October 19, 2005

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Vol. 25, Issue 08
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Struggling to jump-start education in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, the district school board has decided to reopen its first buildings not as regular public schools, but as charter schools.
A new national study provides some of the strongest evidence to date to support what many educators and parents of young children already believe: Children learn more in full-day kindergarten programs than they do in half-day programs.
As students in New Hampshire sit down this month to take new state mathematics and reading tests, they won’t be alone. Their fellow students in Rhode Island and Vermont will be taking the same exams along with them.
A federally financed group that offers a route to teacher certification through standardized tests alone has reached its fourth anniversary amid signs of organizational trouble and a glimmer of future promise.
Private school administrators are trying to get on an equal footing with public schools when it comes to qualifying for money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to replace buildings and school materials damaged by Hurricane Katrina.
District Dossier
News in Brief: A National Roundup
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
Warning that the United States stands to lose its economic, scientific, and technological edge over the rest of the world, a panel convened by the National Academies has issued a call for federal initiatives costing $10 billion a year to reverse the situation—including many aimed at K-12 schooling.
Edison Schools Inc., the nation’s largest for-profit manager of public schools, is posting achievement gains that are on par with, and sometimes exceed, the gains made by students attending comparable district-run schools, a study released last week concludes.
“We’ve got to stop using assessments as a hammer and begin to use them appropriately, as a diagnostic and learning tool,” Kurt Landgraf, the president of the Educational Testing Service, said at the organization’s 2005 Invitational Conference here last week.
Some 50 Teach For America teachers who lost their jobs because of the devastation brought by Hurricane Katrina should soon be back at work as managers in Louisiana’s recovery effort.
Rural Education
Virginia voters say education is one of their top election issues in this fall’s race for governor. But with less than a month to go before Election Day, it’s hard to tell if Democratic candidate Timothy M. Kaine’s plan for universal prekindergarten or Republican Jerry W. Kilgore’s proposal for teacher merit pay have energized the voters they want to woo.
Academic tutoring has dropped down to the sandbox-and-nap-time set. In recent years, early-childhood education experts and industry analysts say, more parents have started sending their 3- to 5-year-old children to for-profit tutoring centers to give them an academic edge in elementary school.
Report Roundup
To some Colorado residents, Referendum C is the best chance to spare the state’s schools from deep budget cuts. To others, the ballot measure—which will go before voters Nov. 1—represents a steep tax increase and gives lawmakers too much power over how state revenues are spent.
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s decision to lump together several important education proposals—including a plan to make his state the first to provide laptop computers for every one of its middle and high school students—sets up a likely battle with the Democratic-controlled legislature next year.
State Journal
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Capitol Recap
Groups that advocate on behalf of English-language learners and students with disabilities in California are disappointed that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed several bills that they believe would have helped those students.
Congressional Republicans have proposed cutting some education programs to free up federal money for hurricane relief for schools. But Congress didn’t get any closer last week to approving a federal aid plan, so school districts continue to wait for such aid to flow to their schools.
Federal File
A case testing the limits of the First Amendment’s protections for speech by government employees came before the U.S. Supreme Court last week, as the justices considered whether extending constitutional protection to job-related speech would interfere with the operations of public agencies, including school districts.
The Department of Education’s acting assistant secretary for civil rights has spent part of every week in Mississippi ever since Hurricane Katrina swept across the Gulf Coast on Aug. 29.
The U.S. Supreme Court asked the Bush administration last week for its views on whether parents can be reimbursed under the main federal special education law for the fees of experts who take part in a challenge to a student’s individualized education program.
Congress is considering several proposals for federal aid to schools affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
As their schools reopened weeks after Hurricane Katrina, students and teachers in Jefferson Parish, La., were realizing just how much their lives had changed.
Jefferson Parish school officials had lots to worry about in getting campuses ready to reopen Oct. 3, five weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit. Many of the worries remain.
The president of the Center for Teaching Quality calls for an end to the battle between teacher education and alternative certification.
How is a college degree different from coffee, textiles, steel, and computer parts? It's not, according to Washington lobbyists and politicians, writes education professor Lois Weiner.
Education professor and author Robert L. Hampel offers a historical perspective on the almost 20-year quest to make education schools operate more like medical schools.

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