Education Week - June 5, 2013 - (Page 1)

Education Week VOL. 32, NO. 33 • JUNE 5, 2013 ▲ AM E R ICAN E DUCATION’S N EWS PAPE R OF R ECOR D • © 2013 Editorial Projects in Education • $4 BREAKING NEWS DAILY Retirement Headaches Take Root St. Louis Feels Budget Heat From Teacher-Pension Costs Emile Wamsteker for Education Week By Stephen Sawchuk MATH FEVER: From left, Luna Rodriguez, Sabrina Vulpio, and Justin Burgher, 7th graders at PS 232, dance on the light-activated Math Square at the Museum of Mathematics in New York. MoMath and other museums are trying to make the subject enjoyable. PAGE 8 Schools’ Practices Vary COMMON CORE: A STEEP CLIMB SECOND OF FOUR PARTS One Class Takes On the Standards By Catherine Gewertz Washington By Nirvi Shah As soon as the winds that left seven students in Moore, Okla., dead last month had calmed, questions about the safety of schools in a region labeled Tornado Alley rose amid the rubble. While better design of new schools and thorough emergency training and practice may be in order, more shelters aren’t necessarily the answer, experts and educators say. Oklahoma’s 11,768 safe rooms statewide built with some federal aid eclipse those subsidized in all other states, a Federal Emergency Management Agency spokesman said. Schools and communities across the country prepare for tornadoes in different ways. Some design a common room at a school to serve as a shelter, while others create underground safe rooms or fortify buildings to withstand relatively weak storms. Some districts, especially those with a lot of old school buildings, rely on ushering children into glassPAGE 24 > PAGE 22 > For nearly an hour, Dowan McNair-Lee has been walking her 8th grade English/language arts students through ways to identify the central idea of a text. She’s come at it from several angles, and no light bulbs are going off. Using an article about labor leader Cesar Chavez’s grape boycott and hunger strike, these students at Stuart-Hobson Middle School are doing a “close read,” a skill prized by the new Common Core State Standards being put into practice in the District of Columbia. Ms. McNair-Lee had read the article aloud, then students read it on their own. Now, the class is diving into it together, analyzing word choice, structure, and other features of the text to determine its main idea. Recent interim test results told the veteran teacher that this is a weak zone for her students. On end-ofyear exams, four months from this December morning, main idea is a key focus. Students haven’t done well on citing evidence from text to support an argument, either. They’re going to have to step it up. The teacher draws their attention to the article’s title, captions, subheadings, to its first and last paragraphs, for clues to the main idea. Ask yourPAGE 18 > Jared Soares for Education Week Okla. Tornado Renews Debate On Storm Safety For years, the St. Louis school district has experienced the convergence of two trend lines school superintendents hope never to see: rising employee-pension costs and falling student enrollment. Despite years of fully funding its share of the teacher-pension plan, the proportion of the St. Louis district’s budget tied up in paying benefits for its teachers now makes up about 10 percent—a factor that, coupled with other rising costs, is fueling ongoing cuts in this beleaguered district. “They are tough decisions that have to be made, because they are about the survival of the entire district,” said Kelvin R. Adams, the superintendent of the 22,500-student district. “There are no easy decisions anymore in public education.” St. Louis’ situation has resonance far beyond the city, because its troubles are similar to those that other districts are likely to face. Across the nation, states have about $325 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, much of which could Mikel Robinson works on an assignment during English/ language arts class at Stuart-Hobson Middle School. The 8th grader’s work has improved in the past few months. N.J. Preparing To Seize Control Of Fourth District By Jaclyn Zubrzycki Nearly 25 years after New Jersey first took control of a troubled school district, a proposed state takeover of the Camden public schools sheds a critical spotlight on that state’s long— and still mostly unsuccessful—record of trying to right struggling districts through such intervention. New Jersey enacted the nation’s first state-takeover law in 1987, and 28 states have since followed suit, according to Kenneth Wong, a professor of urban education at Brown University. The state began running the public schools in Jersey City in 1989; in Paterson in 1991; and in Newark, the state’s largest district, in 1995. None of those districts is completely free of state control yet, and lawsuits from school boards in Paterson and Newark contend the state has not followed procedures for relinquishing control. Though the situation is different in each district, it is widely agreed that PAGE 27 >

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - June 5, 2013

Education Week - June 5, 2013
One Class Takes On the Standards
Retirement Headaches Take Root
N.J. Preparing to Seize Control of Fourth District
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Student Explanations Can Drive Learning, Studies Say
Disability Definitions Undergo Revisions In Psychiatric Guide
FOCUS ON: INFORMAL LEARNING: Museums Open Doors to New Ways of Learning Math
Chicago School Closure Battle Echoes In Other Cities
Shutdowns Spark Vows of Continued Parental Activism
Newtown Shootings Help Fuel Demand For School Cameras
INDUSTRY & INNOVATION: ‘i3’ Winners on Track Toward Meeting Goal in Research Arena
Blogs of the Week
PROFILE: Sarah Hawley
PROFILE: Katie Franklin
Retirement-System Woes Put Legislators on Hot Seat
Crunch Time Ahead on Calif. Finance Plan
Groups Urge Leeway in Standards Implementation
Policy Brief
ALICE JOHNSON CAIN: Why a Moratorium Won’t Work
RYAN MCLANE: What’s in a Grade? Why Mastery, Not Speed, Is Key
JACOB TANENBAUM: An Open Letter to Pearson
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
PAUL REVILLE: Seize the Moment To Design Schools That Close Gaps

Education Week - June 5, 2013