February 22, 2006

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Vol. 25, Issue 24
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States are moving to close the gap between high school preparation and college and workforce readiness, but momentum is far greater in some policy areas than in others, a 50-state survey released this week shows.
The recent resignations of three prominent black female superintendents—Arlene Ackerman of San Francisco, Barbara Byrd-Bennett of Cleveland, and Thandiwe Peebles of Minneapolis—have prompted renewed discussion of the roles race and gender play in the superintendency.
In an otherwise lean White House spending plan for schools unveiled this month, state education leaders scored at least one small victory.
A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel recently voted to recommend that some attention deficit hyperactivity disorder medications carry warning labels after panel members learned of 25 reports of deaths between 1999 and 2003.
District Dossier
Bureaucratic red tape and inertia in some school districts are keeping thousands of poor children from receiving the tutoring services guaranteed to them under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, a coalition of private tutoring providers contends.
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
Early Years
When word spread at a suburban Dallas high school about plans to launch an ambitious mentoring program for this year’s seniors, some teachers believed they knew what to expect.
An organized drive to recruit educators for this year’s House of Representative and Senate races attracts candidates frustrated about the state’s handling of the school finance system.
City and school leaders in Boston reached an agreement with the Boston Teachers’ Union last week to expand the district’s system of small, autonomous schools, ending a 2-year-old standoff that had stalled the growth of the experimental program.
Baltimore school officials announced last week that they will scale back the use of a controversial middle school language arts program, after a review panel pointed to flaws in its implementation.
In the second major blow in as many months to groups seeking to infuse more skepticism into classroom lessons about evolution, the Ohio state school board voted last week to strip language from its academic standards encouraging students to “critically analyze” the established biological theory.
International Update
International Update
Report Roundup
A new study of the Cleveland voucher program finds that participating students did not show higher test-score gains than comparison students, and in fact performed slightly worse in math.
A new study from the U.S. Department of Education underscores the need for much stronger ties between the curriculum that students take in high school and what is expected in their first year of college.
South Carolina appears on track to enact legislation that would create both a statewide authorizer for charter schools and a new statewide district exclusively for those schools.
Florida education officials are moving ahead with what would be the nation’s most far-reaching plan to tie teacher bonuses to improved student achievement, despite financial uncertainties and opposition from the state teachers’ union.
State Journal
Gov. Joe Manchin III of West Virginia has endorsed a plan in the legislature that would give citizens a powerful new voice in determining whether schools in their communities consolidate.
State of the States
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
A $100 million private-school-voucher plan proposed by President Bush would have to leap several hurdles to become reality, but its supporters hope that recent political advances for their cause and a link to the No Child Left Behind Act will help it avoid defeat this time around.
The new chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee said last week that he plans to do a lot of listening when it comes to the No Child Left Behind Act.
Federal File
Education-related prescriptions for strengthening the nation’s economic competitiveness took center stage in a pair of Senate meetings last week.
Two former governors announced last week that they will lead a bipartisan panel that will recommend changes to the federal No Child Left Behind Act before Congress starts work on reauthorizing it next year.
President Bush wants to sell more than 300,000 acres of federal lands to finance federal payments for rural schools and counties, while moving to end an existing aid program.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
In the late 1980s, the labor leader Albert Shanker first articulated his vision of autonomous, teacher-formed “charter” schools. He lamented what he saw as a “lockstep” approach to K-12 education across the country that neglected the input of classroom teachers and failed to take into account students’ individual needs.
Even though the American Federation of Teachers’ largest local affiliate has opened its own charter school in New York City, the state affiliate is firmly opposed to plans by the governor and legislators to raise the statewide cap on how many charters are permitted in the Empire State.
Albert Shanker, the longtime leader of the American Federation of Teachers, had a lot to say about charter schools, starting well before the first one opened in 1992. Mr. Shanker, who died in 1997, wrote about the issue repeatedly for the AFT’s “Where We Stand” column, which appeared regularly as an advertisement in The New York Times and sometimes inother publications, including Education Week.
Lucy N. Friedman and Jane Quinn share their ideas on how after-school programs can boost students' scientific literacy.
S. Paul Reville believes that a new approach to collective bargaining between teachers and administrators is in order.
Letters
Letters
Social studies teacher Curtis G. Hier has an idea on how to attract more talented people to the teaching profession: exempt teachers from federal taxes.
Letters
On Feb. 8, 2006, readers’ questions about math and science education in the context of President Bush’s State of the Union Address were fielded by Jim Rubillo, the executive director of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics; Jodi Peterson, the director of legislative affairs for the National Science Teachers Association; and Sean Cavanagh, the staff writer who covers math and science issues for Education Week.
Grants
Honors & Awards
Events
Psychologist Robert J. Sternberg argues that the increasing use of conventional standardized tests is suppressing creativity among the nation’s K-12 students.

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