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Education News Bulletin, July 24-28

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    Education News Bulletin July 24 - 28, 2006 CHARTERS, CHOICE AND NEW SCHOOLS St. Hope expands into Harlem SACRAMENTO - St. Hope Public Schools, the local
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 31, 2006
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      Education News Bulletin
      July 24 - 28, 2006


      St. Hope expands into Harlem

      SACRAMENTO - St. Hope Public Schools, the local organization that
      sparked controversy four years ago when it took control of
      Sacramento High School, announced Wednesday that it will soon take
      the reins of a New York City school with historic ties to the famous
      Boys Choir of Harlem. The arrangement marks the first out-of-state
      expansion for St. Hope, a Sacramento nonprofit focused on
      revitalizing the economic and educational outlook of the Oak Park
      neighborhood. Kevin Johnson, a former NBA star who runs St. Hope,
      wants to bring his model to another low-income neighborhood by
      working with the Choir Academy of Harlem. The partnership will begin
      this fall, when New York City schools open for the new year on Sept.
      5. But the most important details -- who will work at the school,
      what the curriculum will be, whether it becomes a charter school --
      will be hammered out over the next two years. Johnson said he
      expects to have full control of the Choir Academy of Harlem by fall
      2008, when he hopes to run it as a preschool-through-12th grade
      charter school that focuses on music and arts and is staffed by
      nonunion teachers. That would require a change of New York law,
      education officials there said. Right now, New York state caps at
      100 the number of charter schools that can operate -- and the cap
      has been reached. (Sacramento Bee - registration required)


      Charter schools, districts in battle over campuses

      CALIFORNIA - When California voters approved Proposition 39 six
      years ago, it was mainly known for lowering the threshold for
      passing school bond measures. These days, though, the law is in the
      legal spotlight for pitting two camps of public education against
      each other in a high-stakes fight over school buildings. Proposition
      39 also requires districts to share their campuses "fairly" with
      charter schools, alternative public schools that are self-governed.
      How to share fairly is at the center of the dispute. The rationale
      behind the law is that charters serve students who otherwise would
      attend district-run schools. Therefore, they should be entitled to
      use district facilities. Since Proposition 39 took effect, districts
      statewide have faced mounting requests from the growing number of
      charters seeking to use their campuses. (San Diego Union Tribune)



      Most States Fail Demands in Education Law

      NATIONAL - Most states failed to meet federal requirements that all
      teachers be "highly qualified" in core teaching fields and that
      state programs for testing students be up to standards by the end of
      the past school year, according to the federal government. The
      deadline was set by the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's
      effort to make all American students proficient in reading and math
      by 2014. But the Education Department found that no state had met
      the deadline for qualified teachers, and it gave only 10 states full
      approval of their testing systems. Faced with such findings,
      Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, who took office promising
      flexible enforcement of the law, has toughened her stance, leaving
      several states in danger of losing parts of their federal aid. In
      the past few weeks, Ms. Spellings has flatly rejected as inadequate
      the testing systems in Maine and Nebraska. She has also said that
      nine states are so far behind in providing highly qualified teachers
      that they may face sanctions, and she has accused California of
      failing to provide federally required alternatives to troubled
      schools. California could be fined as much as $4.25 million. The
      potential fines are far higher than any the Education Department has
      levied over the law, and officials in several states, already upset
      with many of the law's provisions, have privately expressed further
      anger over the threat of fines. But Ms. Spellings faces pressure for
      firm enforcement of the law from a broad array of groups, including
      corporations and civil rights organizations. (New York Times -
      registration required)

      http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/25/education/25child.html (see also a
      related report from the Citizens' Commission on Civil Rights, "Days
      of Reckoning: Are States and the Federal Government Up to the
      Challenge of Ensuring a Qualified Teacher for Every Student?" at


      States' Standards, Tests Are a Mismatch, Study Finds

      NATIONAL - Half of the more than 800 high-stakes state tests given
      to satisfy the No Child Left Behind Act don't appear to line up with
      the states' academic standards, raising basic questions about using
      such assessments to judge schools, students, or teachers, argues a
      report released today by the American Federation of Teachers. The
      policy brief was released by the 1.3 million-member union July 20 at
      the start of its biennial convention in Boston. One aspect of the
      problem, the report says, is the quality of the standards
      themselves. Another is the mismatch between states' expectations for
      students—the academic standards—and the content of the tests. For a
      state's NCLB-mandated testing regime to qualify as "smart," the
      standards had to be clear and explicit, and the tests had to sample
      proportionately from them, according to the paper. Only 11 states
      met the union's criteria for strong standards and tests that "align"
      with them, it says, and 20 states "have much work to do"—beefing up
      their standards, matching up tests with standards, or showing what
      they have done online. (Education Week - registration required)

      http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2006/07/26/43aft.h25.html (see
      also the report, "Smart Testing: Let's Get It Right" at

      COMMENTARY - What Works vs. Whatever Works: Inside the No Child Left
      Behind law's internal contradictions (by Mike Petrilli of the Thomas
      B. Fordham Foundation)

      NATIONAL - Are you still struggling to make heads or tails of the
      federal No Child Left Behind Act? Does the law remind you of Dr.
      Dolittle's two-headed llama, the PushMePullyu? It should, because
      when it comes to the law's "theory of action," it's heading in
      opposite directions at the same time. Specifically, the No Child
      Left Behind Act is the result of an uncomfortable truce between two
      groups of school reformers: the "what works" camp and the "whatever
      works" camp. The law is an amalgam of their ideas, and their ongoing
      competition will shape the contours of No Child Left Behind version
      2.0. First, let's examine the what-works crowd. These reformers look
      across the education system and see its failings in terms of
      ignorance and ideology. They decry the pedagogical fads that sweep
      through our schools, bemoan educators' resistance to scientifically
      proven reading-instruction methods, and abhor the quasi-religious
      nature of disliked educational "philosophies" such as constructivism
      and "multiple intelligences." They seek to bring order to this chaos
      through the dispassionate eye of science. … The whatever-works camp
      holds a very different worldview. These reformers look out across
      the education system and see its failings in terms of incentives,
      power, and politics. They decry the daily decisions made by school
      boards and district leaders that benefit adults instead of children
      (especially poor children). They abhor the red tape and bureaucratic
      inertia that keep educators from innovating. They don't particularly
      care what happens inside the "black box" of classroom instruction;
      they just want children to be well-educated at the end of the day.
      They seek to right the system through the classic management model
      of "tight-loose": Be tight about the results you expect, but loose
      as to the means. Is it any surprise, then, that educators feel
      whipsawed between competing demands? On the one hand, the federal
      government is saying to do whatever works to boost student learning,
      and on the other hand it's saying to do things in a certain
      prescribed, preapproved way. (Education Week - registration required)


      Education Department Expands Tutoring

      WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration says it again will bend the
      rules of the No Child Left Behind law, intending to get thousands
      more poor children into tutoring. The Education Department said
      Wednesday it would expand two experiments that early signs indicate
      have helped more children get into tutoring. The step is an attempt
      to address a major snag under the 2002 law. Only 10 percent to 20
      percent of the more than 1 million poor children eligible for
      tutoring have signed up. That is considered a dismal rate of
      participation. The policy changes are part of a pattern of
      enforcement by Education Secretary Margaret Spellings. She wants to
      show she can adapt -- waiving rules to get more kids in tutoring --
      and yet be tough on states that do not comply, by threatening to
      pull their money. The law requires schools that get federal poverty
      aid and fall short of their yearly progress goals for two straight
      years to offer transfers to students. After three years of failure,
      schools must offer low-income parents a choice of tutors. The new
      policy will let 23 school districts flip that order, offering
      transfers second. That is significant because parents prefer
      tutoring to moving their child to a new school. Six times as many
      students took part in tutoring compared with school choice in 2003-
      04. The districts are in Alaska, Delaware, Indiana, North Carolina
      and Virginia. Just four Virginia districts were involved when the
      experiment began last year. Spellings opted to expand it nationwide
      after seeing signs that it boosted interest in tutoring. Most states
      did not bother applying for the flexibility because they did not
      meet the criteria. The five states that won the department's
      blessing were the only ones to apply. (Associated Press via the
      Washington Post)


      NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT: Assistance from Education Could Help
      States Better Measure Progress of Students with Limited English

      NATIONAL - An estimated 5 million children with limited English
      proficiency were enrolled in U.S. public schools during the 2003-
      2004 school year, representing about 10 percent of the total school
      population. They speak over 400 languages, with almost 80 percent of
      students with limited English proficiency speaking Spanish. These
      students have difficulties in speaking, reading, writing, or
      understanding English that interfere with their ability to
      successfully participate in school. Because of these language
      barriers, obtaining information on the academic knowledge of these
      students from an assessment that is valid and reliable (i.e., it
      measures what it is designed to measure in a consistent manner)
      presents challenges. As a result, students with limited English
      proficiency have historically been excluded from statewide
      assessments, leaving states and districts with little information
      about how these students are performing academically. To help states
      improve their assessment of students with limited English
      proficiency, we are recommending that the Secretary of Education (1)
      support additional research on accommodations, (2) identify and
      provide additional technical support states need to ensure the
      validity and reliability of academic assessments for these students,
      (3) publish more detailed guidance on assessing the English language
      proficiency of these students, and (4) explore ways to provide
      additional flexibility with respect to measuring annual progress for
      these students. (Government Accountability Office)



      Mayor to Hire School District Envoy

      LOS ANGELES - Moving to bolster his sway over Los Angeles' embattled
      public school system, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa will name former
      schools Supt. Ramon C. Cortines today to the post of deputy mayor
      for education, youth and families. Cortines, a veteran educator who
      has led some of the nation's largest and most politically volatile
      school districts, including Los Angeles Unified for a brief stint,
      is expected to serve as an important buffer between Villaraigosa,
      the school board and the teachers union. Cortines would not say in
      an interview whether he supports state legislation that would give
      Villaraigosa a measure of control over the school system. But he
      insisted that any takeover must be a collaborative effort involving
      the warring sides. Cortines' hiring was interpreted by many in the
      education community as a smart strategic move for Villaraigosa, who
      has waged an often ugly campaign over the last year to wrest control
      of the school system from the elected school board. The mayor plans
      to formally announce the appointment at a South Los Angeles
      preschool today. Cortines is widely regarded as a respected
      educator — he has run school districts in New York, San Francisco,
      San Jose and Pasadena. His selection was cautiously welcomed by some
      school district leaders who believe he can bridge the political
      chasm opened by the conflict. In his new position, Cortines will
      represent the mayor before L.A. Unified and other civic
      institutions, including community colleges, universities and
      corporate and philanthropic groups. He also will be Villaraigosa's
      top educational advisor, replacing Carolyn Webb de Macias, who is
      returning to her job as vice president of external relations at USC
      after a year's sabbatical in the mayor's office. Some educators
      speculated that Villaraigosa may have hired Cortines to install him
      eventually as superintendent when Supt. Roy Romer retires later this
      year — a notion that Cortines and the mayor's office sought to
      dispel. (Los Angeles Times - registration required)

      For more on Los Angeles, see also:
      - new report from Education Sector, "L.A. Story: Can a Parent
      Revolution Change Urban Education's Power Structure?" at
      - "Schwarzenegger Calls the Running of L.A. Unified 'Horrible'" at
      - "Power Over Curriculum at Heart of L.A. Deal" at
      - "Beware Knee-Jerk Local-Control Arguments" from the Pacific
      Research Institute at

      Change in education: As Latino students near a majority in public
      schools, questions arise on how California will address shift

      CALIFORNIA - Within three years, California will become the nation's
      second state, after New Mexico, in which a majority of public school
      students are Latino, according to state projections. Although Gov.
      Arnold Schwarzenegger recently appointed the president of San Jose's
      National Hispanic University to the state Board of Education, the
      shift has been largely ignored in Sacramento. The change, in a state
      that less than 20 years ago was majority white, raises questions of
      whether Latino students should be forced to assimilate or schools
      should adapt to students. Specifically, how should students with
      poor English-language skills be taught in a state that has
      essentially tossed out bilingual education? Should teacher
      recruitment emphasize Spanish speakers and Latino teachers? What
      subject matter should students be taught and with what books? How
      can schools manage cultural differences, such as improving Latino
      parental involvement in their children's education? At stake are the
      state's future economic prosperity and whether Latino students will
      be an asset or a burden to the state, some educators say. How
      California deals with the change will be a model -- or a lesson --
      for the rest of the country. (Contra Costa Times)

      .htm (for more on California, see also "California's Low-Income
      Schools to Get High-Tech Windfall" at

      Bill Gates, the Nation's Superintendent of Schools

      NATIONAL - Warren Buffett's gift of $31 billion to the Bill and
      Melinda Gates Foundation will double the foundation's assets,
      bringing it to more than $60 billion, and will increase its annual
      giving to nearly $3 billion. Never before has an individual given
      such a large amount of money to someone else's foundation. Never
      before has a private foundation had assets of this dimension. Never
      before has any individual or foundation had so much power to direct
      the course of American education, which is one of the primary
      interests of the Gates Foundation. Educators are waiting with bated
      breath to see which direction this multibillion-dollar behemoth will
      take. … The foundation aims to promote higher standards and closer
      relationships between students and teachers, and indeed, according
      to the foundation's own evaluations, students in the new mini-
      schools have better relationships with teachers, do somewhat better
      in English and have better graduation rates than those in large
      schools. However, the same evaluations also show that students in
      the small schools are learning significantly less math than their
      peers in the big schools. (Los Angeles Times - registration required)


      Identifying Potential Dropouts: Key Lessons for Building an Early
      Warning Data System

      NATIONAL - Policymakers must find ways to raise graduation rates
      even as they simultaneously work to raise standards for graduation.
      This white paper was prepared for "Staying the Course: High
      Standards and Improved Graduation Rates," a joint project of Achieve
      and JFF funded by the Carnegie Corp. of New York. Its goal is to
      provide policymakers with an overview of research about the dropout
      problem and the best strategies for building an early warning data
      system that can signal which students and schools are most in need
      of interventions. As pressure mounts to do something about the
      dropout problem, many school systems will be tempted to skip
      questions about how to predict which students are most at risk of
      dropping out and simply begin with reforms meant to solve the
      problem. Leaders might assume that educators can do a pretty good
      job guessing which students are at risk based on subjective
      judgments. Or they might simply decide not to spend money on data
      systems but rather invest all of their dollars in interventions and
      reforms instead. As this paper attempts to demonstrate, however,
      such decisions can have a variety of negative consequences. Indeed,
      the cost of building an accurate Early Warning System is relatively
      small compared with the cost of providing programmatic interventions
      or systemwide reforms meant to increase graduation rates. But the
      payoff of basing interventions on accurate data can be huge. A large
      school system that invests in better data to support dropout
      prevention can obtain much better results for hundreds of thousands
      or even millions of dollars less than a similar system whose leaders
      decide to skip that step. (Achieve and Jobs for the Future)


      After the Bell Curve

      When it comes to explaining the roots of intelligence, the fight
      between partisans of the gene and partisans of the environment is
      ancient and fierce. Each side challenges the other's intellectual
      bona fides and political agendas. What is at stake is not just the
      definition of good science but also the meaning of the just society.
      The nurture crowd is predisposed to revive the War on Poverty, while
      the hereditarians typically embrace a Social Darwinist perspective.
      A century's worth of quantitative-genetics literature concludes that
      a person's I.Q. is remarkably stable and that about three-quarters
      of I.Q. differences between individuals are attributable to
      heredity. This is how I.Q. is widely understood — as being
      mainly "in the genes" — and that understanding has been used as a
      rationale for doing nothing about seemingly intractable social
      problems like the black-white school-achievement gap and the
      widening income disparity. But what if the supposed opposition
      between heredity and environment is altogether misleading? A new
      generation of studies shows that genes and environment don't occupy
      separate spheres — that much of what is labeled "hereditary" becomes
      meaningful only in the context of experience. "It doesn't really
      matter whether the heritability of I.Q. is this particular figure or
      that one," says Sir Michael Rutter of the University of
      London. "Changing the environment can still make an enormous
      difference." If heredity defines the limits of intelligence, the
      research shows, experience largely determines whether those limits
      will be reached. And if this is so, the prospects for remedying
      social inequalities may be better than we thought. (New York Times
      Magazine - registration required)

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