June 22, 2005

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When the nation’s largest teachers’ union convenes in Los Angeles in a week and a half for its annual meeting, the membership news will ring happier than in 2004.
It has been less than six months since the nation’s governors gathered for a summit on high schools, and already at least half a dozen states have enacted policies that require students to complete tougher academic programs to earn a diploma.
In an attempt to respond to confusion about—or resistance to—the tutoring requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, the U.S. Department of Education issued guidance last week outlining what it expects states and school districts to do in supplying the help to needy children.
After spending four years sifting through hundreds of studies on teacher education, a national panel has concluded that there’s little empirical evidence to show that many of the most common practices in the field produce effective teachers.
The Success for All Foundation has asked the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Education to investigate the $1 billion-a-year federal Reading First program for alleged mismanagement and seeming preferential treatment of a handful of consultants and products.
Most Americans believe that high school students aren’t being significantly challenged by their studies, a national poll scheduled for release this week concludes.
Take Note
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Clarification
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Abstinence-based programs of sex education help make younger students more aware of the potential negative consequences of nonmarital sex but do not improve their self-esteem, refusal skills, or communication with their parents regarding sex, a federally financed study released last week suggests.
More than 80 percent of new teachers say that to be effective, they need to be able to work well with parents. Yet communicating with and involving parents is their biggest challenge, according to this year’s MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, released last week.
New teachers were asked: Has your experience as a public school teacher working with ... been very satisfying, somewhat satisfying, somewhat unsatisfying, or very unsatisfying?
People in the News
As high school graduates mull their plans, some branches of the armed forces are struggling to attract recruits while the military is spread thin with the insurgency in Iraq and continuing violence in Afghanistan.
Parents who want to help their children’s schools raise money can do more than sell candy or bake cookies. All they need is an Internet connection and a credit card.
Learning Links
A half-century after he made his now-famous proposal to privatize the nation’s education system, the economist Milton Friedman predicts that his vision of vouchers for all will become a reality before another 50 years have passed. Includes a transcript of Education Week's conversation with Mr. Friedman.
Urban Education
Law Update
Charter Schools
Health Update
International Update
Report Roundup
These responses to a public-opinion poll show that familiarity with the main federal education law is growing among parents and the general public. But their generally positive views are out of sync with teachers’ opinions.
Reporter's Notebook
Since the beginning of the decade, NEA membership has been relatively steady. Most of the growth has come from outside the traditional rank-and-file teaching corps.
California voters will go to the polls this fall to decide controversial issues of teacher tenure and school funding in a special election that will test the strength of the state teachers’ unions in their ongoing conflict with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal hasn’t yet found the kind of high-level backing he wants for his planned legal challenge to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, but he insisted last week that he remains “absolutely” committed to filing the threatened suit.
State Journal
In the face of growing debate about how to ensure high-quality tutoring under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, the Illinois board of education last week adopted rules that impose tougher oversight on the companies offering the tutoring.
Capitol Recap
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
High school exams that are based on state standards are changing what and how students learn, whether or not they have high stakes attached to them, a report on two school districts suggests.
The Department of Education has released proposed regulations for the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act that seek to clarify the rules on highly qualified special education teachers, identification of students with learning disabilities, and the discipline of students in special education.
Tucked into the $300 billion transportation legislation is a plan to authorize almost $1 billion over five years to finance projects that would make walking and biking to school safer for children.
Federal File
Democrats in Congress and supporters of public broadcasting say that pure politics, rather than budget considerations, led a congressional subcommittee to approve deep budget cuts to public television and radio this month. The plan includes the elimination of a Department of Education program that helps seed children’s educational TV shows.
House Democrats gathered on Capitol Hill last week to outline their “Strengthen Our Schools” agenda, with an emphasis on teacher-quality measures, expanded access to preschool, and far higher spending on some federal programs.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Before Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church began tutoring students under the No Child left Behind Act three years ago, Bible readings were a common part of its study sessions.
KURA 98.9 LP-FM is one of only a few radio stations in the country managed and produced by high school students 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all year long. As the only radio station in a small Colorado town—and needing support from local businesses to survive—it has had to serve the adult residents’ needs and tastes as well.
There are right ways and wrong ways to express the high expectations inherent in a college-readiness curriculum, write the school administrators of one Colorado district.
John Wood, recently a high school student in Ohio, describes why he took a stand against the Ohio Proficiency Tests.
Letters
Letters
Tom Vander Ark, executive director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation's education initiatives, explains what the foundation has learned about high school reform.
Constancia Warren, a senior program officer at the Carnegie Corporation, describes a strategy for creating a diverse system of high-quality high schools by using choice as lever for change.

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