Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
"Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."
SCHOOL POLICIES VARY ON HALLOWEEN COSTUMES
A growing diversity in cultural beliefs and a desire to maintain focus
academics have led many school districts not to allow students to dress
for Halloween during the school day, reports Jamie Brunk. "Our specific
job is curricular issues and we want to have the focus be on that,"
Gary Lane, principal at Bentonvilles Sugar Creek Elementary School, in
Arkansas. Sugar Creek assistant principal Cathy Hancock explained that
principals discussed the issue during an administrators meeting. They
decided to not allow students to dress up during the day, and to have
parties held in classrooms be geared more toward celebrating fall.
Glen Elementary School principal Mike Mumma added that having big
days can become a distraction. With growing diversity in the area,
celebrating certain holidays over others can cause problems.
WORKING WITH THE PUBLIC ON BIG DECISIONS
In an increasingly busy and sophisticated world, where citizens have
to contribute but less time to spend, school leaders are rethinking the
ways they work with the public. To involve parents and other citizens
an ongoing basis, they are incorporating public engagement principles
school and district governance, using them to analyze school reform
and employing them at the teacher-parent-classroom level. They are
bringing policy decisions into the community, using small groups to
safe, informed discussions and asking citizens to take an active role
problem solving. In this article in School Administrator magazine, Matt
Leighninger describes new strategies and approaches for effective
THE CONDITION OF EDUCATION: AN ANNUAL SNAPSHOT
Every year, the federal government assembles a mountain of data that,
aggregate, reveals important trends in education. Valerie Strauss
highlights selected data from the 2003 report, "The Condition of
Education," from the U.S. Department of Education. Categories of
include: student learning; teaching/academic trends; voting
by level of educational attainment; and college demographics and
NO DRIVE BY TEACHERS
In this essay, Carnegie president Lee S. Shulman, examines the topic of
accountability, a subject that tends to polarize thinking. Maybe that's
because most of the recent discussion locates accountability outside
classroom. What different picture emerges, and what consequences
if we think about the teacher as the primary agent of his or her own
accountability? Indeed, what if we think of external accountability as
only a supplement to the primary function of professional
Shulman writes that excellent teaching, like excellent medical care, is
not simply a matter of knowing the latest techniques and technologies.
Excellence also entails an ethical and moral commitment -- what he
the "pedagogical imperative." Teachers with this kind of integrity feel
obligation to not just drive by. They stop and help. They inquire into
consequences of their work with students. This is an obligation that
devolves on individual faculty members, on programs, on institutions,
even on disciplinary communities. A professional actively takes
responsibility; she does not wait to be held accountable.
STATES CLAIM TEACHERS ARE QUALIFIED
Thirty-three states report that at least four out of five classes in
core subjects have teachers who are "highly qualified." What's more,
writes Bess Keller, many states say the picture is about the same in
high-poverty schools. States had to submit the figures to the U.S.
Department of Education by September, as part of their consolidated
applications for federal aid under the No Child Left Behind Act. But
state officials admitting to guesswork, observers regard the statistics
a first stab at a data-gathering task many states were ill-equipped to
undertake. Eleven states did not provide the required numbers at all.
are very, very cautious about the data provided," said Jennifer
who has been tracking the numbers for the Education Commission of the
States, a bipartisan policy group in Denver. The article includes a
to a table that tracks the percentage of classes taught by "highly
qualified" teachers statewide and classes taught by "highly qualified"
teachers in high-poverty schools for each state.
PRIVATE EFFORTS FUNDING PUBLIC SCHOOLS
How much should public school budgets rely on private fund-raising?
question being posed across the country, as cash-strapped districts
to parents and local education foundations for help with budget items
textbooks to teacher salaries. Public schools should be publicly
most would agree. The debate centers on what a public education should
look like, reports Laura Pappano. Ten years after Massachusetts
education reform, and as requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act
in, it's tempting to see public education as the fulfillment of legal
mandates and the attainment of passing test scores. In Arlington, Julie
Dunn, president of the Arlington Partners in Education Foundation,
know what the future holds. Will there be another override, this one
successful? Will parents again scramble to raise large amounts for
school needs? "You can't fund a school with emergency private
fund-raising," she said. "The first time it's an emergency; the second
time it is a planned event."
SCHOOLS WITH POOR, MINORITY STUDENTS GET LESS STATE FUNDS
School districts in Illinois and New York that have large numbers of
students get some $2,200 less in state and local funds per student than
other schools, according to a new report, "The Funding Gap," from The
Education Trust. Alaska did the best, providing $840 in additional
per student to school districts with low-income students, followed by
Delaware, which provided more than $600. School districts with large
minority populations also get short-changed, the report said. New York
again has the largest gap ($2,000 per student), followed by Kansas and
Nebraska, both with nearly $1,800. On the flip side, Massachusetts
provided an extra $940 per student to school districts with a lot of
minority students and Georgia an extra $560, reports Pamela M. Prah.
dollar figures have been adjusted to take into account local cost
differences and the extra cost of educating poorer students, the trust
said. "In too many states, we see yet again that the very students who
need the most, get the least," Kevin Carey, senior policy analyst and
author of the report, said. "At a time when schools, districts and
are rightly focusing on closing the achievement gap separating
and minority students from other students, states can and must do more
close these funding gaps."
NO PARENT LEFT BEHIND
Educators have recognized for some time that parent involvement plays a
critical role in student achievement. Especially in urban districts it
become increasingly clear that failure to enlist parents as partners
seriously hampers any school-reform efforts. But it's only recently
many schools, districts, and states have been taking concrete steps to
help what's often a tense relationship. Particularly in urban areas,
school officials often complain that parents are too busy or not
sufficiently caring to get involved at their childrens' schools. Yet at
the same time many parents say they feel threatened or unwelcome, and
what many principals mean by "parent involvement" is really bake sales
book drives. The result: open hostility between people who ultimately
have the same goals. To improve this unhappy state of affairs, the
sweeping 2002 No Child Left Behind Act has for the first time put in
laws intended to foster parent involvement. The mandates included in
federal act range from better communication on such things as test
and parents' options to requirements that schools develop a
"school-parent" compact and a plan to involve parents. At this point,
of the reforms still exist more on paper than in practice. But just
formally recognizing the importance of the issue - the need for
involvement that's truly collaborative - is a step in the right
say educators. "People in the [school] community have to see that
communicating well with families is part of their professional job,"
Joyce Epstein, director of the Center on School, Family, and Community
Partnerships at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "That's explicit
now. If No Child Left Behind really were implemented as intended, it
really be quite exciting." As Amanda Paulson reports, a number of
and districts are also trying out their own strategies.
NO COW LEFT BEHIND
Since testing seems to be a cornerstone to improving performance,
Remsen doesn't understand why this principle isn't applied to other
businesses that are not performing up to expectations. In this satire,
examines the problem of falling milk prices and wonders why testing
wouldn't be effective in bringing up milk prices since testing students
going to bring up test scores. Remsen doesn't want to hear about the
that just came to the barn from the farm down the road that didn't
the proper nutrition or a proper living environment. All cows need to
the standard. It will be necessary for all farmers to become certified.
This will mean some more paperwork and testing of knowledge of cows but
the end this will lead to the benefit of all. It will also be necessary
allow barn choice for the cows. If cows are not meeting the standard in
certain farms they will be allowed to go to the barn of their choice.
Transportation may become an issue but it is critical that cows be
to leave their low performing barns. This will force low performing
to meet the standard or else they will simply go out of business.
CAMPAIGNING: CITIZENS BOOST SCHOOL FUNDING
Tens of thousands of dollars are being poured into political campaigns
November votes that don't even involve candidates for statewide office.
The money is going to school-funding referendums, mostly to convince
voters to approve school district efforts to raise more money.
groups can do much more to sell a referendum than schools, which are
prohibited by law from encouraging their residents to vote yes. In
years, they have been. Lots more money has been raised by "vote yes"
volunteers in many districts to support such requests. "Vote no"
are far less common and get less money. There are several likely causes
for the stepped-up pace of such fund raising. For one, said Bill Morris
Decision Resource Ltd., citizens are more skeptical about district
requests that will raise taxes, and schools need more help to make the
case to voters. "It is a much more tax-sensitive, if not hostile,
environment," said Morris, whose firm does opinion polling for school
districts. "So, then, it becomes imperative that a grassroots
help in any referendum effort." The pro-referendum money comes from
various sources often from ordinary citizens, but also from school
and teacher union district chapters. Those "vote no" committees haven't
been able to match their opponents' powerful fund-raising efforts.
WANTED: MEN & HISPANICS FOR PTA DUTY
New outreach is happening across the country as the National PTA aims
recruit members and develop leaders among groups not widely
particularly men and Hispanics. In the past, the PTA has launched
initiatives that focused on recruiting minority members, including
African-Americans. Nine of 10 PTA members are women and more than eight
10 are white, the organization estimates. Hispanics are projected to
account for almost one in four public school children by 2020, yet they
make up only 4 percent of the PTA's 6.2 million members. The group was
founded as the National Congress of Mothers more than a century ago and
later changed its name to the Parent-Teacher Association. The PTA has
realized that to back up its slogan -- "Every Child, One Voice" -- it
needs some fresh voices of its own. "You can't be a parent
really strong, vibrant one, if you're not reflective of all the
said National PTA President Linda Hodge of Colchester, Connecticut.
imperative for the organization to make that happen."
SPECIAL EDUCATION DILEMMA
Advocates say holding special education kids to the same standards as
everybody else is a step forward, but critics say it makes no sense. It
produces dumbfounded stares and sighs of frustration. Yes, special
education students now have to take regular tests, report Claudette
and Diane Long. And the kicker? They are expected to do just as well as
students without the same problems. "It just seems to be fundamentally
unfair to give children an impossible test to take," said U.S. Rep. Jim
Cooper, a Democrat from Nashville. "There's no way for them to
Under No Child Left Behind, nearly all special education students have
take the same tests as others their age. And they are all expected to
score on par with their peers by 2013-14. Only 1% are allowed to take
alternative tests designed to measure the progress of students with
or no academic skills. "It's not fair to have any child take this test
their grade level when everyone knows they don't perform on grade
said Donna Parker, supervisor of special education for Wilson County.
"It's very frustrating for a lot of the students." Advocates contend
the bulk of the nation's 6.5 million special education students are
capable of taking and passing achievement tests. In fact, they say,
special education numbers are bloated by kids who don't really need to
there because they often just have a small learning problem that can be
overcome. "The reality is that for too long, we haven't expected enough
and we've made too many excuses that these kids cannot learn," said
Pasternack, the U.S. Department of Education's assistant secretary for
special education. "Some people are saying 'Oooh, we don't want to
those kids in our measurement standards,' and that's nonsense. That's
fair to the kids. That's not fair to the parents. That's not fair to
people who are paying the bills."
HANDWRITING IN SCHOOLS SUFFERS DURING DIGITAL AGE
Cursive writing, once a cornerstone of American education, is becoming
cultural artifact as computers and the demands of standardized tests
squeeze it out of its once lofty position. Taught for more than 300
in the United States, cursive has a storied past. But in a number of
Michigan schools, reports Jodi Upton, it has been reduced to an
independent study, an "as-we-have-time" course in second or third
For traditionalists, the demise of cursive is an outrage -- the loss of
skill, even an art form. People who print argue that there's no point
wasting students' time to teach a vestigial skill in a computer age.
the educators in the middle, pragmatism wins. "Handwriting is
We're not practicing as much; there are just so many things we need to
do," said Joanne Jacobson, curriculum director at Fraser Public
"Our focus is to make it legible, not beautiful. It (handwriting) is
EQUITY & ADEQUACY
As No Child Left Behind pushes states to strengthen their standards and
assessment systems, there will be increased pressure to ensure that
adequate resources are allocated to allow students to achieve those
standards, and it seems likely that the use of such adequacy lawsuits
redistribute scarce state resources may intensify. A new EdPolicy
from the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
highlights how past lawsuits against states have sought to address
concerns; while recent lawsuits have focused on adequacy -- a new
that has proven effective, with 18 of 28 cases since 1989 being decided
against the states. While equity challenges have relied on the
division of resources, adequacy challenges focus on the provision of
adequate resources to schools so that all students have the same
opportunity to succeed (the state is responsible for providing adequate
resources to schools, even if it costs more to provide some student
subgroups with a high-quality education).
GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR PRINCIPAL PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
"e-Lead," a free website resource dedicated to providing states and
districts with guidance about and information on the professional
development of school principals, was launched through the partnership
the Laboratory for Student Success and the Institute for Educational
Leadership. e-Lead has identified six principles, anchored in current
research, which should guide principal professional development. In
addition to these guiding principles, the website houses a searchable
database of existing quality programs. A Leadership Library offers
annotated information about a number of leadership development issues
links to the latest information and resources.
POWER & POSSIBILITIES: YOUTH-LED SOCIAL CHANGE
Involving youth in social change requires a shift from unquestioning
acceptance of the way things are to developing a strategy that engages
communities and institutions to address injustice at a systems level.
Recognizing the power and possibilities of working at the intersection
youth development, youth organizing, and programming that recognizes
importance of multiple youth identities, the Collaborative Fund for
Youth-Led Social Change (CFYS) was created. CFYS asks: Who sets the
agenda and how is it set? Does youth-led social action have potential
long-term systems change? Can youth action address issues beyond those
normally seen as "youth issues?" How do issues of gender, race, class,
age factor into social change work? A new publication outlines model
programs and lessons learned from this new approach to youth-led social
change. (Click on "Power & Possibilities" link.)
KIDS SPEND AS MUCH TIME WITH TV, COMPUTERS & VIDEO GAMES AS PLAYING
Even the very youngest children in America are growing up immersed in
media, spending hours a day watching TV and videos, using computers and
playing video games, according to a new study released today by the
J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Children six and under spend an average
two hours a day using screen media, about the same amount of time they
spend playing outside, and well over the amount they spend reading or
being read to. Key findings include: One in four children under two
TV in their bedroom; Children in "heavy" TV households are less likely
read; Parents believe in educational value of TV and computers. "It's
just teenagers who are wired up and tuned in, its babies in diapers as
well," said Vicky Rideout, the lead author of the study. "So much new
media is being targeted at infants and toddlers, it's critical that we
learn more about the impact it's having on child development."
TEENAGERS CUDDLY CRUSADE IS A LABOR OF LOVE
Aby Thurston knows how scary ambulance rides can be. She was only 6
she was taken to Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center in
to be treated for a rare kidney disorder. "She was so scared," said her
mother, Jackie Thurston. "Her body has swollen like a balloon and she
crying and throwing up." But on the way to the hospital, an emergency
medical technician calmed the little girl when he gave her a teddy
just big enough for her to wrap her arms around. "I fell asleep
immediately," recalled Aby Thurston, now 16. "I knew I was safe and
protected, and the bear was a tangible reminder of that." The teenager,
writes Nguyen Huy Vu, has spent nearly half of her life collecting
bears and other stuffed animals to give to the same ambulance company
cared for her. In seven years, she has collected nearly 6,000 cuddly
|---------------GRANT AND FUNDING INFORMATION--------------|
"RadioShack National Teacher Awards"
RadioShack established the National Teacher Awards program as a
to promote and encourage educational excellence in high schools across
America. A total of 110 awards will be made in two categories:
high school teachers and beginning high school teachers. One hundred
full-time math, science or technology teachers with more than three
teaching experience will receive a cash stipend of $3,000. Ten
math, science or technology teachers who have completed one year and
in their second or third year of high school teaching will receive a
$1,000 cash stipend. Application deadline: November 7, 2003.
"The Gleitsman Foundation 2004 Citizen Activist Award"
The 2004 Citizen Activist Award will honor those who have struggled to
improve K-12 public education in order to give each child the basic
education necessary to succeed in our fast-changing world. The
seeks activists who recognize the urgent necessity of providing to all
children the basic education required in the world in which we live.
honorees will share $100,000 and each will receive a specially
commissioned sculpture designed by Maya Lin, creator of the Vietnam War
Memorial in Washington, DC. The award is not presented posthumously,
is it granted to groups or organizations. Nomination deadline: November
"American Honda Foundation Grants"
The American Honda Foundation makes grants of $10,000 to $100,000 to
schools, colleges, universities, trade schools, and others for programs
that benefit youth and scientific education. The Foundation is seeking
programs that meet the following characteristics: dreamful
scientific, creative, humanistic, youthful, innovative, and forward
thinking. Application deadline: February 1, 2004.
"Gifts In Kind International"
Nonprofit organizations worldwide are invited to register with Gifts In
Kind International to receive donations of top-quality software,
computers, office equipment and supplies; donations of newly
personal care products, youth and educational materials, building
supplies, household items, clothing and other products; and to save on
computer equipment, office supplies and technology training offered
through special pricing programs.
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
"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.
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
"We are at a liminal moment in contemporary life where our traditional
institutions are bumping up against the trends and complexities of late
modern times. Not surprisingly these institutions are finding that
established ways of doing things are often inappropriate to the new
contexts. As a consequence, there is an ongoing need to reappraise
structures and processes. Public education is arguably the most
of these institutions -- if the range of policy strategies and
reports referring to such concepts as the information economy,
knowledge society, and life long learning, are any guide. ...Public
education has always been central to nation building. That is, public
schools have been seen as the major arena within which young people
developed the knowledge, skills and attitudes to be citizens, workers,
community and family members. Thus public schools have been understood
a public good, contributing a collective benefit to society as well as
benefits to individuals."
-Professor Alan Reid, University of South Australia, "Public Education
a Public Good"
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