January 5, 2005

This Issue
Vol. 24, Issue 16
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To some education experts, the U.S. performance on two recent international exams reinforced their belief that American students suffer from an inability to perform complex reasoning and mathematical assignments.
At a time when gay rights remains a divisive and unsettled issue nationally, a recent spate of disputes over student T-shirts on the subject has presented educators with particularly vexing problems.
Schools will have to fight for significant increases in next fiscal year’s budgets, according to lawmakers and analysts preparing for the 2005 legislative sessions.
Federal authorities have told the low-performing Chicago school district that it must stop providing tutoring under the No Child Left Behind Act. But the district has refused, producing a standoff between U.S. education officials and the country’s third-largest school system.
States desperately need to raise the bar on high school graduation requirements to better prepare students for college and the workforce, a report says, contending that a wide gap exists between graduating students’ skills and the challenges of the postsecondary world.
The American Federation of Teachers and a Florida employee-relations agency are conducting a preliminary probe into the results of the election for president of the United Teachers of Dade.
Take Note
News in Brief: A National Roundup
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Stoking a debate that had been heating up all fall, federal officials recently released a long-awaited study showing that 4th graders in charter schools posted lower math scores on the tests commonly known as “the nation’s report card” than their counterparts in regular public schools.
People in the News
In2Books, a reading program designed by a former entertainment lawyer and her husband, has become an integral part of the curriculum in hundreds of classrooms throughout many of the capital city’s elementary schools.
In the Oakland Unified School District, the actual amount of staff salaries counts against individual schools’ budgets. So a more experienced employee—who has a bigger paycheck—eats up more of a school’s funding than does a less experienced one.
The Visiting International Faculty Program is likely the sponsor of more international-exchange visas for teachers per year than any other U.S. organization, and it represents a greater than tenfold increase in the number of VIF teachers from five years ago.
As researchers and policymakers turn attention and resources to boosting adolescent literacy, an analysis of students’ performance on state and national tests holds out scant hope that schools will come close to meeting federal goals for reading achievement over the next decade.
New grants totaling nearly $30 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will underwrite dozens of new “early college” high schools, with a goal of more than tripling the nation’s supply of such schools over the next four years.
Urban Education
Avoiding talk of its financial and administrative problems, the Education Leaders Council tried to give itself a fresh start at its annual conference here last month.
Another pair of teachers’ unions has taken preliminary steps to unify—this time in New York state.
There is no evidence that high school students who enroll in college-level courses such as Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes improve their academic performance in college unless they take the tests offered at the end of each course, says a study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley.
States may be demanding high standards of their newly certified teachers, but they’re doing a poor job of requiring their veteran teachers to get the training necessary to meet the “highly qualified” provisions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, according to a new assessment of states’ progress.
Private Schools
School districts in three Southern states with fast-growing Latino populations have not done a good job overall in teaching immigrant children, according to a study by the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute in Los Angeles.
With 31 states considering major changes in how they pay for public education, the nation’s school finance systems are in transition, an Education Week report set for release this week concludes.
Report Roundup
Implementation of the school choice provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act has been stymied by a lack of space to accommodate transfers and unrealistic timelines for notifying parents of their options, a report by the Government Accountability Office concludes.
Stephen J. Williams says he merely wanted to give his 5th graders an accurate picture of the nation’s heritage by enriching his lessons with documents containing references to God, the Bible, and Jesus Christ.
Next fall, Floridians will have the prekindergarten program they asked for in a 2002 statewide ballot measure, though it may take a while for the program to include what experts consider necessary for a high-quality preschool system.
Steve Morrison’s voice shook with the weight of South Carolina’s history as he closed his arguments against the state last month in the key trial of an 11-year-old school finance case.
State Journal
Michigan will soon replace its homegrown high school test with one centered around a national college-entrance exam.
Tennessee’s governor wants to set up a statewide public preschool program this year as part of a long-term strategy to boost the state’s economy.
A group of parents and the Pennsylvania education department have reached a tentative settlement of a 10-year-old class action that claimed special education students have been largely kept out of regular education classrooms.
Capitol Recap
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
As the Bush administration prepares the education agenda for its second term, personnel changes at Department of Education could play a decisive role in how effectively those plans are carried out.
The incoming chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Gerald A. Reynolds, says that under his leadership, the federal advisory panel will increase its focus on education issues.
Federal File
As the 109th Congress begins this week, the Senate education committee is expected to get a new chairman—Sen. Michael B. Enzi of Wyoming—who observers say will bring to the job a blend of pragmatic conservatism and a keen appreciation for the challenges of rural communities.
History and civics education got a boost under two measures passed by Congress in its lame-duck session last month. But while the bills drew praise for focusing attention on the importance of those subjects, critics say that they amount to a federal intrusion into curriculum, and fear that one of them promotes controversial views of the nation’s history and role in the world.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
If students in the Austin, Texas, school district get the munchies, they won’t find high-fat chips or calorie-laden sodas in their campus vending machines. On rainy days, elementary school pupils might do calisthenics in their classrooms while practicing their spelling.
Lawyer Michael A. Rebell has chalked up an impressive string of victories in his 12-year effort to bring billions of dollars in new funding to New York City's public schools.
Because of its moral impact on the academic mission, cheating should not be treated as simple rulebreaking, stresses writer Joan F. Goodman.
What is the proper role of schools, teachers, and students when it comes to public issues and partisan politics, asks teacher Peter Berger.
Revolutionizing the teaching profession is the next major task for education reformers, argues Louis V. Gerstner Jr., chairman of The Teaching Commission.
As the president enters his second term, the education agenda for the nation is in flux and likely to change substantially, says Arthur Levine.

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