May 19, 1999

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Vol. 18, Issue 36
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New York

Two states may have received unfair boosts in their scores on a 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress reading exam because they removed a higher percentage of disabled students from the test than in previous years, according to a preliminary review of results from the federal program.

Handing over control of federal dollars to local officials has long been a top goal for Republicans in Congress, and with the nation's main K-12 education law under scrutiny this year, debates on exactly where the money should go are beginning to reverberate on Capitol Hill.

From the chilling accounts of the Columbine High School shootings emerged stories of teachers and students using cellular and classroom telephones to call for help and even staying on the line with emergency people throughout the rampage.
San Diego Superintendent Alan D. Bersin and the local teachers' union reached agreement last week on a plan that will put trainers of teachers in most of the district's schools.
Alan D. Bersin

Milwaukee Voucher Program
Expected To Grow Next Year

San Francisco

School-Business Partnerships
Highlighted at Conference

Business leaders need to get involved in education reform but not be afraid to end support for an effort that isn't progressing, says the chairman of one of the nation's largest technology companies.
Merrill Lynch is bullish on the for-profit education industry. And so is EduVentures LLC, a Boston consulting firm that has tracked the rise of the industry.

A phone rings in the basement of a two-story office building here on the outskirts of Boston. The caller, from Southern California, is responding to a television commercial promoting teaching as a career.

Omaha voters last week approved the biggest school-construction-bond issue in Nebraska history, a measure that is a crucial step toward ending mandatory busing and returning to neighborhood schools.
High-poverty schools that defy the odds by fostering unusually high academic performance tend to share certain common elements, a report by the Education Trust concludes.

Prospective teachers don't score nearly as well on SAT exams as do other college graduates, but they outperform their peers in the subjects they plan to teach, a study released last week reveals.

Detroit's new, mayorally appointed school board selected former Wayne State University President David Adamany last week to lead the district until a permanent chief executive officer is named.
Students who excel in history and English may have a greater incentive to push themselves in mathematics and science, and vice versa, under an Advanced Placement diploma program that will be piloted in at least 20 districts next school year.
Touted as bastions of relief from red tape, charter schools in California would have to abide by locally negotiated labor contracts under a measure that could pit teachers' unions against Democratic Gov. Gray Davis and his top education adviser.

It's hardly the norm to see algebra teachers congregating in the school library here on a gorgeous Saturday morning debating how to best convey the meaning of x+3y=5 to their mathematically challenged students.

In what is being called a significant turn, Illinois lawmakers last week approved a plan that would provide state tax breaks to parents who pay tuition to send their children to private, religious, or out-of-district public schools.

N.M. Legislature Rejects
Governor's Voucher Plan

New Mexico lawmakers handed a resounding defeat last week to Gov. Gary E. Johnson's plan to provide low-income children with vouchers worth roughly $3,000 to attend any public, private, or religious school in the state.

Proposals to allow Title I dollars to follow students directly to the schools of their choice appear to be attracting attention, or at least prompting inquiries, from some members of Congress.

A House subcommittee that has been trolling for ideas on how education technology should be treated under the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act honed in on the issue of teacher preparedness at a hearing last week.

Soda-Giveaway Ban Introduced

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, D-Vt., is leading an effort to stop schools from giving free soft drinks to students during lunchtime. The practice causes students to skip healthy drinks such as milk, he says.

Education leaders, gun manufacturers, and entertainment-industry executives attending last week's White House summit on youth violence largely embraced President Clinton's latest batch of anti-crime initiatives. Most agreed that the proposals had an important role to play in preventing future violence in the nation's schools.

At the dawn of the century, Highland Springs Elementary School was akin to thousands of other one-room schoolhouses that dotted the American landscape. Inside the roughly hewn structure near Richmond, Va., a lone teacher toiled in relative isolation to provide basic lessons to more than two dozen students. She supplemented her own meager education with textbooks and the state course of study.
In some ways, the Scopes trial was about a lot more than the teaching of evolution in public schools. And in some ways, it ended up being about a lot less--a sideshow that obscured as much as it revealed real concerns among Americans about religious beliefs, science, academic freedom, and public education.
In The New Republic, a pundit argues that "vocational education is, irreducibly and without unnecessary mystification, education for the pursuit of an occupation."
Boxes of tarnished trophies and other long-forgotten memorabilia symbolizing East High School's earliest sports triumphs lie in storage, replaced in school display cases by the honors bestowed on more recent generations. Even fewer traces of the Denver school's academic legacy endure.
On Oct. 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I--the first manmade satellite to orbit the Earth--and with it a campaign to change K-12 curriculum in the United States.
For the young pupil who daydreamed of exotic places and heroic deeds early in this century, a schoolbook could quench the imagination. Back then, history textbooks were plump with lively narratives about the glorious conquests of brave explorers and the noble struggles of the nation's founders to create a new republic.
One thing we have learned from examining the history of curriculum in the 20th century is that curriculum reform has had remarkably little effect on the character of teaching and learning in American classrooms. As the century draws to a close, it seems like a good time to think about why this has been the case.
Public schools no longer have a builtin-zoned-in-public. Schools have to win their clients, their students, the hard way.
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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