The perfect high

By Meredith Maran


Salon Staff
February 7, 2001 3:11AM (UTC)

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Your provocative article on the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy addressed some important questions and issues. On behalf of the IMSA administration and board of trustees, let me make three points:

First, IMSA was established by the State of Illinois to help meet its needs and interests in mathematics, science and technology. Educating our residential students and providing programs for Illinois teachers and other Illinois students are not an end -- they are a means to an end -- that end being to increase the number and quality of students who pursue education and careers in mathematics, science and technology. Fundamentally, investing in IMSA addresses a very real public policy need.

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Second, your portrayal of Prozac use by IMSA students and distribution of medications by our health clinic was unfair. In reality, few IMSA students need and take Prozac; less than 5 percent of our students are on psychotherapeutic medications, and whether these are prescribed by their home community doctors or the doctors who service IMSA, they are dispensed in a controlled, professional manner by our nurse.

Third, IMSA's budget supports functions and services "most American public high schools" do not have. We do not spend $20,000 per student per year to educate our residential students. We spend less than $15,000 and this includes residential costs. Our academic educational costs are less than some of the top public high schools in the Chicagoland area.

We agree with much of what Meredith Maran wrote. We do have high expectations and a challenging, engaging academic program. Our students, alumni and faculty are outstanding. And we are blessed with a tightknit, loving community in which ideas, intellect, individuality and personal growth are cherished and encouraged.

Do we wish that all students had similar opportunities? Yes!

-- Catherine C. Veal
Chief of staff and secretary of the board
Illinois Math and Science Academy


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