November 9, 2005

This Issue
Vol. 25, Issue 11
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If a flu pandemic breaks out in the United States, as many as four in 10 school-age children will become sick, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which released a comprehensive plan last week on how it would deal with such an outbreak.
State standards for academic content vary enormously in how well they cover the topic of evolution, with many of those documents either ignoring or giving scant treatment to the core principles of that established scientific theory, an Education Week analysis shows.
Seeking to grasp what she called a “golden opportunity for rebirth” out of the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina, Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco asked the Louisiana legislature last week to embrace a plan that would give the state control of most New Orleans public schools.
A national accrediting group will apply the same cutoff score to teacher-licensing tests nationwide as one measure of judging teacher-preparation programs.
Starting this week, Denver teachers will be able to sign up for a groundbreaking new pay plan that city voters endorsed Nov. 1 by accepting $25 million in new property taxes.
District Dossier
News in Brief: A National Roundup
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
Detroit residents are voting this week for the city’s first elected school board in six years, but local observers said it was unclear how the change would affect the struggling school district.
A new national survey suggests that school principals give high ratings to the former military personnel who come to teach in their schools through the federal Troops to Teachers program.
In California, Darrow Feldstein, a music-loving 15-year-old at Beverly Hills High School, has just returned from school. He watches his computer as his tutor, Bindu Sudheep, almost 9,000 miles away in Kochi, India, scribbles a math problem for him, using whiteboard technology that links up their computers via the Internet so they can see the same screen.
Once a fairly common occurrence in the back-to-school scene, teacher strikes have fallen off this fall, continuing a recent trend.
English-Learners & Immigrants
A federal investigation into Reading First will include several broad audits of the policies and procedures involved in implementing the $1 billion-a-year program, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s inspector general’s office schedule of reviews for 2006.
A coalition of organizations has issued standards describing the professional and subject-matter skills that middle and high school “literacy coaches” should possess.
A new examination of national assessment data suggests that students need more practice building reading fluency and more explicit instruction in comprehension strategies.
A California court last week ordered the state to void permits for nearly 2,000 California teachers who hold a special license designed to help them meet the “highly qualified” mandate of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
Public education must be rebuilt to produce students who are better prepared for the global marketplace, and the private sector can play a crucial role in doing that, argued speakers at a conference last week for two groups that don’t often cross paths: public school administrators and corporate chief executive officers.
Federal auditors last week dramatically revised their estimates of how many students with disabilities were excluded from taking national reading tests in 2002.
Report Roundup
Accompanying table to "Treatment of Evolution Inconsistent".
An Education Week review shows that state science standards are uneven in their treatment of evolution. The analysis looked at how well 41 states covered 10 concepts related to evolution identified in the 1996 National Science Education Standards.
In a victory for major Colorado school groups and Gov. Bill Owens, voters there approved a statewide measure last week that suspends the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, and will allow roughly $3.7 billion in additional revenue to be spent on education, health care, and transportation projects.
New York is making progress in closing the achievement gap between most minority and white students, but not fast enough, the state’s education leaders say.
State Journal
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Capitol Recap
Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr., President Bush’s latest nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, has an extensive record on school law issues after 15 years on a federal appeals court, including such subjects as student religious expression, affirmative action, and special education.
Federal File
The Senate last week approved a plan to channel aid to school districts hit by Hurricane Katrina and those taking in students displaced by the storm. The plan also allows private schools to be compensated for taking in displaced students, a provision that has raised alarm among opponents of private school vouchers.
The Department of Education is doing a better job handling the avalanche of data it requests from the states on elementary and secondary school programs, according to the Government Accountability Office.
State special education officials are scrambling to meet a massive data-collection deadline, mandated by the 2004 reauthorization of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, that will change the way the states have traditionally tracked information on students with disabilities.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Biographical information on Supreme Court nominee Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. and his previous education-related rulings.
School buses were not mentioned in oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court last week in an antitrust case involving heavy-truck sales, but the prices school districts pay for buses could be affected by the court’s eventual decision.
More than a decade ago, no one held out much hope for the poor, immigrant children at Kennedy Middle School in El Centro, Calif. Nobody thinks that now.
Story includes a multimedia photo gallery (Requires Macromedia Flash Player.)
Author and education advocate Elaine M. Garan writes that the No Child Left Behind Act was already in trouble before Hurricane Katrina hit the South Coast, but she suggests the natural disaster could be the straw that breaks the federal law's back.
One high school librarian believes in the truism that the single best way to get better at reading is by actually reading. So why, she wonders, are english teachers still mandated to spend so much time teaching literary analysis?
On Oct. 21, 2005, Cornell University’s interim president, Hunter R. Rawlings III, devoted his State of the University Address to the intelligent design vs. evolution controversy. Here are excerpts from that speech.
Arthur E. Levine, president of Teachers College at Columbia University, shares his thoughts having recently read the latest volume of the Harry Potter series. Levine offers one or two comments about the management of the now-famous Hogwarts school.

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