PEN Weekly NewsBlast for December 12, 2003
50th Anniversary of Brown Vs. Board of Education
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Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
                                    "Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."
                                    PUBLIC EDUCATION: THE PERCEPTION CHALLENGE
                                    Nostalgia, rumor, and media reports are powerful shapers of public
                                    opinion. According to Glenn Cook, it's up to urban schools to tell 
                                    own stories -- and base those stories on fact, not fancy. For many 
                                    leaders, the task of educating the community is almost as daunting as
                                    educating students. In a number of urban school districts, pervasive
                                    negative perception -- combined with struggles to raise student
                                    achievement -- has led to mayoral takeover threats and choice programs 
                                    mostly charter schools and private schools -- that drain precious
                                    resources from the public schools. "We've changed expectations for 
                                    schools, and we want all these kids to reach these high standards," 
                                    Richard Lee Colvin, director of the Hechinger Institute on Education 
                                    the Media at Teachers College-Columbia University. "To do this, there 
                                    to be a change in performance, and when there's a lag in performance, 
                                    creates a perception problem." Arnold Fege, director of public 
                                    for Public Education Network, says low-performing schools and the
                                    perception that districts -- especially urban districts -- are failing
                                    have "captured and driven the attention of Congress," resulting in the
                                    sweeping reforms of the No Child Left Behind Act. And, he says,
                                    researchers and pundits who support vouchers, free-market choice, state
                                    takeovers, and other programs targeting urban schools also have gained 
                                    toehold in the perception game. "We have lost proportion as a society
                                    about the value of public education," Fege says. "The public school
                                    establishment has not done a very good job of marketing itself, 
                                    counter viewpoints and a vision of itself. If we come out and try to
                                    respond, it's translated into whining and apologizing for a bad school
                                    system." The way to improve media coverage -- and ultimately perception 
                                    is for school districts to spend more time on educating the people 
                                    the classroom, observers say. That requires more staff, more time, and 
                                    financial commitment by school boards.
                                    NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND: A PROGRESS REPORT
                                    Nearly two years after its passage, the No Child Left Behind Act has
                                    produced one unambiguous result: an avalanche of data on the 
                                    of public schools in the United States. But a survey of the 50 states 
                                    the District of Columbia by Education Week found less movement on other
                                    fronts, such as the number of states now testing in the required 
                                    Moreover, writes Lynn Olson, many states are still struggling to mesh
                                    their existing systems for rating schools with federal law, which has
                                    resulted in confusing messages about what all the numbers mean. Read
                                    Education Weeks year-end progress report on the states' efforts to 
                                    with the No Child Left Behind Act.
                                    DOES KINDERGARTEN NEED COPS?
                                    Temper tantrums are nothing new in kindergarten and first grade, but 
                                    behavior of a 6-year-old girl this fall at a school in Fort Worth, 
                                    had even the most experienced staff members wanting to run for cover.
                                    Asked to put a toy away, reports Claudia Wallis, the youngster began to
                                    scream. Told to calm down, she knocked over her desk and crawled under 
                                    teacher's desk, kicking it and dumping out the contents of the drawers.
                                    Then things really began to deteriorate. Still shrieking, the child 
                                    up and began hurling books at her terrified classmates, who had to be
                                    ushered from the room to safety. Just a bad day at school? More like a 
                                    season. The desk-dumping incident followed scores of other outrageous 
                                    by some of the youngest Fort Worth students at schools across the
                                    district. Not every school district in America is besieged by kamikaze
                                    kindergartners, but those who see a problem believe they are witnessing
                                    the result of a number of social trends that have come together in a 
                                    unfortunate way. Many cite economic stress, which has parents working
                                    longer hours than ever before, kids spending more time in day care and
                                    everyone coming home too exhausted to engage in the kind of 
                                    that build social skills. In addition, many educators worry about 
                                    academic pressure in kindergarten and first grade in anticipation of 
                                    yearly tests demanded by the No Child Left Behind Act. In Texas, which 
                                    led the nation in embracing such tests, most kindergartens now go the 
                                    day, yet some have eliminated recess or limited it to 15 minutes a day.
                                    "It's a mistake to focus exclusively on academic readiness," says 
                                    Hinshaw, chair-elect of the psychology department at University of
                                    California, Berkeley. "Even more vital than early reading," he says, 
                                    the learning of play skills, which form the foundation of cognitive
                                    STATES VOICE DOUBTS ABOUT FEDERAL EDUCATION LAW
                                    With penalties looming for poorly performing schools, state legislators
                                    recently discussed how to cope with the financial burdens and testing
                                    requirements created by President Bush's education overhaul. The list 
                                    complaints was long, the debates over them longer. Many lawmakers said
                                    there is not enough federal support to pay for the demands the law 
                                    on the states. The federal government so far has increased K-12 
                                    by $7.8 billion, but that only amounts to a 1 percent increase in all 
                                    money -- local, state and federal -- spent on primary education, said
                                    David Shreve, an education expert with the National Conference of State
                                    Legislatures. But that increase requires states to use the money to 
                                    all school children, while earlier federal money focused on the nearly
                                    one-third of students nationwide considered economically disadvantaged,
                                    Shreve said. The money is still targeted to the same needy children, 
                                    it aims to "lift all boats," one federal official said. Some states and
                                    school districts are considering changing their own curriculums to meet
                                    the demands of the law. Some Mississippi school districts have 
                                    recess, devoting the resources to academics to adapt to the testing
                                    standards. States are also beginning to prepare for penalties.
                                    Thirty-eight schools in Massachusetts will need "corrective action," 
                                    officials said. In New Jersey, districts have sent letters to parents
                                    warning them that their children's teachers did not meet requirements 
                                    by the law. "This is the critical year," said Alaska Sen. Johnny Ellis, 
                                    Democrat. He said the law, besides shortchanging the states on money, 
                                    ignored the vastly different demands on rural states like his.
                                    THE STATE OF STANDARDS
                                    The federal No Child Left Behind act (NCLB) has required each state to 
                                    proficiency levels in mathematics and reading to categorize students as
                                    proficient or not. This legislation requires each state to set its own
                                    proficiency levels, but does not specify how these levels should be 
                                    or what the definition of "proficiency" should be. This provides states
                                    with a great deal of autonomy, but raises questions concerning the
                                    consistency and comparability of proficiency results from different
                                    states. The Northwest Evaluation Association has recently completed a
                                    comprehensive, 14-state research report on state education standards,
                                    which confirms the concern of many regarding the current disparity in
                                    educational standards. While the detailed results vary from one study 
                                    the next, examination of the results from all studies leads to three
                                    general conclusions: (1) Proficiency standards among states differ 
                                    to cause dramatic differences in the percentage of students categorized 
                                    proficient, even if the students have exactly the same skills; (2)
                                    Proficiency standards within individual states differ across grades 
                                    that they may provide teachers with inconsistent proficiency 
                                    for a large percentage of students; (3) Proficiency standards between
                                    subject areas within and across states differ enough that they may 
                                    schools with inconsistent information when comparing proficiency of
                                    students in reading to proficiency of students in mathematics. Read an
                                    executive summary of the report findings at:
                                    YOUTH FOCUSES ON HIS WORKOUT, NOT HIS RESTRICTIONS
                                    Aaron Bledsoe has become a fixture at a local Florida fitness center,
                                    serving as an example to others not to make assumptions about people's
                                    capabilities. Aaron, a sixth-grader at Boone Middle School in Haines 
                                    was born with spina bifida, which results from an incomplete fusion of 
                                    spinal cord during pregnancy, and in Aaron's case it caused nerve 
                                    that affected the muscles of his feet and lower legs. He wears metal 
                                    braces from the mid-calf down and uses crutches to cover short 
                                    and a wheelchair for longer ones, reports Gary White. "He's very 
                                    says his mom, Debbie Bledsoe. "Some children who are born with it are
                                    paralyzed from the waist down and never walk." Though Aaron dislikes 
                                    label "disabled," others tend to look at him and take the leg braces 
                                    crutches as signals that he's incapable of any physical activity. 
                                    his first four years in elementary school, his physical education 
                                    prevented him from taking part in classes -- much to his frustration. 
                                    bristles at the memory of one P.E. teacher in particular. "He just made 
                                    watch the other kids and wouldn't let me do anything," Aaron says. "I'm
                                    just glad I don't have him any more. It hurts my feelings; it really
                                    does." The school eventually moved Aaron into an "adaptive" class that
                                    allowed him to exercise during school hours. Since joining a community
                                    fitness center five months ago, Aaron seems to be making up for lost
                                    opportunities. Aaron, who stands about 4 feet 6 inches, was advised by 
                                    doctor last summer to lose about 30 pounds. In the first three months
                                    after he joined the fitness center, he lost 17 pounds, dropping from 
                                    to 111. He has made dramatic progress on several of the machines, 
                                    his maximum by 30 pounds on the chest press and the seated leg press.
                                    Jonathan Harkala, a certified personal trainer who often works with 
                                    says the youngster sets an example for others.
                                    While many school administrators are hopping from job to job or getting
                                    axed in today's challenging educational environment, there are some who
                                    aren't just surviving but thriving. Despite all the pressures, they 
                                    confidence and win kudos -- even awards -- from teachers and parents
                                    throughout their communities. Pamela Wheaton Schorr reports that top
                                    school leaders share the following successful tools and techniques: (1)
                                    Don't try to play spin doctor; (2) Remember that kids are your 
                                    (3) Don't forget who writes the checks; (4) Don't just call when you 
                                    something; (5) Don't play the blame game; (6) Acknowledge peoples
                                    feelings; (7) Distinguish fact from opinion; (8) Close the technology 
                                    between teachers and students; (9) Demonstrate a vested interest in 
                                    community; (10) Mentor your teachers; (11) Empower staffers; and, (12)
                                    Empower yourself!
                                    Teaching aspires to become a profession, writes Denis Doyle, yet it 
                                    two daunting obstacles. First, public school teachers cling to
                                    unprofessional salary schedules and terms of employment that make it
                                    impossible to pay them based on their performance and market demand.
                                    Second, the unions that bargain these terms are modeled not on
                                    professional associations, but on the industrial unions of the early 
                                    mid-20th century. Doyle argues for teacher unions to become more
                                    professional by demanding greater productivity and performance from
                                    teachers. In his view, the deprofessionalized atmosphere in public 
                                    helps to explain why teachers join unions that treat them as workers, 
                                    professionals. Because teacher unions don't control entry to their
                                    profession, as lawyers and doctors do, they must find other means of
                                    battling for higher wages and better benefits. Doyle believes that
                                    teaching as a profession is doomed to fail if it continues to be an
                                    assembly-line enterprise without embracing greater accountability and
                                    increased professional standards.
                                    Homes in affluent communities are often out of reach for teachers, 
                                    Lisa Leigh Connors.  Skyrocketing real estate coupled with stagnant
                                    teacher salaries - which increased only 3 percent between 1991 and 2001 
                                    are pricing some teachers out of their school districts. These 
                                    both new and in the middle of their careers, are forced to switch
                                    districts or endure lengthy commutes. School officials in these pricey
                                    areas hope that homebuyer programs will help to attract new teachers 
                                    retain those already on staff. "Very often, teachers will live in other
                                    communities or double up and have roommates; that's not un-usual for 
                                    teachers," says Mildred Hudson, CEO of Recruiting New Teachers. "If you
                                    look at the country, certain school districts will offer housing
                                    incentives or bonuses, extra pay for certain kinds of work, or 
                                    mortgage rates, or cash stipends for housing. These are all incentives
                                    that seem to have some benefit." However, the housing crunch is leading 
                                    long commutes and living at home with parents, report some teachers.
                                    SCHOOL AWAY FROM SCHOOL
                                    A growing number of public, private and charter schools are now 
                                    to kids who are looking for an alternative to a traditional education.
                                    Commonly called "virtual school," it's a way of attending school at 
                                    without the hovering claustrophobia of home-schooling. Nationwide, 
                                    were about 50,000 students in virtual courses last year. As a business,
                                    virtual school is booming. Virtual school seems like an ideal choice 
                                    kids who don't fit in or can't cope. On one online schools website,
                                    students can enter a classroom without being noticed by their 
                                    by clicking the "make yourself invisible" icon -- a good description of
                                    what these kids are actually doing. Before the Internet, they would 
                                    had little choice but to muddle through. Now they have disappeared from
                                    the school building altogether, a new breed of outsider, loners for the
                                    wired age. In this article, Emily White asks, "Do virtual-school kids 
                                    the volatile human combustion of the classroom?" Because the phenomenon 
                                    full-time online education is relatively new, there is little research
                                    into its lasting effects -- whether its practitioners become introverts
                                    and computer zombies or whether, as one parent puts it, the kids "have
                                    gathered their energy so they can go out into the world and be more
                                    65 MILLION GIRLS KEPT FROM SCHOOL WORLDWIDE
                                    A new UNICEF report released warns that global development efforts have
                                    hit a glass ceiling, and that educating girls is the best way to break
                                    through it. Women make most of the decisions that affect a family's 
                                    and welfare and thus a nation's living standard, the report says. 
                                    accelerated action to get more girls into school over the next two 
                                    global goals to reduce poverty and improve the human condition will not 
                                    reached, reports Maggie Farley. "International development efforts have
                                    been glaringly inadequate at getting girls into school in too many
                                    countries," UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy. "We stand no 
                                    of substantially reducing poverty, child mortality, HIV/AIDS and other
                                    diseases if we do not ensure that all girls and boys can exercise their
                                    right to a basic education." The report argues that gender 
                                    has undermined development policies and that more attention must be
                                    focused on people, especially women, and how they can contribute to a
                                    nation's economic growth, rather than concentrating on economic 
                                    Investing in education -- with an emphasis on the teaching of girls -- 
                                    the best use of a nation's resources, bringing multiple returns, the
                                    report says. School-age girls in many nations have less access to
                                    education because of cultural traditions and expectations that boys 
                                    grow to become the main wage earners of their families. However, the
                                    report notes, educated girls and women can make a greater economic
                                    contribution, are more involved in political decisions affecting women,
                                    know how to keep themselves and their families healthier and are more
                                    likely to educate their own children.
                                    POORER SCHOOLS GET UNCERTIFIED TEACHERS
                                    Hundreds of teachers in the Baltimore metropolitan area lack basic 
                                    certification, and they're employed disproportionately in the
                                    worst-performing schools. An analysis by The Sun found 239 teachers the
                                    state terms "conditional" in the 25 elementary schools with the area's
                                    lowest test scores. That's 35 percent of the 684 instructors in those
                                    schools, all of them in Baltimore. The analysis also found veteran
                                    teachers with advanced certificates -- those with master's degrees and 
                                    least three years' experience -- clustered in many of the area's top
                                    schools and in all of the suburban districts. A little more than 36
                                    percent of the city's elementary teachers held advanced certificates,
                                    compared with nearly 55 percent of Anne Arundel's teachers. There is 
                                    disagreement about the value of certification, or licensing, as a 
                                    of teacher quality. Even supporters would not suggest that the presence 
                                    absence of a certified teacher is the chief reason a child does well or
                                    poorly in school. But the concentration in under-performing schools of
                                    teachers who have not met state requirements -- often because they have
                                    failed national teaching tests -- disturbs many, reports Mike Bowler.
                                    Only in the past decade, as education reform increasingly has taken 
                                    in legislative mandates, has evaluation become regarded as a vital
                                    component of school improvement. The new federal No Child Left Behind 
                                    and many of the messages coming out of the U.S. Department of Education
                                    are peppered with calls for "scientifically based research" to justify
                                    local program expenses. The bottom line, educators say, is that the
                                    question of evaluation is no longer up for debate. "More than ever 
                                    program evaluation is going to be linked to resources in the future," 
                                    Linda Madison, assistant superintendent of the Sioux City (Iowa) 
                                    School District, who has worked closely with Learning Point Associates
                                    evaluators to strengthen education efforts. "You have policymakers at 
                                    state and local levels saying, "We gave you some money for something --
                                    now what are your results?'" Like others, Madison believes this shift 
                                    be good for education, as long as it causes school leaders to build
                                    evaluation into the school improvement process from square one. 
                                    to Geoff Camphire, experts and experienced practitioners agree that for
                                    program evaluation to further improvement, school leaders should take
                                    these key steps: (1) Plan evaluation early in the school improvement
                                    process; (2) Consult with outside resources; (3) Structure evaluation
                                    strategically; (4) Gather and analyze data; and, (5) Report results and
                                    recommendations. To help build a culture for improvement, involving a
                                    range of stakeholders can help ensure that there are no surprises.
                                    Securing broad-based buy-in can help generate a spirit of cooperation.
                                    Those involved learn to use evaluation to support their successes and 
                                    change the programs and practices that are not working.
                                    TAMING YOUR TEMPER AND YOUR TONGUE
                                    The anonymous quote "Hold a tight rein over the three T's -- thought,
                                    temper and tongue -- and you will have few regrets" got middle grades
                                    teacher Max Fischer thinking about what happens when teachers let go of
                                    their control of any of the three. "On a few occasions in my teaching
                                    career, I have endured hits to my professional credibility due to my
                                    inability to master one or another of those three Ts." Teaching is an
                                    intensely interpersonal profession. Only a saint never displays a fit 
                                    temper. However, let's face it, when teachers lose their cool in the
                                    classroom, they have lost a semblance of control. A teacher risks much
                                    when inner rage boils over. Not only might they do permanent damage to 
                                    student/teacher relationship, they might also skew the dynamics of the
                                    entire classroom for some time to come. Repeated offenses of fury 
                                    will place the instructor in a difficult position with parents and
                                    FLU KEEPS 20% OF KIDS OUT OF SCHOOL
                                    The severity of the nations recent flu outbreak is being reflected in 
                                    attendance at many Indiana schools this week, writes Jo Ellen Werking
                                    Weedman. Kathleen Dodson, a nurse supervisor, offered an explanation 
                                    the diseases rapid spread through students, "We have so many working
                                    parents, and they can't miss work. Sometimes they leave before their 
                                    get on the bus, so they don't even know they're sick. Thats why when 
                                    get the flu, we get it bad." Other districts say they've got students 
                                    with the flu but not to the large degree that schools in Indianapolis 
                                    reporting. Indianapolis Public Schools officials said Wednesday that
                                    several elementary schools on the citys west side had been hit hard by
                                    illness. "We passed out rubber gloves Monday to all the teachers and 
                                    spray bottles with disinfectant to wipe down the phones and the desks 
                                    everything the kids come in contact with," said Vicki Scott, a 
                                    at Eastwood Middle School, where 220 students were ill Monday. The
                                    symptoms: fever, sore throat, cough and body aches. Dodson said parents
                                    should find a way to keep students home if they don't feel good. "Not 
                                    can they be contagious, but if your child is sick -- even if hes not 
                                    his deathbed -- he can catch something on top of that," she said. 
                                    how the really sick kids happen."
                                    NEED SCHOOL LEADERS FOR TOMORROW?
                                    Aspiring principals in North Dakota need look no further than the
                                    Leadership and Educational Administration Development (LEAD) Center for
                                    professional development programs and services to prepare them to 
                                    effective school leaders, writes Marv Erhardt from LEAD center in
                                    Bismarck, ND. The North Dakota LEAD center as well as school districts,
                                    universities and educational service centers in 22 states have
                                    successfully identified and "grew" leaders who have the skills to meet
                                    present and future complex challenges to lead schools effectively. 
                                    leaders demonstrated observable changes in knowledge, skills and 
                                    on the job, which enhanced their leadership practice and impacted 
                                    effectiveness. The reason for success is connected to the NASSP Center 
                                    Principal Development (CPD). The CPD works with educational 
                                    on the national level to assist them in diagnosing candidates 
                                    potential in critical areas of educational leadership, and develop this
                                    potential based on diagnostic data. Whether the challenge is a shortage 
                                    principals or building the developmental capacity for future leaders, 
                                    Richard Flanary, the CPD Director, we offer tools, training, and 
                                    to assist education administrators in selecting and developing 
                                    school leaders.
                                    Twenty-six school associated deaths have occurred since the start of 
                                    school year in August, compared to 16 deaths during the entire 
                                    school year and 17 deaths during the 2001-2002 school year, according 
                                    findings by Kenneth S. Trump, a national expert on school safety. A new
                                    report identifies at nearly 20 additional non-death shootings and
                                    approximately 50 other incidents of high-profile violence, including
                                    stabbings and riots, occurring nationwide since the opening of this 
                                    year. "School safety cannot be pushed to the back burner while we 
                                    security for bridges, monuments, and government offices. There is no 
                                    for a 'been there, done that' mindset of complacency related to 
                                    our students and teachers," said Trump, a 20-year veteran school safety
                                    expert and author who has worked with schools and public safety 
                                    in over 35 states.  While there is no single cause for the recent spike 
                                    incidents, Trump cautions that the current educational and political
                                    climates are ripe for school violence to continue to grow.  Trump says
                                    conditions making schools vulnerable include: (1) Decreasing school 
                                    funding for training, personnel, and equipment, including a cut of 35%
                                    ($50 million) in state allocations for the U.S. Education Department's
                                    Safe and Drug Free Schools Program in the proposed 2004 federal budget;
                                    (2) Increasing pressure on educators which create a tunnel vision focus 
                                    meeting academic proficiency score standards; and (3) Increasing
                                    complacency and belief that school officials did everything necessary 
                                    address school violence following the spate of school shootings several
                                    years ago.
                                    |---------------GRANT AND FUNDING INFORMATION--------------|
                                    "21st Century Schools of Distinction Awards"
                                    Thanks to support from Scholastic Administrator, Intel, and the Blue
                                    Ribbon Schools of Excellence Foundation, 20 outstanding K-12 schools in
                                    the United States will receive up to $25,000 in funding. Schools must
                                    demonstrate excellence in any of nine categories: academic excellence,
                                    community involvement, innovative use of technology, involved
                                    parent/teachers, partnership, professional development, teamwork,
                                    technology implementation, and technology excellence. There will be two
                                    winners in each of these areas. Application deadline: December 31, 
                                    "Funds for Inspirational K-12 Teachers"
                                    ING Financial Services provides funds for K-12 teachers through its 
                                    Heroes Awards.  The awards are given to K-12 educators pioneering in 
                                    methods and techniques that improve student learning. Each year, 100
                                    finalists are selected to receive $2,000 awards. Award checks are made
                                    payable jointly to the recipient and to his or her school. At least one
                                    award will be granted in each of the 50 United States, provided one or
                                    more qualified applications are received from each state. Of the 100
                                    finalists, three are selected for additional financial awards: First 
                                    gets an additional $25,000; 2nd Place gets an additional $10,000; and 
                                    Place receives an additional $5,000. Application deadline: April 30, 
                                    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
                                    "Instead of having answers on a math test, they should just call them
                                    impressions, and if you got a different impression, so what, can't 
                                    all be brothers?"
                                    -Jack Handy (author), "Deep Thoughts"
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