PEN Weekly NewsBlast for January 21, 2005

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Date: Thu, 20 Jan 2005 19:25:49 -0800
Subject: PEN Weekly NewsBlast for January 21, 2005

Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
"Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."
The 20th century saw a great deal of school consolidations in the United
States, particularly in rural areas, with the number of schools dropping
from around 238,000 at the beginning of the century to 61,000 toward the
end, and the number of school districts falling from 128,000 to 16,000,
even as the general population more than tripled. The drive for efficiency
and increasing opportunity for urban immigrants were two of many forces
that drove the move to larger, more centralized education structures. Yet
even as schools continue to increase in average size, recent research
suggests that, all other variables being equal, students in small schools
tend to outperform their peers in larger schools. Research also suggests
that the removal of a school from a community can have a significant
negative effect on the social structures of the community. In addition to
the obvious role of educating children, schools also serve as centers for
civic education and community employment. Wayne Fuller, an authority on
rural education, commented 20 years ago that closing a country school
means destroying an institution that holds the community together.

The wisdom of retention, the policy of holding a child back to repeat the
same grade, has long been debated. The battle -- between those who believe
retention is damaging to children's psyches, social lives and attitudes
about school, particularly in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and those who
believe it is the best way to improve skills over the long haul -- has
played out in waves over decades past. Periods in which retention grew
popular are followed by times when it is not.  At the moment, retention is
rising in popularity nationally in a climate of school accountability
championed by the Bush administration's No Child Left Behind law. As a
centerpiece of his education policy, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New
York City initiated a retention effort last year, as have a range of other
municipalities and some entire states. Nationally, more than 15 percent of
students ages 6 to 17 are held back at least once before they leave
school, according to a 2001 report. Among their complaints, reports Monica
Davey, critics of retention worry that too many children who get held back
are eventually shuffled into special education programs as a way of
removing them from the retention rules and as a way of coping with those
who seem incapable of meeting the requirements, despite repeated trips
through the lesson plans.

Retention - Who Will benefit?
Resources and Advice For New Teachers
Retention And Social Promotion

A federal judge ordered the immediate removal of evolution disclaimers
from Cobb County, Georgia textbooks because they convey an
unconstitutional endorsement of religion. The judge said the stickers,
which call evolution "a theory, not a fact," violate both the U.S. and
Georgia constitutions. At this satirical webpage, you can read alternate
stickers that warn readers about textbooks that teach about gravity, the
spherical shape of the earth, plate tectonics, heliocentrism, special
relativity, and other unproven theories. The author of the page encourages
readers to download the stickers, make t-shirts, and wear them to school
board meetings.
also see:
Teaching Evolution vs. Intelligent Design Theory

If the culture of achievement is truly to take hold and endure, it must be
embedded in the hearts and minds, the belief systems and behaviors of
youngsters, their families, and the organizations that make up their
communities. Spreading the gospel of achievement mustn't be perceived as
merely another program that's vulnerable to the vicissitudes of external
funding, writes Hugh Price. Youngsters will respond affirmatively to the
message that "achievement matters," if it is conveyed with imagination and
persistence. For Price, the bottom line is deceptively simple: The more
motivated children are to learn, the easier it is for educators to empower
them to achieve.
also see:
Inspirational resource -Courage, Perserverence, Preparation, who are the
Pulitzer, and other winners, what do they al have in common?

Judged solely by recent statewide tests, fourth graders in Mississippi and
Colorado would appear to be the best young readers in the nation. In both
states, 87 percent of fourth graders passed their exams.  But Mississippi
came in dead last among the 50 states when fourth-grade reading was
examined using a different standard, a newly mandated but decades-old test
called the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or N.A.E.P. On
that test, only 18 percent of Mississippi's fourth graders achieved
proficiency. Colorado's proficiency rate fell to 37 percent on the
national test, but that score was high enough to rank fifth in the nation.
Such comparisons of performance on state tests versus national tests have
never been possible before on a nationwide basis, reports Susan Saulny.
The N.A.E.P., known as the nation's report card, used to be voluntary for
states. In 2003, it became mandatory. The comparisons suggest how widely
the definition of "proficient" varies from state to state, as each
administers its own exams and sets its own performance standards.
also see:
State Standards

The new economy may require higher-order skills such as creativity,
adaptability and teamwork, but most schools in low-income areas focus
narrowly on "basic" academic skills, testing and discipline. The student
boredom and academic failure that follow prompt calls for yet more testing
and discipline, writes Nick Rabkin and Robin Redmond. Many schools are
proving that integrating the arts into the core of the academic program is
a far more productive strategy. A study of 23 arts-integrated schools in
Chicago showed test scores rising up to two times faster there than in
demographically comparable schools. A study of a Minneapolis program
showed that arts integration has substantial effects for all students, but
appears to have its greatest impact on disadvantaged learners. Gains go
well beyond the basics and test scores. Students become better thinkers,
develop higher-order skills, and deepen their inclination to learn. The
studies also show that arts integration energizes and challenges teachers.
When the arts are an interdisciplinary partner with other subjects, they
generate conditions that cognitive scientists say are ideal for learning.
The curriculum becomes more hands-on and project-based, offering what
University of Chicago researchers have called authentic and challenging
intellectual work. Learning in all subjects becomes visible through the
arts. Teachers' opinions of their students rise. Students invest
emotionally in arts-integrated classrooms, where the curriculum often
connects lessons to their own experience, and where they often work in
groups and turn classrooms into learning communities. These classroom
changes lead to a cascade of broader school changes. Schedules change to
accommodate sustained attention to meaningful questions. Parents become
more involved in schools. Teachers collaborate and take on new leadership
roles. These successes make clear that the arts are not just affective and
expressive. They are also deeply cognitive.

Do you need resources that will  help your teachers use  art and
technology using, dance, folktales, geometry, digital photography,
poetry, story telling, video production, writing, cartoons, and more?


A majority of commonwealth charter schools in Massachusetts are
under-enrolled, according to data recently released by the Department of
Education, raising serious questions about the accuracy of claims that
these publicly funded, privately-run schools have extensive waiting lists.
According to Department of Education figures, 34 of 48 commonwealth
charter schools have fewer students than they claimed they would on
"confirmed enrollment" reports filed with the state last spring. Yet all
but five schools say they have students waiting to enroll. State-wide,
there are 803 fewer students enrolled in charter schools than claimed on
enrollment reports filed with the Department of Education in March of last
year. Charter schools are required to notify the department by March 18
each year of their "confirmed enrollment" for the coming school year. "If
waiting lists figures were accurate, there would not be so many empty
seats at so many charter schools," said Marilyn Segal, director of
Citizens for Public Schools. "Waiting lists appear to be little more than
cooked up numbers served to the public for political gain." The legitimacy
of charter school waiting lists has been increasingly called into
question. Charter proponents repeatedly claim that some 15,000 students
are waiting to enroll in commonwealth charter schools, and have cited the
figure as evidence of "demand" for more schools. Public school advocates
have said the figures are grossly inflated, noting that they include
students with only a passing interest in a school as well as students who
may have been interested at one time but have since enrolled elsewhere.
Also student names may be on waiting lists for several charter schools and
counted several times in the total waiting list figure.

Intermediary organizations, such as local education funds, have become
increasingly prominent participants in education policy implementation
despite limited knowledge about their distinctive functions and the
conditions that constrain their efforts. Despite their growing number,
writes Meredith Honig, research and experience teach little about
intermediary organizations. This makes it difficult to discern what
intermediary organizations are, what they do, how they operate, and what
factors catalyze or constrain their effectiveness. Honig observes five
dimensions of variation among intermediary organizations and begins to
build a theory about intermediary organizations as important participants
in contemporary policy implementation.

The principal of a Palo Alto middle school may not invite a popular
speaker back to an annual career day after he told girls they could earn a
good living as strippers. Management consultant William Fried told
eighth-graders at Jane Lathrop Stanford Middle School that stripping and
exotic dancing can pay $250,000 or more per year, depending on their bust
size. "It's sick, but it's true," Fried said in an interview later. "The
truth of the matter is you can earn a tremendous amount of money as an
exotic dancer, if that's your desire." Fried has given a popular 55-minute
presentation, "The Secret of a Happy Life," at the school's career day the
past three years. He counsels students to experiment with a variety of
interests until they discover something they love and excel in. But school
principal Joseph Di Salvo said Fried may not be back next year. The
principal said Fried's comments to the class came after some of them asked
him to expand on why he included "exotic dancing" on his list of 140
potential careers.

Cultivating human intelligence is one of the most difficult things in the
world. It is far more complex and takes far longer than producing cheaper
widgets or staging new ad campaigns. It takes millions of nuanced,
exquisitely tailored stimuli, all reinforced at the right time, in the
right context, and all delivered in a supportive emotional environment.
Even then, it's not always predictable. But it is a certainty to fail
without commitment, writes Robert Freeman. And imbuing a child with what
we call character is equally daunting. Perseverance, honesty, humility,
courage, responsibility, compassion -- these are just as important as the
intellectual gifts we treasure, but they don't come from assembly lines
either. Like intelligence, they take years of deeply personal, meticulous
cultivation. If they were so easy to manufacture, they would not be so
highly prized. These are the things we rightly want and need from our
educational system. But the lie we tell ourselves is that we can get them
on the cheap. California ranks 47th in the nation in per-pupil spending,
49th in class size. How many believe the company you work for can be the
best in its industry if it only pays for the cheapest workers, if it only
uses the cheapest materials in its products? None of us are so stupid as
to believe this, yet we pretend we can get away with it in education.
Increasing efficiency means removing variability while boosting output.
This is a great formula for mass-producing hamburgers or semiconductors.
It is a disaster for producing intelligence and character in children.
Remember, intelligence and character come from carefully managed
complexity, ambiguity and uncertainty, all delivered in a safe, patient,
nurturing environment. This is the opposite of efficiency.

As conservatives and liberals plan for the battles ahead, they're
enlisting a new generation of foot soldiers: kids. Dylan Morris, 14 years
old, says he is distraught over the 2004 election results. The son of
self-described activist liberals, he worries President Bush plans "to
crush our rights," expand the "oil war," and ignore global warming. A
veteran of many protest marches, he says it is "very Orwellian" when
conservative radio hosts dub liberals as "the enemy." Natalie Hair, 15,
attends First Baptist Church of Orlando, a 10,000-member evangelical
church. She says she feels a duty to "witness" by telling public-school
classmates the Bible forbids homosexuality, abortion and premarital sex.
She's glad her church teaches creationism. "That helps me defend my belief
that evolution is false," she says. She's a fan of George W. Bush, who won
a mock election among young parishioners at First Baptist, with 95% of the
votes. The divide that became so evident during the presidential race has
advocates from both sides trying to win the hearts and minds of
youngsters, many of whom will be able to vote in 2008. Without funding
from political parties, a host of groups are pursuing social agendas
involving kids -- addressing some of the most polarizing issues in the
political debate.

At no time in our history has the educational imperative for the academic
achievement of all students been so crucial. The learner of today is the
learner of tomorrow; the learner of today is the productive and
contributing citizen of tomorrow. Students achieving today will ensure
that our citizens of tomorrow are equipped to be self sufficient, raise
families, govern, and make important contributions to their communities,
the workforce, and a stable economy. Learning is everyone's business.
Schools alone cannot fulfill this imperative. The support of families and
communities is essential if all students are to achieve at high levels.
Without their help and support, the challenge will not be met. A new
report provides guidance for policy makers and leaders at the state,
regional, and local levels within and outside of the education system who
have a compelling interest in the achievement of all students and are
seeking effective ways to improve student learning. It introduces a set of
new concepts for systems of supports that students need if they are to
achieve at high levels. The document calls for rethinking the directions
for student supports in order to reduce fragmentation in the system and
increase the effectiveness and efficiency by which it operates. The
intended results are for all children and youth to succeed in school, grow
up healthy and socially competent, and be prepared for productive

If Washington state schools want to talk about sex at all, a bill
introduced yesterday may force them to teach everything, from abstinence
to condom use. The bill proposed by Rep. Shay Schual-Berke, D-Normandy
Park, would standardize sex education guidelines in public schools across
the state in hopes of giving students more complete knowledge. Students
from around the state came to support the bill. Some said they aren't
receiving the complete facts about sex and some said myths about sexually
transmitted disease prevention and birth control are rampant in public
schools statewide. Students from Olympia said their teachers decide
individually what kind of sex education -- and how much -- should be
taught. Zannah Herridge, a sophomore at Olympia High School, said she has
been taught an abstinence-only program. Across the city at Capital High
School, sophomore Jazzy Ramsey said she has received a more comprehensive
education. "A lot of people have told me that the withdrawal method is
effective" as contraception, said Herridge. Ramsey said she has a friend
who doesn't use condoms because she has been told they are ineffective.
"It's so terrible," said Ramsey. "Youth need medically accurate

Physical education experts say there's little accountability for P.E.
teachers in most schools. They say the classes are often poorly run, and
students don't spend much time in them anyway -- even as American children
grow fatter and more out of shape. Nearly one-fifth of all high school
P.E. teachers don't have a major and certification in physical education,
according to the most recent numbers from the National Center for
Education Statistics. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
reports that in 2003, only 28 percent of high school students nationwide
attended a daily P.E. class, but 38 percent watched television for three
hours or more each school night. While 71 percent of the nation's freshmen
were in P.E. at least one day a week -- hardly enough to be effective,
experts say -- those numbers drop to 40 percent by the students' senior
year. But participation varies widely by state.

We all know the tremendous pressures every school is under to prepare
students for the new SAT and high-stakes testing required by "No Child
Left Behind." Educators are looking for strategies and programs that
develop students' reading, critical thinking and writing skills. With
these needs in mind, American Association of School Administrators (AASA),
the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) and the
Josephson Institute of Ethics (administrator of the national Character
Counts Coalition) have partnered to create Foundations for Life, a new
maxim-based essay and discussion program that can build the skills
necessary to have a positive impact on test scores. At the same time,
participation in the program will provide students with an unusually
powerful opportunity to broaden their exposure to enduring truths and
profound insights found in literature, history and philosophy. Funded by
the Templeton Foundation, the program provides school administrators with
a no-cost, easy-to-implement way to: (1) Enrich existing programs, (2)
Meet state and federal academic standards, (3) Give students the incentive
to develop a love of reading and learning, and (4) Help them develop
positive life strategies. Schools may also submit up to five essays per
grade level to the national Foundations for Life recognition program - a
significant benefit to students and their schools. National submissions
are due March 15, 2005. The national FFL office will communicate award
results by May 1 to accommodate school ceremonies and graduations. You can
call the Josephson Institute at (800) 711-2670 or e-mail FFL@xxxxxxxxxxxx
to request that the kits be mailed to you. Or download free materials and
information from:

Critics of school choice worry that parents, especially low-income
parents, will fail to make academics a priority when choosing a school.
Rather, proximity of location, expense or student peers may dominate
enrollment decisions.  This may lead to greater stratification along
socioeconomic lines.  Proponents of school choice dismiss this charge,
because numerous surveys show that all parents consider academic
performance a priority.  But do survey responses match parental behaviors?
  A new study by Gregory Elacqua examines the actual behavior of parents
when selecting schools in the Metropolitan Region of Santiago, Chile.
Chile has sponsored a national voucher program since 1980 where all
students can choose to enroll in public, private non-profit or for-profit
schools, both secular and religious.  First, Elacqua conducts a survey of
parents.  He agrees with past studies and reports that parents list
academics to be important when selecting a school.  Next, Elacqua conducts
a multivariate analysis of parental behavior to ascertain what criteria
parents actually used in making their decisions.  He found that parents'
decisions were more heavily influenced by school demographics than
academic performance.  Based on this evidence, he argues that unfettered
choice may further stratify student populations, thereby reducing
competition and incentives for schools to improve.

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

"Participate in January 2005: The Fourth Annual Character's Cool Contest!"
Attention teachers and students! The MindOH! Foundation's fourth annual
Character's Cool Contest will be accepting entries January 1st through the
31st in 2005. The contest is a national online contest to help middle and
high school students reflect on what it means to have good character.
Students can fill out the online survey to win prizes such as a Nintendo
Game Cube, a portable CD/MP3 player, gift certificates, games or sports
memorabilia. Students can also enter the essay contest to win cash prizes
of $500 for first place, $250 for second place and $175 for third place.
The school with the most survey entries wins the grand prize of a new
computer and a one-year subscription to MindOH!'s Discipline and Life
Skills Series. The second place school receives Project Wisdom's character
education materials. For more information e-mail,
contests@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx or visit:

"The National School and Business Partnerships Award"
Created by The Council for Corporate & School Partnerships, The National
School and Business Partnerships Award recognizes exemplary partnerships
between schools and businesses around the country. Partnerships involving
kindergarten through 12th grade public schools and/or school districts and
businesses are eligible to apply for the award. For further eligibility
rules, please download the application packet. The Council presents six
awards per year. Those selected for the award receive national recognition
and the schools or districts receive $10,000 to support partnership
efforts. Application Deadline: January 28, 2005

"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.

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.

"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.

===========PEN NewsBlast==========
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reform and school fundraising resources. The PEN NewsBlast is the property
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