PEN Weekly NewsBlast for November 5, 2004

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  • Date: Tue, 09 Nov 2004 13:41:58 -0500

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Date: Thu, 4 Nov 2004 21:33:43 -0800
Subject: PEN Weekly NewsBlast for November 5, 2004
From: "Public Education Network" <PEN@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
"Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."
President Bush, who touted campaign plans to build on his bipartisan No
Child Left Behind Act with new measures aimed at the secondary school
level, has won a second term in the White House. He will likely get a
boost for his education agenda with the increase in Republicans' slim
majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The
Republican nominee put noticeably less emphasis on education during his
second campaign for the White House than he did four years ago, but he
nonetheless spelled out a range of new ideas and programs, reports
Michelle Davis and Erik Robelen. Mr. Bush called for requiring more
testing at the high school level, providing new supports for struggling
middle and high school readers, and giving pay hikes to teachers who
improve student achievement, among other ideas. President Bush also
frequently talked on the campaign trail about the nearly 3-year-old No
Child Left Behind Act, the signature education accomplishment of his first
four years. The Bush administration has vowed to stay the course with the
federal law, which won overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans
in Congress but has come under increasing attack since the president
signed the measure in January 2002.

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Ted Kolderie's new book for Education/Evolving calls for a new theory of
action in the improvement of K-12 public education. Drawing on recent
research about organizational change Kolderie challenges the assumption
that the country will be able to get the schools it needs with an effort
confined to changing existing schools. Current system arrangements make it
impossible for the institution of public education to make more than minor
incremental changes -- in high schools especially. It will not work to
exhort and command the institution to "perform better": It is not
productive to tell organizations to do what in fact they cannot do. The
effort to change existing schools will have to be matched by a comparable
effort to create different and better schools in an "open sector" of
public education that can be created only by the states. Public education
exists in state law, and it will be up to governors and legislators to
develop this second line of policy. "Creating the Capacity for Change: How
and Why Governors and Legislators Are Opening a New-Schools Sector in
Public Education," is available from the author at no charge, while copies
last, by writing to: tkolderie@xxxxxxxxxx The book may also be read or
downloaded at:

The new issue of The School Administrator from American Association of
School Administrators features a handful of great articles on new thinking
in school leadership and district governance. Two particularly noteworthy
articles include: "Think Like Peter Senge" by William G. O'Callaghan Jr.
and "Coherent Governance" by Linda J. Dawson and Randy Quinn. Senge, who
is an authority on learning organizations, has an explanation for why some
well-intended solutions to problems actually make matters worse over the
long term. O'Callaghan explains how school leaders can apply Peter Senge's
laws of systems thinking to shape behavior in ways that will advance the
cause. Dawson and Quinn profile three school districts that are
effectively creating a new relationship for school boards and their
superintendents, defining roles for the board's governance responsibility
and the superintendent's responsibility for students' academic success and
operational accountability.

Making students repeat a grade hasn't worked for 100 years, so why is it
still happening? And why do government officials, school leaders, and
teachers persist in recommending retention as a remedy for low student
achievement -- even when researchers call it a failed intervention? Linda
Darling-Hammond, executive director of Columbia University's National
Center for Restructuring Education, Schools, and Teaching, has a one-word
answer: assumptions. Many schools, she says, operate on the assumption
that failing students motivates them to try harder, gives them another
chance to "get it right," and raises their self-esteem. Those claims
aren't true, Darling-Hammond maintains. The widespread trust in retention
is uncritical and unwarranted, she says. It ignores several decades of
research showing that, for most children, retention: (1) Fails to improve
low achievement in reading, math, and other subjects; (2) Fails to inspire
students to buckle down and behave better; (3) Fails to develop students'
social adjustment and self-concept. Darling-Hammond concedes that grade
retention might benefit some students in the short term, but in the long
term, holding students back puts them at risk. More often than not,
students who are retained never catch up academically. Many eventually
drop out, and some end up in the juvenile justice system. The belief that
students, as well as their parents, are to blame for low achievement plays
into most retention decisions, writes Susan Black. But teachers and
principals seldom accept their share of blame for inept instruction,
lackluster lessons, low expectations, and other school factors that
contribute to students' academic disengagement and behavior problems,
Darling-Hammond says.

Parents, teachers and superintendents always pay close attention to test
scores. But the scores are also driving real estate prices for prospective
home buyers and sellers, real estate agents and educators say, because
they make it possible to compare schools to others within the same school
district. All across California, "score shopping'' is more important to
some than commute times, lot size or granite counter tops, reports Dana
Hull. Critics argue that API only proves how well students take tests,
while real learning is influenced by creative teaching, innovative music
or arts programs, and classroom culture. High API scores are
overwhelmingly associated with socioeconomic status and the education
levels of parents, so some educators grumble that API stands for "Affluent
Parent Index.'' Schools with low scores tend to have high concentrations
of students living in poverty or learning English for the first time. One
Cupertino real estate agent plans to include API scores in an upcoming
mailer. Another found clients a townhouse they loved -- great
neighborhood, right price -- but they declined to make an offer because
the assigned school had an API of 818, and they wanted 850 or above. The
state says that all schools should strive for a score of at least 800.

A proposed constitutional amendment to make education a priority was
approved by voters Tuesday but they didn't want to put their money into
the venture. Question 1, the initiative petition sponsored by Republican
Rep. Jim Gibbons to require the Legislature to pass the public school
budget before other appropriations, won in the election with 444,317 to
340,141 votes, or 57 percent to 43 percent, despite being defeated in 16
of the 17 counties. Only Clark County voters supported the measure,
reports Cy Ryan. Question 2, the initiative pushed by the schoolteachers
union to raise the financial support for public schools to the national
average by 2012, narrowly lost with 401,732 votes, or 51 percent, against
it, compared with 378,791, or 49 percent of votes, in favor. Clark County
was the only one to support the measure, with the other 16 counties
opposed. The defeat of Question 2 on the ballot was a setback for the
Nevada State Education Association, which argued the state was 45th in the
nation in funding the public schools, or $1,655 per pupil below the
national average. The average per pupil expenditure is $6,079, according
to the National Center for Education Statistics.

A new report from Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning
(McREL) examines the degree to which standards that 40 states have adopted
for administrator preparation and licensure are aligned with McREL's
research on effective school leadership. Based on their analysis, the
report's authors, McREL President and CEO Tim Waters and Senior Consultant
Sally Grubb, recommend that policymakers consider the following actions:
(1) Review and approve principal licensure and re-licensure programs to
verify that they adequately address the research on responsibilities and
practices that principals use to improve student achievement; (2) Ensure
that administrator licensure and re-licensure programs are taught by
faculty with the knowledge and skills needed to teach these leadership
responsibilities and practices; (3) Commit the funding necessary for
high-quality, rigorous, and research-based professional development
programs for principals; (4) Support the use of tools that allow
principals to assess their use of research-based leadership practices and
collect feedback from teachers and supervisors on their use of these
practices; and (5) Be aware of the changes initiated through policies and
the implications of those changes for stakeholders.

To understand his own academic experience, and to illustrate what he has
come to call the "Four C's," Jim Burke has studied his most obvious and
sustained success as a teenager: tennis. The Four C's -- commitment,
content, competencies, and capacity -- explain why he won, kept improving,
and eventually traded his tennis rackets for cameras, books, and,
ultimately, the pen. Burke's four C's also shed some light on why he was
doing almost none of his schoolwork

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

"Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program"
The FMF Teacher Program provides U.S. primary and secondary school
teachers and administrators with the opportunity to participate in
three-week study visits to Japan and to return home with a follow-on plan
designed to introduce Japanese culture to American students.  The FMF
Program, which is fully funded by the Japanese Government, aims to
increase understanding between Japan and the United States and is intended
to extend far beyond the educators who participate. FMF alumni agree to
share what they have learned about Japan with their students, colleagues,
and community members upon returning to the United States.  Application
deadline: December 10, 2004. The online application, which can be found

"Save Our History National Grant Program"
The History Channel has announced the first year of its "Save Our History"
national grant program. This year, some $250,000 in grants will be awarded
to historical organizations that partner with educators on unique,
rewarding projects that help students learn about and appreciate the
history of their local communities. Through December 3, 2004, historical
societies, preservation organizations, museums, historic sites and others
that partner with schools, may apply.  Awards will be announced during a
ceremony to be held in Washington, D.C. in May 2005. For application
guidelines and judging criteria, 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 2004 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 include programs and competitions we have
previously announced, as well as those they plan to announce 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"

The Grantionary is a list of grant-related terms and their definitions.

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

"Grant Writing Tips"
SchoolGrants has compiled an excellent set of grant writing tips for those
that need help in developing grant proposals.

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.

"eSchool News School Funding Center"
Information on up-to-the-minute grant programs, funding sources, and
technology funding.

"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.

"School Grants"
A collection of resources and tips to help K-12 educators apply for and
obtain special grants for a variety of projects.

"If ever there was a cause, if ever there can be a cause, worthy to be
upheld by all of toil or sacrifice that the human hand or heart can
endure, it is the cause of Education. It has intrinsic and indestructible
merits. It holds the welfare of mankind in its embrace, as the protecting
arms of a mother fold her infant to her bosom. The very ignorance and
selfishness which obstruct its path are the strongest arguments for its
promotion, for it furnishes the only adequate means for their removal. The
object of the Common School system is to give every child a free,
straight, and solid pathway by which he can walk directly up from the
ignorance of an infant to a knowledge of the primary duties of a citizen.
A patriot is known by the interest he takes in the education of the young.
Education is our only political safety. Outside of this ark, all is
-Horace Mann (lawyer/politician/educator)

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