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Threat of Legal Action Worries Educators

Fear of being sued or accused of abusing students is affecting how educators approach their jobs, a report released last week concludes.

The study by Public Agenda, a nonpartisan policy-research organization based in New York City, found that the possibility of being sued or accused of abuse is ever present in the minds of many educators. They say the threat of litigation is taking a toll on teachers and administrators.

The study was based on focus groups conducted with superintendents from across Illinois, principals and administrators from a school district in suburban New York, and classroom teachers from a district near the city.

Although educators were not calling for sweeping changes in how the legal system deals with education issues, the report notes that superintendents and principals believe the system needs to be reformed to deal better with legal issues related to special education.

—Kevin Bushweller

Education Business

Education management organizations, or EMOs—the private firms that contract with school districts to operate public schools—continue to grow, despite strong objections about them within the education profession, according to a recent policy analysis.

The analysis by the San Francisco-based WestEd, a nonprofit research, development, and service agency, suggests that five forces have helped propel that growth. They are: a history of outsourcing for special education services, growth in accountability policies, increasing use of school choice programs, greater use of school district outsourcing, and increases in the number of charter schools.

Still, the report says, EMOs will not continue to grow unless public school administrators become more adept at contracting with such firms, and communities become more familiar with the services they provide.

—Kevin Bushweller

College Bills

One-fourth of young people are likely to lack the money and financial know-how to achieve their college and career goals, according to a recent survey completed by a financial-services company.

For More Info
Key findings from the survey, "America’s Youth Looks to the Future," are available from Student Loan Finance Corp. (Requires Adobe's Acrobat Reader.)

Nonetheless, the survey—commissioned by the Aberdeen, S.D.-based Student Loan Finance Corp.—also found that about 80 percent of young people were optimistic about their future careers and ambitions. However, fewer than 50 percent of the 16- to 24-year-olds polled were optimistic about the United States' future economy. The findings were based on a telephone survey of 1,317 people in that age range.

—Sean Cavanagh

Tracking Charters

A new report examines the progress of charter schools in 23 states and the District of Columbia.

Released by the Center for Education Reform, a Washington research and advocacy group that is a strong supporter of the independent public schools, the report suggests that charter schools in those places have made "notable gains" in serving a wider spectrum of students.

—Kevin Bushweller

Vol. 23, Issue 14, Page 11

Published in Print: December 3, 2003, as Report Roundup
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