Thursday, March 17, 2011

Quick Hits

Obama urges Congress to rewrite No Child Left Behind: President Barack Obama urged Congress to revamp the federal No Child Left Behind law, citing new figures that four out of five schools will be labeled as failing under the law if it is not changed. "That's an astonishing number," Obama said. "We know that four out of five schools in this country aren't failing. So what we're doing to measure success and failure is out of line." Obama wants the law rewritten by September, but one top Republican called that deadline "arbitrary." (The Associated Press) (The New York Times) (The Christian Science Monitor)

Helping students understand Japan's nuclear crisis: The writers of this blog post offer suggestions for teaching students about the nuclear crisis in Japan. Students can explore the pros and cons of nuclear energy and research the ongoing situation at the Japanese reactors. They can then work in groups to write news bulletins that explain aspects of the events as part of an exercise that is aligned with national academic standards. (NYTimes/The Learning Network blog)

Students rally to keep teachers amid L.A. budget cuts: About 7,000 Los Angeles teachers have received layoff notices. While some educators may be spared, students at Hamilton High School are acting to save their teachers' jobs. Students have begun writing e-mails to school board members and others to tell officials how important their teachers are. "Teachers here are amazing," said senior Naomi Hecht. (Los Angeles Times)

Tight budgets lead more schools to consider advertising on buses: Advertising on school buses is increasing as cash-strapped districts look for more sources of revenue. However, the trend poses challenges for school officials, who must weigh financial benefits against the potential for controversy over advertising content. One advertising executive said ads on 100 buses could equate to $500,000 in revenue for a district over four years. (USA TODAY)

Latest version of federal budget keeps education cuts: The U.S. House has approved a new extension of a fiscal year 2010 federal spending bill that maintains previous cuts to education programs, such as the National Writing Project and others. The bill does not include further cuts to education, which President Barack Obama has said he opposes. Congress will have three weeks to approve a federal spending bill for the remainder of fiscal 2011. (Politics K-12)

Connecticut schools face wide achievement gap: Connecticut schools are working to close a socioeconomic-based achievement gap that is the widest of any state in the country. The issue is seen in both urban and suburban schools and has been compounded by immigrants coming to Connecticut. Experts and educators say a student's home life is the main factor behind the gap. In West Hartford, educators have introduced prekindergarten and opened a family resource center to help address those needs. (The Hechinger Report)

More Colorado students are taking concurrent-enrollment classes: Colorado students are increasingly participating in concurrent-enrollment programs that allow them to earn college credits while still in high school. Nearly 6,500 students are participating in concurrent enrollment, up from 1,750 in 2005. Most are taking community college courses. Educators say the courses encourage more students to consider higher education, and students say the program reduces the cost of tuition and prepares them for college-level work. (The Denver Post)

Can Florida afford to implement teacher merit pay?: Plans to implement a merit-pay system for teachers are moving forward in Florida, but lawmakers have yet to specify how the state will pay for the plan. In addition to funding the merit-pay bonuses, the state faces the costs of developing new evaluation systems and training employees at a time of reduced funding for schools. Legislators in the state House were poised today to approve the merit-pay plan, which has already cleared the state Senate. (Orlando Sentinel)

Report calls for raising the status of U.S. teachers: Elevating the status of the U.S. teaching profession by raising standards for teacher recruitment, training and pay could help to improve schools, according to a report by the Program for International Student Assessment. Doing so would put the U.S. in the category of countries with top-performing school systems, according to the report. "Dedicated teachers in the U.S. work long hours for little pay and, in many cases, insufficient support from their leadership," Pisa's Andreas Schleicher writes in the report. (The New York Times)

Colorado district approves pilot voucher program: Officials in Colorado's Douglas County approved a pilot voucher program that will offer up to 500 students $4,575 each toward private-school tuition. In response to criticism over the vouchers being used at religious schools, the board expanded the pool of eligible private schools and added a provision allowing students to opt out of religious instruction. Supporters of the plan say it will expand school choice, while critics say it is not needed because the district is one of the highest-achieving in the state. (The Denver Post)

Digital learning is tested as part of NYC Innovation Zone: New York City schools are working to develop and test new ways to improve and customize education -- primarily using digital tools and other technology -- through the city's three-year Innovation Zone initiative. Strategies being tested include a program that individualizes students' lessons in math and language arts and a 1:1 computing program that encourages students to work at their own pace. Organizers are set to expand the program next year, with plans to broaden its reach to 400 schools by 2013-14. (Education Week)

School combines team teaching, regular progress meetings: A Maryland elementary school combines team teaching with regular conferences aimed at monitoring the progress of individual students. The teaching teams include one teacher and one specialized interventionist, who could be a math or reading specialist or a special educator. The Kid Talks, held three times a year, help educators match resources with students. "We're smarter together than we are as one," principal Steve Raff said. (The Frederick News-Post)

How will struggling Boston school fare as a charter?: When Boston's struggling Gavin Middle School becomes a charter school this fall, about 91% of its former students will return. The school, which is to be run by nonprofit Unlocking Potential, is expected to employ union teachers, who will put to the test reforms such as longer hours, stricter evaluations and a merit-pay system. (The Boston Globe)

Protesters decry planned education cuts in Texas: More than 11,000 teachers, students and parents rallied Saturday at the state capitol in Austin, Texas, against proposed cuts to education funding. Gov. Rick Perry is proposing the cuts to help cover a state-revenue shortage of $27 billion, but protesters say the cuts will harm the future of education in the state. (San Antonio Express-News)

41 Detroit public schools could be turned into charters: Officials in Detroit have proposed turning 41 public schools over to charter-school operators in an attempt to cut costs and improve student achievement. It is unclear how many teachers would be laid off if the change is approved by the district's school board. However, union leaders oppose the charter-school plan, saying such schools do not always improve achievement. (The Wall Street Journal)

Can goal-setting programs help students raise achievement?: Some schools are looking to boost student achievement by implementing goal-setting programs that help students identify and reach measurable, attainable targets in a set time frame. The approach allows students to break down bigger-picture goals into smaller steps and use specific strategies to overcome obstacles. (The Wall Street Journal)

Wis. Assembly passes bill curbing workers' rights: Legislators in the Wisconsin Assembly voted largely along party lines to approve a bill that would limit the collective-bargaining rights of public workers, including teachers. Gov. Scott Walker is expected to sign the bill into law soon. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

School bullying is the focus of presidential conference: President Barack Obama discussed his own experiences being teased in school when he was young, as he and first lady Michelle Obama convened a conference on bullying Thursday to raise awareness about an issue said to affect one-third of students in U.S schools. They called on parents and teachers to consider how they can offer more support to students and create safer school environments. The summit also included a live chat on Facebook. (The Associated Press) (The Christian Science Monitor)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One of the comments on the school bus ad story said private schools should advertise on them.