PEN Weekly NewsBlast for October 15, 2004

  • From: Educational CyberPlayGround <admin@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: K12NewsLetters@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Tue, 19 Oct 2004 08:47:40 -0400

Educational CyberPlayGround
K12 Newsletters Mailing List

K12 Newsletters Mailing List Service

Subscribe | Unsubscribe | Change Email Preferences -
National Children's Folksong Repository
Integrate Literacy, Music, and Technology into the classroom.

Research done by US military schools has shown the #1 difference
in children's scholastic success depends on parental involvement.
You can model their success by simply inviting your parents into
your school and ask them to be active in the classroom.
Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
"Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."
Over the years, the expansion and improvement of our democracy and the
expansion and improvement of our public schools have been so closely
linked that historians have had a hard time distinguishing which has been
cause and which has been effect. At first, writes Wendy D. Puriefoy, the
right to participate in the political process was the purview of the
privileged few -- namely, wealthy, white, property-owning men. And, just
like the fullness of American citizenship, the finest education was
reserved for the children of privilege. When it comes to what our young
people need to learn, we have to lift our sights and enforce our
standards. If we want Americans to compete in an unforgiving global
economy, lead in a dangerous world, debate and decide increasingly complex
issues, and get along in an increasingly diverse society, then we must
have an engaged, responsible public that demands quality and mobilizes
resources to educate all of America's children. This brand of public
engagement is the very best tool we have to make sure that everyone --
voters, elected officials, educators, administrators, parents, and
students -- is held accountable for education outcomes. To achieve that
degree of public engagement, we must motivate and mobilize the American
people and, to do that, we need a compelling narrative on the critical
importance of getting all Americans involved in public education.

A revolution has occurred in America's expectations for its schools,
writes Art Levine. This essay discusses the nature, causes, and
consequences of that revolution. It describes a mismatch between what is
being demanded of the schools and what school people and government are
actually thinking and doing. According to Levine, our education system is
caught between two worlds -- one dying and another being born. Many of
today's most heated policy debates and reform efforts are rooted in the
dying world. They are premised on a uniform process of schooling for all
children, whether the constant is time, funding, salaries, curriculum or
pedagogy. The world being born is an outcome-based education system driven
by common standards for all students. The methods of educating students to
achieve these standards will need to be flexible. The notion of a
time-fixed education will have to give way to time-variable schooling. The
practice of moving students through school in assembly-line fashion by age
will need to become increasingly individualized, with students progressing
as they achieve each outcome. The common curriculum will need to be
replaced by pedagogies that fit specific student learning styles. Our
funding of schools will need to reflect state standards. Rather than
providing preferential funding to the highly-affluent school districts,
our money will need to be invested according to what our children need to
achieve state standards. This will cause a reverse in funding, such that
urban schools and disadvantaged children receive higher funding than their
suburban peers. The work of our teachers will change. Instead of being the
instructor at the front of the room, they will need to become the
diagnostician of student learning styles, the prescriptor of the best
means for each student to master the skills and knowledge that constitute
state standards, and the assessor of student progress. This will require a
much more highly-educated and skilled teacher force whose members must be
paid significantly higher salaries. The same will hold true for our school
administrators. All this work, and more, represents a transformation of
our schools with the promise of making education more effective for our
children and our society. Too often, education policy in the U.S. has
become a political battlefield, in which issues such as vouchers,
bilingual education and reading become matters not so much of how students
learn best, but of competing orthodoxies.

How do public schools and community institutions work together to provide
a supportive environment for children and families? What accountability
structures are necessary to ensure that public institutions play their
part in providing the academic, social, and development supports needed by
our young people? The 2004 Public Education Network annual conference
explores the relationship between public schools and their communities
through four lenses: public schools as models of community, public schools
as centers of community, public schools as community builders, and public
schools as model public institutions. Keynote speakers include: Michelle
Fine, New York University; Theodore Shaw, NAACP Legal Defense Fund and
Educational Fund; and Jack Jennings, Center on Education Policy. Visit the
link below for registration and individual session information:

Donations to public schools are on the rise. Big donations. Gifts that can
pay for the sort of projects that school tax money might have financed in
more flush times, writes Carolyn Bower. For years, private schools and
colleges and universities have raised millions of dollars from alumni for
building renovations, teachers, programs and technology. Now public school
districts have begun to follow suit. About one of every three or four of
the nation's 16,000 school districts has a foundation, most generating
$100,000 to $500,000 a year, said Pete Karabatsos, a foundation
development consultant based in Denver.  Karabatsos said he has seen poor
and affluent districts becoming entrepreneurial in raising money.
Karabatsos said the effort is a relatively new movement in public
education.  "Foundations are not to replace lost tax dollars," Karabatsos
said. "Foundations established to replace tax dollars are not successful.
Foundations established to take kids to the next level of excellence are

America's obsession with standardized tests seems to intensify every year,
especially now that the No Child Left Behind Act has raised the stakes by
requiring that schools raise their test scores each year to avoid
penalties and ultimately closure, writes Ronald Wolk. Our almost total
reliance on standardized-test scores as a measure of school and student
performance has become a powerful obstacle to reform and innovation.
Because the test questions are based on the conventional curriculum and
are designed to assess the acquisition of information, they reinforce the
status quo and put pressure on teachers to teach strictly to the test. The
foolish emphasis we put on testing is expensive, unnecessary, and probably
harmful to millions of children. Despite warnings from testing experts and
educators that important decisions should not be based on a single
measure, 24 states now require high school students to pass an exit exam
to graduate or are planning to do so.

This helpful commentary offers unsolicited advice for how George Bush or
John Kerry can shape an agenda carrying a positive impact on schools that
has a chance to outlast presidential tenure. James O'Hanlon and Doug
Christensen offer five recommendations for the next president.

Both John Kerry and George W. Bush are shamelessly proffering the
equivalent of the schoolyard bribe to parents, promising them billions of
dollars and educational excellence in exchange for their votes, writes
Neal McCluskey. All the money the candidates are offering, of course, is
meant to be a proxy for academic success. Unfortunately, that massive
federal spending will produce educational excellence is about as likely as
an impulsive child making good on his bribe. Let history be the guide.
According to inflation-adjusted data from the National Center for
Education Statistics, between 1965 and 2002, federal expenditures on
education exploded from $25 billion to $108 billion, and
inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending in America's public schools tripled.
Nonetheless, according to the Education Department's No Child Left Behind:
A Guide for Policymakers, since 1965, "test scores nationwide have
stubbornly remained flat." Of course, Mr. Bush would respond that these
results preceded the days of accountability, that NCLB ensures the money
will be put to good use by making states set performance standards and by
demanding those standards be met. Unfortunately, reality suggests that
NCLB is actually inducing states to lower their standards.,1,3799049.story?coll=bal-oped-headlines

The Education Commission of the States recently released a paper entitled,
"Developing Citizenship Competencies from Kindergarten Through Grade 12: A
Background Paper for Policymakers and Educators."  Designed as
recommendations for policymakers, the paper urges them to include the
"strands" of civic knowledge, cognitive and participative thinking skills,
and dispositions, into state civics and social studies standards. Depicted
as a braid with each strand equal in importance, it is also critical to
incorporate civic knowledge, skills and dispositions into standards across
grade levels, beginning in the early elementary grades.  The
recommendations of this paper, translated into policy options, are
currently being used in three states to improve citizenship education:
New Hampshire, South Carolina and Wisconsin.

At Oneida High School in upstate New York, Diane Roy teaches the students
who failed ninth-grade English the first time around. Last year, on the
heels of "Hamlet," she presented her class with a graphic novel --
essentially a variety of comic book. Comic books have long been deemed
inappropriate classroom reading material, reports Teresa Mendez. If they
appeared at all, they were smuggled in, disguised within the pages of a
physics textbook or a volume of Shakespeare. Today, the comic book -- and
its lengthier sibling, the graphic novel -- are growing in scope and
popularity.  For the reluctant reader, they are absorbing. For the
struggling reader or the reader still learning English, they offer
accessibility: pictures for context, and possibly an alternate path into
classroom discussions of higher-level texts. They expand vocabulary, and
introduce the ideas of plot, pacing, and sequence. But such arguments
remain unconvincing to many other educators who firmly believe this form
of pop culture has no place in the classroom.

The stakes were high Thursday night when an overflow crowd of parents
packed a conference room at the village hall to argue about survey
methodology, tracking and ability grouping, bylaw compliance and the
danger of falling dangerously behind the competition - all the issues that
go along with 8-year-olds kicking around a soccer ball in Westchester
County. Forget Iraq and W.M.D. The good folks of Scarsdale were grappling
with the two most portentous words in the English language for elementary
school parents: travel team, the first round of suburbia's sorting system
for kids. It was not a pretty picture, reports Peter Applebome. It turns
out that in this affluent pressure cooker, there's a growing sense that
maybe third graders don't need to be competing for spots on selective
soccer teams and that people need to rethink who selects players and how
important it is for Scarsdale's fourth graders to beat other school teams.

It's not exactly a "Mission Accomplished" carrier deck flight suit moment,
but, according to a press release this week from ranking education
committee member Rep. George Miller (D-CA), the new GAO report on state
implementation of NCLB suggests that the White House misled the public
when President Bush declared in the summer of 2003 that every state had
complied with NCLB.  Alexander Russo ( writes
that, according to Miler, only 11 state plans were approved at that point,
and the U.S. Department of Education has still not approved 24 plans as of
this year.  "It appears from this report that the President has misled the
public about the progress of education reform and that his Administration
has dragged its feet to get this important job done."

What happens in your school when, despite a teacher's best efforts, a
student does not learn? In traditional schools, the answer is left to the
discretion of the individual classroom teacher, says Rick DuFour in this
leadership column (Journal of Staff Development, Fall 2004). DuFour calls
this approach "a form of educational lottery with children." Schools with
professional learning communities, on the other hand, "create a systematic
response -- processes to monitor each student's learning and to ensure
that a student who struggles is provided additional time and support for
learning according to a schoolwide plan." This kind of coordinated system
of support "never occurs by chance," DuFour writes. "It can only occur
when school leaders work with staff to develop a plan of intervention,
carefully monitor the implementation of that plan, and confront those who
disregard it."

Only two of West Virginia's 55 county school systems have met standards
under the federal No Child Left Behind Act that established new
accountability measures aimed at shrinking the gap between disadvantaged
students and their peers. Although nearly 72 percent of West Virginia's
720 public schools met guidelines during the 2003-2004 school year, Gilmer
and Wirt were the only two counties to fully make adequate yearly
progress, the state Department of Education has announced. Under the
legislation, not only does each school have to meet annual standards but
the county as a whole also must meet standards. The differences between
schools and counties, as a whole, result from reporting guidelines that
require schools to have at least 50 children in a subgroup, such as
special education, low socio-economic or race, before they are held
accountable, said Deputy State Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine.
Most of West Virginia's public schools did not have enough students to
meet that threshold. However, when students from different schools within
a single county were combined, the counties met the limit. ''We need to go
back and look at the structure of the federal law,'' Paine said. ''We need
flexibility from the federal government so that we can set very high
expectations that are rigorous and reasonable for special education
children. We make no excuses. We just need a system that is fair.''

The number of California schools facing possible penalties because they
failed to meet federal test-score standards under No Child Left Behind
soared 45% to 1,626 since last year -- and educators say the bad news will
only get worse next year when the requirements will be much tougher. In
all, 20% of the state's 8,000 schools failed to meet the standards and
have been placed in "Program Improvement," reports Nanette Asimov.

This report provides a set of practical recommendations for what
policymakers, educators, parents, and the community can do to move all
students -- particularly minority and low-income students -- to high
levels of academic achievement. It argues that to close achievement gaps,
we first must close the experience gap. This must be done not only through
education policy and schooling but also through larger social policies and
programs that address the environment in which students learn when they
are not at school. The report also emphasizes the goal of helping all
students achieve "intellective competence," which means not just academic
achievement but also the ability to think critically about and apply
knowledge to new and changing situations outside of the classroom. The
means to reach that goal is "affirmative development," which requires a
variety of tactics inside and outside of the classroom that instill in
students an appreciation of and desire for learning. Together, these
strategies will help students realize the intellectual success that our
Information Age society requires.

Because teacher pay is by far the largest part of most school districts'
operating budgets (often 50 to 70 percent), it is compelling to ask if
those dollars can be linked to improving teacher quality and, ultimately,
student performance, writes Allan Odden and Marc Wallace. School districts
and states are experimenting with alternatives to traditional
single-salary schedules. These innovations included knowledge- and
skills-based salary schedules, school-based performance awards, bonuses
for national certification and incentives for teachers accepting
assignments in low-performing schools.

Traditionally, the crowning achievement of high school academics has been
earning the title of class valedictorian. No. 1. The student with the best
grades. After that, a graduate could aim for salutatorian, or for third in
the class, or for the top 10 percent. The perception is simple: the higher
the ranking, the smarter the student. But that mind-set is changing,
reports Juan Antonio Lizama. Across the nation, nearly 40 percent of high
schools do not use class rank. They report a student's ranking to a
college admissions office only when asked for that information. The debate
continues. Proponents of class ranking say the tradition is meaningful.
Opponents say it is an artificial labeling of students that means little
to colleges.

Iraq is in the news daily. The threat of terrorism hangs over the nation.
And America's role in the world is debated at home and abroad. The
upcoming presidential election promises to focus attention on
international concerns for the first time in a generation. New web-based
resources designed to help teachers bring these issues into the high
school classroom are now a click away. Teaching with the News provides
online teaching resources developed by the Choices Program at Brown
University's Watson Institute for International Studies. All resources are
designed to engage students in active consideration of a balanced range of
views on contested international issues. Each resource includes a
framework of policy options, a suggested lesson plan, and links to
background readings. An online ballot on America's role in the world is
also accessible from this site. The resources and pedagogical approach fit
in well with the need of classroom teachers to address the array of state
standards presented to them. Lesson plans emphasize higher order thinking
skills, including the ability to understand multiple perspectives and
competing interpretations; to differentiate among fact, opinion, and
interpretation; to weigh the importance and reliability of evidence and
explain its significance; to understand and use primary sources; and to
formulate rational conclusions.

Joining a national trend among urban school districts, the Los Angeles
board of education last week approved a plan to scale down all the
sprawling district's secondary schools into smaller units of 350 to 500
students apiece. The policy sets up a framework for how the nation's
second-largest school district will start new schools from scratch and
break down existing large ones. Two years in the works, the policy
approved Oct. 5 is being billed as a milestone on a journey expected to
take a decade or more, reports Caroline Hendrie. Under the new policy,
learning communities are each to have a theme or focus. To reduce
anonymity, the policy calls for lowering the number of students that
teachers work with and setting up advisory groups to foster
student-teacher relationships. The learning communities must "implement a
rigorous, standards-based curriculum" under the policy, but will be able
to use alternatives to districtwide standardized tests if they "assure
comparable performance."

|---------------GRANT AND FUNDING INFORMATION--------------|
"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.

"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.

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.

"It takes courage to grow up and turn out to be who you really are."
-ee cummings (poet)

===========PEN NewsBlast==========
The PEN Weekly NewsBlast is a free e-mail newsletter featuring school
reform and school fundraising resources. The PEN NewsBlast is the property
of the Public Education Network, a national association of 89 local
education funds working to improve public school quality in low-income
communities nationwide.

There are currently 47,205 subscribers to the PEN Weekly NewsBlast. Please
forward this e-mail to anyone who enjoys free updates on education news
and grant alerts. Some links in the PEN Weekly NewsBlast change or expire
on a daily or weekly basis. Some links may also require local website

Your e-mail address is safe with the NewsBlast. It is our firm policy
never to rent, loan, or sell our subscriber list to any other
organizations, groups, or individuals.

Howie Schaffer
Media Director
Public Education Network
601 Thirteenth Street, NW #900N
Washington, DC 20005

          ///      The Educational CyberPlayGround <>
         ///    Guavaberry Books <>
   __ ///    Music Makes You Smarter <>
   \\\///    National Childrens Folksong Repository <>
    \\//   A  "webliography" with over 6000 links toK12 topics
     \/   USA Today & Best Bets For Educators, & New York Times  


Net Happenings, K12 Newsletters, Network Newsletters



Educational CyberPlayGround Services

Other related posts:

  • » PEN Weekly NewsBlast for October 15, 2004