READING SELECTION A The New School Choice/ option By Mary Lord
[1] When a form letter from the school district arrived earlier this summer, Terri Wooten, PTA president at Parklane Elementary School in East Point, Ga., did what any busy, single mother of four might do. She set it aside after a quick glance. It wasn't until another parent asked about "this letter saying we have to send our kids" to another school that Wooten took a closer look. Not only was Parklane failing, she read; a new federal law gave her children the right to transfer to a school with better test scores. [2] Education reform is hitting home this summer. Early 2002, President Bush signed the mammoth No Child Left Behind Act, vowing to free "children trapped in schools that will not change and will not teach". Now, students in 8, 652 chronically low-performing schools announced by the U. S. Department of Education on July 1, 2002 must weigh whether to jump ship in the next few days?while school districts scramble (compete) to accommodate thousands of students eligible to seize that option. [3] School-choice advocates like Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, a Washington, D. C. -based proponent of charter schools, call the reforms a "wake-up call" that will prod (urge) schools to improve. But the immediate impact for many principals, teachers, and students struggling in the educational
trenches is bewilderment?and turmoil. The law, they contend (argue), sets lofty standards without telling school districts how to reach them. [4] In Chicago, the mandate?which Mayor Richard Daley recently called "ridiculous" ?would allow nearly 125, 000 of the city's pupils to transfer from 179 low-performing schools, swamping the 3, 000 available seats. Last week, the school system didn't even know if it could muster enough buses, let alone pay the drivers. Other cities face similar squeezes: New York City's numbers could top 385, 000, while Baltimore's 30, 000 eligible students will row for 194 seats in 11 schools. (Although few families typically choose to transfer, school districts still need to be prepared.) [5] The turmoil (confusion) is hardly limited to troubled urban cores. Lovejoy Elementary, the lone grammar school in St. Clair, Illinois, landed on the list of low performers. So did La Costa Canyon High, a top-achieving school in Carlsbad, Calif., that sends 98 percent of its grads to college and won a federal Blue Ribbon award for excellence in May. It "failed" because test scores for its 170 low-income children sagged by 8 points over the past two years. And Hawaii, with 50, 000 eligible transferees, is looking at busing costs of $ 9, 000 per kid annually on the sparsely populated big island. "We need to be accountable(responsible) to our public, but we need to look at all the measurements," says La Costa Canyon Principal Margie Bulkin. So far, she reports, "Not one single parent has called to say they want to leave." [6] In many places, that may be because families don't know they can. Schools are deemed (seen) deficient if they fail to show "adequate yearly improvement" on
state proficiency tests for two years in a row(continuously). But there's no federal master list of poor performers that parents can consult. Instead, the government requires states to identify individual laggards and break out scores by race and income. Few have stampeded to publish user-friendly rosters, something the new law also mandates. [7] Part of the confusion stems from the lack of federal guidance for interpreting the new statute. Tests vary from state to state. So does the definition of improvement. Which may explain why Arkansas and Wyoming wound up with no failing schools, but Michigan, with rigorous standards and demanding assessments (evaluation) in science and writing, topped the charts with 1, 513?nearly a third of the state's schools. "Implementation is going to be messy," acknowledges Under Secretary of Education Eugene Hickok, the former Pennsylvania school chief, adding that states shouldn't profess surprise. Education Secretary Rod Paige has briefed superintendents and spoken nationwide about the reforms. And even if there's not "a whole lot of room (space) for a whole lot of choice" yet in cities like New York or Chicago, says Hickok, "the law's the law". [8] The good news. In the meantime, bad publicity is giving failing schools like Orlando's Mollie Ray Elementary, which is losing 175 of its 734 students, a jolt of support. After the school's "double F" status hit the media, businesses called to donate computers?and the technicians to wire and repair them. A home-builders association is organizing volunteers to help tutor kids and retrofit classrooms. "A lot of good things are going to come out of it," predicts Principal Joy Taylor. Among them: The
exodus means small classes of 15 pupils this fall instead of the usual 20 or more, allowing more individualized instruction. [9] Terri Wooten hopes Parklane Elementary will benefit from similar efforts, since she's keeping her kids there. She says test scores don't reflect the school's many good teachers, its strong principal, or its accelerated reading program. "It's easy to bail out and hop on someone else's bandwagon," says Wooten. "But we have the potential to be great, just like everyone else in this nation. Why don't we create our own bandwagon?" (844 words)/ benefit sb./ benefit from sth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Mary Lord is a contemporary American freelance writer for newspapers and magazines such as U.S. News & World Report, Associated Press. She has written many articles about American education.
EXERCISES I. Reading Comprehension Answer the following questions or complete the following statements.

  1. According to the new federal law of educational reform, the unqualified schools have to . A. be closed in the next year B. make room for the qualified schools
C. transfer their students to other schools D. give their students freedom to go to other schools

  2. According to author, the new federal law has . A. guided the reforms of the low-performing schools B. stimulated the low-performing schools to improve quickly C. caused some trouble to many schools and students D. set too high standards for schools to reach

  3. In Chicago, with the new federal law coming into effect, the school system .
A. will have to add 122, 000 seats for the transferred students B. must find enough money to buy new school buses C. must find ways to improve its efficiency D. will face some financial problems

  4. The implementation of the new federal law mainly affects the schools . A. in the countryside C. in large cities B. in small towns D. in various districts

  5. Which of the following is true about La Costa Canyon High? A. It is a top-achieving grammar school.
B. It is on the list of the low-performing schools. C. The majority of its students are low-income children. D. Many poor students want to leave the school.

  6. The failing schools are those which . A. fail to improve in state proficiency tests for a successive two-year period B. fail to improve enough in the national proficiency tests for two years C. are listed as poor performers by the Education Department D. are identified as individual laggards by the local districts

  7. Confusion brought about by the new law partly comes from . A. the local government's misinterpretation of the new law B. inconsistent standards of test and improvement in different states C. the fact that there are no failing schools in some states, but too many in others D. the different assessment standards and requirements in science and writing

  8. According to Education Secretary Rod Paige, . A. schools shouldn't be surprised by the messy implementation of the new law B. the new law has to be implemented in spite of the difficulties C. school superintendents will be punished if they refuse to implement the new law D. there are already enough vacant seats for the transferred students in many schools

  9. The good news for failing schools is that . A. the government and the public will join hands to help them B. many people volunteer to teach at the school C. the public take action to help them D. their students will receive more individualized instruction

  10. Terri Wooten will keep her children in the school because she believes . A. her children still have the chance of success if they stay B. the new law is not beneficial to her children C. it is difficult for a single mother like her to have her children transferred D. the federal government will change the new law and create new bandwagons
II. Vocabulary Choose the best word from the four choices given to complete each of the following sentences.

  1. "It was a(n) task," Sybille recalled, "because it was really the first big party Laura had given in her life." A. ridiculous B. rigorous C. accountable D. mammoth

  2. About one-third of the adult homeless are mentally ill, and about half are alcoholic or abuse drugs. A. chronically B. sparsely C. adequately D. individually

  3. We spent a wonderful day at her home, and all the guests were well . A. implemented B. acknowledged C. contended D. accommodated

  4. Compared to voter participation rates of citizens in other democracies, participation in American elections is low; slightly more than 50 percent of those participate in national presidential elections. A. feasible/ practicable accessible
  5. I can only reduce the painful uncertainty and of those first few days by learning relevant information quickly. A. swamp B. bewilderment C. chronicle D. publicity B. available C. eligible D.

  6. The in the 1960s and early 1970s were marked by protest and violence on college campuses over United States involvement in the war in Vietnam A. exodus B. option C. turmoil D. squeeze

  7. Non-nuclear Weapons Agreements signed in 1972 restricted or eliminated the production and use of biological and chemical weapons. It also destruction of existing stocks of weapons by the year 20
  05. A. mandated / ordered B. advocated C. seized D. banned

  8. Nor am I suggesting that black children are somehow linguistically , or unable to separate standard English. A. deficient B. demanding C. lagged D. accelerated

  9. When twelve women who to be virgins were found, only two would swear an oath to that effect, but the executors decided to take the women's word for
it. A. deemed B. tutored C. professed D. donated

  10. Pessimism has prevailed for some time, and now the economic optimism is back on the road. A. chart B. core C. statute D. bandwagon
B. Choose the best word or expression from the list given for each blank. Use each word or expression only once and make proper changes where necessary.
let alone in a row
wind up bail out
draw lots hop on
vow lofty
weigh brief

  1. Only I don't know how I should set about finding a home, let alone one that she would be happy in.
  2. The players alternate between the white and black pieces and draw determine who plays white in today's first game.
  3. Three negative reports in a row would be a strong indication that the disease had been arrested.
  4. But it was now three o'clock in the morning and the debate was quickly wound up with the money being voted for the site and foundations.
  5. It argues that even though the Italian authorities may no longer bail out(舀出, 跳伞) any old bank that gets into trouble, the likelihood of government support for lots to
big banks has not changed enough to affect its ratings.
  6. A very lazy way to spend a day in the sun, is to buy a day ticket and hop on and off the boats and in and out of the many cafes and restaurants dotted around the lake.
  7. They won't quit. They vow to fight the system in court, if necessary.
  8. You have to be careful and weigh the advantages of their appearance against the disadvantages of their potential to distract from the message.
  9. But while their leaders considered these lofty goals, the party's bureaucrats had more immediate problems on their hands?the prospect of unemployment.
  10. I'm well briefed on the subject, this isn't my own knowledge.
III. Cloze There are ten blanks in the following passage. Read the passage carefully and choose the right word or phrase from the list given below for each of the blanks. Change the form if necessary.
in response to live with reassure given to sth.) predictor generation rank
matter
given (if consideration is
by contrast/ compare with
all but (except)
When our daughter went to public school, she came home talking about the subjects she was taught at school and we learned to 1 live with her courses. But
then, one evening when she was in eighth grade, I saw her using a calculator to compute ten percent of 4
  70. I asked her, "Are the other kids this(so) dumb(dull)?" My straight-A child 2 reassured me: "Oh, they are much dumber." That night I began researching math education and the educational reform. 3 given what I learned, it didn't surprise me that the United States 4 ranked only
28th among 41 nations surveyed in the Third International Mathematics and Science Study. With new and untested theory of the educational reform, today's U. S. math educators have 5 all but eliminated numbers. They are creating a 6 generation of mathematical fools. The problem is the textbooks. I thought my daughter's math book was her social-science text. It has color photos
 

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