Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
"Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."
BENDING TOWARD JUSTICE: UNFINISHED LEGACY OF BROWN V. BOARD
One day in May 1954 things changed, and did not change. For millions of
black Americans, news of the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark decision in
Brown v. Board of Education meant -- at last -- that they and their
children no longer had to attend separate, and almost universally
schools. It was, as journalist Juan Williams says in an article in
edition of American School Board Journal, the ruling that changed
The rumble of change was felt keenly in local school districts, where
school boards faced up to (or shied away from) the moral imperative of
desegregation, writes Sally Banks Zakariya. Numerous articles in this
volume reflect on what has been accomplished and what remains undone in
the quest for true and lasting educational opportunity for all.
BLACK AND WHITE DISPARITIES ABOUND
Black Americans are less likely than white Americans to own homes,
earn as much as whites, don't live as long, and don't do as well in
school, according to a report by the National Urban League, reports
Ferguson. The most conspicuous differences it found were in the areas
home ownership and economic parity, with black earning power about 73
percent that of whites. The Urban League report found that blacks are
denied mortgages and home improvement loans at twice the rate of
The report also found that, 50 years after the Supreme Court, in Brown
Board of Education, decreed segregated public schools unconstitutional,
the performance of black students continues to trail that of their
counterparts. The 2000 census found that 91.8 percent of white students
graduated from high school, compared with 83.7 percent of black
"The as-yet unfinished process of implementing Brown has turned out to
nearly as slow as the process of tearing down the Jim Crow system that
allowed the educational segregation challenged in Brown," Harvard Law
School professor Charles Ogletree Jr. said in one of the report's
The report also found that teachers with less than three years of
experience are twice as likely to work in predominantly minority
as they are in predominantly white schools.
GETTING THE MOST OUT OF THE NATIONS TEACHERS
Public school teachers just aren't as smart as they used to be. After
women have more job opportunities. Bright women who once would have
school today become doctors and lawyers. The gain for individual women
a loss for education. Or so many people believe. The story is
but is it true? Virginia Postrel reports on new studies examining
models that analyze factors predicting teacher quality. She concludes
when it comes to hiring teachers, we get what we pay for: average
at average wages.
TEACHERS COME UP SHORT IN TESTING
In Philadelphia, students aren't the only ones struggling to pass
reports Susan Snyder and Dale Mezzacappa. Half of the district's middle
school teachers who took tests to become certified as highly qualified
under the federal No Child Left Behind law failed, district results
Math teachers did the worst: Nearly two out of every three failed that
exam, while more than half flunked the science test, 43 percent the
English exam, and 34 percent the social-studies test. The results are
690 of the public school district's 1,346 seventh- and eighth-grade
school teachers, who took the tests in September and November. Teachers
have until June 2006 to take the test and meet the mandate.
teachers failed the test at a far greater rate than those in the rest
the state. "It's obviously very discouraging," said Betsey Useem, a
research consultant with the Philadelphia Education Fund. "People
be able to pass this test if this is the subject they're teaching. They
shouldn't be skating on thin ice in terms of content knowledge." Paul
Vallas, chief executive officer of the Philadelphia School District,
in the teachers' defense that the test "is in no way a wimp test. It's
tough test." But he supported the testing mandate: "Look, we're holding
the kids to higher standards. We need to hold our teachers to higher
SMALL IMPROVEMENTS IN WELL-BEING OF CHILDREN, DATA SHOWS
Children and teenagers are safer now than they have been in three
but on many other measures, including school performance and health,
lives are no better, according to a first-of-its-kind national survey,
reports Laura Sessions Stepp. Young people today are less likely to
criminals, crime victims or parents than they were in 1975, the
base year. High school seniors are less likely to smoke, drink or use
illicit drugs. But children and youths also are more likely to be obese
to commit suicide and far more likely to live in a single-parent home,
which brings with it a number of financial and emotional problems.
EDUCATION AS CREATIVE CONVERSATION
All the recent emphasis on test scores and "accountability" in American
education -- a scientific reaction against a perceived relaxation of
standards -- is leading both public and private schools into a new age
pedagogical hell, writes John Kaufman in Education Week. While the bar
what a good education is has indeed been lowered, it is not a bar that
be set at a mathematically measurable height. Our schools are declining
because our culture is declining, more proof of which is the reduction
education to the taking of standardized tests. While subjects such as
literature and art lend themselves easily to creative conversation,
creativity need not be banished from math or science or history.
urges teachers of all subjects to make better use of their own and
students imaginations and to resist the political pall of standardized
stupidity. Education can only thrive in an atmosphere of democratic
give-and-take. Though some private schools and teachers may have
agendas, any school or teacher that wishes to do good work and prosper
must allow for debate and creativity if the goal is to educate in the
broadest sense. An honest educational conversation requires a teacher
make his or her case on the subject at hand, note helpful student
contributions, admit mistakes and changes of heart.
TAPPING THE POWER OF COMMUNITY TO STRENGTHEN SUBSTANCE ABUSE PREVENTION
Building developmental assets can play an important role in reducing
forms of youth substance use. Young people with low levels of
developmental assets are two to four times as likely to use alcohol,
tobacco, and other drugs than those who have above-average asset
according to a new report from Search Institute. This relationship is
for young people from all racial/ethnic, family, and socioeconomic
backgrounds. "Though there have been great advances in understanding of
substance use and prevention, it is clear that prevention programs are
necessary, but not sufficient to substantially reduce overall use among
adolescents," write report authors Peter L. Benson, Eugene C.
Roehlkepartain, and Arturo Sesma Jr. "Asset building offers additional
approaches, strategies, tools, insights, and capacity that can be woven
together around a shared and sustained commitment to young peoples
healthy development in communities." Download a one-page summary or the
complete article (no charge) at:
14 STATES ASK U.S. TO REVISE NCLB RULES
Fourteen states have asked the Bush administration for permission to
alternative methods for showing academic gains under the No Child Left
Behind law, reports Diana Jean Schemo. The 14 states, most of which had
their own systems for raising academic performance in place before the
federal No Child Left Behind law took effect two years ago, charged
as currently written, the law would brand too many schools "in need of
improvement," and thus squander limited resources. The states,
Alaska, California and Connecticut, said that schools showing academic
gains under their statewide system should escape the failing
under the federal law, even if that progress falls short of the law's
requirements. They asked for permission to use "growth models," in
schools would avoid the federal law's remedies and penalties if they
showed academic gains, even if those gains fell short of the amount
required for all students to reach academic proficiency by 2014, as the
BEATING THE ODDS
The Council of the Great City Schools has prepared the fourth edition
"Beating the Odds (Beating the Odds IV)" to give the nation another
at how inner-city schools are performing on the academic goals and
standards set by the states for our children. This analysis examines
student achievement in math and reading through spring 2003. It also
measures achievement gaps between cities and states, African Americans
Whites, and Hispanics and Whites. And it includes new data on language
proficiency, disability, and income. Finally, the report looks at
progress. It asks two critical questions: "Are urban schools improving
academically?" and "Are urban schools closing achievement gaps?" In
general, the new report shows that the Great City Schools are making
important gains in math and reading scores on state assessments. The
also saw fresh evidence that gaps may be narrowing. The findings in
Beating the Odds IV are preliminary and leavened with caution, as they
were when we first published these data three years ago. The data from
this report indicate that answers are emerging and that urban education
may be establishing a beachhead on the rocky shoals of school reform.
data look better than others. Progress in math is different from that
reading. Trend lines are not the same from one city to another. Not all
grades have improved at the same rates. Not all gaps are closing. But
data indicate progress.
HOMESCHOOLING ROCKS THE SCHOOLHOUSE
No longer just for the religious fundamentalists, home schooling has
main stream, reports Michelle Bates Deakin. It's estimated that as many
20,000 children in Massachusetts have abandoned test-crazy public
and high-priced private schools for the comfort of the living room
But most surprising of all is that Harvard, BU, Brown, and other
are welcoming home-schoolers like all other students. As home-schoolers
get accepted into the Ivies and prove themselves worthy in the eyes of
mainstream educational institutions, it would seem inevitable that
cultural stereotypes about them will eventually break down. But it
happen easily. Many people just assume that home-schooled kids are
awkward, antisocial, and culturally deprived because they're outside of
the traditional school experience. Others criticize home-schoolers for
channeling their tremendous energy for education away from the public
schools. And some simply regret that the opportunity to home-school is
incompatible with single-parent or dual-income families.
SCHOOLS STEPPING UP EFFORTS TO REDUCE TEACHER TURNOVER
More school districts are hiring full-time teacher coaches to advise
monitor new educators. It's a method being used in a growing numbers of
school systems nationwide to stem the tide of young teachers quitting
early in their careers for reasons that include lack of support, low
and discipline problems among students. The new approach of easing
teachers into their jobs is beginning to replace the long-standing
of coping with the never-ending shortage of teachers by simply
ADOLESCENT LITERACY: GOING DEEPER
While much of the public attention on literacy has focused on teaching
early reading, educators increasingly recognize another critical issue
that needs to be addressed: the literacy needs of adolescents. Robert
Rothman writes that the efforts underway in a number of cities to
high schools ought to provide an opportunity for educators and
members to come to grips with adolescent literacy issues. These efforts
stem from the recognition that too many children have been ill-served
traditional high school structures and instructional practice. While
of the large districts that are undertaking these reforms have
in implementing structural changes, they are struggling to make the
instructional changes that will improve teaching and learning. And few
have succeeded at linking schools with community resources that will
enhance their instructional capacity. As the authors in a new volume of
"Voices in Urban Education" make clear, improving adolescent literacy
require major changes in instruction and substantial links to the
community. For schools to continue to do the same thing, or even do the
same thing a little better, will not work.
HOLDING SCHOOLS TO IMPOSSIBLE STANDARDS
Proponents of the federal Reading First mandates of the No Child Left
Behind Act have routinely misrepresented and exaggerated what the
shows about effective classroom reading instruction and early reading
interventions, writes Richard L. Allington. Struggling readers are
instructionally needy. Classroom teachers will never have the time to
provide the one-to-one support that so many of these students require.
Research has shown that tutoring is an effective intervention that can
provide this one-to-one support and raise student achievement. It is,
however, costly. If legislators and other policymakers are going to
mandate adequate yearly progress on the basis of research that measured
the effects of individual tutoring, then they should fully fund that
research-based tutoring for all struggling readers. Either that, writes
Allington, or admit to the public that we plan on leaving many children
POLICIES FOR TEACHING LITERACY TO ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS
As the number of foreign languages spoken in U.S. homes and the number
children who do not speak English increase, education researchers and
practitioners throughout this nation expect the challenge of how best
teach English literacy to English language learners to intensify.
research, published in Research Points by the American Educational
Research Association (AERA), shows that children who start school
little or no English can learn the basic skills of word recognition in
about two years if they are carefully taught. However, achieving the
fluency necessary for long-term academic success is more demanding.
Statistically, the number of children ages 5 to 17 who do not speak
English or do not speak it well is estimated at 3.4 million, according
2000 U.S. Census Bureau data. The majority (2.7 million) live in
"linguistically isolated households" where no one over age 14 speaks
English very well. Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Russian, Arabic and
French Creole top the list of the fastest growing languages.
indicates that children need skills in recognizing words and
meaning to master reading and English literacy. For that to happen,
teachers need to deliver intense, explicit and supportive reading
instruction developed through targeted and continuing methods. AERA's
Research Points offers policymakers suggestions to address needs of the
increasing number of children who enter schools in America with limited
RURAL SCHOOLS TRY LONGER DAYS, FOUR DAY WEEKS
The town of Orofino, Idaho, has instituted a four-day school week as a
to trim costs in an era of bare-bones budgets. Classes run longer each
day, but on most Fridays the school is dark, school buses are idle, and
kids stay home, reports Kathy Hedberg. Few other options were at hand.
There's no money to fix the pre-World War I school, an aged red-brick
structure among the state's most dilapidated. There's no money for
of other things, too, so the community made the hard decision last
to shorten the school week. The experiment is raising questions about
a shorter week affects learning, and whether the monetary savings are
worth the academic cost. And, as in other places that are trying
weeks, the move is also forcing lifestyle changes for schoolchildren,
parents, and teachers alike.
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 seven schools in Texas,
and Mississippi, focusing on the programs key components and the
effectiveness with which those components were put into place. The
programs basic elements -- small learning communities, a family
system, and strategies for instructional improvement -- were
at most sites by the end of the first year of implementation.
with 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.
BOSTON CHARTER SCHOOLS FAVOR ADVANTAGED STUDENTS
As Boston charter schools begin intensive advertising for new students,
analysis of enrollments in Boston charter schools shows that: (1) Only
little more than half the students in Boston charter schools qualify
meal subsidies -- compared to nearly three-quarters of Boston district
students; (2) Only about one in ten students in Boston charter schools
have disabilities -- compared with nearly one in five students in
schools; (3) Not one student in Boston charter schools is learning
as a second language -- compared with nearly one out of four students
enrolled in district schools. In the absence of a moratorium on charter
school expansion, writes Anne Wheelock, education decision-makers --
Governor, legislature, and state Board of Education -- should act to
ensure that Boston charter schools enrollment reflects the diversity of
Boston Public Schools and that all students have equitable access to
Boston charter schools.
A STEP BACK CAN HELP A STUDENT MOVE FORWARD
In recent years, writes Jay Mathews, when someone expressed
that schoolchildren were being promoted despite low reading scores,
educational researchers usually said the same thing: Repeating a grade
doesn't work. At school board meetings or congressional hearings, the
experts in the room would explain that the students who were held back
were doing no better academically years later than low-performing
who were promoted. Often those held back were first to drop out. But as
frequently happens with educational research, many policymakers ignored
it. Several major school districts, including the District and Prince
George's County, began programs that put low-achieving children in
school and held them back if they did not improve. Now the first
studies of those programs are showing that retaining some kids might be
THE EDIBLE SCHOOLYARD
On the campus of Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School, in Berkeley,
California, students grow and prepare their own school lunches, getting
"seed to table experience" that reinforces the connection between the
earth and the food we eat. The program is inspired and led by Alice
Waters, organic chef and owner of Berkeley's Chez Panisse restaurant.
read the full story or view a 6-minute Web documentary click:
|---------------GRANT AND FUNDING INFORMATION--------------|
"New Leaders for New Schools Application Deadline Nears"
New Leaders for New Schools - a national non-profit that fosters high
levels of academic achievement for every child by attracting, preparing
and supporting the next generation of outstanding urban public school
principals - is accepting applications for its 2004-05 Principal
Development Residencies in Chicago, New York City, Washington, D.C.,
Memphis and the Bay Area of California. The application deadline is
Thursday, April 1! New Leaders for New Schools is looking for
with a relentless drive to improve education for all children, a record
effective teaching/success with children and a strong foundation of
management and leadership skills. Are you a future New Leader? For
information, email or call Millene Hahm at firstname.lastname@example.org or (646)
"Smaller Learning Communities Grants"
The Federal government continues to expand its role in addressing the
needs of hundreds of thousands of high school students who can barely
on the eve of their high school graduation. In another example of this
commitment, new awards through the Smaller Learning Communities program
must focus on methods to improve reading and mathematics skills for
students who enter high school significantly below grade level.
Application deadline: April 29, 2004.
"National Geographic Society Teacher Grants"
The mission of the National Geographic Societys Education Foundation
to prepare children to embrace a diverse world, succeed in a global
economy, and steward the planets resources. Teacher grants are given
directly to educators to facilitate their work in the classroom,
district, and community. Applications are accepted in the spring from
current teacher or administrator in an accredited K-12 school within
United States or Canada. Application deadline: June 10, 2004.
"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
"...no group is more frustrated with declining standards than teachers.
Many are troubled by having to face classrooms in which significant
numbers of children are not prepared at home to put forth their best
efforts. They are frustrated at having to fight off administrators and
parents who claim they want higher expectations, but whose first
when children don't meet them is: give these kids a break. What happens
reality is that when several students fail, the principal hears from
parents, says one veteran Texas teacher. The students and their parents
make wild claims about the unfairness of the teacher. Instead of
supporting the high standards of the teacher, the principal runs to the
teacher and requires him to dumb down his course. When teachers are not
supported by administrators, there is no possible way for us to keep
-William J. Bennett, et al., "The Educated Child"
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