February 9, 2005

This Issue
Vol. 24, Issue 22
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The flap over the PBS children's program "Postcards From Buster" comes as a five-year Ready to Learn grant is nearing its end, and the Education Department and the participants in the grant program are weighing its effectiveness and how the next five-year grant might be restructured.
Utah state Rep. Margaret Dayton adores President Bush. Yet she is driving one of Mr. Bush’s biggest education-related headaches.
A new, standardized college-preparatory curriculum crafted by Kaplan K12 Learning Services Group is a critical element in Philadelphia's plan to improve secondary education.
Two national studies set for release this week paint a portrait of the bumpy road that many students face after high school and suggest that better academic preparation and guidance could have smoothed the way.
The Chicago school district will continue to tutor 40,000 students under the No Child Left Behind Act, but will have to use money other than that earmarked for the program, a move that resolves a stalemate between the school system and federal education officials.
With Alan D. Bersin now set to make an early exit from the top job in the San Diego school district, the fate of his much-studied improvement agenda has been left in greater doubt.
Take Note
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Correction
News in Brief: A National Roundup
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said last week that there “is room to maneuver” through the administrative process in carrying out the No Child Left Behind Act.
George Parker, a junior high mathematics teacher in the District of Columbia schools, has been elected president of the teachers’ union for the nation’s capital.
People in the News
Charter Schools
If the nation’s diverse collection of charter schools were to be given a group report card, at this point they’d have a hard time making it onto the honor roll. That’s the lowdown from two reports released last week by groups that are firmly in the procharter camp.
The chief of Chicago’s high-profile push to start new small schools announced last week that he is leaving to lead a national group representing the school districts, states, universities, and other institutions that grant charter schools their contracts to operate.
American policymakers have been urgently seeking solutions to school bullying and violence in recent years, but the issue had been receiving attention in many other countries long before it hit the U.S. spotlight.
More than half a century after the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed school segregation, a new Florida study shows that the racial composition of schools still matters when it comes to scores on student-achievement tests.
Singapore’s domination over the United States in students’ math performance stems from the Southeast Asian country’s uniform expectations for student learning, its use of textbooks rich with problem-solving exercises, and a commitment to producing well-trained teachers, a report to be released this week finds.
Report Roundup
State accountability systems can motivate low-performing high schools to change, a soon-to-be released study concludes, but many of those changes are likely to be modest at best.
Report Roundup
The U.S. Department of Education has launched an online database that lists nationally accredited colleges and universities to help expose—by their omission—companies that offer bogus or substandard academic degrees via the Internet.
Rural Education
By 2008, Philadelphia school system plans to make a transition from about 55 high schools to between 70 and 80 smaller ones of choice.
The Miami-Dade County school district is undertaking an examination of its high school course offerings, vowing to make them more equitable after a newspaper report found a richer array of choices in wealthier neighborhoods than in poorer ones.
A much-anticipated $45 million project to post school data on a public Web site has been delayed by at least a month while state officials comb through the first version of the database to assure its accuracy.
When President Bush first took office four years ago, he made expanding the role of faith-based groups in providing public services a federal priority. Now, it appears that the idea is getting more attention in state capitals as well.
State Journal
Adding a novel twist to the array of school finance lawsuits against states, a group of Georgia parents is asking a judge to declare both that the state’s education funding system is unconstitutional and that the remedy is not more money to public schools, but greater parental choice.
Hoping that child-care centers and preschools in their states will respond to higher expectations, more governors are proposing rating systems both to encourage providers to improve their services and to give parents the information they need to choose a high-quality environment.
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia, the chairman of the National Governors Association, has unveiled a list of 10 steps that states could take to accelerate improvements in high schools.
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Under pressure from Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm, Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction Thomas D. Watkins Jr. has agreed to step down.
State of the States
A cornerstone of President Bush’s second-term agenda for education—imposing greater accountability in high schools through more testing—appears likely to face serious political and practical challenges that some observers argue could imperil the plan.
Federal File
Parents of children with disabilities urged the federal Department of Education to preserve their rights, during the first public hearing held to gather comment on the recent reauthorization of the nation’s main special education law.
President Bush is asking the first lady to head a proposed $150 million outreach effort aimed at helping at-risk youths, especially boys, have a successful future, he announced during his State of the Union Address last week.
President Bush’s proposal for high schools calls for $1.5 billion in new testing and intervention funds in fiscal 2006, plus more spending for some existing programs.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
At the Santa Fe Indian School, an Indian boarding school, students are taught to go to college and return to their pueblos with newfound knowledge.
The issues at the center of today’s teacher-quality debate—certification and training—are more relevant if we have a better understanding about how districts can get the best applicants into our classrooms, according to Michael DeArmond and Dan Goldhaber.
Letters
In our attempt to be more like the countries we most admire, we have adopted practices that few of these countries use, says Iris C. Rotberg.

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