PEN Weekly NewsBlast for March 5, 2004
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Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
                                    "Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."
                                    EXPLORING THE COSTS OF ACCOUNTABILITY
                                    How much will the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) cost? Critics
                                    argue that NCLBs requirement that states bring all students up to
                                    academic proficiency by the year 2014 represents a massive unfunded
                                    mandate. William J. Mathis, for example, claims in a recent Phi Delta
                                    Kappan article that public K-12 spending needs to rise by at least 20 
                                    35 percent to meet the goals of NCLB -- an increase of $85 to $150 
                                    a year. These critics reason that unless the feds put a lot more money 
                                    the table, financially strapped state and local governments will be 
                                    to raise taxes sharply. Otherwise, the entire reform effort could 
                                    of its own weight. The funding issue has three components. First is the
                                    cost of designing and implementing a statewide testing system. Second 
                                    the cost of establishing a state-level system for evaluating schools 
                                    districts and for intervening in those schools that continuously
                                    underperform. Third, and most controversial, is the cost of ensuring 
                                    schools have enough resources to provide the high-quality educational
                                    opportunities that students need to meet the academic standards 
                                    by NCLB. James Peyser and Robert Costrell examined these three 
                                    in light of their own experiences in Massachusetts. Their analysis
                                    suggests that many critics greatly exaggerate the shortfall of federal
                                    Struggling with shrinking revenues and new federal mandates that focus 
                                    improving the test scores of the lowest-achieving pupils, many school
                                    districts across the country have turned to cutting programs for their
                                    most promising students, reports Diana Jean Schemo. Unlike services for
                                    disabled children, programs for gifted children have no single federal
                                    agency to track them. A survey by the National Association for Gifted
                                    Children found that 22 states did not contribute toward the costs of
                                    programs for gifted children, and five other states spent less than
                                    $250,000. The new federal education law, known as No Child Left Behind,
                                    "has almost taken gifted off the radar screen in terms of people being
                                    worried about that group of learners," said Joyce L. Vantassel-Baska,
                                    executive director of the Center for Gifted Education at the College of
                                    William and Mary. "In a tight budget environment," she said, "the
                                    decisions made about what gets dropped or not funded tend to disfavor 
                                    smaller programs."
                                    THERE ARE BENEFITS TO BOREDOM
                                    Beginning in infancy, children are bombarded with noise, stimulation, 
                                    instant gratification, from crib mobiles with flashing lights and music 
                                    DVD entertainment systems for the car. Quiet time? It's virtually
                                    programmed into children never to have it. Certainly, there are 
                                    to children from modern technology. Increasingly, though, educators 
                                    Mary Newmann are wondering if it comes at a cost, reports Barbara 
                                    Even seemingly benign conveniences may undermine a child's ability to
                                    solve problems. Consider Velcro, or the digital clock. Laceless shoes 
                                    zipless jackets enable some children to dress themselves at an
                                    increasingly younger age. Having that concrete sense of independence is
                                    important for a preschooler. So, however, is knowing how to tie a knot.
                                    "Knotting is a basic life skill, and more kids come to me not knowing 
                                    to do it than ever before," says Beth Dimock. Sharna Olfman wonders if 
                                    are seeing more children labeled with Attention Deficit Disorder and 
                                    behavioral and cognitive disabilities as a by-product of inadequate
                                    problem-solving skills.
                                    SCHOOL AS ONE-STOP CENTERS FOR KIDS & FAMILIES
                                    Children learn best when their basic needs -- including food, shelter, 
                                    clothing -- are met and when their families are free from worry about
                                    employment, housing, health, and child care. Full-service schools aim 
                                    meet all those needs under one roof.  Providing educational and social
                                    services at the school site, many believe, is an effective and 
                                    way to provide what Joy Dryfoos calls "hope and solutions" for 
                                    their families, and entire neighborhoods. Already there are well over
                                    1,000 full-service schools in the United States, according to Dryfoos. 
                                    she and others predict that, as word of their success spreads, many 
                                    schools and community agencies will form partnerships to support 
                                    and their families, reports Susan Black. The message is clear: Focusing
                                    exclusively on raising test scores without attending to students' 
                                    and social needs will "leave many children behind."
                                    IF YOU WANT TO BUILD A BETTER COMMUNITY, IT TAKES A SCHOOL
                                    An editorial in the Los Angeles Times, January 25, 2004 by David Abel 
                                    Jonathan Fielding pushed for the concept of new LAUSD buildings to be
                                    designed as centers of community. They begin, "We are in the middle of 
                                    unprecedented - and necessary - wave of public spending on school
                                    facilities...By combining school bonds with government and 
                                    funds for parks, libraries, health, housing and other related services,
                                    the district and its government and philanthropic partners can create 
                                    overdue and entirely new approach to both schools and neighborhoods."
                                    TEACHERS FIGHT AGAINST INTERNET PLAGIARISM
                                    Since the Internet became readily accessible to students in the 1990s,
                                    writes Kimberly Chase, it has become in some ways the educator's worst
                                    enemy. In secondary schools and universities alike, students are taking
                                    advantage of the fact that ready-made papers are only a few clicks 
                                    An entire industry has sprung up to provide free homework or -- at a 
                                    -- papers purported to be custom-made. But now teachers are fighting 
                                    Across the country, educators have become savvier about using a
                                    combination of in-class writing samples, Internet search engines, and
                                    antiplagiarism technology to beat the cheating scourge.
                                    More than 27 million school-age children living in war-torn nations 
                                    receive educational opportunities, and those that do attend school 
                                    contend with overcrowded classrooms that are targets of violence, 
                                    a report released last week. A global survey of education initiatives 
                                    113 countries, conducted by the Women's Commission for Refugee Women 
                                    Children, found the money to provide such options for the world's
                                    youngest, most vulnerable citizens is insufficient, reports Julie 
                                    And because more than 90 percent of displaced students live in 
                                    shelter in their native lands, the international community will not or
                                    cannot help them. The internal conflict is so complex and dangerous, 
                                    do not try. Those that do try often find it nearly impossible to reach 
                                    people who need help. When such efforts do succeed, primary schooling 
                                    often all that is offered, the report notes, and it is often taught by
                                    underqualified, underpaid, and overstressed teachers. The reality is 
                                    bleaker for older youths: Only 6 percent of all child refugees are
                                    enrolled in secondary school.
                                    A high school program that teaches teens about the link between suicide
                                    and depression cut suicide attempts by 40 percent at five U.S. schools,
                                    according to a recent study. Among 2,100 students in the study, those 
                                    took part in the program were less likely than their peers to report a
                                    suicide attempt three months later. When surveyed, 3.6 percent of these
                                    students admitted to attempting suicide in the past three months. That
                                    compares with 5.4 percent of their peers, according to findings 
                                    in the March 4th issue of the American Journal of Public Health. The
                                    classroom materials focus on teaching kids that suicide is directly
                                    related to treatable mental illnesses, usually depression, reports Amy
                                    Norton. The goal is to get them to recognize and respond to depression 
                                    suicidal behavior in themselves and in their friends. Dr. Robert 
                                    said the program tells them "it's OK to go to an adult," and that it's 
                                    a "betrayal of trust" to tell someone when they think a friend is
                                    GREAT SCHOOLS BY DESIGN
                                    Great Schools by Design is a national initiative developed by the 
                                    Architectural Foundation (AAF) in response to the challenges 
                                    face because of the deteriorating condition of public schools and the 
                                    to build new schools. More than 55 million Americans, one fifth of the
                                    population, spend their days in our nation's elementary and secondary
                                    school buildings, many of which are in disrepair. The United States 
                                    $20 billion each year to renovate and build urban schools, and the need 
                                    rising.  New York City alone estimates that at least $15 billion is 
                                    to restore its 1,200 school buildings.  In addition to fixing outdated 
                                    dilapidated schools, 6,000 new facilities must be built nationwide in 
                                    next decade simply to keep pace with population growth. The AAF will
                                    engage architects, planners, school board members, superintendents,
                                    teachers, students, parents, civic leaders, and other stakeholders in
                                    active dialogue about this country's school buildings.
                                    STOP TEACHING MY KID
                                    "...The vast majority of Americans would be shocked to learn of one 
                                    force that keeps the quality of public education low. Budget problems, 
                                    ask?  No. I'm talking about parents," writes Elise Vogler. "Why would
                                    parents want anything but a rigorous curriculum for their children?  I
                                    honestly don't know.  In my experience, however, most parents want an 
                                    pass (in some cases, an easy A) rather than a course in which their
                                    children acquire real knowledge and skills." Read Elise Vogler's
                                    controversial commentary on the role parents play in lowering standards 
                                    American schools in its entirety at:
                                    SEXUAL ORIENTATION & SCHOOL POLICY
                                    Since the 1980s there has been ample documentation that the school
                                    experience of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered, students is 
                                    only miserable, but dangerous.  According to the Human Rights Watch
                                    (2001), gay youth spend a great deal of time in school simply trying to
                                    avoid verbal harassment, slurs, and shoves, if not outright beatings. 
                                    With little energy to focus on their studies, many gay youth give up 
                                    leave school rather than face continued harassment.  As bad as is 
                                    harassment, administrators and teachers frequently avoid assisting gay
                                    youth, and often actually blame them for asking for trouble by being
                                    openly gay.  There are numerous cases of gay students being punished 
                                    taunted by teachers and administrators for not appearing or acting
                                    "normal" (Human Rights Watch, 2001).  Although there are recent court
                                    cases where harassed students have won significant victories, it seems
                                    clear that gay, lesbian and transgendered kids continue to suffer 
                                    and physical abuse in schools.  There continues to be a manifest need 
                                    create safe and accepting spaces for students who are somehow different
                                    from the accepted heterosexual norm.  Clearly there is a need, writes
                                    Arthur Costigan, for a book such as Ian Macgillivrays "Sexual 
                                    and School Policy." This book, based on the authors doctoral research, 
                                    an attempt to present a discussion of political possibilities for 
                                    safe spaces and equal treatment for gay, lesbian, bisexual, 
                                    intersexed, and queer/questioning students -- GLBTIQ to use the 
                                    accurate but unwieldy acronym.
                                    DROPOUTS TO SIGN ON DOTTED LINE IN CHICAGO 
                                    The Chicago school system has a new requirement for would-be dropouts 
                                    their parents -- they must sign a consent form warning of the possible
                                    pitfalls of quitting school, including jail and unemployment. Arne 
                                    chief executive of the nation's third-largest school district, said the
                                    form is a way of being "brutally honest" about the consequences of
                                    dropping out. "This is also a way to teach decision-making skills," 
                                    said. "In order for them to make good decisions throughout life, you 
                                    to give them the facts. We want our students, our parents, to 
                                    the devastating impact that this decision will have on students' 
                                    Duncan said he knew of no other U.S. school districts taking Chicago's
                                    approach. The letter, adopted this week, is a change from an
                                    often-criticized policy that allowed students to merely telephone their
                                    schools with the news they weren't coming back.
                                    FOR MUSIC TEACHERS, A TRUMPET CALL TO RELEVANCE
                                    Libby Larsen, one of Americas most prolific and performed living
                                    composers, is calling for an overhaul of music education. "We need to
                                    teach kids to read music as soon as we possibly can, and I mean when 
                                    are 6 years old, to read it and write it." Larsen spoke with Valerie
                                    Strauss about music education and why she thinks it faces "a crisis in
                                    relevancy" in the United States. "We need to look very carefully at 
                                    is band," Larsen said. "What is it? Does that mean a specific group of
                                    instruments that play a specific repertoire in a specific way? At the
                                    moment that is the answer. They play the same songs, and they go to
                                    competitions, and they are graded on their progress, and it's become
                                    focused on that. It's frighteningly formulaic, and the students in 
                                    many bands work on two or three pieces a year so they can do well in 
                                    competition. That's not music, that's competition. While you learn some
                                    things about music, you aren't learning very much about music. I know 
                                    get into trouble saying that." Read additional excerpts of the
                                    conversation at:
                                    Achievement numbers by race, teacher qualifications, test explanations,
                                    offers to transfer students from struggling or dangerous schools -- the 
                                    Child Left Behind education law requires all of it and more be provided 
                                    parents. No education law has made more promises to parents, writes Ben
                                    Feller. Its goal of getting all students to grade level in reading and
                                    math is itself built on this promise: Parents will get vast, timely,
                                    understandable information about schools, and use it to make the best
                                    choices for their kids. Yet as the second full school year under the 
                                    winds down, many in education say the parental provisions are 
                                    powerful, but too enormous to deal with or too easy to sidestep while
                                    other aspects of the law demand attention. As a result, many parents 
                                    stand to gain do not know what they are missing.
                                    WHAT HAPPENS TO CHILDREN WHEN A PARENT IS ARRESTED?
                                    One in five children of incarcerated mothers witnessed their mother's
                                    arrest. Those who don't witness the arrest will reconstruct it in their
                                    minds. Either way, it's traumatizing. And we have few policies or
                                    protocols in place to ensure that children's needs are met. Law
                                    enforcement officers pay little attention to the needs of the 
                                    children, and arrested mothers get little assistance in making 
                                    arrangements for their children or planning for their children's 
                                    care. Research shows that children who experience a parent's 
                                    -- and all of the behaviors and disruptions associated with the 
                                    activity -- are at increased risk for poor academic treatment, truancy,
                                    dropping out of school, gang involvement, early pregnancy, drug abuse, 
                                    FIGHTING NCLBS FAILURE LABEL
                                    For educational leaders, the mandates of No Child Left Behind are a
                                    cumbersome communication challenge. The issues are complex, confusing 
                                    impossible to explain in a 10-second sound bite. Making matters worse,
                                    last year many districts and states were seemingly caught by surprise 
                                    the adequate yearly progress (AYP) announcements and accompanying media
                                    coverage. This article by Adam Kernan-Schloss, president of KSA-Plus
                                    Communications, outlines how to take charge of communicating progress
                                    before the media define schools as failing.
                                    |---------------GRANT AND FUNDING INFORMATION--------------|
                                    "The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes"
                                    The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes seeks nominations for its 2004
                                    awards. The Barron Prize recognizes outstanding youth ages 8 to 18 who
                                    have shown leadership and courage in public service to people and our
                                    planet. Each year, ten national winners each receive $2,000 to support
                                    their service work or higher education. Nomination deadline for 2004 is
                                    April 30. For more information and to nominate, visit:
                                    "The MetLife Foundation Bridge Builders' Grant"
                                    NASSP is inviting proposals from public middle level and high schools
                                    serving large numbers of low-income students and underrepresented
                                    minorities to apply for a $3,000 mini-grant to implement a
                                    school-developed initiative aimed at strengthening ties between the 
                                    recipients' schools and their students' neighborhoods and communities.
                                    "2004 All-USA Teacher Team"
                                    USA TODAY seeks 20 teachers, both individuals and instructional teams, 
                                    honor as representatives of all outstanding teachers. Teachers from 
                                    rural, and suburban schools, teachers of special education and gifted
                                    students, teachers of core subjects and electives, and teachers who 
                                    to more than one school throughout the year have been named to the 
                                    "National Geographic Society Education Foundation Teacher Grants"
                                    The mission of the National Geographic Society's Education Foundation 
                                    to prepare children to embrace a diverse world, succeed in a global
                                    economy, and steward the planet's resources. Teacher grants are given
                                    directly to educators to facilitate their work in the classroom, 
                                    district, and community. Teacher Grant applications are accepted in the
                                    spring from any current teacher or administrator in an accredited K-12
                                    school within the United States or Canada. Applications for the 
                                    school year or summer 2005 must be received by close of business (5 
                                    ET) June 10, 2004. Awards will be announced by August 31, 2004.
                                    "Gannett Foundation"
                                    The Gannett Foundation, a corporate foundation sponsored by Gannett 
                                    Inc., serves local organizations in those communities in which Gannett
                                    Co., Inc. has a local daily newspaper or television station. The 
                                    makes contributions through grants and a matching gifts program to
                                    qualified nonprofit organizations to improve the education, health and
                                    advancement of the people who live in Gannett communities. The 
                                    values projects which take a creative approach to such fundamental 
                                    as education and neighborhood improvement, economic development, youth
                                    development, community problem-solving, assistance to disadvantaged
                                    people, environmental conservation and cultural enrichment. Next
                                    application deadlines: May 15 and August 15, 2004.
                                    "AT&T Wireless for Education"
                                    National PTA and AT&T Wireless have launched a new PTA program called 
                                    Wireless for Education. When you sign up for a new qualified calling 
                                    on a two-year agreement, AT&T Wireless will donate $50 directly to your
                                    local PTA or school. AT&T Wireless is also taking a leadership position 
                                    promoting safe, courteous, and smart wireless phone use through the
                                    "Wireless Guide for Parents," a resource that helps families use their
                                    wireless phones responsibly.
                                    "Department of Education Forecast of Funding"
                                    This document lists virtually all programs and competitions under which
                                    the Department of Education has invited or expects to invite 
                                    for new awards for FY 2004 and provides actual or estimated deadline 
                                    for the transmittal of applications under these programs. The lists are 
                                    the form of charts -- organized according to the Department's principal
                                    program offices -- and include programs and competitions we have
                                    previously announced, as well as those they plan to announce at a later
                                    date. Note: This document is advisory only and is not an official
                                    application notice of the Department of Education. They expect to 
                                    updates to this document through July 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
                                    "In science it often happens that scientists say, You know that's a
                                    really good argument; my position is mistaken, and then they would
                                    actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them
                                    again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, 
                                    scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens 
                                    day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in
                                    politics or religion."
                                    -Carl Sagan (astronomer/author)
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