PEN> PEN Weekly NewsBlast for February 28, 2003

  • From: Gleason Sackmann <gleason@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: K12Newsletters <k12newsletters@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 22:47:31 -0600

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From: "Public Education Network" <PEN@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: PEN Weekly NewsBlast <newsblast@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Thu, 27 Feb 2003 20:23:30 -0800
Subject: PEN Weekly NewsBlast for February 28, 2003
Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
"Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."
A new national poll reveals that education is a top priority for American
voters. Participants rated protecting and strengthening education of
greater concern than health care, terrorism, national security, Social
Security, and job creation, according to a national survey released today
by Public Education Network and Education Week. The poll also reveals that
voters believe state budget crises could slow the pace of school
improvement across the nation. While many Americans favor the No Child
Left Behind (NCLB), they are worried that the states cannot afford to
implement it. Many voters say the federal government -- not the states --
should provide the necessary funds to implement NCLB. The poll shows
voters want state and local lawmakers to know more about education, fight
for more education funds, and hold schools accountable for performance. It
also shows that -- by almost a two-to-one margin -- Americans would vote
against lawmakers who fail to fight for adequate education funding.

To be a school leader under Gov. Jeb Bush's "A+ Plan for Education,"
withering pressure comes with the job. Meet Santiago Corrada, principal of
Miami Edison Senior High, known for having the worst high-school test
scores in Florida. Last spring, when Edison became one of two high schools
to receive a second failing grade from the state, Corrada took it
personally. Corrada, the overachieving son of poor Cuban immigrants, had
battled for every perfect report card he brought home from school. He had
never gotten an F in his life. Now he had two. The state doesn't take into
account that three out of every four Edison students speak Creole at home,
the highest concentration of Haitian students in the nation. It doesn't
handicap for each drive-by shooting on Martin Luther King Drive or adjust
for poverty so severe that students faint from hunger or the burn of a
rotten tooth. A single standardized test has branded this school -- its
teachers, its students, its principal -- a failure. But the Florida
Comprehensive Assessment Test, which students take again next month,
doesn't measure pride or resolve. It doesn't measure the hope in students'
eyes as they rock the bleachers of their double-F school. Beginning last
fall, heartbreak would test Corrada?s endurance, his determination, and
his will. In this article, Daniel Grech tells the story of the struggle of
one school?s struggle to increase student achievement in the face of
obstacles that injure the spirit.

Standards-based reform was proposed as a means to bring coherence to the
education system and trigger reforms and investments targeted at greater
learning. These benefits have materialized in some states but not others,
depending on their strategies for change. This article by Linda
Darling-Hammond proposes mid-course corrections needed to ensure that
standards-based reforms support student success, rather than punishing
those who are already underserved.

It may be a good idea to change horses in mid-stream, if the horse is out
of control. So says education writer Anne Lewis. "One particularly crazy
horse -- test-based accountability under the No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
Act -- is being ridden by advocates for poor children and guardians of
'rigorous standards' if it were a Kentucky Derby winner instead of a
maniac steed bent on self-destruction." The early evidence, she says,
indicates that the federal education law is undermining many good state
policies, fostering some bad ones, "and creating resentments that will not
ease until better policies are developed and put in place."

Despite worldwide resistance, the Bush administration seems determined to
go to war against Iraq. Massive war expenditures are coming at a time when
most local and state governments -- and school districts -- are reeling
under huge budget cuts. Rethinking Schools, an independent educational
journal, has produced a special issue featuring strategies for teachers to
use in exploring the issues of war in the classroom. This feature
editorial from their current issue mixes politics and education when it
says it?s "immoral and irresponsible" to divert precious resources to a
military buildup when our schools are suffering.

The final issue of the Annenberg Challenge Journal looks at how districts
are turning to intermediary, or independent reform organizations to help
them do what they often cannot do alone: bring effective and lasting
reform to scale. Independent organizations that work closely with schools
and school districts to support instructional and organizational
improvement, these intermediaries play vital roles in education reform,
according to district leaders. They extend the reach and capacity of
districts by providing needed resources, including money and intellectual
capital. They forge links between schools and a range of community
partners. And they serve to help keep reforms on track. Intermediary
organizations in education are not new. Nearly two decades ago, for
example, the Ford Foundation provided seed money to launch the creation of
local education funds, private organizations created to support public
schools. Since then, more than 78 local education funds have formed,
serving more than 10.6 million students in 1,200 school districts. The
article highlights experiences of several Challenge districts and the
roles that different types of intermediary organizations can play.

Through a plethora of cases, the Supreme Court has gradually provided
guidance for distinguishing unconstitutional government endorsement of
religion in schools and the constitutionally protected private religious
speech of students. When considering cases involving students' rights free
expression and the Establishment Clause and free exercise of religion,
courts and the Department of Education look to whether or not the school
officials were neutral. Schools are to neither favor nor disfavor
religion. The general rule is that while religious expression may neither
be promoted or discouraged by public school officials, it must meet the
same criteria, and is entitled to the same protection, as non-religious
expression. According to new guidelines from the US Department of
Education, students may engage in religious expression, independently or
with others, when they are not engaged in school activities or
instruction, "subject to the same rules designed to prevent material
disruption of the educational program that are applied to other privately
initiated expressive activities." Therefore, students may pray and read
religious texts on their own or with other students during their "lunch
hour," during recess and during other non-instructional time to the same
extent non-religious activities are permitted.  This review outlines
strategies for schools to use in facilitating compliance with the new

Fred Rogers, who gently invited millions of children to be his neighbor as
host of the public television show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" for more
than 30 years, died of cancer this week. He was 74. Rogers composed his
own songs for the show and began each episode in a set made to look like a
comfortable living room, singing  "It's a beautiful day in the
neighborhood,'' as he donned sneakers and a zip-up cardigan. His message
remained simple: telling his viewers to love themselves and others. On
each show, he would take his audience on a magical trolley ride into the
Neighborhood of Make-Believe, where his puppet creations would interact
with each other and adults. Rogers did much of the puppet work and voices
himself. He also studied early childhood development at the University of
Pittsburgh and consulted with an expert there over the years. Follow the
link below to read a few quotes that reveal the personality and philosophy
of a beloved pioneer and educator.

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE)
supports the creation of a common national test to assess teacher
candidates' readiness to teach for two reasons. First, all teacher
candidates, whether graduates from education schools or from alternative
programs, should be held to the same standards. Second, the hundreds of
tests currently being used to assess teacher candidates vary widely and
prevent meaningful comparison of the quality of candidates entering the
teaching field across states, within and between demographic groups or for
other purposes. Uniform use of a national test would allow for more
appropriate pass-rate-data reporting across states and institutions and
would enable policymakers and practitioners to measure and evaluate more
effectively what and how well candidates are learning. Though AACTE
supports a common national test, they hasten to emphasize that the test
must be only one measure of candidates' readiness to teach. No single test
can measure accurately a teacher's disposition, ability to translate
subject knowledge into effective pedagogy, classroom-management skills or
ability to bring about learning gains in students. Therefore, AACTE
continues to support the use of multiple measures to assess teacher
candidates' readiness to enter K-12 classrooms, one of which should be the
best national test possible.

A new Louisiana report suggests a self-perpetuating link between failing
public school students and teachers with weak professional test scores.
The Louisiana Department of Education analysis also shows that teachers
educated in other states score higher on average than teachers who earn
degrees from any Louisiana public or private university. Teachers with
high scores on professional exams tend to find jobs not in schools judged
unacceptable under state performance standards, but in high-achievement
schools, according to an analysis of personnel and testing records of more
than 31,000 teachers. Test scores should be given more weight in hiring
teachers for struggling schools, Department of Education officials said.
The report was recently delivered to the Board of Elementary and Secondary
Education. "You have low-performing schools, and their students go to
universities that are producing low-performing teachers -- who in turn go
back to the low-performing schools," said Bobby Franklin, director of a
planning division in the state department. "There appears to be a cycle
there that is not productive, and what we're talking about is breaking
that cycle in some way."

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced $31 million in grants
for what has become the singular focus of its education efforts: small
high schools. This time, the world's largest philanthropy gave grants to
nine organizations to help them create a new breed of alternative high
schools, the places students often go when they've left "regular" schools.
The idea is to create a network of 168 schools, possibly including private
schools, that would combine the supportive environment of many alternative
schools with high expectations. "For 20 years, many alternative schools
have done a good job of providing a nurturing place for students, but they
haven't always had a strong academic component," said Tom Vander Ark, the
foundation's executive director for education. The foundation spent the
past year and a half searching the country for schools that provide good
support and strong academics. They found several, and this grant is meant
to create others that, like them, take kids on the verge of dropping out
and turn them into college material. Some of the schools will be created
from scratch; others will be revisions of existing programs. Public,
private and charter schools will be included. The foundation estimates the
schools will have about 33,000 students.

School nurses play a key role in student achievement -- or could -- if we
had enough of them. The duties of school nurses go far beyond simple first
aid. They administer antihistamines for life-threatening bee stings,
insulin for juvenile diabetes, and inhalers and bronchodilators for kids
with severe asthma. One nurse reports, "I should have a file for 'hugs and
kisses' -- I dispense lots of those to children who come in looking for
someone to talk to or who need a little encouragement." School nursing is
a specialized practice that advances the well-being, academic success, and
life-long achievement of students. In fact, most of what school nurses do
-- from removing a child's splinter to adjusting the braces of a child
afflicted with cerebral palsy -- enables kids to return to their
classrooms and continue learning. According to Susan Black, that link to
learning is a major reason school leaders should be more informed about
school nurses and the important role they play in overall student

The blowup over what came to be known as the "fatty letters" took
administrators at the East Penn School District, near Allentown, PA, by
surprise. When they decided last fall to notify parents of students with
weight problems, they planned to be discreet. The letters, explaining that
overweight and obesity could lead to serious health problems and advising
parents to talk with their pediatricians, went out without fanfare. But
word got out. Way out. Suddenly, the "fatty letters" and the firestorm
they stirred up among indignant parents were making headlines worldwide.
"We simply wanted to alert parents that there are health problems that
kids are susceptible to when they have weight problems," says East Penn's
director of pupil personnel services, George Ziolkowski, PhD. "We didn't
realize this was going to turn into such a big thing." But childhood
obesity is a big thing -- a big story -- and for good reason. The
percentage of overweight and obese children has been rising at an alarming
rate. An estimated 13% of American children, ages 6 to 11, and 14% of
adolescents, ages 12 to 19, are overweight or obese. And many more
children are at risk. Some experts describe the problem as an epidemic.
This is an era of reductions in recess and physical education, school
lunches high in fat and calories, and ubiquitous school vending machines.
This article gives strategies for families to use in staying fit and
fighting unhealthy eating behaviors.,4780,4244,00.html

Hal Portner tells teachers, "This is a good time to identify a personal,
high-priority, area for professional growth. It's a good time because you
have at least a half-year's supply of memories, reflections and data still
fresh in your mind and at your fingertips. It's also a good time because
you have a half-year ahead of you to work on addressing that professional
growth area." Then Hal explains exactly how to get started.

What happens when programs intended to improve student learning aren't
successful? Often, researchers say, the problem is not the program, but
the way individual educators respond to it. "Why should I do this?" "How
long is it going to take me to work through this?" "I know my kids and I
don't think this will work." Helping educators work through these concerns
gives new initiatives a chance to succeed. Now there's a research-based
program for aiding innovation -- the Concerns-Based Adoption Model. It
offers a way to understand, then address educators' common concerns about

Governor Mitt Romney has proposed revamping Massachusetts'
school-financing formula, shifting millions to schools with many poor or
limited-English students in an attempt to equalize the minimum amount of
tax dollars each community ends up spending on its public schools. Romney
proposed that the amount of direct state aid be raised by about $73
million to $3.3 billion in 2004, an increase for most school systems. But
that hike was offset by cuts to other sources of state money that cities
and towns use for education -- lottery proceeds, for example, or
education-related grants. James A. Peyser, one of Romney's education
advisers, said the budget proposal contains two major changes: More state
money would flow to communities with large numbers of low-income,
limited-English children; and the state would enforce a "common standard
of effort" that districts should pay in local property taxes for schools,
with the state kicking in the rest. That standard is $6 per $1,000 of
adjusted property values. This means poorer communities that tax
themselves above the standard to reach the state-required minimum school
spending can lower their taxes or spend the money elsewhere, while
Massachusetts pays more for their schools. Wealthier towns that tax
themselves under the standard would have to increase their share, unless
their current property taxes reach the required minimum spending on
schools. The state would contribute at least 12 percent to every town's
foundation budget, or the minimum each town must devote to public schools
as calculated by the state. "The big issue of trying to ensure that every
community was contributing their fair share was something that was
ultimately lost over the years as we implemented this reform," said
Peyser, also chairman of the state Board of Education. "We're trying to
bring that back."

More than one-fourth of the 28 million children who eat free or discounted
school lunches might be ineligible, and the Bush administration is
considering rules to reserve the meal programs for children of families
who prove their low incomes. The number of children enrolled in the
program nationwide exceeds the number of low-income families who would be
eligible for it, based on a comparison of the school lunch enrollment
figures with an annual survey by the Census Bureau, said Jean Daniel, an
Agriculture Department spokeswoman. Officials have calculated that as many
as 27 percent of children now getting free or reduced-price meals are
ineligible, she said. Should the estimate be correct, the government may
have spent about $1.8 billion last year buying lunches for children whose
family income would have disqualified them. The Agriculture Department
spent $6.8 billion on school lunches last year. Jim Weill, president of
the Food Research and Action Center, said a tougher verification process
would scare away families of children whose low incomes would qualify. He
said he suspects the problem is that some children who qualify for
discount-priced lunches are instead getting free ones. Under current
program guidelines, children in a family of four with an income of less
than $23,530 a year qualify for free lunches. Children in a four-member
family with a total annual income less than $33,485 qualify for
reduced-price meals, costing up to 40 cents per lunch. Many schools now
approve children for free and reduced-price lunches based solely on
applications in which parents self-report monthly income and household
size. Some also use as criteria whether families are on food stamps or are
on temporary assistance for needy families, a welfare program.,1413,200~20954~1207161,00.html

Over the years, two dozen or so major motion pictures have featured
teachers as central characters. Some of these characters have been flawed,
some noble. In this cute Education Week feature, seasoned educator, Henry
B. Maloney, lists in chronological order, his "10 best films about
teachers." He provides plot summaries for each film for the cinematically

According to former governor James B. Hunt, Jr., three major investments
in school improvement of the past 20 years are now bearing fruit: 1) the
creation of standards and accountability; 2) research on how the brain
develops in early childhood and its implications for pre-K education and
child care; and 3) an emerging focus on the single biggest factor in
student achievement, teacher quality.

The editors of the Harvard Education Letter are offering a special deal
for NewsBlast subscribers. Each issue offers busy administrators,
teachers, and community members concise, accurate coverage of the latest
trends, debates, and developments in pre K-12 education practice and
research. Subscribe today and get 50% off. Call 1-800-513-0763 or visit:

|---------------GRANT AND FUNDING INFORMATION--------------|

"P. Buckley Moss Foundation"
The P. Buckley Moss Foundation recognizes outstanding teachers and their
established programs that integrate the arts for children with learning
disabilities and other special needs.  First place winners of the 2003
National Teachers Awards receive $2,500 and matching amounts will be
awarded to each winner?s school or program.  Nomination deadline: May 1,

"Shel Silverstein National Poetry Month Classroom Kits"
April is national poetry month and HarperCollins has prepared a special
free Classroom Poetry Kit based on "Where the Sidewalk Ends" and other
cherished Silverstein books. These favorites help teachers and students
explore the many dimensions of poetry, making it fun and accessible to
children of all ages.  For more information and to order the free kit,
call (800) 331-3761.

"The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes"
This prize honors young people from diverse backgrounds who have shown
extraordinary leadership in making our world better.  By protecting the
environment, helping people, halting violence, or leading other important
service work, these young people are true heroes -- and an inspiration to
us all.  Winners of the Barron Prize, who may range in age from 8 to 18
years old, each receive $2,000. Responsible adults -- teachers,
librarians, civic or religious leaders, or others -- who have solid
knowledge of a young person?s heroic activities, and who are not related
to the nominee can make nominations.  Nomination deadline: May 31, 2003.

"School Funding Services Grant of the Week"
Each week School Funding Services, a division of New American Schools,
features a new grant on their website.  This week they highlight Target
Arts in Education Grants.

FastWEB is the largest online scholarship search available, with 600,000
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 advised
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 to
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.

"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 applications
for new awards for FY 2003 and provides actual or estimated deadline dates
for the transmittal of applications under these programs. The lists are in
the form of charts -- organized according to the Department's principal
program offices -- and include programs and competitions the Department
has previously announced, as well as those it plans to announce at a later
date.  Note: This document is advisory only and is not an official
application notice of the Department of Education.

"eSchool News School Funding Center"
Information on up-to-the-minute grant programs, funding sources, and
technology funding.

"Philanthropy News Digest-K-12 Funding Opportunities"
K-12 Funding opportunities with links to grantseeking for teachers,
learning technology, and more.

"School Grants"
A collection of resources and tips to help K-12 educators apply for and
obtain special grants for a variety of projects.


"The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like
a riot."
-Audre Lord (poet)

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