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Education News Bulletin, October 17-21

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  • edupreneurs_moderator
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 26, 2005
      Education News Bulletin
      October 17 – 21, 2005



      WASHINGTON, Oct. 13, 2005 – Fourth graders attending public charter
      schools across the country are making notable strides in reading and
      math, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress
      (NAEP), otherwise known as the "The Nation's Report Card," released
      today. Gains were particularly strong in reading, with charter
      students gaining at a faster rate than students in traditional
      public schools, whose scores were unchanged since 2003. African-
      American, Latino, and low-income charter students also registered
      larger reading gains than their fourth-grade peers in non-public
      charter schools. Gains among Hispanic charter fourth graders were so
      strong that they have opened a 10-point gap with non-charter
      students. (National Alliance for Public Charter Schools)



      Adding the Critical Voice: A Dialogue With Practicing Teachers on
      Teacher Recruitment and Retention in Hard-to-Staff Schools

      NATIONAL – To find out what teachers themselves say about what it
      would take to get them to teach in hard-to-staff schools, Learning
      Point Associates conducted a qualitative study with practicing
      public school teachers to learn their honest opinions about the many
      controversies sabotaging their profession, especially the ongoing
      efforts to attract, retain, and support teachers in hard-to-staff
      schools. … The study's findings are somewhat surprising yet
      optimistic. Overall, the information gleaned from our interviews
      suggests they have wide-ranging ideas about how to best attract and
      retain teachers in hard-to-staff schools. A one-size-fits-all model
      clearly is not the answer; teachers want different incentives
      depending on where they are in their life or career. (by Susan K.
      Shapiro and Sabrina Laine for Learning Point Associates)


      In California, a Fierce Battle Is Joined Over Teachers

      LOS ANGELES, Oct. 16 - As a fifth-grade teacher in Lancaster,
      Calif., Jeanne Marks feels an occasional need to march into her
      principal's office and request textbooks or other supplies. She
      calls herself "a squeaky teacher" for speaking out on behalf of her
      pupils. For now, however, Ms. Marks has largely stopped squeaking. A
      ballot measure before California voters next month would not only
      extend the time that public school teachers wait to gain tenure, to
      five years from two, but also change the rules for dismissal,
      allowing administrators to fire any teacher after two unsatisfactory
      evaluations without what current rules provide: a 90-day period for
      improvement and a comprehensive appeals process. Ms. Marks, who has
      been teaching for seven years, says that if the measure passes, she
      will be left more vulnerable to a bad evaluation by any
      administrator inclined to interpret her "squeaking" as
      troublemaking. That is but one objection to the measure, Proposition
      74, which has set off a political storm for Gov. Arnold
      Schwarzenegger, a Republican running for re-election next year. He
      is promoting Prop 74 as crucial to reforming public schools by
      weeding out ineffective teachers. Unions that represent the state's
      300,000 teachers are leading the opposition, arguing that the
      initiative would do little to improve classroom achievement, would
      scare away new teachers and would encourage school districts to get
      rid of older teachers, who cost more in salary and benefits. (New
      York Times – registration required)

      http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/20/national/20tenure.html (see
      also "Changing the rules on teacher tenure," an op-ed by Sheila
      Jordan, Alameda County superintendent of public schools, at


      Adequacy, Accountability, and the Impact of "No Child Left Behind"

      NATIONAL – Since 1980, forty-five of the fifty states have been sued
      by advocates of increased and/or redistributed education funding at
      the state level. The lawsuits have argued that state appropriation
      levels and formulae for education failed to meet state
      constitutions' commitment to their children of a "thorough and
      efficient" education (or some variant thereof) – that is, states
      were not providing an equitable or adequate education, in violation
      of their duty to do so. Over time, these became known as "adequacy"
      suits, and they continue apace: twenty-five such suits were pending,
      at wildly different stages of completion, as of August 2005.4 This
      paper will discuss the impact of NCLB on this steady, but so far
      relatively stealthy, brand of education reform in the United States.
      How has accountability politics, at the national level, intersected
      adequacy politics at the state level? After a brief review of NCLB's
      provisions and history, the remainder of this essay examines in turn
      each leg of the state-federal-advocacy triangle noted above. It
      develops speculative thoughts about how those relationships may
      develop and morph in the near future, especially with an eye towards
      NCLB's first reauthorization in 2007. (by Andrew Rudalevige of
      Dickinson College, Prepared for the conference "Adequacy Lawsuits:
      Their Growing Impact on American Education" Kennedy School of
      Government, Harvard University)



      Full-Day Kindergarten Produces More Learning Gains, Study Says

      NATIONAL – A new national study provides some of the strongest
      evidence to date to support what many educators and parents of young
      children already believe: Children learn more in full-day
      kindergarten programs than they do in half-day programs. The
      findings, scheduled to be published in the February issue of the
      American Journal of Education, are based on federal data from a
      nationally representative sample of 8,000 children in public
      kindergarten programs. The results show that, on average, the
      learning gains that pupils make in full-day programs translate to
      about a month of additional schooling over the course of a school
      year. Nationwide, according to federal data, half of all
      kindergartners now attend full-day programs, either public or
      private. But such programs tend to be more common in certain parts
      of the country, such as the South and the Midwest, and in private
      schools. Disagreement is widespread over whether any educational
      value full-day programs convey is worth the added expense.
      (Education Week – registration required)


      Growing trend of using online tutors from overseas raises some

      SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA – It's around dinnertime as 15-year-old Eric
      Lai boots up his computer for an online tutoring session. So why is
      his tutor Mary Paul about to dig in to breakfast? Sounds like one of
      those tricky SAT questions, but a global marketplace trend is the
      answer: Eric is at home in Fremont and Mary is at an office in South
      India -- 12 time zones and 8,900 miles away. Eric's parents are
      among a growing group in Silicon Valley attracted to one of the
      latest ventures in the world of offshoring -- overseas tutors. An
      increasing number of companies are seizing on cheaper labor abroad
      and the reach of the Internet to undercut the cost of U.S.-based
      tutors and take advantage of a vibrant Asian-born immigrant
      community passionate about their children's education. But critics
      of the approach say offshore tutors don't understand the subtleties
      of teaching American students. (San Jose Mercury News)



      Charters Get a Plea for Help: L.A. Unified's Romer asks alternative
      education operators to open campuses to relieve overcrowding at
      seven troubled high schools

      LOS ANGELES – In an unusual call for outside assistance, Los Angeles
      schools chief Roy Romer proposed Tuesday that charter school
      operators open campuses to serve students from some of the most
      overcrowded and worst-performing high schools in the city. The Los
      Angeles Unified School District has come under mounting pressure to
      reverse years of low test scores and graduation rates at its high
      schools, many of which struggle to serve thousands of students and
      languish at the bottom of state rankings. … Romer's request for
      assistance from charter operators marks the first time in the
      superintendent's five-year tenure that he has actively sought to
      bring charters into the district. Though the school board typically
      approves charter applications and Romer has expressed interest in
      collaborating with charter schools, he has been wary not to cede too
      much control over district campuses to them. A proposal by Steve
      Barr, who runs several charter schools, to take over Jefferson High,
      one of the schools included in the proposal and the scene of several
      violent melees last spring, was met with disdain by Romer, who said
      he saw it as a hostile move. Barr called Romer's plan "intriguing,"
      but said it would not alter his push to take control of Jefferson.
      Still, Romer's proposal, which he offered to his staff earlier this
      week and then to board members Tuesday, was pitched as a way to
      relieve severe overcrowding in the selected schools. They are:
      Fremont, Roosevelt, Manual Arts, Jefferson, Los Angeles, Bell and
      Huntington Park high schools. (Los Angeles Times – registration

      charter19oct19,1,6682581.story?coll=la-news-learning (for more on
      Los Angeles, see also "L.A. Schools Face a Fight for Bond Issue" at

      Gates money pulled from small schools: Lack of master plan a
      possible reason for foundation's decision

      SAN FRANCISCO - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has withdrawn
      its financial support of small schools in the San Francisco Unified
      School District, signaling that the nationwide trend toward creating
      middle and high schools of fewer than 400 students has fallen flat
      in San Francisco. The schools -- which stress personalized education
      and are seen by supporters as an answer to big, urban schools in
      which kids aren't well known and drop out in high numbers -- have
      caught on like wildfire in many cities, including Boston, New York
      and Oakland. Oakland Unified, in fact, has 28 small schools
      supported by $25 million from the Gates Foundation, which has backed
      the trend in districts around the country as part of its call for
      major high school reform. But after giving $2.5 million to San
      Francisco over the past two years, the Gates Foundation last month
      reduced this year's allocation to small schools by 30 percent and
      halted all new grants to the schools. Barbara Semedo, a spokeswoman
      for the foundation, said the grant cycle simply ended; she wouldn't
      discuss the matter further. (San Francisco Chronicle)

      f=/c/a/2005/10/22/BAGA0FBEAF80.DTL (see also a similar article
      highlighting how the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation may be pulling
      back from small schools funding in this year's round of
      grants, "Gates Foundation exec pans Seattle school district," at

      A New Beginning for City Schools: An Interview with Carl Cohn

      SAN DIEGO – A new day has dawned for San Diego City Schools. The
      arrival of acclaimed education leader Carl Cohn as superintendent of
      the beleaguered district has brought hope and a sense of renewal to
      students, parents and teachers. Indeed, when a unanimous school
      board announced the selection of Cohn on July 23, the news worked
      like a salve on an open wound, producing an extraordinarily positive
      effect on labor relations and creating unity within the education
      and business communities -- more than two months before his actual
      start date. Offering words of reassurance and reconciliation, Cohn
      spoke in a recent interview about his first days on the job, the
      direction he plans to take, his leadership style and his priorities.
      Speaking slowly and thoughtfully, the nationally recognized educator
      said his biggest surprise after taking the helm on Oct. 3 was the
      cumbersome bureaucracy he encountered. "The school district
      generates a lot of paper," he said. "The size of the board meeting
      agendas is on a par with Los Angeles, and that is very surprising to
      me and very shocking. As a newcomer and an observer, I look at
      something like that and wonder how anyone would figure out what is
      important. "It seems to me that doing something to generate less
      paper and figure out what's really important, what people really
      need to focus on, becomes part of what I need to do. I was under the
      assumption that most large urbans of the late '80s and early '90s
      went through all that and moved on." Cohn said another immediate
      priority is to modify the district's organization chart so he can
      establish a closer, more direct connection with the schools. (Voice
      of San Diego)

      c=euLTJbMUKvH&b=312472&ct=1505953 (see also part 2 at
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