June 8, 2005

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Critics contend that the Parent Information and Resource Center program has become an outlet for the Bush administration’s pursuit, on the sly, of an agenda that favors charter schools and private school vouchers.
A project called Teachers for a New Era has challenged those involved with making over their teacher-training programs in three ways: by becoming engaged with the arts and sciences, by treating teaching as a clinical-practice profession, and, perhaps most important for policymakers, by producing evidence of the effects their graduates have on student performance.
Little solid evidence is available to gauge whether the federal government’s multibillion-dollar Reading First initiative is having an effect on student achievement, but many states are reporting anecdotally that they are seeing benefits for their schools.
With systems of accountability for student achievement now widely in place, state policymakers and others are applying the principle on another front by trying to hold schools more responsible for how they spend their money.
An incident in Colorado in which a student had “Most Likely to Assassinate President Bush” under his photo is one of a spate of pranks or off-color photos that have appeared in yearbooks this spring, a problem that has left administrators and yearbook advisers trying to tighten their oversight to prevent such mistakes.
A principal’s decision to make a 4th grade girl move rocks as punishment, along with the subsequent firing of a teacher who helped the child, apparently has resulted in the departure of seven of the 10 teachers in Missouri’s tiny East Lynne school district.
Take Note
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Three months after the debut of the SAT writing test, some colleges are expressing concerns about its validity, and many have decided not to require the scores, at least for the time being.
People in the News
Brooke Haycock, the artist-in-residence for the Education Trust, portrays the human dimensions of education policy and practice through her one-woman shows.
Researchers say the old “Mozart makes you smarter” studies asked the wrong questions and used measurements too narrow to capture arts learning’s full range of benefits.
Scholarly Citings
Scholars and activists gathered at a think tank in Washington last week to evaluate how Michael R. Bloomberg, who is running for re-election this year as New York City’s mayor, has wielded his power over its school system. They sounded cautionary notes about the use of such power.
Enrollment in public schools hit an all-time high in 2003, surpassing the record set in 1970, the federal government reported last week, while the West has become the first region where students from minority groups outnumber white students in public schools.
The Center for the Study of Mathematics Curriculum’s first published report, “Development of State-Level Mathematics Curriculum Documents: Reports of a Survey,” finds a strong desire among state curriculum specialists for national leadership in crafting math curricula.
A new position statement by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics on the use of calculators in math classrooms emphasizes a “balance” between the electronic aids and paper-and-pencil computation.
The federal agency that helps underwrite schooling in developing countries has released a new education strategy that broadens the agency’s traditional focus on increasing access to pay more attention to the quality of schooling.
Teaching & Learning Update
Report Roundup
Vocational Education
G. Reid Lyon, the influential chief of the branch of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development that sponsors studies on reading and a key adviser on the federal Reading First initiative, will step down July 1 to take a job at Dallas-based Best Associates.
Even with Utah’s adoption of vouchers for students with disabilities, and with enactment of school choice measures still plausible in Arizona and Ohio, 2005 hasn’t brought the strong showing that school choice supporters predicted it would.
The fate of Texas’ school finances is in the hands of the state supreme court—again.
State Journal
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Capitol Recap
Mississippi lawmakers in a special session have passed a $145 million increase in K-12 spending for the new fiscal year—more than Gov. Haley Barbour and some legislators had proposed, but not enough to improve financing substantially for many districts.
President Bush has selected Mississippi state schools chief Henry L. Johnson to become the U.S. Department of Education’s assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, one of the federal government’s highest-profile positions for working with precollegiate schools and state leaders.
Federal File
The director of the federal Head Start program has resigned after enduring more than a year of criticism from the preschool program’s main advocacy group.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Attempts to expand the testing of 12th graders on the National Assessment of Educational Progress have the support of the White House, but that potential overhaul awaits approval from a key panel, which is weighing the implications.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Parent involvement tends to drop off when students enter middle school. But research shows that doesn't have to be the case.
Policymakers have turned their backs on the No Child Left Behind Act's promise of increased public and parental involvement in the schools, says Wendy D. Puriefoy.
A round-up of what's new.
Lee S. Shulman offers guidelines for judging the claims and counterclaims of conflicting education research studies.

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