July 12, 2006

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Vol. 25, Issue 42
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Since the fall of 2004, close to 12,000 students have left the Detroit district. Many enrolled in one of roughly 40 charter schools that have opened in the city limits in the past decade. When school starts here again in September, district leaders expect enrollment to drop by another 9,000 children, to 119,000, down 40 percent from the late 1990s.
The United States needs a fundamental change in the way it allocates money to public schools—something that will not be easy to achieve even though it is desperately needed, a bipartisan, philosophically diverse group of policy leaders is contending.
The U.S. Department of Education has notified 10 states that it intends to withhold a portion of their state administrative funds under the Title I program for failing to comply fully with the testing provisions of the No Child Left Behind Act by the end of the 2005-06 school year. Those funds would instead be diverted directly to school districts.
New York City’s ban on cellphones in public schools is 18 years old, but a recent step-up in enforcement has caught thousands of the mobile devices in its dragnet, sparking outrage among families who consider the phones a lifeline.
A national panel reviewing teaching and learning in mathematics heard from advocates for minority students and non-native English-speakers at a recent public forum here, as well as from a women’s professional organization that objected to decades-old research published by the panel’s vice chairwoman.
District Dossier
News in Brief: A National Roundup
People in the News
News in Brief: A National Roundup
News in Brief: A National Roundup
Teacher compensation was the inaugural topic for the hand-picked members of TeacherSolutions, a group of teachers brought together by the Center for Teaching Quality.
A majority of the 8,200 delegates gathered here for the National Education Association’s annual convention last week approved a plan to push for aggressive changes to the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which is up for reauthorization next year.
Reporter's Notebook
To help Boston's next top administrator tackle the district's challenges without scrapping what’s working, a group of researchers was enlisted to take stock of the tenure of Superintendent Thomas W. Payzant, who retired last month after more than a decade on the job.
The latest accreditations granted by the Teacher Education Accrediting Council bring the number of institutions with that stamp of approval to just 20, a figure that continues to be dwarfed by its rival’s list.
States have devoted significant time and money to the tests used for accountability purposes. But a new initiative, announced in San Francisco June 24, intends to shift at least some of that attention to the assessments that teachers use on an ongoing basis to modify and improve instruction.
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation has given a one-year, $1.1 million grant to set up a center that will promote a cycle of “continuous instructional improvement” in education.
The National Council on Teacher Quality has changed the rating it gave Samford University’s teacher-education program in a scathing study of the content of required reading courses for the nation’s teacher-candidates. The private council cited the report’s oversight of essential information used in the evaluation.
Haunting images of people being forced to leave their pets behind during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath have spurred a flurry of activity to provide pet-friendly shelters in emergencies. With the arrival of hurricane season, schools are increasingly being asked to help ensure such scenes aren’t repeated, by converting their facilities to pet shelters, but the approach has met with opposition in at least some school districts.
The Louisiana Department of Education has issued a list of 56 New Orleans public schools that will be accepting students for the coming school year, more than double the 25 that were opened this past year.
While national business leaders may make a compelling economic argument for expanding preschool to all children, states are years from being able to afford the minimum $16 billion price tag their plan requires, experts in state budgets and early education say.
Technology Update
The recent announcement by the investor Warren E. Buffett that he will donate some $30 billion to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is spurring questions about what the gift will mean—and should mean—for education giving at the nation’s wealthiest philanthropy.
Student progress in reading has stagnated and in some cases declined since the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act, says a study released last week that examines test scores in a dozen states and finds that their gains are often exaggerated as a result of overly easy exams.
Report Roundup
The No Child Left Behind Act has pushed states to an unprecedented level of testing the reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills of students who are learning English. Today, 4½ years after the measure was signed into law, the results remain a closely watched work in progress.
Arizona lawmakers ended their 2006 session by creating a first-of-its kind voucher program for children in foster care and offering new vouchers to children with special needs–two measures signed by Gov. Janet Napolitano.
State Journal
Pennsylvania has enacted a law that trims property taxes by imposing new limits on school districts’ budgeting freedom, and shifts more of the burden of education funding from local to state shoulders.
Reporter's Notebook
Capitol Recap
News in Brief: A State Capitals Roundup
Federal education officials have told New York Commissioner of Education Richard P. Mills that his state must change the way it tests English-learners or lose federal aid.
After more than a year of inactivity, Congress appears close to hammering out its revisions to the main federal vocational education law, which governs the flow of more than $1 billion a year to career-oriented programs in schools.
Federal File
In the second victory for school districts on a special education issue in the U.S. Supreme Court term just ended, the court has ruled that the main federal special education law does not authorize parents who win a dispute over their child’s individualized education program to recover expert fees.
A federal panel studying ways to improve higher education is struggling to reach a consensus on its recommendations for how best to hold down college costs and prepare students for an increasingly competitive economy.
By July 7, all states had to submit revised plans to the federal government detailing what they plan to do during the coming school year to meet the teacher-quality requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. But a study released July 6 by a watchdog group cautions that most states so far have made only minimal progress in addressing the teacher-quality provisions.
The state of Connecticut is seizing on language in a recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion on special education, saying it bolsters the state’s challenge to the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Several independent legal experts agree, although not without some cautionary notes.
News in Brief: A Washington Roundup
Students in Eagle Pass, Texas, go to summer camp to learn how to eat better, play harder, and make smarter decisions about their health.
Researchers Robert Balfanz and Nettie Legters list steps that can be implemented to tackle the graduation crisis head-on.
Nina S. Rees, the former head of the U.S. Department of Education’s office of innovation and improvement, offers advice on how advocates can turn Proposition 82's defeat into a victory for children.
Cellphones have become objects of serious concern—and the focus of a simmering controversy. Bruce S. Cooper and John W. Lee offer several solutions for the problem of cell phones in school.
On June 21, readers addressed questions on the small-schools debate to Education Week Assistant Managing Editor Caroline Hendrie and Associate Editor Debra Viadero.
In order for the U.S. to continue as a leader in the global economy, it must do a better job of educating minority students, Charles E.M. Kolb says.

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