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
SCHOOLS, FACING TIGHT BUDGETS, LEAVE GIFTED PROGRAMS BEHIND
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
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
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.
EDUCATION ELUSIVE FOR CHILDREN IN WAR-RAVAGED COUNTRIES
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.
SCHOOL-BASED SUICIDE PREVENTION PROGRAMS SHOW SUCCESS
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
NO PARENT LEFT BEHIND? EDUCATION LAW'S PROMISES ARE ENORMOUS & ELUSIVE
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.
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
"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
"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)
The PEN Weekly NewsBlast is a free e-mail newsletter featuring school
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