June 7, 2006

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Vol. 25, Issue 39
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Nine months after Hurricane Katrina crippled the New Orleans school district, two distinct systems of public schools are slowly emerging in the city.
The New York state attorney general’s office is close to announcing a settlement with the 525,000-member New York State United Teachers over a relationship between the union and ING Group, a large financial-services company based in the Netherlands.
Earning a high school diploma is one of the milestones for students who come to the United States from other countries. But for those who arrive in their middle to late teens, learning enough English to earn a diploma can seem all but impossible.
The U.S. Department of Education is seeking to debunk widely circulated e-mails that erroneously say the No Child Left Behind Act mandates that students who fail their 10th grade reading and math tests must accept an inferior high school completion certificate that would prohibit them from attending college or vocational school.
District Dossier
A broad cross section of elected officials and corporate executives agree: The United States needs to raise the quality of mathematics and science education in its schools. The goal, some say, is not only to boost overall student achievement, but also to cultivate enough top-tier high school graduates capable of pursuing college majors and careers in those subjects to invigorate the nation’s economy.
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Correction
Obituary
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
African-American and Hispanic teenagers are more likely to say serious academic and social problems exist in their schools than are their white peers, a survey has found.
Members of a newly formed panel on mathematics are only beginning their work, but Bush administration officials are already signaling that they believe the advisory group could begin shaping federal policy very soon.
A spate of deaths among young people around the country in the past year has brought further media attention to an asphyxial activity known as "the choking game."
Like the United States and many other countries around the world, New Zealand has been stymied for decades by achievement gaps between students of different ancestry. In New Zealand’s case, concern centers on students who are Maori, members of tribes that inhabited its islands hundreds of years before Capt. James Cook put them on the map in the 1700s.
Leadership
When it comes to high school size, smaller might not be better, concludes a national study by researchers from Michigan State University.
Media
A new report suggests that most colleges of education are doing an inadequate job of preparing elementary teachers for what is arguably their most important task: teaching children to read. While they may not disagree with this conclusion, many researchers and teacher-educators are questioning the science behind the study, which chastises education schools for failing to teach the “science of reading.”
Through the back-to-back acquisitions of its two major rivals, the media conglomerate Pearson PLC has strengthened its position as the leader in the market for K-12 student-information systems, analysts say.
A national panel is raising concerns about the quality of much of the research to date on charter school achievement, and has outlined recommendations to help ensure better analyses in the future.
Testing
American Indian students tend to lag behind their white and Asian-American peers on National Assessment of Educational Progress reading and mathematics tests in 4th and 8th grade, but they score higher on average than African-American students, according to a first-of-its-kind federal analysis.
The older American students get, the more there is to worry about in their academic performance compared with that of peers abroad, a federal summary of recent international assessments shows.
Five years after refashioning their science curriculum to move physics to the first year of high school, San Diego district officials have retreated from that approach in the wake of complaints from parents and teachers.
Report Roundup
The contentious effort in Congress to revamp U.S. immigration policy has intensified interest in how best to promote the instruction and use of English among immigrants.
Three states—Florida, New Mexico, and South Carolina—have recently passed legislation allowing statewide bodies to approve new charter schools and oversee them, rather than leaving those responsibilities solely in the hands of local school districts.
State Journal
A statewide criminal-background check has found that nearly 500 felons and sex offenders were working in Michigan’s public schools as of Jan. 1.
The legal roller-coaster ride is over, at least for now, for California high school seniors who have not passed the state’s exit exam.
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Capitol Recap
Speech by government employees in the course of their job duties is not protected by the First Amendment from disciplinary action, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week, in a 5-4 decision that critics fear could muzzle “whistleblowers” who ferret out government waste and wrongdoing.
As debates raged last year over how much federal aid to provide in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, including to help schools, a coalition of staunchly conservative Republicans in the House of Representatives insisted that lawmakers try to save money in other places to pay for hurricane relief.
Federal File
The Department of Education has proposed the first large-scale national evaluation of the effectiveness of student drug testing.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
In his nearly 11-year tenure at the helm of the Boston public schools, Thomas W. Payzant has maintained a relentless focus on instruction.
Scott Widmeyer, former communications director under the late American Federation of Teachers President Albert Shanker, and founder of Widmeyer Communications, offers a dozen lessons learned during decades of reform.
Rather than blame women teachers and female students, the real culprits for the slow down in boys’ achievement levels are poverty, racism, and heavy doses of toxic masculinity, argue Lyn Mikel Brown, Meda Chesney-Lind, and Nan Stein.
Letters
Publishing
Reviews of the latest books dealing with education, including black education in the American South, citizenship under fire, and things you should have learned but probably didn’t.
Letters
On May 25, readers participated in a discussion focused on the state of science education in the United States and specifically the results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress in science, released the day before.
Events
Education advocates from Boston-based Jobs for the Future want to improve the current educational climate for dropouts, and they think Oprah Winfrey might be able to help.

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