Octover 4, 2000

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Vol. 20, Issue 05
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The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether a nominally private high school athletic association acts under authority of state law when it enforces its rules.
The nation must launch an all-out effort to recruit and retain talented mathematics and science teachers on the same grand scale it did during the space race a generation ago, a federal panel declared last week.
A presidential panel is calling on the nation to concentrate an "unprecedented public will" on improving educational opportunity for Hispanics.
After nearly seven years as the self-effacing catalyst behind management improvements and rising student achievement in the Houston schools, Rod Paige is emerging as one of the country's best-known and most highly regarded superintendents. Includes "Tell-All Book Offers Insight Into Board Politics."
Departments
The middle grades are feeling the squeeze. For the past 30 years—and with particular intensity since the late 1980s—educators have labored to create distinctive middle schools, whose mission is to attend to young adolescents' social, emotional, and physical needs as well as their intellectual development.
Departments
Pulling together decades of child-development research, a report from the National Research Council says that current policies and practices are not adequately meeting the needs of young children in a rapidly changing society.
The New York City schools could raise anywhere from $120 million to $11.5 billion over 10 years by creating a corporate-sponsored Web site and Internet service for the district's students and families, according to an independent analysis of the proposal released last week by the city school board.
The accompanying chart shows how U.S. students stack up, on average, in mathematics on the Third International Mathematics and Science Study. At the middle and high school levels, U.S. students' performance drops relative to that of their peers in other participating countries.
  • Phila. Board To Impose Contract for Teachers
  • Study Faults Math Program
  • Principal Accused of Extortion
  • Two Wounded in Gunfight
  • N.Y.C. Eyes New Schedule
  • Rastafarian Garb OK'd
  • S.F. Cuts Teacher Jobs
The nation's poverty rate dropped to 11.8 percent in 1999, the lowest rate in 20 years, the U.S. Census Bureau reported last month. Child poverty fell to 16.9 percent, also a 20-year low. But 50.3 percent of children under 6 living with a woman with no husband present were poor, it found.
Departments
  • MiddleWeb.com: This site on the World Wide Web explores the challenges of middle-level reform in the districts supported by the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, including the implementation of academic standards in the districts. It provides links and resources, with a special focus on classroom assessment, academic standards, and performance-based teaching.
Departments
Schools should expand their vision of marriage and marriage education, a report from the Institute for American Values recommends.
A vast majority of public school students are taught some form of sex education, but a growing number of schools are focusing on sexual abstinence rather than contraception, two new studies show.
The chart below illustrates the achievement levels of U.S. 8th graders on the 1998 National Assessment of Educational Progress in reading.
Aspiring educators who do best on a well-known licensing exam attend college full time but don't earn degrees in education, a study has found.
Colleges and universities that serve large proportions of minority students can play a crucial role in producing more minority teachers, but that role has been largely overlooked, a recent report argues.
The chart shows the achievement levels of U.S. 8th graders on the 1996 National Assessment of Educational Progress in mathematics.
Departments
Americans have a thing or two to learn about managing their personal finances. Just ask Timothy J. Raftis, the vice president of the country's largest nonprofit credit-counseling agency.
Maureen Phillips always asks people who want to teach at her rural Michigan school to describe a typical middle-level student.
Student, parents, and teachers hold very different views on many education-related issues, including how important a role each plays in education and their expectations for students' futures, according to the results of a national poll released last week. Includes a set of charts, "Life After High School."
In the "Metropolitan Life Survey of the American Teacher 2000," students, parents, and teachers offered vastly different descriptions of the students' post-high-school plans. Teachers were the least likely to peg their students' future plans to attending a four-year college.
Boston's $21 million, full-court press to help low-performing students in grades 3, 6, and 9 is showing promise, a report by the district concludes.
Most states do "a satisfactory job" of explaining the theory of evolution in their academic standards, but 19 have benchmarks that rate from "unsatisfactory" to "disgraceful," an evaluation from a conservative-leaning think tank concludes.
When Tom Lau became the principal of Benjamin Franklin Middle School in 1996, he was the fifth educator to head the Long Beach, Calif., school since 1991. Morale was low, students were misbehaving and underachieving, and academic programming showed little continuity. "My perception was a lot of people were hiding out here," Lau recalls. With all the turnover in leadership, he believed that many teachers thought the changes he was trying to make would soon go away.
For anyone who wants an inside look at how a superintendent and his board deal with the challenges of a major public school system, Donald R. McAdams serves up details in his new book, Fighting To Save Public Schools... and Winning! Lessons From Houston.
Armor-clad knights and imposing castles of medieval Europe have become an oasis of opportunity for middle school teachers struggling to capture the attention of students easily distracted by the lives that await them outside the classroom door. Rain forests, chocolate, and even trendy cartoon characters have also become prime topics for classroom projects and activities that weave together history, the arts, literature, and other subjects.
If Washington state citizens vote on Nov. 7 to approve Initiative 728—as is widely expected—a reasonable symbol for the accomplishment might be the nozzle of a gas pump.
Under a proposal aimed at increasing the racial, ethnic, and geographic diversity of California's higher education system, students in the top 12.5 percent of their high schools' graduating classes would be granted provisional admission to the University of California.
Departments
With Connecticut's students now deep in the midst of their state's testing season, state education officials are urging school leaders and the public to avoid going overboard in worrying about the results.
After decades of conflicting beliefs about the intellectual capacity of young adolescents, scholars see a growing consensus, backed by research, that middle school students' brains are ready for learning.
  • Leaders Pledge To 'Stay the Course'
  • Private Education Trust Reaches Settlement
    With Hawaii Over Alleged Mismanagement
  • Calif. Requires Schools To Warn Parents of Pesticides
Gov. George W. Bush of Texas touched a nerve last week when he said the nation was in an "education recession," setting off a debate on the interpretation of national test data and prompting a sharp response from the secretary of education.
Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley has been the Clinton administration's top spokesman on education for more than seven years, longer than anyone else has served in that Cabinet post. But later this year, a new president-elect will have to choose Mr. Riley's successor, and gossip about prospective nominees is starting to circulate in Washington. Includes: "Contenders for Education Secretary?"
Departments
Every six weeks, a thundering roar goes up from the gym of Freeport Intermediate School, where 580 rowdy middle schoolers let loose with cheers, chants, and songs. The storm of noise just grows louder as the students, clad in T-shirts bearing the school's colors of black, red, and white, compete to outdo one another for highly coveted honors.
  • Bennett: Lieberman 'Disappointed' Him
  • The Vice President Does MTV
With the presidential campaign in full swing, school-group lobbyists and other education observers in Washington are speculating on the likely candidates for secretary of education in a Bush or Gore administration. Here is a roundup of some of the most frequently mentioned names.
(For biographies, click on the potential candidate's name. You will leave Education Week's site.)

North Carolina Gov. James B. Hunt Jr.—During his four nonconsecutive terms as governor, he has backed efforts to raise teacher salaries while increasing standards, and supported an extensive early-childhood program. He helped found and chaired the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
Houston Superintendent Rod Paige—The superintendent of the nation's seventh-largest school district is also an education adviser to Gov. Bush. Mr. Paige, a leader in urban education, could become the first African-American secretary of education.
What:
The "plan-do-check" cycle, derived from the Total Quality Management business literature.
Higher test scores and national recognition have met with their share of hoopla at Barren County Middle School. But it is outside the glow of the spotlight that schooling gets really exciting, teachers here say, because on any given day, students can demonstrate with clarity and enthusiasm that they are "getting it."
Last year's U.S. Supreme Court term was one of the most significant in years, both generally and for education law, most legal analysts agree. The court issued rulings barring student-led prayers at school football games, upholding federal aid for educational equipment in religious schools, and allowing the Boy Scouts to exclude homosexuals.
Greta K. Nagel is all for class-size reduction, but worries that what's in vogue today will be abandoned tomorrow. She's seen it happen before.
What:
A whole-school-reform initiative originally designed for elementary schools, but now being adapted for middle schools.
Jan Ophus writes lovingly of one ordinary, extraordinary headmaster.
One way to make school boards more effective and responsive, says John G. Ramsey, is to encourage a "culture of questions."
When Mary Cavalier glances up at the cafeteria ceiling, she sees subtle confirmation that her school is on the right track. The white paint is still spotless—free of the 20-year-old butter pats that Cavalier ordered scraped off when she arrived three years ago to remake Amherst Regional Middle School.
Letters
What:
A national design for middle school change, based on recommendations from the influential 1989 report by the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development.
Had anyone asked students at Jay Cooke Middle School a few years ago, "Does your voice count?" or "Can you make a change?" the definitive answer for most would have been "No!" For years, their blighted neighborhood on the north-central edge of Philadelphia has been a forgotten wasteland, suffering from gang conflicts, crime, and poverty. In its midst, the school was no exception. The 80-year-old building was deteriorating, teacher morale was low, test scores lingered well below the state average, and more than three-fourths of students lacked basic skills in reading and mathematics.
What:
A comprehensive reform model aimed at urban middle schools serving large numbers of poor children.
Tyler Goark, 14, and Megan Skidmore, 13, are typical students at a fairly representative middle school in a middle-class suburb. For a week last spring, they offered themselves as guides into a territory that few adults can navigate alone—7th grade.
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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