November 17, 2004
Vol. 24, Issue 12
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State leaders in Alabama expected little resistance when they asked voters on Nov. 2 to strip language from the state constitution that required segregated schooling. But as the results rolled in, they got a surprise lesson in just how powerful the fear of tax hikes can be.
At a time when many states are poised to roll out new standardized tests to evaluate English-language proficiency in unprecedented depth, California is balking at carrying out a federal requirement to test the literacy of young children who are learning English.
America’s Choice School Design, a school improvement program that has enlisted 547 schools in 16 states in its brand of comprehensive reform, plans to announce this week that it is loosening its nonprofit moorings and changing to a for-profit company.
Measures that track "value" that schools add to individual students' learning over time are increasingly popular with educators and policymakers.
A young Michigan man who runs a Web site that supplies information about public schools sent hundreds of e-mails this fall to superintendents in four states, demanding that they reveal their sexual orientation and threatening to list them as gay if they did not respond.
News in Brief: A National Roundup
News in Brief: A National Roundup
The federal focus on teachers’ knowledge of their subjects threatens to push aside the important aim of bringing more minority candidates into a workforce that is overwhelmingly white, contends a report released here last week by a coalition of teacher and higher education groups.
After financial scandals that led to prison sentences for their presidents, the Washington Teachers Union in the nation’s capital and the United Teachers of Dade in Miami will elect new leaders over the next few weeks, one measure of returning the unions to local control.
People in the News
Hispanic students continue to drop out of high school at rates much higher than those for blacks and non-Hispanic whites, a federal study shows.
Hispanic students continue to drop out of high school at a greater rate than 16- to 24-year-olds of other races and ethnicities.
Homeless children can still sue as individuals to enforce their educational rights under a 17-year-old law that is now part of the No Child Left Behind Act, a federal judge has ruled.
To help children distinguish between real and imaginary violence, the National PTA has for years promoted a school-based workshop called “Taking Charge of Your TV.” Among other goals, the program aims to help parents and educators talk with children about what they see on television.
A familiar debate over the origins of life—this time centered on a science-textbook sticker—is playing out in a Georgia courtroom, where parents are challenging their school district’s written description of evolution as “a theory, not a fact.”
Teaching & Learning
A small school district on the Arizona-Utah state line has run out of money, four years after it lost almost two-thirds of its students in a mass withdrawal encouraged by local religious leaders.
For-profit companies run five of the top 15 comprehensive school reform programs.
Much of the controversy about using value-added assessments to measure the effectiveness of schools and teachers involves the strengths and weaknesses of existing models for tracking individual students’ growth.
In the legislative session that begins in January, Montana lawmakers will be under the gun to come up with a definition for a “quality” public education, following the Montana Supreme Court’s decision last week to strike down the state’s school funding formula.
Just days after voters in 11 states approved bans on single-sex marriages, state school board members in Texas endorsed revisions to new health textbooks that define marriage according to the state’s own year-old law: a lifelong union between a man and a woman.
Kentucky’s governing body for higher education voted last week to put in place a statewide standard aimed at reducing the number of college freshmen who need remedial courses.
States will continue to see fiscal challenges in the coming years, a prospect that does not bode well for increasing their K-12 budgets, analysts from the National Conference of State Legislatures said at a post-election meeting here.
Pennsylvania education officials have set the rules for an alternative route that some of the state’s veteran teachers can use to become “highly qualified” under federal law.
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Predicting the presidential Cabinet shuffle is one of the most time-honored post-election guessing games in Washington, and the destiny of Secretary of Education Rod Paige may be prime fodder for the latest contest.
Some rural education experts are questioning the U.S. Department of Education’s award of a $10 million grant for a research center in North Carolina, contending that the grant recipient may fail to address many of the toughest issues facing the nation’s rural schools.
With the elections over, Congress is expected this week to turn to some unfinished business in a lame-duck session, including an overdue spending bill for education and a plan to reauthorize the main special education law.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Sen. Judd Gregg, the New Hampshire Republican who played a central role in negotiating adoption of the bipartisan No Child Left Behind Act, announced last week that he would step down as the chairman of the Senate panel that oversees education policy. Instead, he’ll take up the Budget Committee’s gavel.
PAGE 28 - On Assignment
A new generation of study programs worldwide is examining the links between brain science and children's learning problems and skills.
PAGE 31 - Commentary
American public education suffers from deeply rooted misalignments that substantially restrict managerial effectiveness, dampen adoption of innovation, and dilute productive deployment of added resources, argues James W. Guthrie.
PAGE 32 - Commentary
Notices on new education books.
Grants available from various sources with upcoming application deadlines.
PAGE 44 - Commentary
Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner, new chairman of the National Governors Association, argues that the American high school is desperately in need of re-examination and reform in order to prepare students for the demands of today.
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