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From DA

Imagine having to fly in a twin-engine airplane to visit one of your schools. Average round-trip price: $2,500. But, there is no other way, and worse yet, weather frequently interferes.

Bill Keim is not your typical superintendent. He dropped out of college his first time around. He traveled the Middle East to help children and then operated an orphanage in Bethlehem. He even helped negotiate the release of American hostages in Iraq before the Persian Gulf war.

An unassuming person, the 51-year-old pursued teaching in between travels and became top man about two years ago at Mercer Island School District in Washington state, a district of five schools with about 4,200 students.

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


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

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