April 28, 1999

This Issue
Vol. 18, Issue 33
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The Children's Scholarship Fund may have pledged to stay out of politics, but it's dropped a compelling new question into the school choice debate: What does it mean when the low-income parents of 1.25 million children seek the chance to win one of 40,000 private school scholarships?
School officials, police, and local leaders in Jefferson County, Colo., worked round the clock last week trying to pick up the emotional pieces of a community torn apart by two students with firearms and an arsenal of explosives.
Fifteen minutes after he heard the news, Principal Larry Bentz was on the intercom, announcing the grim report that there had been shootings at a Colorado high school.
The nation's pre-eminent scientific organization is standing firm in its position that the theory of evolution should be at the heart of any biology curriculum and that theories colored by religious beliefs should not be taught in science classes.
There's more than one way to win a spat--or at least try to.
A mostly conservative-leaning group of scholars, education officials, and state policymakers has signed on to a cyberspace-based teacher-quality "manifesto" proclaiming that deregulation holds the key to improvement.
Gaston Caperton, the former governor of West Virginia, will be the next president of the College Board, the organization's trustees announced last week.

Topeka Schools Ask Court
To Conclude Oversight

As those responsible for, among other tasks, finding better ways of training principals and teachers, education researchers themselves could use some of that treatment. At a panel discussion here at the annual convention of the American Educational Research Association, experts zeroed in last week on the training of researchers as a factor in many of the well-documented problems in the field.

In a hotel meeting room here at the annual conference of the world's largest educational research group, four actors are putting on a play. Garbed in black, they clutch their scripts and launch into their lines. The standing-room-only crowd watches, enthralled.


A nationwide push to reduce class sizes in the primary grades to 18 students could cost up to $6 billion a year, a forthcoming federal study concludes.

Charlotte, N.C.

Assessing the progress of students with disabilities is becoming a huge challenge for states and districts, and many questions have yet to be answered, a leading researcher told members of the Council for Exceptional Children meeting here.

Many behavioral and learning problems of students with disabilities can be prevented if elementary schools focus on special services and discipline in the lower grades, according to a top federal special education official.

Head Start is effectively preparing young children for kindergarten, a federally funded study of the program concludes. But there also are areas where improvement is needed in the 34-year-old preschool program for low-income children, the research shows.

Albuquerque, N.M.

Many studies have concluded that high-quality child care contributes to children's development. The question has been how much.

Josh Ortwein's senior year at Columbine High School has ended a few weeks early.
Columbine High School is in an unincorporated but rapidly growing section of Jefferson County, Colo., the state's largest county and home to its largest school district.
Responding to a prominent string of school slayings in the past year and a half, federal policymakers have been actively seeking ways for the U.S. government to help stem episodes such as last week's tragedy in Jefferson County, Colo.
The New Hampshire House and Senate last week came to enough of a consensus on how to resolve the state's education funding crisis that some observers were predicting schools would be able to continue operations when their new fiscal year begins July 1. Such an outcome has not seemed at all certain lately.

Florida lawmakers are expected to cast a final vote this week on an education plan that would give students in failing public schools state-paid vouchers to attend any qualified private, religious, or public school.

Since the election of Gray Davis as governor of California last November, observers have waited to see how the Democrat would handle pending litigation on a sharply divisive 1994 voter-approved measure that seeks to deny illegal immigrants most social services, including a K-12 public education.

Last summer, Sen. Bill Frist introduced a measure that he thought would give schools a bit of relief from bureaucracy by expanding the popular, but little-known, "Ed-Flex" program from 12 to all 50 states.

Poor college students would receive larger federal financial-aid packages under a plan offered last week by House Republicans that Democrats contend could divert money from K-12 initiatives.


The U.S. Supreme Court declined last week to hear the appeal of three Colorado school districts over the state's future handling of 3 million acres of federal trust lands.


Federal lawmakers last week overwhelmingly approved the first education legislation of the 106th Congress, paving the way for an expected signature by President Clinton.

FOUNDATION SUPPORT: Coverage of specific topics in Education Week is supported in part by grants from the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the CME Group Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NoVo Foundation, the Noyce Foundation, the Raikes Foundation, the Wallace Foundation, and the Walton Family Foundation. The newspaper retains sole editorial control over the content of the articles that are underwritten by the foundations. Additional grants in support of Editorial Projects in Education’s data journalism and video capacity come from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust and the Schott Foundation for Public Education. (Updated 1/1/2017)

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