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Public Education Network Weekly NewsBlast

Since the mid-1990s, two trends have transformed the landscape of
American public education: enrollment has increased because of the
growth of the Hispanic population, and the number of schools has also
increased. This report examines the intersection of those trends.
Total public school enrollment in the United States peaked at 46.1
million in 1971 as the youngest members of the baby boom generation
arrived in the nation's classrooms. Enrollment gradually dropped off,
to 39.2 million in fall 1984, then began to increase once again,
reaching 48.2 million -- a 23% jump -- in fall 2002. Examining data
for the decade of most concentrated change -- between the 1993-94 and
2002-03 school years -- this report finds that Hispanics accounted for
64% of the students added to public school enrollment. Meanwhile,
writes Rick Fry, blacks accounted for 23% of the increase and Asians
11%. White enrollment declined by 1%. During that same period, 15,368
schools, with an enrollment of 6.1 million in 2002-03, were opened.
Nearly half, 2.5 million, of the students attending the new schools
were white and meanwhile white enrollment in older schools dropped by
2.6 million. In contrast, about two-thirds of the increase in Latino
enrollment was accommodated in older schools. Assessing the changes in
the racial and ethnic composition of school enrollment, this report
finds that despite population change, white students continued to
attend schools populated primarily by other whites and relatively few
attended schools populated primarily by minorities. The report also
finds that a relatively small number of schools absorbed most of the
increase in Hispanic enrollment and that those schools differ in
important ways from schools less affected by Hispanic population
growth. The schools that experienced the largest growth in Hispanic
enrollment were generally larger, had more students on federal
subsidies and also had greater teacher-student ratios--the latter an
important indicator that has improved across the nation but not as
significantly in Hispanic-impacted schools.

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; Diane
Ravitch Research Professor of Education at New York University, senior
fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., and a senior
fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University; 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:

In the education circles, "training" is a dirty word. The concept of
training brings to mind all the crazy operant-conditioning programs
from the 1970s and '80s. B.F. Skinner, pellets, and pigeons somehow
led in a zigzag line to teachers frantically popping gumdrops into
their students' mouths every time they grunted out a correct answer.
Ballerinas aren't "facilitated" -- they train. Those exquisite leaps
come from intense hours of sweat on the barre. Likewise, the regimens
of endurance athletes: They don't just prepare, they train, with all
the focus and commitment the word implies. Maybe that's why Brenda
Power found herself fascinated with the book "Kicked, Bitten, and
Scratched," Amy Sutherland's account of a year observing students in a
California school for exotic-animal trainers. The novice trainers
Sutherland shadows are on campus seven days a week, balancing
coursework in anatomy with grueling hours cleaning and tending animals
ranging in size from small rodents to rhinos. The lessons Sutherland
shares apply to life in schools, and what we might learn from a
teaching zoo: (1) No seal ever learned to balance a ball on its head
through nagging; (2) Many of the worst injuries at the teaching zoo
are inflicted by tools; (3) "Animal person" is a compliment and an
insult; and (4) We change behaviors in others by breaking routines in
delightful ways. The irony is that animal trainers, like teachers, are
driven by intrinsic motivation. The long hours and lousy pay provide
little in the way of external rewards -- and novice trainers have to
shovel mountains of poop each week to boot. They endure because the
teaching zoo, like any thriving school, is a mesmerizing place. We are
forever trainer and trainee; training and being trained. To reject the
concept of training because it's been so thoroughly abused in
education closes a window into learning with a uniquely fascinating view.

Over the past fifteen years, charter schools and teachers unions have
battled in state legislatures, the courts, and the media. But with
increasing frequency, the two groups are facing each other in the
everyday operation of schools. Will on-the-ground experiences change
charter schools or unions? Will existing conflicts only spread, or
will direct experience lead to some moderation within each party? "The
Future of Charter Schools and Teachers Unions: Results of a Symposium"
summarizes the opinions expressed at the meeting and provides
recommendations for how both groups might coexist while maintaining
their most valued principles. Some important themes emerged from this
unusual meeting: (1) Each side (often incorrectly) defines the other
by the views of its most extreme members; (2) Moderate members from
each group share many of the same ideas about good schooling, but each
side thinks the other insists on something that will interfere with
quality teaching.; (3) Both sides acknowledge the costs of their
conflict, but few leaders are willing to take the first step; (4) Thin
evidence about the work life of charter school teachers or how
unionized charter schools operate exacerbates conflicting beliefs.
This report, authored by Paul T. Hill, Lydia Rainey, and Andrew J.
Rotherham, makes the case that if relations are to improve, three
things are needed. First, to help ground the discussion in facts,
better evidence is needed about the charter school teaching force and
the impact of chartering on issues that matter to teachers. Second,
more exemplars and models of effective union-charter partnerships can
help show how important problems can be solved. Finally, both groups
could engage in confidence-building measures to demonstrate their
desire to make progress, not just give the appearance of openness.

Why is it so tragic that music is being squeezed out of the school
day? Author Peter Kalkavage argues in the Fall 2006 issue of American
Educator that music is an essential liberal art -- and as such, it
helps students understand themselves and their world. After all, music
is central to adolescents' lives. To understand the power music has
over their emotions, they should study it -- especially classical
music, as well as great works from other traditions such as folk songs
and the blues. When studied as a liberal art, music begins to improve
students' taste, to cultivate an appreciation of beauty. In a Q&A on
why America's musical classics should be standard fare in schools,
Wynton Marsalis concurs, explaining that the "music our children hear
on the radio may feel good, like a candy bar feels good, but it has no
nutrition." Public Agenda's recent look at parents', teachers', and
students' educational priorities are also featured. Now that standards
have been raised -- and parents in particular see that today's
schoolwork is harder than what they had to do as children -- the top
priorities are securing more funding for schools, reducing class size,
and improving student behavior. To round out the issue, a cognitive
scientist debunks the "brain-based" learning fad and American Educator
takes a look at two content-rich children's magazines.



Are you interested in the research that shows how
and why music education makes your smarter?
Help teachers integrate music into the classroom.
Music is the ambassador to culture.


Increasingly, parent teacher organizations are funding items that
schools say they need but can't afford. Across the country, PTOs are
picking up the tab for computers, library books, even instructor
salaries and classroom aides. While most agree these items should be
paid for with public funds, reports Sharron Kahn Luttrell, many PTOers
say they're not going to hold their breath waiting for those funds to
appear. Some worry that one-time or annual fundraisers like this are a
Band-Aid that covers the need for long-term, strategic funding and
could lull school boards into ignoring chronic budget shortfalls. As
well-meaning and helpful as private donations are, there will never be
enough to pay for everything, says Wendy D. Puriefoy, president,
Public Education Network (PEN). According to Paul Reville, if the
nation's total charitable foundation dollars replaced public funding
of education, America's schools could survive for two to three days
before plunging into bankruptcy. "People are trying to solve a big
public problem with private money, and it just doesn't work in the
long run," says Puriefoy. The community's enthusiasm for equipping
schools should be redirected toward advocating for increased public
funding, Puriefoy says. Not only do public dollars reflect the
public's priorities, but they also ensure consistency that most PTOs
can't, she explains. Puriefoy's advice is, "As a PTO, ask yourself the
larger question: 'What happens after my kids are gone?' If something
is going to have an impact, it has to be structured, regular, and
systematic." "PTOs need to say, 'The work we have to do is to help
citizens understand the relationship the schools have to the quality
of life,'" says Puriefoy. "Generally people know more about buying a
car than they do about the way their child's school system works."

Scientists call it the next great discovery, a way to captivate
students so much they will spend hours learning on their own. It's the
new vision of video games, reports Ben Feller. The Federation of
American Scientists, which typically weighs in on matters of nuclear
weaponry and government secrecy, has declared that video games can
redefine education. Capping a year of study, the group called for
federal research into how the addictive pizzazz of video games can be
converted into serious learning tools for schools. The theory is that
games teach skills that employers want: analytical thinking, team
building, multitasking and problem solving under duress. Unlike
humans, the games never lose patience. And they are second nature to
many kids. The idea might stun those who consider games to be the
symbol of teenage sloth. Yet this is not about virtual football or
skateboarding. Games would have to be created and evaluated with the
goal of raising achievement, said federation president Henry Kelly.
There's already an audience: More than 45 million homes have
video-game consoles. Doug Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment
Software Association, said there will soon be 75 million Americans who
are 10 to 30 years old -- an age bracket that grew up on video games.
"We would be crazy not to seek ways to exploit interactive games to
teach our children."

Five years ago, Philadelphia and its schools were in turmoil over a
proposal to turn over leadership of the school system and many of its
schools to a for-profit company called Edison Schools Inc. But out of
discussions between city, state, and School District officials, a
compromise reform plan emerged that took some of the heat off of
Edison. At its core was what is now known as the "diverse provider
model" of school management. This model, in which six private, outside
providers now manage a total of 41 schools across the city, put
Philadelphia in the national education spotlight as the forerunner in
a new trend towards increased involvement of the private sector in
school management. These private sector providers include both
for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations. The diverse
provider model has not come cheap, reports Eva Gold. Since 2002, the
SRC has spent over $80 million for school management contracts with
three national for-profit companies, two local nonprofit
organizations, and two area universities (although the universities
negotiated for less management responsibility and more focus on
support for professional development). With a vote on the renewal of
providers' contracts looming next spring, however, the time to account
for the providers' impact is rapidly approaching. Is this diverse
provider model working? Has the rate of improvement been adequate in
the schools managed by private providers and receiving extra funds?
What role has the presence of private providers played in the
districtwide uptick in performance? Beyond test scores, what impacts
have private providers had on teaching, learning, and school climate
in their schools? Developing a citywide dialogue around these
questions, which includes educator and parent perspectives from the
schools involved, is critical to assessing if the diverse provider
model has been worth the millions already invested in it.

There's nothing quite so wonderful as a new book. Imagine it in your
hands as you admire its jacket and then flip through its crisp pages.
Can you smell the newness? Are you excited about embarking on a new
adventure? It's too bad our school library shelves aren't overflowing
with new books every year because Indiana students would increase
their practice of reading if they had access to new, interesting, and
useful books. New books really do make a difference. From 1997-2001,
the Indiana General Assembly provided funding for school library
books. During that period, school corporations matched that funding.
The result was just what one would expect. There was a huge increase
in the purchase of books. Circulation rose from a per student average
of 33.8 to 43.1 as a result of the School Library Printed Materials
Grant. With the loss of funding for new books, the circulation dropped
to 32.7 to 2006. As with everything else, the price of books has
steadily increased over the years. The average cost of a school
library book is now over $20, and schools should be purchasing two
books per student per year to keep their library collections current.
Even with the state funding, most schools are not purchasing two books
per student per year. No matter the cost, there is no escaping the
fact that there is no substitute for books. Without access to current,
appealing, high-interest, and useful books in school libraries,
reading achievement suffers. Money most definitely does make a
difference in reading.

****************************************************************** The Road to Literacy Best resources for both reading games, traditional Language Arts and interactive Childrens Books Online that integrate technology into the classroom. 100 Most Frequent Words in Books for Beginning Readers ******************************************************************

The first results of a new set of New York State math exams show about
two-thirds of students performing at grade level, with striking
disparities between rich and poor school districts, according to
published test scores. The share of students at grade level in
affluent districts was more than twice as big as in impoverished urban
districts. The use of new tests, adopted to meet the federal No Child
Left Behind law's requirements for tracking annual progress, and
changes in the state math standards made it impossible to compare the
results released yesterday, from 2005-6, with those from previous
years. But the state education commissioner, Richard P. Mills, said
there was clearly no improvement. It was the wide gap between poor
cities and wealthy districts that Mr. Mills identified as a cause for
alarm, reports David M. Herszenhorn. While 86.3 percent of students in
rich, or so-called low-need districts scored proficiently, only 28.6
percent did so in Buffalo, 30.1 percent in Syracuse, and 33.1 percent
in Rochester. "I am talking about state aid, and it's a reminder that
resources have something to do with this as well," Mr. Mills said. He
added: "The low-needs school districts, that is, the ones that have
the resources, are higher performing -- much higher performing."

Every survey of California voters shows that they rank education as
one of the most important problems facing the state. It's constantly
No. 1 or No. 2. The latest Times poll finds it No. 2 behind illegal
immigration. Democrats place it No. 1. And why not? Roughly 6.3
million kids attend 9,553 oft-maligned K-12 public schools in
California. Plus, 2.5 million students are enrolled at community
colleges, writes George Skelton. Taxpayers are digging deep. Counting
universities, half the state general fund ($102 billion) is consumed
by education. ($50 billion). In all, kindergartens through community
colleges are spending $55 billion -- 75% of it from the state, 25%
from local property taxes -- under Proposition 98. So a lot is at
stake: tax money and children's minds. Therefore, when the question of
how to improve public schools in an increasingly diverse state is
allotted only two minutes in an hour-long televised candidates' debate
-- the only debate of the gubernatorial campaign -- it's mind-boggling
and irresponsible. Candidates were asked, "What kinds of policies
would you support to improve the performance in California's public
schools, in one minute?" Rather than two minutes on education, the
candidates should have been required to spend 20. It might have
enlightened voters and certainly would have forced the candidates to
think more about how to better spend the taxpayers' billions.,1,964685.column

Literacy and National Reading Statistics

PUBLIC TO DRIVE SCHOOL REFORMS Denver Public Schools Superintendent Michael Bennet's approach to improving the city's high schools is becoming clear: Give power to the community. School administrators are about to launch talks about how to improve North High, the third of 12 Denver high schools to start reform. He has made it clear that he wants all his schools to be rigorous, high-performing and headed by a strong principal. Beyond that, he wants the community to choose school designs, whether they are arts magnets, K-12 small schools or Montessori programs. He is even taking that a step further with the district's new "beacon schools," which gives parents, community advocates and teachers an opportunity to create new schools or new programs in existing schools. "I don't know of another way of doing it," Bennet said. "You can write a plan and tie a pretty ribbon around it, but ... if there is no strong leader and the community doesn't believe in it, it doesn't work." This community approach is not completely untested, reports Allison Sherry. But it is being closely watched by national urban school-reform experts who, after more than $1 billion in private money invested in the issue nationally over the past decade, still don't have a single prescription for curing what ails most cities: low-achieving students and unacceptable graduation rates.

While Texas has one of the most sophisticated systems for tracking its
public school students, the dropout and graduation rates that it culls
from that data are among the most misleading in the nation, reports
Jennifer Radcliffe. The state's official graduation rate hovers around
85 percent, but researchers at some of the country's top universities
put Texas' graduation rate below 70 percent. In urban districts,
including Dallas and Houston, less than half of some minority groups
earn diplomas in four years -- a significantly smaller number than
what the districts self-report, they say. "They have the gold standard
(for data collection). Unfortunately ... the gold has turned into
fool's gold," said Daniel Losen, a senior education law and policy
associate with the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. "Texas
has dramatically inflated its graduation rates ... for years." State
education leaders say the research is based on old data and highlights
problems that have already been addressed. National studies show that
Texas' statistics omit about 78,000 teens who might otherwise be
counted as dropouts. "It's a sham of accountability," Losen said.

Only about half of the ninth graders in Philadelphia's public schools
graduate in four years, and 30,000 young people dropped out of that
city's high schools between 2000 and 2005, creating a "dropout crisis"
with far-reaching economic and social consequences. according to a
study released Thursday. But dropping out is predictable and
preventable, especially in large city public schools that produce many
of the nation's dropouts, says Johns Hopkins University researchers
Ruth Curran Neild and Robert Balfanz. In "Unfulfilled Promise: The
Dimensions and Characteristics of Philadelphia's Dropout Crisis,
2000-05," they draw on extensive data from Philadelphia schools and
social service agencies not only to establish the problem but also to
provide insight on how cities across the country can solve their
dropout problem. "This report can help big city school districts gain
a deeper understanding of the dimensions and characteristics of the
dropout crisis. It provides a road map on how to find and establish
the best prevention and intervention strategies to keep all students
on the graduation track." said Balfanz, a research scientist and
co-director of Talent Development High Schools at Hopkins.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------- DROP OUTS or PUSHED OUT Learn about the financial incentive to avoid the costs associated with the exit exam test which is what promotes pushing children out of school and what is at the bottom of why they really drop out. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

RECOGNIZE AND RESPOND TO STRUGGLING YOUNG LEARNERS Even at age three or four, some children show signs that they struggle to learn. Some of these concerns will resolve themselves over time, but some may be precursors of learning disabilities. This month the National Center for Learning Disabilities, in collaboration with the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Communication Consortium Media Center, and several key state partners, is launching a website full of free resources based on a new and innovative Recognition and Response system. The system is a research-based approach to helping teachers and parents respond to signs of learning difficulty in young children as early as ages 3 or 4, before they experience school failure. The website offers easy-to-read articles, checklists and fact sheets with action-oriented information. Also offered are policy statements, legislative summaries and research papers and reports that can help early learning professionals integrate the Recognition and Response system into their programs. A wide variety of resources is also offered to help teachers with observing and recording behavior, progress monitoring, engaging parents as partners, and more.

Which educational programs have been successfully evaluated in valid
scientific research? The Center for Data-Driven Reform in Education at
Johns Hopkins University, funded by the U.S. Department of Education,
has created a free website called the Best Evidence Encyclopedia (The
BEE). The BEE contains educator-friendly summaries of research on
educational programs as well as links to the full-text scientific
reviews. The reviews, written by many qualified individuals and
organizations, focus on the programs educators should consider to
improve their students' achievement: math and reading programs,
comprehensive school reforms, technology applications, and more. At
this website you will find reliable, unbiased summaries and detailed
reports on high-quality evaluations of educational programs.

This strategy brief, by Sharon Deich with Amanda Szekely, developed
for the Statewide Afterschool Networks, explores the challenges and
potential opportunities of incorporating funding for afterschool
programs into state education finance formulas. The primer lays out
the "basics" of state education finance formulas and how they vary
across the states, discusses the current educational context, and
provides some considerations for determining if this strategy might
make sense in a state -- either in response to a legal challenge to
the financing structure in a given state, or as part of a distinct
effort to modify a state's finance formula.  To download this brief, go to:

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

"100 Best Communities for Young People Campaign"
America's Promise/The Alliance for Youth is leading a national search
for the 100 Best Communities for Young People. The 100 Best campaign
will recognize communities for their innovative approaches and
difference-making efforts in 2007, including communities that are
pursuing community schools strategies. Maximum Award: national
recognition. Eligibility: any town, city or local jurisdiction within
the United States or U.S. territories, including Native American
reservations, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Virgin Islands. Deadline:
Friday, November 3, 2006.

"Surdna Arts Teachers Fellowship Program"
The Surdna Arts Teachers Fellowship Program recognizes that art
teachers often lack the time and resources to reconnect with the
artistic processes they teach and offers grants to enable selected
teachers to make art with professionals in their disciplines and stay
current with new practices and resources. Maximum Award: $6,500.
Eligibility: All permanently assigned full- and part-time arts faculty
in specialized, public arts high schools. Deadline: November 17, 2006.

"Educators To Saudi Arabia Program"
The Aramco Educators to Saudi Arabia Program aims to cultivate greater
awareness and understanding of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in U.S.
primary and secondary schools and to encourage teachers to establish
creative means of sharing this understanding with their students,
colleagues and communities. Maximum Award: a fully-funded, ten-day
study tour of Saudi Arabia. Eligibility: Social Studies Teachers and
Library Media Specialists, grades 1-12. Deadline: November 20, 2006.

"Clay Aiken Able-To-Serve Grants"
Clay Aiken Able-To-Serve Grants support youth, teachers,
youth-leaders, youth-serving organizations, and organizations serving
people with disabilities in implementing service projects for National
and Global Youth Service Day, April 20-22, 2007. Projects can address
themes such as the environment, disaster relief, public health and
awareness, community education, hunger, literacy, and any issues youth
identify as a community need. Maximum Award: $1000. Eligibility: Youth
(ages 5-25); teachers and youth leaders; organizations that work with
youth ages 5- 25; or organizations that serve people with
disabilities. Projects must be either youth-led or co-led by youth and
adult allies. Deadline: November 30, 2007.

For a detailed listing of EXISTING GRANT OPPORTUNITIES (updated each
week), visit:

"Society puts the hardest jobs in the public sector. In the private
sector, we handle important but easier jobs -- where there are
reasonably clear signals about the value of the things we make. But
when we are not satisfied with the outcomes created by the private
sector -- when something has not been attended to, or has created
ancillary negative consequences, and so on -- then we ask the public
sector to intervene. When there are ambiguities about value, or
conflicts about priorities and values, we ask the government to step
in. So we shouldn't be surprised to discover that the problems the
public sector is handling are the most difficult, most confusing, and
most conflict-ridden -- and, therefore, the hardest to guarantee high
-Herman Leonard, (professor) John F. Kennedy School of Government,
Harvard University

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

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