Education Opinion

All NewsBlast, No Gadfly -- Plus Some Equity

By Alexander Russo — March 30, 2007 10 min read
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As of Friday morning, the Forhdam Gadflies must still be perfecting their usual April Fool’s wit. In the meantime, check out the latest PEN NewsBlast, which includes stories about kids being separated by race for assembly, more about how to transform low-performing schools, the usual provocative quotes and useful grant announcements, and -- most interestingly -- findings of a panel on education and American democracy: “Both Democratic and Republican pollsters reported that education is indeed a top priority of voters. However, other concerns, such as the war in Iraq, creating affordable health care, and protecting the environment compete for public attention.”

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The Failing Four in the Sweet 16, By Amy Wilkins NY Daily News

Mar 23 -- While some top-seeded colleges in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament received well-deserved criticism last week for their low graduation rates for African-American athletes, critics neglected an even more critical issue: their overall success rates for African-American students.

API Isn’t The Best—But It Is Significantly Better Than It Was

Today the California Department of Education released some important information about the state’s accountability system, the Academic Performance Index. There is good news, more schools are meeting statewide goals. And finally, our accountability system has been changed to reflect higher expectations for California’s disadvantaged and minority students.


No Retreat on School Reform Washington Post

The No Child Left Behind Act is up for reauthorization. Some in Congress feel the challenge is too great and want to turn back the clock on reform. One Republican proposal would even let states avoid accountability requirements and still receive federal funds. Most of us in Congress know that a retreat to mediocrity is wrong. To meet the demands of the 21st century, we have to expand opportunity for all and keep our commitment to leaving no child behind.


Face the facts -- State must reform education soon or face dire consequences Fresno Bee

Yes, California has established high standards. Yes, it is improving by some measures. Yes, schools have high proportions of English language learners and lower-income students. But, as the research shows, every category of California students is doing badly in comparison with other states.

Failing Schools See a Solution in Longer Day New York Times

States and school districts nationwide are moving to lengthen the day at struggling schools, spurred by grim test results suggesting that more than 10,000 schools are likely to be declared failing under federal law next year.

Student data ‘warehouse’ speeds up teaching help Muskegon Chronicle (MI)

Analyses of student test scores that used to require hours of charting and graphing will be available to teachers in Muskegon County with the touch of a button beginning this summer. It promises to revolutionize the assessment of student achievement on many different levels.

Lexington’s Dropout Problem Winston-Salem Journal

A generation ago, many Lexington residents might not have worried too much that their public-school system ranks at the bottom in North Carolina in the percentage of students who graduate from high school. After all, students didn’t need a high-school diploma to get a good factory job. That, of course, is no longer the case. The city can’t afford not to improve its graduation rates, but it’s going to take a widespread effort to do so.

Growth Models Weighed for NCLB Accountability Ed Week
Amending the No Child Left Behind Act’s accountability provisions to require the measurement of students’ academic growth is a popular idea, but the transition to it might not be quick or easy, a panel of experts told federal lawmakers last week.


New Orleans native returns to repair schools Boston Globe

When Tyra Newell was asked to lead a training program for principals in New Orleans as part of an effort to overhaul the city’s public schools, the 31-year-old native had been away from the city for 14 years, most recently in Chicago, where she was the public school system’s budget director. The opportunity to return, she said, “was like a dream come true. I knew this was a tangible way to give back to the city that had given so much to me.”


Performance bonuses urged for teachers Enterprise Leader (AL)

Performance bonuses for teachers will reward excellence in the classroom and lead to academic improvements in schools, Gov. Bob Riley and several teachers and education leaders said Wednesday. The educators, including four Alabama teachers of the year, urged legislators to approve a performance bonus pilot program that Riley has proposed.


Gifted and talented Houston Chronicle

Under a planned $100 million expansion, KIPP schools — which, it should be stressed, are public schools — will educate 21,000 at-risk children from the Houston Independent School District. That alone is a phenomenal opportunity for a lot of children; informed parents will be sure to grab it.

Ask, but will they achieve? Wilmington News Journal (DE)

Expecting more of all students is part of Vision 2015’s plan to overhaul Delaware’s school system in the next eight years. The community leaders behind the plan argue that in today’s global economy, the state’s standards must be as challenging as those of the highest-performing countries.

Teacher employs new tech to meet new standards Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (IA)

In 2003, Oelwein, along with other schools in the Keystone Area Education Agency, participated in a federal grant program called Enhancing Education Through Technology, which aimed to raise math and reading scores by incorporating novel technology to meet federal No Child Left Behind standards.

Grade Inflation: High Schools’ Skeleton in The Closet Ed Week

Grade inflation is what happens when grades go up but the academic achievement they represent does not, at least not at the same pace.

How the Best California Middle Grades Schools Help Students Succeed Yahoo Finance

From Washington DC to the small school districts in rural California, the question of how to best serve students in the middle grades -- grades six, seven and eight -- is a major concern as educators work to help their students succeed in school. The middle grades are the critical bridge between elementary schools and high schools, and provide a foundation for children to succeed beyond school, in college and careers.


Schools fail to use millions in aid Columbus Dispatch
The federal government offers extra money for low-income students each year — funds that their schools can use for more teachers, tutors and other services to help them learn.

Spitzer, Senate offer different school formulas in budgets Times Herald-Record (NY)

Now Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s education plan, which would dole out $19.2 billion in school aid based on performance rather than geography, threatens to break the shares system for good. The Democratic governor’s plan amounts to a dramatic redistribution of wealth — from “have lots” to the “have lesses.” It’s something Senate Republicans can’t accept without jeopardizing their own political futures.

Mr. Spitzer’s Budget Deals New York Times

Gov. Eliot Spitzer has fearlessly taken on two of the most thankless jobs in New York State government: reining in health care spending and fixing the education financing formula. New Yorkers would best be served if, by the April 1 deadline, all sides agree to a budget that carries out Mr. Spitzer’s vision of reform.


Universal Pre-K needs teachers with degrees Ocala Star-Banner (FL)

We want to make sure that in the coming year Gov. Charlie Crist and the Legislature realize the promise of the constitutional amendment voters overwhelming passed in November 2002, and provide all of Florida’s children with pre-kindergarten classes taught by qualified teachers with bachelor’s degrees.


Some colleges lose faith in rankings Knoxville News-Sentinel

A group of higher education administrators are expected to ask their peers in Tennessee and other states to ignore a questionnaire used by U.S. News & World Report to rank colleges and universities. Displeasure with the magazine’s rankings, intended as a consumer tool for students and parents to compare colleges, has been growing over the years.

Colleges Hiring Lenders to Field Queries on Aid New York Times
The telephone number looks like any other university extension. And when students call with questions about financial aid, the recorded voice at the other end says, “Thank you for calling Texas Tech University’s Student Financial Center.”

UA trying to raise grad rate Arizona Wildcat

With one of the lowest graduation rates among Pac-10 schools, the UA has a history of having trouble helping students graduate on time. But steps are being taken to change that. Jerry Hogle, vice provost of instruction, said the university is also aiming for an 80 percent graduation rate by 2012.

Enrollment rule again under fire San Antonio Express-News

For a decade, a controversial law requiring state universities to automatically admit the top 10 percent of high school graduates has withstood repeated attacks from critics. And the law’s resiliency is being tested again this year. Lawmakers are debating proposals to scale back the law, originally intended to promote racial and ethnic diversity after a court decision temporarily barred racial preferences for college admissions.

Can you graduate from college in 6 years? Atlanta Journal-Constitution

To increase the number of graduates, the Board of Regents gave $2.2 million last year to KSU and four other schools with middling or below-average graduation rates. The schools have used that money to require advisers for first-year students and to create parent support groups, among other things. The University of West Georgia even hired a counselor to encourage students with substance abuse problems to stay in school.

S.A. colleges want to reach black men San Antonio News-Express

According to the Department of Education, women have been steadily outpacing men in college graduation rates since the early 1970s, accounting for 58 percent of today’s college graduates. The decline in college graduation rates for men comes on the heels of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, designed to open doors and grant access to minorities. However, minority men — already behind the curve in the education arena — fell even further behind the women in their communities.


CMS Site To Give Parents Access To Statistics WSOC-TV ABC 9 Charlotte

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools leaders say a new Web site will give parents access to a lot of detailed information they ordinarily would have a hard time finding.


Looking for a way out Fort Wayne News-Sentinel

In blue-collar communities like Gary, where most of the good-paying factory jobs have vanished, both young workers like Ward and older workers with limited skills are left stranded. Some scrape by with only a glimmer of hope that their lives will improve.

Report shows U.S. lagging in degrees earned The Daily Nebraskan

If the trend continues, the United States will have 15.6 million fewer bachelor’s and associate’s degree holders than it needs to keep up with its top economic competitors in 2025.

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