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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Soccer Goals And School Goals

Sports competition yields immediate results. There's no waiting to find out who won and who didn't. The scoreboard provides a public account of the efforts of those participating. Academic progress is measured at a far different pace. The "season" is longer in the classrooms and schools and the outcome may not be realized until long after each learner leaves the school. The results aren't truly known until the graduates depart school and enter the workplace with the expectation of applying the knowledge and skills they acquired in their education.

While we have long been aware of the success our girls varsity soccer team encountered on the playing field, we were only recently notified of the official confirmation of their achievements in the classroom. The members of the squad repeated their performance of last year when they were cited by the New York State Public High School Athletic Association as a Scholar-Athlete Team. This distinction acknowledges that the team's collective grade point average exceeded 90.

Scoring goals on the soccer field and meeting lofty goals in the classroom.  That's been a hallmark of this great group of young ladies. They have consistently represented our community with pride and determination. Their experience generates considerable promise and prospect for the future, when they will be tested in the job market.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Stress Mess

Our school is in the second year of systematically promoting relationship building between staff members and learners through a mentor program that periodically connects individual staff members with small groups of learners. We had our regular 40 minute mentor meeting today.

There is a curriculum available for staff members to use as an instructional guide throughout these interactions. The curriculum provides topics and activities on a variety of experiences, such as safety, health tips, and much more. The objective isn't solely focused on developing relationships, but also on imparting knowledge as well.

Today's theme was timely and perhaps a reflective of the state of our society in general. The issue was stress. I certainly didn't know or understand the word when I was in elementary school. The world was very different then. I remember bomb drills in third grade when there was a threat of Russian missiles striking the U.S. from Cuba during the famous Cuban Missile Crisis of the Kennedy presidency. That fear aside, I believe that I am not acquiescing to nostalgia when I claim that there were far fewer sources of anxiety and worry back then than there is now.

The shrinking economy has certainly seemed suffocating and produces a sizeable amount of stress to families and, in turn, children. Those learners nearing graduation with hopes for the future face the immense pressure of a challenging job market. Social media, despite offering communication benefits, also allows for some to exploit the technology by expressing vicious vitriol from a distance safe to the bully sender and too close to the receiving victim. There are a myriad number of stressors that litter the path of people. While it's appropriate for the school to discuss stress and its effect and how to deal with it, it's nonetheless a sad commentary on our society that it is a subject that merits consideration for young children.

Here's to a collective New Year's resolution that 2012 will bring hope and good fortune to all.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Whole Is Greater Than The Sum Of The Parts

Last Friday marked a day long workshop of our District Leadership Team (DLT). This shared decision making group represents parents, learners, staff and administration. The members served their constituents by expressing interests and discussing issues that impact the learning community.

It's a reaffirming exercise in that each individual can volunteer opinions and suggest ideas designed to advance the progress of the school district. The integration of multiple perspectives lends credence to our efforts at improving Green Island Union Free School District. Perhaps, most importantly, is the vantage point of the high school learners present at the meeting. It's fairly easy for well intentioned adults to act on what they perceive to be meaningful and relevant within the school environment and otherwise presumptuously overlook what really matters to the learners. Losing sight of the orientation of those we serve is a dangerous prospect. That's why it's vital to extend an opportunity for the learners to voice their views on the issues at hand.

We examined the mission of the district to determine whether that remained an appropriate compass. Then we reviewed data previously collected from a survey administered to staff, learners, and parents a few years ago. That offered a baseline to measure any progress since that point. The decision was made to solicit opinions on the school district once again to maintain an awareness of how people feel toward our performance. In preparation for that, we revised survey questions to elicit specific feedback in the form of values and beliefs regarding areas that now warrant closer attention.

The general discussions were beneficial. The various contributions made for a rich exchange of ideas that helped prevent any blind spots for the group. I appreciated the willingness of parents and learners to present their thoughts. As the superintendent of the school district I welcome the active participation of these stakeholder groups. The staff members were respectfully accommodating and did not discount the opinions of constituent groups that are often marginalized in the school improvement process. Together, we will propel the system toward greater achievements. We will meet again on January 10th as we pursue a path of progress..

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Will The Grinch Steal The Arts?

Tonight marked the second of our two Christmas concerts. This well attended event offered children in grades 3-6 an opportunity to showcase their musical skills to an appreciative audience. In addition, evidence of art work created by learners decorated the stage and added to the festivity. Every school traditionally boasts similar programs throughout the country. But how much longer will the arts be featured in our schools?

Fiscal problems continue to negatively impact education. The opposing forces of increased performance expectations and decreased revenues available to support education have often placed the arts programs in the cross-hairs of those thirsting for budget cuts. The state mandated assessments in Reading, Language, and Math prompt schools to disproportionately allocate ever scarce resources of money and time in those areas to prepare learners for the tests. Failure of the schools to meet projected standards of performance in these tested subjects results in public humiliation in the form of headlines broadcasting the school's status as a School In Need of Improvement - or worse.

The absence of statewide tests in the arts renders them less valuable in the minds of too many people. After all, a layperson could conclude that if a subject was truly important then it would be tested. That alone could contribute to a painful misconception among those that impact annual budget approvals.

However, tonight's concert offers several reasons why the arts are a vital part of school and an essential element in the learning dynamic. The experience of performing in public, while it causes anxiety to some, is a great platform upon which one may build self-confidence. Our society leans heavily toward verbal skills as an indicator of success. What better way to develop an orientation toward communicating in public than singing in a group before an audience? The songs in this evening's program involved several from other cultures in other languages. The arts are universal in their appeal across borders and politics. The arts have long served civilization by reflecting, interpreting, and transmitting the history,customs, and beliefs of mankind. The arts represent a significant indicator of our quality of life.

Furthermore, the arts engage learners in creative experiences that promote expanded boundaries of thought. The ability to express oneself in various mediums and explore possibilities through innovation allows us to stretch outside the conventional parameters that confine other learning disciplines. New and puzzling dilemmas are often solved with alternative interventions rather than time honored responses.

Here's an appropriate reference, an excerpt from Why Arts Education is Crucial, and Who's Doing it Best, by Fran Smith.

"Involvement in the arts is associated with gains in math, reading, cognitive ability, critical thinking, and verbal skill. Arts learning can also improve motivation, concentration, confidence, and teamwork. A 2005 report by the Rand Corporation about the visual arts argues that the intrinsic pleasures and stimulation of the art experience do more than sweeten an individual's life -- according to the report, they "can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing," creating the foundation to forge social bonds and community cohesion. And strong arts programming in schools helps close a gap that has left many a child behind: From Mozart for babies to tutus for toddlers to family trips to the museum, the children of affluent, aspiring parents generally get exposed to the arts whether or not public schools provide them. Low-income children, often, do not. "Arts education enables those children from a financially challenged background to have a more level playing field with children who have had those enrichment experiences,'' says Eric Cooper, president and founder of the National Urban Alliance for Effective Education.
It has become a mantra in education that No Child Left Behind, with its pressure to raise test scores, has reduced classroom time devoted to the arts (and science, social studies, and everything else besides reading and math). Evidence supports this contention but the reality is more complex. Arts education has been slipping for more than three decades, the result of tight budgets, an ever-growing list of state mandates that have crammed the classroom curriculum, and a public sense that the arts are lovely but not essential."

In conclusion, a narrow emphasis on a limited instructional menu will likely produce narrow minded learners. In the long run, how will that process help us as we encounter unforeseen problems that require solutions unlike those that have worked before?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Forward! Charge!

Public schools have been much maligned on a conceptual level across all media outlets, with ample displays of charts, facts, and figures painting a grim picture of achievement. In addition, there have been public forums with emotionally charged language decrying the efforts of educators to increase the performance of learners.

Public schools have been subjected to harsh budget cuts sweeping across a land dominated by fiscal retrenchment and recession. Thousands of educators have lost their jobs and class sizes have increased dramatically. Resources have virtually dried up in many schools after already slashing programs and practices.

Public schools have been too quick to retreat and sulk away to a darkened corner to hide and wait out the storms with hopes of sunnier days sometime in the future.

That's not a reaction that is constructive or positive. That's why our Board of Education held a "Board Advance" in August 2010 rather than a "Board Retreat." Haven't we retreated enough in public education? Acting defensively and surrendering to reality will not serve our children and their hopes and dreams. We need to stop focusing on "what is" and start planning "what will or can be."

The purpose of our advance was to review the past, examine data, and invent our future. We needed to develop a commitment to look ahead and adopt a proactive perspective, unfettered by the skepticism and defeatism that has plagued school districts that have accepted limitations resulting from the collision of decreased funding and conventional practices. It's time to discover alternatives and seek creative solutions. Maintaining the same direction when confronted by significant changes doesn't bode well.

For example, we face competition from charter schools, private schools, and parochial schools. Anytime we lose a learner who opts to enroll in one of these schools as opposed to attending Heatly, we lose state aid. In addition, we have to pay for transportation and textbooks to private and parochial schools. Beyond that, we pay tuition to charter schools (approximately $14,000 for each learner). That, on top of declining state aid exacerbates our fiscal problems.

What to do? Improve customer service and show staff members how we are all impacted by a loss in enrollment. A loss of revenue means a loss of jobs.Investing in communication, marketing, and relationship management was a start. Expanding the breadth of our curriculum at the high school level was essential to thwart further abandonment by learners leaving for the enriched course selection unavailable in small schools. Supplementing our regular classes with a menu of on-line learning classes exceeding 100 courses proved to be an alluring opportunity. In fact, we were able to cite this feature as a reason one learner decided to remain at Heatly rather than depart for an alternative placement. That single retention allowed us to save an amount of money nearly equal to the cost of the on-line programming. That's an investment, not an expenditure!

There's more to do - perhaps college courses during high school, maybe a school to work internship program. We're moving ahead, looking around corners and peering over horizons. We're not standing still and our strategy isn't "wait and see."

We'll provide periodic updates in this Blog as we chronicle our progress. Until then, we're working on inventing the future, not predicting it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


The nature of schools is learning. That focal point drives our purpose and meaning. Budgets represent the means to propel the teaching and learning dynamic. Despite our commitment to instruction, the reality is that money is an absolutely necessary fuel for the engine of education. The process involved at arriving at the budget is the subject of this evening's brief Blog entry.

While the end product of budget deliberations are unyielding numbers born of lengthy analysis and computation, there is so much more that is involved in bringing the total figures to the public for consideration.

John M. Bryson, author of Strategic Planning for Public and Nonprofit Organizations, refers to the Harvard Policy Model as a template for developing budgets. There are two different acronyms that form parameters for the discussions that flow during the process.

The first is: SWOT = Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. If the budget is the vehicle by which schools pursue their goals and invent the future, then it's necessary for leaders to start preparing the budget by carefully viewing the realities of the school environment and organization. Before we can extend our horizons and look around corners, we must identify sources of success, deficiencies that may thwart growth and drain resources, possibilities to reach our potential, and hazards that could imperil progress.

Next, we look outside of the school at the PEST = Political, Economic, Social, and Technological issues that impact the school. This observation requires us to evaluate the prospective influence of legislation and policy at the state and federal levels (i.e No Child Left Behind and Race To The Top). We have to be alert for economic forecasts (i.e. the significant effect the stock market has on revenues available to New York state and thus, state aid to schools). Emerging social trends can often reach into the school in terms of community expectations and perceptions that might shape financial decisions on programming and policy. Clearly, the constant advances in technology (computers, data management software systems,...) also must be incorporated into creating the budget.

We will be unwrapping the shape and form of our budget in the coming months, after reviewing all of the factors related to SWOT and PEST. The resulting document will offer the district a platform for building the future and meeting the needs of our learners as they pursue their dreams and hopes.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Twittering Away

I love to read and write. I have a deep appreciation for the written word. There's beauty in well crafted, lyrical writing that stimulates your thinking. The library has always been a sanctuary for me. Over the years I have collected a personal library of well over 1,000 hardcover books. With all of that in mind, you can imagine how I feel about how our society has evolved (devolved?) into one in which the currency of expression is often spent in bumper sticker philosophies, sound bites, social media posts, and newspapers sporting large headlines, big graphics and small amounts of text.

Are we too busy to invest the time in engaging with books and essays? Have we become afflicted by a waning attention span that precludes us from committing the energy and effort to embrace anything beyond five minutes worth of reading? Is that why a rapidly growing number of people are a twitter about "twitter" expressions that top out at a brief 140 characters?

I have reluctantly opened a twitter account and begun spouting these short statements out into the world well beyond my computer keyboard. It's been a challenge. Brevity has not been a companion of mine but the self-discipline required of condensing thoughts has offered some benefits. It reminds me of the process whereby fractions are methodically reduced to their lowest terms in a process which shrinks the values at each step. The confines of 140 characters has prompted me to carefully examine what I want to convey to others - though I confess to occasionally linking a tweet to a lengthier extension of the point rendered in the actual tweet.

Although the twitter account was started to provide yet another venue for communicating with the public in an expansive strategy that also includes our district website, traditional hard copy newsletters, facebook, a mass "blast" of the School News Notifier that is instantly pushed through lists of email addresses and phones calls, I suspect that I signed on to twitter a bit out of a fear of being perceived as old fashioned. But, I am old experienced - with distant memories of the world before the Internet. I recall mimeograph machine produced newsletters without any color except a purplish blue(Google mimeograph since I imagine that few of you might know what it is); tangled telephone cords of real landlines; and unpacking Radio Shack's TRS 80 computers as well as Commodore VIC 20 computers (with all of 5K of RAM memory).

All of this leaves me in wonder of what the present five year old kindergarten learners will encounter on their journey into the future.

Sorry, there was no way for me to fit this reflection into a mere 140 characters.

You can follow me on twitter -

Friday, December 9, 2011

Service Orientation In Education

Our school district will soon begin preparations for an operating budget for the 2012/13 school year. Investments will be analyzed and revenue will be examined. The resulting figures will seek a balance between the needs of learners and the financial capacity of taxpayers. The community will consider the merits and value of the subsequent funding strategy at the annual budget vote in May.

We actually work at promoting the budget each and every day of school. It's ultimately about perceptions and beliefs constructed around the ongoing dynamics of interactions between and among members of the school staff and learners, as viewed by voters. People may vote on numbers as a product but budgets pass on relationships as a service. Few people are inspired by graphs and charts. It's the stream of narratives that reflect care, compassion, commitment and constancy of purpose which prompt feelings that really matter.

Think of education and consider how Harry Beckwith, author of Selling the Invisible, points out the significant differences between selling a product and selling a service. At Green Island we focus on selling the service.

Beckwith states:"A product is tangible. You can see it and touch it. A service, by contrast, is intangible. In fact, a service does not even exist when you buy one. A service is a promise. You’re selling the promise that you will do something at a future date. This means that what you are really selling is your honesty.

The products we buy are built miles away by people we have never met. So we rarely take product failures personally. The services we use, by contrast, are usually provided by people we have met or at least spoken to. When that person fails to do what he/she promised, we often take it personally.

In most professional services you are not really selling expertise – because your expertise is assumed, and because your prospects cannot intelligently evaluate your expertise anyway. Instead, you are selling a relationship. And, in most cases, that is where you need the most work. Doctors too often believe that they are selling technical proficiency as the measure of their worth, but patients more often view the relationship side as more critical. How many times have you heard someone describe a doctor with reference to his/her bedside manner as opposed to their perceived technical proficiency?
When many prospects choose a service firm, they are not buying the firm’s credentials. These prospects buy the firms personality. Most people describe their experience of interaction with a service firm on the basis of feelings. Service businesses are about relationships. Relationships are about feelings. In service marketing and selling, the logical reasons you should win the business – your competence, your excellence, your talent, - just pay the entry fees. Winning is a matter of feelings, and feelings are about personalities."
"Above all," Beckwith concludes, "sell hope."

We are presenting a case at the Heatly School that our staff can work cooperatively to advance opportunities for learners and craft the conditions and means for them to pursue their dreams, whatever direction they take. Isn't that what our stakeholders invest in? Not the achievement levels, but what these achievement levels can do. It's not what education "is," it's what education "does." In the end, education is a service, not a product.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Remember: It's About Caring

The following is the philosophy of Charles Schulz, the creator of the 'Peanuts' comic strip.
You don't have to actually answer the questions.
Just think about them and reflect.

Read the e-mail straight through and you'll get the point.

1. Name the five wealthiest people in the world.

2. Name the last five Heisman trophy winners.

3. Name the last five winners of the Miss America pageant.

4 Name ten people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.

5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.

6. Name the last decade's worth of
World Series winners.
How did you do?

The point is, none of us remember the headliners of yesterday.

These are not second-rate achievers.

They are the best in their fields.

But the applause dies.

Awards tarnish.

Achievements are forgotten.

Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.
Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List two teachers who aided your journey through school.

2. Name three friends who have helped you through a difficult time.

3. Name five people who have taught you something worthwhile.

4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special

5. Think of five people you enjoy spending time with.
Easier? The lesson:

The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the
most credentials
the most money or the most awards.

They simply are the ones who care the most.
Remember: People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


The advent of greater and more efficient technology has changed the way in which we interact with data. Let's take a look at what Theodore Levitt said about data in his book, The Marketing Imagination.

"The difference between data and information is that while data are crudely aggregated collections of raw facts, information represents the selective organization and imaginative interpretation of those facts. Information represents the imposition of order, categories, and ideas on the collected data."

We can now easily collect, store, and retrieve incredible amounts of data. Schools are immersed in data. Personal data is acquired upon enrollment. From that point on there is a steady stream flowing from telephone numbers, height and weight, medical reference points, test scores - virtually anything and everything that can possibly be measured. While the continuous improvement in technology places data at our fingertips - it's still data. It's inert and almost useless until and unless it is converted into information that can be strategically applied to make a difference and leverage progress. In other words, schools can suffer from being DRIP: Data Rich, Information Poor.

I recently joined several teachers from Heatly at a regional workshop to learn about taking advantage of the new testing program we have acquired from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA). Our school has already experienced the first of three different assessment periods. The first round of tests serve as a baseline, a platform to use to project and measure progress of each individual.

We were able to review test data and begin converting it into information that can be incorporated into instructional strategies. The figures reveal where each learner is on a spectrum of skills within the curriculum. From that point, we can determine what specific skills the learner is now prepared to engage. The information enables teachers to form temporary learning groups predicated on skills rather than the average of their overall achievement.

Too often when learning groups are formed they are ability grouped based on the grade equivalent measure of a subject. For example, two different fifth grade learners may receive the same achievement level on a test in reading. Let's say that they score a 5.6, or 5th grade sixth month. On that basis they would be perceived as similar learners and organized into a group with other learners of approximately the same score. However, when you examine the separate elements that comprise the overall reading test you might discover that one learner was high in comprehension but low in vocabulary, while the other is just the opposite, low in comprehension and high in vocabulary. On the whole, they register identical scores but in reality they have vastly different needs. Furthermore, such grouping is often static rather than dynamic. That is, once they are assigned a group they remain at that level. So, the one who needs help in vocabulary is in the same group with someone who excels in vocabulary.

Skill grouping is predicated on specific skill deficiencies. Learners are arranged and rearranged according to needs, receiving instruction in common areas of need. Once that skill is mastered they exit the group and become assigned to the next skill in the scope and sequence of the curriculum.

This constant diagnosis, prescription, intervention, and assessment represents a complicated juggling act for the teacher. Coordination of the logistics can be taxing, but opportunities for success abound.

In addition, we also obtain projections for progress that are predicated on the achievement levels and skill attainment of the learners resulting from their tests this fall. The projections point toward where the individual is expected to score when they are administered a similar test (the questions are all different) this coming spring. This metric allows us to set goals and monitor progress toward reaching the goals.

Collecting purposeful data and converting it into meaningful strategies that inform instruction will move us away from the paralysis of DRIP, DRIP, DRIP Data Rich, Information Poor.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Grain Of Sand

There are various metaphors that seek to describe the impact of teachers. Often, these expressions speak of the ripples that spread from a pebble tossed in the pond, or blossoming flowers, or trees with expansive reach into the sky. However, there are innumerable pebbles and ponds, countless fields of flowers, and many thick forests of trees, while the public considers the ranks of truly great teachers as far less in number, easier to count, and much thinner in breadth.

Actually, remarkable teachers are more numerous than one can calculate. The difference in perception may be attributed to the rather lengthy period of time between the act of teaching and the impact of teaching. That is, we are not likely to experience the effect of the greatly skilled teacher in a sudden and immediate sense, moments after the lesson is finished. Instead, we will more probably realize the benefit when confronted with a challenge or new experience long after the textbooks close and the classroom door is shut. It's when we stretch ourselves in some form or fashion and achieve success that we reflect on the words or acts of a teacher that provided the leverage needed to reach our objectives and solve our problems.

Think of sand. There are untold billions and billions of grains of sand here, there, and virtually everywhere. In fact, there's so much sand we take it for granted and overlook any benefits that might accrue from sand - in a manner much like many people view teachers.

Now think of pearls. Natural pearls, not cultured pearls. These exquisite items are valued for their beauty and may fetch a considerable amount of money. Like most anything else, supply and demand determine pricing. The fewer there is of a product or service, the more it generally costs.

What a contrast, sand and pearls. Sand is ubiquitous, while natural pearls are relatively rare.

Now, let's compare the two with a different perspective. How is a pearl created? ­"The formation of a natural pearl begins when a foreign substance slips into the oyster between the mantle and the shell, which irritate­s the mantle. It's kind of like the oyster getting a splinter. The oyster's natural reaction is to cover up that irritant to protect itself. The man­tle covers the irritant with layers of the same nacre substance that is used to create the shell. This eventually forms a pearl."

That source of the irritation that eventually results in the pearl is often a grain of sand. Substitute the word "teacher" for "leader" in the following quote by Ronald Heifitz and Riley Sinder in The Josey-Bass Reader on Educational Leadership, and you may see the influence of teachers in a much better light. “A leader’s vision is the grain of sand in the oyster, not the pearl.” (Ronald Heifitz and Riley Sinder)

Teachers, though nearly as plentiful as grains of sand, and I suspect viewed by many learners at some point as irritants, provide the stimulation that significantly contributes to producing future successes - we just don't understand the potential impact at the point we receive the service. Each child has the possibility of making a future as valuable as the pearl. It is the child who can make the pearl, it is the teacher who advances the process. 


Monday, December 5, 2011

Lesson Plans And Dreams

Eric Clark, author of The Want Makers, quotes Charles Revlon, founder of Revlon Cosmetics, as saying, “In the laboratory I make cosmetics, in the store I sell dreams.”

David Bangs and Andi Axman, who collaborated on, A Crash Course in Marketing, offer the following perception; "Recognize that people don’t buy products and services. They buy solutions to their problems or seek satisfaction of their wants and needs." Furthermore, the authors continue to explain the difference between product development and consumer motives with the following explanations:
"You don’t buy oil or natural gas – you buy heat;
You don’t buy circus tickets – you buy thrills;
You don’t buy paper – you buy the news;
You don’t buy glasses – you buy vision."
Mike Mugits claims that great teachers think, "When I design the lesson plan I create an instructional path, but when I teach I help learners grow and invent their future."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Dignity For All

I attended a conference yesterday that focused on the upcoming Dignity for All Students Act. This state legislation, which takes effect on July 1, 2012, is intended to reduce harassment and discrimination through a systemic approach that promotes an understanding of diversity, tolerance, respect, and acceptance.
The legislation (called DASA) protects against all forms of harassment, particularly those based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender or sex.
This challenge grows more difficult each day that students are exposed to the uncivil behaviors evidenced by adults in the form of some radio and TV talk shows that spew anger and hate. It appears that unbridled contempt between adversaries plays out in the media in all too frequent news stories.
The virtual anonymity of social media, emails, texting, and instant messaging has spawned negative exchanges among students that would often not happen in face-to-face interactions. We are experiencing disagreements in school that have been fueled by nasty arguments occurring through social media off school hours and out of school. 
Our school will certainly and sincerely address this growing concern, but this is not a problem confined to the educational arena. This sad commentary is ultimately a reflection on our society and we must all contribute to a solution.
Finally, I can't help but see the irony in the fact that well intended bills like DASA are often crafted by some politicians who themselves fall short of setting constructive examples of civility, courtesy, tolerance, and respect. I suspect the upcoming presidential campaign will unfortunately serve as an illustration of this dilemma in action.