April 19, 2006

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The Maryland legislature’s success in blocking a state takeover of low-performing schools in Baltimore under the No Child Left Behind Act raises the prospect of political resistance in other states that might attempt such intervention.
Kicked off last week with a big plug on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” a new campaign spearheaded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is aiming to drum up public action to address what its organizers see as a crisis in America’s public high schools.
Nebraska lawmakers last week approved a hotly debated bill to break up the Omaha Public Schools—largely along racial and ethnic lines—under a plan that critics say amounts to state-sanctioned segregation and that likely will face a legal challenge.
In a growing number of districts, school leaders are ranking the threat of sex offenders—some of them parents of enrolled students—as one of their chief student-safety concerns. That threat, they say, is a primary reason for investing thousands of dollars in a Web-based tracking system that tells school officials if a parent, volunteer, vendor, or any other visitor is a registered sex offender.
Having witnessed what they regard as the corruption of colleges by liberals and left-leaning academics, conservative activists say they are launching a venture to eliminate any such bias from the nation’s public schools.
District Dossier
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Backers of time-honored electives ranging from band to consumer sciences fear they are being crowded out of the school day as districts, facing tougher state and federal requirements, devote more time and money to core academic subjects.
Special Education
Signaling a new phase in the reorganization of the country’s largest school system, New York City Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein unveiled plans last week to grade all of the city’s 1,400 public schools on student performance and the quality of instruction.
A spate of recent attacks on schools, teachers, and students has not threatened plans to open up educational opportunities for all children, especially girls, throughout the Southern Asian nation, observers say.
World leaders joined forces in Mozambique last week to exhort wealthy nations, including the United States, to step up their contributions toward educating all children in the next decade.
Tens of thousands of Latino students helped fuel rallies across the country last week against federal proposals to crack down on immigrants who are in the United States illegally.
Law Update
Students whose teachers score high on state licensing exams learn more mathematics over the course of a school year than peers taught by teachers with low scores, according to a new study that draws on 10 years of test-score data on North Carolina schoolchildren.
Reporter's Notebook
Philadelphia students who attend public middle schools managed by outside groups are making learning gains that generally are no greater than than those of their counterparts at regular district-run middle schools, according to results from a study of that school system’s improvement efforts.
Report Roundup
Sophomores who take the Washington Assessment of Student Learning this week will be the first who must pass the state exam to graduate.
Texas schools would count the salaries of librarians—but not those of nurses, guidance counselors, or bus drivers—as instructional expenses under proposed rules that would define how districts would comply with a new state mandate to spend 65 percent of their budgets on classroom costs.
State Journal
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Even the last states to be reviewed on their progress for meeting the “highly qualified” teacher provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act have some distance to travel before satisfying the law, according to Department of Education documents and officials.
Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and several key senators traveled to India last week to examine how that country, whose schools generally have fewer resources than those in the United States, has managed to produce top-notch engineers and technology professionals.
Federal File
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Having all the nation’s teachers meet the definition of being “highly qualified” is an admirable goal, but the No Child Left Behind Act’s current teacher-quality provisions make it hard to retain well-trained teachers, especially in schools serving poor and minority children, witnesses said last week in California at the first hearing called by an independent panel working to improve the law.
With the advent of easy-to-use digital technology, schools are responding to the interests of their media-savvy students by offering more courses in filmmaking.
W. James Popham, a professor emeritus at the University of California, Los Angeles, writes that instructionally insensitive tests make test cheating attractive to certain educators trying to avoid sanctions under the No Child Left Behind law.
Dan French, the executive director of the Center for Collaborative Education in Boston, believes that his organization has found a model of district and union collaboration that results in improved engagement and achievement for the students they serve.
On April 5, Associate Editor Kathleen Kennedy Manzo and Assistant Editor Mary Ann Zehr fielded questions about foreign-language instruction, as part of the Education Week series “Language: Mission Critical.”
Researchers Paul Teske, Patrick Wolf, and Paul Hill identify several barriers that must be overcome before low-income parents can become the types of savvy consumers that can make school choice work well for them.

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