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Charter School Reports Give Advice and Listings

The future of charter schools rests squarely on the shoulders of their "operators" or charter school applicants, according to a report from the Program on Reinventing Public Education.

A "road map" for the business side of charter school development, the report from the University of Washington initiative summarizes strategies recommended by participants in a workshop that the program sponsored in 1995.

The report emphasizes that most charter schools are part education program, part business entity, and part government agency. Among its recommendations for future charter school founders are a clear sense of purpose or mission and a strong team with diverse expertise.

"So You Want to Start a Charter School? Strategic Advice for Applicants," is available for $3 from the Program on Reinventing Public Education, Institute for Public Policy and Management, Box 353060, University of Washington, Seattle, Wash. 98195; (206) 685-2214.

For a comprehensive listing of the nation's charter schools, the "National Charter School Directory, Third Edition" includes state-by-state alphabetical listings, enrollment figures, and a brief synopsis of each school's philosophy and educational mission.

The directory is available for $9.95 plus shipping and handling from the Center for Education Reform, 1001 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Suite 204, Washington, D.C. 20036; (202) 822-9000; e-mail: [email protected]

Standards-Setting: The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the Aurora, Colo.-based Mid-Continent Regional Educational Laboratory have issued a technical guide for educators on setting high standards, Designing Standards-Based Districts, Schools, and Classrooms.

The 293-page paperback gives background on the academic-standards movement, advises how to go about writing benchmarks, and discusses assessing students on standards and benchmarks as well as holding schools and students accountable for progress. One of several appendices lists the digested subject-area standards the lab has compiled.

Copies are available for $24.95 each for ASCD members and $29.95 each for nonmembers (stock number 196215) from the ASCD, 1250 N. Pitt St., Alexandria, Va. 22314-1453; (703) 549-9110 or (800) 933-2723; fax: (703) 299-8631.

Neuroscience: Brain research--and the effect it is having on the field of education--is summarized in a recent report from the Education Commission of the States. "Bridging the Gap Between Neuroscience and Education" addresses the ways in which scientists and educators can learn from each other.

Based on a 1996 workshop sponsored by the ECS and the Charles A. Dana Foundation, the report also shows that current practices in education often contradict scientific findings about how children learn and develop. For example, researchers have found that an interactive and nurturing environment enhances a baby's intellectual development, but many children are placed in the care of workers who don't have adequate training and are responsible for too many children.

The report is available from the ECS Distribution Center, 707 17th St., Suite 2700, Denver, Colo. 80202-3427; (303) 299-3692; fax: (303) 296-8332.

Teenage Volunteerism: More teenagers are volunteering more hours. But the news is more mixed when it comes to the levels of participation among ethnic groups and teenagers' financial contributions to charities, according to a survey of more than 1,000 12- to 17-year-olds for Independent Sector.

The coalition of 800 voluntary organizations reports that 13.3 million teenagers in the United States volunteered in 1995, up from about 12.4 million in 1991. The total number of hours volunteered rose 17 percent-- from 2.1 billion in 1991 to 2.4 billion in 1995.

Although the average annual amount that youths contributed to charitable groups increased by 46 percent since 1991, the percentage of teens who donated money dropped from 50 percent to 41 percent during the same period. And while volunteering among white adolescents held relatively steady, volunteering among black teenagers fell from 53 percent in 1991 to about 42 percent in 1995.

"Volunteering & Giving Among American Teenagers 12 to 17 Years of Age," at a price to be determined later this month, is available from Independent Sector, 1828 L St. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036. Highlights can be found on the World Wide Web at

World of Work: A program that helps volunteers from the business world teach elementary students about careers succeeds in influencing children's ideas about the world of work, say evaluators at Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass.

Students at four schools that took part in the Kids and the Power of Work Program of the New York City-based National Child Labor Committee showed more knowledge of jobs, work-related skills, and work habits than did students at similar schools that held other types of career-awareness activities, the researchers found. The program includes annual work-site visits and monthly school presentations.

The two-year study found that participating teachers added more workplace knowledge to the curriculum, and volunteers from businesses gained better understanding of what children need to become successful workers. The 40-page report also includes recommendations to improve the program, which has been adopted at schools in 18 states.

"Final Report of a Two-Year Evaluation of the Kids and the Power of Work Program," is free and available from Joey Moffit, c/o KAPOW, 1501 Broadway, Suite 1111, New York, N.Y. 10036.

Cooperative Education: Interest in work-based learning programs and youth apprenticeships seems to be on the upswing. But amid all of this new support, cooperative education, a form of job-based learning that involved as many as 400,000 students nationwide during the 1991-92 school year, may have gotten short shrift.

To shed some light on what experts say are neglected programs, the Policy Information Center at the Educational Testing Service has produced a 28-page report that reviews the history of cooperative education and analyzes its successes and failures. The center's conclusion: Rather than ignore these long-established programs, rejuvenate them and build on them to create a full school-to-work transition system.

"Cooperative Education in High School: Promise and Neglect," $2.50 prepaid, is available from the ETS Policy Information Center, Rosedale Rd., Princeton, N.J. 08541-0001.; (609) 734-5694. Additional information is available on the World Wide Web at

Child-Care Financing: Most policymakers agree that young children should have access to high-quality child-care and preschool programs. Few have figured out a way to pay for it.

The history of the child-care-financing issue and a discussion of various funding proposals are featured in the latest issue of The Future of Children, a publication produced three times a year by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

A collection of articles by university researchers, lawyers, and other experts on this issue, the publication concludes that most child care is mediocre, that low-income families face long waiting lists and complex eligibility rules for subsidized child care, and that turnover is high among child-care workers because their wages are so low.

The Future of Children is free from the Circulation Department, Center for the Future of Children, David and Lucile Packard Foundation, 300 Second St., Suite 102, Los Altos, Calif. 94022; fax (415) 948-6498. The journal and the executive summary are also available on the World Wide Web at http//

Child-Care Block Grants: Details on how states are spending money from the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant are included in a report from William J. Tobin and Associates. The report analyzes child-care legislation and the way in which states distribute the funding.

"A Summary and Analysis of the CCDBG State Applications for Fiscal Year 1997" also includes information on state expenditures for such programs as child-care resource and referral agencies and training and technical assistance for child-care workers. In addition, it compares the new block grant, as it has changed under the new federal welfare law, with funding levels in fiscal 1996.

The report is available for $65 from William J. Tobin and Associates, 3612 Bent Branch Court, Falls Church, Va. 22041-1006.

Dropouts: Students with disabilities drop out of school at much higher rates than their nondisabled peers. Statistics show that, nationwide, about 35 percent of students with learning disabilities and 55 percent of students with emotional disabilities eventually drop out, compared with 25 percent of nondisabled students.

The Institute on Community Integration at the University of Minnesota has published a report on three middle school projects that attempt to stem the tide of dropouts. The projects--Achievement for Latinos through Academic Success, or ALAS, in Los Angeles, the Belief Academy in Seattle, and Check & Connect in Minneapolis--were funded from 1990 to 1995 by the U.S. Department of Education's office of special education programs.

"Staying in School: Strategies for Middle School Students With Learning & Emotional Disabilities," is available on the World Wide Web at or by calling the institute at (612) 624-4512.

Multiculturalism: Students give their opinions on learning about multiculturalism in a recent survey conducted by Louis Harris and Associates for the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co.

The last report in a series about issues in education, it offers the views of students nationwide in grades 7-12. The students were questioned on the availability of multicultural courses, their interest in taking the courses, the emphasis their schools place on the topic, and their evaluations of teachers' lessons on tolerance.

The report gives insight into the level of student interest, the need to expand programs, and the possible benefits to both students and teachers if multiculturalism were given greater attention in schools.

"Metropolitan Life Survey of the American Teacher 1996: Students Voice Their Opinions on Multiculturalism in the Schools," free, is available from MetLife Teachers Survey 1996, P.O. Box 807, Madison Square Station, New York, N.Y. 10159-0807.

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