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Education News Bulletin, October 23-27

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    Education News Bulletin October 23 - 27, 2006 CHARTERS, CHOICE AND NEW SCHOOLS Charter schools ruled constitutional COLUMBUS, OH - A divided Ohio Supreme Court
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2006
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      Education News Bulletin
      October 23 - 27, 2006


      Charter schools ruled constitutional

      COLUMBUS, OH - A divided Ohio Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that
      publicly funded, privately operated charter schools are
      constitutional, delivering a blow to a coalition of parent groups,
      teachers unions and school boards that had joined to challenge
      Ohio's creation of the alternative schools. In a 4-3 decision, the
      court upheld the state Legislature's ability to create and to give
      money to common institutions of learning - even if those public
      schools are not subject to the same reporting and operational
      requirements. Teachers unions, later joined by the other groups,
      sued Ohio in 2001 over the state's 1998 charter school law.
      Alternative schools have grown from 15 in Ohio in 1998 to 250 last
      year. Criticism has intensified, particularly over charter school
      students' lagging standardized test scores. Teachers unions, later
      joined by the other groups, sued Ohio in 2001 over the state's 1998
      charter school law. Alternative schools have grown from 15 in Ohio
      in 1998 to 250 last year. Criticism has intensified, particularly
      over charter school students' lagging standardized test scores.
      (Cincinnati Enquirer)


      Opinion: How the private sector can improve city public schools (by
      Howard Baetjer Jr.of Towson University and Children's Scholarship
      Fund Baltimore)

      BALTIMORE - In this election year, politicians blame one another for
      the failed state of the Baltimore City Public School System. They -
      and school-system bureaucrats - squabble over money and control but
      refuse to make meaningful changes, as always. The private sector,
      however, can act to improve the public schools. I have a modest, but
      serious, proposal for private donors. To spur structural changes in
      the city school system they should withdraw every penny of support
      they give to it. They should devote it instead to helping low-income
      parents send their children to some of the 200 or so inexpensive
      private and parochial schools in and around Baltimore. In short,
      they should fund the public schools' competition. If private sector
      donors in Baltimore would redirect their giving to help parents
      remove their children from failing public schools, they would give
      the bureaucracy a potent incentive to make the drastic changes
      needed. (Washington Examiner)



      Money flows into teacher bonus program

      WASHINGTON --In the closing weeks of the fall campaign, the Bush
      administration is handing out money for teachers who raise student
      test scores, the first federal effort to reward classroom
      performance with bonuses. The 16 grants total $42 million and cover
      many states. The government has announced only the first grants,
      $5.5 million for Ohio, where Education Secretary Margaret Spellings
      was making the presentation Monday. The department will release the
      remaining grants in the coming weeks, falling right before the Nov.
      7 elections in which a reeling Republican Party is eager for good
      news. … Using the old-fashioned incentive of cash, President Bush's
      program encourages schools to set up pay scales that reward some
      teachers and principals more than others. Those rewards are to be
      based mainly on test scores, but also on classroom evaluations
      during the year. The grants are also aimed at luring teachers into
      math, science and other core fields. (Associated Press via Boston

      lows_into_teacher_bonus_program/ (see also "Press Release: $11.6
      Million in Grants Awarded for Highly Qualified Special Education
      Teachers, Early Intervention Personnel" at

      How California drives highly qualified teachers out of the classroom

      SACRAMENTO, CA - While California educrats bemoan NCLB, they have
      missed the opportunity to reform the state standards to encourage
      more highly qualified people to teach. Rather than streamlining
      state standards or creating alternate routes to certification,
      California education officials have interpreted "state
      certification" as required by NCLB to mean each classroom teacher
      needs a standard teaching credential from the California Commission
      on Teacher Credentialing. The state credentialing process is time-
      consuming and costly, and consists of a series of courses designed
      to teach techniques that could be effectively combined into a
      weekend workshop or a single online course. Instead of encouraging
      highly qualified individuals to teach, this policy has driven highly
      qualified teachers from public classrooms into private schools or
      other careers. (Pacific Research Institute)



      Opinion: The Education Revolution America Needs (by Eugene Hickok of
      The Heritage Foundation and former deputy secretary of education)

      NATIONAL - The current debate over NCLB overlooks a critical
      problem: Nothing the administration does under NCLB will ensure the
      law's promise that every child will be proficient in reading and
      math by 2014. For reasons unrelated to the law's merit, NCLB is
      simply not up to the task. Something far more profound and
      transformative must happen for American education to offer every
      child the opportunity to succeed. The deeper problem is the existing
      institutional architecture of American public education. No Child
      Left Behind erects an accountability system atop the status quo and
      requires states to provide families with options when schools fail.
      But public education governance, structure, finance, management and
      politics remain intact. Here is the heart of the problem: American
      public education -- because of the way it is structured,
      administered, funded and understood by parents, teachers,
      administrators and taxpayers -- is incapable of delivering on the
      promises of NCLB. The root of the problem isn't in the law; it's in
      the American education system. It can't get there from here. Today's
      public education system essentially tells parents: "This is the
      school your child will attend. This is when we teach, what we teach
      and who will teach." In short, it puts the system ahead of the
      child. We need an education environment that listens and responds
      when a parent says: "This is my child; these are my hopes and dreams
      for my child, his needs and interests, his strengths and weaknesses.
      Why should I entrust my child to your care?" We need educational
      opportunities that put the child first. (Washington Post -
      registration required)


      State Chiefs Offer Views on NCLB Renewal: Council calls for letting
      states use a variety of tests to measure AYP

      Washington - State officials responsible for carrying out the No
      Child Left Behind Act want more money and more power to make the
      nearly 5-year-old federal law work. The Council of Chief State
      School Officers said last week that its members should be able to
      determine whether schools and districts are meeting their
      achievement goals by measuring individual students' academic growth,
      and that they should be able to use results from a variety of tests
      to make those determinations. The states also will need extra
      federal money to help improve failing schools, the Washington-based
      group said in a list of guidelines for improving the law. The
      overall tone of the federal school law must shift from being
      prescriptive to giving "real incentives" for improving student
      achievement at both the state and local levels, said Elizabeth
      Burmaster, Wisconsin's superintendent of public instruction. She is
      the chairwoman of a CCSSO task force created to make recommendations
      on the law, which Congress is scheduled to reauthorize next year.
      (Education Week - registration required)



      Next leader of L.A. school district vows to remove 'bad teachers'

      LOS ANGELES - Los Angeles' incoming schools chief vowed Thursday to
      make removing "bad teachers" a major focus of his plan to improve
      schools - and made clear he was willing to sacrifice his early
      popularity over the issue. "I'm going to be unpopular," said David
      L. Brewer, who is expected to take over as schools superintendent by
      the middle of next month. "It's called the right teacher in the
      right classroom in the right school…. Some people do not belong in
      the classroom, OK? They don't belong there. We're gonna get them
      out. The question is how is the system going to react to the way we
      get them out." Brewer, 60, made the comments as part of a wide-
      ranging discussion with Times reporters and editors about his early
      impressions of the Los Angeles Unified School District and his plans
      to reform the nation's second-largest school system. During the
      hourlong conversation, Brewer repeated his belief that dropouts
      remain one of the district's greatest problems. He reiterated his
      intent to forge ties with city agencies that serve poor, at-risk
      children and said he would focus on a quick, dramatic overhaul of
      the district's long-overlooked middle schools. Brewer also indicated
      that he plans to streamline the mammoth district by slashing the
      size of its bureaucracy. But in promising to take on poorly
      performing teachers, the retired Navy admiral steered headlong into
      perhaps the most volatile waters he will navigate as superintendent.
      (Los Angeles Times - registration required)

      See also:
      - "L.A. mayor, next schools chief vow to put students before
      politics" at http://www.latimes.com/news/education/la-me-
      - "L.A. Board Shuts Mayor Out on New Chief" at
      - "Seeking an equal say in schools' future: Parents, teachers and
      community groups speak out at a forum on L.A. Unified. The focus is
      on which campuses the mayor will oversee" at

      EDUCATION REFORM 2006: A VOTER'S GUIDE - Where the candidates really
      stand on education issues

      NATIONAL - With a few weeks left before Election Day, November 7,
      the war in Iraq, national security, and political hoopla dominate
      the headlines. For education reformers, however, the election season
      is a time to assess candidates on what they've done either to
      improve or to hinder education choice for children. Looking beyond
      the campaign rhetoric, this Voter's Guide will help identify whether
      candidates actually cast the votes that match their talk. When
      possible, we've also identified sources of political and financial
      support, particularly if it comes from groups like teachers unions
      that oppose greater educational choice. … This election cycle is a
      competitive one, and several old themes have emerged to capture
      voters' interest. Whenever the economy is experiencing problems,
      candidates for governor, in particular, seem to put their focus on
      money as the answer. Look for candidates who say expanded or
      universal preschool is their focus and you're likely to have a
      candidate who will not want to upset the status quo. In addition to
      the proverbial "chicken in every pot" guarantee of more education
      spending that mostly comes from non-reformers, the candidates all
      seem to be pushing accountability because the public is frustrated
      with business as usual. But if your candidate does not have an
      accountability plan that comes with consequences for success or
      failure, it could be that he or she is just touting the party line.
      (Center for Education Reform)

      http://www.edreform.com/_upload/CERVotersGuide2006.pdf (see
      also "Education Eyed in 36 Battles for Governor" at

      Foundation Shifts Tack on Studies: Scholars say Gates risks losing
      valuable findings

      NATIONAL - Five years into an eight-year study of its high school
      improvement efforts, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is shifting
      its strategy for evaluating the $1.3 billion grant program. The
      foundation's initiative, which is underwriting change efforts in
      more than 1,800 schools, is the nation's largest privately funded
      attempt to improve high schools. Initially focused on creating
      hundreds of smaller, more personalized schools and schools-within-
      schools, the program now encompasses a more complex mix of policy
      measures to reform high schools. Gates' decision to halt the study
      worries some scholars, who say the field will lose valuable insights
      into an initiative of historic proportions. Since 2001, the American
      Institutes for Research, based in Washington, and SRI International,
      of Menlo Park, Calif., have been evaluating progress in a sample of
      Gates-funded schools in four districts. But foundation officials
      told the two research groups last year that they planned to pull the
      plug on that study. The foundation intends instead to forge a new
      study plan centered around building a database to monitor
      educational performance in every school it supports. (Education
      Week - registration required)


      Commentary: Toss Out the PR Playbook, Send in the Public-Engagement
      Team (by Deborah Wadsworth, senior adviser to Public Agenda)

      NATIONAL - As a senior adviser and former president of Public
      Agenda, I'm often asked to interpret public-opinion research in
      relation to the priorities of major education groups. These groups
      are seeking information that can help them refine their "messaging"
      strategies to promote a particular agenda. "Messaging," when it
      assumes that the solution is a given, merely in need of better
      packaging, is the last thing education reform needs more of. What is
      undeniably needed in its stead is authentic public engagement, and
      lots more of it. The American public education system is facing
      multiple challenges that are unique in its history, and its ability
      to respond will depend on greater public involvement and
      understanding than has been evident to date. … Top-down campaigns,
      in which the mission is to persuade people to adopt a preconceived
      agenda without genuine input, cannot build the relationships
      required to address the kinds of problems we're facing. Addressing
      these deeply human issues requires genuine give-and-take among
      people inside and outside schools. Education leaders and
      policymakers need to engage with a broad cross section of the
      community, including regular folks who are not already strongly
      involved in school activities, to set overall goals and establish
      priorities for change. Giving people alternatives to consider helps
      them learn about trade-offs that must be faced and helps reduce
      simplistic thinking and the tendency to reach for easy answers. Most
      importantly, a carefully thought-out engagement process allows
      people with very different starting points to talk effectively and
      productively about issues. (Education Week - registration required)


      America's Best Leaders

      NATIONAL - Where have all the leaders gone? As Americans survey a
      landscape that seems uncommonly bleak, a new national survey
      commissioned for this issue of U.S. News found that two thirds of
      the public believes the nation is in a leadership crisis, while
      nearly three quarters worries that unless we find better leaders
      soon, the nation will begin to decline. Some 9 of every 10 people
      say political leaders today spend too much time attacking rivals,
      while 8 of 10 believe that corporate leaders are more concerned with
      making money than with running their companies well. There are some
      glimmers of hope, however. As it did last year, U.S. News teamed
      with the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's John F. Kennedy
      School of Government to identify leaders who are making a
      difference. A national panel sifted through thickets of
      recommendations and agreed on a small group of men and women who
      embody the most important traits of leadership. There may be a
      dearth of leadership in our national life, but as the portraits in
      this issue attest, there are still great leaders abroad in the land.
      [Includes Joel Klein & Michael Bloomberg from New York, Paul Vallas
      of Philadelphia Schools, Wendy Kopp of Teach for America, Robert
      Moses of the Algebra Project, and Alan Khazei and Michael Brown of
      City Year] (by David Gergen for US News & World Report)

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