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Reply to Dr. Weitz

My apologies to other visionaries for the length of this 
note.  Jerry has made a lot of comments that deserve an 
answer.  This is just a beginning.

You and I have had numerous conversations about 
professional technical education in Moscow.  We agree 
that we would both like to see more course offerings.  On 
the other hand, I believe that we have both acknowledged 
that the attendance at some courses has been negligible 
to the point that some excellent courses had to be 
dropped.  By your argument below (cutting where the 
effect would be minimal) if the levy doesn't pass, the 
district should probably eliminate MORE 
vocational/professional-technical classes rather than less 
because they are often least attended.  Yes, less than 50% 
of MHS graduates also graduate from college although a 
higher percentage attend.  But we can't MAKE them take 
vo-tech courses.  

Additionally, while you were on the board graduation 
requirements at Moscow High were RAISED.  Students 
have fewer elective options rather than more.  Do you 
favor eliminating the "strand" requirements that were put 
in while you were on the board?  Frankly, I do.  I was 
never a proponent.  But, you know what will happen if we 
do that.  Some will accuse the board of "dumbing down" 
graduation requirements.  

Next, everyone should know that professional technical 
education in the state is in bigger trouble than just here in 
Moscow--because of funding and because a new 
"graduation test" is in the works.  Welding, wood craft, and 
glass blowing are NOT going to be on that test.  The 
students who will have the most trouble passing 
(probably)--the ones who do poorest in core classes--
math, English, social science, history--may also be those 
who would most benefit from vo-tech classes.  But, in 
order to get a "full" high school diploma are they going to 
be inclined to take more core classes or more vo-tech 
classes.  Are districts going to need to spend more time 
(classes and thus financial resources) seeing that students 
pass the graduation exam or in offering expensive (per 
student) vo-tech courses?  Again, I support vocational, 
technical, professional programs and AGREE we (the 
community's students) could use more of them.  But to 
say the school district is failing its mission by not offering 
more with the resources and requirements at hand 
borders on the irresponsible.

To me the solution to vocational technical education in 
the short term is a district/community 
(business)/university consortium.  We must first identify 
where we can get financial and personal support; what 
resources we have; who is interested; how we can build 
interest.  And, do we try to tell students who are on 
"college track" that they aren't going to succeed BEFORE 
they try.  Or, do we have offerings for them to fall back on 
for special training.  And, are there places outside this 
community with which we can partner to help our kids 
(who by then are adults)?  

Now let's talk about your continued comparison of 
Moscow and Pullman schools.  Please, Jerry.  Would you 
get the data from someplace relevant.  Washington 
school are funded completely differently from Idaho's.  
Are some comparisons useful.  Maybe.  Probably.  But just 
putting two raw numbers next to one another without any 
analysis is neither scientific nor relevant.  And the 
conclusions that are drawn from any such comparison 
need to be made very carefully unless they are just being 
thrown out for "political" purposes--to advance a particular 
agenda.  You say Pullman is considered one of the 100 
best schools in the country.  By whom?  By a now-defunct 
magazine named Offspring.  They made a study.  I don't 
know the details of the study. I don't know if Moscow 
schools were included in the survey.  I don't know what 
the primary discriminators were to include/exclude 
districts as "Best" and below.   It appears that academic 
performance as measured by SAT andACT scores, and 
number of Natl. Merit finalists were part of the 
discriminators and that academic expenditures per 
student was also a criterion.  However, they USED the 
data of a company called SchoolMatch (still in business) 
but Offspring created its own criteria/discriminators.  I 
expect Moscow was included in the data, but I cannot 
confirm it and expect you cannot either without further 
research. Aside from all of that, Pullman is a GREAT 
school district.  Moscow is a GREAT school district.  Are 
there areas where each  can improve?  I'll speak for 
Moscow--YES.  I'm willing to bet that the Pullman 
community, school board, and superintendent could 
identify some areas where they are working to improve 
too.  I salute Pullman for making the "100 best" in any 
survey.  Well done.  Deserved recognition that's also good 
publicity for all the Palouse.  I am not willing to give it a 
moment's thought that one district is better than another 
because Offspring magazine MIGHT have said so (if we 
weren't included in the survey, then there is no 
comparison at all.)  And, by the way, I salute Moscow 
School District for having the NATIONAL CHAMPION 
Knowledge Master Open team, STATE CHAMPION 
Scenario Writer in Future Problem Solving, and for the 
last SIX CONSECUTIVE years having qualified a team 
from the State competition to participate in the 
INTERNATIONAL  Future Problem Solvers competition. 
(First place 5 years, 2nd 1 year). Oh, yes, and the number 
2 student (the only silver medalist) in the State (of 790 
freshmen participants) in the Idaho Mathematics Exam.  I 
could continue on the positives of both districts, but I'm 
responding I guess to comments about the negatives.

Dual enrollment:
Has there been an unheeded hue and cry for dual 
enrollment?  No.  I've never heard the topic raised by 
anyone except you Jerry in the two years I've been on the 
board.  I believe that you are a visionary, so I'm willing to 
say you may be on to something.  I'm willing to look 
further.  The district DOES have dual enrolled students.  
THEY choose the option.  Why more don't choose it I don't 
know.  In part, there is a difficulty with scheduling.  MSD 
operates on 71 minute classes at the HS.  UI is 50 min. 
classes generally.  And the times classes meet differ so 
that a student who is dual enrolled may miss 2 class 
periods at the HS in order to take 1 UI class.  Could we 
improve that somehow?  Maybe.  Should it be a condition 
of passing this levy?  I doubt we could get that studied and 
done in the 2 1/2 weeks that remain even if the UI folks 
were able to attend to it immediately and there was a 
readily available solution (and database to show us who 
needs what and when).

Long term contracts with teachers:
How many of those contracts were entered during your 
board tenure Jerry?  At most, one.  And the teachers took 
it in the nose that year and are thus very leery of doing it 
again.  The problem is that we have no idea what our 
funding will be from year to year.  We had a mid-year 
holdback this year.  Other years the district has received 
what has sometimes been referred to as "angel money"  
at the end of the year.  That is, money that the district 
didn't expect to get.  The state used a funding formula at 
the beginning of the year in anticipation of student 
numbers.  The formula was too conservative, there was 
money left over, and it was distributed at the end of the 
year.  It makes it very difficult for both the district and the 
MEA (Moscow Education Association, the local teachers' 
union) to come up with a viable plan for more than one 
year.  Now, does that mean that there needs to be 
contentiousness between the board and the union every 
year?  No.  But there is no one who ever served on the 
board to my knowledge who wouldn't say the best thing 
would be for the state to pay teachers salaries as the 
State of Washington does.  That takes the debate and 
contention out of local board and union hands.  School 
boards could actually lobby Boise on behalf of its teachers 
instead of having to debate what part of the funding 
should go to programs and what part to salary and benefit 
improvement.  And on top of all of that, the district has no 
authority or ability to demand a contract with teachers for 
longer than one year.  If we can come to mutual 
agreement, okay.  If not, it's one year at a time.  And just 
as a btw, if we have to cut staff one year and have a 
longterm contract, wouldn't that create some additional 
headaches and limitations.  Or would you expect the 
union to agree to a salary schedule that would apply even 
if we reduced staff to help fund the schedule.  This year is 
a prime example of the difficulty of long term contracts.  If 
the contract last year had called for just "cost of living" 
raises, we'd be looking at about 3% across the board 
raises.  A.  I don't think the community would be very 
happy about that in the face of laying off 30 teachers 
(without the levy passing). and B.  there isn't enough 
money to fund it--we'd have to lay off even more.  Once 
again, I AGREE	with you, Jerry, that long term contracts 
would be very helpful.  But I disagree strenuously that this 
board (or your board/s or others before you) were remiss 
for not (somehow) insisting on longterm contracts.

I'll quit for now.  Only say that I think your 900 student 
number is as far off base as your original "dropout" 
number was.  You raise points some of which are worthy 
of further examination.  And certainly the allocation of 
funds is a continuing battle on many fronts.  Somewhere 
in your comments is the notation "It is time to demand 
more and also to fund it properly."  I guess that is the part 
that says vote for the levy.  Because you also say, "I
wonder, if voting on a  levy increase will cause just more
of the same."  Jerry you sat on the board, so I have to 
assume that you know how easy it is to take potshots at 
the district ("they have forgotten we own the district") and 
how damaging one unsubstantiated rumor, one mistake 
in data distribution, and one unfair conclusion from data 
can be.  Please consider participating in the solutions to 
problems and to helping clearly identify them, gain 
community input, and promoting a clear understanding of 
goals and the costs to achieve them.

I am an educational bonehead.  I don't know education-
speak.  I'm a parent and community member the same 
as most readers of this service.  I question the same things 
others do.  Most of the above is off the top of my head 
from recollection, some from reviewing the article in 
Offspring, some from talking to SchoolMatch, a few 
district employees.  I'll get some more data and pass it 
along.  I'm sending copies of this to several administrators 
in the district to correct my errors and add to the thoughts. 
 But, of course, they have a district to run and may not 
immediately have the extra hours to give that it takes to 
track down relevant data and draw reasoned conclusions. 
Some are still working on the prior information regarding 
student contact time.  What is a fair comparison of the 
contact time between a district that has 180 contact days 
and ours with 168 next year?  That is not a question that 
has a quick and simple answer.  Does the district at 180 
include partial days as a full contact day?  Are the school 
days the same (if for example the 168 day district has 30 
minutes of class more per day for 168 days per year, that's 
84 hours per year or 18 DAYS more per year.  That means 
that the 168 day district is actually having MORE contact 
hours than the 180 day district even if the 180 day district 
has no partial days included.--Data--a wonderful thing that 
must be used carefully.)  I'll be back with an answer when 
I get it from those who know.  And if our contact time is 
below where it should be without justification (we aren't 
getting something in return for those hours/days), then I'll 
be all for reviewing next year's calendar to see if we can 
make it better.  But until we have better information and 
explanation of why it's the way it is, I don't have a 
proposed answer.

I thank you for your continued interest and for your 
tireless efforts on behalf of education.  

Mike Curley

On 5 Apr 02, at 1:01, Gerald Weitz wrote:

Date sent:      	Fri, 05 Apr 2002 01:01:02 -0600
To:             	"John Davis" <>,
From:           	Gerald Weitz <>
Subject:        	Re: Class size
Copies to:,,,,,

The question I pose deals with the present approach of
reductions across the district rather than cutting where the
effect would be minimal assuming the levy passes. 
the research  that I have reviewed ( I am not an expert)
talks about the need to keep the class size low during the
first years. This is where the affect is the greatest.  The
problem that must be solved is  the pressing need for
technical-professional education rather the predominance 
college tracking.  My experience (Being an exchange 
in Germany and hosting 17 exchange students), traveling 
in a
number of different countries, Chairing the School-to-
committee, working with the Albertson's foundation and 
Federal Government on Pro-Tech throughout the state, 
reveals that MSD has not kept pace and  effectively has
rejected this form of education. (Call Don Eshelby
(208-334-3216) for complete information about the other
public school systems in Idaho that do not have a white
collar bias.)

  I had the opportunity this summer to interview the Editor
  of the Chinese 
National English-Language Newspaper(XinHau).  The hot 
is Pro-Tech.   Of course this applies to the urban areas. 
Rural China is much different.  However 65% of their high
school grads are going to college in the major cities. 
Urban =25% and is going up.  Presently, their colleges are
doubling in student population every three years.  The 
are solely borne by the student.  They have banks at every
University.  Interesting for a communist country which is 
an accelerated rate of capitalism and basic freedoms. 
America now relies on foreign immigration for our 
work force.  How many of our own youth will have to be 
behind economically because our public system refuses to
change its approach and emphasis?

We talk about equality and simply do not practice the
concept in the application of education.  When one 
the Pullman numbers, they have not forgotten this  form of
education.  Hence, if small class size is not used wisely,
other segments of the student population are 
Recall that this distinct had about $500,000 spent on it to
make Votech happen. Plus a wide variety of community 
dedicated themselves to have this change occur.  We had
focus groups,  town hall meetings, and were on public
Television.  This district was recognized as the most
forward thinking district in the state.  It was honored and
recognized by the IEA, etc. Further, the district was given
the opportunity to enter into a partnership with the
National Guard for a skills center.

Think of this concept;  dual enrollment would free up 
at the high school. For example, I worked with an 
bright student that just dropped out. This student would
have benefited from the opportunity of dual enrollment. 
of the drops of enrollment happen due to this issue. 
Pullman will tell you that they gain enrollment from the
privates due  to dual enrollment.  A recent Daily News
article talked about Idaho having the second largest
increase in idle teenagers.  The article goes  talks about
our lack of vocational education.  It discussed the plight
of the alternative student.  MSD Strategic Planning and
present discussions do not address either of these.  I
wonder, if voting on a  levy increase will cause just more
of the same.

There are over 900 students that do not avail themselves 
our system.  I think that this question  must be brought
forward and changes must be instituted. Recall that the 
is a permanent levy.  This is rarely used in the state.  I
believe there are 3 others districts.  Call Sue Driskill for
the specifics.  I believe that the community has been left
out of decisions since 1992.  It starts showing up in the
enrollment declines and the decrease in academic
performance. For example, during Alethia Fasolino's 
our district average of 8 to a height of 12 National Merit
Semifinalists.  L:ast four years average was four.  I
believe the district has forgotten that we own the district,
it is ours and that not all the expertise is held by the
inside educator.  It is time to demand more and also to 
it properly.  Pullman is considered one of the 100 best
public school districts in the nation.  We have the
advantage since we are not held down by as many 
and have more local control (in theory).  We could be the
best in the nation.

I resigned from the Board because there had to be 
made and it was not possible to be on the Board and 
make it
happen.  I am a devoted advocate of public education,
however I can not stand up blindly and pat this district on
the back for not being willing to be the best and for not
educationing all students with equality and equally.  This
district is noted for needless internal conflict.  Example,
as  freshman I was trust into a 9 month labor dispute.  
term and fair labor contracts would have eliminated this.
Nobody is talking about this.  Another example about how
this district reacts, when I went to the classroom, I found
teachers and their students in overheated classrooms 110 
Since my orientation is in real time, I made a considerable
effort to change those conditions.  What most do not 
was the complete hostility that ensued.  A benign project,
yet everything was a fight..  Hence, it will have to be the
CQE with devoted folks to be the vanguard for change.  
a few insights. Thanks for reading this.  Jerry

At 12:51 PM 04/03/2002 -0800, John Davis wrote:
>Ah, perhaps a bit of clarification regarding Weitz’s
>commentary regarding information provided by Bob
>West—specifically regarding class size.
>There actually is a significant body of research that has
>been conducted on class size which demonstrates a positive
>effect upon student achievement in classes around 20.  Most
>notably is the meta-analysis studies by Smith & Glass
>(1978), followed with similar investigations by Robinson &
>Wittebols (1986), and Slavin (1989).  A more recent study
>by Wenglinsky (1997) examining data from over 180 school
>districts across the US supports conclusions mentioned
>above.  In addition, several large-scale longitudinal
>studies in the states of Indiana & Tennessee (Prime Time,
>1984, STAR, 1985, and Project Challenge (1990) also provide
>significant evidence supporting small class size correlated
>with positive student achievement.
>With that said (and as with all research), there are
>certainly investigations which do not support the
>aforementioned studies.  In most cases the samples were
>small, extraneous variables were not controlled, and the
>conclusions were invariably tied to ‘significant extra
>costs are not worth the increases in achievement’.  My and
>the rest of my community’s children are certainly worth the
>$8-$10 or even $50 more per month to maintain a quality
>educational environment.
>Here is a nice overview of the research:
>What is also ignored is the input from the professionals:
>the teachers who manage both small and large classrooms. 
>Through the years I have heard comments from community
>patrons, legislators, business-persons, and parents
>suggesting that, based on their 1-hour visits, that having
>a large classroom is not really a problem.  Which is the
>same as saying, upon concluding a 1-hour visit to a
>hospital ER during a quiet period, that there really are
>not very many people who require emergency services so why
>spend the money?
>Just think for a minute about being confronted with the
>daunting task of managing the educational, social,
>emotional, and psychological well-being of 20, much less 30
>or 35 students for a 7-8 hour block of time; and, not have
>the monies to really be able to do what you could do
>(educationally), AND be paid a rather small salary to do
>this.  Now do this every day.  And spend time on the
>weekends and holidays and summers to ‘upgrade’ professional
>skills and knowledge.  You are just beginning to understand
> the concept of ‘teacher’.
>Intuitively, you realize that smaller class = higher
>quality environment yielding a more positive overall
>experience—that being achievement, to say the least.  All
>of this of course assumes that you have a qualified,
>knowledgeable, caring person as the teacher—that is a
>given.  Does that mean that with the class of 20 you will
>still have some people who do not achieve as they could or
>should?  Of course.  So listen to what your professional
>educators (Moscow teachers) say—they know very well what
>they are talking about.  Do you rely on advice from your
>doctor, lawyer, dentist, fire-persons, police electrician,
>and plumber (I left out a lot—not intended)? 
>Absolutely—or, we get a second opinion. . . right?
>With all that has been presented, please remember the
>mandate in the US: provide a free, equal, and
>non-discriminatory educational environment/experience for
>all children (through about 16 depending on the state)
>regardless of race, color, creed, ethics, religion,
>socioeconomic status, or physical/emotional/cognitive
>disability.  It is truly amazing what we do in the US—if in
>doubt, go to most any public school in most any other
>country and see if they do exactly the same. . .
>With all that is being decided upon for the upcoming levy
>(and well into the future) we need to be careful about
>obtaining and presenting information. In this case, it is
>more than just reasonable to support the concept of
>maintaining smaller class size—that is a variable we can
>control and have done so quite well thus far in Moscow.
>John Davis
>______ MSN Photos is the easiest way to share and print
>your photos:

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