Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
"Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."
ENSURING A PLACE FOR THE ARTS IN AMERICAS SCHOOLS
In the lead article in this information-rich issue of "The Standard,"
Douglas Herbert advocates for educators and citizens to find both the
and way to make the arts a core subject in schools. In his view, the
to have the arts considered a core subject in the schools has been
to the plight of Sisyphus, toiling unceasingly to push a boulder up a
steep hill. The incline has changed over the past 20 years, often as a
result of significant events in the overall education landscape.
outlines the ways in which the arts are a core component of a basic
standards-based education. Also available at the link below is Lori
Meyers article, "The Complete Curriculum: Ensuring a Place for the
in Americas Schools." According to Meyer, No Child Left Behind may
unintentionally narrowed the curriculum of public schools to the
of the arts, forcing states to narrow their attention and resources on
complying with the laws primary emphasis on reading, math, and
In her view, in order to ensure a role for arts in a standards-based
system equal to that of other core subject areas, state policymakers
ensure that there are high-quality standards for what students should
able to learn and know in the arts. Meyer includes ten recommendations
strengthening the arts as part of a comprehensive education.
NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND PUTS TOO MANY SCHOOLS BEHIND 8-BALL
"Every time I hear politicians claim that public school teachers don't
a good job, I say a little prayer that in their next lives these
are forced to teach 10th graders," writes Tad Bartimus. Public
is the best gift we Americans give to ourselves. For all its failings
and there are plenty -- it offers unlimited opportunities for eager
children to attend good schools staffed by qualified teachers. But that
ideal scenario increasingly is compromised by substandard facilities
equipment, inadequately paid teachers, unqualified administrators, and
stingy lawmakers who refuse to spend money to fix the problems.
can, and do, fall through widening cracks in public education,
if they live in poor districts with a low tax base and little political
pull, have learning and/or emotional disabilities, or aren't fluent in
English. The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law was supposed to fix these
holes in the system with financial incentives for lagging schools to
fifth-, eighth- and 10th-graders' test scores in English and math. If
schools succeed, they continue to get federal money; if they don't --
perhaps as many as one in four won't this year -- they'll be punished
having funds withdrawn. School boards and administrators protest that
"one size fits all" model, which has just passed its second
sets up already-poor schools to fail and wealthy, better-equipped
to succeed, thereby reinforcing the competency gap. Teachers claim the
unfairly puts the burden of student success on them while burying them
more paperwork and removing spontaneity from their curriculums.
WHO HELPS PUBLIC SCHOOLS: A PORTRAIT OF LOCAL EDUCATION FUNDS
Throughout American history, public schools have been supported by
education support organizations. Formed by groups of citizens, they
supported and advanced quality education, serving as catalysts and
agents in communities across the country. They help bring together
stakeholders; work with school districts and communities and work to
improve educational outcomes. They vary widely in size, activities, and
even in purpose. Local education funds (LEFs) are nonprofit
that advocate for involvement by all segments of the public in public
education, for accountability and achievement of high standards by all
involved with public education, and for systemic improvement in the
quality of public education. LEFs work with, but are independent of,
school systems, have paid staffs and boards reflective of the
and tend to work in school districts with a significant population of
low-income children. Public Education Network (PEN) is a national
organization of LEFs and individuals working to improve public schools
build citizen support for quality public education in low-income
communities across the nation. Using IRS Form 990 data, Linda Lampkin
David Stern analyze LEFs' finances, locations, development, and
and find a healthy, growing movement dedicated to strengthening local
education through community involvement.
STATES DECIDE MANY PROVISIONS UNDER NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND
As evidenced by the diversity among the approved state accountability
plans and state-consolidated applications, states have great
in the design of their systems and implementation of particular No
Left Behind (NCLB) provisions, according to a new press release from
US Department of Education. Presented as a checklist of items, states
considered many issues when designing accountability systems, providing
options for parents and defining highly qualified teachers. The list at
the link below outlines almost 40 separate issues under the control and
responsibility of state and local education agencies. Helpful examples
how individual states have complied with NCLB are outlined along with
expanded definitions of key provisions of the law.
STUDY: DIRECT INSTRUCTION NOT BEST WAY TO TEACH READING
A three-year study of methods of teaching reading shows that highly
scripted, teacher-directed methods of teaching reading were not as
effective as traditional methods that allowed a more flexible approach.
The study, headed by Randall Ryder, professor of curriculum and
instruction in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of
Education, also found that teachers felt the most highly scripted
known as Direct Instruction (DI), should be used in limited situations,
not as the primary method of teaching students to read. Urban teachers
particular expressed great concern over the DI's lack of sensitivity to
issues of poverty, culture and race. Ryder's study looked at a range of
approaches, from the very scripted DI approach to more traditional,
holistic approaches that balanced systematic instruction with more
open-ended classroom experiences. According to Ryder, "Most approaches
work for some children -- no single approach works for all children.
method is the best method for teaching reading varies for any student
any given time."
TURNING THE ACCOUNTABILITY TABLES
For too long teachers have been forced into a defensive posture,
protecting their professionalism and their students' learning from the
accountability hawks who know little about teaching and learning, Chris
Gallagher asserts. It's time to turn the tables. The fundamental
in his view, is that reformers focus -- to borrow a useful formulation
from Linda Darling-Hammond's wonderful book "The Right to Learn" -- on
"designing controls" rather than "developing capacity." In other words,
instead of promoting and investing in the expertise of teachers and
trusting them to do their job, most state systems focus their resources
building remote-control systems, in which "experts" -- administrators,
policy makers, politicians, curriculum designers, textbook companies,
testing firms -- set and measure the educational agenda from afar. The
fatal flaw in this approach is not hard to see, but, as such historians
Lawrence Cremin, Larry Cuban, David Tyack, and Darling-Hammond tell us,
has haunted the history of U.S. education reform. The mistake is
school reform as a technical problem, not a people problem. Reformers
to "forget" again and again that institutions are made up of people,
these people constitute a local culture that must be engaged if
change is to be sustained. Gallagher offers 10 ten questions for
reflection upon the principles of sound accountability: (1) Does this
system regard teachers as leaders? (2) Does this system focus on
rather than controls? (3) Does this system foster commitment and not
compliance? (4) Does this system promote integration of accountability
school improvement? (5) Does this system risk complexity rather than
demand simplicity? (6) Does this system really include all students?
Does this system engage all teachers? (8) Does this system engage all
other relevant stakeholders? (9) Does this system keep pedagogy at its
center? (10) Does this system encourage high-impact, not high-stakes,
IN U.S. SCHOOLS, RACE STILL COUNTS
In a special Education Week report, Caroline Hendrie asks, "How many
people would argue that race is irrelevant in contemporary American
education? How many would say that the promise of Equal Justice for
-- the words incised on the Supreme Court building's facade -- has
become a reality in the nation's public schools?" In the past five
as test-based accountability has come to dominate the public education
agenda, the racial and ethnic "achievement gap" has risen to the top of
policymakers' concerns. Eliminating disparities between blacks and
Hispanics, on the one hand, and whites and Asian-Americans on the
is a primary goal of the No Child Left Behind Act, the 2-year-old
law that now exerts a powerful influence in elementary and secondary
education. Fifty years after racially segregated schooling was
unconstitutional, one-race public schools, and even virtually one-race
districts, still exist. Despite a growing number of thoroughly
schools, many remain overwhelmingly white or minority. And schools with
many black and Hispanic children, especially if most of those pupils
in poverty, often come up short on standard measures of educational
health. Thus, for many of those steeped in the work of making policy
running schools, questions of race and education still matter -- just
they did on the day Chief Justice Warren delivered the court's
ruling. "Issues of race continue to be overpowering forces in American
education," said Michael D. Casserly, the executive director of the
Washington- based Council of the Great City Schools, "and the
challenge for America in the century ahead."
A PERNICIOUS SILENCE: CONFRONTING RACE IN THE ELEMENTARY CLASSROOM
Communities of silence cannot be moral communities. And the most
pernicious and pervasive silence in primary school classrooms is the
silence surrounding the subject of race. Where there is not silence,
is often a complacent orthodoxy purporting that, since Rosa Parks and
Martin Luther King, Jr., changed the world, everything is just fine.
children are quick to realize that everything isn't just fine. Beneath
surface, they are learning rules about what can be acknowledged and
can be discussed. Glossing over issues of race in the classroom or
pretending that they don't exist does not accord with what even very
children know to be true. Lillian Polite and Elizabeth Baird Saenger
maintain that it is much healthier for everyone when race can be freely
discussed, and they offer suggestions to help teachers overcome their
RACE STILL SEPARATES AMERICAN SCHOOLS, REPORT SAYS
Half a century after the Supreme Court ordered the desegregation of
American education, schools are almost as segregated as they were when
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, according to a new
report released by Harvard University researchers. The study, by the
Harvard Civil Rights Project, shows that progress toward school
desegregation peaked in the late 1980s as courts concluded that the
of the landmark 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of
largely had been achieved. The trend has been in the opposite direction
over the past 15 years, and most white students now have "little
with minority students in many areas, reports Michael Dobbs. Triggered
a civil-rights case in Topeka, Kan., the Brown decision marked the
of three decades of intensive efforts by the federal government to
integrate public schools, first through court orders that opened white
schools to minority students and later through busing. Its most
impact was in the South, where the percentage of blacks attending
predominantly white schools increased from zero in 1954 to 43 percent
1988. By 2001, according to the Harvard data, the figure had fallen to
percent, or about the level in 1969, the year after King's
"We are losing many of the gains of desegregation," said Harvard
Gary Orfield, the primary author of the report. "We are not back to
we were before Brown, but we are back to when King was assassinated."
PARENT POLL: SCHOOLS USING FUNDRAISING FOR BASICS, NOT EXTRAS
Sixty-eight percent of parents from schools that engage in fund raising
said the money is used to pay for such basic needs as classroom
textbooks, and school supplies, a poll released last week has found.
survey, which was distributed last month to 22,000 parents with
children and was based on 1,000 responses. Among other findings, it
indicates that nearly 50 percent of the parents polled said their
are using fund-raising proceeds to pay for items normally covered by
funding. Such figures are the result of reduced state and local
suggested Linda Hodge, the president of the Chicago-based National PTA.
"School budgets are shrinking, but there are higher expectations for
education so parents and schools are fund raising [to make up the
difference]," she said. But fund raising is a short-term solution, Ms.
Hodge said. She pointed out that it can lead to great financial
among schools because some have access to more fundraising resources
others do. Marianne D. Hurst reports on how some school officials seem
agree that there is a gray area emerging between what is seen as a
school need and what is a supplemental service. A prime example is
Internet access and computer technology. Once considered a supplemental
service, such technology is now almost a standard feature in the
schools. According to the survey, most parents reported that their
hold four fund-raising events per year and raise about $17,600
CLOSE HARMONY: TEENS & MUSIC
The second that Evan, 16, walks out of school, he snaps on his Discman
cranks up the volume. "At home, my mom is always telling me to turn
the music, and at school, its against the rules to listen," he says.
"Don't they know? Teens and music, they go together." Its a match the
nations recording industry counts on, and with good reason. When "USA
Weekend" magazine polled 60,000 teenagers about their music listening
habits, 79 percent said they listened to music while they did chores,
percent while on the computer. In what could only be bad news for
and parents, 72 percent added that they did their homework to music,
one-third said they listened to music while eating meals at home, and
percent confessed to listening in the classroom. But as much as Evan
listening to CDs, making music matters even more to him. "Nothing
compares, nothing," he says. "Jazz band -- thats what I live for.
of people writing about teens stealing music from the Internet, they
should tell about the great music kids can make together." Music and
performing arts programs speak to the transformative power of
for youth, whatever their level of proficiency -- even as budget cuts
standardized testing push music education out the school door. And
research links music education to benefits like reduced dropout rates
higher math scores, the teens and adults at the center of these stories
remind us why music-making exerts such an extraordinary pull.
LOW BAR SET FOR SOME SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS
Many substitute teachers who stand in front of Florida classrooms every
day aren't required to have a college education, and students' test
may drop as they spend more time with fill-ins, a newspaper study
months-long study by The Orlando Sentinel found that several Florida
counties required no more than a high-school equivalency degree to be a
substitute teacher, students who spent at least four weeks with
substitutes scored lower on reading tests than peers in the same
and many of the worst educated subs were found in struggling schools.
people in the field said unqualified substitute teachers could
students' education. "There is a growing concern among parents,
administrators and civic leaders that the majority of substitute
are failing students in the classroom because they do not have adequate
education, credentials or skills to do the job," said Shirley Kirsten,
president of the National Substitute Teacher Alliance. Low pay may be a
reason schools can't attract better substitutes. Several Florida
offer $50 a day, or $6 an hour.
ON TEACHER UNIONS & EDUCATION
According to Deborah Meier, despite many imperfections and dysfunction,
teacher unions are not the cause of all that is wrong-headed in public
education. There are many reasons why teachers and parents, and their
friends and relatives, need to be the allies of their local teacher
unions, even on those days when the unions make foolish mistakes, act
the same short-range self-interest as their opponents, and so on. The
of support that is needed is not uncritical; it is not a matter of
into line behind union leaders. But first and foremost, it means
to rest the inaccurate idea that unions are to blame for the
of school reform. Reforms are not always good, and change is not always
the interest of better learning. Healthy resistance is sometimes what
most need, side by side with thoughtful proposals for change-and this
what we will sorely miss if teachers' unions are defeated by the
relentless hostility of their many opponents.
WHERE HAVE ALL THE STUDENTS GONE?
A new study by Walt Haney, George Madaus, Lisa Abrams among others at
National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy at Boston
concludes that despite a significant increase in kindergarten
there is a growing bulge of students in the 9th grade, significantly
students reaching 10th grade, and major declines in high school
rates, especially in some of the nation's largest states. The study,
Education Pipeline in the United States, 1970-2000" analyzes
statistics collected by the federal government to examine the education
pipeline and identify key transition points through which students
progress, or fail to progress from kindergarten through the grades to
school graduation. The full report is available at:
UNETHICALLY TEACHING TO THE TEST
Everyday, teachers are confronted with many challenges, from prodding
stubborn learners to subduing undisciplined students. But one of the
important parts of every teacher's equilibrium can go unchecked day
day. Ethics. "What is ethical?" asks Thomas Rosengren. When teachers
working with children whose minds are susceptible to every will and
placed before them, teachers need to remember to review their ethics
regularly. While it may be easy to discern unethical behavior, what
you do if the things you feel are unethical were the standard for the
of your campus? What, then, is the right choice? Rosengren writes about
pressure to "teach to the test" which he experienced as a teacher in
Texas. Read the story of one teacher's inner journey as he takes on his
principal -- and the Texas testing culture.
RESOURCES FOR WORKFORCE & YOUTH DEVELOPMENT PRACTITIONERS
Workforce.net is a virtual library of resources for workforce
practitioners, providing access to over 2100 of the best tools and
materials available from hundreds of organizations. It is organized
11 major workforce development functions and topics and subtopics
each function. Each function area houses different kinds of resources
a broad spectrum of uses (data, analysis, examples, tools, websites,
This project has been funded by the Ford Foundation, Rockefeller
Foundation, and the U.S. Department of Labor.
INCLUDING EVERY PARENT: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO ENGAGE AND EMPOWER
Educators, parents, and researchers agree -- students do better at
where parents are actively involved. Now, a new book provides a
step-by-step guide for schools to increase parental involvement. But
guide is unique: it was written by teachers and parents from the
O'Hearn, an elementary school in the heart of Boston widely recognized
its accomplishments in involving parents. At the OHearn, the payoff is
clear -- not only in the schools "family atmosphere," but in student
achievement. OHearn students have made tremendous gains on state
assessments. So many Boston parents rank the OHearn as their first
that all available seats are filled and many families fill a long
list. "Including Every Parent" is the eighth book in the "By Teachers
Teachers" series. Each book is full of step-by-step instructions, tips,
and ideas teachers can follow to replicate proven, effective practices
that are working in successful public schools -- each book is developed
teachers who are making those schools succeed every day. Read the
introduction for free at:
|---------------GRANT AND FUNDING INFORMATION--------------|
"Lucent Global Science Scholars Program"
The Lucent Technologies Foundation established the Lucent Global
Scholars Program in 1999 to encourage the world's youth to pursue
related to information and communications technology. The program
recognizes and rewards students who have made significant achievements
math and science. Winners of the Global Science Scholars competition
receive a one-time financial grant of $5,000. Where an appropriate
placement can be found, Global Science Scholars are offered internships
Lucent research & development and manufacturing facilities in their
country at some point in their university careers. In addition, all
recipients attend the Lucent Global Summit for one week at Lucent
headquarters in Murray Hill, New Jersey, where they meet with
and scientists as well as with their fellow Global Science Scholars.
Participation in the Global Summit is a condition of accepting the
Attendance at the Global Summit is mandatory. Application deadline:
February 25, 2004.
"2004 Craftsman/NSTA Young Inventors Awards Program"
This program challenges students to use creativity and imagination,
with science, technology, and mechanical ability, to invent or modify a
tool. The award program is open to students in grades two to eight who
residents of the United States and U.S. Territories. Two national
finalists will receive a $10,000 U.S. Series EE Savings Bond (one
grades two to five; one winner grades six to eight); 10 national
will receive a $5,000 U.S. Series EE Savings Bond (five winners in each
grade category). All applications must be mailed by March 16, 2004.
"Bowerman Track Renovation Program"
The Bowerman Track Renovation Program provides matching cash grants to
community-based, youth-oriented organizations that seek to refurbish or
construct running tracks. The program distributes approximately
in matching grants each year. This five-year, $1 million program,
administered by Nike's Community Affairs department, provides matching
funds of up to $50,000 to youth-oriented nonprofit organizations
in the world. Application deadline: May 31, 2004.
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 honor ambition, we reward greed, we celebrate materialism, we
acquisitiveness, we cherish success, and we commercialize the classroom
and then we bark at the young about the gentle art of the spirit."
-Benjamin Barber (author/political scientist), "America Skips School,"
Harpers Magazine. November 1993.
The PEN Weekly NewsBlast is a free e-mail newsletter featuring school
reform and school fundraising resources. The PEN NewsBlast is the
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