January 12, 2005

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Vol. 24, Issue 18
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Congress recently earmarked another $9.7 million for a school improvement program run by the Education Leaders Council, despite serious questions raised about the project.
California’s education system is lagging on nearly every measurable standard of quality, from funding to teachers to student achievement, contends a report issued last week by a prominent think tank.
Some superintendents have landed in murky ethical waters this school year for their ties to for-profit companies, highlighting the temptations administrators face as industry and education increasingly intersect.
The earthquake and resulting tsunami that wracked coastlines along the Indian Ocean and killed an estimated 150,000 people or more prompted generosity and classroom lessons in U.S. schools last week.
Here we go again. That was the feeling in education law circles last week as word got around that the California atheist who argued his own case against the Pledge of Allegiance before the U.S. Supreme Court last year had filed the first of what he said would be a string of similar lawsuits around the country.
Take Note
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Correction
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Almost 200 teaching candidates from three East Coast states and the District of Columbia have earned a new designation that will allow them to work throughout the region without having to meet additional state licensing requirements.
People in the News
Teacher-licensing officials in two states plan to fight recent findings by the U.S. Department of Education that most of their elementary teachers are not “highly qualified” under the No Child Left Behind Act.
People in the News
Russian is the sixth- or seventh-most-popular language taught in K-12 schools, foreign-language advocates say, with most of the courses being offered at the secondary level.
The District of Columbia school system has accepted a fine from the U.S. Department of Education for failing to give exams tied to specific district academic standards.
Cesar Guzman is one of 104 students attending the FDNY High School for Fire and Life Safety, which opened here in September and is jointly run by the city’s fire department and department of education.
Most educators and parents know, without the aid of science, how volatile teenagers can be: placid one moment, a stick of dynamite the next. But a recent book by a psychologist—and former high school teacher and school counselor—takes the conclusions from scientific studies of the adolescent brain and turns them into practical advice.
Scholarly Citings
Eleven teenagers from Iraq have been living with American families and going to school in the United States this school year as part of the U.S. government’s resumption of education and cultural ties with that country.
Six months after a corporate-turnaround company finished work aimed at fixing the St. Louis public schools, the leadership of the district is in turmoil.
The choice of a new leader for the union representing teachers in the District of Columbia—the first since a financial scandal sent its former president to federal prison last year—won’t be decided until a runoff election is held later this month.
The National Research Council’s synthesis of the research on learning turned into an international best seller after its release six years ago.
Report Roundup
Private Schools
Teaching & Learning Update
Early Years
Schools in West Virginia’s 28,500-student Kanawha County district, which serves the state capital of Charleston and surrounding communities, are putting Following the Leaders to use on a regular basis.
The president of a division of LeapFrog Enterprises Inc. left his job last month as the result of an internal investigation of a sales commission involving the Prince George’s County, Md., school district.
Some of the most somber reactions to the tsunami that pounded coastal areas across a huge swath of the Indian Ocean occurred in American schools located in low-lying “tsunami inundation zones” along the U.S. mainland’s Pacific coast and in Hawaii.
The Kansas Supreme Court has given state lawmakers a challenging assignment for the legislative session that starts this week.
State of the States
State Journal
Following the high-profile flameout last fall of a newly launched charter school, Minnesota education officials have announced policy changes aimed at sharpening the oversight skills of those charged with sponsoring and governing the independently operated public schools.
A school district will appeal a federal appellate-court ruling late last month that affirmed the state of New Mexico’s right to withhold funds to districts based on how much federal impact aid they receive.
Capitol Recap
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
State of the States
Margaret Spellings, President Bush’s nominee to become the next secretary of education, vowed last week to listen carefully to the concerns of those dealing with the No Child Left Behind Act at the state and local levels and to take a “workable and sensible” approach to carrying out the controversial law, the signature education achievement of Mr. Bush’s first term.
The U.S. military is getting top billing at next week’s presidential Inauguration Day festivities, but educators won’t be left out in the cold.
Federal File
The nation’s third National Education Technology Plan, released last week by the Department of Education, lays out broad themes reflecting current thinking on applying technology in schools, but it omits assigning specific responsibility for action, especially to the federal government.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Despite conventional wisdom and anecdotal tales touting the benefits of student uniforms, researchers see little evidence of their effectiveness.
Many of the schools who would benefit most from the E-rate program are unnecessarily shying away from it, say communications lawyers Mark Palchick and Joan Stewart.
The nation's urban public schools suffer from an unfairly earned reputation regarding their commitment to education, argues In2Books founder Nina Zolt.
New books on topics ranging from bullying to school uniforms, plus an excerpt from The Trouble With Ed. Schools.
Letters
Evaluating the effectiveness of charter schools is more complicated than the debate over recent studies lets on, believes Paul T. Hill of the National Charter School Research Center.

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