachers changed in recent years?

Union City, N.J., has a picturesque view of Manhattan from across the Hudson River. But the picture of Union City wasn't so bright 12 years ago.

By the looks of the district now, one would never know it was on the verge of being taken over by the state in 1989 after failing 44 of 52 state indicators used to assess schools. Attendance, dropout rates and standardized test scores were below state and national averages in the district that has 85 percent of its students receiving free or reduced lunches.

My work in K-12 staff development has shown time and again that one of the most effective ways to develop Internet expertise is to involve teachers and students with online projects. Well-designed projects provide learners with in-depth opportunities to hone telecommunications skills, use online tools and resources, and gain educational experiences that cannot be duplicated through any other medium.

Now that the holiday feasts and gatherings of friends and family have receded, it's time to plan for the new year. K-12 schools and districts of every size face fresh challenges in 2002-both inside classrooms and out.

So this January, school IT directors and district chief technology officers have some thinking to do: What upgrades should they invest in for 2002?

Despite the many demands on schools today, districts are finding they don't have to go it alone. Parents and other community members not only like to be informed and involved-they expect it.

"Where's the best place to spend our money-Pre-K programs? Bonuses for teacher recruitment?" As of last spring, most state policy makers who consulted Mike Griffith, a policy analyst at the Education Commission of the States, had questions like these.

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