March 22, 2006

This Issue
Vol. 25, Issue 28
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Deadlines are looming for school districts and other public employers to comply with a new financial-reporting rule on the long-term costs for health and other insurance benefits that have been promised to employees.
With an urgency not seen in decades, policy leaders concerned about America’s global competitiveness and widening income gaps within U.S. society are propelling issues of academic and workforce preparation to the forefront of the nation’s education policy debates.
After years of tense relations between teachers’ unions and the growing charter school movement, unions are stepping up their efforts to organize educators at the independent public schools.
The founders of the nation’s only public boarding school are pushing efforts in several states to replicate their program, which takes poor students out of unstable homes and puts them in a rigorous, round-the-clock college-preparatory setting.
The West Des Moines school board last week adopted later daily starting times for the Iowa district’s high schools that will go into effect next school year. In Milwaukee, district officials are now letting high school students start their days 30 minutes to an hour later. The Tulsa, Okla., public schools, meanwhile, have flipped the starting times for elementary and high schools to give the older students more rest.
District Dossier
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
On the heels of revealing that it had mistakenly reported lower scores for 4,000 students—and higher scores for 600—who took the SAT in October, the College Board admitted last week that a batch of 1,600 answer sheets was not rechecked as part of a corrective effort launched when the first round of errors was discovered.
School districts across Illinois have scrambled to reschedule test dates and review test materials in response to a series of delays and problems with their statewide assessment—setbacks that state officials blame on the contractor hired to produce and deliver the exams.
The certification pathway that New York City teachers took to their classrooms seemed to have little relationship to how effective they were in raising students’ scores, concludes a study that matched some 10,000 teachers with six years of test results.
A just-launched project will review education reports released by private think tanks for the quality of their research, methodology, and conclusions, using expert academic reviewers.
A new initiative spearheaded by the Consortium for School Networking aims to raise awareness among schools about so-called “open technologies,” software and computer operating systems with content and applications that have few or no licensing restrictions.
The National PTA and the Cartoon Network unveiled a public relations campaign last week that seeks to protect or reinstate recess time for elementary school children.
Children with low birth weights who receive early intervention and educational services are likely to have higher reading and math scores and better behavior in school than similar children who do not receive such services, a new study shows.
Report Roundup
Contemporary warnings about the gathering storm facing the U.S. economy are being met with some skepticism. The skeptics don't challenge the need for improving math and science education at the K-12 level, a course of action that is at the heart of most of the current proposals aimed at protecting America's competitiveness. They just wonder if it's the right solution to the wrong problem.

Special Report

Governors are focusing much of their attention on two critical areas of education policy—high school and preschool—a 50-state look at the nation’s governors and their leadership on education over the past year shows. Education Week reviews the 2005 education agendas and outcomes for all 50 governors, and notes their 2006 priorities.
Includes a 50-state interactive data map and a PDF of the entire report.
Kentucky is on the verge of integrating a college-admissions test into its state testing system, and it may soon be followed by other states also trying to provide students with a new gateway to college.
A state judge’s threat to close some of North Carolina’s lowest-performing high schools is prompting angry reactions among local education leaders, while also spurring state efforts to give the schools promised technical help.
State Journal
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Educators in every state soon may have an extra source for identifying sex offenders and other criminals who apply to work as teachers and other school staff members, or who volunteer to work with children in public and private schools.
Karen Smith traveled 1,000 miles from her job as an elementary school principal in Evening Shade, Ark., to let members of Congress know last week that rural educators are worried about President Bush’s proposed budget cuts for education, and that rural schools need more attention.
Federal File
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Rona Wilensky, the principal of New Vista High School in Boulder, Colo., questions the proposals announced by some of the country's "education governors" to fix the nation's high schools. While most policy leaders set requirements before supplying the means to meet them, Wilensky argues for a reversal of this trend: Give schools and educators the necessary resources before requiring them to implement reform.
Teacher quality, more than any other factor, influences student learning, argues Marc F. Bernstein. Therefore, he claims, teachers must be evaluated over longer periods of time and by standards of student success before receiving tenure.
Reviews of the latest books dealing with education, including publications focused on race and education, as well as language and child development.
An excerpt from Dana Buchman's recent book, "A Special Education: One Family's Journey Through the Maze of Learning Disabilities."
On March 8, Education Week sponsored an online chat on one-to-one computing programs, in which schools provide a computing device for every student.
Vivien Stewart, the vice president for education of the Asia Society, examines China's remarkable educational growth. She explains why this growth, and that of other nations, compels American leaders to carefully reassess the U.S. education agenda.

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