January 19, 2000

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Vol. 19, Issue 19
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Joseph Olchefske, Seattle's unlikely superintendent of schools, works in the shadows of two local icons. First, there is the Space Needle, this city's 605-foot-tall landmark that is prominently framed by the window in his downtown office. But John H. Stanford, the popular schools chief who died in November 1998 after a seven-month battle with leukemia, casts the bigger shadow.
As policymakers turn their attention to finding effective leaders for the nation's schools, they face as many questions as answers: What is the nature of leadership? How should principals and superintendents be trained? And are the jobs—as they are now structured—too much for any one person?
High school teacher Mike Truitt made a job change 18 months ago that doubled his salary and halved his workweek. His new employer: Bill Gates. Includes "Chicago Makes Deal With Feds To Hire Foreign Teachers."
Four years ago, Republicans vying for their party's presidential nomination were virtually unanimous in their position on the U.S. Department of Education: Get rid of it.
A federal judge last week squelched the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson's attempt to win reinstatement for six black high school students expelled after a well-publicized brawl at a football game in Decatur, Ill.
A group of business and education leaders is urging colleges to assess their teacher education programs within the next six months to determine how well they are preparing new teachers to use technology in the classroom.
  • Baltimore Schools Chief Intends to Step Down
  • Assignment Plan Changed
  • Drug Tests for All
  • New CEO for Hawaii Schools
  • Fla. Student Dies on Bus
  • Chemical Prompts Exodus
  • Arrests Follow Bomb Incident
  • District Chief Resigns
Ohio's school choice initiatives are under heavy attack, following charges that a voucher school received payments for students it didn't have and the discovery that a charter school lacks basic instructional materials and may have physically abused students.
High school seniors and their families pay such close attention to the college rankings published annually in U.S. News & World Report magazine that many institutions beef up financial aid packages to attract potential students in the years when their rankings sink, according to a study.
Selective colleges and universities searching for programs to replace or supplement affirmative action plans should be wary of relying on precollege outreach programs to supply pools of qualified students, a new study suggests.
An alternative organization for state education officials will publish a report card for at least seven states in a pilot project to gauge how standards-based improvement plans are affecting student achievement. The Washington-based Education Leaders Council has teamed up with StandardsWork Inc. to produce its first "results cards" next fall.
Superintendent Doug Rutan has found an unusual method of communicating with students in his southwest Idaho district: by way of school bus.
At a time when many Americans believe the nation's public schools are failing, a new report uses nearly two decades of government data to show the system has actually made gains since the early 1980s.
A federal judge's ruling this month that the graduation exam in Texas is constitutional doesn't mean other states should assume their own exit exams could survive a legal challenge, some observers cautioned last week.
The president of the Educational Testing Service has announced that she will leave her post by the end of the year.
All 14 public school districts in Florida that offer courses on the Bible are violating the U.S. Constitution by teaching from a religious perspective, a report released last week by the People For the American Way Foundation contends.
Effective reading instruction and a rich array of reading materials are not only requirements for success in life, they are also the right of every child, the nation's largest reading organization said last week. The group made the declaration in a strongly worded statement aimed at policymakers and school administrators.
New York City school board members last week named a Manhattan business leader—rather than an educator—as interim chancellor of the nation's largest school system, two weeks after the board declined to renew Rudolph F. Crew's contract.
  • Entrepreneurs Encouraged by Public School Market
Superintendents and principals are quick to note how much the dimensions of their jobs have changed.
The Chicago public schools are facing such a severe shortage of math and science teachers that the system has teamed up with two federal agencies to recruit teachers overseas.
If the State of the State speeches resounding through the halls of government this month were songs, every governor could be said to have tootled the education note, and many to have trumpeted an education theme.
The Kansas state board of education is making headlines again, but this time for its possible extinction rather than its policy on the teaching of evolution.
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • New York
  • Vermont
The upcoming departures of some influential policymakers and the impending re-election campaigns of others could lend a new urgency to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act this year.
Congress exceeded its constitutional authority when it amended the federal Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 to cover states and their political subdivisions, such as cities and school districts, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last week.
  • Students Get a Taste of the Political Process
Funding for programs to assist disadvantaged K-12 students and encourage class-size reduction escaped the Department of Education scalpel as the agency last week unveiled details of how it would comply with a $108 million mandated cut in its fiscal 2000 budget.
Some call history teacher Paul Pflueger brilliant. His critics say he's a bully. After school officials had compiled a list of 42 incidents demonstrating why he should be fired, Pflueger chose to have his fate decided in an open forum.
Teachers teaching teachers is powerful professional development, or so declares Nancy Barnes.
Is there an entrepreneurial future for schooling in the People's Republic? Denis P. Doyle investigates.
Edward B. Rust Jr. reminds us why we're raising standards in the first place and warns that changing goals and reversing course spells paralysis and inaction.
Achieve Inc.'s Robert Schwartz and Matthew Gandal argue that the tension between excellence and equity has caused some to question the political stability and staying power of the standards movement.

Vocational Choices: Revisiting an Old Debate

While I am not completely opposed to Sandra L. Mishodek's point of view ("Talents Unrecognized," Commentary, Dec. 1, 1999), I do feel she overlooks an obvious downside to making vocational education classes more available in high school. What about those students whose teenage angst and hormonal chaos are mistaken for apathy for "regular" classes and are therefore herded into vocational classes? Her examples involving problematic 8th graders are in no way an indication that these students might make good welders or hairstylists.
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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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