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August 01, 2008: News Clips

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  • Leonie Haimson
    See Newsday article; For the second month in a
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2008
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       See Newsday article;

       

      "For the second month in a row, state education officials have missed their own deadline for releasing annual school "report cards" relied on by many Long Islanders for academic comparisons of local districts.   The state is more than three months late in delivering the reports containing Regents exam results and high-school graduation rates - data that had usually been released in March or April. "  Why? 

       

      Embarrassed authorities trace the delay largely to difficulties using a new $39.4-million system developed to track school children's performance. ...In June, New York State education officials said they expected to release 2007 rates and other report-card data by month's end. When they missed that target, they reset the deadline for the end of July. Tom Dunn, a department spokesman, says his agency is now targeting release for the first or second week in August.."

       

      So the $80 million DOE supercomputer to track student achievement data called ARIS hasn't worked; the $40 million SED computer system is lagging.  And yet people still say technology is the key to improving student performance.

       

      The computerized system was developed largely by a subsidiary of the Manhattan-based McGraw-Hill corporation under a contract bid worth $13.3 million.
      McGraw-Hill does not collect or enter data, but is involved only in "reporting functionality," McGraw-Hill spokeswoman Kelley Carpenter said in an e-mail yesterday.


      ....The reporting delay has embarrassed the state's Board of Regents, which appointed Mills to his post 13 years ago. In December, the Regents launched a $6.2-million, foundation-funded study of how to improve the department's operational effectiveness, but results have not yet been made public.

       



       
      From: Feinberg Marge
      Sent: Fri 8/1/2008 10:08 AM
      To: &News Clippings
      Subject: News Clips

       

      Friday, August 01, 2008

       

      INDEX 

       

      Education as a Civil Rights Issue

      New York Times Editorial

      Civil rights groups have begun a welcome attack on a House bill that would temporarily exempt the states from the all-important accountability requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act, which was signed into law in 2002. The attack, led by powerful groups like the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, was unexpected, given that the nation’s two big teachers’ unions actually hold seats on the conference’s executive committee. Recent events suggest that the civil rights establishment generally is ready to break with the teachers’ unions and take an independent stand on education reform.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/01/opinion/01fri4.html?ref=opinion

       

      Public School 11 in Highbridge fires aide hailed by Mayor Bloomberg

      Daily News

      A beloved parent coordinator lauded by Mayor Bloomberg in a 2004 speech got axed from his Bronx elementary school, infuriating parents and teachers.

      On the last day of classes at Public School 11 in Highbridge, Charles Woods, 60, was fired and told he wasn't effective at communicating with parents.

      http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/education/2008/07/31/2008-07-31_public_school_11_in_highbridge_fires_aid.html

       

      Grand Jury Clears Man in Death of Girl, 15, After Dispute in Queens

      New York Times

      A grand jury has decided not to indict a Queens man who fatally stabbed a 15-year-old girl who he said was part of a mob of teenagers attacking him after an argument on a bus.

      It was the final stage of a rolling confrontation that began when the man, Winston Alladin, exchanged words with a woman who he said had cut in line to board the Q85 bus the night of June 25. Several miles later, the argument, now involving some young passengers, spilled onto a street in Springfield Gardens, where more teenagers joined in and Mr. Alladin stabbed Keyanna Jones in the chest.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/01/nyregion/01stab.html?adxnnl=1&ref=nyregion&adxnnlx=1217588604-7lFdIQjLSwwsMJVIwbrX3Q

       

      Priority No. 1: Educate Our Kids

      New York Times Letters to the Editor

      Re “The Biggest Issue” (column, July 29):

      A big thank you to David Brooks. We need to focus on education and, in particular, how to close the educational gap between children who begin life with large human capital resources and those who don’t.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/01/opinion/l01brooks.html?ref=opinion

       

      House Acts to Overhaul College Loan Regulations

      New York Times

      Congress overwhelmingly approved an overhaul of the nation’s higher education law on Thursday, adding dozens of provisions and programs to help families with soaring college costs.

      The bill is an effort to keep college costs down through greater transparency — and perhaps shaming — without imposing price controls. It requires colleges and universities to report more information about their costs and prices, to be released by the Education Department in user-friendly lists; those with the largest percentage tuition increases will have to tell the department why they were needed and what they will do to keep costs down.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/01/education/01education.html?_r=1&ref=education&oref=slogin

       

      State officials fail to deliver school 'report cards'

      Newsday

      For the second month in a row, state education officials have missed their own deadline for releasing annual school "report cards" relied on by many Long Islanders for academic comparisons of local districts.

      The state is more than three months late in delivering the reports containing Regents exam results and high-school graduation rates - data that had usually been released in March or April.

      http://www.newsday.com/services/newspaper/printedition/friday/news/ny-licard015784590aug01,0,6889158.story

       

      Report Recommends Vocational Schools Overhaul

      WNYC

      The Bloomberg administration has released a report that recommends a major overhaul of the city's 21 vocational schools. It says technical schools haven't been meeting industry demands for highly skilled employees, and have been seen as a dead end by students.

      The report's recommendations include: integrating academics with internships and hands-on experience, developing partnerships with industry to ensure that technical school programs remain relevant, and seeking private donations for pilot programs.

      http://www.wnyc.org/news/articles/104869

       

      Public Asks For Help With Class Sizes, Grad Rates

      Queens Chronicle

      Parents and teachers let school officials know Tuesday the city needs to work harder to reduce class sizes and improve the graduation rates for English language learners.

      The Department of Education held a public hearing at I.S. 230 in Jackson Heights to get feedback from the community on how to spend a chunk of state money, named Contract for Excellence (C4E) funds, designated for students with the greatest educational needs.

      http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=19881230&BRD=2731&PAG=461&dept_id=574901&rfi=6

       

       

      AROUND THE NATION

       

      What if "improving teacher quality" isn't THE answer?

      Education Gadfly

      Thomas B. Fordham Foundation

      Is this the summer of school reform discontent, when the core assumptions of the past decade are reexamined? Are assumptions such as those that gave birth to the "Washington Consensus," which in turn created No Child Left Behind, being questioned anew? So it appears.

      There's the broader/bolder crowd, who argue that it's unfair to hold schools accountable for raising student achievement because so much that influences achievement is outside of schools' control. There's a growing chorus of voices that wonder whether "closing the achievement gap" should continue to be the primary objective of our education system, mostly because such an objective implies that we aren't much interested in maximizing the progress of white, middle-class, and/or high-achieving students.

      http://www.edexcellence.net/gadfly/#a4560

       

      House, Senate Pass Overhaul Of Higher-Education Programs

      Washington Post

      Congress yesterday passed a major overhaul of federal higher-education programs aimed at expanding financial aid and bringing greater clarity and disclosure to the student loan process.

      By overwhelming bipartisan votes, the House and Senate approved a five-year reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. It will nearly double the maximum amount of Pell Grants by 2014 and will require the Education Department to collect and publish better data on soaring tuition costs at universities and colleges.

      http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/01/AR2008080102862.html

       

      Our view on helping students compete: Higher education slumps

      International measures find U.S. losing its longstanding advantage.

      USA Today Editorial

      For decades, the U.S. fielded gold-medal-winning basketball "dream teams" in the Olympics. Then the rest of the world caught up, so this year's team is calling itself the "redeem team."

      Something similar is playing out in higher education, where for decades the quality of U.S. universities led the field, making Americans the world's best-educated population.

      http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2008/08/our-view-on-hel.html#more

       

      Opposing view: One approach can't fit all

      Federal plan failed; colleges are finding many ways to improve.

      USA Today Op-Ed

      By vastly exceeding her authority as Secretary of Education, and then accusing colleges of complacency while concealing information in the bargain, Margaret Spellings and her Commission on the Future of Higher Education created a straw man, ignoring both the transparency and the accountability built into higher education.

      As for transparency, the Education Department's own website, The College Navigator, provides information on price, financial aid, graduation rates, majors, diversity and admissions policies for every institution.

      http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2008/08/opposing-view-o.html#more

       

      States Inch Forward on Graduation Rate Standard

      Education Week

      Three years after the National Governors Association announced that all 50 members had agreed to standardize their states’ graduation-rate formulas, the group is only marginally closer to its goal of a truly national definition of high school graduation rates, according to NGA data released today.

      The Washington-based organization’s latest progress report finds that only 16 states currently calculate and publicly report a graduation rate consistent with the formula agreed to in 2005 in the NGA’s Graduation Counts Compact.

      http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2008/08/13/45compact.h27.html

       

       

       

       

       

       

      Education as a Civil Rights Issue

      New York Times Editorial

      August 1, 2008

       

      Civil rights groups have begun a welcome attack on a House bill that would temporarily exempt the states from the all-important accountability requirements in the No Child Left Behind Act, which was signed into law in 2002. The attack, led by powerful groups like the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, was unexpected, given that the nation’s two big teachers’ unions actually hold seats on the conference’s executive committee. Recent events suggest that the civil rights establishment generally is ready to break with the teachers’ unions and take an independent stand on education reform.

       

      Despite innocuous packaging, the House bill looks very much like a stealth attempt to gut the national school accountability effort. Introduced by Representatives Sam Graves, a Missouri Republican, and Timothy Walz, a Democrat from Minnesota who is a former teacher, it is supported by the National Education Association, the influential teachers’ union that has been trying to kill off No Child Left Behind for years.

       

      The bill, which is unlikely to pass, would permit the states to ignore the parts of the law that require them to pursue corrective actions at failing schools. That would encourage lassitude in states and districts that have already dragged their feet for too long. It would sap the energy of states that have shown clear progress since the law was passed and are eager to move forward. Once stopped, the reform effort could take years to get moving again.

       

      The support of civil rights groups for the No Child Left Behind Act has been muted in the years since the law was first passed. But with the reauthorization process under way, the groups are making it clear that they view education reform as a civil rights issue. They want changes in No Child Left Behind — but only changes that strengthen the law — and they are fully prepared to fight the unions for those changes if necessary.

       

       

       

      Public School 11 in Highbridge fires aide hailed by Mayor Bloomberg

      By Carrie Melago

      Daily News

      August 1, 2008

       

      A beloved parent coordinator lauded by Mayor Bloomberg in a 2004 speech got axed from his Bronx elementary school, infuriating parents and teachers.

       

      On the last day of classes at Public School 11 in Highbridge, Charles Woods, 60, was fired and told he wasn't effective at communicating with parents.

       

      That's nonsense, said the dozen parents who turned out at a protest Thursday and the nearly 100 others who signed a petition asking for Woods' reinstatement.

       

      "He's been here for my child. Without Mr. Woods, it will be nothing," said parent Shevinah Henderson, turning to Woods and adding."

       

      Woods, who has been at the school for five years, was also praised by Bloomberg in a speech about school reform.

       

      "Some people say it's hard to get parents to come to evening meetings. Tell that to Charles Woods," Bloomberg said, applauding Woods for drawing 800 parents to a "family night" and launching a family preservation program.

       

      Some parents were in tears as they spoke about Woods and lashed out at Principal Elizabeth Hachar. who declined to comment.

       

       

      Grand Jury Clears Man in Death of Girl, 15, After Dispute in Queens

      By CHRISTINE HAUSER

      New York Times

      August 1, 2008

       

      A grand jury has decided not to indict a Queens man who fatally stabbed a 15-year-old girl who he said was part of a mob of teenagers attacking him after an argument on a bus.

       

      It was the final stage of a rolling confrontation that began when the man, Winston Alladin, exchanged words with a woman who he said had cut in line to board the Q85 bus the night of June 25. Several miles later, the argument, now involving some young passengers, spilled onto a street in Springfield Gardens, where more teenagers joined in and Mr. Alladin stabbed Keyanna Jones in the chest.

       

      “He broke down in tears because I told him he is going home,” Kevin P. O’Donnell, Mr. Alladin’s lawyer, said on Thursday.

       

      But Mr. Alladin, who is from Trinidad, may not be able to return to his home in Queens. He was still in jail Thursday and was expected to be turned over to federal custody at the request of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, said a Rikers Island spokesman, Stephen J. Morello.

       

      The agency did not say why it wanted Mr. Alladin detained, though it typically does so when a person’s immigration status is in question. Mr. O’Donnell said he believed Mr. Alladin, who has been in the United States for at least about 10 years and was engaged to be married, was in the country legally.

       

      But he wants to return to Trinidad anyway, Mr. O’Donnell said.

       

      “It is awful; he has never been arrested before,” he said. “He is a hard-working guy. One of the things he kept saying was, in his Trinidadian accent, ‘Why did these people want to hurt me? I did nothing.’ ”

       

      Mr. Alladin, 40, testified on Tuesday before the grand jury, which voted to clear him later that day. A spokeswoman for the Queens district attorney’s office, Helen Peterson, confirmed that the grand jury voted not to pursue the charges. The decision was reported on Thursday in The Daily News.

       

      Messages left for Keyanna’s relatives were not returned on Thursday. After her death, her great-grandmother Dot Jackson described her as a “good” and “sweet” girl who wanted to be a lawyer. She had just finished her freshman year at the John Adams High School annex in South Ozone Park, Queens.

       

      The argument began just before 10 p.m., when Mr. Alladin, on his way home from work as a security guard at Takashimaya, a luxury department store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, began arguing with a woman when they boarded the Q85 near the Jamaica transit hub.

       

      Mr. Alladin told investigators that three youths on the bus harassed him for speaking disrespectfully to the woman, and then followed him after he got off the bus in Springfield Gardens, where he lived. The woman had left the bus earlier.

       

      Mr. Alladin told the police that a larger group of youths, including Keyanna, joined them until a group of about 10 started pelting him with bricks and bottles.

       

      According to Mr. Alladin’s account to the police, with the youths surrounding him, he pulled out a folding knife. Mr. Alladin told investigators that he swung the knife at the crowd to keep them back and that “the girl got cut,” an assistant district attorney, Mario T. Karonis, said the night Mr. Alladin was arraigned on a manslaughter charge.

       

      Mr. Karonis said Mr. Alladin’s “self-defense claims were taken into account” by prosecutors when they filed the initial charges. But he added that not all witnesses “support the statements made by the defendant.”

       

      Mr. Alladin said the teenagers attacked him with bottles and bricks, and rammed him with a shopping cart, and the police said at the time that some 911 calls backed up his claim. But three boys who followed Mr. Alladin off the bus said the group hurled the objects at him only after he stabbed Keyanna.

       

      At the arraignment, another lawyer representing Mr. Alladin said the attack stemmed from the fact that he was Trinidadian. At least one of the boys claimed Mr. Alladin used racial epithets while confronting the woman on the bus.

       

      Mr. Alladin talked to the grand jury for 45 minutes to an hour, Mr. O’Donnell said.

       

      “He had a very, very legitimate self-defense argument,” said Mr. O’Donnell. “He had been chased by 10 or 12 kids for no reason for an argument that happened half an hour earlier that did not involve any of them. It was like a pack of wolves.

       

      “He was running up and down the street screaming for people to call the police,” he said. “He was being hit by rocks, punched.

       

      “He goes into the street and these kids surround him,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “One at a time they are stepping in and punching him.”

       

      His back against a wall, Mr. Alladin pulled out the knife, he said.

       

      “He had a knife in his bag, he was hoping they would see the knife and back off,” Mr. O’Donnell said. “It just so happened that the next person that stepped up to hit him happened to be this young girl. He did not know if it was a girl, he did not know if it was a boy, he just stuck the blade out to protect himself and she happened to get cut. Unfortunately it was a lethal stabbing.”

       

       

       

      Priority No. 1: Educate Our Kids

      New York Times Letters to the Editor

      August 1, 2008

       

      Re “The Biggest Issue” (column, July 29):

       

      A big thank you to David Brooks. We need to focus on education and, in particular, how to close the educational gap between children who begin life with large human capital resources and those who don’t.

       

      Mr. Brooks cites Barack Obama’s focus on early childhood education as a positive start. But before we can rely on schools, we need to make sure that they are places of nurture where children can develop “motivation levels, emotional stability, self-control and sociability,” traits that Mr. Brooks mentions.

       

      How do we create schools where this can happen? Questions like this are necessary and require an honest and open debate. Martina Forgey Lay

       

      Chautauqua, N.Y., July 30, 2008

       

      The writer is a kindergarten teacher in Alexandria, Va.

       

      •

       

      To the Editor:

       

      David Brooks writes that “the happy era ended around 1970 when America’s educational progress slowed to a crawl.”

       

      Richard M. Nixon was president in 1970, and in the almost 40 years since he took office, we have had Republican presidents for all but 12 years. This is not to say that our education problems are all the fault of Republican presidents, but it is to say that their philosophy of unregulated free markets overwhelmed this country’s belief in promoting the common good.

       

      As a result, support for economic growth for everyone declined, replaced by increased income inequality and the accompanying problems, as noted by Mr. Brooks, that low-income families face today.

       

      I believe that the growing inequality leads to the lack of school preparedness by groups low on the economic ladder, as well as to the inability of the United States to keep its education system up to the standards of other advanced nations. Rex Costanzo

       

      Silver Spring, Md., July 29, 2008

       

      The writer is an education researcher.

       

      •

       

      To the Editor:

       

      David Brooks rightly recognizes that gaps in educational attainment identifiable at age 5 ultimately undermine school success.

       

      We knew this when Head Start was founded. We knew it when Head Start was evaluated as effective. We know it now that Head Start has been effectively decimated.

       

      Rather than rail at preschool gaps, finance programs that resolve them.

       

      Miriam Cherkes-Julkowski

       

      Apache Junction, Ariz., July 29, 2008

       

      The writer is a retired professor of educational psychology at the University of Connecticut.

       

      •

       

      To the Editor:

       

      David Brooks comments on the decline in the commitment to education since the 1970s, but he doesn’t point out the rise in the emphasis on faith and ideology over the same time period. Coincidence? Tom Schiavetta

       

      Dallas, July 30, 2008

       

      •

       

      To the Editor:

       

      David Brooks is right. If you want to choose one issue that will have the biggest effect on our economy and our nation’s well-being, choose education.

       

      CEOs for Cities, a national network of urban leaders, has calculated that if we can raise college attainment by just one percentage point in each of the country’s top 50 metro areas, the nation will realize an annual $50 billion “talent dividend.”

       

      That is the amount of the House Democrats’ proposed economic stimulus package. And education attainment is the stimulus that keeps on giving.

       

      Mr. Brooks points out that one candidate, Barack Obama, has made early childhood education central to his message and his policy proposals. For all our sakes, we must regain our momentum on what ought to be our national priority. Carol Coletta

       

      President and Chief Executive

       

      CEOs for Cities

       

      Chicago, July 29, 2008

       

      •

       

      To the Editor:

       

      David Brooks is right to tie America’s rise and vigor to investments in education. That’s why I wish he’d also mentioned the passage of the new G.I. Bill, which was signed into law in June. The bill greatly increases college benefits for veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.

       

      One of the wisest things we ever did was to consolidate the wartime experience, leadership skills and sense of self-sacrifice of World War II veterans with a college education at taxpayer expense. One of the most foolish (and ignominious) was the callousness we showed the Vietnam War generation.

       

      Following his point through to its pertinent political conclusion, Mr. Brooks should have called John McCain to task for his opposition to and failure to vote on that bill. Dakin Hart

       

      New York, July 30, 2008

       

       

      House Acts to Overhaul College Loan Regulations

      By TAMAR LEWIN

      New York Times

      August 1, 2008

       

      Congress overwhelmingly approved an overhaul of the nation’s higher education law on Thursday, adding dozens of provisions and programs to help families with soaring college costs.

       

      The bill is an effort to keep college costs down through greater transparency — and perhaps shaming — without imposing price controls. It requires colleges and universities to report more information about their costs and prices, to be released by the Education Department in user-friendly lists; those with the largest percentage tuition increases will have to tell the department why they were needed and what they will do to keep costs down.

       

      The measure passed in the House by 380 to 49 and in the Senate by 83 to 8.

       

      The measure also simplifies federal financial-aid forms, and, for the first time, makes Pell grants for low-income students available year-round, not just during the academic year. It also requires colleges to disclose all relationships with student lenders and bans all gifts and revenue-sharing agreements between institutions and lenders offering federal and private loans.

       

      Although President Bush is widely expected to sign the legislation, the White House made no promises on Thursday.

       

      “We will review the legislation to see how it addressed administration concerns during the conference process,” said Scott Stanzel, a White House spokesman.

       

      Representative George Miller, Democrat of California and chairman of the House education committee, said the bill would “create a higher-education system that is more consumer-friendly, fairer and easier to navigate.”

       

      Education groups found good and bad in the sprawling 1,100-page legislation.

       

      Terry Hartle of the American Council on Education said he applauded provisions making it easier for low-income students to pay for a college education, but worried about the cost of complying with all the new regulations “dealing with textbooks, tuition and fees, cost of attendance, alumni activities, foreign gift reporting, fire safety, graduation rates, drug violations, vaccines and peer-to-peer file sharing.”

       

      Coming five years after the last major education overhaul expired, the legislation was a source of substantial relief to many lawmakers.

       

      “We have had over 13 different extensions of this bill,” said Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, Democrat of Maryland, who has recently steered the bill in the absence of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts and chief author of the bill. “I feel like we have been on third base for six and a half years.”

       

      House and Senate negotiators agreed on the final outlines of the bill Wednesday, getting around the last sticking point — how to deal with states that reduce their spending on higher education — with a symbolic compromise under which states that do so could not compete for money from a new grant program that may never be given money.

       

      College affordability has been a high priority for the current Congress, which in other legislation over the past year cut interest rates on student loans and raised the size of Pell grants. Many lawmakers have been frustrated that every increase in federal financial aid is quickly swallowed up by increases in tuition.

       

      Congress has also been concerned that the form filled out by families seeking help with tuition, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as the Fafsa, was a daunting obstacle for many. “Though it was only a seven-page form, you had to hire a financial services outfit to do it,” Ms. Mikulski said.

       

      The new law calls for a two-page Fafsa-EZ form.

       

      With textbook costs averaging about $900 a year and many students forced to pay hundreds of dollars for a required book “bundled” with a DVD or workbook, the new law would require publishers to provide full pricing information and sell unbundled versions of every textbook.

       

      David M. Herszenhorn contributed reporting.

       

       

      State officials fail to deliver school 'report cards'

      BY JOHN HILDEBRAND | john.hildebrand@...

      Newsday

      August 1, 2008

       

      For the second month in a row, state education officials have missed their own deadline for releasing annual school "report cards" relied on by many Long Islanders for academic comparisons of local districts.

       

      The state is more than three months late in delivering the reports containing Regents exam results and high-school graduation rates - data that had usually been released in March or April.

       

      The reports are widely used on the Island - for example, by house hunters seeking high-scoring districts and taxpayer groups seeking evidence their school dollars are well spent.

       

      Embarrassed authorities trace the delay largely to difficulties using a new $39.4-million system developed to track school children's performance. They promise speedy delivery of 2008 results next year.

       

      Under the federal "No Child Left Behind" law, states must report annually on whether schools are raising graduation rates. In June, New York State education officials said they expected to release 2007 rates and other report-card data by month's end. When they missed that target, they reset the deadline for the end of July.

       

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