May 3, 2006

This Issue
Vol. 25, Issue 34
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The debate over a school choice bill in the Missouri legislature has opened a bitter rift among some of the state’s top black elected officials.
Major initiatives in New York City and Chicago to close unsuccessful schools and create small schools in their wake are stirring criticism from some community activists, local politicians, and others.
Over the past few years, alternative routes for teacher certification have helped alleviate teacher shortages in districts big and small, as they’ve attempted to juggle a nationwide need for special education, math, and science teachers and a federal requirement that all teachers of those subjects, among others, be deemed “highly qualified” by the end of this school year.
Three years after students in Puerto Rico took their first crack at a specially designed version of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, their scores have yet to be made public, a delay that has frustrated some members of NAEP’s policy-setting board.
Some of the most prominent educational management organizations hired to run schools have a thin, or nonexistent, research base to prove they work, according to a consumer guide released last week by a Washington-based research group.
District Dossier
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
Policies that take a “zero tolerance” approach to student misbehavior are being overused in Florida, resulting in hundreds of thousands of arrests and suspensions, often for minor misconduct, a report has found.
The public is largely disenchanted with the way the federal No Child Left Behind Act measures student learning and teacher quality, and it would like greater input into the law’s implementation, a report scheduled for release this week by the Public Education Network finds.
California schools using a popular, highly structured commercial reading program, coupled with other vital policies and practices, had higher performance scores on average under the state’s accountability system than similar schools, according to a supplementary analysis from a large-scale study.
A federal appeals court’s ruling that a public school may prohibit students’ wearing of T-shirts bearing slogans that “denigrate” gay and lesbian students was hailed last week by gay-rights advocates, but drew fire from some legal observers, who said it endorsed viewpoint discrimination.
Over the next year, Aaron Tang and Ethan Hutt, the energetic founders of a new education advocacy group, aim to get 1 million middle school, high school, and college students to sign a petition calling for high-quality public education for all students, not just those in suburban and middle-class neighborhoods.
Special Education
Heralded as a chance to relieve the paperwork burden for special education teachers, two federal pilot programs are getting tepid reviews over the proposed rules for carrying them out.
Report Roundup
Worried about the possible shrinkage of their educated workforces in coming decades, the New England states have joined together on a new initiative aimed at preparing more students to tackle college.
The top executive of the Council of Chief State School Officers announced last week that he would leave his post at the end of the summer, giving the group time to plan a lobbying strategy for the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act with a new director.
State Journal
Capitol Recap
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings’ April 27 trip to Philadelphia for the first of what will be at least four U.S. Department of Education-sponsored forums on the landmark federal education law also signaled how far the Bush administration believes the 4-year-old law has come and the distance it still needs to go—often with a push from the secretary.
As congressional Democrats declared last week that federal efforts to help Gulf Coast schools with hurricane recovery aren’t working, school officials from the region hit by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita last year urged lawmakers to provide more regulatory flexibility and more money.
Federal File
The U.S. Supreme Court last week declined to review a case in which educators at a New York school restricted religious viewpoints that a student expressed in a class assignment having nothing to do with religion.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
A former teacher with a message on educating children from poor backgrounds is influencing school leaders anxious to close the achievement gap.
Leadership expert Mark Gerzon advocates for mediation training for educators, saying they have to know more about leadership and conflict than even politicians do.
Creative writing teacher Melissa Hart writes that the challenge to cultivate balanced minds is being stifled as funding for science and athletics comes at the expense of arts programs.
Honors & Awards
Martin R. West and Bruno V. Manno ponder the impact the No Child Left Behind Act will have on charter schools.

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