Quarterly Meeting Agenda
Wednesday, August 19, 1998
Jefferson Junior High School
Please note: a picture I.D. is required for admittance.
Quarterly Meeting Summary
August 19, 1998
Jefferson Junior High School
"America Goes Back to School"
Welcome and Introductions
Shay Bilchik, Vice Chair and Administrator, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP)
Shay Bilchik convened the meeting, welcoming members of the Coordinating Council and audience. Mr. Bilchik thanked Vera White, Principal of Jefferson Junior High School, and Arlene Ackerman, Superintendent of D.C. Public Schools, for hosting the meeting.
Ms.Ackerman welcomed the group and stated that they are preparing for the opening of school September 1, adding -- to applause -- that D.C. public schools will open September 1. The schools have adopted more challenging academic standards, have implemented principal and teacher evaluations that tie performance to student achievement, and have increased the number of professional days. They have also built partnerships with the community to create a safe environment for children at the schools and between homes and schools.
This year, the school system is developing Peaceable Schools, a comprehensive K-12 initiative, that will require all schools to have peer mediation plans within 2 years. During the year, junior high, middle, and alternative schools will begin to provide wrap-around services for young people, especially at-risk students, that include mediation and conflict resolution. Last year, 35,000 D.C. students took the pledge against gun violence. On October 8, all 77,000 kids will take the pledge. The schools will continue to collaborate with the D.C. Police Department and the Department of Justice (DOJ) in dealing with violence. She thanked everyone for coming.
Mr. Bilchik described his own fond memories of preparing for school. By creating a similar environment of excitement for our children when they go back to school, he said, we can diminish their fears about substance abuse and peer pressure. He then introduced Attorney General Janet Reno.
Attorney General Reno commended Superintendent Ackerman for her sense of vision and the hope she conveyed in her plan for D.C. Public Schools. Attorney Reno also thanked Vera White for her work at Jefferson Junior High, especially with the Challenger Learning Center. She welcomed Judge William Byars from South Carolina, a new practitioner member of the Coordinating Council, and Chairman William Ivey, National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), an active supporter of the Council. She thanked Secretary Richard Riley, Department of Education, for participating, remarking that she remembers her own teachers fondly, especially those who gave her confidence to become a lawyer.
Attorney General Reno said that DOJ has formed a partnership with schools because schools understand their needs and resources better than DOJ does. Her administration wants to work with other agencies to help schools meet their needs and give training and technical assistance when needed. She thanked D.C. public school teachers for their inspiration, especially when she sees them giving up days during their summer vacations to take conflict resolution courses. She concluded by saying that today's meeting would focus on the positive.
"America Goes Back to School"
Secretary Riley said that he always tells school-aged young people that they are at the age when they make important, character-defining decisions about their lives. He applauded Ms. White's leadership in the Character Education Program at Jefferson Junior High School and the new source of energy Ms. Ackerman has brought to D.C. public schools. He said that the Department of Education is pleased to have invested $5 million in D.C. schools to give more than 20,000 young people summer school courses to help them master the basics.
Secretary Riley and Attorney General Reno recently held a "listening session" at T. C. Williams High School in Alexandria, VA. One of the powerful messages they heard was that "connection" and being "connected" through extracurricular activities and relationships with caring adults help children stay out of trouble. Too many young people grow up alone. Adults must slow down and reconnect with children. Thirty years of research show that families involved in their children's education define positive expectations for their children.
The Partnership for Family Involvement in Education program, which began with 40 organizations and now has more than 4,000 members, is at the heart of "America Goes Back to School" efforts. When communities form partnerships with schools, good things happen. Because of this, they have chosen the theme "Get Involved, Stay Involved." The Department of Education has also published the new guide "Questions Parents Ask About Schools."
Their back-to-school effort has three major themes:
Parents have the false impression that college is out of reach, but again, Secretary Riley said, it is important that they get information early about financial aid and require their children to take the right courses. A recent study showed that 71 percent of low income students who took geometry went to college.
There is more financial help now than ever before, including improved Pell grants, work-study programs, post tax credits, new lifetime learning tax credits, and easier ways to pay off student loans. The Department of Education has a toll-free number to request information: 800 - USA - LEARN. There are many documents available on the topic, which can be copublished with the Department.
When families, community organizations, and religious and educational groups work together, children thrive. When we provide outlets for kids' energy, Secretary Riley said, including afterschool programs, and give them hope for their future, including college, then we can reduce delinquency and juvenile violence.
Learning Disabilities and Juveniles in Corrections Facilities
Attorney General Reno stated that children in corrections facilities are often forgotten or recycled in the system. It is also important to give them a strong and positive future.Twenty-eight percent of children in corrections facilities have learning disabilities. OSERS and OJJDP are working together to improve education and services to these children.
Judith Heumann stated that education is a critical issue in these facilities because many children cannot read and failed to do so by the third grade. The time that they spend in these institutions is an important time for teaching them to read; therefore, the two offices will embark on a 5-year initiative to determine ways to improve educational services to children with learning and behavior problems.
Comments on Drug-Related Issues
Attorney General Reno then introduced General McCaffrey whose vision it is, she said, to give kids their own vision of the future. General McCaffrey thanked Reno and referred the audience to The National Drug Control Strategy, 1998. He pointed out the office's Web site address on the back cover, stating that this site gives information of use to educators, including how ONDCP will use $17 million in resources throughout the country this year.
General McCaffrey pointed out that America's schools are the safest place for kids. They are in a supportive environment surrounded by the greatest number of caring, educated adults. Eighty percent of kids aged 12 - 17 have never touched illegal drugs.
But, he said, drugs are a problem for all of us. With Secretary Donna Shalala, Department of Health and Human Services, he will release the preliminary results from the 1997 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse on August 21, 1998. The survey will demonstrate the statistical correlation between drug use and the impairment of learning. Forty percent of tenth grade students reported alcohol use one month before the survey. Thirteen percent of eighth graders reported having tried a drug before the survey. Drug use is not a problem of the cities, minorities, or the emotionally ill. The highest rates of drug abuse are found among middle income whites. General McCaffrey also cited drug and alcohol problems among physicians and anesthesiologists. The Federal Government has allocated $8 million to Washington, D.C.'s drug problem, with their number one priority being prevention. Funding for prevention under the National Drug Control Strategy has increased 33 percent in the last 3 years.
Six other efforts include:
He commended public school teachers and principals for their work with children and then introduced Donald Vereen, Jr., M.D., MPH, Deputy Director, ONDCP.
Dr. Vereen said that data should determine what is done in schools, not dogma. ONDCP translates that data into policy. He said today he wanted to teach the lesson that there is no such thing as "safe drug abuse." Kids think it is okay to do drugs once or twice a month. His goal is to educate American youth to reject drugs because they are risky, dangerous, and contribute to bad decisionmaking.
Drugs affect the brain, creating sensations of pleasure. Unfortunately, youth don't know the other effects of drugs on the brain. A marijuana toke may create immediate pleasure, but it also affects short-term memory, which interferes with learning. A long-term, perhaps permanent, effect on the frontal lobes of the brain is to leave the user without motivation. In addition, when kids smoke marijuana, they are 85 times more likely to use heroin. Kids who reject drugs, he concluded, become adults who reject drugs.
Mr. Bilchik then asked the audience, particularly Washington, D.C., principals, if they had questions or suggestions. He also invited members of the Coordinating Council to respond and make comments.
Attorney General Reno responded to a question from a CNN reporter about afterschool programs that both summer and afterschool programs are extremely important in a child's development. These can be in partnership with the Federal Government, community youth centers, or religious organizations, and should involve activities other than sports. According to the Carnegie Foundation, children are more alone now than at any time in history. Crime statistics show that more crimes are committed at the end of the school day than at any other time. Because of this, police chiefs have taken the lead in calling for afterschool programs.
General McCaffrey added that ONDCP will collaborate with HHS and 62 civic associations such as Kiwanis, 100 Black Men, and Boys and Girls Clubs to find ways to engage young people between the hours of 3:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. and on weekends.
Secretary Riley stated that the Twenty-first Century Learning Center Program was appropriated $40 million last year, with a request of $200 million this year. This program would fund arts, music, computers, supervised athletics, academics, etc. They have funded 98 programs out of 2000 applications. The number of applications submitted indicates the need for after school programs.
Joel Ginsberg, National Partnership for Reinventing Government, stated that his office is looking at ways the government can better deliver services to communities. One of their projects focuses specifically on afterschool programs in several cities.
Ann Rosewater, HHS, stated that her agency supports communities in providing afterschool activities through child care and development block grants. Washington, D.C. is using some these resources for community learning centers. The District has awarded 20 grants to community-based organizations to expand school-age childcare slots by 400. These organizations are now supporting an A.A. program at the University of the District of Columbia to train youth service workers.
Jack Calhoun, practitioner member, National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC), said that NCPC's analysis of the school shooting issue relates to the "awesome aloneness" children experience, their depression, anger, lack of caring adults, and "the obscene availability of firearms." Even with this rich array of programs, every single adult must be there for a child.
Alise Stallworth, PTA member and parent of two children at D.C. Public Schools, one at Jefferson, said she would like to see more funding for after school programs and parenting classes.She stated that adults are hypocritical to preach to kids about drugs and alcohol and then drink socially in front of them.
Examples of National and Local "America Goes Back to School" Activities
Shay Bilchik then introduced Maudine Cooper and Milton Little of the National Urban League, who discussed the Campaign for African-American Achievement.
Ms. Cooper stated that her local program, the Campaign for Student Achievement, includes all children in the city -- one of the most diverse cities in the country. The purpose of this program is not "to nibble around the edge of the problem" but to make a serious difference in the lives of a substantial number of children by developing a sustainable program having serious evaluation and measurable outcomes.
Resources are not always monetary; they can be volunteers, in-kind services, equipment, or kind words. The campaign wants to ensure that all the resources are present. Because schools are in place to address academic achievement, they cannot address other issues such as the drug problem, aftercare, and so on. This campaign will work to improve children's social polish, navigational skills, sense of history, and self-worth. The campaign is working with 11 partners, including America's Promise, Creative Associates, Department of Parks and Recreation, D.C. Public Schools, Gamma Phi Delta, Boys and Girls Club, Reading is Fundamental, Points of Light, YMCA, and others. At the national level, funding comes from State Farm Insurance and Sears, Roebuck, Inc. No money will come from the D.C. Public Schools.
The campaign will focus on six schools having 3,400 students in the Anacostia section of Washington, D.C. in an area referred to in the campaign as the Education Empowerment Zone. "Achievement Matters" is the campaign's theme. Their 3-year pilot project will offer evening and Saturday programs, parental programs, library programs, and other activities, depending on what the community wants. Evaluation will be undertaken by the McKenzie Group because to ensure measurable outcomes so that the program can be replicated elsewhere in the city. In addition to partnering with the National Urban League on this program, the Greater Washington Urban League has developed partnerships with Federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Commerce's Small Business Administration (SBA). They will also recruit the physically challenged and senior citizens, as well as local groups such as the Twin Readers Club, in which members (a child paired with an adult) read to each other on the phone.
Milton Little brought greetings from Hugh Price and Arthur Martinez, Sears chairman, CEO, and supporter of the National Urban League for the Campaign, who were both unable to attend. He described the Urban League's broad goals, which are to create, support, and sustain the community infrastructure necessary for children to grow. The League's work is based on three premises:
The Urban League's role is to facilitate the work of organizations and individuals nationwide and to engage public awareness to promote local problem solving focused on children's social and academic development. The League wants to convince young people that academics matter and to create a market demand for better public schools.
Some of the Urban League's activities include Achievement Matters month in September during which ministers will preach about the importance of academic performance, block parties and parades to honor young achievers, African-American recognition societies, and Hugh Price Achievement Day. Corporate involvement includes Sears and State Farm whose support totals $2 million for national work, media work, and affiliated programs.
Mr. Bilchik commended the Urban League's formulation of a response around assets rather than risk factors, as well as their cross-disciplinary work and partnership building.
General McCaffrey mentioned the importance of community coalition building, citing the Drug- Free Communities Support Program that ONDCP, HHS, and DOJ began with a modest $10 million. Community coalitions will be built from $100,000 or less and will increase from 4,000 nationwide to 14,000 in the next 5 years.
Mr. Bilchik stated to continue this meetings discussion he would like to focus on exploring partnerships and working across disciplines within the faith community. He then introduced Reverend Justus Reeves.
Reverend Justus Y. Reeves, Minister of Education, Shiloh Baptist Church, Washington, D.C.
Reverend Reeves, member of the Parental Partnership Involvement for Learning steering group, discussed the role of churches as partners in addressing the needs of children. The religious community is one of the principal places where learning takes place. Founded in 1863, the Shiloh Baptist Church's earliest Sunday school classes taught men and women coming out of slavery. The church founded the Family Life Center 20 years ago, which has been their principal outreach to the city. It currently sponsors a math and science learning center, youth enhancement program, adult education and job placement center, and a child development center for 80 children up to age 5. The church has a partnership with Seaton Elementary School. Shiloh Baptist Church emphasizes serving the whole person -- body, mind, and spirit.
Herb Jones, Department of the Treasury, asked about the role of the church in reducing drug abuse and violence. Reverend Reeves spoke about the church's community-based services. Church leaders have found that talking openly about problems and their root causes is the best approach. The Shiloh Baptist Church is an open place where anyone can come in and talk about anything. The ministers also walk through the neighborhood and rarely call in police officers. Rev. Reeves cited Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, CA, which has physicians who work with drug addicts at the church, as an example of a church doing excellent community work.
Attorney General Reno then asked Reverend Reeves and the audience what they would do if they were Attorney General. Reverend Reeves commented that, when there is an arrest, he would get everyone together to craft an individualized plan for the child.
The floor was then open to comments and questions. Diane Powell of the Student Intervention Support Services, D.C., noted the importance of bringing law enforcement and education together, as well as the importance of conflict resolution.
A senior policy analyst from the National Community Action Agency commented that there is no incentive to coordinate services when groups are territorial. Other questions about continuity of Federal funding were asked by members of the audience. Mr. Bilchik stated that they were hopeful that funding for prevention would not be cut and hoped that funding for local communities would increase. He noted that OJJDP would continue to share information about best practices and additional resources.
A University of Maryland student working at National Institute of Justice (NIJ) commented on the importance of mentoring and getting kids' input on their needs. Attorney General Reno again mentioned the town hall meeting she and Secretary Riley had attended and underlined the importance of mentor training.
Helen Cooks of Sasha Bruce Youth Work, a leader in the learning resource center there and retired D.C. public school teacher, asked Ms. Cooper if her program involved parents and if they had considered the fact that District children living in residences and group homes often get lost in the cracks. Ms. Cooper stated that through a State grant, her group can bring no-cost parenting workshops and other services to children in group homes.
Bernadine Francis, mother of three, one of which is at Jefferson, stated that psychological services in schools are extremely important but underfunded.
Mr. Jones commended Reverend Reeves and the clergy for their contributions. Reverend Reeves offered to identify churches that work successfully with children.
Attorney General Reno thanked the speakers and the audience, especially the students and teachers. "Don't ever, ever give up," she said, noting that the efforts discussed at the meeting are making a difference for children in schools even though there is still a long way to go. "What we've done in the last 10 years can only be multiplied by those that care in this room," she said.
Mr. Bilchik thanked Gina E. Wood, staff director for planning the meeting. The meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.
The Honorable William R. Byars, Jr.
Jack A. Calhoun
John S. Gomperts
Nancy G. Guerra, Ph.D.
Judith E. Heumann
William J. Ivey
Herbert C. Jones
Michael J. Mahoney
The Honorable Barry R. McCaffrey
The Honorable Janet Reno
The Honorable Richard W. Riley
Donald R. Vereen, Jr., M.D., M.P.H.
Rose W. Washington
Gina E. Wood