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DoDDS Superintendent Faces Community

By: Victoria L. Moore

Date Posted: 1998-04-12

The Superintendent of DoDDS, Dr. Stephen Bloom, recently met with concerned parents and the Home Partnership Committee. Their meeting entailed discussion of the issues, policies, curriculum, and strategies to fix problems faced by the students and staff members' island wide.

The tea, held at the Schilling Community Activities Center on Kadena, where many addressed their concern about the recent rash of bomb threats that apparently plague Kadena High School almost daily. The reported threats, are thought to be caused by teens, currently attending the school. However, no real evidence has been gained to support this belief or give evidence to who the actual perpetrator is at press time. The bomb threats seem somewhat centralized occurring mainly at the Kadena High School. Although Kubasaki High had a similar incident where the perpetrators, school students, were caught, sent back to the states, and now face possible criminal charges. Efforts to prevent this terrorist activity include a random search of all student back packs and the like. Students are also advised not to bring cellular phones to school. "This efforts seems to work," reported Dr. Bloom, who informed the participants that since the implementation of the search no reported threats have occurred.

Parents also voiced concern about the break down of staff reduction for the '98 - '99 school year as it relates specifically to areas of remedial, compensatory and special education. Bloom stated, "The number of students calculated and registered as of Sept 30, for the year is the basis by which the teaching staff is either increased or decreased. Two years ago 10,200 children were registered in DoDDs as apposed to the 9,200 currently registered. However, it had no bearing on the areas of remedial, compensatory or special education."

A relatively new program discussed with the participants was the Culturally Responsive Teaching Initiative (CRTI) in DoDDS-Okinawa. The programs inception was during the 96/97 school year with Bechtel Elementary, Bob Hope Primary, Kadena Elementary, Killin Elementary, Kubasaki High, Lester Middle, and Stearley Heights Elementary Schools being the first to embrace the concept. Although four of the remaining five schools joined the initiative during the 97- 98 school year. Dr. Margery Ginsberg and Dr. Raymond Windkowski, authors of the book "Diversity and Motivation: Culturally Responsive Teaching," set the foundation for the Culturally Responsive Teaching Initiative.

The strategic plan for the initiative is to utilize this teaching technique as a means to reduce the gap in academic achievement between racial, ethnic, and gender groups.

The summer school proposal initiative was also on the minds of many that came to the meeting. Both Dr. Bloom and Dr. Brussel endorsed the proposal. At the present time the initiate is making its' way to all of the island PTA's. Wide spread acceptance is the first step toward gaining funding for this proposal. "A campaign is currently underway to canvas both the teachers and parents to assess the need and availability of a teaching staff," says Bloom. The logistics of such an undertaking require extensive lobbying in order to gain support. Along those lines Dr. Bloom personally sought out Kadena 18th Services to discuss logistics support for an academic curriculum. Proponents say that a letter writing campaign is also necessary to access support from congressional leaders, the secretary of education and the president if necessary. The best way to get the proposal funded is to bring attention to the school system, and insist that they provide the best opportunity for children to succeed.

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