PEN Weekly NewsBlast for May 12, 2006

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  • Date: Tue, 16 May 2006 10:40:50 -0400

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********************************************************************* ********************************************************************* PLEASE ADD YOUR K12 SCHOOL OR SCHOOL DISTRICT TO THE MASTER REGISTRY OF K-12 SCHOOLS ONLINE

The registry is organized by state and by grade level.
The registry also includes sites for charter Schools, virtual schools,
school districts, state and regional education organizations, state
departments of education, state standards and state administrators.

Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast "Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."

An essential tool for child advocates for more than two decades, the
annual "The State of America's Children," from the Children's Defense Fund
takes a close look at 37 million people living in America who are poor
(including 13 million children) and the growing numbers of families
struggling to survive.  The 2005 edition Includes most recent (September
2005) U.S. poverty data throughout; personal stories and photographs;
in-depth analyses of the current status of family income, child health,
child care and early childhood development, education, child welfare, and
youth development; and personal and policy success stories and
recommendations for just treatment for children and poor families. Chapter
Four, which can be downloaded for free, is full of analysis of pressing
education issues (including NCLB, school funding, high-stakes testing and
zero tolerance policies) and powerful (and jaw-dropping) statistics.

Three basic differences separate businesses from schools: the multiple
purposes of tax-supported public schools; public responsibility for
achieving these purposes; and democratic deliberations in deciding
policies and determining school success. The profound differences in
purposes, democratic decision making and accountability for outcomes
between businesses and schools mean the basic assumption of
corporate-inspired reformers -- that schools and businesses are
fundamentally alike - is deeply flawed. This is why it is crucial that
U.S. policymakers, practitioners, researchers, parents and taxpayers know
clearly in what respects schools and businesses are alike and in what ways
they differ. Business-inspired reform will not go away, writes Larry Cuban
in The School Administrator. When business-minded policy proposals arise
again -- and they will -- their assumptions, logic and evidence have to be
dissected carefully and arrayed against the many purposes that
tax-supported public schools serve.

Nearly half of the nation's children under 5 are racial or ethnic
minorities, and the percentage is increasing mainly because the Hispanic
population is growing so rapidly, according to a new census report. In
some suburban communities, government officials face a cultural generation
gap as they weigh demands from older white residents for senior-citizen
centers, transportation and other aid against requests from younger,
mainly minority residents for translation assistance, preschools and other
services. Experts say immigrant families are becoming more concerned with
the quality of their children's early education, aware that it can affect
their future academic success.

Immigration is a major issue in the news right now and looks to be a major
issue for the fall elections, both on the local level in many parts of the
country and on the national level. Large demonstrations are taking place
in major cities. Students are walking out of schools. Politicians are
trying to out-do the other in how "tough" they can sound. But what
resources are available for teachers who want to tackle the issue of
immigration in their classrooms? How can they talk about root causes of
immigration, about the broader economic relationship between Mexico and
the United States, and about the history of the border? These
considerations are almost always missing from the sound bites on the news
and the talk shows. The spring issue of Rethinking Schools includes a
special section of articles recounting how teachers across the country are
addressing one of the most vexing issues of our day -- immigration.

The charter school movement began with the tantalizing promise that
independently operated schools would outperform their traditional
counterparts -- if they could only be exempted from state regulations
while receiving public money. It hasn't quite worked out that way. With
charter laws now on the books in about 40 states and thousands of schools
up and running, the problem has turned out to be too little state
oversight, not too much. Even states with disastrously low-performing
charter systems can point to a handful of outstanding schools. But several
studies have shown that on the whole, charter schools perform no better
than other public schools. Beyond that, some states have opened so many
charter programs so quickly that they can barely count them, let alone
monitor student performance. Where charters have clearly failed, the
states often lack the political will -- or even a process -- for closing
them down. Promising charter systems are few. But those that exist have
some things in common: The states issue charters only after a rigorous
screening process. They provide technical assistance to the schools,
especially on procurement matters. And they provide sophisticated
oversight -- with regular and systematic data collection -- to make sure
that the schools are actually working. So far, the national experience
with charter schools shows that they are not a magical solution to the
achievement problem. The only way to improve public schooling is to
provide well-trained teachers and orderly schools, and to monitor them to
make sure that the students are actually learning. To salvage the charter
movement, the states will need to abandon the strategy, now discredited,
that consists largely of giving public money to what are basically private
schools and then looking the other way.

The Iowa Association of School Boards website offers a handful of tools,
checklists, and tipsheets aimed at improving community relations, building
community understanding of school roles and improvement efforts,
increasing school board members' knowledge of school improvement and
student achievement strategies, and numerous resources to help make school
board meetings a powerful community relations tool.

According to surveys, the public and teachers want an increase in teacher
pay. Of course, there are other pressing issues, including better
facilities, better curricula, better-trained administrators, and greater
parent involvement. But responses to these needs, because they involve
overcoming ingrained bureaucratic obstacles or instilling personal
motivation, take years to ripple through the system. So, let's start by
simply eliminating federal income taxes on the earnings of any K-12
teacher teaching at an accredited school. Effective salaries would
immediately rise to more livable levels, and improved quality would follow
right behind, writes Leo Hindery, Jr. Although the United States has
approximately 3 million K-12 teachers, their aggregate federal income
taxes run only about $15 billion to $20 billion a year, which is a tiny
six-tenths of 1 percent of the U.S. Treasury's expected total receipts.

Falling short of requirements under President Bush's education law, about
1,750 U.S. schools have been ordered into radical "restructuring," subject
to mass firings, closure, state takeover or other moves aimed at wiping
their slates clean. Many are finding resolutions short of such drastic
measures. But there is growing concern that the number of schools in
serious trouble under the No Child Left Behind law is rising sharply -- up
44 percent over the past year alone -- and is expected to swell by
thousands in the next few years.  Schools make the list by falling short
in math or reading for at least five straight years.  In perspective, the
total amounts to 3 percent of roughly 53,000 schools that get federal
poverty aid and face penalties under the No Child Left Behind law. The
Associated Press reported last month that schools were deliberately not
counting the test scores of nearly 2 million students, mostly minorities,
when they measure progress by racial groups. Those exclusions have made it
easier for schools to meet their yearly goals.  Still, more than a quarter
of the nation's schools have failed to make adequate yearly progress for
at least one year.

Students of teachers who hold certification from the National Board for
Professional Teaching Standards achieve, on average, no greater academic
progress than students of teachers without the special status, a
long-awaited study using North Carolina data concludes. Bess Keller
reports that the study found that there was basically no difference in the
achievement levels of students whose teachers earned the prestigious NBPTS
credential, those who tried but failed to earn it, those who never tried
to get the certification, or those who earned it after the student
test-score data was collected. The results of the study came to light last
week after Andrew Rotherham -- co-founder and director of Washington-based
Education Sector -- used a posting on his Eduwonk blog to note that the
privately organized NBPTS national board had apparently been "sitting on"
the results because they were not favorable.

The Coalition for Community Schools is pleased to announce the release of
its new paper, Growing Community Schools: the Role of Cross-Boundary
Leadership. This paper highlights 11 communities around the country whose
community school initiatives are moving toward the "tipping point".
Chicago now has 102 community schools; Multnomah County 56 (of 150) and in
Tukwila, Washington all five schools are community schools.  The report
focuses on how innovative cross-boundary leaders from education, local
government, public, private and community-based agencies, business and
other sectors are organizing themselves and their communities to create
and sustain community schools.  Leaders in these communities recognize
that helping all young people succeed means providing them with as much
support and as many pathways to success as possible.

A judge said Monday he is likely to prohibit the state from requiring that
high school seniors pass an exit exam to graduate, siding with attorneys
who say the test discriminates against the poor. A group of high school
students and their parents sued the state Department of Education in
February, seeking a preliminary injunction to halt giving the exam to this
year's senior class. It's the first class required to pass the exam to
earn a diploma. Both sides are scheduled to appear Tuesday before Alameda
County Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman in Oakland. Freedman said in
his tentative ruling that he is likely to issue the injunction, based on
the plaintiffs' argument that all California students do not have access
to the same quality of education.

MTV released the results of "Just Cause," a research study that
deconstructs how youth perceive "activism" and explores the motivating
factors and barriers in their decision to become involved in social
causes.  The study includes more than 1200 young people, including expert
interviews, ethnographies and a national poll of a representative sample
with participants ages 12 to 24. Findings deconstruct youth activism and
find an "activation gap", showing a strong disparity between interest in
and involvement in social causes. Anecdotal responses from respondents
also offer clues into successful strategies into closing the "activation

ECP Achievement, Voter Education, Volunteerism Resources

An up-to-date, attractive and user-friendly school district website is
like having an extra public information officer on staff -- only one whom
you don't have to pay every week or provide with health care benefits. If
you can't recall the last time your school system redesigned or upgraded
its website, it may be time to move this frequently neglected area to the
top of the to-do list for your communications or technology staff.
Education is increasingly high-tech and a school's website should reinforce that fact
with a professional-looking site. Information is an education agency
website's greatest commodity. While a busy classroom is good, a busy
website is not. An up-to-date website is also an easy way to promote a
positive image of your school or district. An active, current site
suggests an active, current school. A neglected site doesn't necessarily
mean a neglected school, but it will raise the question in people's minds.

Suppose Colin Powell tires of giving $100,000-a-pop speeches and wants to
teach high school social studies. Suppose Meryl Streep has a hankering to
teach drama. Alas, they would be "unqualified" for a public school. Elite
private schools would snap them up, but public schools that are begging
for teachers would have to turn them away because they don't have teacher
certification. That's an absurd snarl in our education bureaucracy, writes
Nicholas Kristof. Let's relax the barriers so people can enter teaching
more easily, right out of college or as a midcareer switch. One study
after another has concluded it is time to relax teacher certification

The Center for Courage & Renewal invites you to take part in a new book
project tentatively titled "Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Lead."
Modeled after the popular "Teaching With Fire: Poetry that Sustains the
Courage to Teach" (Jossey-Bass 2003), the format will be an anthology of
poems and short personal commentaries describing how the poem helps
leaders make sense of their life and work.  Like the first poetry book,
the new volume is intended to honor the people, passions, and practices
that restore hope in our world.  A more substantial explanation of the
project, deadline information (June 30th), and submissions guidelines are
available at:

America may be the world's superpower, but its survival rate for newborn
babies ranks near the bottom among modern nations, better only than
Latvia. Among 33 industrialized nations, the United States is tied with
Hungary, Malta, Poland and Slovakia with a death rate of nearly 5 per
1,000 babies, according to a new report. Latvia's rate is 6 per 1,000. "We
are the wealthiest country in the world, but there are still pockets of
our population who are not getting the health care they need," said Mary
Beth Powers, a reproductive health adviser for the U.S.-based Save the
Children, which compiled the rankings based on health data from countries
and agencies worldwide. The U.S. ranking is driven partly by racial and
income health care disparities. Among U.S. blacks, there are 9 deaths per
1,000 live births, closer to rates in developing nations than to those in
the industrialized world. The researchers also said lack of national
health insurance and short maternity leaves likely contribute to the poor
U.S. rankings, reports Lindsey Tanner. Those factors can lead to poor
health care before and during pregnancy, increasing risks for premature
births and low birth weight, which are the leading causes of newborn death
in industrialized countries. Infections are the main culprit in developing
nations, the report said. Other possible factors in the U.S. include teen
pregnancies and obesity rates, which both disproportionately affect
African-American women and also increase risk for premature births and low
birth weights.


Physical Fitness, Healthy Diet, Multi-tasking,
Brain Based Learning and Brain Development
Sleep, Character Development,Language Development

The House of Representatives will soon be voting on the FY 2007 budget
resolution, a budget plan that if approved would significantly reduce the
current level of services in the areas of child care, health care, child
abuse prevention, and nutrition. While looking for ways to cut spending,
the House is also preparing the tax reconciliation bill with approximately
$70 billion in new tax cuts. Such cuts threaten dollars for services and
increase the fiscal burden we are passing down to the next generation.
According to data from the Tax Policy Center and an analysis by the Center
on Budget and Policy Priorities, the tax reconciliation package under
consideration would offer moderate-income families about $20 in a tax
break, while the average millionaire-household tax break would be $42,000.
Instead of a budget plan that favors the wealthiest over the neediest,
we're better off with no budget plan at all say youth and other advocates.
Instead of giving billions in tax handouts to millionaires,
budget-watchers say we should be using our money to improve health care,
access to college, and child care assistance. Call the American Friends
Service Committee's toll-free number -- 800-459-1887 -- to tell Congress
to either pass a budget plan that protects vital services for youth or
else vote for no budget plan at all.

Young people who are involved in sports report higher levels of voting,
volunteering and news attentiveness than their peers who do not
participate in sports, according to new. Researchers were not able to draw
any direct conclusions as to why student athletes were more engaged in
their community, and considered the possibility that people who choose to
do sports might naturally be more inclined to participate in civic
affairs. "However, I think that sports participation helps to develop a
set of civic skills that are transferable to other areas," Mark Hugo Lopez
says. "For example, being part of a group, and learning to work with other
people could lead to a lifetime of group membership."

The cost of sending a preschool-age child to day care in Wyoming exceeds
the cost of sending a student to college classes in the state, according
to a recent report by a national group. Parents of a 4-year-old in Wyoming
pay an average of $5,438 for preschool care each year, according to the
study titled "Breaking the Piggy Bank: Parents and the High Price of Child
Care," from the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral
Agencies. At the University of Wyoming, meanwhile, a resident student
taking 12 credit hours each semester would pay $2,208 in tuition, while a
student paying out-of-state tuition would pay $7,320. The study found that
the cost of child care exceeded the cost of college in 42 states,
including Wyoming.

Convinced that students can't learn the material if they're not in class,
the New York Board of Regents is considering setting attendance targets
for individual schools, said State Education Commissioner Richard P.
Mills. That move would have the greatest local impact in Buffalo, where at
some high schools, as many as three of every 10 students fail to show up
on a given day. The other local districts that struggle most with
attendance are generally those in small cities. Many of their students,
like those in Buffalo, struggle with the effects of poverty. More-affluent
local suburban districts register high school attendance rates as high as
97%. The attendance targets are viewed as a new element in the state's
effort to boost high school graduation rates, Mills said. Statewide, just
64% of students who entered high school in 2001 graduated four years

"What is the deal with cutting down the Croatan National Forest?" the
letter began. "How would you like it if we cut down some trees around your
house?" Haley Wester, a sixth grader at Broad Creek Middle School, was
voicing the sentiments of her classmates and North Carolina's top
officials when she wrote Mark Rey, under secretary of agriculture, two
months ago to protest his proposal to sell 309,000 acres of National
Forest land across the country, including nearly 10,000 in North Carolina.
The letter was gloriously blunt, but Ms. Wester was hardly alone in her
feelings -- the proposal has evoked strong protest around the country and
in Congress. The recipient's response, however, was a bit out of the
ordinary: Mr. Rey flew to Carteret County to defend the proposal before
Dave Holland's sixth-grade science classes.

Early symptoms of the disease -- lethargy, lack of focus, difficulty
making decisions -- often appear in the fall. By spring the average,
healthy high school senior may have completely succumbed. Senioritis
attacks high-achieving, average and struggling students alike. By this
time in the school year, most college-bound seniors have turned in their
applications and received their acceptance letters. Many of them
understandably feel entitled to a little downtime. The 30% of seniors who
aren't headed for higher learning may not have figured out what they want
to do after graduation, but they are pretty sure that it won't require
algebra or Shakespeare. In short, the second semester of the last year of
high school is a kind of waiting room for the next stage of life. But over
the past few years, high schools and colleges have begun experimenting
with ways to keep students more engaged during the period between
homecoming weekend and the senior prom. Those efforts include internships
that keep seniors motivated by allowing them to explore their passions,
dual-enrollment programs on college campuses that offer a sneak preview of
the higher-education experience and tests designed to alert those likely
to have trouble keeping up in college that they should buckle down.,9171,1191831,00.html

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

"Grants for Youth Literacy"
The Dollar General Community Grants Program focuses on youth literacy
initiatives in communities where the company does business. Maximum Award:
$2,500. Eligibility: Organization must be located in Dollar General's
33-state operating territory and must be within 20 miles of the nearest
Dollar General Store. (A store locator is available online.) Deadline:
June 5, 2006.

"U.S. Dana Foundation Rural Arts Initiatives"
Beginning in 2007, The Dana Foundation will grant professional development
programs in rural communities in the U.S. Dana Foundation Rural Arts
Initiatives are interested in professional artists teaching performing
arts in public schools and in-school arts specialists who teach performing
arts in the public schools. Maximum Award: varies up to $50,000.
Eligibility: Rural organizations with professional artists serving the
K-12 education community. Deadline: June 15, 2006.

"Grants for Music Education and Talent Development Programs"
The ASCAP Foundation is now considering proposals from organizations
engaging in music education and talent development programs that support
music education programs for aspiring songwriters and composers. Maximum
Award: $5,000. Eligibility: Organization must be 501(c)(3). Deadline:
October 1, 2006.

"Red, White, and Green Climate Change Grants"
Youth Service America and the Civil Society Institute are awarding Red,
White, and Green Climate Change Grants to design a service-learning
project that promotes awareness about climate change and possible
solutions. Projects should be youth-led, and the service must take place
between October 1 and November 30, 2006. Maximum Award: $500. Eligibility:
youth between the ages of 15-25 or to organizations serving or engaging
youth ages 15-25. Deadline: September 1, 2006.

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

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

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