PEN Weekly NewsBlast for April 21, 2006

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Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast "Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit." ******************************************************** CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES BELONG IN THE CLASSROOM Controversial issues are not to be avoided but to be embraced in the classroom, if done properly. Since there is no limit to the variety and type of information that young people can access almost instantaneously, they need new skills in processing what they will encounter. Without specific instruction in how to analyze data critically, evaluate sources, and seek other indices of validation of information, the next generation of Americans will be susceptible to manipulation by skilled propagandists. Ill-advised local and national policy, predicated on limited or inaccurate information brought to bear on elected officials by various pressure groups, can be the result. Clearly, our students require more than "the basics," writes Arnold Burron. Public school educators need to equip students to become discerning citizens. Jefferson?s declaration that "an educated citizenry" is indispensable to the survival of the republic has taken on a meaning far beyond literacy and an acquaintance with "the facts." Since there are compelling reasons for "Issues-based" curricula, why are they not in place? The main reason controversial issues have not been advocated as an explicit course of study in the public schools is that controversy is not for the faint of heart, or for those who seek security in what has always been done. Teachers and administrators need to have a guarantee that they will not be harassed for venturing into arenas of discourse which require critical thinking, and which, by their nature, will evoke controversy. The solution to providing such a guarantee can be achieved in two ways: (1) By teaching and adhering to a procedure that ensures objectivity and the balanced presentation of multiple perspectives; and (2) By instituting a policy which ensures that children are protected from being intellectually assaulted, emotionally accosted, or spiritually molested.

Also See:
Linguistic Rights and the right to know the difference between
information and Propaganda

Learn about School Uniform Policies, Benefits of School Uniforms,
Dress Codes, Culture, Sexual and Social Politics, Fashion and Slumming it

Teaching Intelligent Design vs Evolution in the classroom.
Is intelligent design religion or science?

Discerning Citizens Know how to read. Lean what you need to
know about Literacy and teaching  Dialect speakers to read.

CAN WE CHANGE OUR FUNDAMENTAL ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT EDUCATION? Are we bold enough to rethink our assumptions about education and schooling? Can we forget about reforming schools and establish a new form of pedagogy based on the needs of contemporary society? Brett Pawlowski has been reading John Taylor Gatto and thinking about the futility of conventional education reform, and the need for a bold new vision. While our education system may at one time have paralleled our society, the radical changes in society, compared with the virtual standstill of our education system, has created a tremendous disconnect, and it is only through questioning and rethinking the underlying principles of education that we will be able to realign the two. Tweaking just won't cut it. Where is today's equivalent of Horace Mann -- and will anyone listen to him or her? Or will anyone offering new thinking from the ground up be heard against the vested interests of our juggernaut of an education system, 3.5 million teachers and 50 million students strong?

The business of education, when the university Dean is paid to be a CEO
The Military, Industrial, Educational Complex and the New CEO
+ Ivory Tower Executive Suite Gets C.E.O. Level Salaries

BIG-TIME FUNDRAISING FOR SUBURBAN SCHOOLS Public school fund-raising events are becoming pricier as the cost of education increases and parents are willing to shoulder more of the burden. Extravagant prizes and Caribbean-themed soirées can boost donations to levels that candy sales cannot. And, while some advocates for low-income schools say such high-end fund-raising could widen the gap between rich and poor towns, suburban fund-raisers say the money is not for luxury items but for teacher training, equipment, and, as in one case, teaching positions. School foundations have existed for years as a way to raise money for public schools for special programs. But as budgets have grown tighter, school systems have begun to rely more on foundations to fill the gap, said Jim Collogan, director of research for the newly formed National School Foundation Association. During the past year, he has been urging school foundations to think beyond ''candy, calendars, and candles," and cultivate big donors, such as corporations or wealthy residents, whether they have children or not. School foundations should learn from colleges and universities, which tend to get the bulk of donations to education, Collogan said. Public schools are more accustomed to demanding money from state and local governments.

Civics education is only a slightly less mushy term than social sciences,
but those of us old enough to have had a goodly dose of civics from the
seventh grade onward understand that it means classes in American history,
and American government -- national, state and local -- and quite a bit of
detail about who does what and by what authority, an understanding that
ours is a limited government, that eternal vigilance is the price of
liberty, that all of us are among those who must be vigilant. Most of what
we read and hear about our schools these days is that we are not doing
enough in math and science to enable our graduates to compete successfully
in the global marketplace. Waldo Proffitt agrees with that, and he says
let's keep working on the math and science. But, let's keep in mind that
math and science are not prerequisites of good citizenship. Being able to
solve quadratic equations does not help you understand the functions of
our three branches of government, and the importance of keeping them
separate, or how to know when one branch is infringing on the domain of
another. Being able to write elegant computer code does not help you to
understand how to go about getting a zoning change, or more likely, how to
protest changes proposed by others which will hurt your neighborhood. And
civics is not dull stuff.

Character Education

Conservatives and liberals can agree on this: Children with engaged
parents have a much better chance of succeeding in school than those who
do not. The work of the Charlotte Advocates for Education's Parent
Leadership Network shows how. This project is providing the parent
advantage all schools need, but too many lack. The nonprofit education
advocacy group has trained dozens of parents to forge this crucial link
with schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Margaret Carnes, Advocates for
Education's managing director of the advocacy group, says the ultimate
goal is to arm parents with information they need to demand substantive
change and accountability from schools. It has already gotten many parents
involved in schools in broader and more sophisticated ways. Business
leaders have recognized its value. The Wachovia Foundation has given
three-year $450,000 grant to support the program. Officials said its work
not only builds parent leaders but helps schools retain teachers. Parent
involvement is increasingly important in CMS as the student population
becomes more diverse -- with more limited English speakers and more of
them poor. Growing numbers of parents, for cultural or work reasons, now
have weak relations with their children's schools. The parents who have
been trained so far range across ethnic, racial and socioeconomic lines.
They are involved in a variety of school programs -- from helping
Spanish-speaking students learn English and their parents get information
to providing data to tackle school academic and image problems. And they
want to help schools across the district. The program is modeled after
Kentucky's Commonwealth Institute for Parent Leadership, which has trained
more than 1,000 parents in the last eight years to combat the achievement
gap and other issues.

Research done by US military schools has shown success depends on parental involvement.

WHEN STATES -- AND MAYORS --TAKE OVER SCHOOLS When public schools fail for years, or even decades, to meet the minimum requirements for educating their students, it's natural for politicians to want to step in and take bold action. These efforts represent two prongs of a policy approach that?s been running through urban education for more than 15 years -- states taking over, mayors taking over. Each of these approaches has its own lessons and pitfalls for lawmakers and politicians who watch from the sidelines and think they can do a better job, reports Steve Drummond. In many ways, a takeover by the state makes sense. After all, in the past half-century, states have contributed a growing share of the money that goes into local school districts. By the end of the 1990s, nearly half the states had passed laws allowing state intervention in troubled districts. But no sooner did some of these states get into the business of running a messed-up school district than they sought to get out. As it turns out, it's not so easy to manage hundreds of employees and educate thousands of children from far away in the state capitol. And often, people in those schools didn?t want them taken over. Residents of predominantly minority communities often resent what they perceive as meddling from legislatures dominated by white people. And though it sounds appealing to "clean house" by getting rid of principals, teachers and administrators, it's not as if there is a pool of talented people just sitting around waiting to replace those who were dismissed. The mayors have done pretty well in getting the books and infrastructure in order. They have cleaned up the finances and made sure that the toilets flush, the roofs don't leak and the textbooks show up on time at the start of the school year. That's no small accomplishment. In many of these districts, such seemingly obvious problems had gone unfixed for years. But the real test is student achievement, and there?s little research so far to show how well takeovers work. Nevertheless, there's some evidence that the mayors have had some success in the short term, but long term success remains elusive.

Who Sets these Standards, Who evaluates the evaluators?

ELECTIVE COURSES IN SCHOOLS GETTING THE BOOT Backers of time-honored electives ranging from band to consumer sciences fear they are being crowded out of the school day as districts, facing tougher state and federal requirements, devote more time and money to core academic subjects. Electives? place during the school day has periodically been squeezed since the current movement for standards-based improvement began in the late 1980s. Those demands ratcheted up again with passage of the federal No Child Left Behind Act in 2001, reports Sean Cavanagh. Although most of the testing mandated by the federal law is at the elementary and middle school levels, students are assessed at least once in mathematics and reading during their high school careers. But it is the increasingly tough state high school graduation requirements that have made it especially difficult for schools to make time for electives, supporters of such classes say. Districts? desire to add more college-prep courses, such as Advanced Placement, has further chipped away at that time, they contend.

John Fergus has been a history teacher for nearly a decade. He has a
master's degree in secondary education, is enrolled in a doctoral program,
and has taken classes that allow him to teach advanced placement courses
at Revere High School. But despite his years of experience and extensive
course work, Fergus, 40, has yet to prove to state education officials
that he is a highly qualified teacher as required under the federal No
Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The law demands that states prove by June
30 that all teachers in core subjects -- such as math, science, English,
social studies, foreign language, and history -- have mastered their
topics, or risk losing federal education money.

Our children?s developmental years are filled with challenges, issues,
problems, and dilemmas. Schools report an increase in demand from
educators, counselors, and after-school staff for materials and tools to
help students face affective, social-emotional and behavioral challenges.
A new guide helps guidance counselors, educators, and after-school staff
coach students to become resilient and develop strong character. The guide
connects learning about ethics with solving children?s problems in
everyday life, and helps: (1) Strengthen adult and child partnerships in
solving everyday problems; (2) Draw lessons and ideas from the experiences
of story characters to apply to students' lives; (3) Engage in discussions
to enhance listening, mentoring and coaching; (4) Help children explore
each attribute and related behavioral and social-emotional issues; and (5)
Teach a variety of coping mechanisms and strategies. To read a free
sample, visit:
Computer Ethics

A growing national debate exists over whether the nation's newest
education experiment is unexpectedly encouraging school segregation.
That's because the No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to
demonstrate that students in specific racial, social and economic groups
are making annual progress. A school fails if even one group fails. The
more groups in a school, the greater chance for failure. Many of
Connecticut's mostly white, rich suburban schools, which already are
succeeding under the law, don't want the same uncertainty. They are
resisting efforts to diversify, fearing that taking minority or poor
students will hurt their chances to meet the law's requirements. "We've
had a reluctance on the part of school districts to accept youngsters who
come in with deficiencies because they're concerned that if they get
enough of them ... they'll become labeled as failing schools," Connecticut
Education Commissioner Betty Sternberg said. And that complicates
Sternberg's efforts to resolve the nation's longest-running desegregation
lawsuit, which accuses Connecticut of failing to provide minority students
with as good an education as whites. "The really rich and ritzy suburbs
that don't participate in any form of integration ... [are] going to be
rewarded for their racial insularity because they're not admitting any
kids who are at any academic risk," said Jonathan Kozol, an educator and
author of several acclaimed books on race and education.

STANDARDS GAPS: UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES OF LOCAL STANDARDS-BASED REFORM In response to the establishment of standards by states and professional organizations, many local school districts have adopted a standards-based curriculum. The expressed purpose of standards is to improve student academic performance by providing teachers with a common sequence of targets at which to aim instruction. A new study examines unintended consequences of a school district's standards-based reform effort. Though the district intended to enhance student achievement and equalize educational opportunities for students, it instead caused the evolution of what can be called standards gaps, which resulted in differentiated curriculum and instruction along lines of students' academic ability.

The Indiana Supreme Court has struck down a school district?s $20 school
activity fee as a violation of the state constitution because, the court
said, it is equivalent to a tuition charge. The 22,100-student
Evansville-Vanderburgh school district imposed the fee on all K-12
students in the 2002-03 school year. The money was used to pay for nurses,
school counselors, alternative education, and activities such as music,
athletics, and drama, among other purposes. According to court papers, the
fee was part of an attempt to balance the district?s budget, which had a
$2.3 million deficit in 2002. Some parents of students in the district,
including some whose children qualify for federally subsidized school
lunches, filed the suit in 2002, reports Laura Greifner. The Indiana
Constitution guarantees a public education "wherein tuition shall be
without charge, and equally open to all."

In cities across the nation, low-income African American and Latino
parents hope that their children?s education will bring a better life. But
their schools, typically, are overcrowded, ill equipped, and shamefully
under-staffed. Unless things change dramatically, more than half the
students will never graduate and many will face a life of poverty-wage
work. A new book by Jeannie Oakes, John Rogers, and Martin Lipton
documents a radical approach to school reform that includes: (1)
Grassroots public activism informed by social inquiry as the best way to
realize Brown v. Board of Education?s promise of "education on equal
terms;" (2) Activist young people, teachers, parents, and community
organizations working to improve schools in our nation?s poorest
neighborhoods; (3) The voices, images, and actions of people who are
organizing to fight for better schools; and (4) A comprehensive critique
of the prevailing logic of American schooling and an alternative logic
based on justice and participatory democracy. Read to learn of clear
examples of how ordinary people can influence schooling through their
organizing and social critique.

IDENTIFYING EFFECTIVE TEACHERS USING PERFORMANCE ON THE JOB Traditionally, policymakers have attempted to improve the quality of the teaching force by raising minimum credentials for entering teachers. Recent research, however, suggests that such paper qualifications have little predictive power in identifying effective teachers. A new report from The Brooking Institution proposes federal support to help states measure the effectiveness of individual teachers -- based on their impact on student achievement, subjective evaluations by principals and peers, and parental evaluations. States would be given considerable discretion to develop their own measures, as long as student achievement impacts (using so-called "value-added" measures) are a key component. The federal government would pay for bonuses to highly rated teachers willing to teach in high-poverty schools. In return for federal support, schools would not be able to offer tenure to new teachers who receive poor evaluations during their first two years on the job without obtaining district approval and informing parents in the schools. States would open further the door to teaching for those who lack traditional certification but can demonstrate success on the job. This approach would facilitate entry into teaching by those pursuing other careers. The new measures of teacher performance would also provide key data for teachers and schools to use in their efforts to improve their performance.

A principal trying to prevent walkouts during immigration rallies
inadvertently introduced a lockdown so strict that children weren't
allowed to go to the bathroom, and instead had to use buckets in the
classroom, an official said. Worthington Elementary School Principal Angie
Marquez imposed the lockdown March 27 as nearly 40,000 students across
Southern California left classes to attend immigrants' rights
demonstrations. Marquez apparently misread the district handbook and
ordered a lockdown designed for nuclear attacks. Tim Brown, the district's
director of operations, confirmed some students used buckets but said the
principal's order to impose the most severe type of lockdown was an
"honest mistake."

What is a School Disaster Plan

GRADUATION MYTH: HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION RATES ARE MUCH HIGHER THAN BELIEVED Recent reports that only half of minorities and two-thirds of all students end up with a high school diploma have been accepted as gospel. But a new Economic Policy Institute report finds this much-repeated refrain is seriously inaccurate, and that a wealth of better data shows high school completion rates are much higher, with about 75 percent of black and Hispanic students receiving diplomas nationally and an overall national rate of 82 percent. Although substantial gaps remain between the graduation rates of whites and either blacks or Hispanics, the report - "Rethinking High School Graduation Rates and Trends" -- documents that graduation rates have been growing and racial/ethnic gaps closing over the past four decades.

The bipartisan Commission on No Child Left Behind hopes to influence the
upcoming 2007 reauthorization of the massive federal education law. Take
action now to let the Commission know your views on NCLB and its impact in
classrooms around the country. Click on "Go," compose your message, and
send it to the Commission. Submit your stories to the bipartisan NCLB
Commission about the law's effects on classrooms in your community. You
may help influence positive changes to the law.

A new study finds that California's English learners -- students who are
not yet proficient in English -- attend highly segregated schools, which
hinders their educational opportunities. The study found that, at the
elementary school level, more than half of California's English learners
attended just 21 percent of the state's public schools, where they
comprised more than 50 percent of the student body. The study also found
that 80 schools in the state have English learners from more than 20
language backgrounds. According to the researchers, segregation limits
educational opportunities for English learners, or ELs, in several ways.
First, many English learners in California are handicapped by their lack
of access to native English speakers, who serve as language "role models."
 Second, most English learners in California come from low-income homes,
so high concentrations of English learners also means many English
learners attend low-income schools, a significant disadvantage. Third,
schools with high concentrations of English learners are less likely to
have fully certified teachers than schools with low concentrations of
English learners, even after accounting for differences in school poverty.

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

"Fellowships to Send Teachers and Administrators to Korea"
The Institute of International Education?s Korean Studies Workshop will
send U.S. secondary school teachers and administrators to Korea for a
12-day workshop.  The Workshop is designed to enhance mutual understanding
between the people of Korea and the United States by inviting certain U.S.
educators to visit Korea and then share their experiences with fellow
Americans upon their return.  The workshop will include lectures, tours to
cultural and industrial sites, and meetings with Korean educators and
students. Maximum Award: fully funded 12-day tour. Eligibility: 6th thru
12th grade social studies teachers, secondary school principals and
assistant principals, and curriculum coordinators and textbook writers
with influence over social studies curriculum. Deadline: May 4, 2006.

"Youth Outreach for Victim Assistance"
The National Crime Prevention Council and the National Center for Victims
of Crime are seeking applicants for the Youth Outreach for Victim
Assistance (YOVA) project. The YOVA project, entering its third year,
seeks to raise awareness about teen victimization and services that can
help teen victims of crime, and to provide resources to victim service
providers so they can better reach and serve teen victims. Maximum Award:
$3,000. Eligibility: Any organization that has not participated in YOVA or
that participated in YOVA during 2003-2004 is eligible to apply as a new
site. Deadline: May 15, 2006.

"NEA Summer Arts Program"
The NEA Summer Arts Program supports rigorous, challenging summer arts
education programs that enable children and youth to acquire knowledge and
skills in the arts as well as gain lifelong interests in the arts and
culture. Maximum Award: $35,000. Eligibility: 501(c)(3), U.S.
organizations; units of state or local government; or federally-recognized
tribal communities or tribes. Must have a three-year history of providing
arts education instruction prior to the application deadline. Deadline:
May 22, 2006.

"Recognizing Extraordinary Good Done for Children"
Each year the World of Children presents awards to ordinary people who
have done extraordinary good on behalf of the health, education, and
well-being of children. Maximum Award: $50,000. Eligibility: person
nominated must have full knowledge that he or she is being nominated and
must be available in November to participate in World of Children event
held in New York City. Deadline: June 9, 2006.

"Grants for Education, Health & Fitness, and Arts Education"
The Louis R. Cappelli Foundation makes grants in support of philanthropic
activities with a focus on programs addressing the special needs of youth.
Three specific targeted areas where the Foundation focuses its attention
are education, health and fitness, and arts education. Maximum Award:
varies. Eligibility: 501(c)(3) organizations that serve at-risk youth.
Deadline: June 30, 2006.

For a detailed listing of EXISTING GRANT OPPORTUNITIES (updated each
week), visit:

"We are not solitary. We live among others, and we rely on them -- on
strangers -- for society to function, for any kind of life to be possible.
Honesty demands that we acknowledge this; ethics demands that we act upon
it. As we mature, both physically and morally, we are able to see beyond
ourselves and embrace the concerns of a widening circle -- family,
friends, community and further. No one may be forced to live for others --
to donate an organ, for example, let alone a life. But each of us must see
the reciprocal ties we rely on every day. Passivity in the face of the
current calamity not only weakens these essential communal bonds; it also
diminishes our own humanity."
-Randy Cohen (journalist/ethicist)

Howie Schaffer Public Outreach Director Public Education Network 601 Thirteenth Street, NW #710S Washington, DC 20005 PEN@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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