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Education News Bulletin, June 18-22, 2007

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    Education News Bulletin June 18 – 22, 2007 CHARTERS, CHOICE AND NEW SCHOOLS Commentary: What About Religious Charter Schools? NATIONAL – Charter schools
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 25, 2007
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      Education News Bulletin
      June 18 – 22, 2007


      Commentary: What About Religious Charter Schools?

      NATIONAL – Charter schools are gaining in popularity, with
      approximately 4,000 now open, enrolling some 1.1 million U.S.
      children with more participating every year. Since the charter school
      movement began in 1991 in Minnesota, these schools have filled a need
      in American society, giving individuals, communities, and local
      associations a chance to create their own schools—with tax dollars
      paying the basic costs. A major, unresolved question remains,
      however: What about opening and funding religious charter schools?
      How would localities handle the many complexities of funding charter
      schools that have a religious, social, and cultural mission? … This
      development is already under way in Minnesota and, presumably, may be
      set to take hold soon in other localities. … A religiously sensitive
      charter school has been attempted in one state, and appears to be
      legal and workable. More may come, as other faiths see an opportunity
      to open schools with a clear cultural and ethical mission, a general
      pedagogy, and attractiveness to members of their religious group. (By
      lawyer Lawrence D. Weinberg and Fordham University professor Bruce S.
      Cooper for Education Week – subscription required)


      Charter school may open in 2008

      SAN MATEO, CA – Envision Schools, which runs four charter high
      schools in the Bay Area, will petition the San Mateo Union High
      School District to open a campus on the Peninsula for the 2008-09
      school year. "We've had initial conversations with the district,"
      said Envision President Daniel McLaughlin. "We're planning to turn in
      our petition by the end of the summer, and possibly much sooner."
      Envision, whose schools focus on technology and the arts, is
      partnering with the Foster City High School Foundation in hopes of
      setting up shop in a new building on four acres in the city's vacant
      15-acre downtown parcel. The Foster City high school group originally
      had planned to partner with High Tech High, but that charter school
      organization withdrew after closing its Bayshore campus in Redwood
      City because of low enrollment. The group's new agreement with
      Envision should be a boost as it seeks city council approval of its
      business plan. (San Mateo County Times)

      (see also "Foster City inches closer to major development" at


      America's Teaching Crisis: Our public schools are failing. To save
      them, we need to look to the head of the class.

      NATIONAL - There is no shortage of education-reform movements and
      proposals, some of them promising. Both Republicans and Democrats
      have embraced "standards-based reform," as embodied in President Bill
      Clinton's 1994 Improving America's Schools Act and President George
      W. Bush's 2001 No Child Left Behind Act. And there is an emerging
      consensus about the value of expanding choice in public education.
      But just beneath the surface of this promising consensus, complicated
      questions abound. And none is as politically and substantively
      complicated as the question of human capital. In the effort to
      significantly boost our students' achievement, how does the public
      education system in this nation select, prepare, support, and
      compensate its most important resource: teachers? People matter most
      in this incredibly complicated and challenging intellectual work, and
      the best curricula, assessments, and intervention programs will all
      fall short without highly capable and effective teachers, principals,
      and specialists. … Yet despite the centrality of people to education,
      current strategies for teacher recruitment, training, evaluation, and
      compensation are largely divorced from the goals of effectiveness and
      equity and are misaligned with what we know works. While politicians
      repeatedly profess their respect for teachers, our public policies
      fundamentally disrespect them and the work they do. (by Jason Kamras
      and Andrew Rotherham for Democracy Journal - registration required)


      Senate Panel OKs Higher Education Bills Aimed at Boosting Teacher
      Preparation, College Access

      WASHINGTON DC – The Senate education committee today approved
      sweeping bills aimed at encouraging colleges to partner with
      struggling school districts to provide extensive classroom experience
      for prospective teachers, and boosting college access for
      disadvantaged students. The teacher-training provision, part of a
      broad, long-awaited measure reauthorizing the Higher Education Act,
      would combine the three current grant programs that help states and
      universities prepare and recruit K-12 teachers into a single
      initiative that would enable colleges to collaborate with high-need
      districts. Under the legislation, which the Health, Education, Labor,
      and Pensions Committee approved on a bipartisan vote of 20-0,
      colleges and districts would receive grants to enable master's degree
      students to spend one year working alongside effective mentor
      teachers in high-need schools while the students took their graduate-
      level education courses. In exchange for agreeing to teach in a
      district for at least three years, students would receive a stipend
      to help cover their living expenses. To qualify for the grants,
      districts would have to have a significant percentage of students
      living in poverty and considerable teacher turnover, among other
      characteristics. (Education Week)



      To Know NCLB Is to Like It, ETS Poll Finds: Familiarity with law's
      emphasis on standards found to boost support

      NATIONAL – The more Americans learn about the No Child Left Behind
      Act, they more they like it, according to a poll scheduled to be
      released this week. When asked whether they back President Bush's K-
      12 initiative, respondents to the poll were evenly split over
      supporting the 5-year-old law. But once the questioner described the
      law's goals and its emphasis on holding schools to academic
      standards, support for the law grew substantially, according to the
      poll commissioned by the Educational Testing Service. "The basic
      upshot of this survey is … policymakers have to earn
      [reauthorization] from the public by going out and selling it," said
      Allan Rivlin, a partner in Peter D. Hart Research Associates, one of
      the Washington-based firms that conducted the survey. In particular,
      he said, that means reassuring voters that classroom instruction
      won't be reduced to test preparation and reminding them that the law
      attempts to fix low-achieving schools. And Americans want to
      know "what do we do to help students, not what do we do to punish
      schools," said David Winston, the president of the Winston Group, the
      other firm that conducted the survey. (Education Week – subscription



      Brewer unveils 'innovation' unit for LAUSD: Supt. David L. Brewer
      advocates longer school days, same-sex campuses and the creation of
      an innovation unit to effect change in L.A. Unified.

      LOS ANGELES – Arguing for longer school days, single-sex academies
      and more parent involvement, Los Angeles Schools Supt. David L.
      Brewer on Thursday portrayed the school system as one dotted with
      pockets of excellence but plagued by a deeply ingrained culture
      resistant to change. In his first "state of the schools" address
      before Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, school board members and a roomful
      of business and community leaders, parents and students, Brewer also
      discussed a return to the future: more localized decision making and
      less top-down management. The Los Angeles Unified School District,
      the nation's second largest, has experimented previously with "school-
      based management" and other techniques designed to give teachers,
      campus administrators and parents more authority, but has shifted
      back in recent years to a more centralized structure. The centerpiece
      of Brewer's hourlong speech, delivered at the new, not-yet-open John
      Liechty Middle School west of downtown, was the superintendent's
      formal unveiling of the Innovation Division for Educational
      Achievement, which he said would fast-track school improvement across
      the district. Under discussion since shortly after Brewer took over
      in November, the new office, he said, would allow parent groups,
      teachers, community organizations — and the mayor — to propose and
      launch reform plans at schools in a system that has long resisted
      meaningful change. To earn the newfound freedoms, however, Brewer
      cautioned that reformers would have to adhere to strict
      accountability measures. During his speech, however, and at a meeting
      afterward with reporters and editors from The Times, he offered few
      details about how reform proposals would go from paper to practice.
      (Los Angeles Times – registration required)

      (for more on LA, see also "Charters 'the enemy'? Politics, not
      policy, govern LAUSD decisions on schools" at

      Opinion: In search of victory in service to children (by consultant
      Christopher Cross)

      CALIFORNIA – With mayors across California -- indeed, across the
      nation in such places as Oakland, Los Angeles and St. Louis --
      recently fighting with boards and unions to take over the schools,
      perhaps they should put aside that agenda to pursue a different
      strategy, one much more likely to benefit children. What is needed is
      a plan that is a win/win situation for all concerned. Mayors should
      mobilize the considerable resources that they command in social and
      health services and law enforcement, plus use their ability to
      inspire the nonprofit sector, to work with school boards and
      superintendents in creating comprehensive plans to serve children. By
      starting with a number of neighborhoods to look at the needs of
      children, the roles that all agencies could play in meeting those
      needs and then developing an iron-tight agreement for cooperation,
      mayors could become national leaders and a local heroes. This plan
      should assure that everything from health care to after-school
      programs to internships for middle and high school students and real
      jobs for older students are provided, as well as help with college
      admission and costs. There is widening agreement that meeting the
      educational, social and citizenship needs of students in this century
      requires the combined efforts of all segments of every community.
      (Sacramento Bee)

      From Insight to Action: New Directions in Foundation Evaluation

      NATIONAL – After a year of research and nearly 100 interviews with
      foundation leaders and evaluation experts, FSG has released a report
      that identifies a fundamental transition in the way foundations use
      evaluation. The study was funded by The William and Flora Hewlett
      Foundation, and conducted in collaboration with the Forum of Regional
      Associations of Grantmakers. Increasingly, foundations are moving
      beyond traditional third-party outcome studies toward more
      performance-centered approaches that provide foundations and their
      grantees with current information and actionable insights. FSG's
      report highlights real-life examples of successful evaluation efforts
      from more than two dozen foundations of all sizes. What unites these
      examples is their simplicity, clarity of purpose, and forward-looking
      nature. Each involves a pragmatic effort to gather knowledge in order
      to improve decision-making and shape future behavior. (FSG Social
      Impact Advisors)

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