June 4 2004 Edition


Articles of Interest: There are actually some really interesting pieces out there this week, including the Times' article on mixing single-sex and coed education, the Sun's piece on the recent trend towards K-8 configurations of schools, and Todd Oppenheimer's rant against the E-Rate in The Nation. Kids Count 2004 is a useful report, as usual. The Post's editorial against Democratic officials and the NEA is vicious and funny.

A questionable plan to wire schools has turned into a business (The Nation)
Whatever happened to teen romance? Life inside the under-age (Times Magazine)
Middle School Goes the Way of Junior High (Baltimore Sun)
Most States' Child Well-being Up (Arizona Republic)
The Annie E. Casey Foundation's Kids Count 2004 Report
Taking Candy From Pupils? School Vending Bill Says Yes (New York Times)
Dividing the Sexes for the Tough Years (New York Times)
Democrats and the NEA: The Leash Frays (New York Post)
If it works in Chicago . . .

This Week in NCLB: As usual, the Christian Science Monitor comes up with the most thoughtful look into the inner workings of NCLB and manages to give everyone a fair shake. The only thing I'd add is that parents can only respond to information they're actually given, and perhaps its a conflict of interest to ask school districts to be in charge of communicating openly with parents. Linda Pearlstein's piece about the impact of NCLB at one school is equally insightful, though I'm not sure I'm as troubled from the outside by the focus on literacy as I would be if I were in a classroom and wanted to do all sorts of other things. In contrast, Debbie Meier's piece in The Nation is...well...what you'd expect from The Nation, but less than expected from Meier. News from Nevada that rosters are being rejiggered to comply with NCLB is sad but not a surprise.

School pushes reading, writing, reform
(Washington Post)
No Politician Left Behind (The Nation)
We Are the Parents. Is Anyone Listening? (Christian Science Monitor)
Superintendent Debate: Do We Need Big Tests? (Washington Post)
New group attacks education reform law (Palm Beach Post)
Parents Can Move Kids From Failing Schools (NBC 17)
Two Wake schools miss mark (Raleigh News)
Nev. Teacher Claims Rosters Altered to Meet â??No Childâ?? Law (Education Week)
Government Offers Guidance On Standards and Testing (Education Week)
Shaping Up the No Child Act (Education Week)
Standardized Test Times Vary at Area School (Education Week)
Education Law Deemed No Mandate (Washington Times)
What's Proficient? (AFT) PDF


School Closings: Never one to miss the occasional chance to step on its own good news, the Board of Education follows up this week's news of generally positive test score results (below) with its annual, inevitably contentious, and nearly always last-minute school closing announcement. Why do they do that?(And why don't they make the school closing process more transparent?)

Chicago plans to close up to 10 elementary schools
10 city schools targeted to close(Chicago Tribune)

Test Scores: While upward progress is a good and miraculous thing, given what a disrupted and conflicted year its been with the teachers contract and the near-strike and all, and there are many signs of further improvement in the works, it's worth keeping in mind that the state ISAT scores are not yet out yet and will likely not be so rosy, that nearly half of all CPS schools could be on probation or listed by NCLB as in need of improvement next year, the results may be good enough for Arne Duncan to keep his job another year; the Mayor showed up at the press conference (after ducking out the last one) and somehow managed to sound enthusiastic about the incremental progress of the schools under his watch.

Reading, math scores level off
Chicago reading scores increase slightly (WLS)
Mixed results for kids' school test scores (Tribune)
Student reading scores rebound (Chicago Sun Times)

Daley Says 'Enemy Is Complacency' (NBC 5)

CTU Runoff: Things looked pretty dire last week and it's been a tough year for Debbie Lynch and her team, but now that the test scores look good at many of the Partnership schools and two former rivals have joined her against Marilyn Stewart, it seems like Lynch's prospects are again looking up. Whether that's a good thing for the teachers or the school system is less clear.

Ex-rivals now back teachers union president

Downstate: What a mess. First the Governor decides to make nice with Madigan and Jones about his state board takeover proposal last week, then just this week he manages to offend the Speaker and stall things out yet again. At this rate, perhaps the Dems will mess things up so badly that Obama actually loses to Ryan and the state comes back into play for the Republicans.

Education reform bill passes Illinois House
- Quincy Herald Whig
Illinois Governor's Reform Plan In Jeopardy (Education Week)
Gov's Education Plan in Limbo (Rockford Register)


Opinion: Helping Public Schools Be Less Dysfunctional (Tribune)

Reading: the one building block no education can go without (Town Hall)


June 4: Yours truly debuts on WTTW's "Week In Review" to discuss test scores, layoffs, and the CTU runoff. Perhaps the most interesting part of the discussion centers around whether Chicago's business and school reform communities, as well as City Hall and the mainstream media, have become complacent about the slow pace of reform. I may be wrong, but it doesn't seem like there's anyone really holding CPS's feet to the fire anymore, except on LSC-related issues.

June 5: Emerging Leaders Serving Chicago's Youth is hosting a Leadership Forum on the topic of Preventing Obesity in Chicago's Youth! From 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM followed by a networking lunch from noon to 1 p.m. At: Jenner and Block conference room L, One IBM Plaza, 330 North Wabash, Chicago, 40th floor. RSVP required to Elizabeth Devaney at <elizabeth_devaney@yahoo.com>. A $10 registration (includes lunch) to be paid at the door. http://www.emergingleaderschicago.org/.

June 11: CTU Runoff: Lynch vs. Stewart

June 11: Teach For America a new study from Mathematica will be presented and discussed in Washington at the Capitol Hill Hyatt on New Jersey Avenue from 9-11 AM. To RSVP email education@dlcppi.org.

June 12: Last Day of School: Summer school begins on Monday, June 28. (They may have softened the retention policy, but it's not gone.) Students return for the 2004-2005 year Tuesday, September 7.

June 23: Board of Education Meeting: Public participation begins at 10:30 a.m. Public participation sign-up: 8 to 9:30 a.m. (This is where they're going to approve the budget cuts.)


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