PEN Weekly NewsBlast for October 6, 2006

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  • Date: Mon, 09 Oct 2006 21:48:51 -0400

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Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
"Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."

Public Education Network has launched Give Kids Good Schools, a
campaign to guarantee a quality public education for every child in
the nation. Nearly 48 million children -- almost 90 percent of our
nation?s youth attend public schools in America. Americans truly value
their public schools, but believe too many children attend schools
that don't provide the resources and support students need to succeed.
Give Kids Good Schools provides citizens with useful information and
tools that assist the public to Learn, Vote and Act on behalf of
quality public education. Campaign activities and information are
aimed at encouraging individuals to make quality public education a
top priority on Election Day and every day throughout the year.
October 16-22 is Give Kids Good Schools Week. Across the country,
organizations and individuals are planning events and activities to
support public schools. To find out what is happening in your city or
state, click on the Give Kids Good Schools Week button at:


We have forgotten -- indeed, if we ever really acknowledged -- the
immigrant?s contributions to American schools, a rich and vibrant
history lost in the passage of time and the din of contemporary
debates over immigration reform. From curriculum improvements, to the
introduction of the trade school, to new ways to financially support
public schools, the immigrant has helped propel some of the most
significant and enduring changes in the last century in American
public schools and in state and federal education policy, many of the
changes made out of necessity. Immigrant children at the dawn of the
20th century transformed the institution in less than a generation,
writes William Celis. They helped inspire, among other improvements,
the permanent residency of school nurses and health clinics, the
creation of enhanced civics classes, and free English classes.
Innovations at the time, these services are now so standard in
American schools that no one living today can remember an age without
them. More recently, immigrant groups, civil rights organizations, and
other groups have successfully pushed for history textbooks and
multicultural curricula that offer, for starters, a wider framing of
American history and the contributions of immigrants, an understanding
that can only help in our shrinking world. The great irony, of course,
is that immigrants today are flocking to the United States not only
for jobs; they're also coming for another prize: free education in
public schools that many Americans now consider too poor, too bereft
of quality, to send their own children to. But even over issues of
school quality, Americans can thank the immigrant for the continuing
efforts to improve public spending on education. Supporting
immigrants? rights and their access to schools and other services is
not a popular stand. But in the nascent years of the 21st century, we
would be well served in harnessing once again the raw energy and sheer
numbers of immigrants to inspire more substantive changes in schools,
using their presence, for example, to promote the idea that a good
American citizen is, in fact, a citizen of the world, and to send
strong messages to children that multilingualism is a meaningful pursuit. won't
open needs subscription

Multilingualism and 22nd Century Linguistic Rights
Are American Teachers Prepared?
What language should a nation officially call its own?

The tragedy of recent school shootings has the potential to leave the
impression that schools are more unsafe than ever before. No so,
reports a joint effort by the Bureau of Justice Statistics and
National Center for Education Statistics. Students are twice as likely
to be victims of serious violence away from schools. More murders
occur at home each year than at school. This annual report examines
crime occurring in school as well as on the way to and from school and
informs the nation on the nature of crime in schools. Key report
findings include: (1) The violent crime victimization rate at school
declined from 1992 to 2003. Even so, violence, theft, bullying, drugs,
and weapons are still widespread; (2) In the 2002-03 school year,
there were 15 student homicides and 8 student suicides in the nation's
schools, figures that translate to less than one homicide or suicide
per million students (3) In 2003, 5 percent of students ages 12 to 18
reported being victimized at school during the previous six months: 4
percent reported theft, while 1 percent said they were victims of a
violent crime; (4) In 2003, 21 percent of students reported that
street gangs were present at their school during the previous six
months; (5) In 2003, 33 percent of high school students reported
having been in a fight anywhere, and 13 percent said they had been in
a fight on school property during the preceding 12 months; and (6) In
2003, students in urban schools were twice as likely as students in
rural and suburban schools to fear being attacked at school or on the
way to and from school.

Public Education Network (PEN) invites you to register to attend PEN?s
2006 annual conference, November 12-14, in Washington, DC. Join the
debate on transformation in public education and discover how
community-based strategies can strengthen teaching, close the
achievement gap, and build public involvement in large-scale school
system reform. Keynote presenters include Madeleine Albright, the
first female U.S. Secretary of State and a bestselling author, and
Geoffrey Canada, named one of "America?s Best Leaders" by U.S. News
and World Report and an expert on issues concerning violence, children
and community redevelopment. For more information about the conference
and to register, visit:

Staggering personal debt, skyrocketing bankruptcies, and the
elimination of pension plans have imperiled the nation?s economic and
social security, and called into question the ability of American
consumers to manage their financial destiny. In light of this grave
threat to individuals, families, and the country as a whole, a
national call for states to establish financial education as a core
academic subject in all grades -- from Kindergarten through graduation
­ has be made by the National Association of State Boards of Education
(NASBE). Knowledge of savings, credit, money management and investing
is necessary these days to make proper financial decisions. Vanishing
pensions have transferred responsibility (and risk) for retirement
savings to individuals.  This is the most visible evidence of the
overall push for the public to take greater personal control over
their financial security. Unfortunately, many individuals lack a basic
understanding of how to adequately manage their earnings, their debt,
or their retirement planning. $1.7 trillion in personal debt and a
negative national savings rate indicate the country is on an
unsustainable and potentially catastrophic fiscal path that can only
be avoided with more prudent and informed consumer choices, beginning
with financially literate students.

A new, dangerously overdeveloped sense of entitlement among students
and parents -- particularly in secondary school -- has led students to
actively disrespect teachers on a whole new level. In this article,
Evan chase writes about behavior that no self-respecting person, let
alone an educator, would ever be willing to tolerate. Times have
changed, as the kids say, big time. As for parents, somewhere along
the line, they seem to have gotten the implicit or explicit message
from administrators that, because they pay taxes for their child to
attend public school, they are somehow entitled to unprecedented
influence over what their child will learn at that school. Judging by
their behavior, parents think they know better than classroom teachers
what's best for their kids, going so far as to suggest which books a
teacher should or shouldn't teach, and often arguing the relative
merits of any given teacher's lesson plans -- not in a spirit of
kindness or helpfulness, but as hectoring superiors. In instances of
disrespect and unacceptable behavior, students often experience no
consequences from administrators mandated to maintain discipline and
support teachers in their upkeep of respectful, engaging classroom
environments. Often, when Chase wrote referrals for unruly students,
it was he, not the students, who was ultimately hauled down to the
office for a long talk with the vice principal. Let's work together to
reclaim the sanctity of the teaching profession while maintaining a
fair and respectful climate for everyone we are meant to serve.

As the new school year was about to begin, U.S. Education Secretary
Margaret Spellings declared that No Child Left Behind was, like Ivory
soap, "99.9 percent pure." The 0.1 percent impurity must be the fact
that not a single state made this summer?s deadline to guarantee a
"highly qualified" teacher in every classroom. Spellings? assertion
that NCLB is just about perfect is as absurd as the teacher-quality
goal itself. There was no way to accomplish it in four years. Even
though the law defines "highly qualified" as a teacher who?s state
certified, the process these people go through is flawed.
Certification guarantees high quality about as much as a driver?s
license guarantees a good driver. Ronald A. Wolk suggests that
legislators adopt the oath of physicians: "First, do no harm." Those
who drafted and approved NCLB should have known enough about education
to realize that controversy and confusion would result from setting
unachievable goals. Even if the law had been adequately funded and
provided significant incentives for states, the goal is unreachable.
There are nearly 3 million public school teachers. It?s virtually a
statistical impossibility to guarantee that every one will be "highly
qualified." As in any field this big, there is a spectrum of quality
-- from a relative handful who are so bad they shouldn't be teaching
to a relative handful who are truly outstanding, with the rest falling
somewhere in between. This does not absolve the states from making
sure that kids have good teachers. Schools are often hostile places
for both teachers and students, and the restrictive and punitive
measures of No Child Left Behind -- as well as excessive standardized
testing -- are making them more so. Continuously tinkering with an
obsolete model won't cut it. We need to change the way schools are
governed, organized, and operated. Setting unrealistic goals for
public schools only increases the sense of defeatism and lowers
morale. By mandating that all students be proficient in reading and
math by 2013, No Child Left Behind is setting public schools up for
another embarrassing failure.

Over most of the country and in all but a few major metropolitan
areas, corporal punishment has been on a gradual but steady decline
since the 1970s, and 28 states have banned it. But the practice
remains alive, particularly in rural parts of the South and the lower
Midwest, where it is not only legal, but also widely practiced. The
Laurel (MS) school board voted in August to reinstate a corporal
punishment policy, passing one that bars men from paddling women, but
does not require parental consent, as many other policies do. The most
recent federal statistics show that during the 2002-3 school year,
more than 300,000 American schoolchildren were disciplined with
corporal punishment, usually one or more blows with a thick wooden
paddle. Sometimes holes were cut in the paddle to make the beating
more painful, reports Rick Lyman. Of those students, 70 percent were
in five Southern states: Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama and
Arkansas. "I believe we have reached the point in our social evolution
where this is no longer acceptable, just as we reached a point in the
last half of the 19th century where husbands using corporal punishment
on their wives was no longer acceptable," said Murray Straus, a
director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire.

Lee Dorman, a middle school teacher, calls herself "a walker and a
stalker," as she teaches not from behind a desk but by walking
throughout the classroom. "I just never figured out how on earth to
teach sitting down," says Dorman, whose desk is basically an oversize
in-basket. Here and there, a small but growing number of teachers is
following Dorman's example, educators say, abandoning the traditional
classroom power center. To them, a desk is really a ball and chain,
distancing them from students. With the new emphasis on raising
achievement for all students, many teachers say they have to stay
mobile to make sure they are reaching everyone in their classroom,
reports Jay Mathews. The no-desk movement seems to have had little
visible impact on schools so far. David Horn, director of marketing
communications for the School Outfitters Web site, said he saw no sign
of teacher desk sales falling off. There appears to be no research on
how many instructors have abandoned their desks and, in a field
replete with specialist groups, there apparently are no declared
associations of deskless teachers. Still, success stories among
deskless teachers appear to have influenced plans for some charter
schools, which are publicly funded but independently operated.
Deskless teachers are more common in such schools because the schools
themselves tend to encourage experimentation. Some charter school
principals have banned teacher desks from classrooms and placed
teacher workstations in group offices to facilitate lesson planning.

School districts and parent-teacher organizations have traditionally
used various programs to raise supplementary funds for school
activities, such as selling products, collecting soup labels and
cereal box tops for rewards, and getting rebates from community
purchases at participating stores. Educators are always looking for
alternate ways to fund programs and purchase supplies. But many feel
that "pay to play" assessments for school activities are unfair,
door-to-door promotions hold inherent dangers for students, and
supporters may be reluctant to buy overpriced "$20 wrapping paper and
$15 boxes of chocolate with six pieces in it for a fund-raiser," as
one parent said. Growing numbers of districts are therefore turning to
the Internet for fundraising solutions, writes Odvard Egil Dyrli.

Fundraising Ideas and Links

Video Fund Raising Idea

Portals that provide a kickback to schools

NEW DIRECTIONS IN EDUCATION POLICY IMPLEMENTATION With various federal and state presses for research-based approaches to educational improvement, what should Local Education Funds and others know about recent trends in education policy implementation research? "New Directions in Education Policy Implementation: Confronting Complexity," edited by Meredith I. Honig, brings together leading education policy implementation scholars to capture the state of this field. The introductory chapter highlights that some recent efforts to identify "what works" in education policy miss a major lesson of the last forty years of education policy implementation research: Any policy works in some of the places some of the time for some people -- depending on various local conditions and other factors. Those interested in taking a research-based approach to educational improvement should ask not simply "what works" but "what works for whom, where, when, and why?" Each of the chapters presents research that takes this contingent view of how educational improvement unfolds. Chapters that may be of particular interest to Local Education Funds include: Honig's discussion of the role of school district central offices in supporting school-community partnerships; Michael Dumas' & Jean Anyon's analysis of educational opportunity in New Jersey's poor and predominantly Black urban communities; Mark Smylie's & Andrea Evan's examination of the importance of social capital to policy implementation in the context of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge; and Milbrey McLaughlin's concluding chapter which calls on educational leaders and researchers to recognize the importance of intermediary organizations, "hybrid organizations", community coalitions, and advocacy organizations in educational improvement. To read sample content, visit: 37-9790502?ie=UTF8&p=S00C#reader-link

Now in its 4th year, NetDay Speak Up's national online survey invites
students, teachers, and parents from around the country to share their
input in an online survey. This is an opportunity for students,
teachers and parents to participate in the national dialog about
science, math, technology, and 21st century workforce skills. Learn
more about NetDay Speak Up and how schools and districts can register
to participate at:

A student?s entire journey along the educational spectrum is affected
by what occurs -- and, crucially, by what does not occur -- before the
age of eight or nine. Yet early learning has never received the
attention it deserves and needs. In his latest book, education expert
Gene Maeroff takes a hard look at early learning and the primary
grades of schooling. "Building Blocks" describes PK-3 -- a concrete
and groundbreaking strategy for improving early education. Filled with
colorful descriptions and anecdotes from Maeroff?s visits to schools
around the country, "Building Blocks" creates a rich portrait of
education in America, ranging from math lessons imported from
Singapore in Massachusetts to serious but joyful kindergartens in
California. He speaks of the need for schools to prepare for the
burgeoning enrollment of youngsters from immigrant families and for
all children to acquire the habits and dispositions that will make
them committed and productive students. Maeroff issues a call to
action for policy makers and parents alike.

Kindergaten Music
Neuroscience of Healthy Kids
Traditional Folktales in the Classroom
Children's Activity Tables
Timeline Progress Chart 1 month - 5 years old

FEDS FUZZY MATH NO HELP ON EDUCATION SPENDING George F. Will supports a controversial effort to mandate that 65 percent of every school district's education operational budget be spent on classroom instruction. Now that Americans' concern is shifting from how much money is spent on education to how much education is being bought by the money, government has blurred the measurement in a way that says 66.1 percent of education dollars already reach the classroom. If the "instruction-related" criterion is not added, the percentage of dollars devoted to instruction has declined for five consecutive years, to 61.3. No Child Left Behind supposedly promotes education accountability by mandating reliable data to measure progress. But Washington looks like an untrustworthy manipulator of data when it uses the phrase "instruction-related activity" to draw a bull's-eye around the status quo.

Fuzzy Standards by Ferdi Serim
Quite apart from one's personal political preferences, a remarkable
outcome of the first presidential debate was the manner in which
the term "fuzzy math" was embraced by large segments of the public.

Sponsored by the PACER Center and cosponsored by the National
Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education, National Education
Association, and National PTA, National Bullying Prevention Awareness
Week is Oct. 22-28, 2006. PACER Center encourages you to help promote
this important week in the following ways: (1) Promote the website
below as a bullying prevention resource for elementary-age children,
including those with disabilities; (2) Download and share a colorful
poster promoting National Bullying Prevention Awareness Week.; (3)
Read "Bullying Fast Facts"; and (4) Let the public hear the message,
"Bullying is never okay. What can you do to stop it?"

Merrelyn Emery contends that despite the rapid development of ideas
over the past several decades about the nature of learning and
knowledge, educational practice has persisted remarkably unchanged and
continuous for the last 100 years or more of mass education. She
asserts that although much of the thinking about education has
changed, few administrators and legislators have made radical breaks
from the past. Incremental change in education often fails because
education is a system, not a collection of parts. Emery?s book, "The
Future of Schools: How Communities Can Transform Their School
Districts," is an attempt to talk about how to redesign the entire
school system. The fundamental idea in open systems theory is that all
entities have boundaries that are permeable to the environment. Emery
asserts that because school districts exist within community
environments, community development must precede change within the
school district. She believes that many of the problems that are
encountered by schools are produced because school districts are
organized according to a design principle in which the responsibility
for coordination and control is located at least one level above the
people who are doing the work, the learning, or the planning.
Consequently, according to Maria Mendiburo, Emery advocates for the
type of community development that would reorganize the community and
eventually the school district under a different structure where
change within the organization is negotiated between groups working as
equals regardless of their respective position in the organization.

Neither District of Columbia Public Schools superintendent Clifford
Janey nor his many predecessors have cared enough to keep the city
schools clean and stocked with basics. Stinking bathrooms, reports
Harry Jaffe. Broken showers. Peeling paint and no library, for
starters. City Council member Kwame Brown, a public school parent,
intends to introduce legislation that will transfer building
maintenance from DCPS to the city?s Office of Property Management,
where the mayor and the city council can order and oversee the work.
"Our toilets in (city hall) work, we have light bulbs in the sockets,
our paint stays on the walls and ceilings," Brown says. "Our children
should have nothing less."

Denver?s East High School is one of the most prestigious high schools
in Colorado, a school that dominated Constitutional Scholars
competitions and sent graduates annually to Ivy League colleges. Yet
the freshmen and sophomores in the low and remedial track classes in
the autumn of 2004 seemed unable to string together sentences, much
less weave them into paragraphs. Especially discouraging was the fact
that in a school that was 45 percent white, classes were so segregated
that all but two or three of the students in Jeremy Hoffer?s low-track
classes were minorities. Researchers at schools throughout the nation
have found that African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans tend
to be concentrated in low or vocational tracks. Hoffer, however, had
not encountered this before and to him it was unacceptable. If he was
going to stay at East, something had to change. He had an idea about
what that might be. For the five years of his career before arriving
at East, he had taught untracked middle school classes containing a
diverse mixture of minorities and whites, reports Holly Yettick. Read
the story of this exciting ongoing turnaround at:

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


Grants for Women, Grants for Women & Girls
Business Plan Resources for Women,

Government Funding Resources Education Grants,
Scholarships & Loans, State Agency Phone Numbers for
Student Financial Aid, Federal Department of
Education Technology Grants, Arts


"Grants for Teachers of Citizenship Education"
The VFW's National Citizenship Education Teachers' Award recognizes
the nation's top elementary, junior high and high school teachers who
teach citizenship education topics regularly and promote America's
history and traditions. Maximum Award: $2,000. Eligibility: teachers
K-12. Deadline: November 1, 2006.

"Funding for Field Trips and Scholastic Outings"
Target Field Trip Grants are available to fund scholastic outings in
situations where monies are otherwise lacking. Maximum Award: $1000.
Eligibility: teachers, principals, paraprofessionals and classified
staff in K-12 public, private or charter school in the U.S. Deadline:
November 1, 2006.

"Funding for Hands-On Math, Science & Technology Programs"
Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Science and Math Programs
Grants assist educators in presenting mathematics, science, and
technology principles to students (K-12) in an exciting, hands-on
manner to develop our future aeronautics and aerospace engineers,
scientists, pilots, and space explorers. Maximum Award: $1,000.
Eligibility: AIAA Educator Associate K-12 teachers. Deadline: December
30, 2006.

"Grants for Supporting Children?s Health, Education and Inner-city Services"
The Teammates for Kids Foundation accepts proposals for grants from
nonprofit organizations that specialize in working with children in
the areas of health, education and inner-city services. Maximum Award:
$50,000. Eligibility: 501 (c) (3) organizations with a record of
effectively delivering programs and services that improve the lives of
needy children. Deadline: February 1, 2007.

"Grants for Community Improvement Programs"
Hamburger Helper is looking to lend a helping hand to neighborhoods
nationwide with its "My Hometown Helper" grant program. Individuals
from communities and organizations across America can submit a written
essay of 250 words or less describing how the "My Hometown Helper"
grant would help improve their community project. Maximum Award:
$15,000. Eligibility: Requests for funding must be sponsored by a
municipal or civic organization or public school. Deadline: May 31, 2007.

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

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