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Education News Bulletin, January 23-27

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    Education News Bulletin January 23 - 27, 2006 CHARTERS, CHOICE AND NEW SCHOOLS Public-School Students Score Well in Math in Large-Scale Government Study
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2006
      Education News Bulletin
      January 23 - 27, 2006


      Public-School Students Score Well in Math in Large-Scale Government

      WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 - A large-scale government-financed study has
      concluded that when it comes to math, students in regular public
      schools do as well as or significantly better than comparable
      students in private schools. The study, by Christopher Lubienski and
      Sarah Theule Lubienski, of the University of Illinois at Champaign-
      Urbana, compared fourth- and eighth-grade math scores of more than
      340,000 students in 13,000 regular public, charter and private
      schools on the 2003 National Assessment of Educational Progress. The
      2003 test was given to 10 times more students than any previous
      test, giving researchers a trove of new data. Though private school
      students have long scored higher on the national assessment,
      commonly referred to as "the nation's report card," the new study
      used advanced statistical techniques to adjust for the effects of
      income, school and home circumstances. The researchers said they
      compared math scores, not reading ones, because math was considered
      a clearer measure of a school's overall effectiveness. … The study
      also found that charter schools, privately operated and publicly
      financed, did significantly worse than public schools in the fourth
      grade, once student populations were taken into account. In the
      eighth grade, it found, students in charters did slightly better
      than those in public schools, though the sample size was small and
      the difference was not statistically significant. (New York Times -
      registration required)

      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/28/education/28tests.html (see
      also "Charter, Private, Public Schools and Academic Achievement: New
      Evidence from NAEP Mathematics Data" from the National Center for
      the Study of Privatization in Education at

      Enterprising Approach: A master's-degree program blends courses in
      education and business to prepare leaders for the entrepreneurial
      world of charter schooling

      WASHINGTON DC - Verree D. Laughlin wants to launch a network of
      small, community-oriented charter schools, starting with one near
      the Mexican border in Yuma, Ariz. Katheryn Crayton-Shay recently
      took the reins of a beleaguered Hawaii charter school that she's
      struggling to get back on its feet. Jason Guerrero is working to
      replicate a Pueblo, Colo., charter school with new campuses across
      the state. All three are part of a relatively new breed: public
      education entrepreneurs. They're also students in a master's-degree
      program specially designed for their ilk. The Leadership for
      Educational Entrepreneurs, or LEE, program, housed at the west
      campus of Arizona State University in Phoenix, and financed under a
      federal grant, blends coursework from the education and business
      schools and targets those in the charter school arena. (Education
      Week - registration required)



      Politics Pulls Teacher Pay to Forefront: Surging Revenues Cited By
      Governors in Plans

      NATIONAL - Teachers may reap rewards on payday during the upcoming
      school year, thanks to increasingly flush state coffers and the
      political dynamics of an election year. Governors from both
      political parties, in many of the 36 states holding gubernatorial
      elections in the fall, are urging their legislatures to raise pay
      for teachers or give them cash incentives to improve their own
      skills and boost their students' performance. The proposals include
      across-the-board raises in Alabama and New Mexico and a hike in the
      minimum salary in Arizona. The governors of Alaska and Mississippi
      are pitching employee bonuses tied to gains in student achievement.
      The teacher-pay proposals in a dozen or more states are possible
      because balance sheets are healthier than at any time since the
      economic downturn that ravaged state revenues starting in 2001.
      Forty-plus states are collecting more money than anticipated in the
      current fiscal year, and two dozen are raising revenue projections
      for fiscal 2007, which begins July 1 in most states. The proposals
      are also a sign that many governors seeking re-election hope to woo
      educators at the ballot box and impress voters in general with
      efforts to reward teachers and improve schools. (Education Week -
      registration required)


      Teachers go the extra mile: At Sankofa Academy, concern for students
      is a driving force

      OAKLAND - For Sankofa Academy teachers, the workday doesn't always
      end at school. Sometimes it draws to a close in a modest Oakland
      apartment in a talk with a student's family about the child's
      favorite activity, television show or meal. Sankofa's principal
      believes parent involvement is essential to her mission: to give her
      impoverished students a better education than the troubled Oakland
      school district has so far provided them. Teachers tackle it on many
      fronts. They ask parents to volunteer at every chance. They invite
      them to the school's morning community circle. Perhaps most
      importantly, Sankofa teachers, like those at several other new small
      Oakland schools, are using home visits to build healthy, trusting
      relationships. "Connections don't have to happen in the school
      building," said Principal Danielle Neves. "Those things can happen
      at the families' homes as well. We actually believe that some of the
      challenges of having families coming to school have to do with
      historical challenges that families have faced at school." But
      generating hearty parental involvement is proving more difficult
      than Sankofa's young staff thought it would be. Many parents feel
      overwhelmed with long work hours, but the school also has faced
      unforeseen challenges, such as losing its family outreach
      coordinator to sick leave. (San Francisco Chronicle)



      Test's moment of truth painful for some: With chances to pass
      dwindling, students feel the heat

      SACRAMENTO - On a damp, gray day earlier this month, as Juan
      Calderon passed through the halls of Hiram Johnson High School, a
      teacher handed him a sheet of paper carrying devastating news: "Ca
      HS Exit Exam MATH - Failed." Juan crumpled it in his fist and threw
      it in the trash. He growled in frustration and kicked a nearby
      garbage can with his bright white sneakers. Then tears began to run
      down his flushed cheeks. "It sucks. It really does suck," he
      said. "I just feel I'm not going to make it anymore." Just days
      before, state officials had reiterated their commitment to the
      California High School Exit Exam, leaving no alternatives for those
      who fail the test to graduate with their class. As the November test
      results began to seep out at Hiram Johnson, some students flashed
      big smiles along with their scores while others wanted to go home
      and cry. Counselors struggled to help the 114 seniors who had failed
      at least one section of the test again, including four of the five
      students whose progress The Bee is tracking. More than 90,000
      California public school students - including 182 at this inner-city
      high school - began their senior year without having passed the
      basic skills test. Since then, several thousand have passed both the
      math and English tests. (Sacramento Bee - registration required)



      Mayor Maps Plans to Run L.A. Unified

      WASHINGTON - Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa accelerated his drive
      Thursday to take over the troubled Los Angeles Unified School
      District, announcing for the first time that he wants full control
      in two years and will unveil a detailed reform plan in three months.
      In recent weeks, Villaraigosa has assembled a team of advisors who
      are beginning to draft a plan to take on the elected school board
      and the city's powerful teachers union to win voter approval for a
      takeover. This week, Villaraigosa and key aides launched a blitz of
      speeches to begin to lay the foundation for the coming campaign. At
      a conference of mayors in Washington on Wednesday and Thursday,
      Villaraigosa argued that the district is failing its 727,000
      students. He also consulted with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and
      Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who have oversight of their school
      boards. "I am more convinced than ever after talking with Mayor
      Daley that this is the right course for Los Angeles, as it was for
      Chicago, New York and Boston," Villaraigosa said Thursday in an
      interview. "A great city has to have as its anchor a great public
      school system." While Villaraigosa took advantage of the national
      exposure to argue for mayoral control, two key advisors began making
      the case in Los Angeles - on Tuesday before the education committee
      of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce and on Thursday before
      influential local educators. (Los Angeles Times - registration


      Teacher shortage to affect poor most, analysts warn

      SACRAMENTO - California will face a shortage of 100,000 teachers
      within 10 years, education experts told a Senate panel Wednesday,
      and if the state does not increase the supply and quality of
      educators, they warned, students in poor districts will suffer
      disproportionately. "There's virtually no community in the state of
      California where this is not a concern," said Margaret Gaston,
      executive director of the Center for the Future of Teaching and
      Learning. Worried about the looming shortage, which was prompted by
      the projected retirement of one-third of California's teachers who
      are currently older than 50, the Senate Education Committee invited
      a wide range of stakeholders to provide recommendations on how to
      deal with the matter. (Contra Costa Times)


      Commentary: Come Clean on Small Schools (by David C. Bloomfield of
      City University of New York-Brooklyn)

      NATIONAL - Big foundations' history of imposing big ideas on
      American urban public education is littered with failure. In the
      1960s, the Ford Foundation bankrolled community control in New York
      City. Thirty-five years of mediocrity followed, and in reaction,
      that system has been replaced by the strongest model of mayoral
      control in the nation. In the 1990s, the Annenberg Challenge poured
      hundreds of millions of dollars into education reform without
      noticeable systemwide impact on student performance. Today, the Bill
      & Melinda Gates Foundation is leading the charge to reform high
      schools by reorganizing them into small learning communities. The
      results in those schools are mixed at best, and fail to tell the
      story of whole systems-hundreds of thousands of students-disrupted
      by this ill-planned venture. But perhaps the most troubling aspects
      of the Gates program are its failure to engage in any semblance of
      public accountability, its history of secret evaluations, and its
      disowning of responsibility for the harm it has caused. I assume
      that the Gates work is well-intentioned. But the research
      underpinnings, while promising, are weak, hardly justifying the
      billions heaped upon school districts to scale up the design. Like
      Tribbles, those cuddly "Star Trek" creatures that created havoc when
      they multiplied, small schools are wildly attractive. To the lay
      mind, they appear more manageable and less threatening than the
      stereotypical "blackboard jungle." Some have achieved astounding
      results. Well-regarded educators like Deborah Meier have
      demonstrated their potential impact on closing the achievement gap.
      They increase options for school choice. But without adequate
      quality controls, these schools can be just as mediocre as the
      average large school, and can cause severe disruption to students in
      other schools. (Education Week - registration required)


      Back to Basics: Why Does High School Fail So Many?

      LOS ANGELES - On a September day 4 1/2 years ago, nearly 1,100 ninth-
      graders - a little giddy, a little scared - arrived at Birmingham
      High School in Van Nuys. They were fifth-generation Americans and
      new arrivals, straight arrows and gangbangers, scholars and class
      clowns. On a radiant evening last June, 521 billowing figures in
      royal blue robes and yellow-tasseled mortarboards walked proudly
      across Birmingham's football field, practically floating on a carpet
      of whoops and shouts and blaring air horns, to accept their
      diplomas. What happened to the Class of 2005? It is a crucial
      question, not just for Birmingham but for all American schools. High
      school dropouts lead much harder lives, earn far less money and
      demand vastly more public assistance than their peers who graduate.
      To understand why students leave high school and what they do next,
      six Times reporters and two photographers spent eight months
      studying Birmingham - by most measures a typical Los Angeles high
      school - and interviewing hundreds of former students and their
      parents, teachers, friends and siblings. The most likely place to
      find someone who had left Birmingham turned out to be in another
      school. More than 350 members of the Class of 2005 left to study
      elsewhere - about half at other traditional high schools and about
      half at alternatives like vocational school or independent study.
      Those who transferred to traditional schools were more likely than
      not to graduate on time. But of those who went to alternative
      schools, fewer than one in three received a diploma or its
      equivalent. (Los Angeles Times - registration required)


      Wanting Better Schools, Parents Seek Secession

      LOS ANGELES -Ladera Heights is a place that some black Angelenos
      aspire to and others scoff at. It is a choice hilltop neighborhood
      filled with spacious houses, well-trimmed shrubbery and city and
      ocean views. Home to many African-American doctors, lawyers,
      teachers and other professionals, the community is sometimes
      called "the black Beverly Hills." But community leaders say just one
      thing is missing, decent public schools, and their fight to change
      that has unsettled many of their neighbors. Ladera Heights, an
      unincorporated community of about 8,000 people, has for decades
      belonged to the school district in adjacent Inglewood, a decidedly
      poorer, predominantly black and Latino city whose schools have
      struggled academically and financially. A group of Ladera Heights
      residents, many of whom have pulled their children out of Inglewood
      schools in favor of private ones, want their neighborhood assigned
      to the school district in Culver City, a more racially mixed, more
      affluent community than Inglewood. The debate parallels one that
      confronts many middle-class parents in urban areas: whether to help
      lift local schools by sending their children there or whether to put
      their children first and send them to other schools with superior
      reputations. Here, race and class have made the issue particularly
      charged, with some in Inglewood accusing the Ladera Heights parents
      of snobbery or worse. (New York Times - registration required)


      Advocates Urge Bush to Boost Federal Role in Math and Science

      NATIONAL - A consensus is growing among members of Congress,
      educators, and corporate leaders in favor of a stronger federal
      effort to bolster mathematics and science education from the
      earliest grades through college. Some of the ideas under discussion
      on Capitol Hill include improving teacher preparation, promoting
      effective instructional strategies, and increasing financial aid to
      encourage promising students to become math and science teachers.
      Business leaders and lawmakers from both parties have called on
      President Bush in recent weeks to pledge stronger federal support
      for mathematics and science education in his State of the Union
      Address, scheduled for Jan. 31. Congress is also moving on the
      issue, by introducing several bills to upgrade K-12 science and math
      instruction. Business leaders and federal officials are driven by
      oft-cited worries about the United States' future economic standing.
      The ability of nations such as China and India, in particular, to
      use an increasingly skilled, relatively low-paid workforce to lure
      jobs away from the United States-and churn out students with
      superior skills in science and engineering fields-has major economic
      implications here, they say. (Education Week - registration required)

      http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2006/01/25/20science.h25.html (see
      also recent testimony to Congress, "Rising Above The Gathering
      Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic
      Future," at
      gizing_and_Employing_America2.asp and "Framing the Engineering
      Outsourcing Debate: Placing the United States on a Level Playing
      Field with China and India" from Duke University's engineering
      school at http://www.domain-
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