February 1, 2006

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In a move that’s causing ripples of controversy among researchers, a group of scholars last week announced the formation of a federally backed professional society that will focus solely on advancing scientifically rigorous studies in education.
As students displaced by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita continue returning to their home school districts in Louisiana and Mississippi, tens of thousands remain scattered elsewhere in those states, in nearby states, and across the nation.
A new college-grant program slipped into a pending federal budget bill could ultimately influence course offerings at high schools across the country and has stirred a debate about creeping federal authority over curricula.
In an entrepreneurial twist on an established tradition, Nate Levenson, the first-year superintendent of the Arlington, Mass., school system, has proposed recruiting high school students from Japan, and possibly other countries, not only as a form of cultural exchange, but also as a revenue-generating venture.
District Dossier
Scott McConnell suspected that his philosophy of education—which highlights discipline, nationalistic views, and a rigid instructional approach—strayed a bit from that of the faculty in the graduate education program at the private Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y. But he didn’t expect to get expelled for it.
People in the News
Students in regular public schools equaled or outperformed private and charter school students on a national mathematics exam when factors such as socioeconomic status, race, and school location were taken into account, a study released last week has found.
New York City will quadruple the number of schools that get additional freedom in exchange for good performance, the district’s chancellor has announced.
Testing
An annual survey of influential reading researchers suggests that some topics that have consumed policy debates and reading initiatives, such as phonemic awareness, are losing their luster.
  • Vatican Article Supports U.S. Judge on ‘Intelligent Design’
  • Teaching & Learning Update
    What’s your theory of action for school improvement? If you’re a school board member and you don’t have one, your district could be in trouble.
    Report Roundup
    Two Native American education consultants have complained to federal investigators that the Bureau of Indian Affairs failed to follow “Indian preference” guidelines in federal Reading First contracts.
    Reporter's Notebook
    Technology Update
    First lady Laura Bush and U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings dropped into three schools along the Gulf Coast last week to encourage students, parents, and educators in a region where many people still cannot return to their homes or workplaces.
    Whether it is a presidential-campaign gambit or a serious policy proposal, New York Gov. George E. Pataki’s attempt to create a $500 education tax credit just might pass a legislature that traditionally has spurned private school choice.
    Arizona began accruing fines of $500,000 per day last week after Gov. Janet Napolitano and state legislators failed to meet a federal court’s deadline for reaching an agreement on how to increase funding in public schools for the education of English-language learners.
    State Journal
    Waging a tireless campaign for Proposition 203, the 2000 ballot measure that curtailed bilingual education in Arizona, made Margaret Garcia Dugan one of the state’s most controversial figures. It also turned out to be a pretty good career move.
    State of the States
    News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
    At least one-fifth of the states say they plan to apply for a pilot program that would let them use a measure of student growth over time to help determine whether schools and districts have met their annual achievement targets under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
    A national research-advisory board last week approved guidelines to govern the outside review processes that the Department of Education uses to screen and approve the studies and reports that it funds.
    Federal File
    With the testing industry struggling to keep up with the demand fueled by mandates for more student tests, the Bush administration needs to take dramatic steps to ensure that states have the ability to develop high-quality K-12 assessments, the first report from a recently launched Washington policy group says.
    News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
    The State Scholars Initiative has been a pet project of President Bush’s and could guide the Department of Education in defining a “rigorous” high school curriculum under a bill now pending in Congress. But the program has had a rocky past, a recent, highly critical federal audit shows.
    A decade has passed since a few union leaders formed the network known as TURN to search for innovative ways to enhance education. Selling their message hasn’t always been easy.
    James Nehring argues that it’s time to set the record straight on progressive and traditional schools.
    Author and education professor Hank Rubin believes that education schools should equip future teachers with the skills needed to encourage and handle open debate on political issues in the classroom.
    Letters
    Education Week sponsors regular online chats on its Web site, edweek.org. On Jan. 18, readers took part in a lively discussion with the education historian Diane Ravitch about national standards, curricula, and tests.
    Letters
    Deadlines
    Cheri Pierson Yecke, the state chancellor for K-12 public schools in Florida, writes that the seeds of high school failure are sown in grades 5-8 and that it is time to treat the middle school years as a time for learning, instead of a period of personal adjustment.

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