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Hechinger seminar inspires.

What is the best way to educate our children, and how can educators be held accountable?

The raging debate continues across the United States as academics tackle the problems under a public microscope and researchers give us conflicting evaluations.

Twenty-eight editorial writers and editors heard another round of lively debate at a spring seminar on education, sponsored by the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, in partnership with NCEW.

A thought-provoking host of panelists gave us their insights on vouchers, charter schools, accountability, teacher pay, and early childhood development.

Lorraine Monroe, founder of the Frederick Douglass Academy, a public school in Harlem, was quite an inspiration. Here's a woman who would not accept mediocrity and defied the odds by turning a troubled inner-city school into a roaring success. The diplomas held by her former students from some of the country's leading colleges and universities lend testimony to Monroe's accomplishments.

Ruby Takanishi, president of the Foundation for Child Development and an expert on early childhood development, stimulated discussion on who should be served by preschool and what should be taught. Ensuring children are ready to learn when they start first grade is a continuing goal in most states.

One of the more entertaining panels featured attorney Clint Bolick and professor Alex Molnar. Bolick, vice president and director of litigation for the Institute for Justice, was a defender in the 1998 Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling upholding the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Molnar, an education professor at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee School of Education, was an expert witness against school choice in the Milwaukee case. In a heated debate, the two old foes showed they are no closer to reconciling their differences.

Perhaps not as intense but just an enlightening was an early Sunday morning session allowing seminar participants to share editorial ideas. All editorial writers shared three samples of their education editorials with a small group of fellow writers for review, critique, and discussion.

As a new editorial writer, it was interesting and motivating to hear what colleagues across the country have been doing on their pages. The session could have gone on for hours. Heated discussions occasionally had to be interrupted, and our group had to be pushed along to the next set of clips to ensure all the editorials were discussed. I learned as much from fellow writers as I did from the education professionals on the panels.

This was my third Hechinger seminar. I attended two others in my previous assignment as a higher education writer. As always, I was introduced to new ideas on dealing with old topics and countless valuable resources.

NCEW member Gloria Padilla an editorial writer with the San Antonio Express-News.

Hechinger seminars are directed by Gene Maeroff, a former national education correspondent for The New York Times. The institute is affiliated with Teachers College, Columbia University in New York City.

The weekend seminars are intense, well structured, and jam-packed with information on current education issues. The institute provides a $200 travel stipend and covers lodging and most meals, allowing a great opportunity for writers in editorial departments with limited travel and expense budgets. For information, see
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Title Annotation:educational standards
Publication:The Masthead
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 22, 2001
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