July 14, 2004

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Chicago is embarking on a major initiative to convert at least 10 percent of its schools into small schools, most of which will be run by private operators. The controversial move expands the city’s role in the vanguard of districts experimenting with alternative school arrangements.
Just weeks before states release their lists of schools that have not met "adequate yearly progress" targets under the main federal K-12 law, many states are still negotiating with federal officials over changes to their accountability plans.
A report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education on school employees’ sexual misconduct with students is drawing fire from national education groups and has attracted only qualified support from the agency itself. Includes the table, "Words of Warning."
After nearly two years in development, a new federally backed research service on "what works" in education began rolling its first products off the assembly line last week.
The Council for Basic Education shut its doors last month after nearly half a century—the victim, its leaders say, of a tight fund-raising environment for education groups.
Musical blasts from the past are arriving in cardboard boxes at schools, colleges, and libraries across the United States this summer, an unexpected boost to the music resources available to their students and patrons.
Departments
  • S.F. Schools Win Millions in Dispute Over Contract
  • Some N.Y.C. 3rd Graders Gain Promotion on Appeal
  • Lawsuits Settled Over Students ‘Pushed Out’ of City’s Schools
  • Officials of Fla. Private School Charged With Voucher Fraud
  • Calif. State Chief Enlists Agency in Review of Anti-Drug Program
  • Fla. District’s School Choice Plan Trumps Federal Law, Judge Rules
  • Federal Judge Says Ky. District Can Keep Race-Based Assignments
  • Snapshots
The nation’s largest teachers’ union revved into campaign speed last week, even as its choice for president, presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. John Kerry, was a no-show at the group’s annual meeting.
Departments
Federal court, state legislature, and school board members all had roles in the recent struggle over New Orleans public schools. Includes the accompanying story, "Schools Probe in City Yields Theft Charges," and a timeline, "A Day-by-Day Drama."

In what was described as a first step toward rooting out corruption in the New Orleans public schools, federal investigators said early this month that nine current and former district employees had agreed to plead guilty to theft charges.
In Ohio, schools are hit especially hard by corporate rate cuts. Includes the story "Education Inc."
Many of the nation’s urban school districts—hit by dwindling state and local aid, shrinking enrollment, competition from charter schools, and higher costs— have made deep budget cuts.
Departments
An embezzlement scandal in an affluent Long Island community has residents asking hard questions about how a school district known for its Advanced Placement classes, college-bound graduates, and generous school budgets apparently could have been bilked out of millions by trusted administrators.
Baltimore public school students made improvements in almost every grade on Maryland’s state tests, despite a tumultuous year in which the system was nearly driven into insolvency and hundreds of central-office workers lost their jobs.
A strong majority of Americans say they support redirecting tax revenues to schools in poorer areas to bring greater equity to students, though the public also suspects that schools waste too much money, a nationwide survey has found. Includes a chart, "Mixed Responses."
  • Preschool Educators Broach Assessment, a Once-Taboo Topic
Thirty-six states now have standards for what children should know and be able to do before they enter kindergarten, but many don’t give the same level of attention to other aspects of development, according to a recent study.
A report has flagged 2,000 high schools across the country as potential "dropout factories" because 40 percent or more of their freshmen fail to make it to 12th grade on time.
Vocational education students today are far more likely to enroll in academically demanding classes than they were a decade ago, though they continue to lag behind their peers in test scores, completing high school, and going to college, a federal report shows.
Departments
The struggles of Asian and Asian-American students are being overlooked in the New York City public schools, in part because they are perceived as a high-achieving group with little need for help, an advocacy group contends.
The demand on states to collect, analyze, and report data on education has never been greater. Now, a three-year, $45 million project is gearing up to help states use the data to inform education policy.
The Washington-based firm hired by the U.S. Agency for International Development to help rebuild schools in Iraq this past school year has landed another education contract to work in that country.
Roberto Miranda, who led an independent teachers’ group in Cuba before being jailed more than a year ago as a political dissident, has been released from a Havana prison because of deteriorating health.
Departments
  • Reading Scores Rose in New York City’s ‘Chancellor’s District’
  • Myth-Busting, Washington Style
  • Alternative Certification
  • Assessing District Responses
  • The Science of Music
  • 'Universal' Preschool Questions Examined
  • Teacher Quality
  • State Finances
  • Language Immersion
  • Education Philanthropy
The American Federation of Teachers’ executive council last week was weighing whether to conduct a full investigation into the election for president of its Chicago affiliate.
A report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education includes 15 recommendations for helping to eliminate or reduce sexual misconduct by educators against students. Among them is that educators, parents, and students be aware of the following information:
A recent ruling by the Colorado Supreme Court to uphold a lower-court decision finding the state’s 2003 voucher law unconstitutional could make vouchers a campaign issue in state elections this fall and has stirred fresh speculation about the prospects for such laws nationwide.
Arkansas’ decade-long court battle over school finances may finally be over, but the larger legal and political dogfight over money for rural schools and the consolidation of rural school districts is just beginning to get fierce.
Departments
California leaders are working to settle a school finance lawsuit filed in 1999 on behalf of needy students over the decrepit facilities and a lack of equal educational opportunities in their schools.
Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell has signed legislation that allows slot machines in the Keystone State, a move that will help him fulfill two promises: increase the state’s share of education funding, and lower homeowners’ soaring property taxes.
Ted Sanders will step down as the president of the Education Commission of the States in January.
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Kansas
  • Missouri
  • Ariz. Teachers Targeted for English Immersion
  • N.J.'s Abbott Districts Settle Supplemental-Funding Dispute
  • Gov. Bush Vetoes Plan for Pilot Preschool Effort
  • Sexual-Abstinence Message Required by New Mich. Law
  • Mass. Governor Vetoes Charter School Moritorium
  • Texas Education Agency Gets OK to Buy Textbooks
  • Mich. Affirmative Action Bid Put On Hold Till Next Year
  • Iowa Sets New Rules for Homeless Students
Federal child-nutrition programs have a new focus on healthy eating habits and fighting obesity under a measure signed into law recently by President Bush. Includes the accompanying table, "Appetite for Change."
With each day that passes, the chances that Congress will deliver a bill rewriting the nation’s main special education law to President Bush’s desk this year appear to be fading.
Departments
Election 2004It’s easy enough to contrast Sen. John Kerry with his designated vice presidential running mate when it comes to such matters as style and experience, but on education policy, the two have a lot in common.
  • Paige Given Prime Slot at the GOP Convention
  • Picket Fences
Among the highest-profile appeals considered by the U.S. Supreme Court this year was an education case. The dispute over the Pledge of Allegiance—although it ended up being decided on procedural grounds—raised thorny church-state issues and produced dramatic courtroom exchanges that resonated in public schools and on newspaper editorial pages. Other cases being watched by educators involved religious school scholarships and tax credits, employee rights, children’s exposure to online pornography, and court-ordered consent decrees.

Here are summaries of cases of particular interest to educators that the justices decided in their 2003-04 term:

A federal law aimed at protecting children from Internet pornography will remain on hold, following a 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court finding it likely that the statute’s goals can be achieved by means that carry less potential threat to Americans’ rights to free speech. Includes the accompanying table, "Education and the Supreme Court: The 2003-04 Term."
President Bush signed the Child Nutrition and Women, Infants, and Children Reauthorization Act of 2004 into law on June 30. The $16 billion reauthorization includes the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs and the Summer Food Service Program. Among the law’s changes are:
  • House Panel OKs Education Budget
  • Department Says States Risk Losing School Aid
  • Religious-School Teaching Under AmeriCorps Voided
  • Bill to Make 'No Child' Rules Retroactive Is Clarified
A private school in Birmingham, Ala., offers a last chance to students who have fallen through the cracks in public high schools.
Retired public school teacher Tom Shuford takes a look at Thomas Jefferson's vision for education to discern modern relevance in the revolutionary's thoughts.
Letters
Departments
There is no more central purpose to schools in a democracy than the preparation of citizens, argue education specialists Michael Johanek and John Puckett.

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