PEN November 7, 2003
50th Anniversary of Brown Vs. Board of Education
Our Purpose
Becoming A Member
Chapter Leadership
Officers' Update
Agendas and Minutes
Treasurer Reports
Education International

Enter subhead content here

Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
                                    "Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."
                                    Good preschools have much to offer, but should they be universal? Some
                                    research suggests otherwise. Children's Defense Fund estimates that
                                    state-sponsored prekindergarten programs currently serve some 750,000
                                    kids. These programs carry an annual price tag of $1.7 billion. 
                                    costs for universal preschool are likely to rise as programs improve in
                                    quality and as better trained and newly accredited teachers receive 
                                    pay. The Committee for Economic Development (CED), a group of blue-chip
                                    stock corporations that supports "preschool for all," says $4,000 to
                                    $5,000 is "a rough starting point" for a child attending a part-day,
                                    part-year program. If all eligible children attended publicly funded
                                    prekindergarten, CED officials say, annual costs could run as high as
                                    $41.5 billion. Some politicians and early childhood advocates might 
                                    to provide prekindergarten programs for all of the nation's 8.3 million 
                                    and 4-year-olds. But current budget deficits appear to be dampening 
                                    governors' and legislators' enthusiasm for universal preschool. 
                                    to Susan Black, considerable evidence shows that impoverished kids --
                                    compared to those from middle- and upper-income families -- gain the 
                                    from preschool. Benefits for well-off children are questionable, 
                                    and that raises an important question: Should universal 
                                    be offered to all preschoolers regardless of their family's 
                                    status? Or should it be provided only to the most needy children?
                                    The majority of students with emotional problems sit undetected in 
                                    education classrooms. What can a teacher do to help these youngsters
                                    learn? According to Martin Henley and Nicholas Long, teachers and
                                    caregivers should first be aware of and sensitive to warning signs of
                                    developing emotional problems. Second, they should use the following
                                    strategies to help students overcome their emotional barriers to 
                                    (1) Make learning relevant; (2) Help students establish positive peer
                                    relationships; (3) Teach behavior management skills; (4) Identify and 
                                    with depression; (5) Support activities that foster feelings of
                                    competence, strengthen social relationships, and bolster self-efficacy;
                                    (6) Help students cope with stress; and (7) Instill hope. More than
                                    anything else, troubled youth need to know their lives can improve. 
                                    teachers provide a refuge from the "bad" in a student's life, they 
                                    hope and help students see that the past is not necessarily a prelude 
                                    the future. More information and a graph outlining warning signs for
                                    emotion problems can be found at:
                                    NO SOCIAL PROBLEM LEFT BEHIND
                                    If the politicians who enacted the No Child Left Behind law really
                                    believed it would accomplish the noble goal expressed in its title, 
                                    they clearly do not understand the daunting challenges facing our
                                    public-education system and they should not be making education policy,
                                    writes Ron Wolk, a Public Education Network board member. No Child Left
                                    Behind is designed to force schools that enroll disproportionate 
                                    of poor, minority and non-English-speaking students to make every one 
                                    them proficient. But it's pure folly to expect schools to accomplish 
                                    as long as we tolerate the widespread poverty and racism that almost
                                    guarantee that such students will be at risk of academic failure. This 
                                    not to say that society's problems must all be solved before our 
                                    can succeed with poor, minority and immigrant students. There is no 
                                    that too many of the country's public schools are failing because of 
                                    way they are organized and the way that they do business, especially 
                                    serving the neediest students. We urgently need to change our public
                                    schools -- to make them smaller and more diverse in their offerings; to
                                    focus more on the child, and personalize education; to anchor them in 
                                    real world and make them more relevant to the needs, interests and 
                                    of the students; and to make them more flexible. No Child Left Behind,
                                    with its punitive provisions and overemphasis on standardized testing,
                                    does none of these things. It is likely to do more harm than good. 
                                    are, however, some provisions of No Child Left Behind that could help
                                    improve schools, such as programs to improve teacher quality and 
                                    opportunities for professional development; increased choice for 
                                    in low-performing schools; and emphasis on improving reading 
                                    But even these provisions have been compromised because the president 
                                    the Congress weren't committed enough to provide the necessary funding 
                                    implement them. Where No Child Left Behind will ultimately take us is
                                    unclear. At worst, it may lead to chaos and even less public confidence 
                                    public education. At best, it may fade away, because it cannot be
                                    implemented. Meanwhile, if the federal enforcers keep tightening the
                                    noose, the majority of schools are likely to be on the endangered list.
                                    The two dominant education issues of the past state legislative 
                                    were funding cuts to address persistent budget woes and improving 
                                    accountability. Readers most likely have had enough of the state budget
                                    headlines, but fiscal problems did indeed seriously impact education. 
                                    As a
                                    result, in the area of school finance alone over 200 meaningful changes
                                    were enacted in 2003. Kathy Christie, in the recent issue of "State
                                    Education Leader" from Education Commission of the States, highlights 
                                    work of state legislatures in the policy areas of: accountability;
                                    teaching quality; student health and safety; high school reform; and
                                    student citizenship.
                                    PARENT NIGHTS FOCUS ON TEST TAKING SKILLS
                                    As students, teachers, and schools face increasing pressure to improve
                                    student performance on standardized tests, involving parents as a 
                                    "fourth partner" in improvement efforts makes more than just good sense 
                                    it improves student learning. Last spring, Armstrong Middle School in
                                    Starkville, Mississippi implemented a new parent program that provides 
                                    good model of how schools can involve parents in student learning in a 
                                    that is consistent with these findings. This story shares the details.
                                    HOMELESS KIDS FIND HAVEN IN SCHOOL OUTREACH EFFORTS 
                                    The McKinney-Vento Act demands that kids with no fixed address -- those
                                    who live in shelters, safe houses or in a relative's home -- get the 
                                    attention needed to keep them from dropping out of school. School
                                    officials laud the act for trying to help previously overlooked kids
                                    succeed in school. But the law also is driving up the number of 
                                    homeless kids in Colorado and putting more pressure on strained school
                                    budgets to find and educate those children. "It's tough," said Liz 
                                    homeless liaison for Denver Public Schools. "We want to do much more." 
                                    the district is faced with a population of homeless students that has
                                    grown 31 percent in one year, while there was an increase of only 
                                    in federal funds to teach them, Murphy said. About $353,200 in federal
                                    funds was distributed to roughly 13 school districts this year for
                                    homeless education, a boost of more than $11,000 from last year. But 
                                    number of homeless youths in Colorado grew from 4,103 in October 2002 
                                    5,963 in May 2003, according to the Colorado Department of Education. 
                                    this article, Monte Whaley and George Merritt describe the problem and
                                    also ask, "Who are the homeless?"
                                    E-MAIL: AN ESSENTIAL PART OF A TEACHERS ROUTINE
                                    E-mail correspondence represents a revolution in school-home
                                    communication. From a quick message about a student's progress to
                                    newsletters, surveys and grades, more school districts are turning to
                                    e-mail in their quest to broaden the channels of communication with
                                    parents and the community. Students also are getting into the act, 
                                    Tom Quinn, using e-mail not only to ask questions of teachers but also 
                                    send and receive tests and homework. The uptick in e-mail use at 
                                    along with innovative spinoffs such as software programs that
                                    automatically send home completed assignments and attendance reports,
                                    reflects e-mail's growing prominence in American culture. A decade ago,
                                    about 2 percent of the U.S. population regularly used e-mail. Today, 
                                    number stands at 54 percent, according to the International Data Corp. 
                                    as schools move ahead with technological programs that feature 
                                    use of e-mail, the so-called digital divide remains. In Oregon school
                                    districts such as Beaverton, 71 percent of students last year reported
                                    having access to the Internet at home. For Portland Public Schools, the
                                    figure was 61 percent. The number drops to 53 percent in Oregon City.
                                    Although many parents who don't have Internet access at home can log on 
                                    work, educators say the long-standing practice of mailing home paper
                                    newsletters and grades is unlikely to go away anytime soon. Likewise, 
                                    say, the impersonal nature of e-mail makes it unlikely to replace
                                    telephone phone calls or face-to-face visits when significant problems
                                    THE TRAINING OF IDIOTS
                                    In Ancient Greece, the word "idiot" referred to an individual who took 
                                    interest in public affairs, in the life of the "polis." According to J.
                                    Martin Rochester, in this provocative commentary, it is debatable which 
                                    more alarming, the fact that young people are disengaged from politics 
                                    that they are ill informed about it. These conditions would seem
                                    interrelated: the less concerned one is about politics, the less likely
                                    one is to take the time to become informed; and the less informed one 
                                    the less one's sense of political efficacy and inclination to "get
                                    involved." Less is decidedly not more when it comes to what passes 
                                    for social studies education in the United States, the field that is
                                    entrusted with primary responsibility for developing in American youth
                                    their earliest habits of mind about their political system. The purpose 
                                    this essay is to explore how the social studies profession may be
                                    contributing to the spread of "idiocy" and to suggest what can be done 
                                    cultivate a more enlightened and more engaged citizenry.
                                    ROADMAP TO ACHIEVEMENT FOR MIDDLE SCHOOLS
                                    Every day, twenty million diverse, rapidly changing 10- to 15-year-olds
                                    enrolled in our nations middle schools are making critical and complex
                                    life choices. They are forming the attitudes, values, and habits of 
                                    that will largely direct their behavior as adults. They deserve schools
                                    that support them fully during this key phase of life. For middle 
                                    to be successful, the schools organization, curriculum, pedagogy, and
                                    programs must be based upon the developmental readiness, needs, and
                                    interests of young adolescents. This concept is at the heart of a new
                                    report from National Middle School Association which outlines 14 key
                                    characteristics of successful schools for young adolescents: (1) 
                                    who value working with this age group and are prepared to do so; (2)
                                    Courageous, collaborative leadership; (3) A shared vision that guides
                                    decisions; (4) An inviting, supportive, and safe environment; (5) High
                                    expectations for every member of the learning community; (6) Students 
                                    teachers engaged in active learning; (7) An adult advocate for every
                                    student; (8) School-initiated family and community partnerships; (9)
                                    Curriculum that is relevant, challenging, integrative, and exploratory;
                                    (10) Multiple learning and teaching approaches that respond to their
                                    diversity; (11) Assessment and evaluation programs that promote quality
                                    learning; (12) Organizational structures that support meaningful
                                    relationships and learning; (13) School-wide efforts and policies that
                                    foster health, wellness, and safety; and (14) Multifaceted guidance and
                                    support services.
                                    THE NEW HEROES OF TEACHING
                                    Identifying a few excellent teachers and hoping others will copy their
                                    methods has not improved teaching in the average American classroom.
                                    Teaching, as most students experience it, has not changed for decades.
                                    Why? Because the average classroom is not affected much by what the few
                                    celebrity teachers do. To make a dent in the learning experiences for 
                                    students, educators must find a way to improve the quality of 
                                    in the average classroom. Even slight improvements in the average
                                    classroom, accumulated over time, would have a more profound effect on
                                    students around the country than recruiting a hundred more Escalantes 
                                    the classroom, according to a commentary by James Hiebert, Ronald
                                    Gallimore, and James W. Stigler. In their thinking, to achieve small 
                                    continuing improvements in the average classroom requires a major shift 
                                    educators' thinking -- from teachers to teaching. Rather than focusing
                                    only on evaluating the quality of teachers, the educational community 
                                    begin examining the quality of teaching. What kinds of methods are
                                    teachers using now and how could these methods be improved? Tackling 
                                    deep-seated problem begins with opening the classroom door. The process
                                    starts by learning to analyze the details of ordinary classroom
                                    instruction, with all its warts and foibles, and then learning to see 
                                    effective ways of teaching. But to do this, to even begin down this 
                                    teachers must be willing to open their doors. They must be willing to
                                    allow others to use their lessons as data that can be examined and
                                    discussed over and over.
                                    ARE PORTABLE CLASSROOMS UNHEALTHY?
                                    Nationwide, 36 percent of schools use portable, or relocatable,
                                    classrooms. Commonly used to alleviate overcrowding in schools, 
                                    are built to be a temporary solution to a permanent problem. With many
                                    districts scrambling to replace older portables, while at the same time
                                    accommodating the need for newer models and classroom space, demand can
                                    barely keep up with supply, and schools are shouldering the burden. The
                                    result is a mixture of old and new scattered on the outskirts of school
                                    campuses, and the environmental complaints that come with each. As
                                    portable classrooms age, they begin to deteriorate, showing signs of 
                                    maintenance, such as mold and mildew. Formaldehyde, mold, and other
                                    harmful pollutants persist in the indoor air, affecting the health of 
                                    teachers and students. Teacher and student complaints about poor indoor
                                    air quality are nothing new to school districts, but most districts are
                                    ill-equipped to handle environmental health concerns. In the American
                                    school system where there is no system in place to protect childrens
                                    environmental health, writes Whitney Webber, schools are forced to 
                                    the pros and cons of portable classrooms. While portables may be 
                                    easier to procure than traditional classrooms, and lessen the impact of
                                    increased enrollments, they can also pose a safety hazard, are occupied
                                    far beyond their intended use, have high maintenance costs, and can be
                                    isolating for students and staff. With most schools opting to use
                                    portables despite their shortcomings, it appears that portables will
                                    continue to alter the school landscape for some time to come.
                                    A new report from the Center for Economic and Social Rights and New 
                                    University Institute for Education and Social Policy argues that 
                                    the right to education is recognized internationally as a universal 
                                    right, "hundreds of thousands of New York City schoolchildren are
                                    routinely denied their right to an education by the poor quality of the
                                    schooling they receive." The authors maintain that one of the main 
                                    for this is the lack of structures ensuring that the school system can 
                                    held accountable for its failures by its primary "stakeholders," --
                                    parents, children and the larger community. While the recent Children
                                    First reforms aim, in part, to increase parental participation, they 
                                    to approach the question from a human rights perspective...parents are 
                                    given adequate power or guaranteed a welcoming environment with the
                                    necessary resources and technical support to make participation 
                                    and hold school officials accountable." The report demonstrates that 
                                    situation here contrasts strikingly with many countries across the 
                                    including some that have far fewer resources such as the Philippines 
                                    STATE POLICIES FOR CHARTER SCHOOLS DATABASE
                                    A new Education Commission of the States database contains information
                                    about policies in the 40 states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico 
                                    have enacted charter school laws. From the database, you can do several
                                    things: (1) Generate profiles of the charter school policies in 
                                    states; (2) Compare specific types of charter school policies across
                                    several states; (3) View reports on issues such as school or student
                                    preference, authorizers/sponsors, funding, waivers, facilities and 
                                    EXPECTATIONS AND STUDENT OUTCOMES
                                    It is clear that educators and the general public are very interested 
                                    the power of expectations to affect student outcomes. Every study
                                    retrieved for this analysis, which sought to identify the critical
                                    components in effective schools, included high expectations for student
                                    learning among the essential variables identified. The presence of high
                                    expectations is cited at or near the top of each investigator's list of
                                    essential elements, along with such related factors as strong
                                    administrative leadership, a safe and orderly environment, schoolwide
                                    focus on basic skill acquisition above all other goals, and frequent
                                    monitoring of student progress. Low-achieving schools, meanwhile, are
                                    usually found to lack several of these elements. Staff members in these
                                    schools generally view their students as being quite limited in their
                                    learning ability and do not see themselves as responsible for finding 
                                    to raise those students' academic performance. Low achievement levels 
                                    usually attributed to student characteristics rather than the school's
                                    managerial and instructional practices. This study from Northwest 
                                    Education Lab's "School Improvement Research Series" asks, "How 
                                    is the practice of teachers' communicating differential expectations to
                                    students they perceive as having greater or lesser learning potential?" 
                                    also includes recommendations from Kathleen Cotton on how to "improve 
                                    ways teachers form expectations and communicate them, especially to
                                    students they perceive as having limited potential."
                                    African American, American Indian, Asian American, Latino/Latina, 
                                    and multiracial youth all benefit similarly from experiencing more
                                    positive relationships, opportunities, and internal strengths (known as
                                    developmental assets) in their lives, regardless of their socioeconomic
                                    status, according to new Search Institute research. At the same time, 
                                    do not all experience developmental assets in the same way. At the core 
                                    a new study are Search Institute's framework of 40 developmental 
                                    which are building blocks of healthy development that, when present, 
                                    young people grow up successfully. The report reveals that 
                                    assets protect youth from all racial/ethnic groups studied (African
                                    American, American Indian, Asian American, Latino, White, and 
                                    from engaging in 10 different high-risk behaviors, including violence,
                                    alcohol use, and illicit drug use. For example, across all 
                                    groups studied, youth with few assets are at least three times as 
                                    to engage in problem alcohol use as those with many assets. At the same
                                    time, developmental assets do not necessarily work in the same ways for
                                    all youth. For example, constructive-use-of-time assets seem more 
                                    correlated with school success for American Indian and Asian youth than
                                    for other groups. These findings suggest that these positive building
                                    blocks may work differently for different groups of youth.
                                    EASING STUDENTS TRANSITION INTO COLLEGE
                                    An increasing national focus on the need for high academic standards,
                                    coupled with the growing importance of obtaining a postsecondary 
                                    has led to the expansion of programs that allow high school students to
                                    take college-level classes and earn college credit while still in high
                                    school. Proponents of credit-based transition programs contend that 
                                    smooth the transition into postsecondary education by providing 
                                    with the academic and social skills necessary for college success.
                                    Proponents also argue that although credit-based transition programs 
                                    typically targeted academically proficient and high-achieving students, 
                                    broader subset of high school students may benefit from participation. 
                                    these contentions valid? Do credit-based transition programs live up to
                                    their promise and help middle- and low-achieving students enter and
                                    succeed in college? Despite their rapid growth and popularity, little 
                                    known about these programs, their impact on participants, and the 
                                    why they might promote college access and success. A new report from 
                                    Community College Research Center (CCRC), Teachers College, Columbia
                                    University, outlines what is known about these programs, what we still
                                    need to find out, and what practitioners and policymakers seeking to
                                    smooth the transition from high school to college for all students can
                                    learn from those programs already in existence.
                                    |---------------GRANT AND FUNDING INFORMATION--------------|
                                    "Tellabs Foundation"
                                    The Tellabs Foundation supports education programs with a particular 
                                    on local and national programs and curricula for engineering, science,
                                    mathematics and technology. The Foundation has chosen to focus its
                                    grant-making on direct grants to eligible 501(c)(3) organizations,
                                    generally in the amount of $10,000 and above. Application deadline:
                                    "The Corporation for National and Community Service"
                                    The Corporation for National and Community Service ("the Corporation")
                                    announces the availability of approximately $4,000,000 to award Next
                                    Generation Grants to eligible nonprofit organizations. The purpose of
                                    these grants is to foster the next generation of national service
                                    organizations by providing seed money to help new and start-up
                                    organizations, and established organizations proposing new projects or
                                    programs, plan and implement new service programs that have the 
                                    of becoming national in scope. These funds are available under 
                                    provided in Public Law 108-7, the Omnibus Appropriations Act for fiscal
                                    year 2003. Application deadline: November 17, 2003.
                                    "Teacher Resources for Classroom Funding"
                           has compiled a list of national and regional classroom
                                    funding opportunities for teachers. As time permits, more grants and
                                    resources will be added over the next coming days and weeks.
                                    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
                                    "Our brief acquaintance with the twenty-first century already indicates
                                    that all our institutions -- public, private, and nonprofit -- need to
                                    reexamine the role they play in the broad processes of strengthening
                                    democracy, encouraging civic engagement, and building better 
                                    Given the range of challenges we face, it is no longer enough for each 
                                    us to exist and work in our separate silos, doing our own work and 
                                    the public agenda to others. We must find ways to transform the concept 
                                    public purpose, the definition of the public good, and the 
                                    of the public agenda."
                                    -Christopher Gates, "The Civic Landscape," National Civic Review, vol. 
                                    no. 1, Spring 2003
                                    ===========PEN NewsBlast==========
                                    The PEN Weekly NewsBlast is a free e-mail newsletter featuring school
                                    reform and school fundraising resources. The PEN NewsBlast is the 
                                    of the Public Education Network, a national association of 86 local
                                    education funds working to improve public school quality in low-income
                                    communities nationwide.
                                    There are currently 47,280 subscribers to the PEN Weekly NewsBlast. 
                                    forward this e-mail to anyone who enjoys free updates on education news
                                    and grant alerts. Some links in the PEN Weekly NewsBlast change or 
                                    on a daily or weekly basis. Some links may also require local website
                                    Your e-mail address is safe with the NewsBlast. It is our firm policy
                                    never to rent, loan, or sell our subscriber list to any other
                                    organizations, groups, or individuals.
                                    **UPDATE OR ADD A NEWSBLAST SUBSCRIPTION**
                                    PEN wants you to get each weekly issue of the NewsBlast at your 
                                    e-mail address. We also welcome new subscribers. Please notify us if 
                                    e-mail address is about to change. Send your name and new e-mail 
                                    to Be sure to let us know your old e-mail 
                                    so we can unsubscribe it. If you know anyone who is interested in
                                    receiving the NewsBlast, please forward this e-mail to them and ask 
                                    to e-mail us and put "subscribe" in the subject field or visit:
                                    To view past issues of the PEN Weekly NewsBlast, visit: 
                                    To subscribe or unsubscribe, visit: 
                                    If you would like an article or news about your local education fund,
                                    public school, or school reform organization featured in a future issue 
                                    PEN Weekly NewsBlast, send a note to
                                    Andrew Smith is a regular contributor to the PEN Weekly NewsBlast.
                                    Howie Schaffer 
                                    Media Director
                                    Public Education Network 
                                    601 Thirteenth Street, NW #900N 
                                    Washington, DC 20005 
                                    You are currently subscribed to newsblast as:
                                    For subscription changes please visit:

Enter supporting content here