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I will thank you for your excellent statement, Mr. Mercantini and hope you will convey the greetings of this subcommittee and my own to John Loughlin.
I would also welcome you, Mr. Mercantini, and ask you to convey greetings to Mr. Loughlin. I had the pleasure of meeting him some weeks ago at Atlantic City.
You heard the testimony of Dr. Bakalis?
Mr. Hansen. I am interested in your comment on the basic thrust of his testimony and particularly his recommendation that there be a very large State loan and the program be very largely State oriented.
Mr. MERCANTINI. If I could just give you Indiana's experience again, in 3 months' experience in the office, if we were to engage in detailed research in education Indiana we would need a huge amount of funds, to be very honest with you.
We analyzed the 297 people now in our department. And 82 of those are funded by the State of Indiana. The rest are funded by the Federal Government.
We have 50 other people we do have some type of control over in the State of Indiana. And these are paid by Federal funds also.
Of these 82 we find all kinds of clerks and a huge proportion in the school lunch program.
What I am saying is if we are going to give Indiana the idea of doing educational research you will have to give a great deal of money, a great deal of staff.
I think it would be better to do it on a regional basis rather than in one State.
In Indiana there are 1.2 million children in the public schools. This would be large enough to come up with a meaningful research if we had the staff, if we had the time and resources. If you pool several States in the Midwest and give them resources and work out some kind of a joint arrangement where they could compare and come up with similar systems in several States they could be compared very easily with one another.
I think it would be a better program.
Mr. HANSEN. To be initiated by the Federal legislation or to be the result of initiatives and developments among the States themselves!
Mr. MERCANTINI. Well, it could happen either way. One of the proposals I will also leave for the record is an experimental school proposal put forth by Indiana University. They list 10 different schools in 10 different States.
The university has already made contact in working out some type of an arrangement and giving the nature and personalities of various superintendents in five or six States in the Midwest. We would work it out among the superintendents themselves.
Mr. HANSEN. Thank you.
The Chair would like to ask unanimous consent to insert at this point in the record the text of a statement by John E. Desmond, president of the Chicago Teachers Union.
(The statement referred to follows:)
STATEMENT OF JOHN E. DESMOND, PRESIDENT, CHICAGO TEACHERS UNION,
CHICAGO, ILL. I have asked for the opportunity to present a statement to you today on behalf of the more than 25,000 teachers who work in the Chicago Public Schools System.
On their behalf, I thank you for the courtesy of listening to our and their concerns.
Too often the concerns, the experience, the views of those who work in the classrooms have been ignored.
Too often national, state or district-wide educational programs have been developed without the advice of the practitioners.
In recent years hundreds of new schemes for upgrading instruction in our schools have been handed to the teacher who is told on the opening day of school that this is how you do it.
The assumption has been that the teacher is a technician, who given the right kind of materials and programs, can teach children properly. If the hoped for results don't occur, then the fault must lie with the technician, not the program.
That conclusion is a naive one. It ignores educational research into the process of learning one of the most complex and least understood functions of the human personality.
It ignores the reality of what happens behind the classroom door. It ignores the role the teacher plays in stimulating that process of learning.
But the conclusion is partly right. The breakdown in the success of a specific program often occurs in the teacher's use of the new materials and the specific teaching method.
However, if you will re-examine the evaluation data of these hundreds of innovative programs you will find that the teacher who is successful with this new “innovation" is the teacher who was also successful with the "old" approach.
The United States Office of Education's immense Cooperative Research Program in Primary Reading Instruction provides ample documentation for that observation. That research showed clearly that regardless of methods or materials used, some teachers consistently produce whole classes of pupils who read significantly better than others.
And that brings me to the major point of my presentation.
A National Institute of Education, if it is to have any impact on the quality of the schools must concentrate on finding answers to these unanswered questions:
What are the qualities of a good teacher?
What kind of support services, materials and programs are crucial to a teacher's success in the classroom?
We think we, the practitioners, have found some of the answers. We would like the National Institute of Education to pursue the ways and means of verifying our conclusions.
We believe that effective teaching is the result of effective pre-service and inservice training-training in its broadest sense of a continuing developmental process.
We have recognized that concept as valid in the education of children. We believe it is just as valid in the education of teachers.
Educators have long recognized that children often learn as much or more from their peers than from their instructors if the atmosphere and conditions in the classroom are conducive to this kind of productive interchange. We believe it is just as valid to apply this principle to the on-going development of the professional skills of the teachers in the school.
As practitioners we have learned that children get more excited, more involved and consequently do better if they have a share in planning what you do in the classroom.
We believe this condition is a prerequisite for retaining enthusiasm for teaching in teachers.
That is what we practitioners "know” from our experience.
We have had great difficulty, however, in getting anyone to understand the connection between effective training, effective teaching and successful students.
So, we finally tried another course of action—we presented a demand at the bargaining table to set up model experimental programs that teachers had a hand in designing.
Nationally that is referred to as the American Federation of Teachers' "More Effective Schools Program."
In Chicago we call it Project READ.
In each city where Unions have won the right to start this kind of program, the program design has been a little different.
We think that is good but it gives educational researchers a few headaches. Project READ, now successfully implemented in three schools in Chicago, has three things in common with other More Effective Schools programs.
1. Teachers helped design the program. They weren't handed a design and told that what you have been doing was wrong, this is what you should do.
2. Each program is developmental-it changes as the teachers, in working with each other, the school administrators, the parents and the other professionals on the staff, develop their own perceptions of what their children's needs are, how well the materials match the children's needs and what other kinds of materials or approaches can be used.
3. This development of the teacher's own skills is viewed as an integral part of his professional responsibilities in the schools within the school day.
None of the Project READ or MES programs can make extravagent claims like having raised children's reading test scores two grades in two months.
We never expected them to do so.
The role of decision-makers is new to teachers. They have to do some painful groping to find satisfactory answers.
Further, the program is one of the most revolutionary in education today. It attempts to upset nearly all of the old traditional roles the principal, the teacher, the student, the counselor, the librarian and the parent play in our schools today.
Ours is a pragmatic approach to find realistic answers to pervasive educational problems. We need to find a way to bridge the gap between the pragmatic educational practitioners and the educational theorists.
If the National Institute of Education is to be a help, it must, unlike most research institutes today, be concerned with the practical aspects and applications of learning theories as they apply to the education of children and as they apply to the education of children and as they apply to the education of teachers.
A natural liaison would be in the Institute's cooperation in research, evaluation and development of the model experimental school programs which have been initiated by teacher unions.
And the Institute itself, if it is not to become an island isolated from the realities of American classrooms must use the practitioners' experience at every stage of its own development as an institution.
We mean not only educational administrators and those in the education industry but those who are in the classroom and are practically and pragmatically testing out the educational theories—the teachers.
We are asking that teachers be invited into the planning councils of the Na. tional Institute of Education, that the teachers' experience in the classrooms be used when educational researchers start talking about how to evaluate programs, how to set up programs to test out innovative approaches and what kind of model experimental programs ought to be tried.
One last plea-please do not use the need for funds for educational research as an excuse to cut back funds for school programs serving this generation of children.
(Mr. Mercantini's prepared statement of material follows:)
TESTIMONY OF SAM MERCANTINI, ASSISTANT SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC
INSTRUCTION, STATE OF INDIANA Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Congressmen, It is a pleasure and an honor to have this opportunity to testify before your subcommittee on important issues of educational research, development and innovation and upon the critical question of how educational innovations are transfered into being in the schools. My name is Sam Mercantini, and I serve as Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction in the State of Indiana. As such I have the pleasure of working with John Longhlin, an educator of great character and ability and a man whose election to the post of Superintendent of Public Instruction last fall was symbolie of the widely felt need for change in American education.
Without delving into politics, let me report to you that Mr. Loughlin was elected in Indiana with a sweeping mandate for educational change from the people of the entire State, I know that it is common for newspapers and commentators to dwell upon the fact that voters give vent to their dissatisfaction with our present educational systems by voting down bond issues. It is a pleasure, by contrast, then to report this instance-paralleled by the election of Winston Riles in California and John W. Porter in Michigan—when voters showed their faith in the future of our educational systems by voting overwhelmingly for a man committed to progress and evolution.
Education in Indiana faces a number of challenges, and we have programs on a number of fronts.
But two of our initiatives are particularly germane to the work of your subcommittee today, Mr. Chairman, and it is to those that I shall devote the rest of my testimony. The concern experimental schools and the dissemination of innovation. Erperimental Schools
The Experimental Schools program will, of course, be a part of the National Institute of Education when it comes into being, so I think it might be interesting for you to hear testimony about the meaning of such a program to a State like Indiana.
The fundamental fact which confronts any school officer is the inflexibility of his budgeting.
L'nlike business we have no elastic "promotion" funds, no flexible “development budget" and no arbitrary "discretionary" funds. Thus the manpower and the thinking time to start new developments has to come out of the effort of already overburdened administrators.
In such a situation the few tens of thousands of dollars available for planning grants through the Experimental Schools program can work wonders
Since the first round of calls for "expressions of interest" by the Experimental Schools program many programs have been developed by Indiana school districts. While a few of these have been discarded because they involve less than the 2.000 students required by the Experimental Schools guidelines, there nevertheless remain seven proposals for genuinely comprehensive experiments, and these proposals are before the Office of Education at the moment.
These proposals, diverse and exciting every one, are from the following school authorities;
The East Chicago, Indiana Public School System: "Television Communications Approach to a Multi-Cultural Experience for a Community in the Urban Condition."
Vigo County School Corporation: Letter of Intent for Experimental Schools Program (Career Development K-12)
The School City of Gary Indiana and Public Management Corporation: Letter of Interest for a program with "a performance oriented organizational structure; a managerial, as opposed to administrative, approach; a full-year, fullweek, mult-age-level, commuunity based utilization of time space; a self-develop ing instructional management team; and a heuristc, Multi-disciplinary, life oriented 'curriculum.'"
The Metropolitan School District of Wabash County: Letter of Interest for "developing an individualized instruction program."
The Monroe County Community School Corporation: Letter of Intent for individualized approaches at all levels and to allow pupils to move through the instructional program at rates which are appropriate for them as individuals."
The Division of Curriculum and Supervision, Indianapolis Public Schools: The Shortridge Total Education
The Indiana University Foundation: Letter of Interest for “the creation of an Ad Hoc Community of Alternative Schools."
In this group of proposals, Mr. Chairman, there is exhibited a creativity, a directness of approach to needed social change and a dedication to the cause of education of which any State would be proud. Indiana, Mr. Chairman, is proud of the school authorities who have compiled and submitted these proposals.
Let us briefly survey the breadth and depth of these proposals to gain an idea of what they suggest for the future of American education and the tasks that lie before the proposed National Institute of Education.
In East Chicago we find a variagated community of startlingly low income. 34% of the pupils there come from families whose income qualify them for Title I guidelines. Many are of Appalachian stock, others are Puerto Rican. Chicano and Black. The proposal of the Public School System is that the diversity of culture be not merely accepted : it is to be the core concept of the educational curriculum. Further, the medium for the multi-cultural school experience is to be the most advanced technologies possible.
Starting with the equipment already available in the studio of the Joseph L. Block Junior High School, a television studio, the school authorities intend to broadcast a multi-cultural curriculum to five schools in East Chicago.
The community, moreover, is to be involved in every stage of the creation of new curricula. At one extreme this will mean individuals hired as “cultural resource staff.” At the other end of the spectrum it might mean, for instance, that a Spanish merchant finds himself discussing prices in arithmetic classes across the city through the wonders of videotape and closed circuit cable-casting.
The projected cost increment of this adventurous and valuable program is $345,200 over and above the city's present educational budget of $9.8 million. This is a mere $3.5% increase, yet it represents a commitment to innovation which could have the most beneficial effects for the coming generation.
Naturally, I very much hope that this proposal will be funded as an Experimental Schools project.
Just as worthy is the proposed Career Development Program originated by William J. Hamrick of Terre Haute for the Vigo County School Corporation. Hamrick notes that schools in general are directed to the needs, aspirations and reward structures of the "model" child, the middle class child. While this approach is good for the many children it fits, it ignores many.
In his area, he points out, "children while enrolled in the formative elementary school ages are directly influenced by a lower-middle to lower socioeconomic value system and an ethnocentrism developed from an Ancestry of central to southern European immigrants."
The area in which he is working is a former coal mining area with a good deal of unemployment and underemployment. Significantly, here, as in East Chicago, the school officials intend to base future experimental programs upon analysis of the cultural biases in the local culture; rather than seeing their role as "remediating" the culture in place, they see the dominant social influences as factors to be addressed frankly and directly in their own terms.
To take a third example of these programs, Gary, Indiana, proposes to continue and expand its experimentation with contracted operation of schools and to expand the realm of experimentation to include a voucher program. Frankly admitting that “Our system no longer serves the present population of Gary and perpetrates underachievement, poverty and despair," the school trustees go on to say "We confidently expect that a radical program to change Gary's school system will not falter for lack of board of administration commitment."
With your permission, Mr. Chairman, I submit the East Chicago, Vigo County and Gary Letters of Intent for inclusion in your hearing record as typical of the educational experiments which Indiana authorities are hoping to carry forward.
Such experiments, Mr. Chairman, are the very stuff of reform and renewal in education and in my opinion they should be high on the list priorities for the proposed National Institute of Education. Dissemination of Research Results
As you well know, Mr. Chairman, research and experimentation cannot have an effect on education if they remain mere results reported and filed in a drawer some place.
Yet local school systems in the State of Indiana do not have the financial resources to set up programs that would enable their personnel to make effective use of the body of knowledge now being developed in the field. And at the present time there is, unfortunately, no central facility in Indiana with the capability of staff expertise to provide the extensive collection, categorization, coordination and delivery of information that is needed.
In a related area, coordination and delivery of services presently available within the Department of Public Instruction-as well as other State and Community agencies—is lacking. Because of the growth in services we provide local schools and school authorities we have offices to provide assistance in many special areas including curriculum, special education, vocational educa. tion, pupil personnel, instructional media, facilities inspection and research. These services, however, have each evolved out of particular needs at particular times. They might not, in fact, be available to particular practitioners at particular times simply because communications between the central agency and the local school or classroom have become so complex.
For this reason we are at this moment proposing the funding of a Midwest Educational Information Center to serve Indiana, but also to service Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.