October 4, 2006

This Issue
Vol. 26, Issue 06
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Colorado’s 178 district superintendents are embroiled in a polite yet pointed debate with Commissioner of Education William J. Moloney and the state school board over the state’s role in helping districts raise student achievement.
The findings of a scathing report on the federal Reading First program continued to reverberate last week following its Sept. 22 release, fueling debates in Congress, on the Internet, and among professionals in the field about their gravity and potential impact.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed last week to take up the issue of when a teachers’ union may spend the money it collects in the form of “agency fees” from nonmembers on political causes.
District Dossier
The federal government began shipping emergency radios to thousands of public schools nationwide last week in an effort to more quickly alert school personnel to an impending hazard, whether it’s a hurricane or a terrorist attack.
The hostage-taking at a rural Colorado high school last week that left one student and the armed intruder dead was a rare event and one that would have been nearly impossible for school leaders to prevent, school safety experts said.
Obituary
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
Correction
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Concerns about high school improvement, teacher quality, and mathematics and science instruction may be grabbing headlines of late, but they’re not keeping most of the nation’s superintendents up at night, a new survey suggests.
The U.S. Department of Education isn’t the only organization in Washington with a “what works” Web site.
Researchers who study children and schooling are often constrained by the data sets they use. School district data, for instance, yield valuable information on students’ ages, their achievement history, and their educational placements, but they don’t tell the whole story.
Report Roundup
The recent White House Conference on Global Literacy hosted here by first lady Laura Bush coincided with the rollout of a new international assessment that holds the promise of providing a much more accurate picture of adult illiteracy in developing countries than ever before.
The Boston school board is expected this week to formally tap Manuel J. Rivera, the Rochester, N.Y., schools chief, as the district’s next superintendent, a move many hope will shift the focus from a difficult search process to planning for the city’s children.
Proposed changes in the way schools and states report data on students’ race and ethnicity to the federal government “would make it extremely difficult, and sometimes impossible,” to conduct research, monitor civil rights compliance, and enforce accountability, according to a report by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University.
As college tuition costs continue to rise, more students are relying on private loans to cover their expenses, sometimes instead of those subsidized by the federal government.
A Connecticut teacher suspended without pay after he allegedly used an anti-gay term in remarks to a student in class was the beneficiary of a controversial fundraiser last week, staged by colleagues seeking to help him financially.
A North Carolina university has stepped into a major breach at a high school on the state’s list of low performers, lending some dozen faculty members from its ranks to head up science and mathematics classes that lacked qualified teachers.
State Journal
Florida has announced three plans this year to tie teacher bonuses to improvement in students’ test scores. And all three times the plans have been challenged by the state teachers’ union.
A federal judge last week dismissed three of the four claims in Connecticut’s lawsuit challenging the No Child Left Behind Act, largely on procedural grounds.
In what may be the end of a long legal road, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled that for-profit charter schools in Arizona cannot receive federal funds.
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Federal File
Leaders of a high-profile private panel charged with recommending changes to the No Child Left Behind Act say they want to keep the central tenets of the 4½-year-old law, increasing the possibility that the law will not undergo wholesale changes when Congress reauthorizes it.
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings last week outlined a bold plan to move forward on proposals in a federal commission’s report calling for a major shakeup of the nation’s higher education system.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
The Bush administration has urged the U.S. Supreme Court to take up the question of whether parents who are not lawyers can represent their children in federal court over issues related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
In its new term, the U.S. Supreme Court will consider two potentially landmark cases on whether public schools may take race into account in assigning students to schools. Here are the stories of those cases.
Louisville's race-conscious policy is the target of a legal challenge by a white parent who contends that the policy violated her son’s U.S. constitutional right to equal protection of the law when he was denied a transfer to his neighborhood school on account of his race in 2000.
In Seattle, the student-assignment policy seeks to keep the racial and ethnic makeup of high schools within the range of district averages.
Mindful teaching needs to be evidence-informed, not data-driven, write two professors at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College.
Ignoring academic writing and the reading of nonfiction books at the high school level will only prolong our national bout of failure in college, writes Will Fitzhugh, the founder of The Concord Review.
Letters
On Sept 19, readers questioned S. Paul Reville, the president of the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy, in Cambridge, Mass.; Yvonne Caamal Canul, the director of the office of school improvement of the Michigan Department of Education; and Christopher B. Swanson, the director of the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, on the topic of “New Leadership Role for States: Instructional Improvement for Low-Performing Schools.”
Grants
Events
Former education correspondent William Celis writes on the contributions made by immigrants to America's public schools, stating they have helped propel some of the most significant and enduring changes in state and federal education policy in the last century.

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