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243education news bulletin

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  • edupreneurs_moderator
    Sep 4, 2003

      3 charter school hopefuls get Oks

      WASHINGTON, DC -- The D.C. Public Charter School Board approved the
      applications for three new charter schools Monday night and granted
      first-stage clearance to three more. If all six schools are approved
      and open for the 2004-05 school year, that would bring to 29 the
      number of charter schools under the board's control and add up to
      3,000 slots for D.C. children. [Tom Loughlin, chairman of the charter
      school board] said the groups that fell short in their attempts could
      have been turned down for failing to find a secure facility or for
      lack of planning. The three schools granted approval were Two Rivers
      PCS, which plans to serve 500 pre-kindergarten to eighth-grade
      students using a reform model known as "expeditionary learning"; D.C.
      Bilingual PCS, which would offer 372 students, age 3 through
      kindergarten, bilingual and multicultural instruction; and E.L.
      Haynes PCS, which would specialize in math and science for 656 pre-
      kindergarten to second-grade students. Mr. Loughlin said the 11
      applications the board had received this year show that more parents
      are seeking alternative education, and that charter schools have made
      good impressions. (Washington Times)


      State gives charter schools poor marks

      CLEVELAND, OH -- Often billed as cradles of innovative reform, most
      Ohio charter schools got dismal marks on the state report cards. This
      was the first year charter schools got report cards, which gives them
      an academic label based on test scores, attendance and graduation
      rates. Three out of four that received labels from the state were
      either in "academic emergency" or on "academic watch," the two lowest
      designations. Nearly 80 percent of those same schools failed to
      show "adequate yearly progress," the federal academic standard.
      Schools that continue to fail to show progress will face stiff
      sanctions. Charter boosters say their schools fare poorly in
      comparison with traditional public schools because they have
      different configurations of grade levels and because they inherit
      problem students, such as dropouts or youngsters with learning
      disabilities. But supporters acknowledge the scores need to improve.
      (Cleveland Plain Dealer)


      At school, a new era of multiple choices for parents

      NATIONAL -- This fall marks the first year when neighborhood public
      schools feel the brunt of a new national experiment in
      accountability - and the impact on parents may be even greater than
      that on students and their teachers. One result: more choices for
      parents. This fall, parents of 54 million students nationwide will
      see more comparative data about public schools than has been
      available, even to top administrators. Parents will know which
      schools have highly qualified teachers, and which do not. They will
      know which schools are making "adequate yearly progress" toward state
      standards, and which are not. The question is: What to do with the
      new information? For parents in the least successful of US schools,
      the choice may be to leave the neighborhood school or to tap into
      some $2 billion in federal funds to buy academic help, such as
      tutoring or after-school program. "Parents are making requests to
      transfer, but what's not clear yet is how much real choice there will
      be," says Bill Jackson, president of GreatSchools.net, an online
      resource that reaches 12 percent of US parents. Much of this new
      information about choices for parents is being circulated by such
      independent groups via the Internet. (Christian Science Monitor)



      Shortcut to the classroom

      ERIE, PA - Pennsylvania will soon become the first state to allow
      school districts to hire teachers who may never have set foot in a
      public school classroom. Prospective teachers need only possess a
      college degree, submit to an FBI background check and pass two
      written tests: one in their subject and one on teaching methods.
      That's it. No education courses. Even student teaching can wait until
      you're in the classroom. ''You don't have to take courses you don't
      need,'' says Lisa Graham Keegan, CEO of the Education Leaders
      Council, a conservative Washington think tank and co-sponsor of the
      Passport to Teaching program, which aims to streamline the teacher
      certification process to get more qualified candidates into public
      school classrooms. Could it make teachers colleges a thing of the
      past? Keegan says there's still room for traditional teacher-
      preparation programs, but she and others say Passport will reduce
      barriers that keep new college graduates and career-switchers from
      becoming teachers. They also expect other states to follow
      Pennsylvania's lead and approve the certificate, allowing for
      a ''portable'' credential that teachers can use anywhere. (USA Today)


      Teaching program in trouble

      HOUSTON, TX -- President Bush found an education program he liked so
      much that he pledged in his State of the Union address to expand it.
      Former Houston schools Superintendent Rod Paige liked the work of
      some of the program's members so much, he gave them space to start
      their own schools in Houston. Now Congress has cut the program's
      funding. Teach for America has brought about 900 bright young college
      graduates into Houston-area schools since 1991. Administrators and
      members of the organization are more than a little worried that a
      $100 million cut in funding for AmeriCorps -- the nonprofit volunteer-
      training organization that partially funds Teach for America -- may
      mean fewer new teachers in classrooms. The cuts greatly reduced the
      number of grants members receive to pay back student loans or fund
      advanced degrees. (Houston Chronicle)


      Report finds teachers spend more time in smaller classes

      NATIONAL -- Teachers see fewer students per day than 40 years ago, so
      why do they spend more time at school? They've got more prep time,
      but who knocked 12 minutes off lunch? These nagging questions come
      courtesy of the National Education Association's Status of the
      American Public School Teacher, a mother lode of data issued every
      five years. The latest survey, from the 2000-2001 school year, finds
      that most elementary school teachers have 21 students per class, down
      from 29 in 1961, the survey's first year. Secondary school teachers
      have slightly more students - 28, up from 27 - but teach fewer a day.
      High school teachers in 1966 taught 132 students a day; no figures
      exist for 1961. By 2001, that was down to 89. The average teacher
      also spends three more hours a week on the job than in 1961. The NEA
      survey says more teachers have prep periods, but other research has
      shown that teachers have less prep time, especially in high school.
      (USA Today)



      Rising Demands for Testing Push Limits of Its Accuracy

      BOSTON, MA -- Testing is the buzzword of education these days, with
      state legislatures and the federal government demanding more of it
      than ever before. Everything from high school graduation to
      eligibility for transfers, tutoring and federal aid is tied to the
      results. But educators and some testing industry experts are warning
      that the new demands are pushing the limits of the testing industry's
      ability to provide fair and accurate tests. When President Bush
      signed the No Child Left Behind Act in January 2002, calling for
      increased annual testing in grades three through eight by the 2005-06
      school year, the testing industry - dominated by a handful of
      companies - had just weathered the three most error-plagued years in
      its history. Researchers at Boston College recently found that last
      year was hardly better, with at least 18 problems reported, almost
      matching the total reported between 1976 and 1996. Many experts are
      warning that the increased testing and tight deadlines of the
      education law will trigger a spike in human errors unless greater
      attention is paid to quality control issues. (New York Times)


      NAACP files complaint against Florida education department over
      assessment tests

      TALLAHASSEE, FL - The NAACP filed a federal complaint against
      Florida's education department Thursday, seeking to stop use of
      statewide assessment tests until the achievement gap between minority
      and white students is eliminated. The complaint to the federal Office
      for Civil Rights, released by the group Thursday, also seeks to
      achieve racial balance in schools among students and teachers and
      alleges that Florida has intentionally discriminated against black
      students. The lawsuit asks to have federal education money withheld
      from Florida until the state implements a plan to close racial
      disparities. The NAACP claims that Florida is violating its
      constitutional duty to provide a quality education to all students,
      saying schools that are mostly minority are not receiving the same
      resources and have inferior facilities. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)


      To Duncan, No Child Left Behind law is 'burdensome' and 'impractical'

      CHICAGO -- A federal law that has allowed 19,000 Chicago public
      school students to vie for 1,000 seats in better-performing schools
      is "impractical'' and "burdensome,'' schools CEO Arne Duncan told a
      gathering of the city's power brokers Thursday. During an address to
      the City Club, Duncan issued his harshest and most public criticism
      to date of the two-year-old No Child Left Behind law, which has been
      touted by U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige, a man Duncan considers
      his friend and mentor. Duncan's comments came as Chicago Board of
      Education officials revealed that of the 270,757 students offered the
      chance to transfer under the law's controversial "choice''
      provisions, only 7 percent, or 19,246, had applied--still thousands
      more than the few scarce seats available. With classes starting for
      kids Tuesday, Duncan said the law has forced the system to shift
      focus this critical week from the opening of school to complying with
      the "enormous bureaucratic burdens'' created by provisions of the law
      intended to free students from failing schools. "At the end of the
      day, it remains to be seen whether No Child Left Behind will help
      children learn,'' Duncan said. The federal dollars spent on moving
      kids around the system would be better applied to building new
      schools, providing more books and offering more teacher training,
      Duncan said. Only 1 percent of the system's construction dollars come
      from the federal government, he said. (Chicago Sun-Times)


      Flunking Out: Bush's pet education bill is in serious trouble

      CHICAGO -- NCLB was supposed to improve schools by holding them to
      higher academic standards and letting students transfer out of
      failing schools. Instead, over the past few months especially, this
      massive education law has generated little more than bad news,
      indifference, and increasing resistance. The hard-to-imagine numbers
      of failing schools in California and elsewhere have worn down the
      public's confidence in the law. Low-income and minority parents have
      failed to show strong interest in the transfer option that was
      supposed to help them escape dysfunctional schools. Congressional
      Democrats and some of the nation's largest education groups have
      already begun working to stop it in its tracks. The law seems to have
      few friends and many enemies. (Slate Magazine)



      A Revolution Was Ventured, But What Did It Gain?

      NATIONAL -- In the late 1990s, proponents of "venture philanthropy"
      vowed that it would revolutionize the charitable world. Although some
      grant makers still consider venture philanthropy mere marketing hype,
      many nonprofit groups that have worked with venture funds say the
      advice and aid in strategic planning that they have received goes
      well beyond the support that they have gotten from traditional
      foundations. Surviving venture funds say there is no better sign of
      their staying power than the money flowing in during this time of
      economic weakness. Venture-philanthropy funds that have weathered the
      downturn include . NewSchools Venture Fund, in San Francisco, which
      focuses on improving elementary and secondary education. The fund has
      raised $65-million for a new effort focused on developing better
      management for charter schools, topping its $50-million goal. In late
      June, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation pledged the effort's
      largest grant so far, $22-million. Venture philanthropy also is
      gaining more support among traditional foundations, as evidenced by
      the Knight investment in New Profit and the Gates investment in
      NewSchools. (Chronicle of Philanthropy)



      Column: Teach poor parents to help their children learn

      WASHINGTON, DC - To say it is what I suspected all along is like
      Noah's saying he thought it might rain. I had no idea how right I
      was. I've just finished a book called "Meaningful Differences in the
      Everyday Experience of Young American Children," and I am confirmed -
      in spades! - of something I'd reluctantly come to believe: That it is
      beyond unrealistic to expect schools to fix children who enter
      school - even preschool - already behind. And here is the dismaying
      news: At every socioeconomic level of the families and at every age
      of the children (beginning, in every case, before the children
      learned to talk) the amount of verbal interaction favored children of
      middle-class families. It's hard to imagine a program big enough to
      close the gap that Hart and Risely describe. We're talking about poor
      families, not necessarily feeble-minded ones. And we're talking about
      parents whose parenting styles - and not just language patterns - are
      passed along from one generation to the next. Even full-day, high-
      quality child care can't begin to close that gap. What might? It
      occurs to me that the most reasonable place to try to break the cycle
      is with one generation of parents. (Column by William Raspberry, in
      the Seattle Times)


      Social Mission: Venture Philanthropy Goes To Europe

      UNITED KINGDOM -- You don't have to have a Marxist view of the world
      to believe that venture capitalists deserve the name they go by.
      They're capitalists all right. And then there are those who believe
      that some of the business methods venture investors use to ensure
      their capital works as hard as it possibly can are indeed applicable
      to charitable organizations, too. A group of private equity
      practitioners are importing venture philanthropy from North America
      to Europe. Impetus Trust, the UK's first charitable venture
      philanthropy fund, is leading the charge. (Private Equity
      International) (not available online)
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