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From DA

What is insane? In Niagara Falls, N.Y., residents are used to crazy behavior. Besides the disconcerting monthly suicides, there are the stunts. People have walked tightropes over Niagara Falls, gone over in barrels, big plastic balls, kayaks, even jet skis.

But to Niagara Superintendent of Schools Carmen A. Granto, insane is something else. It is doing the same thing over and over and expecting the results to differ. It is sending home the same report card, quarter after quarter, and expecting parents to get more out of it than they do.

Long, long ago, in some mythical classroom of the lost world, if you wanted to know how well a student was learning, you'd just ask the teacher. Teachers then not only had eyes in the back of their heads, but powerful eyes all around that could read the body language of 30 students at once, zero in on one child's scrawl while evaluating another's doodles, and see which kids added with their fingers and which read with their lips.

The National Science Foundation has arguably done more to improve K-12 science, mathematics and technology education in the United States than any other sponsoring agency. Starting decades ago, the NSF funded the development of large-scale programs that transformed the curriculum from didactic content presentations to laboratory-centered student inquiry. The programs were created through comprehensive research and development processes, were piloted and field tested extensively with diverse student populations, and published commercially for wide-scale implementation.

I was sitting in my 12th grade physics class, carving my initials into the top of my desk. It wasn't that I believed physics to be irrelevant; to the contrary, though I knew little about physics, I concluded that it had to be important. After all, you had to take lots of other science classes before you earned the right to take physics, and if you were college bound, your guidance counselor was sure to push you to take it.

05/2002

This letter was supposed to update you on the education of my 5-year-old, Ethan. I introduced you to Ethan in November when I chronicled the decision my wife and I made to send him to a Montessori school and delay kindergarten for a year.

Science

Q&A with Joseph Baust Sr. of the North American Association for Environmental Education

It's funny how practices that we know work in the classroom are sometimes the last concept we use when trying to solve a problem in the "real world." Take the notion of Piaget that people learn by "scaffolding" new information onto what they already know. When I started in this position a little more than two years ago, I leaned heavily on the staff and education experts Dan Kinnaman, Gil Dyrli and Gary Stager to teach me the hot issues in education, the principles behind those issues, and the business landscape in the K-12 arena.

Rethinking School Board Membership

Ijust read your editorial (See "Holding School Boards More Accountable," DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION, March 2002, p. 7) referencing the shameful events that took place in Unified School District in Kansas City, Kansas.

District PLUS

Distill the Rumor Mill

Allegations that the district was not treating a girls' sports team equally to a boys' team. Safety concerns about a telecommunications tower being built on the intermediate school campus. Talk that the first day of school will be delayed. At Chartiers Valley School District in Pittsburgh, administrators prefer to proactively address rumors like these.

Debate about tuition reimbursement for private school instruction began anew in February when President Bush released his proposed federal education budget for 2003.

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