PEN Weekly NewsBlast for October 14, 2005

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Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
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REPORTER'S GUIDE TO PRIVATIZATION Education Writers Association is pleased to release its newest publication, "Public Schools, Private Markets: A Reporter's Guide to Privatization," to its membership and the public. This 20-page book by Scott Elliott of the Dayton Daily News tackles key elements of the privatization movement: Charter schools; Vouchers; For-profit education companies; and State-sponsored tutoring. The report is designed to help journalists judge the effectiveness of privatization, scrutinize how tax dollars are spent, discover the impact on traditional public schools, and measure whether school privatization provides access to quality education for all students.

The respected RAND research organization, which was paid by Edison Schools
to do a multi-year study of the controversial, for-profit school
management company, has issued its long-delayed report, which pointedly
refrains from recommending Edison as a solution for school districts.
Although Edison reportedly had input into how RAND presented the study
results, some of the most telling comments in the report summary are less
than glowing. "...[W]e cannot make strong predictions for prospective
clients about whether they will achieve better long-term results with
Edison or with an alternate approach," the report acknowledges. And it
adds: "Whether Edison's average achievement effects ultimately exceed
those of comparison schools is not certain." RAND's language in the report
could be best described as lukewarm, especially given that Edison paid for
the study. "[T]here is some weak evidence that Edison's effectiveness as
an organization might have improved over time," the report offered. The
292-page report, originally due for release in 2003, decisively shows that
the number of schools Edison manages has fallen significantly. Edison uses
inflated, conflicting and murky figures on its website and in other
materials that often mislead researchers. The RAND report states that
Edison has managed a total of 140 schools at some point in its 12-year
history and that it currently manages 103. The report also relies on data
from numerous schools that Edison no longer manages, in at least 11 school
districts that have canceled contracts with Edison.

US Secretary of Education Bill Bennet and
president bush's brother Neil Bush
Just like the industrial revolution, the
factory model of education is over,
we all learn very differently now, and
Ex Secretary of Education Bill Bennet took it to the next step.

2004 TEACHER SALARY SURVEY For the first time since the 1999-2000 school year, the average teacher salary failed to keep up with inflation, according to the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) latest salary survey. The AFT teacher salary survey found that the average teacher salary in the 2003-04 school year was $46,597, a 2.2 percent increase from the year before. This falls short of the rate of inflation for 2004, which was 2.7 percent. In addition, many states are attempting to drastically reduce or eliminate pension and healthcare benefits, which were negotiated as part of their compensation.

"Brain research" is everywhere these days. Teachers are bombarded with
claims about "brain-based learning" at conferences, where they are
regularly invited to view photo imaging of cerebral blood flow. Gender
differences in learning are explained by variations in the cortical
activity of boys and girls. And typically this research, or so proponents
claim, can lead to clear implications for teaching. It often seems a short
step from blood-flow studies to single-sex schools, writes Thomas Newkirk.
Citing "brain research" can perhaps give researchers and advocates the
veneer of science; it can make us feel we are in contact with something
solid. But Newkirk suspects it only makes us look foolish in the eyes of
actual scientists. At worst, it overstates differences and looks for
causes in all the wrong places.

How the Brain Works
from the first years and onward

Resources and Advice For New Teachers

RETHINKING PARENT CONFERENCES In most districts, parent participation in conferences drops off significantly in middle school and high school. In this teacher's rural district, about 85 percent of kindergarten parents signed up for the spring conferences, but only a handful of 12th-grade parents attended -- mostly to discuss their kids' college plans. Even when parents show up, reports Susan Black, they're not necessarily satisfied. In a study by Boston's family literacy project, several parents said schools should make meetings longer, ensure privacy, provide options for attending during the day or in the evening, and hold conferences more than twice a year. Why do some parents, particularly those with children in the upper grades, avoid parent-teacher conferences? Shelley Billig of RMC Research Corp. gives three reasons: (1) Middle schools often put less effort than elementary schools into forging strong school-family partnerships; (2) Communication at the middle level tends to be one-way, mainly from principals and teachers to parents and often dealing with students' poor academic progress and discipline problems; and (3) Middle school students often discourage their parents from attending parent-teacher conferences and from being visibly involved in school activities. Economic and social realities are also to blame in some single parent families and with non-English speaking parents.

Selina Jarvis had assigned her senior civics and economics class "to take
photographs to illustrate their rights in the Bill of Rights," she says.
One student "had taken a photo of George Bush out of a magazine and tacked
the picture to a wall with a red thumb tack through his head. Then he made
a thumb's down sign with his own hand next to the President's picture, and
he had a photo taken of that, and he pasted it on a poster." According to
Jarvis, the student, who remains anonymous, was just doing his assignment,
illustrating the right to dissent. But over at the Kitty Hawk (NC)
Wal-Mart, where the student took his film to be developed, this right is
evidently suspect. An employee in that Wal-Mart photo department called
the police on the student. And the police turned the matter over to the
Secret Service who came to Currituck High School, removed the poster and
interviewed school faculty and staff. The student was not indicted, and
the Secret Service did not pursue the case further.

The Digest of Education Statistics (2004) provides a compilation of
statistical information covering the broad field of education from
prekindergarten through graduate school. Topics in the Digest include: the
number of schools and colleges; teachers; enrollments; graduates;
educational attainment; finances; federal funds for education; employment
and income of graduates; libraries; technology; and international
comparisons. To view the web enabled version of this document, please

A new study examines the practices and performance of Chicago elementary
and middle schools that have shown steady -- and in some cases dramatic --
improvement in test scores. The 144 schools serve nearly 100,000 students,
of which 87 percent are from low-income families. For the most part, these
schools are quietly succeeding in a system that heaps the most attention
on schools that are either failing or thriving with some of the brightest
students in the city. In 1990, only 20 percent of students at the 144
schools were reading at or above national standards. As of 2003, 50
percent of their students met national reading standards. "These schools
are the biggest overlooked resource ... that can help Chicago improve on a
large scale. What we see in these schools are the kinds of practices that
most middle class people expect from their schools," said Don Moore,
executive director of Designs for Change. The research tracked the
progress -- or lack of it -- in Chicago public elementary schools during a
reform process that began in 1988, when the state legislature shifted
significant authority from the central school administration to individual
schools. The study revealed that the schools on probation improved at a
far slower rate than these fast-rising schools, and about a fourth of them
stagnated over the last 15 years. "The irony is that the schools who have
improved the most are the schools that have not been subjected to these
central office interventions," Moore said.,1,4556406.story

EDITORIAL: A NEED FOR MORE SCHOOL NURSES Like it or not, working parents are relying on the public schools more than ever -- not only to educate their children, but also to keep them safe, provide help for their social and emotional problems and take care of their health needs during the school day. The public school clinic, traditionally a closet-sized nook staffed by a parent volunteer or a school office clerk, has always treated scrapes, stomachaches and other upsets. That isn't enough in today's school settings. Growing numbers of children suffer from insulin-dependent diabetes, asthma and severe allergies -- conditions that can require life-saving intervention at school. More children are on prescription drugs or medical regimens that require assistance at school. And many seriously ill and physically handicapped children are mainstreamed into public schools -- even those who can't walk, are on feeding tubes, need catheterization or require breathing equipment. Most schools are not equipped to deliver that kind of medical assistance to children.

The discussion over transforming and improving the nation's high schools
continues to be a hot topic around the country. There are an assortment of
working programs and promising practices currently building the capacity
of high schools in a significant number of states. This new report
produced by the National Association of Secondary School Principals
(NASSP) and KnowledgeWorks Foundation highlights current high school
reform policies and programs in various states. States have begun to make
improving the high school a priority as a response to low graduation
rates, the general under preparedness of many high school graduates, and
the minority achievement and attainment gap. "Advancing High School Reform
in the States: Programs and Policies" identifies the essential state
policies to improve high schools that address academic rigor, personalized
instruction, targeted strategies to raise achievement scores of
low-performing students, school-wide adolescent literacy initiatives, the
use of multiple assessments that are aligned with state standards,
collaborative leadership, improved subject area competency and content
pedagogy of teachers, and the availability of technical assistance to high

How do students put college within their reach, if their families have not
gone before them? How do they defy stereotypes and low expectations about
their future? How do they advocate for themselves academically, find the
information they need, keep their emotional and social balance? This
first-person advice book written by Kathleen Cushman emerged from
intensive interviews with diverse college students around the country who
were the first in their families to successfully go on to college. The
book -- free copies of which can be downloaded or obtained by following
the link below -- intertwines straightforward suggestions about finding
help and information with descriptions of the mosaic of struggle,
aspiration, and fierce determination it takes to succeed. The students
profiled ended up at institutions ranging from community colleges to elite
universities, but they met the same obstacles along the way: stereotypes
and low expectations, limited information and opportunities, and the
social and emotional trials of breaking new ground. In this book, they
confront those challenges squarely and transform them into well-organized
counsel and point-by-point checklists tailored for students without

When the Bishop Montgomery High School quarterback went down with a
fractured leg, his replacement stepped in and performed brilliantly,
completing four of five passes for three touchdowns. Miranda McOsker, 15,
is one of just 253 girls out of 100,000 high school students in California
who are playing football this year, according to the California
Interscholastic Foundation. Her coach said he doesn't know if Miranda will
become the starting varsity quarterback for the school in suburban Los
Angeles but expects her to compete for the position during the next two
seasons. Her parents support her choice of sport and her teammates accept
her as just another player.

Children of pushy parents are more likely to excel in high school,
graduate from college and grow into young adults who are happier with
their lives and more prosperous in their careers. The findings of the
latest survey of Michigan's culture of education blow to bits the
philosophy of laissez-faire child-rearing that's the hallmark of Baby
Boomer parents, writes Nolan Finley. The prevailing attitude is that
children should be nudged, not pushed; nurtured, not nagged; encouraged to
find their own way in an environment of low pressure and low expectations.
But that doesn't produce nearly the results as a firm hand on the shoulder
and the parental command of, "Go this way." Few children are getting that
sort of direction from their parents, according to the Your Child survey
of Michigan residents aged 18-30, conducted by EPIC-MRA. Only 30 percent
of the young adults say their parents insisted on them going to college.
Young adults who are most content with both life and work are the ones
whose parents and teachers helped them to set goals. Few got that kind of
help, however. Many indicated they trudged through high school without a
care and without a clue. They couldn't make the connection between their
classes and their future. Parents didn't talk to them enough about the
value of education, the survey found, didn't start the conversation about
college early enough and weren't forceful enough in discussing best

To the 3,883 Lexington, KY Public School teens polled by the Youth News
Team -- an intrepid group of local students and parents seeking to amplify
the voices of young people in education policy discussions -- the answer
is obvious:  69 percent of them said they believe that most high school
students do not need their parents to help them do well in school. But
although it may not be readily apparent to the students themselves, a
large body of evidence suggests that parent involvement can improve high
school achievement and behavior and directly influence a student's grades.
So what's to explain this disconnect between high school students'
perceptions and the research? Consider some survey highlights:  69% of
students with a grade point average (GPA) of 3.5 or higher (equivalent to
a B-plus) report having parents who regularly help them select classes;
Students with GPAs of at least 3.5 are nearly twice as likely to report
having parents who sometimes or frequently attend school events as
students with GPAs below 2.0 (equivalent to a C); and 61% of students with
GPAs over 3.5 report sitting down with their families three or more times
per week for dinner. The sense that there is an important, though
difficult-to-define place for parents in high schools was underscored
poignantly by the comment that students want parents to be involved, not
too involved. One senior offered encouraging advice for parents navigating
their relationships with adolescents, "Be a little nosey...Don't feel bad
for asking questions, because it feels good to know someone cares."

PreK Now has released a first of its kind statewide study for Wisconsin
measuring the economic impact to Wisconsin's K-12 system if the state
expanded Four-Year-Old Kindergarten (4K) to more children.  The report
emphasizes "a clear economic motive" for expansion of the 4K program to a
significantly larger number of children in the state. The proposed program
would generate strong fiscal benefits for the state, such as reduction in
crime and reliance on welfare, as well as benefits to the children and
their families. Additionally, the economic analysis found that: (1) Based
on conservative estimates, implementing a high-quality, voluntary pre-k
system increases total educational cost-benefits by 68 percent; (2) The
largest proportion of cost savings in the education system are in reduced
special education placement costs (approx. $42 million); and (3) Reduction
in frequency of grade repetition ranges between 6-23 percent, with a
representative estimate of 21 percent.

This organization donates suitcases to foster children who move from home
to home and usually carry their belongings in plastic garbage bags. They
seek donations of suitcases, but will also accept large duffel bags and

|---------------GRANT AND FUNDING INFORMATION--------------|
"Youth Football Grants"
USAAU Football Grants to recognize local agencies for their creative
strategies in the development of youth football, as well as innovative
methods of using youth football programming as an effective teaching tool
and positive motivator of young people. Maximum Award: $500-$1,250. Two
grants per year possible if agency runs a fall and spring program.
Eligibility: member clubs of the Amateur Athletic Union. Deadline: N/A.

"Youth Nutrition & Fitness Grant Program"
General Mills Foundation Champions Youth Nutrition and Fitness grant
program to encourage communities in the United States to improve the
eating and physical activity patterns of young people, ages 2-20. Grants
will be awarded to nonprofit organizations and agencies working with
communities that demonstrate the greatest need and likelihood of
sustainable impact on young people's nutrition and activity levels through
innovative programs. Maximum Award: $10,000. Eligibility: community-based
groups. Deadline: February 1, 2006.

"Toolbox for Education Program"
Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation Toolbox for Education program
will award grants to parent-teacher organizations and parent-teacher
associations for improvement projects at up to one thousand schools across
the United States. Maximum Award: $5,000. Eligibility: Parent groups at
K-12 schools may apply for grants of up to $5,000. All K-12 schools in the
United States (except Puerto Rico) are eligible. Applicant schools or
parent groups must have a group tax ID number or official 501(c)(3) status
from the IRS. Deadline: November 1, 2005.

"New Leaders for New Schools"
New Leaders for New Schools is a national organization promoting high
levels of academic achievement for every child by attracting, preparing,
and supporting the next generation of outstanding leaders for our nation's
urban public schools. New Leaders is currently accepting applications for
candidates who meet their 10 selection criteria and want to lead change
for children in low-income communities by becoming urban public school
principals. Eligibility: applicants must have a record of success in
leading adults, an expertise in K-12 teaching and learning, a relentless
drive to lead an excellent urban school, and an unyielding belief in the
potential of every child to achieve academically at high levels. Deadline:
November 15, 2005.

"EPA Environmental Education Grants Program"
This effort supports environmental education projects that promote
environmental stewardship and help develop aware and responsible students,
teachers, and citizens. This grant program provides financial support for
projects which design, demonstrate, or disseminate environmental education
practices, methods, or techniques as described in this notice. Maximum
Award: $79,000. Eligibility: Any local education agency, college or
university, state education or environmental agency, not-for-profit
organization as described in Section 501(C)(3) of the Internal Revenue
Code, or noncommercial educational broadcasting entity may submit a
proposal. A teacher's school district, an educator's nonprofit
organization, or a faculty member's college or university may apply, but
an individual teacher or faculty member may not apply. Deadline: November
23, 2005.

"The CDC Foundation and CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health"
This program offers mini-grants to support physical activity or
nutrition-related activities that are part of action plans developed using
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) School Health
Index: A Self-Assessment and Planning Guide (SHI). Maximum Award: $10,000.
Eligibility: elementary schools in any of the 39 selected states. See
website for further information. Deadline: letter of intent via e-mail to
mbenjami@xxxxxxxxxxx is November 14, 2005. Full application due January
17, 2006.

"Tiger Woods Foundation Grants"
Tiger Woods Foundation grants focus on providing opportunities to children
who are underserved, focusing on programs and projects that enhance the
learning process for children and transitional programs for young adults
to become productive adults. Maximum Award: $25,000. Eligibility: 501(c)3
organizations; see website for further stipulations. Deadline: Nov 1.

"Bikes Belong Coalition Grants Program"
This program is dedicated to creating a network of communities throughout
the United States where people of all ages will have the accommodation and
ability to bicycle for recreation and transportation. Its mission is to
put more people on bicycles more often. Maximum Award: $10,000
Eligibility: The Bikes Belong Coalition welcomes grant applications from
organizations and agencies within the United States that are committed to
putting more people on bicycles more often. Deadline: November 28, 2005.

"Youth Garden Grants Program"
150 child-centered, outdoor garden programs will receive Home Depot gift
cards. Program emphasis is on education, plant-to-food connections,
environmental awareness, entrepreneurship, or social aspects of gardening.
Maximum Award: $500 gift cards for the purchase of gardening materials and
supplies. Eligibility: Schools, youth groups, community centers, camps,
clubs, treatment facilities, and intergenerational groups throughout the
United States. Applicants must plan to garden in 2006 with at least 15
children between the ages of three and 18 years. Deadline:
November 30, 2005.

"SeaWorld/Busch Gardens/Fujifilm Environmental Excellence Awards"
2006 SeaWorld/Busch Gardens/Fujifilm Environmental Excellence Awards
recognize the outstanding efforts of students and teachers across the
country who are working at the grassroots level to protect and preserve
the environment. Maximum Award: $10,000. Eligibility: All schools (grades
K-12). Deadline: Wednesday, November 30, 2005.

"National Schools of Character"
The National Schools of Character (NSOC) Awards program has a twofold
purpose: 1) To identify exemplary schools and districts to serve as models
for others; and 2) To help schools and districts improve their efforts in
effective character education. Maximum Award: $2000. Eligibility: To be
eligible, a school must have been engaged in character education for a
minimum of three full years, starting no later than December 2002 for the
2006 awards. Districts need to have been engaged in character education
for a minimum of four full years, starting no later than December 2001.
Smaller administrative units that maintain a separate identity within a
large district may apply in the district category, e.g., a school pyramid
or cluster. Deadline: December 5, 2005.

"Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program"
The Japan Fulbright Memorial Fund Teacher Program (JFMF) 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. Each year, up to 600 teachers and administrators,
including participants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia,
are selected to participate in the JFMF program. The JFMF Program features
an orientation to Japan followed by visits to primary and secondary
schools, teacher training colleges, cultural sites, and industrial
facilities. Meetings with Japanese teachers and students and a home stay
with a Japanese family are also key components of the program.
Participants return home to share their new knowledge with students,
colleagues, and the local community, ensuring that more than just the
individual participants profit from the experience. As an additional
benefit to participants, graduate level credits are also available. The
deadline for applications for the 2006 program is December 10, 2005.

"NEA Fine Arts Grants"
On behalf of the National Education Association (NEA), The NEA Foundation
offers NEA Fine Arts grants to NEA members. Available to elementary
(grades K-6) school art specialists through local NEA affiliates, the
grants allow fine arts educators to create and implement programs that
promote learning among students at risk of school failure. Deadline:
February 1, 2006.

"The NEA Foundation"
Grants are provided for the purpose of engaging in high-quality
professional development or implementing project-based learning and
break-the-mold innovations that raise student achievement. Maximum Award:
$5,000. Eligibility: public school teachers, public school education
support professionals, and faculty and staff in public higher education
institutions. Deadline: February 1, 2006.

"Women's Sports Foundation GoGirlGo! Grant and Educational Program"
Provides financial assistance to sports and physical activity programs
seeking to add new or expanded program participation opportunities for an
under-served population of girls, particularly economically disadvantaged
girls and/or girls from populations with high incidences of health-risk
behaviors. Maximum Award: varies. Eligibility: 501(c)(3) program status or
nonprofits with a demonstrated ability to deliver girls' sport/physical
activity programming to girls in third to eighth grade. If the program
does not have nonprofit status, it may be possible to receive a grant
under support of a local fiscal agent. Deadline: March 15, 2006.
Applications will be available December 15, 2005.

"Outdoor Classroom Grant Program"
Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation, International Paper and
National Geographic Explorer! classroom magazine have partnered to create
an outdoor classroom grant program to provide schools with additional
resources to improve their science curriculum by engaging students in
hands-on experiences outside the traditional classroom. Maximum Award:
$20,000 (to districts or schools with major outdoor classroom projects);
$2000 to individual schools. Eligibility: K-12 public schools in the
United States. Deadline: varies.

"NIKE Bowerman Track Renovation Program"
This effort provides matching cash grants to community-based,
youth-oriented organizations that seek to refurbish or construct running
tracks. The program distributes approximately $200,000 in matching grants
each year. Maximum Award: $50,000 Eligibility: 501(c)3s, athletic booster
clubs, schools and school districts. Certain stipulations apply -- see
website. Deadline: May 31, 2009.

"Nickelodeon Announces Giveaway Program to Encourage Healthy Play"
Children's television network Nickelodeon will distribute more than $1
million from September 2005 to June 2006. The "Let's Just Play" Giveaway
offers kids around the United States the opportunity to take action and
enter for a chance to improve their school or community program's fitness
resources. Maximum Award: $5000. Eligibility: Kids (6-15 years of age),
partnering with teachers and other community-based leaders. Deadline:
rolling, until May 31, 2006.

"Show Me the Money: Tips & Resources for Successful Grant Writing"
Many educators have found that outside funding, in the form of grants,
allows them to provide their students with educational experiences and
materials their own districts can't afford. Learn how they get those
grants -- and how you can get one too. Included: Practical tips to help
first-time grant writers get the grants they need.

"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.

"In the past, the role of social studies in schools was unquestioned, but
today more and more schools are reducing the emphasis on social studies.
The fostering of civic virtue is a crucial part of our children's
education, and sadly it is often a neglected component of the school
curriculum. Civic virtue is about a commitment to valuing and
understanding democratic principles that manifest themselves in the
everyday lives of citizens. By teaching social studies we are giving
children the chance to develop civic feelings and values, and foster
'habits of the heart.' The social studies are essential to character
development and to providing the background to what we learn. Education is
about providing young people with the skills and values to become engaged
and effective citizens."
-Jeff Passe, president of the National Council for the Social Studies
(NCSS)& professor of education at the University of North Carolina

Howie Schaffer
Public Outreach Manager
Public Education Network
601 Thirteenth Street, NW #710S
Washington, DC 20005

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