PEN Weekly NewsBlast for October 21, 2005

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*********************************************************** LITERACY - Evolution of Language - How the Brain Works

Pedagogy Problems to Solutions

Sync Sense, Social Rhythm Research Experts
Speech, Music, Reading, & Technology
Motivation, Play, Culturally Relevant Content
Using Multiple Intelligences and different learning styles
Literacy Defined: how to read, how to write, how to use
computers, how to find and evaluate information found on the net.

Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast "Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit." ******************************************************** PUBLIC BELIEFS ABOUT ACCOUNTABILITY NOT ALIGNED WITH FEDERAL & LOCAL POLICIES Parents appear to have different expectations than lawmakers for what it means to hold schools accountable for student success, according to the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL). A new brief reports on the results of an ongoing research project McREL conducted to uncover what parents and other community members, particularly those in underrepresented populations, think "education accountability" means -- that is, to whom and for what do they believe educators should be held "accountable." Some key findings reported in the brief are as follows: (1) Respondents generally believed that in addition to schools, parents, community members, and students should also be held accountable for student success; (2) Respondents accept standardized tests as a means of measuring student progress, but believe that other means should be included.; (3) Community members in rural areas demonstrated resistance to imposed standards and lack of faith in the quality of statewide assessments; and (4) Spanish-speaking community members voiced concern that despite the rhetorical focus on ensuring the success of all students, teachers do not consider themselves "equally accountable" for the education of all children

The first nationwide test to permit an appraisal of President Bush's
signature education law rendered mixed results, with even some supporters
of the law expressing disappointment. Math scores were up slightly but
eighth-grade reading showed a decline, and there was only modest progress
toward closing the achievement gap between white and minority students,
which is one of the Bush administration's primary goals. In many
categories, reports Sam Dillon, the gap remains as wide as it was in the
early 1990's. By some measures, students were making greater gains before
the law was put into effect. "The rate of improvement was faster before
the law," Jack Jennings said. "There's a question as to whether No Child
is slowing down our progress nationwide." Gage Kingsbury, of the Northwest
Educational Evaluation Association, a nonprofit that carries out testing
in 1,500 school districts, said the results raised new concerns about the
feasibility of reaching the law's goal of full proficiency for all
students by 2014.

Famed for its vast appetite for information and ability to protect its
offspring, the parent genus has nonetheless eluded scientific study. Until
now. Click below to learn about such parent species as: (1) Parentis
Hardtofindis, the elusive parent; (2) Parentis Aggresivis, the angry
parent; (3) Parentis Enthusiasticus, the eager parent; (4) Parentis
Officina, the busy parent; and (5) Parentis Diffralingua, the
English-learning parent. In this year's MetLife Survey, new teachers said
parent communication is tougher than classroom discipline! According to
Mary Ellen Flannery, making parents full partners in their children's
education is a challenge -- and it can be particularly difficult for new



Are your school districts trying to teach to the state standards?
Find out what standards there are for teachers and administrators.
Who sets the standards and how to improve achievement.


According to Thomas Toch, NCLB doesn't accurately measure the extent to
which schools are improving student achievement. This is no small flaw.
The failure of public schools to educate America's most disadvantaged
students is the country's most glaring and abiding social and moral
problem. Over nearly two decades, a rough national consensus has developed
to improve schools by holding them accountable for their students'
performance via high-stakes tests. But the belief that the test ratings
are fair and accurate is the linchpin of this whole system. And that
belief is weakening. According to Toch, "The idea that there should be one
standard for all students, regardless of race or income, and that all
schools should be held responsible for meeting those standards, is the
gravity that holds the liberal and conservative sides of the school reform
movement together. Moreover, setting that single standard for all students
does seem to have the effect of lifting the aspirations of parents,
students, and teachers in many low-income schools, and sparking a sense of
panic that is not unhelpful given the dismal performance of many of these
schools. Dropping the standards approach entirely makes no sense
politically or policy-wise."

The first letter grade ever given in the United States, according to
historical records, was a B received by a Harvard University undergraduate
in 1883. There is no indication of how he felt about the grade, reports
Jay Mathews, but that simple way of judging student work quickly became
popular. Will U.S. schools ever end their long romance with A's, B's, C's
and so on? Some educators say letter grades no longer fit in a
standardized information age. They say letter grades are too simplistic
and vary too much from system to system, school to school and even
classroom to classroom.

WILL DRINKING MORE WATER IMPROVE STUDENT LEARNING? One unusual theory of school improvement holds that schools hinder learning because they frequently lack natural light and sufficient access to water. One Baltimore principal has installed numerous water coolers in his middle school classrooms, although he now is struggling to pay for them. According to Laurence Martel, "One of the liabilities the modern child is facing is chronic dehydration." And contributing to the problem, he said, are sugary breakfasts, fluorescent lighting and sodas filled with sugar and caffeine. He said a school in Idaho that put water in classrooms saw a substantial reduction in special education referrals.,1,3343810.story?track=rss

NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND IN INDIAN COUNTRY Through the past year National Indian Education Association (NIEA) has held eleven hearings on NCLB and Indian education. The purpose of these hearings was to gather information on the impact of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 on American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian students. There is an over all sense from the testimony that profound changes are underfoot in Native education and that the Native education community has only just begun to sense the impacts and dangers incumbent in both the intended and unintended consequences of the No Child Left Behind Statute upon the future of Native education. It is clear from the testimony that these changes to date have not included the Native voice. Many witness identified what could generally be labeled the unintended consequences of the statute that has resulted in major disruptions to the education systems, that may fundamentally alter the education potential of schools while significantly and coincidentally narrowing the broad public purposes of schools. This later concern is most directly related to the impacts of the statute upon culturally based education including the use of culturally appropriate pedagogy and curriculum that is connected to the social, cultural, and linguistic heritage of the children, the role of Tribal governments and Native communities and parents in determining the education purposes of schools and the role of teachers, parents and community members in the education lives of Native students. This concern regarding the public purposes of education isn't exclusively a Native language and culture concern, as a number of witnesses also noted that the impact of NCLB has also affected what is known as the liberal arts including such traditional subjects as music, literature, and the arts. The focus on testing and accountability combined with insufficient funding has in the opinion of witnesses eliminated the ability of schools to focus on the broader public purposes education.


Indian Affairs Head Makes Apology

September 8, 2000
Remarks of Kevin Gover, Assistant Secretary,
Indian Affairs Department of the Interior at
the Ceremony Acknowledging the 175th Anniversary
of the Establishment of the Bureau of Indian Affairs


HELPING PRINCIPALS CREATE A CULTURE OF LITERACY The National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) has released a new field guide for school leaders on adolescent literacy. "Creating a Culture of Literacy: A Guide for Middle and High School Principals" discusses the importance of implementing literacy strategies across the curriculum and gives practical steps and examples of ways to confront the deficit in literacy skills in secondary schools. The guide offers specific action steps, successful school profiles, additional research-based expertise, and important tips to remember when building a literacy program at the school building level. Through the help of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Carnegie Foundation, NASSP is distributing a free copy of the guide to every middle level and high school principal in the country. To read the executive summary and the full guide, visit:

Etiquette says that to avoid an argument, one should never discuss
politics, sex, or religion. And sex education is chock full of all three
taboo topics; few discourses have made so many so mad. Still, the question
remains: Are we teaching our kids too much about sex? Or too little? The
answer depends on whom you ask, reports Katy Kelly. Sex may be a private
matter, but sex education is a public one, especially since it is taught
in public schools with public funds. The debate over what to teach has
ratcheted up in recent years, but the topic has been around for decades.
The arguments have remained much the same, but the recommended curriculum
has flipped, flopped, and flipped again. The passage of the Adolescent
Family Life Act in 1981 gave money to educational programs that would
"promote self-discipline and other prudent approaches." But during the
'80s and early '90s, as AIDS became an increasing threat, sex ed became
"comprehensive." Often taught by educators associated with Planned
Parenthood, the classes covered contraception, disease protection, and
much more. Then in 1996, as part of the Welfare Reform Act, Congress
established a federal program to exclusively fund abstinence-only
curricula. "The abstinence-only program really stirred things up," says
Deborah Roffman.

What separates the current reform efforts from all others in American
history is the degree to which millions of American children are
suffering, are dropping out, or are being labeled as failures at an early
age in ways that will forever leave them behind in a world of
disenfranchisement or poverty that no standard or test can touch. Beyond
this utter tragedy that is concealed under a cynical and hollow rhetoric
that would make Horace Mann blush, there is a deeper tragedy still: for
were we to achieve the impossible as required by NCLB with its 100 percent
testing proficiency requirement, we will have by then narrowed the focus
of the school curriculum and teaching to the narrow confines of that which
is tested. Regardless of how valid those tests are likely to be? this will
tragically, perhaps, leave us even more unprepared to deal with the
changing world events and challenges that will assuredly come, more
unaware and unappreciative of our own diversity and the democratic
adaptation that a healthy future requires, and more blinded to our
imaginative and critical capacities that have thus far assured America?s
cultural and scientific eminence in the world of nations. In this radical
essay, Jim Horn asks, "Is this the educational success to which we

THE CRUX OF LOCAL CONTROL: SCHOOL CLOSURES & DISTRICT CONSOLIDATIONS The new issue of "Leadership Insider" from the National School Boards Association is about change and local democracy. Few proposed changes are as painful and challenging for school boards as decisions about school or district consolidations and the possible alternatives. But in few decisions are local school board authority and leadership more crucial to realizing positive outcomes for children. As instigators of change, school boards can lead communities and districts, rather than adopting a posture of reaction and deference. As shapers of change, school boards are well placed to recognize and reflect local conditions and to identify local impediments. Formulaic approaches to change are likely to hurt more than help, especially when imposed from on high. Articles exploring these themes include: Bigger Isn't Always Better; Consider Collaboration, Not Consolidation; and How You Can Support Small Schools.

"People hate change when it is someone else's plan, when it is imposed on
them, when they are told what to do and exactly how they must do it, when
they are threatened with punishment if they don't do it," writes
management expert Rosabeth Moss Kantor. "People love change when it is
shaped by them, when they are in control of it, when it is their chance to
make a difference. In fact, then they don't even call it 'change' -- it's
a project, a venture, a dream come to life. It's their passion turned into
a professional pursuit." Kantor offers practical strategies for leaders
proposing change, including: "Discover the things your people really care
about, and see how the change can connect with their goals. That means
making sure to know more about people than simply their teaching
assignment or organizational role, and to conduct lots of conversations
about hopes and aspirations." And this: "Don't oversell the opportunities
while downplaying the dangers. No one will believe you anyway."

A new guide from the Harvard Family Research Project contains information
about what national organizations are currently doing in family
involvement and home-school partnerships. It contains Web links to
research, information, programs, and tools about parenting practices to
support children?s learning and development, home-school relationships,
parent leadership development, and collective engagement for school
improvement and reform. The resource guide can be used to find out what?s
new in the field, locate national organizations that support family
involvement, and inspire new ideas.

Under the aegis of the Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC), 850 students from
forty New York City high schools gathered yesterday to exchange ideas
about improving New York City high schools. They talked with city
educational leadership about education reform and called for higher
expectations and improved support for successful high school graduation
and college preparation. The youth came from traditionally under-resourced
high schools and communities. They focused on the specific needs of high
schools struggling to improve rates of graduation and college attendance
in immigrant and working class communities. Youth called for a systemic
approach to improving high school graduation and college preparation
through higher expectations, social/emotional counseling, and early
academic intervention and recovery, in addition to increased access to
guidance and college counseling on their campuses. Senior education
officials committed to work with the UYC to improve the New York City
school counseling program so that students have a better chance to go to
college. The event, supported by New Visions for Public Schools, a local
education fund, was the first time that such a large number of high school
students have gathered to discuss the quality of their educational
experience, and to demand systemic reform of how the school system
prepares young people for college.  For more information, contact Amy
Cohen, UYC Coordinator, 212/998-5604.

No sunscreen on campus? No field trips? Can't put your arm around a crying
child? As a follow-up to the popular feature, "Top Ten New School Rules,"
Common Good would like to hear from you. They are compiling a second list
of nonsensical or burdensome rules -- this time from educators and parents
around the country. Tell them about the rules and policies in your school
that are making it more difficult for educators to teach and students to
learn. They will publish the best responses in an upcoming Common Good
feature. Please e-mail your entries to rules@xxxxxxxxxx

Access to a home computer increases the likelihood that children will
graduate from high school, but blacks and Latinos are much less likely to
have a computer at home than are whites, according to a new study that
also found the digital divide is even more pronounced among children than
adults. The findings document the persistence of the digital divide and
the impact on educational outcomes, even when factors like income and
parental education are taken into consideration. "We are clearly not all a
'nation online'," said researcher Robert Fairlie. "Twenty million children
in the United States, or 26 percent of children, have no computer access
at home, and race is a key part of who's online and who isn't."

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

"Foundations of American Political Thought -- National Student Essay
High school students are invited to write an original 1,200-1,500 word
essay on the need of a free society to balance "order and liberty." Cash
prizes will be awarded for the top ten essays. Deadline for submission is
November 15, 2005. For judging criteria, visit:

"National Council of Teachers of Mathematics"
This grant program encourages the development of activities that will
enable students to better appreciate and understand some aspect of
geometry that is consistent with the Principles and Standards for School
Mathematics of NCTM. Maximum Award: $3,000. Eligibility: applicant must be
a current NCTM member or teach at a school with a current K­8 NCTM school
membership. Deadline: November 4, 2005.

"American Library Association & NEH"
The "We the People Bookshelf" program encourages young people to read and
understand great literature while exploring themes in American history.
Public and school (K-12) libraries are invited to apply to be among the
1,000 libraries selected to receive free books. Deadline: January 17, 2006

"Digital Imaging & Visual Learning Grants"
Olympus America, Inc. & Tool Factory, Inc. sponsor a classroom grants
program designed to strengthen education through digital imaging and the
power of visual learning. Maximum Award: $3,500. Eligibility: K12 and
special education schools in the US, its territories, and Canada.
Deadline: December 30, 2006.

"Box Tops for Education Kids? Caucus for Education"
This event will be an assembly of children, parents, education officials,
and members of Congress who will meet to discuss solutions to improving
parental involvement in education in the United States. The Kids' Caucus,
to be held on Capitol Hill in April 2006, will provide an opportunity for
those who deal with parental involvement in education every day --
parents, teachers and children -- to offer practical insight to education
officials into how parental involvement in education can be improved. In
conjunction, students are invited to submit an essay to receive a grant
and compete for inclusion in the caucus. Maximum Award: $1000.
Eligibility: Students grade 5-8. Deadline: December 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. Priority
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.

"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.

"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.

"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.

"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.

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

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