PEN Weekly NewsBlast for May 4, 2006

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  • Date: Mon, 08 May 2006 12:12:05 -0400

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The registry also includes sites for charter Schools, virtual schools,
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Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
"Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."

A PORTRAIT OF AMERICA'S TEACHERS According to research from various sources, today's teachers are primarily white, female, married, religious, and on average are 43 years old. More than half hold at least a master's degree. Forty-five years ago, in 1961, only 23 percent held advanced degrees. Additionally, 21st century teachers: (1) Spend an average of 50 hours per week on all teaching duties, including noncompensated school-related activities such as grading papers, bus duty and club advising; (2) Teach an average of 21 pupils (elementary). Secondary schoolteachers have an average class size of 28 pupils; (3) Spend an average of $443 per year of their own money to meet the needs of their students. Elementary teachers spend about $498 per year. Secondary teachers spend about $386. Teachers of color spend about $470 per year, more than the $434 spent by white teachers. (4) Make an average starting salary of $31,704 per year, not including supplemental pay for extra duties. (5) Enter the teaching profession to help shape the next generation. Nearly three out of four (73%) enter teaching because of their desire to work with young people. And nearly seven out of 10 teachers (68%) cite it as the reason for remaining in the profession.

Public concern over implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB)
is rising, according to a new report from Public Education Network. "Open
to the Public: The Public Speaks out on No Child Left Behind," identifies
specific concerns voiced by more than 1500 parents, students, taxpayers,
and community leaders at open public hearings from September to January of
this year. The hearings were designed to gain grassroots and civic input
on the law from groups often left out of the policy debate, yet profoundly
impacted by its implementation.  Throughout the hearings, the public
rejected a single test as an accurate measure of school improvement.
Parents and community leaders indicated that discrepancies between state
and federal measures of school progress have created a deep mistrust of
high-stakes tests and other NCLB indicators as accurate assessments of
school performance. And, they believe that accountability must be expanded
to include additional measures of school and student progress, developed
with the input of local educators, parents, and the community. Americans
are also angered by the labeling of schools as "in need of improvement"
because they say that this label erodes public support for these schools.
Rather than increasing the public's sense of responsibility for demanding
additional support and resources, 'in need of improvement' labels are
perceived as punitive and can result in student, teacher, and community
abandonment of the very schools most in need of support. The report
outlines several specific community-based recommendations for improving
NCLB during the upcoming reauthorization of the law.

Thirty years ago, Congress announced that more than half of American
children with disabilities were not receiving appropriate educational
services. Today, American schools have a world-class system for
differentiating instruction for all students, regardless of cognitive,
emotional or physical limitations. That's quite an accomplishment, and
something about which educators should be proud. Alas, there's a rub,
reports Pamela Wheaton Schorr. While children with disabilities are now
welcomed into classrooms with open arms, it can be hard to find educators
embracing the kind of frank discussions that normally accompany such a sea
change in instruction. Whether it's because teachers and administrators
are all leery of being called prejudiced, embarrassed about some of their
past policies or simply too overwhelmed with day-to-day work to get their
arms around the bigger issues, the result is the same: There are a number
of seemingly insurmountable challenges in special education, and not much
is being said about them: (1) Not all special ed students have gotten the
education they deserve; (2) Special education teachers are often
considered second-class citizens; (3) Special education paperwork
overwhelms teachers and administrators; (4) A disproportionate number of
children of color end up in special education; and (5) Numbers of
special-ed students grow as number of dollars shrink.

Even with ongoing news coverage of the war in Iraq, the aftermath of
natural disasters in far-flung regions, and the globalization of the
marketplace, young adults in the United States appear isolated,
uninformed, and indifferent when it comes to the world's people, places,
and cultures, according to a new survey of Americans' geographic
knowledge. The latest geographic-literacy study by the National Geographic
Education Foundation concludes that too many young adults lack basic
knowledge of the world, leaving them essentially unprepared for living in
an increasingly global society. And few understand the importance of such
skills or deem them essential, reports Kathleen Kennedy Manzo. "Most young
[American] adults between the ages of 18 and 24 demonstrate a limited
understanding of the world beyond their country's borders, and they place
insufficient importance on the basic geographic skills that might enhance
their knowledge," says the study. Six in 10 respondents, for example,
could not find Iraq on a map of the Middle East, most did not know that
Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim nation, and only one-fourth knew that
Mandarin Chinese -- not English -- is the most widely spoken native
language in the world. Indeed, less than a year after Hurricane Katrina
ravaged New Orleans, just two-thirds of those polled could find Louisiana
on a map. About half could locate New York state.

The nation's largest beverage distributors have agreed to halt nearly all
sales of sodas to public schools -- a step that will remove the sugary,
caloric drinks from vending machines and cafeterias around the country.
Under the agreement, the companies also have agreed to sell only water,
unsweetened juice and low-fat milks to elementary and middle schools. Diet
sodas would be sold only to high schools. "I don't think anyone should
underestimate the influence this agreement will have," said Susan Neely,
president and CEO of the American Beverage Association, which has signed
onto the deal. "I think other people are going to want to follow this
agreement because it just makes sense." The agreement should reach an
estimated 87 percent of the public and private school drink market, Neely
said. Industry giants Cadbury Schweppes PLC, Coca-Cola Co. and PepsiCo
Inc. and the ABA have signed on. Officials said they hope companies
representing the other 13 percent of the market would follow suit. The
Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a collaboration between the William
J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association, helped broker
the deal.

At a time when record fuel prices threaten to siphon money from school
budgets, school bus manufacturer IC Corp. has partnered with the Enova
Systems, a developer of electric, hybrid, and fuel-cell digital power
management systems, to build what the companies are calling the nation's
first hybrid diesel-electric school bus. A prototype of the hybrid vehicle
is scheduled to be delivered to a school bus customer this spring, though
IC executives have not disclosed the name of the client. Widespread
production on the model is expected in 2008, reports Robert Brumfield.
That's too late to help school systems weather the current high cost of
fuel--but it could give schools leaders some hope for the future.

The 11th annual IMSTEA Super Mileage Challenge was recently held at
Indianapolis Raceway Park. The Stock Class winner was Mater Dei High
School of Evansville, Ind., at 1,242.76 MPG, and the Unlimited Class
winner was William Henry Harrison High School of Lafayette, Ind., at
1,060.30 MPG. The students build their own cars under the supervision of a
faculty member. They are responsible for the design and construction of
the car and for raising all funds needed for the project. Engines are
furnished by Briggs & Stratton Corp., but all other items must be either
purchased or donated by sponsors. The students learn not only the
technical and scientific aspects of building a high mileage car, they also
learn how to work as a team and solve complex problems.

For the first time in its 79-year history, the National Spelling Bee will
go prime time for next month's drama-filled finals. Thanks to recent
movies, books and even a Broadway musical, young spellers are suddenly
hot. After 12 years of showings by the sports cable network ESPN, the
final rounds of the two-day Scripps National Spelling Bee will be shown
live Thursday evening, June 1, on the ABC network. Imagine spelling
"appoggiatura" -- last year's championship word, meaning melodic tone.
Then imagine trying to spell it while knowing that millions of people
across the country are watching.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, announced
findings from the 2005 National School Climate Survey (NSCS), the only
national survey to document the experiences of students who identify as
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) in America's schools. The
survey reveals that anti-LGBT bullying and harassment remain commonplace
in America's schools. 75. 4% of students heard derogatory remarks such as
"faggot" or "dyke" frequently or often at school, and nearly nine out of
ten (89.2%) reported hearing "that's so gay" or "you're so gay" -- meaning
stupid or worthless-- frequently or often. Physical harassment and assault
is also too frequently reported. Overall, LGBT students were twice as
likely as the general population of students to report they were not
planning to pursue any post-secondary education. The average GPA for LGBT
students who were frequently physically harassed was half a grade lower
than that of LGBT students experiencing less harassment (2.6 versus 3.1).
On a positive note, the report indicates that trained and supportive
staff, the presence of Gay Student Alliance clubs, and anti-bullying
policies all lead to reductions in harassment.

Buddy Bagley has a new cause: overcrowded schools. He believes that tax
dollars will not arrive soon enough to begin construction on four new
public schools, so he is launching a $54 million campaign to raise the
money from private donors. Bagley said if the foundation can get 100,000
residents to donate $180 during the first year, the group would raise $18
million. At the end of three years, the group would have $54 million. "How
do you eat a 4,000-pound elephant," Bagley asked. "One bite at a time. How
do you build a school building? One square foot at a time." Critics say
that public education is a public responsibility and should be paid with
funds from the public purse.

For decades, boys and girls have arrived at kindergarten with a must-have
from the supply list: A comfy mat for nap time. Today, they can leave
their tiny mats at home, reports Gail Smith-Arrants. Across the nation,
academic pressures in public schools are getting pushed down to
kindergarten. Not even 5-year-olds have time for naps anymore. The
national move away from naptime and to making kindergarten a more studious
environment can come at a price, some educators say. Young children can be
hurried into academics too soon, they worry. Today's on-the-go
kindergarten is not the one that baby boomers, or even some boomers'
children, remember. "Kindergarten has experienced the greatest change of
any grade level in the system," said Susan Allred. "We went from spending
a semester playing in kitchen centers to actually teaching them to read
and write." Instead of naps, some teachers ask children to rest their
heads on their desks for about 20 minutes. They use the time to work
one-on-one with students who need extra help.

Most states require physical education for elementary and high school
students, but the time in these classes is often short and is being
gobbled up by other academic demands, a new report says. Some classes are
even offered online. The trend could undercut efforts to stave off obesity
in children, the researchers say. These are among the findings of a survey
of physical education coordinators in the education agencies of all 50
states and the District of Columbia. It was conducted by the National
Association for Sport and Physical Education, a group of professionals in
the field, and the American Heart Association. "Schools have a difficult
time squeezing everything in," says Bruce Hunter. "PE and the arts have
gotten pushed to the side a little because administrators, principals and
teachers are trying to get in as much instructional time as they can to
prepare for state achievement tests."

In a new book on school commercialism, Alex Molnar examines how various
commercial initiatives -- from the advertising-driven Channel One, to
exclusive vending machine contracts in school districts, to for-profit
schools run by companies like the Edison Project and other market-centered
charter schools -- threaten the future of American education. Schools are
an ideal and hugely desirous location for targeting kids. In one
institution, an otherwise disparate market segment is captive and
organized by age. Even more, because children experience school-based
advertising in what is otherwise thought to be a public institution,
legitimacy is conferred on marketers' actions. By participating in
schools, in other words, corporate America is able to buy a degree of
community good will while selling directly to kids in a focused
environment. School commercialism also serves two other functions: it
provides a podium to disseminate corporate ideas and values; and, most
significantly, it provides an essential venue for spreading the notion
that consumption itself is the most important framework within which
personal and social happiness, meaning and fulfillment can be found. This
latter function is really where corporate activity poses a significant
challenge to the integrity of schools. As Molnar explains, through the
increased presence of corporate culture the work of schools shifts from a
site that develops young people as engaged learners and active citizens to
a site that produces consumers who are brand conscious and brand loyal,
and at an increasingly younger age. "The more corporate special interests
are allowed to influence what schools teach -- and, by extension, limit
what they cannot teach -- the less students are seen as active
citizens-to-be, and the more they are seen as passive

Eight months after Hurricane Katrina flattened the Gulf Coast region and
displaced about 372,000 students, school officials say restrictions on how
they can spend federal relief money are slowing down their efforts to
rebuild and reopen schools. A few lawmakers say the effort should be
stripped from the Federal Emergency Management Agency altogether and
handed to a proposed "education recovery czar" at the U.S. Education
Department. In many cases, superintendents have started rebuilding efforts
on their own, crossing their fingers that federal aid would follow,
reports Greg Toppo. A few federal officials say the problem with
distributing relief dollars lies with overcautious state officials who
don't want to misspend. But school officials say they're right to be
cautious -- they must inform Congress of all projects of more than $1
million and can't start until buildings are assessed. But there's an acute
shortage of assessors, they add.

"African-American students are far more likely than white students to
report that their teachers have low academic expectations for them," finds
a new report from the Education Alliance, a local education fund.
"African-American pupils are also less likely to indicate that there are
sufficient caring and mentoring relationships between students and
teachers." Researchers surveyed 19 West Virginia schools -- four in
central cities, two in mid-sized cities, three in small towns and 10 in
rural areas, reports Anna L. Mallory. "This may be the most important
research we've done," said Hazel Palmer, director of the alliance. "We're
not saying [students'] perception is reality. But, it is now." The study
was sponsored by the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and the Public
Education Network. Researchers also found that even poor students in rural
schools have a brighter outlook than more urban students.  The survey is
primarily a set of data that Palmer said might be too easy to dismiss.
But, she said educators should not ignore the findings. She said it goes
hand in hand with a study released two years ago of student responses to
similar questions. That study also found that students believe race and
poverty affect their academic standing.  State educators said they would
not dismiss either report and are working to remedy the problems.

Recent research on three high school reform models from MDRC offers hope
that programs can improve low-performing high schools. Together, these
three interventions are being implemented in more than 2,500 high schools
across the country, and various components of these models are being used
in thousands more schools. Each model has been the subject of rigorous
evaluation by MDRC, and each has been shown to improve some measures of
student success. The new report offers lessons from across these three
studies on: (1) Creating personalized and orderly learning environments;
(2) Assisting students who enter high school with poor academic skills;
(3) Improving instructional content and practice; (4) Preparing students
for the world beyond high school; and (5) Stimulating change in
overstressed high schools. The report asserts that structural changes and
instructional improvement are the twin pillars of high school reform.
MDRC's research suggests that transforming schools into small learning
communities and assigning students to faculty advisors can increase
students' feelings of connectedness to their teachers. Extended class
periods, special catch-up courses, high-quality curricula, and training on
these curricula for teachers can improve student achievement. Furthermore,
school-employer partnerships that involve career awareness activities and
work internships can help students attain higher earnings after high

In August 2004, New York City launched possibly the largest, most
aggressive overhaul of teacher induction in the country. Recognizing, as
in many urban school systems, that new teachers were leaving the city
schools faster than they could be replaced, the NYC Department of
Education (DOE), the United Federation of Teachers (UFT), and the New
Teacher Center at the University of California, Santa Cruz (NTC) joined
forces to implement a $36 million program that would change the way new
teachers are supported throughout the city. This policy paper describes
the parameters of the project, assessing successes and challenges. It
highlights six key lessons from their work: (1) Build political will for
reform of inductions systems; (2) Ensure all mentoring programs develop
and maintain a high-quality selection process; (3) Identify and support
successful program standards; (4) Align mentoring program and general
induction activities with district and regional programs related to
teacher development; (5) Address systemic and infrastructure issues that
impact new teachers; and (6) Leverage systems change by building on mentor
skills, knowledge, and experience.

Children are like 401(k) plans. The more we invest in them, the greater
the reward. That's why the new Community Report Card for Parents developed
by Partners in Public Education (PIPE), a local education fund in Memphis,
TN, is so important to parents. Each school report card contains a profile
of the school with the name of the principal, phone numbers and local
school board members; special programs; safety; average class size; TCAP
proficiency; overall performance; suspensions and expulsions; nonacademic
Adequate Yearly Progress information, and environment surveys of students,
parents and teachers. But why should Memphis care about parents getting
involved in their children's education? Because the best way to predict
whether a student will succeed or fail in school is whether that student
has involved parents. Study after study shows that students with involved
parents make better grades, enroll in higher-level programs, attend school
regularly, have better social skills and go on to college. But involvement
by parents often turns on whether they are encouraged, and few
developments are more encouraging than the Community Report Card for
Parents, writes Toni Hampton. The report card is not about making
judgments or finding fault. It's all about giving parents the facts and
encouraging them to find out how they can be a positive force for quality

At the same time that a college education has become the ticket to the
middle class, college has become less affordable. The situation in New
England is worse than it is nationally. Even though incomes are higher in
the region, families are likely spending a higher share of their income to
pay for college. In 2003-04, families with students attending a community
college in New England spent 17 percent of their annual income to cover
the costs of college. Families are stretching even more to attend a public
four-year college in the region, spending 21 percent of their income.
Private colleges are the most expensive, requiring that families spend a
stunning 33 percent of their income. Although family incomes and grant aid
have increased over the past decade, they have not increased enough to
offset the increases in tuition prices. As a consequence, more students
and parents are taking out loans to finance their college education, and
the amount of debt that students are carrying has increased significantly
during the past ten years. The increase in loans has shifted a greater
amount of risk to students and their families, and the consequences of
this shift deserve more public discussion. While the long-term value of a
college degree may well justify the cost and accompanying debt, there are
a substantial number of students who start college leave without earning a
degree. Many, if not most, college dropouts have debt that still must be
repaid, without the advantages of a college degree. Thus, a renewed focus
on getting students through college and not just into college is needed.

Charter schools have been lauded for reasons ranging from increasing
parental choice to introducing innovative practices to reducing
educational bureaucracies. However, most charter schools are located in
urban centers and enroll lower-income and minority students. Serving
disadvantaged students is a principal goal of charter school reform.
Assessments should account for this purpose. An article by Ron Zimmer and
Richard Buddin examines the effect that charter schools are having on
student achievement in general, and on different demographic groups, in
two major urban districts in California. The authors find that achievement
scores in charter schools are keeping pace, but not exceeding those of
traditional public schools. The findings in this study show that charter
school effects do not vary systematically with race/ethnicity or English
proficiency status of students.

Study after study has shown that sexually-abused children are more likely
to develop a raft of emotional and health problems, including depression,
post-traumatic stress disorder and suicidal thoughts. But, how is it that
some children show a certain resilience after experiencing a trauma and
others do not? In this article, Emily Bazelon explores new understandings
in the emerging field of resilience theory. Past research has described
resilience as a function of temperament, will or intelligence. While
children of average intelligence or above were more likely to exhibit
resilience, the researchers noted that good relationships with adults can
exert an effect that is as powerful, if not more, in mitigating the
effects of adversity. In recent years, biological science has proposed a
new paradigm. The latest research shows that resilience can best be
understood as an interplay between particular genes and environment.
Researchers are discovering that a particular variation of a gene can help
promote resilience in the people who have it, acting as a buffer against
the ruinous effects of adversity. Whatever an abused child's genes,
critics argue, she still needs the ingredients that promote resilience --
adults he or she can trust, the reinforcements that make them believe in

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

"Seeking Applications for Youth Partnership Team"
The America's Promise Alliance's Youth Partnership Team is currently
accepting applications for new members. The Youth Partnership Team is a
select group of young leaders chosen to help support and lead the
America's Promise Alliance's campaign for children and youth. Members of
the YPT are often called upon to speak on behalf of the America's Promise
Alliance, give presentations and workshops at conferences, and help manage
and facilitate a national, web-based youth leadership program for other
young people. Maximum Award: n/a. Eligibility: youth ages 14-22. Deadline:
June 2, 2006.

"National Neighborhood Day Short Film Contest"
National Neighborhood Day is hosting its second Short Film Contest, an
opportunity for filmmakers to use technology and creativity to tell the
nation "What Neighborhood Means to Me". Maximum Award: $2,000.
Eligibility: Adults and youth K-12. Deadline: June 15, 2006.

"Funding for Community-based Child Health Initiatives"
2007 CATCH Resident Funds grants will be awarded on a competitive basis
for pediatric residents to plan community-based child health initiatives.
CATCH Resident Funds grant projects must include planning activities, but
also may include some implementation activities. Maximum Award: $3,000.
Eligibility: Pediatric residents working with their communities. Deadline:
July 14, 2006.

"Student Peace Prize"
The Student Peace Prize is to be awarded during the International Student
Festival in Trondheim (ISFiT) 2007. The prize is awarded every second year
on behalf of all Norwegian students, and is the only peace prize in the
world to and from students. This prize highlights the important role of
students in the struggle for peace, democracy and human rights.
Eligibility: nominee must be a student or a student organization who or
which has made an outstanding contribution to peace, democracy or human
rights. Maximum Award: an invitation to come to Norway to accept the prize
at the Peace Prize Ceremony during ISFiT 2007, and travel throughout
Norway to meet with important organizations and decision makers. Deadline:
September 20, 2006.

"Awards for Excellence in Private Enterprise Education"
The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge conducts the Leavey Awards for
Excellence in Private Enterprise Education to honor outstanding educators
who excite a commitment in their students to the free enterprise system
and unleash the entrepreneurial skills of their students at the
elementary, junior high school, high school and college level. Maximum
Award: $7,500. Eligibility: teachers at schools (K-12), colleges, and
universities. Deadline: November 1, 2006.

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

"We also need an awakening on the part of large numbers of people, both
Democrat and Republican, of a political consciousness that has been
dormant for the better part of the last thirty years. We have to change
the notion that politics isn't important, that what's important is the
economy and money, and that politicians serve at the pleasure of their
corporate sponsors. They might as well be hired accordion players at a
hospitality tent at a golf tournament. I graduated from Yale in the 1950s,
and the word "public" was still a good word. Public meant public health,
public service, public school, commonwealth. And "private" suggested
greed, selfishness, and so on. Those words have been turned around. That
was the great triumph of the Reagan Revolution. By the time we hit the end
of the Reagan Administration, "public" had become a dirty word, a synonym
for slum, poor school, incompetent government, all things destructive. And
"private" had become glorious: private club, private trout stream, private
-Lewis Lapham (author/journalist)

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

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