PEN Weekly NewsBlast for February 11, 2005

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Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2005 21:32:50 -0800
Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
"Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."

The new federal spending plan for the nation's schools is shortsighted,
write the editors of the Seattle Times. A rebounding economy and the war
in Iraq foreshadowed reduced spending but the White House unfairly
balances its budget on the back of education. Of the 150 programs across
the board that are proposed for reduction or elimination, one-third of
them are in education. This siphons much-needed fuel from schools just as
they embark on the long road of reform. Priorities outlined in the federal
No Child Left Behind law, such as improving high-school performance, are
well funded under the Bush budget proposal. An initiative to raise
standards at high schools carries a $1.5 billion price tag. And federal
spending on Advanced Placement programs would be raised to $51.5 million,
from the current $29.7 million. Addressing the needs of high schools and a
73 percent hike for AP -- welcomed as both are -- is no consolation for
the loss of 48 other education programs targeted for elimination. Those
include the GEAR UP program, which prepares 1.2 million low-income middle-
and high-school students for college. It also includes a program designed
to teach families to read and another to keep drugs and violence out of
schools. The excuse for jettisoning these programs is that they are either
wasteful or unproven. But the charges reek of politics, more than a quest
for efficacy. If the White House is funding only things proven to work,
why is funding dramatically increased for abstinence-only programs? Most
research shows that abstinence-only curricula won't lower the rate of teen
pregnancies or the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. This budget is
not the final word. It is actually the first step in identifying the
nation's priorities. Congress should do a better job of understanding the
needs of education and funding them.

While we applaud the President's intention to focus greater federal
resources on improving America's high schools, the National Association of
Secondary School Principals cannot support his budget's complete
decimation of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical program, which
currently provides over $1 billion for school programs that prepare high
school students for postsecondary life. Federal support for high schools
is long overdue and greatly needed, but successful reform cannot be
attained through the tactics of robbing Peter to pay Paul. When the
president first took office, he promised federal education budgets that
would provide adequate levels of education funding to strengthen America's
schools and thus America's future. Unfortunately, we once again find
ourselves involved in a shell game with federal resources that if
appropriately allocated would significantly improve the academic and
future well-being of nation's youth. High deficits and high expenditures
in non-discretionary areas of the budget sorely limit the federal
investment made in discretionary areas such as public education. For
certain, tough decisions must be made and priorities determined in order
to move the country forward, but this should not be done in a vacuum or
with a myopic viewpoint. Far too often, discretionary spending in areas
such as education or health is seen as a great and sometimes unnecessary
expense rather than the investment it truly is for this country.
Addressing the social, academic, and health needs of our citizens --
particularly our youth -- will go a long way toward safe-guarding the
economic and physical well-being of the United States. The President's
budget proposal should responsibly reflect such an investment goal.

Top-scoring Kentucky schools with large numbers of poor children succeed
because teachers believe all children can learn and they repeatedly test
kids=92 progress, a new study shows. There were no magic textbooks or
teaching programs, no principal leadership styles that guaranteed success,
according to the review of eight high-performing elementary schools. The
study, released by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence,
compared high-poverty schools that performed well to those that don't. The
review focused on eight elementary schools that had 50 percent or more
low-income students and moderately high state test scores. The schools all
had improved scores over time. Those schools also had little differences
-- fewer than 15 points -- in achievement levels between white and
African-American students, and between low- and middle-income students. No
high schools and few middle schools met the research team=92s definition of
high-performing, high-poverty schools. The study recommended that other
schools replicate the characteristics found in the eight successful
schools, including high expectations for students and staff. "Faculty did
not make an issue of the fact that many of their students were =91in
poverty,=92" the report noted. "Disadvantaged students appeared to be
treated in fundamentally similar ways as advantaged students."  Auditors
witnessed caring and respectful relationships among and between adults and
students. Principals and faculty collaborated in making decisions. Faculty
and staff also worked very hard to meet their students=92 needs, from
transportation to extra tutoring. And they did so without complaint and
with enthusiasm, the report said. Finally, all the schools were careful
and determined in their recruitment, hiring and placement of teachers.

A new national survey of young adults age 18 to 25 from the nonprofit,
nonpartisan opinion research organization Public Agenda finds that the
vast majority of today=92s young adults -- be they African American,
Hispanic or Latino, Asian American or white -- strongly believe in the
value of higher education. Most of the young adults surveyed in "Life
After High School: Young People Talk about Their Hopes and Prospects"
report that their parents inspired the goal of going to college and most
had a teacher in high school who took a strong personal interest in them
and encouraged them to go on to college. But the study raises serious
questions about the shortage of high school counselors and the economic
pressures and trade-offs many young adults face, especially those from
minority backgrounds. It also portrays the uncertain, hit-or-miss career
path experienced by many young people who enter the work force without a
2-year or 4-year college or technical degree. Money plays a big role in
decisions about where -- or whether -- to go to college. Nearly half of
young people who don't continue their education after high school cite
lack of money, the wish to earn money or having other responsibilities as
reasons why they don't go. "Life After High School" also shows that while
money is not a factor in college selection for most young white Americans
(60%), it is for most young African Americans and Hispanics. Six in 10 of
both groups say that they would have attended a different college if money
was not an issue. About half (51%) of young Asian Americans say this as
well. Analysis, complete survey questions and top line data for this
research are available at:

Digital Diploma Mills: The Automation of Higher Education
The  Diploma Mill Police free service designed for queries
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Diploma mills in online education: "DIPLOMA MILLS"
Statement of Robert J. Cramer, Managing Director,
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Accountability Office,  September 23, 2004.
Military and the University Complex
University CEO's Salary
Cyberliberties at the top 50 universities in the United States.
Who owns the IP K-12 IP Online Content?

Not until 2002, with the strengthening of a federal law known as the
McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, were all school districts required
to have a liaison for homeless students -- and to remove barriers to their
full participation in school. The law isn't just about kids who sleep in
cars or on the streets. Estimates of the number of children in the United
State who experience homelessness at some point in a given year range from
900,000 to 2.8 million. They're in shelters, or doubled up with relatives
or friends in overcrowded houses. They're in motels or substandard
apartments. They're teens on the run from abuse or kicked out after the
latest argument with family. They don't have a stable place to call home
-- but wherever they are, they have the right to an education. A federal
law tells schools they must do more to aid their homeless students.
Despite steps of progress, writes Stacy A. Teicher, full implementation
remains a distant goal.

One of the problems with the No Child Left Behind legislation is that it
sets our sights too low, as if the primary goal of schools is to produce
higher test scores. And further, that higher test scores somehow translate
into greater equity of opportunity and a higher quality of life for
American students. David Sobel and Julie Bartsch don't think so. As Marty
Neill of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing says, "Under NCLB,
education will be seriously damaged, especially in schools with a large
share of low-income and minority children, as students are coached to pass
tests rather than to learn a rich curriculum that prepares them for life
in the 21st century." Sobol and Bartsch advocate for "place-based
education," a reform effort underway in schools across the United States,
providing a healthy alternative pathway to school and community
improvement. Schools aren't just about test scores, and schools don't
exist separate and apart from the communities they serve. In truth,
schools can and should serve as the focal point, the source of renewal in
their neighborhoods and communities. From this perspective, we should
expect schools to: (1) engage students in rigorous work that develops
academic skills; (2) ensure the development of civic engagement skills in
students and teachers; (3) engage parents, community members and
businesses in the life of the school; (4) design programs that engage
students in solving community problems and contribute to the quality of
life and the environment. (Article begins on page six, at link below.)

Legislators in at least two-thirds of the states this year are considering
overhauling the way they fund elementary and high schools. But efforts to
fix school finance are liable to run aground in states where the remedy
necessitates tax reform, reports Kavan Peterson. "The country is so
narrowly divided (that) there=92s more than one third rail in politics,"
Professor James Guthrie said. "Increasingly, education and taxes are both
third rails, and not much is accomplished without some kind of gun being
held to the head of elected officials." Sixteen of the 31 states where
officials say education reform is high on the agenda this year currently
are embroiled in litigation challenging the way schools are funded.
Another 20 states have settled similar lawsuits in the past five years.

At 8 a.m. on a cold Saturday morning, most of Chris and Dayvon's friends
are at home asleep. But these seniors from Baltimore's struggling Forest
Park High School have set up shop in the cafeteria of a rival high school
and are hunched over stacks of newspapers and outlines of arguments. They
are meticulously planning their strategy for the day's debate. Chris and
Dayvon are two of the top debaters in the Baltimore Urban Debate League
(BUDL), which gathers 200 students from 27 inner-city high schools to
participate in the fine, time-tested sport of competitive argument. In
their baggy jeans and oversized t-shirts, these two ambitious teens
challenge the "debate team" image of elite students dressed as young
lawyers. It is students like Chris and Dayvon that the Open Society
Institute had in mind when it created the National Urban Debate League,
funding local Leagues in fifteen cities across the country. Launched seven
years ago, the project has changed the landscape of high school debating
-- and the lives of many American students.

Programs that have been effective in reducing the achievement gap share
two common threads: a demanding curriculum and a strong social support
system that values and promotes academic achievement. According to Edmund
W. Gordon, providing a rigorous educational experience means giving
students the chance to study a mainstream, undiluted curriculum with the
best possible teachers. Performance improves when all students have the
opportunity to learn the same challenging curriculum, marked by high
standards and expectations. It is not enough just to teach a rigorous
curriculum, however. Attention also must be given to the social
environment. Effective programs surround students with evidence that the
people they most care about think academic success and effort are
important. For elementary students, this means committed parental
involvement. For older students, the support network expands toward peer
groups and mentors.

Induction is a highly organized and comprehensive form of staff
development, involving many people and many components, that typically
continues as a sustained process for the first two to five years of a
teacher=92s career. School districts that provide structured, sustained
induction, training, and support for their teachers achieve what every
school district seeks to achieve =AD improved student learning through
improved professional learning. In the United States, if new teachers
receive any induction at all, it is typically delivered by a single mentor
and is not well structured. Harry Wong, Ted Britton, and Tom Ganser report
on the much more systematic approaches that five other countries have

Classroom management skills is the number one concern. Find
practical advice, How-To's, Survival Kits, ice breakers, and
online resources that integrate technology into the classroom.

Over the past several years, education reformers have increasingly
invested in the development of communities within schools as a central
strategy to improve teaching and student learning. These communities come
in various guises, including small schools, small learning communities,
and teacher teams. Two assumptions about how these communities will
enhance the quality of instruction underlie the push for these more
intimate learning environments. First, supporters believe that teachers
will get to know their students better and therefore be more able to
respond to students' learning needs. Second, advocates contend that small
communities will encourage teachers to collaborate more in order to
improve their instructional practices. This issue of CPRE Policy Briefs,
which draws on major research studies in Philadelphia and Cincinnati,
examines the merit of these assumptions and the conditions under which
communities of teachers can improve their instructional practices and
bring about enhanced student learning.

This website teaches the importance of voluntary action for the common
good in a democratic society. "Learning to Give" offers lesson plans,
activities, and resources to educate youth about the power of philanthropy
(sharing time, talent and treasure). Help empower young people to make a
difference in their school, their community and their world.

Parents are going to ludicrous lengths to take the bumps out of life for
their children, writes Hara Estroff Marano. However, parental hyperconcern
has the net effect of making kids more fragile; that may be why they're
breaking down in record numbers. "Kids need to feel badly sometimes," says
child psychologist David Elkind, professor at Tufts University. "We learn
through experience and we learn through bad experiences. Through failure
we learn how to cope." Messing up, however, even in the playground, is
wildly out of style. Although error and experimentation are the true
mothers of success, parents are taking pains to remove failure from the
equation. "Life is planned out for us," says Elise Kramer, a Cornell
University junior. "But we don't know what to want." As Elkind puts it,
"Parents and schools are no longer geared toward child development,
they're geared to academic achievement."

The Talent Development Middle School model, a whole-school reform
initiative, aims to improve student achievement and to raise the
expectations of teachers and students in struggling, urban middle schools.
In six schools in an anonymous district, Talent Development had a positive
impact on math achievement for eighth-grade students; the impact emerged
in the third year of the model's implementation and continued to
strengthen in the schools for which additional years of data are
available. Other, more modest and less consistent impacts emerged in
eighth-grade reading achievement and attendance. The model did not appear
to produce systematic improvements for seventh-grade students. The
evaluation of Talent Development is ongoing and will provide further
evidence about whether the model can sustain the improvements in math
achievement for eighth-graders and extend its impact to other outcomes and
to earlier grades.

The Forum Unified Education Technology Suite presents a practical,
comprehensive, and tested approach to assessing, acquiring, instituting,
managing, securing, and using technology in education settings. It will
also help individuals who lack extensive experience with technology to
develop a better understanding of the terminology, concepts, and
fundamental issues influencing technology acquisition and implementation
decisions. This online resource combines and updates four previously
existing NCES/Forum publications: Safeguarding Your Technology (1998),
Technology @ Your Fingertips, Version 2.0 (2001), Technology in Schools
(2002), and Weaving a Secure Web around Education (2003). To use this
resource, please visit:

Research confirms what common sense has told us for a long time --
teachers are key to students' academic success -- and provides
indisputable evidence that poor and minority students are most likely to
be assigned teachers who are the least prepared. It's time to begin
addressing and resolving the problems that the nation's poorest,
lowest-performing schools face in recruiting and retaining well-prepared
teachers. The goal of this report is to discuss what we know and don't
know about the challenge of staffing at-risk schools, and to identify some
of the strategies that policymakers and other key stakeholders can
consider in their efforts to ensure students in all schools have the
high-quality teachers they need and deserve.

The latest issue of Greater Good is now online. One article, "Caring for
the Caregivers" profiles new programs and research that help teachers
build emotional resilience and deal with the stresses of their job,
particularly in the wake of traumatic events like September 11. In the
article, Sarita Tukaram notes that though these programs use some
unconventional methods, like meditation, they draw upon recent scientific
research suggesting the mental health benefits of these practices. This
article and several others are available for download at:


Government Funding Resources Education Grants,
Scholarships & Loans, State Agency Phone Numbers for
Student Financial Aid, Business Plan Resources for Women,
Federal Department of Education Technology Grants
ARTS, Grants for Women, Grants for Women & Girls

"Teacher Loan Forgiveness"
The Taxpayer-Teacher Protection Act, signed into law last year, authorizes
up to $17,500 in loan forgiveness for eligible, highly qualified math,
science and special education teachers. To be eligible, teachers (with no
outstanding loan balances before Oct.1, 1998, and who have borrowed before
Oct. 1, 2005) must be highly qualified, as defined by the No Child Left
Behind Act; must have taught full-time, for five consecutive years, in a
Title I school; and must have taught secondary math or science or
elementary or secondary special education to students with disabilities.
For more information, visit:

"Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes"
The Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes seeks nominations for its 2005
awards. The Barron Prize honors young people ages 8 to 18 who have shown
leadership and courage in public service to people and our planet. Each
year, ten national winners  each receive $2,000 to support their service
work or higher education. Nomination deadline is April 30. For more
information and to nominate, visit:

"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.

"Information on Grants for School Health Programs & Services"

GrantsAlert is a website that helps nonprofits, especially those involved
in education, secure the funds they need to continue their important work.

"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.

"Philanthropy News Digest"
Philanthropy News Digest, a weekly news service of the Foundation Center,
is a compendium, in digest form, of philanthropy-related articles and
features culled from print and electronic media outlets nationwide.


"I have never been lost, but I will admit to being confused for several
-Daniel Boone (frontier explorer)

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