[FANTASIA] Naperville, Boeing's new home

From: Wayne E Baisley (wbaisley@enspherics.com)
Date: Thu Apr 05 2001 - 10:01:48 PDT

It's a long shot of course, but I'll make the prediction (it's not like
there's much downside to silliness like this):

Boeing will move its HQ to Naperville.

After all, we're not that far from Yorkville, Denny Hastert's hometown,
we've got a kick-ass library, and our schools just placed top in the
world (by one measure anyway) for science, and 6th in math, just behind
some major Asian tigers. And we have large Bell Labs and Lucent
facilities to draw on for (from which to steal ;-) top-notch employees.
Several other major outfits nearby (Motorola comes to mind) are also
bleeding talent, not to mention shareholder value.

Chicago could win by offering them brandage like Boeing Soldier Field,
but the transplanted folks with children will live here in the suburbs
anyway. In the end, none of that matters much; it all comes down to
clout, to win against Lockheed Martin. I don't think Denver has much of
a shot; DFW will probably win. I've been wrong before.

BTW, both of my kids had Mr. Wessel, the science teacher quoted in the
article, below. My younger daughter was in the 8th grade last year when
the tests were given, so she helped put us on top. We especially enjoy
beating the Illinois Math and Science Academy, and New Trier, which
significantly outspends us. There was also a similar WSJ article today,
p A13.

You heard it here first.




By Tracy Dell'Angela and Aamer Madhani, Tribune staff reporters.

  American pupils have spent decades being compared unfavorably to
their counterparts in Asia and Europe, especially in math and science.
For some, it is no longer true.

 Based on results of an international study of student achievement
released Wednesday, some 8th-grade pupils in the Chicago area scored
higher in science than their counterparts in such countries as Japan,
Korea and Hungary. They also did quite well in math.

 In Naperville School District 203, pupils scored higher in science
than pupils taking the test in any other country, including Taiwan,
Japan, Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong. The district's math scores put
it sixth in the world behind those five countries.

 A consortium of the Illinois Math and Science Academy and schools on
the North Shore also ranked with the top Asian countries, scoring the
fourth highest in science and the seventh highest in math.

 The results are part of the Third International Mathematics and
Science Study, a 1999 test administered in 38 countries to more than
230,000 pupils--including 59,000 U.S. pupils in 1,200 schools across
the nation.

 In Illinois, nearly 5,000 pupils in 85 schools took the test,
including 1,100 Chicago pupils, 750 North Shore pupils, and 1,200 in

 The results are considered a representative sample that reflect the
performance of pupils worldwide, although the latest test included a
much broader sample in the United States because of a separate
benchmark study that explored differences among U.S. school districts
and regions, study leaders said.

 The strong performance by some Chicago-area pupils also points to what
educators consider a discouraging divide in American schools. Although
the country may have some of the highest achievers, it also has some
of the lowest. Thus, math and science scores for all U.S. pupils
ranked in the middle of the pack when compared with 37 other

 "These scores shows that the U.S. has both the best in the world and
the worst," said Michael Martin, co-director of the TIMSS
International Study Center at Boston College. "It's a country of

 The scores reflect the reality of what takes place every day in math
and science classrooms.

 In Naperville, 8th-grade science pupils learn genetics by mapping out
an elaborate family tree and making predictions about inherited
characteristics. In an 8th-grade math class in Northbrook, a pupil
leads the geometry discussion, explaining to classmates how he proved
two chords to be congruent.

 In Chicago, a typical 8th-grade science lesson might include a
worksheet that asks pupils to correctly label body parts.

 The gap between suburban and big city districts was noted by U.S.
Education Secretary Rod Paige. Chicago was the largest local district
to participate in the global study.

 "This achievement gap is disappointing and unacceptable," Paige said.

Resources for success

 While the Naperville district and the First in the World consortium on
the North Shore took pride in their scores, they recognize they are
blessed with resources: well-prepared pupils, highly motivated
parents, safe schools, experienced teachers with advanced training,
and progressive curriculum strategies that emphasize hands-on learning
over rote lectures.

 In fact, Naperville was recognized by the study for devoting more
class time to experiments and scientific investigations than other
participants--about 79 percent of their 8th-grade curriculum, compared
with 17 percent for a consortium of Delaware schools.

 Mike Wessel, who has taught science at Washington Junior High in
Naperville for 17 years, said this fact goes a long way in explaining
why his pupils did well.

 "These pupils are able to take a lot of data and analyze it without
being told `this is the answer,'" Wessel said. "They can look for the
answers themselves."

Room for improvement

 The First in the World consortium also had high expectations for its
pupils. The consortium was composed of 17 public school districts from
Niles to Wilmette and one private school, the Illinois Math and
Science Academy in Aurora.

 David Kroeze, superintendent of Northbrook schools and chairman of
research for the consortium, said he hopes to use the benchmark study
and its data on teaching methodology and curriculum to help area

 "We expect and want to be at this level," Kroeze said. "We want to use
the data from this to help us figure out what we need to do better."

 Chicago Public Schools' math and science scores--along with those of
other major cities like Miami and Rochester, N.Y., and countries like
Turkey and Iran--ranked below the average international achievement
scores. Study organizers credited Chicago for participating.

 Under the international study, only 10 percent of Chicago kids had
"high levels of home educational resources," compared with 56 percent
in Naperville, 45 percent in the North Shore consortium, and 22
percent statewide and nationwide.

 "When I took it, people looked at me and said, `You really want to do
it,' and I said, `Yeah, let's see how we compare to Singapore,'"
Chicago schools chief Paul Vallas said. "If you set high standards,
you have to compare yourself to the best."

National challenge

 William H. Schmidt, executive director of the TIMSS National Research
Center, said that, while there exists great disparity among individual
districts in the United States, no one state stands out as a
world-class performer. Most, in fact, fall in the middle of the
international pack.

 "Until we find some kind of national leadership in the United States,
what we'll continue to have are these accidental enclaves of

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