Edutopia News 2.16.05

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  • Date: Thu, 17 Feb 2005 10:42:05 -0500

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Edutopia News 2.16.05

The electronic newsletter from The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Welcome to Edutopia News, the weekly electronic newsletter from The George
Lucas Educational Foundation. Each issue features original stories on K-12
topics and practices, as well as editorial highlights from other news sources.

1. A Computer on Every Desk
2. Students and Teachers Unmask Stereotypes
3. Boston Schools Fund Parent Advocates
4. Room for Compromise with NCLB?
5. Boost in Pay, Prestige for Board-Certified Teachers
6. Teacher Turnover High in Inner-City Chicago
7. Las Vegas Students Make Mariachi Music
8. Fermilab Learning and Technology Program
9. Earth Day Organizers Offer Free Lessons


1. A Computer on Every Desk
By Kosmo Kalliarekos

Congratulations on your new job, Madame Secretary. You're no stranger to
Washington politics, but I think you'll find your new job contains a unique
set of challenges. As an education secretary with children in the classroom,
you know firsthand how critical your role is in shaping the future of our
nation. I hope this memo helps make the case for how to put our education
tax dollars to effective use.

Education is the second-largest industry in the United States, behind only
health care, and one of the largest public investments. U.S. educational
expenditures for primary through postsecondary school amount to more than
three-quarters of a trillion dollars annually. Our yearly education funding
exceeds the entire gross national product of all other countries except (in
order of GNP) Japan, Germany, France, Italy, and the United Kingdom. Despite
this extensive investment, our educational system is stagnant. The largest
investment in the history of investing also looks like the largest
nonperforming investment ever.

If we compare math and science achievement in the United States with other
countries, we're not performing as we should. In the 2003 Trends in
International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), U.S. fourth graders
were compared to their peers in 24 other countries in math and 25 in
science. They outscored students in 13 other countries in math and 16 in
science, which, though hardly stellar, put them above the middle of the pack.

By eighth grade, when compared to students in 44 other countries, U.S.
students remain in relatively the same position in math (19th place) and do
somewhat better in science (12th place). This doesn't represent the dramatic
decline seen in the 1995 and 1999 TIMSS studies, but we shouldn't be
complacent. Now is the time for improvement, not acceptance.

The potential educational boom represented by digital technology--something
that we've talked about for 20 years--has not happened. Specifically, the
promise of one-to-one computing (one computer for every student) is nowhere
near being fully realized. And that's where I believe your tenure as
secretary of education can make the biggest difference. I believe that the
goal of one-to-one computing should have the same urgency as NASA's
singularly driven race to the moon in the '60s.Worried about the cost? Don't
be. The federal government needn't pick up the entire bill--83 percent of
education dollars come from state and local funds--but Washington can
provide the catalyst through matching grants and inspirational leadership.

In his memo to U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, Kosmo
Kalliarekos, a contributing writer in the February-March issue of Edutopia
and senior partner with the Parthenon Group, makes the case for one-to-one
computing for America's students. You'll find the full memo, along with
links to schools and districts that have made the leap to one-to-one
computing, at


2. Students and Teachers Unmask Stereotypes

Students at Los Altos High School, in Los Altos, California, got a powerful
lesson in stereotyping and intolerance last week as they watched videos of
first-person accounts from their peers about the name-calling, rejection,
and isolation they'd endured because of the assumptions people make based on
their appearance. The video project sparked debate among students, staff,
and parents in this northern California community. Read the full story in
the San Jose Mercury News article, "Schools Tackle Tough Lessons About
(Free registration may be required.)


3. Boston Schools Fund Parent Advocates

Five years after first considering the idea, Boston Public Schools has
allocated $7.5 million to hire parent advocates and outreach workers. The
goal, says the district, is to make schools more welcoming to parents and to
foster partnerships between schools and the community. Read more in the
Boston Herald article "City's Schools Want Parent Power."
(Free registration may be required.)

ABC Unified School District, in southern California, has a thriving
parent-leadership and parent-advocacy program. Read about it in the GLEF
article "Cultivating Parent Leaders: One School District's Story," at


4. Room for Compromise with NCLB?

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings is taking a more conciliatory
tone with some local and state education officials when it comes to
complying with key aspects of the Bush administration's landmark No Child
Left Behind Act. In her first few weeks in office, Spellings has already
worked out compromises with two states on the thorny issues of teacher
quality and school choice for students in low-performing schools. Read the
full New York Times story, "New Secretary Showing Flexibility on 'No Child'
(Free registration may be required.)


5. Boost in Pay, Prestige for Board-Certified Teachers

Experienced and dedicated teachers like Mark Ingerson are discovering that
national-board certification can mean better pay and more prestige. More
than 40,000 teachers throughout the country have undergone the grueling but
ultimately financially and professionally rewarding process.
the Washington Post article, "For Elite U.S. Teachers, Cachet and More Cash."
(Free registration may be required.)

Two veteran teachers used technology integration as their avenue to
national-board certification. Read their story, "Becoming an Accomplished
Teacher in the 21st Century," at


6. Teacher Turnover High in Inner-City Chicago

A new study finds that 39 percent of new teachers in Chicago's poorest
communities never make it to their second year of teaching. Reports one
former teacher, who left after just 62 days in the classroom, "I literally
felt like I had been in a war." Read more in the Chicago Tribune story,
"Inner-City Teachers' Turnover Is Charted."
(Free registration may be required.)

The February-March issue of Edutopia magazine features an article on the
causes and cost of teacher turnover. Read it online at


7. Las Vegas Students Make Mariachi Music

A three-year-old program in the Clark County School District, which serves
the Las Vegas, Nevada, metropolitan area, introduces middle school and high
school students to mariachi music, the folk music of Mexico. The program has
drawn local praise for engaging Latino students in North Las Vegas and for
providing a bridge between the schools and the broader Latino community.
Read more about this innovative program in the Los Angeles Times article,
"Mariachi Has Them Playing Different Tune."
(Free registration may be required.),1,5039581.story?c

For an up-close look at the Clark County School District, go to for our
multimedia special report on the fastest-growing district in the country.


8. Fermilab Learning and Technology Program

Fermilab announces the summer/fall 2005 LInC (Fermilab Leadership Institute
Integrating Internet, Instruction, and Curriculum) program to mentor
teachers in facilitating student investigations on real-world issues.
Attendees can earn graduate credit as they customize a technology-supported,
inquiry-based project to teach content in their existing curriculum. Then
they field-test their project with students while sharing ideas and feedback
with classmates and engaged learning mentors. More details and the online
application (due March 15) are at


9. Earth Day Organizers Offer Free Lessons

As educators and environmentalists prepare for the 35th anniversary of Earth
Day, on April 22, the Earth Day Network has launched an education tool that
challenges students to think about the way their daily choices and
activities affect their local and global environment.

The game and one-day lesson plan, called "Environmental Jeopardy," has been
sent to more than 6,500 educators around the country who are members of the
Earth Day Network's Educator's Network. Teachers who join the Educator's
Network through the Teacher's Corner of the Earth Day Network Web site
( will also receive a free copy of the game,
designed to challenge the way students think about such issues as recycling,
energy, sustainability, transportation, and pollution. Additional
educational games and activities will be available in April and May.


Edutopia News is edited by Roberta Furger
The George Lucas Educational Foundation does not sell or otherwise
distribute to third parties the personal information of list members.


The George Lucas Educational Foundation (GLEF) is a nonprofit operating
foundation located in the San Francisco Bay Area. Established in 1991 by
filmmaker George Lucas, the foundation documents and disseminates materials
sharing hundreds of powerful examples of learning and teaching already
successful in our nation's schools. We hope this information will stimulate
active involvement and guide choices in school reform.


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