February 16, 2005

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Vol. 24, Issue 23
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Editor's Note: The February 23, 2005, issue of Education Week will be posted on Wed., Feb. 23, at 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

President Bush wants to fashion several new education programs this year, including pricey items central to his oft-touted high school agenda. But he also is proposing for the first time since he entered the White House to cut the overall budget of the U.S. Department of Education.
Documentary films that have become classroom classics are running into problems, because their expired rights are preventing schools from obtaining copies.
When the Clark County, Nev., school board pledged four years ago to avoid micromanaging the district and focus on the big picture of improving student achievement, the move was a radical shift.
Many teachers and special education advocates maintain that federal law requirements that special education teachers be highly qualified in subject areas has caused more confusion than clarity.
Despite the belief that high-poverty schools should receive the most resources, many districts spend less, on average, on the teachers at such schools than they do at schools serving more affluent populations.
Three foundations announced last week that they are granting the Denver school district more than $2 million to support the setup of a new teacher-compensation system that rewards teachers not for how long they’ve been on the job, but for their skills and accomplishments in the classroom.
Take Note
News in Brief: A National Roundup
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Representatives of three education organizations announced last week they will work together to focus more national attention, research, and resources on the problem of hiring and keeping good teachers in traditionally low-performing schools.
A teacher-made math curriculum that stresses problem-solving and mixing high school students of different academic abilities in the same classes can lead to learning gains, a California study released last week suggests.
People in the News
Educators in Washington state and a Naperville, Illinois-based nonprofit group are teaming up to solve a daunting problem: how to craft individualized learning plans for thousands of students who are off track for passing the state’s 10th grade test, which is required for high school graduation starting with the class of 2008.
Arizona districts are racing to provide tutoring to students who still must pass graduation tests to be given this month.
Promising results from research on two-way language-immersion programs have pumped up the popularity of such programs in recent years.
In an unusually hands-on approach to state intervention, Rhode Island’s top education official has ordered big changes at a high school in the state’s largest district, including the re-evaluation of all teachers and administrators there to decide who should be transferred from the building.
Only 6 percent of the students participating in the first year of the federally financed private-school-voucher program for the District of Columbia came from public schools designated as being in need of improvement, according to a report released last week by the People for the American Way Foundation.
Who says that big-city teachers’ contracts are obstacles to reform? Certainly not the United Federation of Teachers, and to prove it, the union representing New York City’s public school teachers last week moved ahead with plans to open its own charter schools.
Though Texas has given birth to some of the nation’s most outstanding charter schools, it needs to overhaul its policies so that those on the bottom rung don’t drag down the state’s entire charter sector, concludes a report from a national think tank that is friendly to the concept of charter schools.
Teaching & Learning Update
A federal appeals court last week upheld against a First Amendment challenge a Kentucky school district’s student dress code that prohibits many fashions popular with teenagers and preteens: baggy pants, bluejeans, “distressed” clothing, unnaturally colored hair, and body piercings except those in ears.
Report Roundup
Two Illinois school districts have sued the U.S. Department of Education, claiming that some of the accountability measures of the No Child Left Behind Act should be invalidated because they are in direct conflict with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
A decision by Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to withhold millions of dollars in funding from school districts in an effort to balance the state budget has some district leaders and lawmakers accusing his recently inaugurated administration of bucking long-standing tradition.
State of the States
State Journal
After 18 months of deliberation, a panel of Ohio educators, lawmakers, and community leaders has released a series of recommendations designed to unravel the state’s tangled school financing laws and make them more equitable.
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
State of the States
State of the States
President Bush’s plan to expand the No Child Left Behind Act’s demands at the high school level—a top priority of his second-term domestic agenda—is “not likely” to move forward on Capitol Hill this year, a senior House Republican on education issues predicted last week.
The Department of Education convened a new national research advisory board last week that has high hopes of injecting more “science” into the study of schooling.
Federal File
The Department of Labor has temporarily halted the collection of data for a national survey of migrant and seasonal farmworkers that’s yielded information for the Education Department about working youths who do not attend U.S. schools.
Under President Bush’s proposed fiscal 2006 budget announced last week, the federal Head Start program would get a $45 million increase in funding. But that money would go for a project involving only a handful of states, not to increase the main program educating preschoolers.
While researchers generally agree that literacy skills should be taught directly to adolescents, the practice is often overlooked. At this Illinois high school, two brothers are leading the charge.
Preparing young people to be citizens requires us to embrace civic learning as a core purpose of education, write John Glenn and Marian Wright Edelman.
The more schools yield to fervor and cater to hypersensitivity, the more we’ll degrade the protection and endanger the rights the First Amendment was framed to guarantee, argues teacher Peter Berger.
New books on topics ranging from child development to special education.
To rescue it from perennial battles waged in the name of virtue and vice, sex education should be turned back to individual districts and schools, says Gilbert T. Sewall.

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