January 11, 2006

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Florida’s voucher program for students in the lowest-rated public schools is unconstitutional, the state supreme court ruled last week in a 5-2 decision that friends and foes of private school choice are scrutinizing for its potential impact on voucher debates nationwide.
The U.S. Department of Education last week sent out the first installment—more than $250 million—in education aid to states affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, just days after President Bush signed the measure into law.
The two city districts that made the greatest strides in math on the latest national assessment relied on similar strategies: building students’ conceptual math skills and investing in professional development in that subject for elementary and middle school teachers.
Four months after Hurricane Katrina wiped out large sections of New Orleans, an early outline of a newly configured school system is beginning to emerge—and it looks unlike any other district.
Few licensing rules for principals reflect the knowledge and skills needed to lead instructional improvement, suggests a nationwide analysis of state requirements for administrator-candidates.
District Dossier
Clarification
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
The two national teachers’ unions have provided the most detailed public accounting to date of their spending, as a result of new federal requirements.
Fueling the debate over high school graduation statistics, a University of Minnesota researcher is proposing a new way to gauge how states measure up when it comes to graduating students on time.
Report Roundup
Simplifying test questions so that they avoid unnecessarily complex English is the best way for states to include English-language learners in large-scale testing, according to the most prominent researcher on testing accommodations for such students.
The creditworthiness of several school districts in Louisiana and Mississippi has taken a hit in the aftermath of the devastation caused last August by Hurricane Katrina, according to a recent report by Moody’s Investor Service.
States offer various programs designed to give families more choices in education, ranging from charter public schools to tax breaks that encourage contributions for private school scholarships. But only a few states sponsor and fully finance vouchers that cover private school tuition.
As educators look for evidence of what works and what doesn’t in teaching reading to struggling students, it may be tempting to draw comparisons between the 11 big-city districts that took part in the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress.
A South Carolina judge’s ruling that the state must provide more educational opportunities for young children in poor and rural areas is setting the stage for an extensive legislative and policy debate on K-12 schools in the Palmetto State.
State Journal
Gov. George E. Pataki promised an ambitious educational agenda last week in his final State of the State Address, but he didn’t answer the $5.6 billion education question: Will the state put up the money to end the 13-year-old lawsuit that led to a court ruling that the state is shortchanging New York City public schools?
In a decision designed to spark a transformation of New Jersey’s school finance formula, the state board of education concluded last week that poor rural districts have been shortchanged in a state known nationally as a leader for providing billions of dollars in extra aid and programs to its poor urban districts.
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Capitol Recap
State of the States
A recent accord between the television industry and children’s advocacy groups over federal rules promises to ease the transition of TV programming for children into the era of digital broadcasting.
Federal File
Education-related issues are expected to take a back seat to questions about abortion rights and presidential powers during the possibly lengthy grilling of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Samuel A. Alito Jr. by the Senate Judiciary Committee set to begin Monday.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Hurricane Katrina, the disastrous storm that struck the Gulf Coast in late August, displaced an estimated 1 million people. Historians are already calling the resulting exodus of families from hard-hit communities in Louisiana and Mississippi the greatest mass migration in the United States since the Civil War.
They had never met back in New Orleans, but a pair of 9th graders have become inseparable since ending up in the same Maryland high school after the hurricane left them homeless.
After four months in Virginia, a New Orleans family is returning to an uncertain future.
With her sister and father living far away in storm-ravaged Mississippi, an 8th grader finds comfort in meeting new classmates and in staying in touch with old ones.
Tony Wagner, the co-director of the Change Leadership Group at Harvard University’s graduate school of education, writes about his discussion with a group of principals on the definition of "rigor" in education.
Mildred Alpern, a retired high school history teacher, ponders when parents helping their children with homework cross over to doing it for them. For assignments beyond a child's own ability to complete, should teachers take parental involvement into account for evaluation?
A mix of book reviews covering charter schools, education reform, leadership, and special education.
An award-winning journalist, Nell Bernstein also coordinates the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership. In her new book, All Alone in the World, she tells the often-heartbreaking stories of these all-but-forgotten children.
Events
Grants
J.H. Snider, a former school board member and a senior research fellow at the New America Foundation states that superintendents have become the convenient scapegoat of education politics.

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