PEN October 24, 2003
50th Anniversary of Brown Vs. Board of Education
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Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
                                    "Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."
                                    POLITICIANS FAILING TO ADDRESS EDUCATION
                                    Jay Mathews thinks this would be a big year for our most prominent
                                    politicians to discuss how to fix our schools. We have the largest 
                                    effort in history, the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, putting annual
                                    tests into all public schools and requiring regular improvement in 
                                    scores. We are having spirited arguments between teachers, 
                                    parents, students and even a few columnists over the vital point -- do 
                                    need to insist that our schools focus on measurable gains in 
                                    with regular testing, or is it better to improve teacher training and
                                    salaries and let the professionals do their jobs without so much
                                    kibitzing. According to Mathews, many Democratic candidates complain 
                                    what they consider the lack of adequate funding for No Child Left 
                                    but they don't seem to believe it is important to tell voters if they
                                    think the act itself is a good idea or not. Why does the education 
                                    get so little attention from politicians?
                                    EDUCATION DISPARITIES WORSE THAN SEGREGATION
                                    Tom Vander Ark, executive director for education for the Bill and 
                                    Gates Foundation, urged the 600 participants at the Wake Education
                                    Partnership's annual meeting to work at improving the graduation rates 
                                    minority students. He implored educators not to have lower expectations
                                    for minority students, which he said leads to an inadequate education. 
                                    "We're losing half the African-American and Hispanic students," Vander 
                                    said. "Think of what that means in a generation or two generations from
                                    now. We have rising incarceration rates, declining voting rates and
                                    stagnating family incomes. Do you think there is any link between 
                                    Vander Ark also was critical of schools in which many white students 
                                    in advanced classes, while minority students are in basic courses. 
                                    need to stop treating students differently based on their race, family
                                    income and where they live. "When you walk in the hallways of some high
                                    schools, you see something worse than segregation," he said.
                                    INEQUALITY RULES TODAY'S PUBLIC SCHOOLS
                                    Vouchers, charter schools and other school-choice programs might not 
                                    America's schools any more segregated and unequal than they are today,
                                    according to a new study. The reason? Today's public schools are 
                                    of inequality. "Alert and aggressive parents already work the 
                                    to get the best for their children," said Paul Hill, co-author of the
                                    study in this month's journal Education Policy Analysis Archives. In 
                                    Hill and co-author Kacey Guin argue that the kind of parental jockeying
                                    for favors that takes place under school-choice programs is at least 
                                    "transparent" than the hidden special treatment routinely secured by 
                                    and connected parents in most public school systems. The authors said 
                                    warning often levied about school-choice programs -- that they might --
                                    increase racial segregation and inequality -- is overhyped.
                                    CAN ALL CHILDREN LEARN?
                                    What are we to make of the claim that all children can learn, asks 
                                    Doyle.  Is it just one more slogan, been there done that? As an 
                                    statement it is either means too much or too little. Of course all
                                    children can learn, but the tough questions are what can they learn, 
                                    can they learn it, and what format is best suited to learning. Does 
                                    really believe that all children can learn to play the violin? Japans 
                                    Suzuki did though few could ever play well enough to perform 
                                    masterpiece, the Violin Concerto in D major. Neither can all children
                                    master differential equations or read Shakespeare fluently. But thats 
                                    point. All children can learn something, most can learn a good deal
                                    (certainly more than most do now) and some can learn to very high 
                                    indeed. But if children have differential abilities it is nonetheless 
                                    that in the global economy all children must be educated to high 
                                    if not differential equations at least algebra and plane geometry. 
                                    are institutions that emphasize talent and ability as the keys to 
                                    success, not effort. Only in athletics does effort really count, and 
                                    talent tells too. But Americans now recognize they we ask too little of
                                    ourselves and know it is time to redress the balance.
                                    PARENT POWER
                                    Obstacles that keep parents from getting involved in their children's
                                    schools include a lack of transportation, economic problems, cultural
                                    differences, and administrative resistance. Others include feelings of
                                    intimidation, low educational levels, a lack of after-school care, and
                                    evening work shifts. Drawing up lists of obstacles to involvement is 
                                    of the first assignments for trainees in the Commonwealth Institute for
                                    Parent Leadership, writes Linda Jacobson. The intensive, three-weekend
                                    program is designed to equip Kentucky parents with detailed knowledge
                                    about the state's school accountability system and give them the
                                    confidence to ask school officials tough questions about student
                                    performance. The institute's curriculum goes well beyond preaching 
                                    involvement. A project of the Prichard Committee for Academic 
                                    the institute shows parents how to delve into the mounds of data on 
                                    own schools and use that information to set priorities among many 
                                    that need attention. Since the institute began in 1997, more than 1,100
                                    parents have been trained. What sets this program apart from most
                                    workshops aimed at parents is that each graduate of the institute is
                                    expected to commit to planning and executing a project that addresses 
                                    area of weakness in his or her school or district.
                                    GRADUATING FROM HIGH SCHOOL CAN BE EXPENSIVE
                                    How much does 12th grade cost? School officials in the Sacramento 
                                    say seniors can easily rack up $1,500 and more in expenses between
                                    September and graduation day in the spring. And that's just for
                                    school-related events and merchandise, reports Sandy Louey. It doesn't
                                    count the cost of college applications, which average around $50 each, 
                                    visits to university campuses. Students see their senior year as a rite 
                                    passage, and many of them -- and their parents -- believe buying a 
                                    ring (average cost: $250) or attending the senior ball (average cost:
                                    $689) goes hand in hand with graduation and growing up. It's also
                                    something of a wake-up call for many parents. With college costs 
                                    nearly $13,000 a year for public universities and about $27,700 for
                                    private, it's no wonder that Pamela Mari, vice principal at Davis 
                                    High School, calls the final year of high school "a preview of coming
                                    attractions." Because senior-year expenses can escalate quickly, many
                                    school officials try to give cost estimates as early as possible so
                                    families can plan ahead. Parent-teacher groups sometimes offer help, 
                                    senior class raises funds through T-shirt sales, car washes and other
                                    ventures, and some students take part-time jobs just to pay for all the
                                    EVALUATING COMMUNITY-BASED INITIATIVES
                                    The Fall 2003 issue of "The Evaluation Exchange" periodical is now
                                    available on the Harvard Family Research Project website. The latest 
                                    addresses the evolving nature of evaluating community-based 
                                    It explores lessons learned during the past decade of community 
                                    and their implications. Experienced and insightful authors investigate
                                    critical issues surfacing in the community-building arena, including: 
                                    innovative approaches can we take to capture the breadth and complexity 
                                    community-based initiatives? How should we address the need for greater
                                    scientific rigor in our evaluations? How can evaluators and funders 
                                    on the self-assessment techniques that community-based organizations
                                    already have in place?
                                    2003 PUBLIC EDUCATION NETWORK ANNUAL CONFERENCE 
                                    Join community leaders, educators and policy makers from across the
                                    country at the Fairmont Hotel for an exploration of the history, role 
                                    practices of intermediary organizations and their relationship to
                                    democracy and public education. Expand your understanding of
                                    intermediaries and their role in American society, and build your
                                    knowledge, skills and capacity to work with and in intermediary
                                    organizations. For more information and to register online for the full
                                    PORTLAND SCHOOLS SEEK ADVICE
                                    Schools today are facing a host of unprecedented mandates for increased
                                    accountability from both federal and state governments, writes Portland
                                    (ME) school superintendent, Mary Jo OConnor. This is the good news -- 
                                    burdensome as these mandates may seem -- because it forces schools to
                                    assure that every learner meets with success. Our school system must be
                                    responsive to the research on how learning occurs - this new "science 
                                    learning." Doing so will help assure that all of our students meet the 
                                    standards required by the new federal No Child Left Behind law and 
                                    own Learning Results. Portland's public schools are embarking on an
                                    initiative this fall aimed at helping our entire community face the 
                                    century challenge of educating a wonderfully diverse student body to 
                                    high standards in a time of increasing fiscal constraints and ever
                                    changing technology. This initiative will be our first attempt at 
                                    an ongoing system for public engagement.  The project, called Schools 
                                    Portland's Future, will harness the creativity of people from all parts 
                                    the community, including business leaders, senior citizens, parents,
                                    students and other residents.
                                    Family members play significant roles in the education of children and
                                    youth. A growing amount of studies show that when family members talk 
                                    their children about schooling, participate with school personnel, and
                                    support their children's efforts those students achieve more, attend 
                                    regularly, and are more motivated and engaged as learners. At the same
                                    time, we also know that many urban schools struggle to get parents to 
                                    to meetings and events.  Schools may be unwelcoming and/or intimidating 
                                    many parents, especially those whose primary language is other than
                                    English, are working hard to raise their income level out of poverty, 
                                    who may feel shy about developing relationships with teachers. To help
                                    schools and communities plan events and activities for December 1-5, 
                                    the National Institute is offering an updated Celebration Kit 
                                    publications that outline the benefits of inclusive schools, suggested
                                    readings for children and adults, celebration ideas and lesson plans, 
                                    materials to use in promoting the Week. The 2003 Kit also includes
                                    "Fostering Effective Family-School Linkages for Inclusive Schools," 
                                    is filled with classroom and school celebration ideas that honor the
                                    diverse heritages and cultures of the nation's children and suggestions
                                    for improving family-school partnerships.
                                    TALKING ABOUT LEARNING DISABILITIES
                                    Now more than ever, it is imperative that parents work with their 
                                    representatives to make sure that the voices of children and adults 
                                    learning disabilities (LD) are heard in Washington, D.C. and at the 
                                    and local level. To help further these advocacy efforts, National 
                                    for Learning Disabilities has developed this LD Advocates Guide. The LD
                                    Advocates Guide seeks to explain how best to engage policymakers and 
                                    media on issues affecting the LD community. In addition to this
                                    step-by-step guidance, the Guide also provides a primer on key issues
                                    affecting the fields of learning disabilities and special education.
                                    Declining resources for education and human services has led to the 
                                    for more cost-effective ways to support children and families. The 
                                    school building boom nationwide offers groups the chance to rethink how 
                                    work with and at schools to support the learning and development of the
                                    nation's youth. Supporting the idea of schools as centers for the whole
                                    community, joint-use agreements can make the best use of school 
                                    in many neighborhoods. Jane Quinn of the Children's Aid Society 
                                    presents a
                                    sound argument for such "joint-use" arrangements in this Youth Today
                                    THE HERO'S SCHOOL JOURNEY
                                    "The Hero's Journey: How Educators Can Transform Schools and Improve
                                    Learning" by John L. Brown and Cerylle A. Moffett can be read online in
                                    its entirety. It begins: "This is a book about hope. It affirms the 
                                    of personal and collective responsibility to enact heroic changes in 
                                    schools. Through a shared vision, purpose, and inquiry--and using the
                                    collective wisdom of myth, legend, and metaphor from around the world 
                                    we can find the inspiration and courage to face the challenges inherent 
                                    transforming schools into authentic learning organizations." Each 
                                    includes "reflection checkpoints" that can serve as a study guide.
                                    HALLOWEEN CANDY A TRICKY TREAT FOR SCHOOLS
                                    The candy battle is waged every Halloween, when kids want to dig into
                                    their hoard, and parents worried about their children's weight and 
                                    want at least to slow them down. Some area nutritionists and school
                                    officials are working to promote alternatives to Halloween candy. 
                                    try to teach moderation. But everyone acknowledges that 
                                    time makes it more difficult to sell children on healthy lifestyles,
                                    writes Judith Forman. "It's a lot of work," said Linda Davenport, an
                                    outpatient dietician at Caritas Norwood Hospital. "If you get too
                                    restrictive, they tend to hide food or snack secretly." Davenport runs
                                    Shapedown, an adolescent weight management program for children. During
                                    two-month sessions, her young patients and their parents spend two 
                                    hours a
                                    week exercising, discussing nutrition, and considering behavioral 
                                    Davenport also reviews strategies to tackle situations -- ranging from
                                    pizza parties to Halloween -- where there is a temptation to overeat.
                                    "Most of the [Halloween] feeding frenzy is in the first few days and 
                                    it will settle down," she said. Davenport encourages parents to be good
                                    role models and to communicate with their children to avoid a
                                    candy-centered power struggle.
                                    "CRAM SCHOOLS" ON THE RISE
                                    For children of Asian descent growing up in and around New York City, 
                                    schools are a part of life. Starting in the third grade and continuing
                                    through high school, hundreds of students drag themselves to these 
                                    tutoring classes, long a tradition in the Far East, day after day, 
                                    school, on weekends and over the summer, reports Michael Luo. The goal?
                                    The schools' signs, dotting storefronts in Flushing, Queens, and other
                                    communities with large populations of Asian immigrants, clearly state
                                    their ambitions: "Ivy Prep," "Harvard Academy," "Best Academy." Now,
                                    growing numbers of non-Asian parents are enrolling their children in 
                                    schools, hoping to emulate the educational successes associated with 
                                    WE CARE, THEREFORE THEY LEARN
                                    Closing the achievement gap begins with teacher encouragement, says
                                    researcher Ronald Ferguson in this Journal of Staff Development 
                                    (September 2003). Ferguson describes findings from a survey of 40,000
                                    middle and high school students which revealed few class or race
                                    differences in how students viewed the importance of their school work.
                                    Through the Minority Student Achievement Network, Ferguson and others 
                                    spreading the word that teachers who provide both emotional support and
                                    "instrumental assistance" can help black and Latino students close
                                    academic gaps. (225k PDF file)
                                    GOOD MANNERS MATTER IN OREGON SCHOOL
                                    A manners movement started sweeping across the nation a few years ago,
                                    reports Shirley Dang. The reason is simple, educators say: Good 
                                    shows respect, which in turn wards off violence and leaves more time 
                                    learning. The benefits of teaching manners extend beyond the classroom.
                                    "Teaching character education in this fashion -- teaching manners,
                                    teaching how to behave -- is essential not only for the children
                                    personally and individually, but it is also good for society," said Tom
                                    Harduar, president of the National Association of Elementary School
                                    Principals. "Quite often, you can avoid violence by treating each other
                                    with some respect," Harduar said. Well-behaved children also seem more
                                    approachable, making them more likely to get help from parent 
                                    Politeness keeps classes running smoothly, critical in crammed 
                                    "The teacher will spend more time on academic issues, rather than
                                    behavioral ones," he said. Ten or 20 years ago, people expected parents 
                                    teach proper behavior, and many parents balked at schools infringing on
                                    what was considered a family's duty, said June Million, spokesperson 
                                    the association.
                                    GROUPING GIFTED STUDENTS
                                    Can gifted students receive effective instruction in the regular
                                    classroom? Lisa Benson, a classroom teacher, observes that in her
                                    experience, gifted students quickly become frustrated in mixed-ability
                                    classes, especially those gifted students who exhibit a high degree of
                                    creativity. Further, she believes that the typical large classroom 
                                    the necessary resources to serve all students well. Do most researchers
                                    agree with this practitioner's assessment? John Holloways reviews 
                                    research on ability grouping in classrooms and concludes that schools 
                                    many options for meeting the needs of gifted students in both 
                                    and mixed-ability grouping arrangements. Despite challenges presented 
                                    various configurations, each school must decide on the best 
                                    for its high-ability students on the basis of its own student 
                                    organizational structure, staff expertise, and school culture.
                                    |---------------GRANT AND FUNDING INFORMATION--------------|
                                    "Student TECH CORPS Program"
                                    TECH CORPS, a national non-profit that brings valuable technology
                                    resources and volunteers into schools, is pleased to announce an
                                    opportunity for middle schools across the country to apply for a grant 
                                    receive a fully-funded Student TECH CORPS program. Student TECH CORPS
                                    delivers core technology training and certification to middle school
                                    students, then harnesses their knowledge to power a Student-Run Help 
                                    to provide valuable technical support to their school. Through a
                                    competitive grant made possible through a collaboration between Dell 
                                    TECH CORPS, two middle schools will be selected to receive: Basic
                                    technology training, testing and certification for their students, and 
                                    training, software and procedures needed for implementing a Student-Run
                                    Help Desk in their school. All applications must be received by 5:00pm
                                    (EST), December 15, 2003.  Winners will be announced on January 9th, 
                                     Note: Judging will be at the sole discretion on TECH CORPS and will 
                                    be influenced by the Sponsor.
                                    "Dollar General Community Grants"
                                    Dollar Generals community grants program provides support for 
                                    organizations committed to the advancement of literacy, drop out
                                    prevention and character education. Dollar General believes these three
                                    focus areas work together to address some of the greatest challenges 
                                    needs of students within their 27 state market area. Application 
                                    December 5, 2003.
                                    "Libri Foundation"
                                    The Libri Foundation is a nationwide non-profit organization that 
                                    new, quality, hardcover children's books to small, rural public 
                                    in the United States through its Books for Children program. For many
                                    children in rural areas, the local public library is often their 
                                    source of reading material. Many rural schools either have no library 
                                    the library is inadequate to meet the needs of the students. At a time
                                    when more and more children and their parents and teachers are using 
                                    public library, these same libraries are facing increasing financial
                                    hardships and are unable to buy the books their young readers need. 
                                    the Foundation provides up to $1,050 for childrens books based on a
                                    two-to-one match requirement from the local community. Application
                                    deadline: November 15, 2003.
                                    The Grantionary is a list of grant-related terms and their definitions.
                                    GrantsAlert is a website that helps nonprofits, especially those 
                                    in education, secure the funds they need to continue their important 
                                    "Grant Writing Tips"
                                    SchoolGrants has compiled an excellent set of grant writing tips for 
                                    that need help in developing grant proposals.
                                    FastWEB is the largest online scholarship search available, with 
                                    scholarships representing over one billion in scholarship dollars.  It
                                    provides students with accurate, regularly updated information on
                                    scholarships, grants, and fellowships suited to their goals and
                                    qualifications, all at no cost to the student.  Students should be 
                                    that FastWEB collects and sells student information (such as name,
                                    address, e-mail address, date of birth, gender, and country of
                                    citizenship) collected through their site.
                                    "Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE)"
                                    More than 30 Federal agencies formed a working group in 1997 to make
                                    hundreds of federally supported teaching and learning resources easier 
                                    find.  The result of that work is the FREE website.
                                    "Fundsnet Online Services"
                                    A comprehensive website dedicated to providing nonprofit organizations,
                                    colleges, and Universities with information on financial resources
                                    available on the Internet.
                                    "eSchool News School Funding Center"
                                    Information on up-to-the-minute grant programs, funding sources, and
                                    technology funding.
                                    "Philanthropy News Digest"
                                    Philanthropy News Digest, a weekly news service of the Foundation 
                                    is a compendium, in digest form, of philanthropy-related articles and
                                    features culled from print and electronic media outlets nationwide.
                                    "School Grants"
                                    A collection of resources and tips to help K-12 educators apply for and
                                    obtain special grants for a variety of projects.
                                    QUOTE OF THE WEEK
                                    "Since becoming law in January 2002, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has 
                                    the debate about public education primarily about student performance 
                                    standardized tests and has forced state governments to struggle with 
                                    lack of monetary support and investments needed to support the new 
                                    law. But, the narrow focus on academic achievement has left unanswered
                                    bigger questions: What is the role of a school in the community? How do 
                                    define an excellent school? Are there measures in place, other than 
                                    scores, that gauge how students are performing? Are children coming to
                                    school ready to learn? Are children safe in their homes, communities 
                                    schools? Are children getting an adequate level of nourishment, so they
                                    can learn in the classroom? Do children and their families have access 
                                    quality health care and social services? Unless these most basic needs 
                                    met, it is hard to expect increased test scores and a high return on 
                                    educational dollar. Community members can and should insist that the 
                                    needs of children in their community are being met."
                                    -Wendy D. Puriefoy, president, Public Education Network
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