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  Across the country, the gulf that has existed between higher education and K-12 schools seems to be narrowing. Many colleges and universities, realizing that the public schools are in trouble, have climbed down from their ivory towers to help. In doing so, they are helping themselves, since most of their future enrollments will come from these schools. From Maryland to Colorado to California, there are new "K-16" collaborations. This issue of National CrossTalk looks at two of them-- in El Paso, Texas and in the state of Georgia.

Pursuing Higher Standards
Georgia programs seek to align K-12 instruction with higher education

A Collaborative for Academic Excellence
El Paso's Partnership Program boasts impressive gains in student performance

The National Center's Board of Directors

Differing Points of View
Academic, business and government leaders agree, and disagree, about higher education

Paul Simon's New Public Policy
Former Senator's clout helps attract big names to policy conferences

Stalwarts to the North
Minnesota's Bemidji State University

Taking Responsibility
Opinion survey yields compelling results

New Tax Credits
By Kristin D. Conklin

Distance Learning: Promise or Threat
By Andrew Feenberg
Savannah State University Freshman Joseph Austin
Savannah State University Freshman Joseph Austin is one of 32 McIntosh County Academy graduates -- one-third of the senior class -- who enrolled in college.

THE TIDAL MARSHLANDS of McIntosh County, midway down the Atlantic coast of Georgia, have long held the young descendants of 18th century Highlander settlers and 19th century freed slaves with the promise of a life around shrimp boats or pulp mills. Even today, it is hard for many of the county's children to see beyond the fading bounty of the ocean, the pine woods or low-paying jobs at Magnolia Bluff Factory Outlet Mall, which serves traffic passing through to Florida on Interstate 95.

In a county where 40 percent of the housing stock is in mobile homes and 44 percent of the adult population lacks a high school diploma, last year's 91-student senior class at old, public McIntosh County Academy showed only faint evidence of rising standards....(continue)
Students at the University of Texas-El Paso
Two-thirds of the students at the University of Texas-El Paso are Hispanic. Many of them will teach in area schools after graduation.

AT THE H.D. HILLEY Elementary School, close to the U.S.- Mexico border, more than 70 percent of the students enter first grade speaking little or no English and more than 90 percent are poor enough to qualify for the federal lunch program.

Many of the children live in "colonias" -- groups of shacks and trailer shells which often have no electricity, running water, trash pickup or sewer lines. These settlements are illegal but they exist in ever-increasing numbers, according to school officials.

Yet test scores at H.D. Hilley have shot up in the last three years. For instance, in 1996 only 60 percent of Hilley's fifth graders passed the reading portion of the state-mandated Texas Assessment of Academic Skills (TAAS), but this year 94 percent passed. In mathematics, the pass rate for fifth graders jumped from 74 percent to 92 percent.....(continue)

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