IN THE SPOTLIGHT
First lady Laura Bush and national education leaders yesterday unveiled an online database that promises to provide parents across much of the nation the first accurate appraisal of how many students graduate from high school on time in each school system.
Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein released next year’s budgets for New York City’s more than 1,400 public schools yesterday, using a new financing system that will drive far more money to schools serving low-achieving students, children from low-income families and those who speak limited English.
ASSESSMENT, ACCOUNTABILITY AND REFORM
On some days, the dean’s job is to talk troubled children back from the edge. And so it was in the case of a 14-year-old boy suffering from personal problems and neglecting his studies. When that happens at this charter middle school of astonishing academic success, the authorities respond quickly.
In town to promote the newly created Strong American Schools, a group he leads, Roy Romer listened as teens from six San Fernando Valley high schools listed reasons why learning is a challenge these days: Apathetic teachers. Unavailable college counselors. Low expectations.
Parents can access data, but confusing format hinders understanding. Particularly difficult to gauge is whether the public schools, including charter schools, are closing the achievement gap for economically disadvantaged students as well as major ethnic and racial groups.
TEACHER QUALITY, PREPARATION, SUPPORT AND RETENTION
There's a new call to overhaul the way public school teachers get paid, and it's coming from an unusual source: Teachers. A "carefully crafted performance-pay system has huge potential to transform the teaching profession in ways that can help all students learn more," says the teachers' report, which is available at Teacherleaders.org.
Theresa Douglass is too impatient - or maybe she's just too much of a rebel - to wait for politicians and school bureaucrats across the state to decide how to improve education. She's figured out a way to lengthen the school day at Kitty Ward Elementary School by nearly an hour. And she's going to introduce intensive blocks of literacy instruction, special academies and more professional development for teachers.
Salary might be the highest-profile issue during contract talks, but negotiations between the Palm Beach County School District and the Classroom Teachers Association aren't just about raises.
PRACTICE, POLICY AND ED THOUGHT
So the Liverpool Central School District, just outside Syracuse, has decided to phase out laptops starting this fall, joining a handful of other schools around the country that adopted one-to-one computing programs and are now abandoning them as educationally empty — and worse.
Last fall Harvard, Princeton and the University of Virginia eliminated their early admissions programs. But all concerned with increasing low-income applicants' chances of being admitted to and succeeding in college must recognize that early admission is a small part of the picture. The college admissions process is increasingly skewed against low-income students, who need better advising and funding.
Miss Pomp and Circumstance by a few credits back when college graduation was the goal? The University of Utah is looking for you.
OF INTEREST: NEWS, REPORTS, AND OPPORTUNITIES
Several funding opportunities, including: Richard Riley Award to Honor Schools That Serve as Centers of Community, and Ray Solem Foundation Grant Program to Help Immigrants Learn English in Innovative Ways