September 1, 2004

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Thousands of California students were left to look for new schools after one of the nation’s largest charter school operators shut its doors last month.
For some schools, bomb threats have become more routine than fire drills, with each incident ringing up multi-thousand-dollar tabs for emergency manpower, special equipment, makeup instructional time, and other costs.
The rapidly rising cost of steel and other construction materials is forcing some districts that are building new schools to scramble for more money, delay work, or redesign projects.
The U.S. Department of Education gave more than $5.7 million last year in bonuses to its employees, including a student-aid official who got $71,250. Includes an accompanying table, "Fatter Paychecks."
School districts across the country are increasing lunch prices for this school year in response to the rising prices of oil, food, and labor. Includes the accompanying table, "Price Hikes."
Below is a sampling of 10 districts that raised lunch prices for the 2004-05 school year.
Take Note
  • Judge Orders Increase for Baltimore Schools
  • Pennsylvania School District Loses Round in Fight Over AYP Label
  • N.Y.C. Slashes the Number of 3rd Graders Held Back
  • Detroit Governance Question Prompts Immediate Lawsuit
  • Most Florida Schools Open Despite Hurricane Damage
  • Snapshots
  • Deaths
Departments
Despite its increasing importance in schools, many observers say there is little uniformity in how the Algebra 1 course is taught, or what students are expected to learn while taking it.
The Georgia inspector general’s office is investigating textbook-sales practices in four school districts, following allegations that a textbook salesman offered free materials or reduced prices to larger districts.
Departments
Even in a city that boasts a booming charter school network and a new private-school-voucher program, District of Columbia parents had few choices when it came to transferring their children to better-performing schools for the new academic year.
Urban Education
Teachers’ strikes throughout Latin America have left millions of students out of school this year, and in some cases, even sparked violent clashes between militant protesters and police forces.
A national report suggesting that charter school students lag behind their counterparts in regular public schools touched off a late-summer tempest among proponents and critics of charter schools. Includes the accompanying table, "Charter vs. Noncharter Performance."
U.S. public schools will open their doors to about 48.2 million students in prekindergarten through grade 12 this September, according to recent projections by the National Center for Education Statistics. That’s about 135,000 more students than for the 2003-04 school year, or an increase of less than half a percent.
This chart compares scores of regular public school students with those of charter school students on the 4th and 8th grade reading and math tests of the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
The new leaders of the Chicago Teachers Union say they are discussing changes to union elections and have begun to look hard at the union’s professional-development center.
Most Americans remain largely in the dark about the No Child Left Behind Act some 2½ years after its enactment, according to an annual survey of public attitudes on education.
Teachers' salaries have slipped over the past decade to well below those of comparable professions, a trend that is certain to complicate efforts to recruit and retain highly qualified educators for the nation's public schools, asserts a report released last week by the Economic Policy Institute.
An Arkansas school district’s practice of searching the pockets, purses, and backpacks of randomly selected classrooms of students for drugs and other contraband violates students’ right to privacy, a federal appeals court has ruled.
International Update
Departments
Despite an uptick in the average score on the ACT college-admission test, most high school seniors are still unprepared for college-level classes, sponsors of the test say.
One of the largest studies to examine high school and college students’ online test-preparation habits found that they tend to spend more time doing vocabulary drills and word analogies than answering questions from reading passages, that they avoid math and science exercises, and that they wait until the last couple of weeks to begin studying.
The panel that oversees the nation’s test of academic progress has approved new guidelines for determining whether students with disabilities and limited English skills must take part in it.
  • Study of Exit Exams Notes Failure Issues
  • Business Officers
  • District Leadership
  • Obesity Update
  • Young Mothers
  • Urban Education
California will spend as much as $1 billion for educational supplies and school facilities to settle a major class action lawsuit brought on behalf of needy students.
The impact of 77 school-tax-levy defeats out of 103 on local Ohio ballots a month ago is settling in across the state, as schools begin the year amid teacher layoffs, decreased bus service, and larger class sizes.
State Journal
Wisconsin is clamping down on its program that allows private schools in Milwaukee to receive state-financed tuition vouchers. In the process, the state is wading into the debate over the role states should play in overseeing private schools that accept taxpayer money.
Florida’s new commissioner of education plans to uphold the school accountability measures championed by Gov. Jeb Bush and pledges to fully implement the class-size reductions and preschool programs now required under state law.
A recent Florida appeals court ruling leaves in doubt the future of Florida’s state-financed tuition vouchers that students can use in religious schools.
  • Florida
  • Rhode Island
  • Ohio Court Renews Charter Lawsuit
  • N.H. Governor Proposes Kindergarten Vouchers
  • N.J. Governor Resigns; Championed Early Literacy
  • Denver School to Become First State-Converted Charter
  • Teacher-Evaluation Plan Unlikely to Fly in Delaware
  • Snapshots
As Republicans prepared for their party’s convention in New York City this week, Secretary of Education Rod Paige was scheduled for a prime-time speaking slot to talk up President Bush’s signature education accomplishment.
Federal File
  • Coalition Seeks to Put Education on Agenda for Election Season
  • Colorado School Administrator Falls Short in U.S. Senate Bid
  • NCES Studying Dropout Counts
  • Study: Big Jump Since 1990 in Federal Education Support
Department of Education employees received more than $5.7 million in bonuses in the 2003 calendar year. The amounts ranged from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands for some employees. Below are the top 10 bonus recipients last year.
An inner-city expedition run by Outward Bound helps teachers examine their beliefs and biases.
The No Child Left Behind Act is plausible but oversimplified technical response to a complicated array of educational challanges, write James Harvey and Robert H. Koff.
Leadership coach Kim Marshall attempts to clear up the semantic confusion over the definition of 'curriculum.'
Economists Frank Levy and Richard J. Murnane say that today's digital divide is between students who can use a computer to do valuable work and those who cannot.
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