July 13, 2005

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Federal officials by late last week had sent decision letters to 16 states approving at least some of their requested changes to accountability plans under the No Child Left Behind Act. Another 31 states are awaiting such letters, although many have received oral approvals or denials.
While math has long been regarded as a universal language because of its foundation in numbers, the subject poses nearly as many hurdles for students with limited English as lessons that rely more heavily on reading, many educators say.
Boston’s network of “pilot” schools has become part of the city’s nationally watched experiment with small, autonomous public schools. Now, whether the 300-student school will ever make the switch hangs on the outcome of an increasingly bitter standoff between the Boston school district and the 7,000-member Boston Teachers Union.
Many state budgets are reaping the benefits of tax revenues that are rising faster than at any time since the economic slowdown ended.
Take Note
Massachusetts education leaders and national desegregation advocates are praising a federal appellate ruling upholding the Lynn school district’s voluntary integration plan, which takes race into consideration in some student-assignment decisions.
While the National Education Association attacks the nation’s chief education law in the courts, the American Federation of Teachers is pursuing its own strategy aimed at refining the law and correcting the provisions its leaders consider unfair and unworkable.
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Correction
News in Brief: A National Roundup
The National Research Council offers guidance to state officials on how to craft the science tests that the sweeping federal law will require in the 2007-08 school year.
People in the News
An increasing number of business-themed summer camps are teaching teenagers entrepreneurship and financial literacy, among other things.
Nearly eight years ago, the Kansas City, Kan., school system adopted an ambitious but untried plan to transform its schools into more personalized and academically rigorous learning communities. An independent report released last week suggests the district’s long-running gamble is paying off.
Rural Education
The announcement that the world’s richest countries will erase the foreign debt of 18 of the poorest could have a significant effect on education in the developing world, international development experts say.
A pair of recent reports suggests that high school graduation rates may be worse than they appear in the South and across the United States.
Report Roundup
English-Learners & Immigrants
Report Roundup
Sports
Report Roundup
The leader of the nation’s largest teachers’ union laid out a six-point plan last week for strengthening public education.
Reporter's Notebook
States and school districts can be required to spend their own money to comply with the No Child Left Behind Act if they accept federal funds under the law, the Bush administration argues in its formal reply to a National Education Association lawsuit that challenges the law.
The U.S. Department of Education is exploring options for measuring progress under the No Child Left Behind Act that are based on how much academic growth individual students show over time, according to attendees of the first meeting of a working group on such models.
Colleges
State Journal
Ohio acquired what could become one of the largest school voucher programs in the country when Gov. Bob Taft recently signed into law a new program that significantly expands on the state-run choice plan in place in Cleveland for the past decade.
Kansas lawmakers appropriated $148 million last week in K-12 spending to comply with an order from the state supreme court in a long-running school finance case.
Capitol Recap
As president of the Southern Regional Education Board, Mark D. Musick, a veteran education policy leader, has pushed state policymakers to work toward high-quality schooling for all the South’s children.
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Texas lawmakers have approved two competing school financing plans that would give teachers raises and lower property taxes—and keep schools open this fall—in an attempt to comply with a state court ruling.
Federal File
The Bush administration has reversed an earlier stance taken by the federal government on a legal appeal dealing with the burden of proof in special education cases, choosing to support the position taken by a Maryland school district in a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Retiring Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court will leave a legacy of influence in decisions affecting public education over the past 24 years.
Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s pending retirement perhaps overshadows any single case in the U.S. Supreme Court term that ended June 27. Her role as the often-decisive fifth vote was underscored by the only case that dealt directly with education, a Title IX ruling for which Justice O’Connor wrote the opinion for a slim majority. Three other cases were of particular interest to educators during the 2004-05 term.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s recent split decisions in a pair of cases concerning displays of the Ten Commandments on government property did not fundamentally alter the legal landscape for public schools, but neither did they leave it untouched, legal observers say.
Research aimed at improving academic achievement for minority students, those with limited English skills, and other students with disadvantages tops a list of proposed research priorities published by the Department of Education’s primary research branch.
Amid a flurry of activity to fill out the Department of Education’s leadership roster, President Bush has nominated a veteran Senate aide to take up the long-vacant post of assistant secretary for civil rights.
The Republican-controlled House voted June 24 to reverse the U.S. Department of Education’s recent decision that more than 50 for-profit charter schools in Arizona should not get federal money for special education or the Title I program for disadvantaged students.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
As the nation’s roadways become increasingly congested, school bus drivers and transportation specialists are finding it more difficult to get children to school on time.
Kenneth Komoski suggests we start a much-needed dialogue about the educational, social, and economic implications of youths’ media use and how it effects learning.
Alfonso J. Orsini, who taught at a public school in China this past school year, reflects on the differing social contexts of high-stakes testing in China and the United States.
Letters
Letters
Piedad F. Robertson suggests that high school reform efforts reflect a growing consensus: They should prepare all students for postsecondary education and training.

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