February 23, 2005

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Vol. 24, Issue 24
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When the nation’s governors gather in Washington this coming weekend for what is billed as a national education summit on high schools, many will come prepared to talk about initiatives already under way back home.
Massachusetts is meeting its constitutional requirement to provide students with an adequate education and does not have to overhaul its school funding formula, the state’s highest court ruled in a closely watched case last week.
President Bush is proposing to eliminate the entire $1.3 billion federal vocational program in his fiscal 2006 budget, arguing that it has yielded "little or no evidence of improved outcomes," despite decades of federal spending.
Class-size reduction remains immensely popular throughout California, but its hefty costs have forced some trade-offs.
A new Texas study punctures the commonly held notion that high levels of teacher turnover in poor, urban schools result from an exodus of the profession’s “best and brightest.”
Although tremendous differences exist in the features of alternative-certification programs that are now operating across the country, new research shows that they are attracting people who would not have entered teaching otherwise.
Take Note
News in Brief: A National Roundup
The Buffalo, N.Y., school district has sparked controversy from many quarters in its unusually aggressive bid to operate a group of its own charter schools. Now its first official step toward building that network of schools has been very publicly rebuffed by the state department of education.
People in the News
Black and Hispanic students are enrolling in college at higher rates since 1991, but they have failed to catch up with the proportion of white students pursuing higher education, according to a report released last week.
The Vatican has dismissed on a technicality a complaint that the St. Louis-based Association of Catholic Elementary Educators filed in August charging that the head of the Archdiocese of St. Louis was violating church law by not permitting teachers in Roman Catholic elementary schools to unionize.
Mark it down: 2005 may be a banner year for private school choice in state legislatures.
New York City’s drive to open hundreds of new small schools got a boost last week with the announcement of private donations totaling more than $32 million, most of it from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
As the 60,000-student San Francisco school district negotiates with the city’s teachers’ union for a new contract, one cost-cutting proposal would end preparation classes for many of the district’s 113 AP teachers.
The number of schoolchildren identified as having autism has increased more than 500 percent over the past decade, according to a report released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office last week.
Early Years
Indicators of children’s readiness for school are useful only when there are advocates and educators who care enough to improve those measures over time, concludes a report released last week from a 17-state group.
Report Roundup
A coalition of business organizations and state officials is working to establish a voluntary “work-readiness credential” that adults— and possibly students—could use to demonstrate their job skills to employers.
Debating his Republican opponent for governor of Virginia in October 2001, about all that Mark Warner, a businessman and Democratic Party activist, could muster to say on K-12 education was that history questions on Virginia’s standardized tests might need some tweaking.
A New York judge has given state policymakers until May to craft a plan to add $5.63 billion to the New York City school budget and produce a $9.2 billion capital plan to fix the city’s school buildings.
New York middle schools will receive more flexibility to adjust their course offerings in order to improve academic achievement, under a plan the state board of regents approved this month.
State Journal
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Federal File
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings called on colleges last week to use the No Child Left Behind Act as a model for measuring the performance of higher education institutions and reducing the minority achievement gap.
First lady Laura Bush says schools can incorporate simple, inexpensive programs to help boys develop academically and socially, such as using well-researched curricula and recruiting more men to take up teaching.
When the U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments next week in two disputes over government displays of the Ten Commandments, some school law experts will be listening almost as closely as if the words were rolling down from Mount Sinai.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
The Gesu School in Philadelphia was dying, until entreprenurial-minded donors got together to show a new way of keeping urban Catholic schools afloat.
As educators, we would not use threats, punishments, and pernicious comparisons to ‘motivate’ our students. But that is how this law treats the school establishment, argues education professor Nel Noddings.
If school leaders are serious about high school reform, they will include high school students in the process, says Ronald S. Byrnes.
Despite superficial textbooks, rote teaching, and a shortage of project-based learning, there is hope for science education, says John Merrow.

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