Education Week - October 24, 2012 - (Page 5)

EDUCATION WEEK n OCTOBER 24, 2012 n 5 REPORTto these reports, go to For links ROUNDUP Federal Agency Slashes Budgets For Spec. Ed. in Two States The U.S. Department of Education withheld about $33 million in special education funds from South Carolina this month, penalizing the state for cutting its own spending on special-needs students three years ago. Kansas’ special education budget was cut by about $2 million for similar reasons. In what may be first-of-a-kind penalties, the department invoked part of federal law that allows it to cut a state’s special education grant, permanently, if the state slashes its special education budget without the right justification. In South Carolina, the cut represents a 9 percent reduction in the special education budget. State Superintendent Mick Zais has attempted to negotiate with the department to no avail. However, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit hasn’t ruled yet on a petition for a review of U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s May 22 decision not to grant South Carolina a hearing over the issue. Federal law requires states to keep special education budgets steady, or boost spending, each year. South Carolina cut special education spending several years in a row, noting a decline in state revenue in 2008-09, 2009-10, and 2010-11. While the Education Department agreed some of the cuts were justified, it says South Carolina trimmed more than necessary in 2009-10—before Mr. Zais was elected in 2010. In Kansas, the state was granted a waiver to cut more than $53 million from special education in 2009-10, but the state cut more. The Education Department’s office of special education imposed the cuts Oct. 1 “as required by the statute.” —NIRVI SHAH Report Links Dual Enrollment To Better Outcomes in College “Taking College Courses in High School: A Strategy for College Readiness” EARLY LEARNING “Abriendo Puertas: Opening Doors to Opportunity” A parent education program aimed at Latino parents is having some success in improving parents’ knowledge about earlyliteracy skills, children’s socialemotional development, and health, according to a new brief from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley. The Berkeley team based its findings on before and after surveys of more than 600 parents who took part in the program, known as Abriendo Puertas, at 35 sites in six states. Eighty-six percent of the parents were immigrants, most from Mexico. Prior to taking part in the program, 30 percent said they had never been to the library with their child. Afterward, fewer than 2 percent of parents reported that. There was a 36 percentage-point uptick in the number of parents who reported taking their children to the library at least once per week. —LESLI A. MAXWELL against the board for not having a public hearing before announcing that Tata would no longer be superintendent, and for leaving the district leaderless, the News & Observer reports. The association had filed a series of complaints about the board’s management and asked for an investigation. The district’s current status is “advised,” the newspaper reports, an improvement over the “warned” status it had after the first investigation. —J.Z. dation, based in Madison, Wis., on behalf of an anonymous local resident. The district has argued that the banners were akin to the studentinitiated prayers before football games that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down in a 2000 case from Texas known as Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe. —MARK WALSH STUDENTS AND SLEEP “Impact of Sleep Extension and Restriction on Children’s Emotional Lability and Impulsivity” New research shows students who get a taste of college while still in high school are much more likely to continue their education and complete a degree. Jobs For the Future, an education research nonprofit based in Boston, conducted an extensive study following 32,908 Texas high school students who graduated in 2004 for six years. Half the students had participated in dualenrollment programs and half had not. The two groups were similar in terms of their academic and social backgrounds. The organization found dual-enrollment students were: •2.2 times more likely to enroll in a Texas two- or four-year college; •2.0 times more likely to return for a second year of college; and •1.7 times more likely to complete a college degree. Those findings held for all racial groups, as well as for students from low-income backgrounds. While 54 percent of dual-enrollment high school graduates earned a college degree, just 37 percent of those in the control group did the same. Looking at bachelor’s degrees, the study found that 47 percent of those who took dualenrollment courses completed a four-year degree compared with 30 percent of graduates who did not take part in such programs. “The theory behind dual enrollment is that enabling high school students to experience real college coursework is one of the best ways to prepare them for college success,” according to the report, which was released last week. The organization recommends that policymakers expand dual-enrollment programs as a way to enhance college readiness. It also says state policy should take steps to ensure that low-income and underrepresented students can take advantage of the courses by providing more preparation and support for these populations. —CARALEE ADAMS Tenn. Withholds Aid Over Charter Rejection The Tennessee education department has withheld $3.4 million in aid from the Metropolitan Nashville district, citing its refusal to approve a charter school as a violation of state law. The 81,000-student district repeatedly rejected an application to open a charter school, despite a state directive that the district approve the application. District officials said the school would not serve enough economically disadvantaged students. The $3.4 million aid was for non-classroom purposes in the state’s basic education funding formula, the state said. The district argued that the reduction in aid would nonetheless affect services for classrooms and students. —ANDREW UJIFUSA Texas Judge Permits Religious Banners A Texas state judge issued a temporary injunction last week allowing a group of cheerleaders to continue to display banners with Christian messages at high school football games. The injunction replaces a temporary restraining order that has permitted the 11 cheerleaders to display their banners in recent weeks. The judge set a trial date for next June for the lawsuit filed by the cheerleaders, with the aid of the Plano, Texas-based Liberty Institute. It argues that the Kountze High School cheerleaders, a student-run squad, selected the messages independently and have a free speech right to display them. The Kountze Independent School District, northeast of Houston, had told the cheerleaders last month that they could not display the banners after receiving a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foun- Getting less than half an hour of additional shut-eye can improve young children’s alertness, suggests a new study from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Thirty-four children ages 7-11 received an extra hour of sleep for five days, or were deprived of an hour, and then were assessed on emotional stability. While those given a sleep extension only ended up sleeping an average 27.36 minutes longer than normal, researchers discovered in them significant improvements in alertness and emotional regulation. —ROSS BRENNEMAN also an essential link to postsecondary courses that could help rural residents increase their credentials and, as a result, earnings. Nearly 10 million rural residents do not have access to the Internet at speeds suitable for getting graphicsrich resources or interactive programming, the report says. “Geography, especially the divide between rural and urban America, determines how much some Americans can benefit from the Internet,” the report concludes. —DIETTE COURÉGÉ sample of more than 9,000 high school sophomores from 2002 through their second year in college. The freshmen who come back for a second year of college are more likely to have experienced higher levels of mathematics in high school, more Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses, and good college advising, the report concludes. —CARALEE ADAMS SPECIAL EDUCATORS “A Report on Consequences of Sequestration” COLLEGE GRADUATION “High School Rigor and Good Advice: Setting up Students to Succeed” BROADBAND ACCESS “Broadband for Rural America: Economic Impacts and Economic Opportunities” CORRECTION An article on college-placement exams in the Oct. 12, 2012, issue of Education Week misspelled the name of Gretchen Schmidt, a program director for Jobs For the Future in Boston. Education is one of the areas with the greatest “opportunity gap” between residents of rural and urban communities because of disparities in broadband Internet access, according to a new report. The lack of affordable, highspeed Internet connections in many rural communities limits educational options for residents. While that access has been a concern for elementary and secondary schools, it is >> New research suggests that if schools can figure out how to keep college freshmen on track, the nation could be well on its path to meeting President Barack Obama’s 2020 goal of leading the world in producing college graduates. The study, by the Center for Public Education at the National School Boards Association, focuses on freshman-tosophomore persistence rates. College students are more likely to drop out their first year than any other. It’s based on a nationally representative A new report from Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee says that looming automatic cuts to federal spending will take an especially big bite out of special education. The report issued this month estimates that 12,000 special education teachers and aides could lose their jobs if automatic cuts in federal special education grants to states go through. These automatic, across-theboard cuts, known as sequestration, are set to take effect Jan. 2. The White House estimates that, overall, almost every U.S. Department of Education program stands to lose 8.2 percent in funding. —NIRVI SHAH For links to these reports, go to

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - October 24, 2012

Education Week - October 24, 2012
‘Smart Pills’ Promising, Problematic
At S.C. School, Behavior Is One of the Basics
Obama Finding Teacher Support Secure, if Tepid
Focus On: Curriculum: Calif. Laws Shift Gears on Algebra, Textbooks
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
‘Value Added’ Use at Secondary Level Questioned
National Board Seeks to Revive Impact on Profession
Industry & Innovation
Blogs of the Week
Debates Push Fate of NCLB Waivers to Fore
Policy Menu Varies in State School Board Elections
Policy Brief
The Election: Debating Education
Genevieve LaFleur & Scott Poland: Schools Can Be the Difference in Preventing Suicide
Kenneth Wesson: From STEM to ST2REAM: Reassembling Our Disaggregated Curriculum
Top School Jobs Recruitment Marketplace
Erica Frankenberg & Gary Orfield: Diversity or Resegregation? Why Suburban Schools Need a Plan

Education Week - October 24, 2012