PEN Weekly NewsBlast for October 7, 2005

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Weekly NewsBlast for October 7, 2005
Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast
"Public Involvement. Public Education. Public Benefit."
The concept of schools as community centers has been a hot topic for more
than 100 years. As early as 1902, John Dewey described a vital
relationship between the civic, business, university and residential
community. In this detailed article, Wayne Jennings goes beyond the
theory, and describes how to plan, budget, staff, design, and maintain
community learning centers. This fresh approach to principles of learning,
curriculum, staffing, facilities, student as resource, parent roles,
technology, staff development and more makes it possible to accomplish for
all students the three major goals of education: responsible citizenship,
productive work and lifelong learning. Based on sound research, the
Community Learning Centers program gives courageous school and community
leaders the background and practical information to create high
performance schools.

School and district leadership has been the focus of intense scrutiny in
recent years as researchers try to define not only the qualities of
effective leadership but the impact of leadership on the operation of
schools, and even on student achievement. A recently published literature
review titled "How Leadership Influences Student Learning" contributes to
this growing body of knowledge by examining the links between student
achievement and educational leadership practices. The authors make two
important claims. First, "leadership is second only to classroom
instruction among all school-related factors that contribute to what
students learn at school." Second, "leadership effects are usually largest
where and when they are needed most." Without a powerful leader, troubled
schools are unlikely to be turned around. The authors stress that "many
other factors may contribute to such turnarounds, but leadership is the
catalyst." This month's newsletter from the Center for Comprehensive
School Reform and Improvement summarizes what the review reveals about the
basics of successful education leadership and offers practical suggestions
for their implementation.

EQUITY & INCLUSION IN MATH & SCIENCE CLASSROOMS Ensuring equity and excellence lies at the core of systemic reform efforts, especially in science and mathematics, the two academic areas that historically have not been widely open to females, ethnic minorities, or students from less affluent communities and families. Although the concept of equity penetrates the entire education system, it has profound implications in teaching and learning mathematics and science. A new article by Arlene Hambrick draws attention to the concept of education equity and its potential to increase excellence in mathematics and science for a diverse population of students. Raising expectations for student learning is first on the list of key practical recommendations to help schools ensure equitable instruction to meet a wide range of student needs. This article also provides a focused look at equity issues in mathematics and science as they apply to subgroups identified in the No Child Left Behind Act.

A new publication from the New York Life Revitalizing High School
Libraries Initiative, administered by the Public Education Network,
provides a snapshot of key positive results. According to New York Life
Foundation's vision, school library media centers began the academic
improvement process by providing students with access to a wide range of
high-interest, developmentally appropriate fiction and non-fiction reading
materials. But beyond providing new materials, the initiative also created
an opportunity for library media specialists to forge new relationships
with students, teachers, and community members, and to expand their roles
within the school in a variety of ways.

Parents are delighted when state test scores go up. Obviously, their
children are getting smarter and the teachers are doing better.
Politicians are ecstatic; their school reforms must be working. According
to reports from educators, impressive gains on recent New York State tests
can be explained by the fact that the 2005 state English test was
unusually easy and the 2004 test unusually hard. Jonathan Burman, a state
education spokesman, acknowledged that the 2004 test was harder but said
the state compensated by using a tougher scale to score the 2005 test.
"Students had to answer a few more questions correctly in 2005 and get
more raw points in order to get the same scaled score as in 2004," he
said. But even if the 2005 test was scaled, scores still soared statewide,
with 70.4 percent at grade level, up 8.2 percentage points from 2004 and
with several cities -- Yonkers, Syracuse, Rochester -- posting increases
even higher than New York City's. Michael Winerip reports on the
skepticism some teachers have that the tests truly reflect significant
changes in teaching and learning in the span of just one year.


All young adolescents need access to the kinds of reading opportunities
that will allow them to grow up to be successful members of a literate
community. It is the responsibility of the entire community to offer
support for ensuring these eight rights: (1) Access to Books; (2)
Encouragement to Value Reading; (3) Time to Read; (4) Skilled Reading
Leaders; (5) Public Library Support; (6) Community Agency Support; (7)
Family Support; and (8) Reading Role Models.

The School District of Philadelphia is the seventh
largest in the nation serving 208,170 as of 9/20/2000
including early childhood programs. Literacy Statistics

TIME TO ENGAGE? CIVIC PARTICIPATION IN PHILADELPHIA'S SCHOOL REFORM Philadelphia is at the forefront of a national trend towards privatization in education, making school reform in Philadelphia a topic of national and local consequence. In December 2001, after years of conflict between city and state over educational funding, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania took over the School District of Philadelphia, declaring the city's schools to be in a state of academic and fiscal crisis. In the months following the takeover, the newly formed School Reform Commission ushered in an unprecedented level of educational privatization by turning dozens of schools over to private (for-profit and non-profit) educational management organizations (EMOs). So far, there is little evidence that the extra money given to the companies has resulted in better test scores for students, according to a new reports from Research for Action. "There's been an enormous change in how the district works," said Eva Gold, one of the authors. That change has been a "new governance model" in which for-profits, nonprofits and universities get contracts to manage schools and perform other educational services, like writing curriculum. While test scores in city elementary grades have been going up, it is not possible to say that increased corporate involvement in school management is the reason, the study concludes. In fact, the greatest test-score gains have been in schools run by the school district, not those run by the providers. The report also concluded that the public has largely been shut out of decisions around which companies or institutions manage which schools, and why.

"Focus on High School," from Education Development Center, Inc., (EDC)
calls for an "integrated approach" to high school reform.  Too many
current reform initiatives overlook academic rigor while they focus on
creating nurturing schools or responding to today's technological and
global realities. EDC researchers, curriculum developers, and professional
development experts discuss five initiatives that cultivate both the
intellectual and social development of students, build in relevance and
connectedness, and bring teachers together to learn new content and

For nearly 100 years, educators have debated the benefits of grade
retention versus social promotion. A new examination of research on this
perennially-controversial issue indicates that retention does not improve
achievement among kindergartners in reading or mathematics, nor does it
facilitate instruction by making classrooms more homogeneous academically.
"In recent years, 'ending social promotion' has become a popular slogan
with the movement to set and maintain high standards and educational
accountability. In this new climate, many schools have adopted grade
retention at most grade levels, even in kindergarten," the authors state.
Predictors of retention among kindergarteners include characteristics such
as non-Hispanic, male, from a single-parent family with lower
socioeconomic status and higher number of siblings, and never having
received center-based childcare. In addition, the retainees tended to come
from kindergarten classes where teachers spent relatively less time in
reading and literacy instruction, covered lower-level content topics, and
held different standards based on children's capability. The authors
conclude that "rather than forcing these children to restart from the very
beginning, exposing them to meaningful intellectual challenges on a
continual basis is perhaps developmentally more appropriate."

Facts about Retention & Who Will Benefit

PETA ANGRY OVER GOLDFISH SWALLOWED AT SCHOOL ASSEMBLY Two high school boys got a stern talking to after swallowing goldfish at a school assembly. Animal rights activists think they deserved harsher punishment. After learning about the stunt late last month, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals urged Federal Way (WA) Public Schools to adopt a district-wide policy prohibiting the use of animals in school functions. "We feel certain you'll agree that killing fish in the name of school spirit is unacceptable," wrote Jennifer O'Connor. "If the reports we received are accurate, this cruel spectacle has no place in Federal Way public schools. Given the proliferation of violence in the schools, it is imperative that we teach compassion for all living beings rather than publicly encouraging cruelty to animals," O'Connor added. The two young men pulled the stunt apparently after promising to eat live goldfish in front of the entire student body if one of them got elected as a class officer. Denise Turner, a school spokesperson, said school officials lectured the boys on proper behavior at school functions and called their parents to report what they'd done. They received no further discipline. "These are good kids who made bad decisions," Turner said. "What they did was not appropriate. We used it as a teaching moment." 20Swallowed%20Goldfish

For two decades, policymakers have decreed that seventh grade should be a
time when children have a chance to adjust to puberty and cliques and the
other annoyances of turning 13, reports Jay Mathews. Lessons should be
engaging and enriching, middle school advocates have said, but not put too
much emphasis on mastering subject matter and passing difficult tests. "I
believe that middle schools should provide academic rigor," Principal John
Word said. "The challenge for us as middle school educators in the age of
high stakes testing is to encourage teaching for understanding while
addressing the myriad of social and emotional issues."

REACHING OUT TO DIVERSE FAMILIES Family involvement in schools is often limited to a small group of parents who seem to do everything. Culturally diverse families may not feel they fit in at the school or have a different perspective on what it means to be involved, so they are often left out of school activities. How can schools move beyond a limited level of family involvement and encourage all families to become more active in their children's schools and education? A new strategy brief from the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) helps answer this question. It discusses strategies helpful to schools that want to broaden and deepen involvement beyond the traditional fundraising or party-planning activities. Chris Ferguson, author of the brief, says that research has indicated that parents, regardless of their ethnicity, culture, or economic status are interested in their children's education. "They just may not know how to help their children with school matters," she says, "or they may feel like they don't have the knowledge or expertise to help their children with school work." According to Ferguson, schools can help parents become more comfortable playing a strong role in their children's education. Schools that are successful involving families are able to build on the cultural values of families and foster communication with families. Successful schools have also created an inviting environment for families and often facilitate involvement by providing transportation, translators, and other similar services. They can also help parents learn strategies to support their children's academic needs. "All schools can increase their parent and family involvement," says Ferguson. "It just takes time and innovative strategies to develop a strong, two-way relationship."

In the first of a four-part series exploring the lasting significance of
the achievement gap, Kristi Garrett profiles a young adult several years
after he graduated on the general track to see how education policies,
social class and academic performance have affected his aspirations and
options after high school. Check out California Schools magazine at:

A new crop of educators share a radical idea -- that boys and girls are so
biologically different they need to be separated into single-sex classes
and taught in different ways. In the last five years, brain researchers
using sophisticated diagnostic technology have gathered new information
about the ways male and female brains develop and process information.
Studies show that girls, for instance, have more active frontal lobes,
stronger connections between brain hemispheres and "language centers" that
mature earlier than their male counterparts. Critics of gender-based
schooling charge that curricula designed to exploit such differences
reinforce the most narrow cultural stereotypes. But proponents say that
unless neurological, hormonal and cognitive differences between boys and
girls are incorporated in the classroom, boys are at a disadvantage.

How does the brain work?
Female and Male Origin Of The Brain
Does Culture Wire the Teenage Brain?
The problem with schools.

|---------------GRANT AND FUNDING INFORMATION--------------|
"Youth Service America Harris Wofford Awards"
These awards annually honor exceptional individuals, institutions, and
media figures who actively contribute to this nation's spirit of service.
Eligibility: Youth (ages 5-25), Organization (nonprofit, corporate,
foundation), and Media (organization or individual). Maximum Award: $500
award for him/herself and a $500 award for the non-profit organization of
his/her choice.  Deadline: October 12, 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.

"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.

"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.

"Public High School Music Programs"
The Grammy Signature Schools program of the Grammy Foundation annually
honors exceptional public high school music programs across the United
States.  Maximum Award: $25,000. Eligibility: School music departments
applying for the Grammy Signature Schools Enterprise Award must
demonstrate financial need. Deadline: October 22, 2005.

"Deadline Extended for President's Environmental Youth Program"
Young people in all 50 states and the U.S. territories are invited to
submit projects which demonstrate their commitment to the environment.
Maximum Award: National Ceremony. Eligibility: students with adult
sponsor. Deadline: October 31, 2005.

"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.

"American Hiking Society National Trails Fund"
Provides funding to grassroots organizations working toward establishing,
protecting and maintaining foot trails in America. Maximum Award:
$500-$10,000. Eligibility: Local organizations. Deadline: November 1, 2005

"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,

"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.

"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.

"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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