Education Week - June 13, 2018 - 5
GORDON AMBACH, an engaging
and probing technocrat who, while in
charge of education in New York state
and as the leader of the Council of
Chief State School Officers, helped
usher in the nation's standards and
accountability movement, has died at 83.
The cause of death was complications from a
stroke, family members said in a press release.
As the education commissioner of New York from
1977 to 1987, he instituted the Regents Action
Plan, one of the nation's most-ambitious statewide
reform efforts. It lengthened the time students
spent in school, raised learning standards across
the state, and instituted statewide exams.
Ambach later served as the president and then
executive director of the CCSSO from 1987 to 2001.
Thrives With Three
Three philanthropies have announced
multimillion-dollar initiatives geared toward
improving education in the United States
and, in one instance, abroad.
BLOOMBERG Billionaire and former New York
City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's philanthropy will devote $375 million over the
next five years to initiatives designed primarily to better prepare students for work
Bloomberg Philanthropies, for example, is
already working on one project designed to address the issue, the American Talent Initiative.
Launched in late 2016, it formed a coalition of
elite colleges and universities that are working to increase their enrollments of low-income,
high-achieving students. Membership began at
30 and now exceeds 100.
Bloomberg Philanthropies will also be supporting districts, cities, and states that are partnering with business to create opportunities for
SANFORD The second donation, a $100 million
gift, will enable what's known as the Sanford
build absenteeism habits in later grades.
Students whose parents received the mailings missed on average 7.7 percent fewer
days and were nearly 15 percent less likely
to miss 10 days of school or more, compared
with students whose parents had not received the messages.
-SARAH D. SPARKS
"A Guide to Finding and Understanding English
With federal education laws-first the No
Child Left Behind Act and now the Every
Student Succeeds Act-requiring schools and
states to publish more data on English-learners, a new report from the Migration Policy
Institute explores how districts can best use
the new information.
It notes that schools can end up with inaccurate background information if they do not
ask questions in culturally appropriate ways.
At the time he joined the group, it was a middling
advocacy organization based in Washington
with little say over federal and state education
policy. Under his leadership, the council grew
from a $2.5 million-a-year operation employing
18 people to one with 65 workers and a budget
of $14 million, and became influential in
championing high standards and strict school
accountability as well as in the national debate
in the run-up to passage of the No Child Left
He wrote three books about leadership and
the federal role in education and served as a
board member of such groups as the Newspaper
Association of America Foundation and the
Education Board of the National Academy of
-DAAREL BURNETTE II
Harmony social-emotional-learning program to make its curriculum and teacher
training available for free to P-6 schools
The gift, from philanthropist T. Denny
Sanford, will allow the private National
University to expand the program, which
is already active in many schools. Sanford Harmony uses lessons and classroom
strategies in five areas: diversity and inclusion; empathy and critical thinking;
communication; problem-solving; and peer
GATES Lastly, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced a $68 million commitment to expand its education grantmaking
The foundation is well-known for its
global-development work, particularly its
efforts to combat malaria and infectious
disease. But its education grantmaking
has been mostly focused on the United
Girindre Beeharry, the foundation's director of global education learning strategy, said
in the announcement that he and others from
the philanthropy spoke to teachers, academics, government officials, and parents in such
countries as Ethiopia, India, Kenya, Nigeria,
Pakistan, and Uganda.
-CATHERINE GEWERTZ, EVIE BLAD & STEPHEN SAWCHUK
Cameron Kasky, a Parkland,
Fla., school shooting survivor,
talks about a multistate voter
drive to "get young people
educated, registered, and
motivated to vote."
BASILI, has been
appointed the executive
director of the Jack Kent
Until recently the
director of strategic
initiatives and the chief
operating officer of
the foundation, Basili
previously worked at
Kaplan K12 Learning
He succeeds former
New York City schools
O. Levy, who led the
foundation the past
four years. Levy stepped
down June 2 after being
diagnosed with Lou
For example, ethnicity requests may not
distinguish between, for example, black students from South Africa and those from Haiti.
low-income, black, and Hispanic students. In
schools with air conditioning, 75 percent of the
declines associated with hot days disappeared.
"Heat and Learning"
"What Do We Actually Know About the
Four-Day School Week?"
Students who learn in hotter classrooms
perform worse on college-admissions tests,
according to a new study from the National
Bureau of Economic Research.
Researchers tracked 10 million high school
students who took the PSAT multiple years
between 2001 and 2014. On average, students
improved their score by a third of a standard
deviation by retaking the test. But a student's
performance dropped by nearly 1 percent of a
year's worth of learning for every degree Fahrenheit hotter the outside temperature was during the school year before a student took the
test. The effect was three times as strong for
About 550 school districts in 25 states operate on four-day school weeks, according to a
new report from the Center on Reinventing
The report found interest in the compressed schedules has risen in response to
fiscal crises in the 1980s and the Great Recession. The schedule has gained popularity
in rural districts, which have used it as a selling point to entice teachers.
However, the report found little evidence
to date that the schedule improves student
achievement in participating districts. -S.D.S.
Turns to Voting
Students who launched a youth movement for stronger gun laws after surviving a mass shooting at their Parkland,
Fla., high school have kicked off a nationwide tour aimed at registering young
The student organizers of March for
Our Lives plan 75 stops in cities around
the country and a separate tour that stops
in every Florida congressional district.
The Road to Change Tour will seek to
build on enthusiasm generated by school
walkouts and rallies for new gun laws
that followed the shooting at Marjory
Stoneman Douglas High School, where
17 people died Feb. 14.
Their aim? Drive up voter participation in
the 2018 midterms, especially among young
voters, who tend to have lower turnout.
"I think a lot of people have been less
excited about voting because they are tired
of the political system," Stoneman Douglas
student Cameron Kasky said at a press
conference announcing the voter drive. "But
the thing is, we can fix the political system.
Our generation and the many generations
that are helping us can change the game.
We do not have to surrender to dirty, awful
politics. We can make it better."
"Academics who study the gun control
movement say gun rights activists often
refuse to consider candidates who don't
agree with them on that issue. But voters who favor stronger gun laws often
consider the issue among a list of political
concerns when selecting a candidate.
Robert Spitzer, a political science professor
at SUNY Cortland who has written five
books on the gun debate, told Education
Week that the key for student activists is
convincing voters who favor tougher gun
restrictions to make it a higher priority issue
at the polls. They must also convert the
energy of young people into votes, he said.
"What happens typically [after a shooting] is that that energy and that sentiment on the gun safety side subsides,"
Spitzer said. "Mostly because while most
Americans favor stronger gun laws, it's
not a top tier issue for them."
The demand for new gun laws is not
unanimous among those affected by
Some in Parkland, including some victims'
family members, have said that an ambitious push for new gun laws is a distraction
from more achievable goals, like new school
safety measures. Some have championed
both new gun laws and new safety efforts.
In Santa Fe, Texas, the site of a May
school shooting that claimed 10 lives,
students were less likely to respond with a
push for new firearms restrictions. EVIE BLAD