PEN Weekly NewsBlast for December 2, 2005

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Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
"Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."
Few victories are more important than raising expectations. If school
boards, administrators, teachers, parents, and community leaders don't
believe that poor and minority children can learn as well as those who
have more advantages, it can be difficult -- if not impossible -- to
convince students that education offers their best opportunity for a
better life. "It doesn't take much effort to learn to have low
expectations of poor people and people of color," says Martin Haberman.
"All you have to do is grow up in American society, and you've built them
in." Even as educators work to raise expectations, demands on school
districts are increasing. With many urban high schools struggling to
graduate more than half their students, principals may regard the diplomas
they pass out as major triumphs. But success in today's global,
technology-driven economy increasingly requires some level of
postsecondary education. Certainly, there are plenty of excuses not to
expect much from urban schools, writes Robin L. Flanigan. High faculty
turnover, transient students, and ambivalent parents are just some of the
reasons cited in the link between poverty and low test scores. Yet in
pockets across the country, persistent educators are breaking that
connection by simply expecting more from a flawed society. And often they
find parents and family members who want to help but don't know how.



Are your school districts trying to teach to the state standards?
Find out what standards there are for teachers and administrators.
Who sets the standards and how to improve achievement.

Testing and Assessment

Public schools have more than just a focus on academic achievement, writes
Noel Epstein. They have clearly evolved into public child-rearing
institutions. Public schools not only provide before-school programs,
breakfasts, lunches, after-school care, afternoon snacks and sometimes
dinners (as well as summertime meals). They also instruct children about
sex and, in many places, teach them to drive. They face growing pressure
to take tots as early as age 3 in pre-kindergarten programs. They share
responsibility for keeping children off drugs, making sure they don't
carry weapons, instilling ethical behavior, curbing AIDS and other
sexually transmitted diseases, battling alcohol abuse, preventing student
suicides, discouraging cigarette smoking, tackling child obesity, heading
off gang fights, providing a refuge for homeless children, ensuring that
students are vaccinated, boarding some pupils, tending to toddlers of
teenage mothers and otherwise acting in loco parentis in ways not
anticipated a generation ago. The chief question, then, is how to manage
these hybrid institutions so that both non-academic and academic programs
get a fair shake. For answers, it's useful to look at what are most often
called "community schools" but also are known as family resource centers,
settlement-houses-in-schools, full-service schools or simply community

Over 1 Million are Home Schooled

DESPITE SOME PROGRESS MATH & READING PROFICIENCY STILL ELUDING STUDENTS IN URBAN SCHOOLS The nation's cities have shown some improvement in reading and mathematics achievement, but most continue to struggle to move more children toward proficiency in those subjects, particularly minority students, according to the latest results of a special urban-district study on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. "To us, it's very encouraging because it says that our overall trends are moving in the right direction, however modest the reading scores are," said Michael Casserly. "But we are cognizant of the fact that we need to accelerate [the progress]." Achievement gaps between white students and their minority peers remained, and in some places were quite large. The District of Columbia, for example, showed a 76-point gap between white and black 8th graders in math, reports Kathleen Kennedy Manzo. In reading, there was a 65-point difference in the average scale score for white 4th graders vs. their African-American peers in the nation's capital. Gaps between white and Hispanic students were also large in most districts, though generally less dramatic. Students in the nation's cities rarely reach proficiency in the subjects by 8th grade. In fact, large proportions of the students cannot demonstrate even partial mastery over the subject matter, according to the report. The NAEP achievement levels -- "below basic," "basic," "proficient," and "advanced" -- are based on rigorous standards. But the levels are not aligned to states' own definitions of "proficient."

60% of the Urban School Children do not graduate High School
of the 40% that do they are only reading at 4th grade level.
Find out more about literacy and approaches to improving it.
Learn how to successfully bridge from  the Dialect Speakers'
home language to the Standard.

There are approximately 750,000 paraeducators working in public schools
across the country assisting with general instruction, helping teachers
manage the classroom, and working with students with disabilities. The
role of paraeducators is critical to improving teachers' working
conditions and allowing teachers to pay greater personal attention to
students -- especially in overcrowded, high-need urban schools where up to
75 percent of paraeducators represent ethnically and linguistically
diverse groups.  Paraeducators are often credited with helping to
strengthen communication with students and families, particularly in
schools with large non-English-speaking populations. Paraeducators area
also a rich source of potential teachers.  But for all their contributions
to school communities, paraeducators are often both undervalued and
underprepared for their jobs, and concerns persist that low salaries will
discourage paraeducators from seeking further education to stay in the
profession. While some paraeducators are willing to take a test approved
by their district, others are unwilling to take a test or unable to obtain
a passing score. With the average paraeducator earning just $14,000,
districts face a challenge in convincing them to seek further education to
keep their jobs. A new policy brief from Recruiting New Teachers, Inc.,
tracks state and district efforts to comply with the recently extended No
Child Left Behind deadline for paraeducators. The report finds that while
many education officials worried they might lose or be prevented from
hiring instructional support staff unable to comply with the law,
confidence appears to be growing.

Those who can't teach teachers flunk.
Teachers who failed the state's basic skills tests for teachers.


IN PRAISE OF CHILD LABOR: WHY CHORES ARE GOOD FOR YOU If you're like Patrick Boyle, you had a lot of family responsibilities when you grew up: from setting the table and washing dishes to raking leaves, shoveling snow and cleaning bathrooms. Maybe you cared for younger siblings or painted the house. We all learned several important lessons from such experiences. First, befriend people who own chainsaws. Second, our ridiculous parents were right: Having chores is good for a young person. It builds good work habits. Builds discipline. Builds character. A common observation among professionals who work with youth is that they respond well to having real responsibilities that matter. That means duties they own that bring natural consequences if they slip. They don't have clean clothes, the dog doesn't eat or the house looks too embarrassing to invite anyone over. That's more powerful than getting scolded by dad, although let's not throw out scolding. In many communities, middle class kids have been liberated from meaningful family responsibilities. Adults frequently say that one benefit to being more affluent than their parents is that they can provide a better life for their children than they had themselves. If that better life renders a child incapable of cleaning his socks, then maybe we need pay cuts.

****************************************************************** What Does It Mean To Be An Educated Person Building Character / Character Education Resources


Ten years ago, resiliency theory was relatively new to the fields of
prevention and education. Today, it is at the heart of hundreds of school
and community programs that recognize in all young people the capacity to
lead healthy, successful lives. The key, as Bonnie Benard reports in this
synthesis of a decade and more of resiliency research, is the role that
families, schools, and communities play in supporting, and not
undermining, this biological drive for normal human development. Of
special interest is the evidence that resiliency prevails in many extreme
cases. In most studies, the figure seems to average 70 to 75 percent and
includes children who were placed in foster care, were members of gangs,
were born to teen mothers, were sexually abused, had substance-abusing or
mentally ill families, and grew up in poverty. In absolute worst case
scenarios, when children experience multiple and persistent risks, still
half of them overcome adversity and achieve good developmental outcomes.
An understanding of this developmental wisdom and the supporting research,
Benard argues, must be integrated into adults' vision for the youth they
work with and communicated to young people themselves. To read sample
chapters of this resource, visit:

****************************************************************** Science shows the Importance of Play And Laughter in Education to avoid teenage depression and burn out.


MINIMIZING CONFLICT, MAXIMIZING COLLABORATION: PRINCIPALS & SCHOOL COUNSELORS Collaboration among school personnel is seen as an essential tool for improving services to students. While sharing a common interest in serving students, principals and school counselors often approach student concerns from different points-of-view based on their preparation and philosophical orientation. These varied perspectives may lead to conflict, and ineffective use of time and energy for both principals and counselors. It is essential, therefore, that all school personnel work more collaboratively to serve students. Despite differences in professional preparation and orientation, there is ample evidence that collaboration among principals and counselors results in more effective programs and services that positively impact student academic, personal, and social growth. In this article, Elizabeth Broughton outlines strategies for school principals and counselors to use in understanding and appreciating their differing roles and responsibilities, and a set of recommendations that build collaboration, trust and communication to support the success of students.



Does you District Internet Use Policy have provisions addressing
disclosure of student personal information on your school site? It should.
Do you know the difference between free speech rights
(including expressing viewpoints that administrators and teachers
may not like) and free speech wrongs (ex: defamation, harassment)
and are able to teach your student?


A new report examines crime occurring in school as well as on the way to
and from school. It presents data on crime at school from the perspectives
of students, teachers, principals, and the general population from an
array of sources. Major findings include: Improvements have occurred in
student safety. The violent crime victimization rate at school declined
from 48 violent victimizations per 1,000 students in 1992 to 28 such
victimizations in 2003. Even so, violence, theft, bullying, drugs, and
weapons are still widespread. In 2003, students ages 12-18 were victims of
about 740,000 violent crimes and 1.2 million crimes of theft at school.
Seven percent of students ages 12-18 reported that they had been bullied,
29 percent of students in grades 9-12 reported that drugs were made
available to them on school property, and 9 percent of students were
threatened or injured with a weapon on school property. Less than 1
percent of students reported serious violent victimization (such as rape,
sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated assault). For more detailed data
and statistics, visit:

A collaborative team teaching model -- pairing a general ed and special ed
teacher in a classroom that is up to 40 percent special ed children -- is
considered one of the best hopes for mainstreaming more handicapped
children. In New York City, about 12,500 special ed students -- nearly 10
per cent of the special ed population -- now attend these classes. But,
the collaborative model is also a lot more work, reports Michael Winerip.
It takes the proper mix of students -- one child with too serious an
emotional problem can undo a class. And teachers must provide extra
enrichment for bright general ed students so they stay challenged and
their parents stay cooperative.

EVOLVING CONTROVERSY When it comes to evolution, many school boards find themselves caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place. School districts have been sued both for rejecting and endorsing calls to include the controversy over evolution in their biology curriculum. Interestingly, as far as science is concerned, there is no controversy: molecular science and the fossil record continue to support the theory of evolution. California Schools writer Carol Brydolf asks the experts how school boards can honor diverse perspectives without compromising scientific principles or winding up in court.

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

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

"National & Global Youth Service Day"
Youth Service America (YSA) and Youth Venture are teaming up again to make
every day National & Global Youth Service Day, giving young people the
opportunity to create sustainable projects for N&GYSD 2006, April 21-23.
Maximum Award: $1,000. Eligibility: young people (ages 12-20) who want to
create new, sustainable and civic-minded organizations, clubs or
businesses ("Ventures"). These Ventures must be youth-led and designed to
be a lasting asset to the community. Deadline: December 19th, 2005.

"Build Initiative to Add New States" The Build Initiative (Building Early Learning Systems in the States) of the Early Childhood Funders' Collaborative currently supports five grantee states and four learning partner states in building a coordinated system of programs, policies, and services for children from birth through age five. In 2006, Build will work solely in states where there is a commitment of funding from private foundations and/or other funding entities within the state to support the early learning system building work. Build is seeking to add two or three states that have funding partner(s) to support their involvement by the end of the first quarter of 2006. States should indicate their interest by December 9, and a rolling review process will be conducted through the first quarter of 2006.

"Youth Service America and Disney are offering the Disney Minnie Grants"
This grant program is designed for youth across the globe to engage them
to implement service projects on National & Global Youth Service Day,
April 21-23, 2006. Maximum Award: $500. Eligibility: youth (ages 5-14), or
teachers, schools and organizations that oversee them. Deadline: January
13, 2006.

"Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program"
The Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program (JFMF) provides U.S.
primary and secondary school teachers and administrators with the
opportunity to participate in three-week study visits to Japan and to
return home with a follow-on plan designed to introduce Japanese culture
to American students. Each year, up to 600 teachers and administrators,
including participants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia,
are selected to participate in the JFMF program. The JFMF Program features
an orientation to Japan followed by visits to primary and secondary
schools, teacher training colleges, cultural sites, and industrial
facilities. Meetings with Japanese teachers and students and a home stay
with a Japanese family are also key components of the program.
Participants return home to share their new knowledge with students,
colleagues, and the local community, ensuring that more than just the
individual participants profit from the experience. As an additional
benefit to participants, graduate level credits are also available. The
deadline for applications for the 2006 program is December 10, 2005.

"Funding for Hands-on Environmental Projects"
The Captain Planet Foundation funds hands-on environmental projects for to
encourage youth around the world to work individually and collectively to
solve environmental problems in their neighborhoods and communities.
Maximum Award: $2500. Eligibility: Schools and non-profits. Deadline:
December 31, 2005.

"Toyota International Teacher Program"
This program allows participants to explore Japan's education, culture,
environment and technology, and examine how these affect industry and
society in Japan today. Maximum Award: a fully funded 10-day, study tour
of Japan. Eligibility: classroom teachers (grades 9-12) from Colorado,
Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan Missouri, Nebraska,
Ohio and Tennessee. Deadline: January 9, 2006.

"State Farm Charitable Contributions to Teacher Excellence Programs"
The State Farm Companies Foundation makes charitable contributions to
teacher excellence programs that improve teacher quality, service-learning
programs that integrate core classroom curriculum with service to the
community, and programs that incorporate the Baldrige criteria (for
information, see website) into education systems to improve overall
effectiveness. Maximum Award: Varies. Eligibility: nonprofit, tax-exempt
organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code,
Canadian charitable organizations, and educational institutions. Deadline:
January 15, 2006.

"American Library Association & NEH"
The "We the People Bookshelf" program encourages young people to read and
understand great literature while exploring themes in American history.
Public and school (K-12) libraries are invited to apply to be among the
1,000 libraries selected to receive free books. Deadline: January 17, 2006

"National School and Business Partnerships Award"
The National School and Business Partnerships Award supports and
recognizes the efforts of schools and businesses that partner to improve
the academic, social or physical well-being of students. Maximum Award:
$10,000. Eligibility: Partnerships involving kindergarten through 12th
grade public schools and/or school districts and businesses. Deadline:
January 30, 2006.

"NEA Fine Arts Grants"
On behalf of the National Education Association (NEA), The NEA Foundation
offers NEA Fine Arts grants to NEA members. Available to elementary
(grades K-6) school art specialists through local NEA affiliates, the
grants allow fine arts educators to create and implement programs that
promote learning among students at risk of school failure. Deadline:
February 1, 2006.

"The NEA Foundation"
Grants are provided for the purpose of engaging in high-quality
professional development or implementing project-based learning and
break-the-mold innovations that raise student achievement. Maximum Award:
$5,000. Eligibility: public school teachers, public school education
support professionals, and faculty and staff in public higher education
institutions. Deadline: February 1, 2006.

"Youth Nutrition & Fitness Grant Program"
General Mills Foundation Champions Youth Nutrition and Fitness grant
program to encourage communities in the United States to improve the
eating and physical activity patterns of young people, ages 2-20. Grants
will be awarded to nonprofit organizations and agencies working with
communities that demonstrate the greatest need and likelihood of
sustainable impact on young people's nutrition and activity levels through
innovative programs. Maximum Award: $10,000. Eligibility: community-based
groups. Deadline: February 1, 2006.

"MathMovesU Grants and Scholarships Program"
Raytheon Company has launched the MathMovesU Grants and Scholarships
Program to reward real-life "Math Heroes" for their dedication to
improving math education and their inspiration of participation in math.
Maximum Award: $2,500. Eligibility: full-time teachers currently employed
and teaching a mathematics curriculum at a middle school or high school in
the U.S. Deadline: February 15, 2006.

"Stimulating Interest in Careers in Fisheries Science and Management"
The Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program is designed to stimulate
interest in careers in fisheries science and management among groups
underrepresented in the fisheries professions, including minorities and
women. Students (Grades 10-12) spend 8 weeks in the summer working
alongside their mentor who is a fisheries professional in their local
community. Maximum Award: Participants receive a $3,000 scholarship paid
out in 6 installments over the summer months. Eligibility: all sophomore,
junior, and senior high school students regardless of race, creed, or
gender. Because the principal goal of the program is to increase diversity
within the fisheries professions, preference will be given to qualified
women and minority applicants. Deadline: February 15, 2006.

"Civic Connections Program"
National Council for the Social Studies Civic Connections Program links
local history inquiry with community service-learning activities. Teachers
will develop and adapt these activities based on their students' interests
and abilities, the needs or problems in the local community, and their
local social studies curriculum requirements. Maximum Award: $7500.
Eligibility: teams of three 3rd-12th grade teachers; members of the
National Council for the Social Studies (or agree to join if application
is accepted) and must partner with at least one local community agency.
Deadline: February 26, 2006.

"Nickelodeon Announces Giveaway Program to Encourage Healthy Play"
Children's television network Nickelodeon will distribute more than $1
million from September 2005 to June 2006. The "Let's Just Play" Giveaway
offers kids around the United States the opportunity to take action and
enter for a chance to improve their school or community program's fitness
resources. Maximum Award: $5000. Eligibility: Kids (6-15 years of age),
partnering with teachers and other community-based leaders. Deadline:
rolling, until May 31, 2006.

"Show Me the Money: Tips & Resources for Successful Grant Writing"
Many educators have found that outside funding, in the form of grants,
allows them to provide their students with educational experiences and
materials their own districts can't afford. Learn how they get those
grants -- and how you can get one too. Included: Practical tips to help
first-time grant writers get the grants they need.

"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 2005 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 includes previously announced programs and
competitions, as well as those planned for announcement 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 provide regular
updates to this document.

"It's time to admit that public education operates like a planned economy,
a bureaucratic system in which everybody's role is spelled out in advance
and there are few incentives for innovation and productivity. It's no
surprise that our school system doesn't improve: It more resembles the
communist economy than our own market economy."
-Albert Shanker, former President of the American Federation of Teachers,
Wall Street Journal, October 2, 1989

Howie Schaffer
Public Outreach Manager
Public Education Network
601 Thirteenth Street, NW #710S
Washington, DC 20005

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