PEN Weekly NewsBlast for January 30, 2004
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."
                                    An educated citizenry, writes Bob Borosage, is the hallmark of 
                                    democracy and central to the success of its economy. Education provided 
                                    common language and a common civic culture to the immigrants who 
                                    our shores. America became the first country to require 12 years of 
                                    schooling. Integrating America's schools was central to the effort to 
                                    segregation and address the challenge of equal opportunity for all. Our
                                    commitment to education has helped to forge the broad middle class that 
                                    the pride of America's democracy and the foundation of its prosperity.
                                    Now, as we begin a new century, America's commitment to public 
                                    faces staggering new challenges. With 53 million students and 3 million
                                    teachers in 92,000 public schools (within 15,000 districts), simply
                                    keeping what has traditionally been a locally governed nonsystem 
                                    is hard enough. The new information age and the new global economy make
                                    education -- and lifelong learning -- even more essential to our
                                    prosperity. A new generation of immigrants requires the schooling vital
                                    for assimilation of our language and civic traditions. As communication
                                    makes the world smaller and generates a growing sophistication in
                                    packaging and propaganda, an educated, questioning, 
                                    citizenry is even more vital to our democracy. Americans understand 
                                    They expect their leaders to make education a priority. They demand 
                                    from their schools. And at a state and local level, parents have driven 
                                    furious debate about schools: What constitutes an adequate education? 
                                    standards should be required? How can schools be made accountable? Over
                                    the past two decades, waves of reform at the local level have implanted
                                    higher standards and provided greater resources for schools. Yet even 
                                    public spending on schools has risen over the last two decades,
                                    particularly at the state and local levels, the national debate about
                                    schools has been driven by a conservative mantra: Money is not the
                                    solution, something else is. Conservatives' ideological animus to 
                                    institutions makes public schools -- where one in four Americans work 
                                    learn -- a prime target. For two decades, conservatives have scorned
                                    public investment in schools, offering up instead a menu of 
                                    to "fix" the schools: testing, phonics, English only, prayer, vouchers,
                                    zero tolerance, phonics, ending certification of teachers. They've gone
                                    from demanding the abolition of the Department of Education to seeking 
                                    supplant the common public school with a "marketplace" of private
                                    institutions, all the while opposing increased investment in schools.
                                    Americans need to hold their public officials accountable. Providing a
                                    high-quality public education is a task for the entire nation. Click on 
                                    National Task" at the link below.
                                    HOME SCHOOLS VERSUS BIG BROTHER
                                    New Jersey's child welfare system, like most state child welfare 
                                    writes Michelle Malkin, is a corrupt and deadly mess. Children are lost 
                                    the shuffle, shipped to abusive foster homes, returned to rapists and
                                    child molesters, and left to die in closets while paperwork piles up. 
                                    whom does the government decide to punish for the bureaucracy's abysmal
                                    failure to protect these innocents? Home-schoolers. And what does the
                                    government think will solve its ills? More power and paperwork. A
                                    Democratic assemblywoman recently introduced a bill to impose annual
                                    academic testing and annual medical exams on home-schooled students in 
                                    Garden State. The State Board of Education would be given unprecedented
                                    regulatory authority over home-schoolers. God forbid children be taught 
                                    their own parents, writes Malkin, without oversight from the 
                                    all-caring, infallible wizards of the child welfare-public school
                                    monopoly. A crackdown on innocent home-schooling families to cure the
                                    incompetence of government child welfare agencies, she writes, is like 
                                    smoker lopping off his ear to treat metastatic lung cancer. It's a 
                                    wrong cure conceived by a fool who caused his own disease.
                                    The most comprehensive national study on the impact of the No Child 
                                    Behind Act indicates that urban districts are twice as likely to have 
                                    least one school identified as "in need of improvement" under the law 
                                    non-urban districts. The report also shows that states and school
                                    districts are providing additional help to such schools to improve 
                                    achievement, but many school leaders are concerned that federal 
                                    may not be enough to address significant staffing and funding 
                                    created by the law. The report, "From the Capital to the Classroom: 
                                    Year 2
                                    of the No Child Left Behind Act," is the most comprehensive review of 
                                    law to date and the first to examine all aspects of its implementation 
                                    the federal, state, and local levels. The report was conducted by the
                                    independent, nonpartisan Center on Education Policy (CEP), and is the
                                    second in a series of reports that will be issued annually through 
                                    STATE REPUBLICANS ASSAIL BUSH EDUCATION LAW
                                    President Bushs No Child Left Behind Act will cost Ohio $1.4 billion 
                                    annually than it gets from the federal government for public education, 
                                    new study concludes, giving powerful ammunition to critics who say the 
                                    is too burdensome.  The report, commissioned by the 
                                    Ohio General Assembly, is the first to put a price tag on the broad
                                    education measure and feeds a growing backlash that remarkably is 
                                    state Republicans at odds with their partys leaders in the White House
                                    and Congress. "Like every other state, we're financially strapped," 
                                    state Sen. Robert Gardner (R), chairman of the Ohio Senates Education
                                    Committee. If the law is going to work, Gardner said, "the dollars have
                                    got to flow."  The Ohio report coincides with a blast at No Child Left
                                    Behind by the Virginia House of Delegates, also controlled by 
                                    By a vote of 98 to one, reports Eric Kelderman, the Virginia 
                                    adopted a resolution last week calling Bush's signature domestic 
                                    "the most sweeping federal intrusion into state and local control of
                                    education in the history of the United States." The Virginia resolution
                                    criticized the "very expensive mandates" of the law, which requires
                                    statewide testing and extra services for students at low-scoring 
                                    The sole dissenter was a Democrat. The Virginia Senate is considering a
                                    similar resolution.
                                    DEMOCRATS TRY TO LEAVE BUSH BEHIND ON EDUCATION 
                                    As the centerpiece of President Bush's first domestic priority, the
                                    nation's new education law is an inviting target for the Democrats who
                                    want his job. But it's also a tricky one: Some of them voted for it,
                                    reports Ben Feller, and their party helped shape the legislation. The
                                    leading Democratic candidates have rallied around a complaint that Bush 
                                    enforcing the law on the cheap, holding schools accountable for big 
                                    without giving them enough money to succeed. They disagree, however, 
                                    whether to overhaul, amend or back the law, differences that could 
                                    the presidential race and, potentially, millions of students. The top
                                    finishers in the Iowa caucuses, Sens. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts 
                                    John Edwards of North Carolina, voted for the No Child Left Behind Act 
                                    2001. Both now say they see problems with it and want change, mainly in
                                    the way student progress is measured. Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut
                                    not only voted for the law but helped write it. With an eye on his 
                                    he says maintaining support for the law is a matter of integrity.
                                    Meanwhile, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean and retired Gen. Wesley 
                                    have assailed aspects of the law and broadly depicted it as a
                                    Washington-driven education failure.
                                    SPELLING MAKING A COMEBACK IN SCHOOL
                                    Newer research by national literacy specialists suggests that, for the
                                    most part, good spellers aren't born; they're made. And improving 
                                    ability is connected to improving language skills in other areas, 
                                    Laura Pappano. While researchers say most of us can become better 
                                    with practice, some appear more "natural" as a result of being 
                                    readers, having a deeper understanding of language, or better
                                    vocabularies. That notion that spelling may be a waste of time fits 
                                    the popular social belief that some people are natural spellers and 
                                    are not. That perception has for years kept middle and high school
                                    teachers from talking too much about spelling, assuming students got
                                    enough of the basics in elementary school. Add to the mix the 
                                    of computers and spell-checking, which has its limitations. At one
                                    Massachusetts high school, English teacher Janet Karman said, "Some
                                    teachers feel it is more important to get the creative ideas out and 
                                    feel so constrained about the rules of grammar, the rules of spelling."
                                    Yet, her department expects final drafts of papers to be checked for
                                    spelling. More than three errors, she said, means a drop of two-thirds 
                                    a grade, such as from a B to a C-plus. A student has three days to 
                                    the paper, raising the grade one-third, to a B-minus. "I try to walk 
                                    line, not wanting kids to be constrained, but knowing you lose 
                                    if you can't spell, you can't speak well, you can't write well," said
                                    Karman. John King, codirector of Roxbury Preparatory Charter School 
                                    grades 6 to 8, said spelling matters for his students because -- like 
                                    or not -- "people make judgments, especially about our kids who are 
                                    students of color." Urban minority students who misspell or misuse 
                                    may be labeled as poorly educated or unintelligent, King said.
                                    CHILDREN, FAMILIES & FOSTER CARE
                                    Every year, nearly 300,000 children are abused or neglected, removed 
                                    their homes, and placed in foster care. Generally, by the time a child
                                    enters the foster care system, much emotional -- if not physical -- 
                                    has already occurred. Many children in foster care come from families
                                    struggling with complex and interrelated problems including mental
                                    illness, substance abuse, homelessness, domestic violence, 
                                    and HIV/AIDS. A new report examines the plight of children in foster 
                                    Although foster care is a necessary lifeline for children who cannot
                                    safely remain with their families, too often the system lets these
                                    children down. Rather than experiencing foster care as a time of 
                                    children in foster care often suffer further damage. They can become
                                    alienated from their birth families. Many are "bumped around" from 
                                    to place. Their foster families often don't get the supports and 
                                    they need. Meanwhile, overburdened caseworkers are unable to provide
                                    foster children with consistent and individualized attention. As a 
                                    children in foster care commonly receive inconsistent medical care and
                                    "one-size-fits-all" service plans instead of an appropriate mix of
                                    services tailored to their individual needs. Recent reforms in the 
                                    welfare system are a step in the right direction, but much more could 
                                    should be done to help children in foster care find their way to a
                                    successful future.
                                    For many students, particularly students from low-income families and
                                    students of color, a significant disconnect exists between the worlds 
                                    school, family, and community.  A new guide helps schools and teachers
                                    bring these diverse worlds together and recognize the assets and 
                                    inherent in each.  Such efforts help schools to be more successful in
                                    supporting and engaging students, resulting in higher student 
                                    The guide provides resources, models, and tools to help schools create 
                                    framework for family and community engagement.  The framework, based in
                                    part on the work of Dr. Joyce Epstein at the National Network of
                                    Partnership Schools, Johns Hopkins University, consists of:  Parenting;
                                    Communicating; Volunteering; Supporting Student Learning at Home;
                                    Inclusive Decision Making; and Collaborating with the Community. 
                                    Points is a comprehensive school reform model designed to strengthen 
                                    academic core of middle schools and to establish challenging, caring, 
                                    equitable learning environments that meet the needs of young 
                                    Hoping to make its legislative voice louder, the Jefferson Parish 
                                    school system is seeking residents, especially parents, to join an
                                    Internet-based network that will keep a watchful eye on educational 
                                    in the Legislature. The brainchild of School Board President Gene
                                    Katsanis, the Legislative Relations Network will essentially be an 
                                    coalition of residents who will keep updated on school-related bills,
                                    reports Rob Nelson. "It's a proactive way for the School Board and 
                                    system to harness the power that parents bring to the table," said Gina
                                    Warner, the district's lobbyist who will oversee the site. If Jefferson
                                    parents are more informed about education issues, particularly the
                                    system's political agenda, the district could fare better during the
                                    legislative session, Warner said. Currently, parents have no "organized
                                    voice," Katsanis said. Warner said interested participants must have an
                                    e-mail address that they check daily and must promise to contact their
                                    legislators about education-related bills. The network will only be 
                                    from March through June, making participation a "short-term 
                                    Warner said. During the Legislature's regular session, Jefferson will
                                    renew its fight for legislation that would protect school systems
                                    statewide from unfunded mandates, state orders that come without money 
                                    finance them. It will also try to tweak the state's complex school
                                    financing plan, claiming that Jefferson schools get shortchanged by the
                                    WHAT THE MEDIA ARE MISSING IN REPORTING TEST SCORES
                                    Reporters often use words like "stagnant" or "sluggish" or "static" or
                                    "flat" to describe the achievement levels as measured by the National
                                    Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the federal government's 
                                    important and most respected measure of U.S. schools. The NAEP (rhymes
                                    with "tape") reading scores for students aged 9 gained only four points 
                                    from 208 to 212 -- from 1971 to 1999, reports Jay Mathews.
                                    Thirteen-year-olds gained only four points and 17-year-olds only three.
                                    The change in the average verbal SAT score between 1981 and 2002 is 
                                    less impressive. It appears to have gone nowhere. It was 504 in 1981, 
                                    21 years later it was still 504. Pretty disappointing, huh? Not 
                                    to education researcher and professor Gerald Bracey. When you break 
                                    the NAEP and SAT data into ethnic subgroups, for instance, you find 
                                    minorities have improved their averages markedly, which is exactly what
                                    our increased spending on schools had been designed to achieve. On the
                                    NAEP reading test, for instance, non-Hispanic white 17-year-olds had 
                                    a small improvement. They went from 291 points to 295 points, while the
                                    overall average went from 285 to 288 points. But African Americans in 
                                    same period jumped 26 points, from 238 to 264, and Hispanics increased 
                                    points, from 252 to 271. The same thing happened with the SAT. To the
                                    math-challenged among us, this makes no sense. How could almost every
                                    ethnic group increase significantly while the overall average went up
                                    barely, or not at all? Bracey explains that it is the result of a 
                                    known statistical phenomenon that needs to be understood if we are to
                                    understand how to analyze test score data. In Jay Mathews view, we 
                                    with the new federal No Child Left Behind law, rushing into a new era 
                                    which these test numbers will determine how we help our children learn,
                                    and how we spend what is now the most money ever spent on public 
                                    The media should heed the caution of folks like Bracey if they want an
                                    accurate reporting of student achievement in our schools.
                                    Nine out of 10 urban elementary school principals surveyed by Policy
                                    Studies Associates say that the presence of Experience Corps in their
                                    schools substantially improves student academic performance, increases
                                    students readiness to learn, and positively affects students
                                    self-confidence and attitude toward school. Experience Corps is a 
                                    service program for Americans over 55. Today, its 1,300 members serve 
                                    tutors and mentors in elementary schools in 12 cities  Baltimore, 
                                    Cleveland, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Minneapolis, New York City,
                                    Philadelphia, Port Arthur (Texas), Portland (Oregon), San Francisco, 
                                    Washington DC. "When principals say our members play a crucial role in
                                    their students academic success," says Experience Corps CEO John
                                    Gomperts, "thats music to my ears. As I travel the country, I hear
                                    positive things from principals I meet, but its crucial for us to 
                                    from independent evaluations, that Experience Corps makes a 
                                    difference." Other highlights from the survey include: (1) 99% all
                                    principals are satisfied with Experience Corps, with 74% of them saying
                                    they are "extremely satisfied"; (2) 91% report that Experience Corps
                                    provides significant support for attainment of academic standards; (3)
                                    Three out of four principals say Experience Corps provides significant
                                    benefits to students classroom participation, behavior, and 
                                    (4) Nine out of 10 principals say Experience Corps has a big impact on
                                    student attitudes toward older adults; (5) Nine out of 10 principals 
                                    Experience Corps improves the overall school atmosphere; and (6)
                                    Principals say Experience Corps is better than other school-based
                                    volunteer programs in several key areas. As Mamie Keith, principal at
                                    Franklin Elementary School in Kansas City, notes: "Experience Corps
                                    members help me reach my goals by working one-on-one with students to
                                    bring them up to grade level in reading. They do an excellent job in
                                    building students skills and confidence in reading."
                                    The school honor roll, a time-honored system for rewarding A students, 
                                    become an apparent source of embarrassment for some underachievers. As 
                                    result, all Nashville schools have stopped posting honor rolls, and 
                                    are considering a ban on hanging good work in the hallways -- all at 
                                    advice of school lawyers, reports Matt Gouras. After a few parents
                                    complained their children might be ridiculed for not making the list,
                                    Nashville school system lawyers warned that state privacy laws forbid
                                    releasing any academic information, good or bad, without permission. 
                                    schools have since put a stop to academic pep rallies. Others think 
                                    may have to cancel spelling bees. And now schools across the state may
                                    follow Nashville's lead. Parents at most schools, though, are close to
                                    outrage. "So far, what we've heard parents say is, 'This is crazy; 
                                    your time doing other things,' " said Teresa Dennis, principal at Percy
                                    Priest Elementary School. "It does seem really silly."
                                    THE CYBER-LIBERTIES OF PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS
                                    Facilitating the anonymous speech of others has always been a hazardous
                                    endeavor. In the 18th century, publisher John Peter Zenger sat in 
                                    for eight months for printing and disseminating some unsigned articles
                                    that attacked an unpopular governor in his newspaper, "New York Weekly
                                    Journal." Eventually, a sympathetic jury found Zenger not guilty, and 
                                    went on to become a veritable folk hero. As Aaron Caplan, a staff 
                                    for the American Civil Liberties Union/Washington, shows in a very 
                                    law review article, Zenger's 21st century Internet successors have also
                                    suffered punishment, both for hosting forums and for publishing their 
                                    ideas online. Caplan's article, according to a review by Stephanie
                                    Elizondo Griest, starts by describing the case of three honor-roll,
                                    college-bound, suburban high school students who created a Web site 
                                    their classmates could post messages. Discussions ranged from 
                                    to politics to gossip to eating disorders to sex, and were often 
                                    in "locker-room" language. Deeming the Web site a distraction from
                                    schoolwork, school administrators persuaded the site's Internet host to
                                    shut it down. Caplan observes that schools generally offer three main
                                    rationales for the power to punish students for Internet speech: the
                                    student's speech is visible from school, is about school, or has an 
                                    on school. Fortunately for students, this reasoning hasn't generally 
                                    up in court. One serious strike against modern-day Zengers and their
                                    counterparts who write on their own behalf is the widely believed 
                                    that adolescent Internet use is inherently dangerous. This phenomenon,
                                    which Caplan, following sociologists in the field, calls "moral panic,"
                                    has much historical precedence. The invention of the printing press
                                    brought about great fear of the spread of heresy in the 15th century,
                                    while horror and crime comic books were widely viewed as the cause of
                                    juvenile delinquency in the early 1950s.
                                    COURT TAKES CHARGE IN ARKANSAS SCHOOLS CASE 
                                    Expressing impatience with the Legislature's failure to improve 
                                    the Arkansas Supreme Court said it would appoint someone to bring the
                                    state's school system up to constitutional standards. Meanwhile, the 
                                    House passed a plan Friday that would consolidate some school 
                                    The order came after a lawyer for the state acknowledged during a 
                                    that lawmakers missed a court-imposed January 1 deadline for coming up
                                    with ways to improve schools. The state pleaded for more time, but the
                                    justices said they were ready to act. "We gave the state 14 months to
                                    implement a new system and that wasn't complied with," Justice Robert
                                    Brown said on Thursday. "It's really not even close, is it?" In the 
                                    significant legislation passed to date, the Arkansas House on Friday
                                    approved a bill to consolidate the administrations of 59 small school
                                    districts. Gov. Mike Huckabee had proposed merging about 100 high 
                                    and it was unclear whether he would sign the bill. It does not require
                                    school closures, though the new, consolidated districts could choose to
                                    close schools later. The court did not say when it would appoint a 
                                    master, or how long the master would have to analyze the school system.
                                    The Legislature can continue its attempts to address the issue, but the
                                    court will decide whether they are adequate. In November 2002, the high
                                    court said Arkansas didn't spend enough money on education and 
                                    funds unevenly. It ordered changes in the $1.8 billion system and gave 
                                    state until January 1, 2004, to put them in place.
                                    SCALING UP FIRST THINGS FIRST 
                                    A comprehensive reform initiative that calls for changes in school
                                    structure, instruction, and governance, First Things First aims to
                                    increase academic achievement and student and teacher engagement in
                                    low-performing secondary schools. This report examines the initial year 
                                    implementation of First Things First at 12 schools in Texas, Missouri, 
                                    Mississippi, focusing on the program's key components and the
                                    effectiveness with which those components were put into place. The
                                    program's basic elements - small learning communities, a family 
                                    system, and strategies for instructional improvement - were operational 
                                    most sites by the end of the first year of implementation. Interviews 
                                    students and teachers and survey responses indicate that small learning
                                    communities and family advocates proved effective in fostering more
                                    personalized relationships among teachers, students, and students'
                                    families. Students reported that they felt more supported by their
                                    teachers during the implementation year than they had a year earlier, 
                                    they also reported putting less effort into their schoolwork. And, 
                                    teachers displayed positive attitudes toward the reform during the
                                    planning year, they exhibited less enthusiasm for it after experiencing
                                    the difficulties involved in implementation.
                                    STUDENTS, TOXINS, & ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM
                                    "Some 300,000 children in the United States are poisoned by lead every
                                    year, mostly children of color," writes Erik Ness in his devastating 
                                    at the widespread epidemic of lead poisoning in urban school children.
                                    "How can policymakers seemingly ignore so much science that speaks to 
                                    very question of why some children can't learn?" asks Ness. Ness 
                                    lead poisoning in low-income communities and how it affects "failing
                                    schools". In a companion essay titled "Teaching About Toxins," 
                                    elementary school teacher Kelley Dawson Salas shares lessons on lead
                                    poisoning and asthma she developed with her fourth-grade class. "I 
                                    them to understand asthma as a disease that targets poor people, people 
                                    color, and people living in cities," she writes.
                                    A HARDER LOOK AT AFTER SCHOOL HELP
                                    About 8,000 schools nationwide are required by the government to 
                                    supplemental educational services -- a formal name for after-school
                                    tutoring -- at no charge. The extra help is mandated by the federal No
                                    Child Left Behind education act, writes Lisa Leigh Connors. The law 
                                    that any school failing to make "adequate yearly progress" (AYP) three
                                    years in a row must provide free tutoring when requested. It's one of 
                                    provisions of the law that would seem to be above reproach: How could
                                    offering extra instruction to students at poorly performing schools
                                    possibly be less than a good idea? But some of those on the front lines
                                    say the system has yet to prove its own worth. The results may take a
                                    while. Since many under-performing schools are only in their first year 
                                    offering the after-school tutoring program, it's a tad too early to 
                                    out progress reports. But a new report by the American Enterprise
                                    Institute (AEI), a think tank in Washington, D.C., reveals that there 
                                    wrinkles still to be ironed out. The report pinpoints some challenges 
                                    supplemental services: some parents were never notified of the free
                                    tutoring; states didn't finish their lists of approved providers until
                                    after the school year started; and -- even though tuition is free -- 
                                    areas have low participation rates. In addition, Congress left it up to
                                    the states to define their own adequate yearly progress, which means
                                    standards as to who must provide the services vary widely.
                                    PARENT POWER & URBAN SCHOOL REFORM
                                    A new case study of Mothers on the Move (MOM) written by Kavitha 
                                    and Jessica Karp, and published by the New York University Institute 
                                    Education and Social Policy, analyses efforts to improve schooling
                                    outcomes in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the South Bronx. It 
                                    a ten-year struggle to expose hidden disparities in achievement and
                                    resources between local schools and schools in wealthier neighborhoods,
                                    oust ineffective school district leadership and, ultimately, help the
                                    Hunts Point schools improve. The study is based on interviews conducted
                                    between June 2002 - 2003 of MOM members and staff, as well as with the
                                    Chancellors and superintendent who presided during MOMs organizing. 
                                    researchers also examined data obtained from the New York City 
                                    of Education regarding changes in Hunts Point and District 8 schools. 
                                    report concludes that MOMs organizing played a pivotal role in forcing
                                    numerous critical changes in the district. New York City Department of
                                    Education data show that the improvements set in motion through MOMs
                                    organizing for leadership change are beginning to bear fruit in some 
                                    Point schools. For example, fourth grade reading scores at Public 
                                    62, where MOM began its organizing, increased by over fifty percent, 
                                    22% meeting the state standard in 1999 to 36% meeting the standard in
                                    2003. For more information and to obtain a copy of this report, please
                                    contact the NYU Institute for Education and Social Policy at 
                                    HISTORY IS FUN
                                    Will Fitzhugh observes that a large number of Social Studies educators
                                    experience difficulty, despite their many imaginative efforts, in 
                                    history fun" for their students at all levels in our schools. As one 
                                    pupil has said, "History does not have to be made fun. It is fun." 
                                    Studies educators have set themselves two impossible tasks. First, they
                                    neither ask students to read a history book, which is the way most 
                                    get interested in history, or to write a history research paper, and
                                    second, for ideological reasons, they try to limit the range of student
                                    interest to current social problems in their immediate environments. To
                                    those who would argue that reading a history book and writing a history
                                    paper are either too hard or not very important for high school 
                                    someone should certainly suggest: "Try it. They'll love it!" Students 
                                    shortchanged when they are discouraged from reading history and writing
                                    term papers in school, and they are not only less ready to benefit from
                                    further education, but also less likely to understand and value the
                                    freedom and democracy that have been handed down to them as well.
                                    2003 STATE SPECIAL EDUCATION OUTCOMES: MARCHING ON
                                    A new report addresses the topics of assessment participation and
                                    performance, accommodations, out-of-level testing, alternate 
                                    universally designed assessments, computer-based assessments,
                                    accountability, and assessment consequences in special education. 
                                    were asked to identify emerging issues as well as their technical
                                    assistance needs. Most state directors reported that more students with
                                    disabilities are accessing state/district academic content standards 
                                    increased academic expectations, and more students with disabilities 
                                    participating in statewide assessments and included in accountability
                                    systems. The majority of directors also reported improved performance 
                                    students with disabilities on state assessments. In addition, nearly 
                                    state directors reported increased participation of special educators 
                                    training on standards and assessment, and nearly three quarters 
                                    increased networking between general and special educators. Some 
                                    issues identified by the state directors surveyed were a lack of
                                    instructional strategies that positively impact student performance,
                                    familiarizing special education teachers and administrators with the
                                    standards, helping IEP teams understand access to the general education
                                    curriculum, concerns about too many students participating in alternate
                                    assessments, decreasing numbers of students with disabilities 
                                    with a standard diploma, and an increase in dropout rates.
                                    |---------------GRANT AND FUNDING INFORMATION--------------|
                                    "Horace Mann Student Scholarship Program"
                                    The Horace Mann Companies is offering $50,000 in scholarships for 
                                    of public and private school employees to attend college. Students are
                                    eligible to apply if their parent or legal guardian is a full- or
                                    part-time (part-time is at least 20 hours per week during the academic
                                    year) employee of a U.S. public or private school district or U.S. 
                                    or private college or university. That includes teachers, support staff
                                    and administrators. They also must have at least a "B" average and 
                                    at least 23 on the ACT or 1,100 on the SAT. Application deadline: 
                                    12, 2004.
                                    "Education Is Freedom College Scholarships"
                                    The Education is Freedom National Scholarship Program provides college
                                    scholarships in the amount of $2000 to high school seniors that meet 
                                    following criteria: U.S. resident for one year at time of application;
                                    current U.S. high school senior; first-time enrollment in a full-time
                                    undergraduate course of study at an accredited 2 or 4-year college or
                                    university; and a GPA of 3.0 - 3.5. Application deadline: February 15,
                                    "Pathways Within Literacy Program"
                                    The Pathways Within Literacy Program supports libraries in rural
                                    communities and organizations that conduct family-literacy programs 
                                    books and other education supplies. Pathways Within primarily seeks to
                                    help prepare young children to learn to read and to motivate older
                                    children to read regularly. Contact: Pathways Within, PO Box 1354,
                                    Brookline, Mass. 02446; (617) 482-0324;
                                    Application deadline: March 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
                                    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
                                    "People who come from backgrounds suffused with love, praise, and 
                                    often have the ability to dismiss criticism out of hand; people who
                                    don't...often devote great effort to building structures of 
                                    -Nicholas Lemann (author), "Profiles" New Yorker magazine. 05/12/2003
                                    ===========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 89 local
                                    education funds working to improve public school quality in low-income
                                    communities nationwide.
                                    There are currently 48,165 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