Education Week - December 3, 2014 - (Page 4)

NEWS IN BRIEf President Obama Signs Child-Care-Grants Law President Barack Obama has signed the Child Care Development Block Grant bill, a measure that hadn't been updated since 1996. He signed the $5 billion childcare block-grant program last month, just days after the Senate approved it with overwhelming bipartisan support. The law requires states to conduct comprehensive background checks on child-care providers, an action only about a dozen states call for now. It also gives parents more information about available child-care options. Also, the measure requires states to set aside a greater portion of their own funds for program improvement-10 percent, up from the current 4 percent. The additional money can be used for a range of activities, such as improving training for providers. -LAUREN CAMERA Researchers Publish Letter Urging Spending on Early Ed. In an open letter to policymakers, more than 500 researchers have urged the expansion of and increased public investment in earlychildhood education. Arguing that critics of greater investments in early education "ignore the full body of evidence," the letter says: "Existing research findings are sufficient to warrant greater investment in quality programs now." The National Institute for Early Education Research and the nonprofit First Five Years Fund released the letter last month along with 58 "founding signatories." They include well-known researchers in the early-childhood field such as Daphna Bassok at the University of Virginia, Douglas Clements at the University of Buffalo, Greg Duncan at the University of California, Irvine, and Susan Neuman at New York University. -LILLIAN MONGEAU FCC Chairman Urges Boost In Funding for E-Rate The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission has proposed a major increase in the amount of money flowing to the E-rate program-an infusion that much of the education community has been clamoring for as a way to replace slow and outdated technology in schools. The plan announced last month by Chairman Tom Wheeler would raise the overall funding cap for the program from $2.4 billion to $3.9 billion a year. The fcc says the proposed change would result in consumers paying a maximum of an additional $1.90 a year, per phone line, or less than $6 per household. Despite the broad support for boosting E-rate funding within the education community, Mr. Wheeler's plan seems likely to provoke a hostile reaction from some quarters of Washington, including the two Republicans on the commission. -SEAN CAVANAGH & MICHELE MOLNAR L.A. to Pay $139 Million To Child-Abuse Victims The Los Angeles school district will pay $139 million in settlements to victims of the Miramonte Elementary School child-abuse scandal. The money will settle about 150 claims from former students and their families. The students had been subjected to lewd acts by former 3rd grade teacher Mark Berndt, who was arrested in 2012. Last year, he pleaded no contest to the charges and was sentenced to 25 years in prison. The scandal led to a new California law meant to speed up the process for dismissing teachers for gross misconduct. -MADELINE WILL St. Louis-Area Schools Close in Wake of Ferguson Decision In the hours before a St. Louis County, Mo., grand jury returned its decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the August shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, school district officials in the region had already canceled classes and after-school activities in an effort to keep students safe. The Nov. 24 announcement that the grand jury did not believe there was enough evidence to bring any criminal charges against Mr. Wilson sparked protests, along with some rioting and looting, in the Ferguson area. School district leaders had said they wanted to shield thousands of schoolchildren from the kind of unrest-some of it violent-that their communities had seen in the days after Mr. Brown, who was 18, was shot and killed by Mr. Wilson, who is white. Districts in Ferguson-Florissant, Hazelwood, Normandy, Riverview Gardens, and the city of St. Louis canceled classes for the day immediately following the grand jury's decision, while officials in Sandy Hook Shooter's Needs Went Unmet by Schools A review of the mental-health and educational history of Newtown, Conn., school shooter Adam Lanza paints a picture of repeated missed opportunities-by schools, relatives, and mental-health professionals-to intervene in a downward spiral of isolation, emotional instability, and mental illness. Mr. Lanza killed his mother in December 2012 before gunning his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School, where he killed 20 children and six adults before committing suicide. Among the findings of the report by the state's child-advocate office: Mr. Lanza received minimal mental-health observations at school. "Records indicate that the school system cared about [his] success but also unwittingly enabled [his mother's] preference to accommothe Jennings school district had decided to close schools for the entire week. "History is unfolding before our eyes, and as educators we will keep in mind that our primary focus throughout these events must be teaching and learning," Kelvin R. Adams, the St. Louis superintendent, wrote on his district's website. "There will be many different opinions about the grand jury decision, and it is imperative that we remain professional and respectful at all times." The August shooting of Mr. Brown set off protests in and around Ferguson, a city of about 21,000 people. Some of the protests turned violent and were met with a police response that critics saw as inappropriately militarized. The events spurred debate about race, police practices, and the use of surplus military equipment by local police departments and even school districts. School districts in and near Ferguson shut their doors for days because of the earlier unrest. The Ferguson-Florissant district did not open for nearly two weeks. -DENISA R. SUPERVILLE date and appease [the young man] through the educational plan's lack of attention to social-emotional support, failure to provide related services, and agreement to [his] plan of independent study." -EVIE BLAD S.C. High Court Rules For Poor, Rural Students A 21-year-old legal battle waged by more than two dozen districts that accused the state of South Carolina of failing to provide a "minimally adequate" education for poor and rural students has come to an end, after the state Supreme Court ruled in the districts' favor. In its ruling last month, the court said the state's failure to address the "effects of pervasive poverty on students within the plaintiffs' school districts prevented those students from receiving the required opportunity." But Chief Justice Jean Toal, who TEXTING SAFETY Senior Tyler Prentice cautiously approaches a police cruiser while operating a texting-and-driving simulator set up in the cafeteria at Logansport High School in Logansport, Ind. It is illegal to text and drive in Indiana, and 10 percent of all drivers younger than 20 nationwide who are involved in a fatal crash were distracted at the time of the crash. wrote the majority opinion, did not absolve the districts for their role in exacerbating funding inequities, saying that local spending priorities-for athletic facilities and other auxiliary services while students languished in "crumbling schools and toxic academic environments"-were also part of the problem. -DENISA R. SUPERVILLE Denver-Area Seniors Refuse To Take New State Tests Thousands of Denver-area high school seniors refused to take new state standardized science and social studies tests, saying they're a distraction as they work to get into college and don't align with their curriculum. In the Boulder Valley district, 84 percent of students refused to take the tests last month, with some protesting and collecting food and school supplies for low-income families instead. Significant numbers of seniors at several suburban Denver districts also skipped them. The protests come amid growing criticism in both liberal and conservative areas in Colorado over the time devoted to standardized testing. -ASSOCIATED PRESS Texas Board Approves Most Contested Texts Nearly all the social studies textbooks that were being considered by the Texas school board have been approved for use next school year. Of the 96 books reviewed, 89 were approved by the gop-controlled board last month, the Associated Press reported. Six were rejected, and one publisher, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, withdrew a government text. Groups from both sides of the political spectrum argued against the textbooks' approval, alleging they contained distortions. The Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, for instance, said some books exaggerated Moses' influence on the founding of the United States. The National Center for Science Educa4 | EDUCATION WEEK | December 3, 2014 | J. Kyle Keener/Pharos Tribune/AP

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Education Week - December 3, 2014

Education Week - December 3, 2014
Rules Aim to Heighten Ed. School Monitoring
Parents Get Schooled On New Math Standards
Principals’ Central Role Gets New Attention at Ed. Dept.
Districts Press Publishers On Digital-Content Access
Consortium Sets High Bars For Its Common-Core Tests
Table of Contents
News in Brief
Report Roundup
New Teacher-Licensing Exams In N.Y. Lead to Subpar Results
Obama Grants Deportation Relief To Immigrant Parents
Kindergartners Found to Benefit From ‘Tools of the Mind’
Blogs of the Week
Word Problems Should Be Given At the Start of Lesson, Studies Say
Tech. Vendors Cloudy On K-12 Buying Needs
New Guidance Offers States Roadmap to NCLB Waiver Renewal
Achievement, Dissension Marked Tennessee Chief’s Tenure
States Get Federal Running Room On Teacher-Equity Plans
Blogs of the Week
JOHN CESCHINI: STEM + Art: A Fruitful Combination
KIP ZEGERS: A Teacher, Students, and Poetry in Motion
JEAN HENDRICKSON: Why Not Art for Children’s Sake?
TopSchoolJobs Recruitment Marketplace
JEFF DEKAL: A Brief Portrait of a Young Artist

Education Week - December 3, 2014