Education Week - March 6, 2013 - (Page 4)

4 EDUCATION WEEK n MARCH 6, 2013 n NEWS IN BRIEF SEEKING SOLUTIONS A legal challenge to Washington state’s new law allowing the creation of charter schools has been filed by a state teachers’ union and a coalition of other groups concerned about the constitutionality of the measure approved by voters last November. The Washington Education Association’s complaint was filed with state Attorney General Bob Ferguson on Feb. 27 and asks him to investigate and “promptly institute legal proceedings to remedy the constitutional violations” within the charter school law, which would allow up to 40 charter schools to open over five years. The complaint argues that the new charter law interferes with the state’s “paramount duty” to provide for public education. The coalition maintains that the state is already under a 2012 state Supreme Court order to overhaul its K-12 funding system, but that the Charter School Act will divert already insufficient resources away from public school districts. A teacher explains a math problem at Afghanistan’s Children-A New Approach center in Kabul. The pending withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign combat forces from the country comes as international aid is on the decline. Aid organizations are racing to find new funding for basic services, such as K-12 education, that the country has been unable to deliver on its own. –ANDREW UJIFUSA Pediatricians Criticize Harsh Discipline Codes Schools are too quick to suspend students or expel them and need to take a hard look at those “drastic” policies, the American Academy of Pediatrics said last week, building on a previous position paper published six years ago that questioned zero-tolerance discipline policies. The newest statement also outlines ways pediatricians can help identify and intervene if children A Musadeq Sadeq/AP Wash. Teachers’ Union Sues Over Charter Law have behavior problems, and instructs children’s doctors to champion policies that emphasize prevention strategies and alternatives to out-of-school suspension and expulsion. The 60,000-member academy says discipline policies that call for ejecting students from school have been shown not to improve school safety, but the effect on students can be profound. To prevent behavior problems from arising and reduce the use of suspension and expulsion, the group recommends early identification of at-risk children, intervention before problem behaviors occur, and implementation of clearly ar- ticulated and carefully taught ageappropriate codes of conduct with stated alternatives. —NIRVI SHAH College Board Begins Redesign of SAT Exam David Coleman, the president of the College Board, announced in a letter to members last week, the beginning of an effort to redesign the college-entrance exam to better reflect the Common Core State Standards. The new assessment will aim to better connect K-12 and higher education institutions and more sharply focus on a core set of knowl- edge and skills that are essential for readiness, access, and success in college, wrote Mr. Coleman, a chief architect of the common standards. To get the process rolling, the College Board will hold meetings across the county to solicit feedback from stakeholders. The organization hopes to increase the value of the sat to K-12 teachers, administrators, and counselors; ensure content reflects excellence in classroom instruction; and develop companion tools to improve instruction and curriculum. —CARALEE ADAMS Conn. Bill Would Ban Video Gun Violence improving stem education at the K-12 and college levels. The partnership, announced last week by the National Science Foundation, seeks to explore and develop some of the best ideas from researchers in both countries, according to a press release. Together, the projects represent a total of $4 million in grant awards from the American and Finnish governments. One project seeks to expand and improve stem teaching and learning through the use of mobile video technology. Another is targeting the growing field of game-based learning in the science, technology, engineering, and math disciplines. –ERIK W. ROBELEN Ga. and Texas Officials Remove Local Board Members DeKalb County board suspended by governor under contested 2011 law Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal suspended six of the nine board members of the 99,000-student DeKalb school system in suburban Atlanta last week, following a recommendation from the state board of education. The governor, a Republican, exercised powers granted by a 2011 law that allows the state’s leader to suspend and remove board members. The school system, Georgia’s third largest, is in danger of losing its accreditation in the wake of a scathing report from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools detailing corruption in the school board. The district has been on accredited probation since December. With two-thirds of its members suspended, the school board is unable to make any legally binding decisions. A federal judge in Atlanta was scheduled to hear a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law that allows Gov. Deal to suspend board members. The governor has exercised this authority before: Board members in three other counties have been suspended over the past year. The DeKalb board members are currently suspended without pay and must wait 30 days to ask to be reinstated. A nominating committee has been created to find new board members, though the confirmation of any new members will depend on the outcome of the legal challenge. While several states have laws allowing the state to take over failing districts, and some allow a governor to suspend elected board members, such actions are rare, according to Kathy Christie, the vice president of the Denver-based Education Commission of the States. In Texas, meanwhile, the El Paso school board’s challenge to the state education commissioner’s decision to install a new board was denied. The Texas Education Agency said that the Dec. 6 decision is now final and only needs clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice before the new members can take over. Education Commissioner Michael Williams said he took the action to restore public trust after a high-stakes testing scandal that landed the former El Paso school superintendent in prison. –JACLYN ZUBRZYCKI The Associated Press contributed to this report. Legislation introduced in Connecticut, a state rocked by the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December, would ban youths from playing “violent point-and-shoot” video games in arcades and public places. The measure, introduced by Democratic state Sen. Toni Harp, would apply to games that use a “facsimile of a firearm” or an imitation that a “reasonable person would understand was intended to depict a weapon of violence.” The bill also would establish a task force on violent video games to study their effects on youth behavior and make policy recommendations to state officials. In 2011, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a California law that banned the sale of violent video games to minors. –SEAN CAVANAGH U.S., Finland Join Forces on STEM Work Researchers in the United States and Finland are teaming up on a set of projects aimed at AmeriCorps to Serve Struggling Schools A $15 million grant over three years will place AmeriCorps volunteers in persistently underachieving schools around the country, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said last week. AmeriCorps is managed by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service, which in partnership with the Education Department plans to place 650 volunteers each year in 60 rural and urban schools. The corporation will also raise private funds to contribute to the effort. The grant will augment AmeriCorps work already ongoing in low-performing schools: currently, its volunteers work in a quarter of the 1,300 schools eligible for federal school improvement grants. Public or private nonprofit organizations, including faithbased and other community groups; schools or districts; insti-

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - March 6, 2013

Education Week - March 6, 2013
Los Angeles School Board Race Shatters Spending Records
Feds, States Dicker Over Evaluations
Governors Take Varied Routes in Boosting Aid
Principal Appraisals Get a Remake
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Study: Best and Worst Teachers Can Be Flagged Early
FOCUS ON: PRESCHOOL: Obama Preschool Proposal Stirs Debate Over Training
Principals Lack Training in Shaping School Climate
KIPP Outpacing Regular Public Schools, Study Finds
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: Wisconsin Data-Contract Fight Goes Public With Ad Campaign
DIGITAL DIRECTIONS: Pew Survey Gauges Teachers’ Attitudes About Tech., Equity
Blogs of the Week
Voting Rights Act Case Has Stakes for Districts
Back Home, Top Lawmaker Gets Earful on K-12 Policy
Policy Brief
Sequestration and Education: Frequently Asked Questions
9 California Districts Seek Own NCLB Waiver
House Panel Weighs School Safety Concerns
MATTHEW LYNCH: Tracing Technology’s Unintended K-12 Consequences
ANITA KRISHNAMURTHI: Recognizing the Impact of After-School STEM
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
JD CHESLOFF: Why STEM Education Must Start In Early Childhood

Education Week - March 6, 2013