Students, key educator share ideas
By Sara Thorson
The Arizona Republic
Sept. 26, 2002 12:09 AM
CENTRAL PHOENIX - Two groups of Valley students shared thoughts and ideas on
education Wednesday with an interested - and important - listener.
U.S. Undersecretary of Education Eugene Hickok talked with the students about
Arizona's dropout rate, apathetic parents, bilingual education and what makes
In town to address the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Hickok participated
in a round-table discussion with middle school and high school students at the
Phoenix Hyatt Regency. Hickok wanted to know what made
While charter students credited their success to small classrooms, Madison
Meadows eighth-grader Catherine Tamsky said she does well at a public school.
"I don't need teachers to push me; I push myself," she said.
Sam Feldman, a North High junior, told Hickok that public schools offer academic
programs such as the International Baccalaureate that challenge youngsters.
Chauncy Curtis, South Mountain senior, believes more funding should go to
classrooms. Qualified teachers equal better instruction, he told Hickok.
Earlier in the day, Hickok met with about 70 students from South Mountain
Community College's Dynamic Learning Program. The program places first- and
second-year SMCC students majoring in education in internships and core courses
before they transfer to Arizona State University's College of Education.
Hickok advised students that "it's not easy to do a good job in the classroom,
but it is critical," as he challenged them to turn around Arizona's dropout
"It's a serious challenge in Arizona. In the early years, you have to help a
young person recognize the excitement and potential they possess. That's very
tough, especially in our urban centers where these kids go home to anything but
Students asked Hickok how to deal with apathetic parents.
"I think it's a tragedy," he said. "We know that a parent can make a huge
difference, but if they aren't involved, we can't give up on the child."
On bilingual education, now curtailed in Arizona, Hickok said the result was
more important than whether a child received bilingual or English-immersion
"I don't really have a dog in that fight," he said. "I care that, in the end,
students acquire the English language and be proficient as soon as possible."
Students also had fun.
"Is your great-uncle really Wild Bill Hickok?" asked Danielle Stansell, a
first-year secondary education student.
A distant uncle, Hickok said.
Reporter Betty Reid contributed to this article.