Education Week - October 16, 2013 - (Page 4)

NEWS IN BRIEF NO-BULLY ZONE: Students from the Blue Earth, Minn., schools check out the Jolly Green Giant statue, which was dressed in an orange tunic last week in support of National Bullying Prevention Month. General Mills and other sponsors hope the Raise a Giant campaign will inspire others to take a stand against bullying. Teacher-Dismissal Bill Vetoed in California Craig Lassig/AP Gov. Jerry Brown last week vetoed controversial legislation that would have changed the process for dismissing teachers for misconduct. The California Teachers Association, which supported the bill, said it would update and streamline the process. But opponents, including the state school boards’ association, contended it actually would extend the process and limit the evidence that could be presented. Under the measure, dismissal notices could have been filed in the summer and evidence that was more than four years old could have been considered. It also would have limited the number of witnesses that could be deposed in hearings and made it more difficult for districts to alter their complaints. In California, the teacher-dismissal process can take up to 1½ years with appeals. —STEPHEN SAWCHUK Youngest Nobel Finalist Advocates Girls’ Education Malala Yousafzai, the young advocate for women’s access to education, has won more acclaim recently as a finalist for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. Malala was a popular favorite for the prize, which the Nobel committee awarded last week to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons for its work in eliminating chemical weapons around the world since its formation in 1997. Malala, at 15 the prize’s youngest nominee ever, was shot, along with her classmates, a year ago by Talibani gunmen in Pakistan who entered her school bus. She has been an outspoken critic of the Taliban’s anti-female actions —ROSS BRENNEMAN Philadelphia Tops List Of State’s Worst Schools More than half of Pennsylvania’s 92 worst-performing schools are in the Philadelphia district, the state said last week. Thirteen of the 47 city schools on the state education department’s list were shuttered in June as part of efforts to close schools based on low enrollment, maintenance needs, and chronic academic problems. Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. pointed out that the district is by far the state’s largest and has the most low-income children and students with special needs. Five charters on the roster are former low-achieving district schools that the Philadelphia School Reform Commission handed over to charter operators to turn around. —McCLATCHY-TRIBUNE School Official Is Accused Of Tampering in Rape Case An Ohio grand jury announced its first indictment last week of a school district employee for alleged crimes committed in relation to a rape case. William Rhinaman, the director of technology in the Steubenville district, was charged with tampering with evidence, perjury, and obstructing justice and official business. Earlier this year, two Steuben- ville high school football players were found guilty of raping a 16-year-old girl, charges stemming from a series of parties in August 2012. A grand jury was subsequently convened to further investigate whether others had committed crimes related to the rape. —BRYAN TOPOREK Audit: Construction Bypasses Neediest Colo. School Sites More than $1 billion spent on Colorado school construction projects has often failed to reach the neediest places because a board overseeing the spending hasn’t prioritized the funds, state auditors said last week. The report concluded that only a quarter of the 70 schools identified as being in the worst condition have received grant funding since 2009. Auditors said the board in charge of the grants has not developed a methodology to identify critical projects. As a result, they found instances in which the board denied Business Group Calls for Panel to Vet Instructional Materials An organization of top business leaders is calling for the establishment of a panel of judges that would decide which instructional materials are aligned to the Common Core State Standards. The Business Roundtable formally proposed the panel last week as part of a broad policy statement about the group’s educational priorities. It proposes a group that would create “Consumer Reports-type reviews” to assess how well curriculum and instructional materials are aligned with the standards. The paper doesn’t discuss who would establish the panel or serve on it. People of varying viewpoints on the common core have said it would be virtually impossible to assemble a group whose educational and political persuasions wouldn’t raise bias concerns. Former Michigan Gov. John Engler, who now heads up the Business Roundtable, recently floated 4 | EDUCATION WEEK | October 16, 2013 | the idea of a panel at a Center for American Progress discussion of the common core. He noted that “credibility” could be an issue. Roundtable Vice President Dane Linn, who spearheaded the common-core initiative for the National Governors Association, worried from the outset about how educators would find their way through the many sets of materials that would be produced in response to the new standards. Back then, he eventually concluded that setting up a vetting panel was too potentially problematic. Achieve, which had a pivotal early role in shaping the standards, has already created a jury of people from 14 states who are judging the alignment of curricular submissions. That program, EquIp, also offers guidelines educators can use to judge materials. —CATHERINE GEWERTZ funding for some projects that were considered critical but funded others that were not. —ASSOCIATED PRESS Online Provider’s Stock Sinks on Poor Projections The stock of K12 Inc. took a steep plunge last week following its release of more modest revenue and REPORT ROUNDUP student-enrollment projections than analysts had anticipated. It estimated average enrollment at schools it manages at 128,000 students for the quarter, up nearly 6 percent from the previous year, yet “below management’s expectations.” Expected revenues for the Herndon, Va.-based company, which operates schools in more than 30 WRITING INSTRUCTION “The Common-Core Standards and Evidence-Based Educational Practices: The Case of Writing” The Common Core State Standards, by themselves, won’t be enough to guide teachers to best practices in writing instruction, according to a new analysis. In the fall issue of School Psychology Review, researchers from Michigan State University and the University of Connecticut analyze writing standards from states and the common core to see how they reference 36 writing-instruction and testing practices that have been shown in prior studies to improve students’ writing skills. They found that state standards vary widely in that regard. Some, such as Texas, point to about 75 percent of the best practices in a given grade; others barely note them. The common core “strongly” signals half of the practices in any given grade, with some highlighted in all grades. Practices the study flags as missing from the common core are methods of teaching grammar skills, writing motivation, and genres of narrative writing. The authors said teachers need more common core-focused professional development to help them fill the gaps in instructional strategies needed for students to write well. —SARAH D. SPARKS URBAN EDUCATION “New York City Schools: Following the Learning Trajectories of a Cohort” While high school graduation rates in the nation’s largest school district have grown steadily, from 50 percent to 65 percent, there are still barriers to success for many New York City students, according to a paper released last week by EdFunders, a newly formed coalition of education philanthropists. The study highlights findings about literacy, discipline, high

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 16, 2013

Sequester May Linger, Some Fear
Parent-Sparked Charter Faces Challenge to Deliver
Pa. Texting Furor Shows Difficulties Facing IT Leaders
Educators Launch Startups; See Steep Learning Curve
News in Brief
Report Roundup
Teachers Use Social-Emotional Programs to Manage Classes
Ind. Districts, AG File Suit Over Federal Health-Care Law
Hospital Partnership Provides Trainers for School Sports
Mass. Enterprise Targets Inadequate Preschool Facilities
Blogs of the Week
Tablet-Computing Initiatives Suffer Major Setbacks
Charter-Campaign Aftershocks Continue
Texas Race Flags Education Issues On 2014 Electoral Horizon
School-Related Cases Factor in Supreme Court’s First Week Back
Lights On, Nobody There As Ed. Dept. Weathers Shutdown
Blogs of the Week
KEVIN MEUWISSEN: Teachers as Political Actors
ANDRE BENITO MOUNTAIN: Easing Social Studies Through Turbulent Times
JUDY WALLIS: A Call to Teachers: Don’t Forget the Joy
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
DEBORAH STIPEK: Using Accountability to Promote Motivation, Not Undermine It

Education Week - October 16, 2013