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Education News Bulletin, August 28-September 8

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    Education News Bulletin August 28 - September 8, 2006 CHARTERS, CHOICE AND NEW SCHOOLS Replicating High-Performing Public Schools: Lessons from the Field
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 14, 2006
      Education News Bulletin
      August 28 - September 8, 2006


      Replicating High-Performing Public Schools: Lessons from the Field

      NATIONAL - The fact that far too many students leave high school
      unprepared to become contributing members of society is hardly news.
      What is news is the growing number of schools that are proving
      public education can work for every student. Unlike a decade ago,
      when it was hard to find more than a handful of high-performing
      public schools, today many such schools exist. As a result, the goal
      posts have shifted. The question is no longer, "Can we create
      schools that will achieve outstanding results for all their
      students?" but rather, "How can we replicate schools that we know
      can work, without sacrificing quality outcomes and within the
      constraints of the existing funding environment?" School developers
      across the United States are committed to finding real-time answers
      to this question, but the challenges they face are huge. On the one
      hand, quality is non-negotiable. Successful schools, by definition,
      are those where all students graduate prepared to take the next step
      into the future, whether that is additional schooling, training, or
      work. On the other hand, tradeoffs are an inherent and inescapable
      part of the replication process. New-school developers seldom, if
      ever, have access to enough financial and human resources to
      reproduce every aspect of their original school with absolute
      fidelity. And even were such fidelity possible, differences in local
      circumstances inevitably would require some degree of adaptation. In
      the past few years, Bridgespan has had the privilege of working with
      a number of school developers who are tackling the challenges of
      replication. Their experiences provide considerable insight into the
      hard work of achieving both high-quality educational outcomes and
      economic sustainability. (The Bridgespan Group)


      No Longer the Only Game in Town: Helping Traditional Public Schools

      This new report from the Doing School Choice Right initiative
      reveals how two markedly different school districts, Milwaukee and
      Dayton, are confronting the challenges of competition. No Longer the
      Only Game in Town: Helping Traditional Public Schools Compete
      explores how the two districts affected by and respond to the
      pressures of school choice. The competition for students in these
      cities is real: nearly 25% of students in Milwaukee and almost 30%
      in Dayton use public dollars to attend schools outside the
      traditional system. Unlike districts with growing enrollments that
      can use choice as a pressure valve, Milwaukee and Dayton have
      experienced declining enrollments for years. The study offers
      concrete advice to districts facing similar pressures and explores
      the barriers that can act as impediments to change. The report
      concludes with specific guidelines for what districts and individual
      schools, state policymakers, and philanthropies can do to help
      traditional public schools adapt successfully to the emerging
      competitive environment. (Center on Reinventing Public Education)


      The Future of D.C. Public Schools: Traditional or Charter Education?

      WASHINGTON, DC - Ten years after Congress imposed charter schools on
      a reluctant city, the District has emerged as one of the nation's
      most important laboratories for school choice and one of the first
      to confront a central tenet of free-market theory: Will traditional
      public schools improve with competition? Or will charters take over?
      Both sides agree that the District is approaching a critical
      juncture. With public confidence in the schools at an all-time low,
      more than 17,000 public school students -- nearly one in four --
      have rejected the traditional system in favor of 51 independently
      run, publicly funded charter schools. That share is one of the
      largest in the nation and is expected to rise when six more charter
      schools open their doors this fall. As charters have proliferated,
      the number of students attending traditional schools has plummeted
      from 80,000 a decade ago to 58,000 last school year. Because tax
      dollars follow the student, charters now claim at least $140 million
      a year that might otherwise flow to neighborhood schools. That has
      led traditional schools to cut programs, lay off teachers and, for
      the first time in nearly a decade, close. Powerful forces in the
      national debate are watching closely to see whether D.C. schools can
      win those students back. (Washington Post)



      COMMENTARY: Fighting the Wrong Battle in the Teacher-Preparation
      Wars (by Daniel C. Humphrey and Marjorie E. Wechsler of SRI

      NATIONAL - Like many education policy debates, arguments over
      alternative teacher certification vs. traditional teacher
      preparation have been heated, often vitriolic. A growing body of
      evidence makes it clear, however, that this debate is based on
      faulty assumptions about teacher-preparation programs of all kinds,
      whether alternative or traditional. Our study of alternative-
      certification programs, sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New
      York, was charged with identifying the characteristics of effective
      programs. But as we examined seven alternative-certification
      programs, we discovered that there is more variation within a single
      preparation program than there is across programs, in terms of the
      training teacher-candidates are offered, their experiences in their
      programs, and their effectiveness when they become teachers. We
      concluded that program-to-program comparisons make no sense. We
      found that teacher-candidates' preparation and teaching ability are
      shaped by the interaction of three forces: their personal background
      (academic record and previous classroom experience), their formal
      training (the coursework they experience), and the context of their
      school placement (principal and mentor support, professional
      community, and availability of materials). These three factors-
      personal background, preparation, and school context-define the
      candidates' paths into the teaching profession. Ultimately, it was
      this path into the profession that determined candidates' retention
      in the field, their teaching skills and knowledge, and their
      confidence in their ability to teach all students. (Education Week -
      registration required)


      Collective Bargaining

      NATIONAL - The harsh glare of state accountability systems has
      brought to public attention the expansive collective-bargaining
      agreements that local school boards negotiate with their employees.
      Big-city school superintendents such as New York City's Joel Klein
      and Philadelphia's Paul Vallas have decried the agreements under
      which they have labored. In this forum Linda Kaboolian says that
      collective bargaining is here to stay, but offers ways to make it
      more educationally productive; Howard Fuller and George Mitchell
      lament the impediments that collective bargaining has imposed on the
      learning process and call for more transparency; and Eva Moskowitz,
      a former New York City councilwoman, wonders if the system
      isn't "too broke to fix." (Education Next)

      See the 3 articles mentioned here
      - "Table Talk" by Linda Kaboolian of Harvard at
      - "A Culture of Complaint" by George Mitchell and Howard Fuller at
      - "Breakdown" by Eva Moskowitz at

      Klein: We gotta keep the rejects

      NEW YORK - Forty-four assistant principals are so inept that no city
      school wants to hire them - but they'll all have jobs when classes
      begin next week, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein bemoaned yesterday.
      Klein said he must waste "millions of dollars creating jobs we don't
      need" - money that could be used to hire 80 teachers - because the
      assistant principals' jobs are protected by their union contract and
      state law. In a letter to city principals, Klein said even though he
      has to find spots for the assistant principals, he will not "force
      them upon you." "I believe that is wrong for you and, more
      importantly, wrong for our kids," he wrote. "This means I have no
      choice but to create new jobs - jobs that I wouldn't otherwise
      create and jobs that this system doesn't need . . .," he
      added. "This is taxpayer money that should be paying for the high-
      quality educators." The letter was Klein's latest bid to divide and
      diminish the principals union, whose members include both principals
      and assistant principals. The union has been without a contract for
      more than three years - and its leaders were furious to read Klein's
      blistering words. (New York Daily News)


      Chromosome: How a Teacher's Gender Affects Boys and Girls

      NATIONAL - The majority of arguments for single-sex schools and
      classrooms focus on the effects on interactions among students, but
      they also present the possibility of greatly increasing the number
      of students with teachers of the same gender. Is there any
      convincing evidence that doing so could make a difference in
      education-for boys and girls alike? So far the jury has been out,
      but my analysis of national survey and test-score data collected by
      the U.S.Department of Education (DOE) allows me to offer new and
      convincing evidence of the differential impact of a teacher's gender
      on student learning. … Simply put, girls have better educational
      outcomes when taught by women and boys are better off when taught by
      men.These findings persist, even after I account for a variety of
      other characteristics of students, teachers, and classrooms that may
      influence student learning. (by Thomas S. Dee of Swarthmore College
      for Education Next)



      States fall short on academic standards

      NATIONAL - More than half the states received "D" or "F" grades
      overall for their academic standards for teaching English, math,
      science, and U.S. and world history to elementary and high school
      students, according to a new report by the Thomas B. Fordham
      Foundation, a Washington, D.C., think tank that pushes for tougher
      educational standards. Nine states earned "A" and "B" grades. Three
      of those states - California, Indiana and Massachusetts - were
      lauded for their "A" grades across all five subjects. Four states
      flunked overall: Alaska, Hawaii, Montana and Wyoming. The Fordham
      report includes individual state summaries on all five
      subjects. "The lesson is that good standards do matter, yet state
      standards are as mediocre as ever," said Michael J. Petrelli, one of
      the report's authors and the foundation's vice president for
      national programs and policy, at a news conference unveiling the
      report Aug. 29. The report looked at each state's standards, the
      guidelines as to what students are expected to learn in each grade
      or grade cluster, for each of the five subjects. (Stateline.org)

      http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=138260 (see
      also "The State of State Standards 2006" at
      another recent report from Fordham, "To Dream the Impossible Dream:
      Four Approaches to National Standards and Tests for America's
      Schools" at http://www.edexcellence.net/doc/National%20Standards%
      20Final%20PDF.pdf, and a recent trend article about the Thomas B.
      Fordham Foundation, "Fordham Pushes National Standards" at


      L.A. Story (Cont'd)

      LOS ANGELES - The California Legislature voted this week to give Los
      Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa more authority over the Los
      Angeles Unified School District, which is the nation's second-
      largest after New York. And while Mr. Villaraigosa's mayoral control
      plan has been watered down and isn't ideal, that doesn't mean school
      reformers should be indifferent to its passage. The legislation,
      which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to sign, would
      effectively give the mayor control over who becomes the
      superintendent of L.A. Unified. Currently a seven-member school
      board picks the superintendent, a board chosen in low-turnout
      elections dominated by the teachers' unions. The proposed reform
      gives the mayor veto power over the school board's choice. Allowing
      the mayor more say in who runs the schools gives voters someone to
      hold responsible for results. Mayoral control is not a cure-all. But
      where it's been tried -- Boston, Chicago, New York -- it has on
      balance been an improvement on the status quo. The K-12 public
      education status quo in Los Angeles could hardly be more abysmal.
      According to the mayor's office, more than 80% of middle-school
      students attend failing schools. Nearly half of all black and Latino
      students fail to graduate in four years. (Wall Street Journal -
      reigstration required)

      For more on Los Angeles, see also
      - "Opinion: Four Million Children Left Behind" by Clint Bolick of
      the Alliance for School Choice at
      - "District to Sue Over Schools Bill Constitutionality" at
      - "Mayor's Lesson Plan Faces Big Test" at
      - "Mayor Flexes Muscle With School Board" at
      - Roy Romer's "Adios, and good luck" at

      Column: Maybe, despite all, our English learners are learning (by
      Peter Schrag of the Sacramento Bee)

      CALIFORNIA - Given the great gush of numbers that the dipsticks of
      our school testing and accountability systems are spewing out --
      STAR, API, AYP, CAHSEE, CELDT, APR, NAEP -- there's bound to be
      confusion and misreadings. But sometimes the misreadings are
      egregious enough they require correction. The most recent is in the
      scores on the 2006 STAR, California's standardized testing program.
      A lot of people -- the bilingual lobby in particular -- are
      interpreting them as yet more evidence of an intractable gap between
      kids who come from homes where English is not the primary language
      and the state average.
      The misreading has all sorts of consequences, not least because it's
      converted into demands, backed by legislative fiscal pressure, to
      create yet another segregated program for English learners, kids
      from homes where English is not the primary language. That students
      classified as English learners have low scores on tests given in
      English is a no-brainer. But the 522,000 English learners, roughly
      11 percent of all students tested, who have been reclassified as
      fluent English proficient (R-FEP) scored higher on STAR than the
      average student. Fifty percent rated as proficient or above in
      English -- a 10-point gain from three years ago -- and 43 percent in
      math, as against 42 percent and 40 percent respectively for all
      students. Compared to black students, 29 percent of whom scored
      proficient or above in English (24 percent in math), the
      reclassified students' scores are through the roof. Maybe none of
      that is grounds for celebration. Most scores are too low. But it
      challenges the argument that if they're to succeed, English learners
      should have a segregated program. The latest STAR numbers raise
      other questions as well. (Sacramento Bee - registration required)

      (for more on California, see also "Billions aimed at troubled
      schools: Measure would use funds from lawsuit to shrink class sizes
      at 500 sites" at
      15214723c.html and "Far Fewer California Schools Meet Targets in
      State Testing" at http://www.latimes.com/news/education/la-me-

      Press Release: The Broad Foundation and U.S. Fund for UNICEF
      Announce $2.45 Million to Fund New KIPP Public Charter Schools in
      New Orleans

      NEW ORLEANS -- A year after Hurricane Katrina, The Broad Foundation
      and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF announced today a total of $2.45
      million to fund two current and three planned KIPP (Knowledge is
      Power Program) public charter schools in New Orleans. Based on a
      model that has improved achievement for students across 16 states
      and last year raised student achievement for New Orleans evacuees on
      average more than two grade levels in reading and math, the five
      KIPP New Orleans schools aim to eventually serve more than 2,400
      students. The Broad Foundation (pronounced "brode") announced it
      will provide $2 million to fund KIPP's two new, open-enrollment
      public charter schools, as well as KIPP's expansion over the next
      four years of three additional planned schools. The first new KIPP
      school, KIPP Believe College Prep, is scheduled to begin serving
      students as soon as Tuesday, Aug. 29. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF
      announced it will provide $450,000 to fund the two KIPP public
      charter schools opening this fall in New Orleans -- KIPP Believe
      College Prep and McDonogh 15. In particular, $300,000 will go to
      McDonogh 15 to support renovations and extended learning time, and
      $150,000 will support extended learning time and a social worker at
      KIPP Believe. (BusinessWire)

      ndmViewId=news_view&newsId=20060828005625&newsLang=en (for more on
      New Orleans, see also "Charter schools' enrollment zooms past 4,000"
      at http://www.nola.com/search/index.ssf?/base/news-

      Who invented e-learning computing?

      NATIONAL - Every day, millions of students taking online college
      courses act in much the same way as their bricks-and-mortar
      counterparts. After logging on, they move from course to course and
      do things like submit work in virtual drop boxes and view posted
      grades -- all from a program running on a PC. It may seem self-
      evident that virtual classrooms should closely resemble real ones.
      But a major education software company contends it wasn't always so
      obvious. And now, in a move that has shaken up the e-learning
      community, Blackboard Inc. has been awarded a patent establishing
      its claims to some of the basic features of the software that powers
      online education. The patent, awarded to the Washington, D.C.-based
      company in January but announced last month, has prompted an angry
      backlash from the academic computing community, which is fighting
      back in techie fashion -- through online petitions and in a
      sprawling Wikipedia entry that helps make its case. Critics say the
      patent claims nothing less than Blackboard's ownership of the very
      idea of e-learning. If allowed to stand, they say, it could quash
      the cooperation between academia and the private sector that has
      characterized e-learning for years and explains why virtual
      classrooms are so much better than they used to be. (Associated
      Press via CNN)

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