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State of Illinois - Governor Blagojevich 

News Clips

November 12 - 19, 2004


District 203, 204 wary of education-funding bill /
Naperville Sun
Paw Paw: Save our schools, move to our town / DeKalb Daily Chronicle
West school puts spin on parent conferences / Beacon News
Soy in school meals provides health, business opportunities / Decatur Herald & Review
Teacher residency is an important requirement / Chicago Tribune
School projects in limbo as state money dries up / Chicago Tribune
Parent survey on Harlem dress code yields little information / Rockford Register Star
Students selling bricks to raise money, beautify new school / Telegraph
School test results will be late, but accurate / Chicago Sun-Times

Bush II: Paige out, NCLB to high school / eSchool News
Those Bake Sales Add Up, to $9 Billion or So / New York Times
Kentucky teachers taking alternative paths to certifications / Kentucky Herald-Leader
Evolution foes see opening to press fight in schools / Boston Globe
Senior wants gun photo in yearbook / Chicago Sun-Times
Bush moving to target older students this term / Daily Southtown
'Value Added' Models Gain in Popularity / Education Week
Tests of Youngest English-Learners Spark Controversy / Education Week
Post-Election Outlook for State Aid to Schools Uncertain / Education Week
Dual-language school lauded as national model / Seattle Times
Conferees Pass Compromise for 6.5 Million Special Education Pupils / New York Times
Burnley wants to lean on state / The Detroit News



District 203, 204 wary of education-funding bill
By Britt Carson and Tim Waldorf,
Naperville Sun staff writers, 11/15/04

Naperville's school districts have voiced some concerns about state legislation designed to overhaul how education is funded in Illinois.

Naperville School District 203's administration is taking a wait-and-see attitude toward House Bill 750 and is recommending its school board members do the same.

But in
Indian Prairie School District 204, where the school board has already decided to oppose the bill, one school board member is speaking out against the plan, saying it will create the mistaken belief that the state's school funding problem is solved.

"I see this as a house of cards that is destined to collapse," District 204 school board member Mark Metzger said of the bill during the school board meeting Nov. 8.

Critics of the state's current education funding system say it relies too heavily on property tax revenues generated at a local level, and, consequently, ties the quality of a child's public education to the affluence of that child's community.

Supporters of the bill say the plan to rebate 25 percent of property tax revenues and use $7.1 billion in income and sales taxes to fund schools would remedy that situation.

Allen Albus, District 203's assistant superintendent for finance, said he has heard "conflicting things" about this bill, which is not yet in its final form. He said it could be acted upon in the spring at the earliest, but will more than likely be debated for another year or two.

District 203's overview of HB 750, which Albus distributed at a Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce legislative committee meeting last week, states the district's administration has yet to take a position on the plan and probably won't until "there is better articulation on how it will impact individual taxpayers."

"It's just a lot of trade-offs on things," Albus said of the bill.

But Metzger said the bill is not about education funding as much as it is a tax policy overhaul.

"I don't believe for one minute this is education funding reform or anything other than a tax policy overhaul," Metzger said. "If that is what it is going to do, then let's start discussing it on those merits and not continue the charade that this is education funding reform and clearly it is not."

According to District 203's overview of the bill, the legislation would generate about $5.85 billion for public education by raising income tax rates to 5 percent from 3 percent, taxing previously untaxed retirement income for retirees who make more than $75,000 a year at 5 percent and increasing corporate income tax rates from 4.8 percent to 8 percent. A $900 million tax credit would go to low- and moderate-income families to offset the regressive impact of the income tax increases.

The bill would generate the rest of the promised $7.1 billion for education by closing several corporate tax loopholes and charging sales tax for previously untaxed services, including those provided by accountants or attorneys.

"Everything your taxpayers spend money on will be taxed," Metzger said. "This has to have an affect on districts like ours."

However, in return for the increased sales and income taxes, the plan creates a 25 percent property tax rebate — thereby returning $2.4 billion to property tax payers across the state.

Metzger said he sees the state's property tax rebate plans as a "substantial risk" because he sees them "going away very quickly" once the bill is passed. Consequently, Metzger predicted, the state will end up paying less and less to schools under this plan because the pool of money it will use to make these payments won't grow over time.

District 203's overview of the plan also expressed these concerns along these lines, stating "the long-term sustainability of the property tax relief portion may be vulnerable" and "there is a trust issue about providing the state an additional $3.8 billion in tax revenue, given the shell game that occurred when the lottery was implemented."

According to the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, which developed the plan, the bottom 60 percent of all income earners would see no net tax increase if the bill were adopted and the bottom 20 percent would actually realize a net tax decrease.

According to District 203's overview, the bill would provide more overall funding to education and is projected to generate a $3 million net increase in overall funding for District 203.

However, the overview also states it is likely the additional taxes paid by district taxpayers will be greater than $3 million.

"The money that (districts) 203 or 204 would get probably doesn't equate to what we would export," Albus said.

Metzger echoed Albus' sentiments. He said the bill would most benefit Chicago Public Schools and districts in downstate
Illinois, and residents in District 204 would likely see their taxes increase.

"I guarantee you the collar counties are among those that will pay more," he said.


Paw Paw: Save our schools, move to our town
By Chris Rickert,
DeKalb Daily Chronicle City Editor, 11/14/04

PAW PAW - It's enough to strike fear into the heart of any DeKalb-area school superintendent: "Grants Available for Home Lots in
Crime-Free Town with Excellent School System and Employment Options."

While DeKalb and Sycamore school officials wring their hands over where to find the space and resources for growing student enrollments, the tiny
village of Paw Paw, just west of the DeKalb County Line, is enticing families with perks on new homes, partly as a way to increase the number of kids in its school system.

A press release put out by the village, population approximately 850, and the Ohio,Ill.-based company The Development Coordination Corp. includes the "grants available" tag line and details a program in that provides village-backed grants to families who agree to buy a lot in the new subdivision being built by DCC on the east side of town.

"The heart of Paw Paw is their schools," said DCC board member and past president Jack Piper, who argued that if the village loses its school system, it loses its identity.

"That was the main motivational factor in even pursuing it (the development)," he said.
Village President Jared Nicholson acknowledged that keeping the school district viable was a main reason for encouraging the DCC project. The
Paw Paw School District - which beginning in this school year is no longer part of a larger system including Franklin Center students - serves about 330 students in one kindergarten through 12th-grade building.

Nicholson adds that having enough people shop at downtown businesses and otherwise support the village also were reasons behind approving the DCC deal.

"I'm certain that growth is going to happen here," Nicholson said, and the purpose of the DCC developemnt is to be "proactive" in making sure it does.

"They'd rather grow than fall behind," Piper said.

The agreement between DCC and the village provides DCC with some $1.5 million in tax increment financing to pay for infrastructure and other costs related to developing the approximately 60-acre subdivision.

DCC president Bart Piper, John's son, said the company has sold 20 lots so far in what is expected to be a 100-home subdivision with homes starting at around $180,000.

Buyers pay $25,500 for $35,500 lot. The difference is made up with a $10,000 note that the buyer is released from once the home is built and occupied, Bart Piper said.

Officials with the Paw Paw school district were not available to comment.

West school puts spin on parent conferences
Student-run: Middle school pupils take lead in sharing work with parents
By Linda Girardi, SPECIAL TO THE BEACON NEWS, 11/15/04

AURORA — After weeks of preparation, Jewel Middle School last week hosted student-led conferences, where 12- and 13-year olds presented to parents examples of their work, explained what they learned and why they achieved the grades they did.

Replacing the traditional parent-teacher conferences, the student-led conferences are an innovative learning method designed to produce life-long learners, officials said.

The number of parents visiting their child's school during two-evening sessions quadrupled over attendance in the past, school officials said.

"Everyone is ecstatic," Principal Greg Scalia said. "There was no place to park in the school lot, that's how successful it was."

Scalia said the new method has opened a different channel of communication between parents, students and teachers.

In 20-minute sessions, Jewel's sixth, seventh and eighth graders reviewed samples of their work from a portfolio covering core classes — English, mathematics, science and social studies, and explained to their parents the purpose of the assignment, how they felt about their work and their progress in the first quarter.

Previously, parents would get a quick run-down on grades from teachers.

"We stay out of the students way until the end," social studies teacher Bryan Zwemke said. "Our active role is in preparation and as facilitators. The actual conference is their night."

Zwemke last year introduced the student-led conference model to a team of seventh grade teachers, after experiencing it at a school in
Elgin. Teachers, students and parents were so receptive the concept was expanded to the entire student body.

"Our goal is to see as many parents as possible three to five times a year. We're building relationships between the teacher, student and parent," Zwemke said, adding the students openly communicated with their parents more so than if asked, "How was school today?"

One seventh grade team saw 135 parents. In the past, they might see 10 families a night.

Zwemke said the student-led conferences forced students to sit down and explain their school progress with their parents.

"It's much more productive," he said. "We're there to back them up and answer questions. They are not entirely on their own."

Three-quarters of the students dressed up and in business-speak talked one-on-one with their parents.

"The students like it better than sitting with parents surrounded by teachers, which could made them feel as though they were in trouble," Zwemke said. "Now they can explain their grades, talk about their strengths and weaknesses and set goals.

"In the past, it was a little scary with everyone staring at them."

Teams of teachers worked collaboratively to prepare their students for 10 to 15 conferences held every 20 minutes.

Zwemke said he believes having the students take an active role in their education resulted in higher grades this quarter.

"Were promoting life-long learning," Zwemke said. "When they leave middle school, the students will take with them practical organizational, preparation and time-management skills."


Soy in school meals provides health, business opportunities
Decatur Herald & Review Staff Writer, 11/14/04

DECATUR - Enhancing school lunches with healthful soy is good for the kids.

With any luck, it teaches children from a young age soy isn't yucky and can be good for the body, too. Soon enough, those kids become supermarket consumers who might seek out soy products for their families to eat.

For companies such as Archer Daniels Midland Co. and the farmers who provide the soybeans for it to process, introducing kids to soy also is good business.

"Obviously, the school food service is big business in the U.S.," said Barbara Klein, a University of Illinois professor involved with the soy study at Garfield Montessori School and others throughout the state.

Klein and other U of I researchers are conducting an experiment that infuses school lunches with soy, looking to see if kids recognize the difference between soy dishes and the meat-based meals they've come to know.

ADMis providing the food for the project.

Though Klein doesn't doubt ADM's altruistic aims in commissioning the study, she also recognizes the potential for profit if such a soy food market is created.

Jamie Maccari, Aramark food service director for the
Decatur School District, looked even beyond that. If more school lunch programs start using soy in their meals, increased demand could bring prices of soy foods down in general, she said.

"The demand would be much higher than the grocery shelf" only, she said.

For processors such as ADM, there is a caveat if soy starts replacing meat. Animal feed is another large strength of the agribusiness company. If people drop the meat, the feed is less in demand, right?

Maybe not, said Greg Webb, vice president public affairs for ADM.

"This is not something to try and wait for the next thing after that," Webb said. ADM is looking at soy from a sustainability standpoint, he said, and the production of a high- nutrition alternative offers another choice for the consumer.

The Illinois Soybean Association already has started looking at ways to get farmers to produce more high-protein soybeans.

This past season, the organization teamed with ADM and farmers in the
Quincy area to grow and market more high-protein soybeans to be used for food.

The premium was up to 6 cents for every bushel that met targeted levels of oil and protein; the program will be extended to
Decatur and other areas next year, said Judd Hulting, director of marketing.

"There's a bright future for soy foods," Hulting said. The market for foods containing soy has gone up between 10 and 13 percent a year for the past five years.

With the school lunch experiment, the organization hopes to come up with a model for schools throughout
Illinois and across the country to bring in more soy, Hulting said.

First things first, said Maccari.

"I'll be interested to see the research that comes back as far as the acceptability of it," she said. If the kids don't go for soy, it might mean going back to the drawing board to create recipes that work.

"There's a fine line. You want to see the kids eat," she said, otherwise they won't be taking in the fuel they need to get them through their school day.

"If there are too many things they're not going to choose, they're going to go hungry. You need to find the in-between."


Teacher residency is an important requirement
Letter by Arne Duncan, Chief executive officer, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Tribune,
This is in response to "City schools set to tighten rules on teacher residency" (Page 1, Oct. 26). Teaching excellence is one of the driving forces that have put the Chicago Public Schools on track to becoming the best urban school system in the nation. Our test scores are at all-time highs and the vast majority of our schools continue to make yearly gains. Much of the credit for these accomplishments goes to our teachers and their hard work in and out of the classroom.

Since 1996, we have required our teachers to live in
Chicago, a policy some see as an obstacle in recruiting and retaining the best teachers. The facts, however, suggest otherwise. Every year our schools are performing better, the stacks of resumes grow and our teacher-vacancy rate drops. We received a record number--15,000--teacher applications this year, up 67 percent from two years earlier, and our teacher-vacancy rate is less than 5 percent, a significant accomplishment for a system of 26,000 teachers. We're also hiring a growing number of teachers from the country's top universities--from the Ivy League to the Big 10.
Consider other benefits of the residency policy. Teachers are natural leaders and by living in the same communities as the children and families they serve, they reinforce our efforts to make our schools community anchors. By living here in
Chicago, our teachers are also more likely to send their children to our schools, and nothing inspires commitment like self-interest.

Our residency requirement--especially with amendments recently adopted by the Board of Education--is enforced fairly and consistently and allows for some reasonable flexibility in hard-to-staff subjects, such as special education. We also provide our teachers with tremendous support in finding a place to live in Chicago


School projects in limbo as state money dries up
Diane Rado,
Chicago Tribune
Ray Long and
Tracy Dell'Angela contributed to this report, 11/16/04
Thornton Fractional's high school district recently began renovating its aging schools, which are in such bad shape that some science labs have no running water.
But administrators in the southern
Cook County district now fear state construction grants could fall through, halting their project.
Will County, Joliet school officials have suspended some of their building projects, unsure they'll get state grants they need to help pay for the work.
Elsewhere, districts lucky enough to have enough local funds have finished projects while their state grant applications have languished on waiting lists.
Over seven years, school districts have come to depend on state building grants. But even as districts have come under increasing financial pressure, the state's fiscal health has faltered, disrupting the school construction grant program and generating distrust around the state.
In recent months, cash flow problems have delayed $144 million in grant payments to 45 districts, state records show.
A new legislative analysis, due to be released this week, shows potential problems in repaying bonds already issued to pay for the construction grants. Telecommunications excise taxes--the main source of funds to pay off school construction bonds over the years--have declined by $30 million since 2002, as cable modems and other technologies change the landscape.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers have yet to agree on a plan to extend the program, which has run out of money for new grants. Estimates show at least $6 billion in school construction needs remain in
Discussions are expected to continue in
Springfield this week, but lawmakers have little hope for an agreement.
"It's frightening, because I had a compact with my taxpayers," said Robert Wilhite, superintendent of Thornton Fractional High School District 215, where voters approved a $19 million bond proposal in 2002 to match a state grant.
The school construction grant program was approved by lawmakers in 1997 to help districts such as Thornton Fractional, where 78-year-old
North High School in Calumet City has antiquated boilers, inadequate electrical systems and broken water pipes.
The program has since awarded some 500 grants totaling $3.1 billion to help districts build new schools, renovate aging buildings and add thousands of classrooms to relieve overcrowding. The state grants must be matched by local funds.
With its massive school construction needs,
Chicago has been awarded 20 percent of the grant dollars issued each year. This budget year, the district balanced its budget on the assumption it would get an additional $110 million.
If that $110 million does not arrive,
Chicago school officials said Monday that they would have to delay projects including three school additions costing $64 million and $14 million worth of boiler repairs at four other schools.
The state never promised to fund the grant program indefinitely or even to cover all school construction needs. But the program has enjoyed strong support from Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his predecessors, George Ryan and Jim Edgar. Lawmakers have authorized bonds three times to pay for the grants, the last time in 2002.
As their own finances have deteriorated--more than 80 percent of districts now have deficits--local school officials have become increasingly dependent on the grants.
The last round of new construction grants was issued in September 2003, with a handful of grants awarded after that for emergency projects.
Two dozen districts entitled to about $150 million in grants are still on a waiting list that dates back to 2002. An additional 231 applications are in the pipeline.
In addition, the state has made only partial payments on about 100 grants totaling $849 million because districts are still in the construction phase and don't get their money all at once. Fourteen other districts are still in the design phase and have not begun receiving grant payments totaling $102 million.
In Thornton Fractional District 215, Supt. Wilhite remembers the hoopla when then-Gov. George Ryan visited the district in 2002 to award a grant. A band played and the governor handed over a giant-sized, $19 million check. District officials say they got about $1.6 million in summer 2003. But when they sent paperwork Oct. 5 for more money, they were told there wasn't enough cash.
Karen Shoup, school construction administrator at the Capital Development Board, which distributes the grants, said the agency was waiting for the state to issue more bonds to cover the payments requested by districts.
Bond sales took place in September, and again last week, she said. Thirteen districts will be paid as result of last week's sale, agency records show. Thornton District 215 will get the largest amount, $8.9 million, followed by Aurora West Unit District 129 in
Kane County with $7 million.
After the September bond sale, 35 districts got late payments totaling $106.5 million, state records show.
Becky Carroll, a spokeswoman for the governor's Office of Management and Budget, said bond sales were delayed in part because of recent changes in bond-sales procedures.
But bond experts at the bipartisan Illinois Economic & Fiscal Commission, a legislative fiscal watchdog, say there is concern about issuing more school construction bonds because tax revenues designated to pay them back may be insufficient.
The telecommunications excise tax, combined with liquor and cigarette taxes, should bring in about $200 million this budget year to make debt payments, according to a new report. The payments, however, are estimated at $192.6 million without including the amount needed to cover the September and November bond sales.
Debt payments also will rise as the state issues the rest of the bonds authorized for the current program--$478 million of school construction bonds have yet to be issued, according to the state comptroller's office.
Carroll, from the governor's office, stressed that the state would have to use general revenue dollars to fill the hole should revenues be insufficient to cover debt payments.
She also said the state intends to issue the remaining school construction bonds, and that Blagojevich is committed to continuing the program. The governor proposed an additional $2.2 billion over four years.
That proposal was rejected, in part because Republican lawmakers were concerned that the state didn't have the money to pay back new bonds.
As it stands, lawmakers are not optimistic that school construction and other capital projects will be approved in the session scheduled to end Thursday.
The situation leaves some local officials disillusioned.
Supt. Diane Cody of Winfield Elementary School District 34 in DuPage, said the state broke its promise to her district, one of the two dozen on a 2002 waiting list, entitled to grants but never awarded them.
She said the district expected $2.3 million, but had to cut back construction plans.
Officials at Joliet Public Schools District 86, also on the 2002 waiting list, decided to delay construction until they get their $27 million grant.
"We're not going out and spending additional money with our architects until we know something for sure," said assistant superintendent for business Troy Whalen.
- 24 districts were entitled to grants totaling about $150 million dating back to 2002, but had not received them when money ran out.
- An additional 231 grant applications are pending.
1998-2004, in millions
Chicago $623.6
Suburban Cook $456.9
Will $235.5
Lake $180.4
Kane $151.5
DuPage $111
McHenry $91.8
Total $1.8 billion
*Grants issued in 2004 were for emergency applications only.
Source: Tribune analysis of Illinois Capital Development Board data


Parent survey on
Harlem dress code yields little information
A School Board panel recommends forming a group to study the discipline issue.
Isaac Guerrero, Rockford Register Star,
MACHESNEY PARK -- Harlem School District students won't be wearing uniforms anytime soon, if a recent parent survey carries any weight.
However, the School Board's Policy Committee told Superintendent Pat De Luca to establish a committee of parents, teachers, principals and other groups to study what has become a thorny discipline issue in the district of 7,866 students.
"The purpose of the committee is not necessarily to recommend a coordinated dress code policy, but to look at all of the dress code problems, including enforcement, and see what should be done," De Luca said.
Forty-eight percent of
Harlem parents surveyed said they favored establishing some type of coordinated dress code for students. But only 17.6 percent of parents, representing 1,383 of the district's 7,866 students, responded to the survey.
"The numbers seem almost useless," said School Board Vice President Debbie Kerr. "So few parents responded."
Board President Sandi Johnson said she favors leaving the district's dress code alone and instead studying how to step up enforcement of daily dress code violations.
The survey found that parents who support a coordinated dress code believe the policy would reduce teasing and cliques. Those who dislike the idea said uniforms would be too expensive and that administrators should simply enforce existing dress-code rules.
Teachers and principals routinely discipline students for showing up at school in skimpy shorts or skirts, or wearing shirts with inappropriate messages. Students have grown savvy and know how to bend the rules, said Lynn Kearney, president of the Harlem Federation of Teachers.
For example, repeat offenders at
Harlem Middle School often keep an extra sweat shirt in their locker to cover up revealing attire, then peel off the outer layer later in the school day.
"Some teachers don't feel comfortable telling a student 'Your skirt is too short' or 'Your shirt is too short,'"
Kearney said. "Some teachers have been told by their teammates not to say anything because it's not worth your career. What do you say when a parent comes and asks you, 'Why are you looking at my daughter's chest or rear end?'"
Harlem parent Anita Jurasek told the policy committee Monday that a uniform policy would punish students who obey the dress code.


Students selling bricks to raise money, beautify new school
John Krupa, The
Alton Telegraph  
ALTON -- Donation-seeking Alton High School students are about to spread through the city like a "good cancer," said junior Catheryn Greenwood.
"We want to warn the public," said junior Amber Bowling. "We will be out there."
Students begin hawking $50 bricks, $500 granite blocks and $1,200 granite or marble benches today, as part of a winter fund-raising campaign for the Alton Educational Foundation.
The foundation was established in 2001, and since has funded $10,000 worth of scholarships and grants, used to fund such things as field trips, classroom reference libraries and the installation of classroom computer modems.
But with its goal of selling 6,000 bricks -- which would raise at least $300,000 to support local education in the cash-strapped district -- the foundation is raising the bar to its most ambitious level ever.
"Every penny goes back into the classroom," said foundation board member Laura Wallendorf.
Plus, the bricks, blocks and benches will beautify a future courtyard at the new high school site on
Humbert Road -- which should serve as a major thoroughfare and congregation point as students shuffle between classes and buildings.
"This isn’t the prettiest campus in the world, so we’re trying to make the other one nicer," Greenwood, a 16-year-old Student Council member said, while overlooking the central parking lot known as "The Pit" at the current high school site on College Avenue. "This is going to look a lot nicer than crossing a pit like this. I’m going to be proud to go to a school like this."
Bowling, who is chairing the Student Council’s brick campaign, said students will fan out across
Alton, pressing friends, family and businesses to support the fund-raising effort.
Each brick, block or bench purchased will be engraved with the buyer’s name, or may be chiseled in someone else’s honor.
"I think it’s going to be cool when I bring my kids back. I can say, ‘I bought that,’
Greenwood said.
Student Council members hope to reach their ambitious goal by Jan. 30, and have created a number of incentives to motivate students to hit the streets selling.
Each teen will earn 10 percent of what they sell once they hit the $500 mark, in the form of gift cards for use at area businesses.
"Everyone wants (gift cards) to QT, because gas is so high,"
Greenwood said.
Classes also will compete against each other, with the highest-grossing class getting a bench with its name engraved on it.
"Everybody needs to get involved in this, either buying a brick or selling a brick," Bowling said.
If students buy into the campaign and reach their goal, it not only will have an impact on the quality of local education but also will beautify the new high school permanently -- a benefit to generations of students to come.
"You’re paying for the new high school, so you may as well make it nice,"
Greenwood said.


School test results will be late, but accurate
Kate N. Grossman,
Chicago Sun-Times
school test results will be released Dec. 15, six weeks after the law requires. But unlike last year, they'll be accurate, state school officials pledged Wednesday.
In 2003, 451 schools were erroneously marked as failing to meet federal standards when the state report card was released Dec. 19.
This year, the State Board of Education delayed releasing the report card after identifying potential mistakes in 1,958 of
Illinois' 3,081 schools. Most were probably due to errors in labeling student demographic information. It opened a correction window for districts and says it has fixed all the errors.
"We wanted to be as timely as possible while still making sure the data is accurate," said interim Education Supt. Randy Dunn.
He pledged not to repeat last year's mistakes, which unfairly placed schools on a state failing list.
"It's not acceptable, given the stakes," Dunn said.
The state board plans several changes for next year. These include preprinted student labels, test administration training and a plan to return test results to schools earlier. It hopes to publish the final report card at the start of school next year.
It is also intends to revamp the design of the report card, making it easier for parents to read. The report card includes test results, class size averages, student demographics, average teacher salaries and experience levels and other information.




Bush II: Paige out, NCLB to high school
From eSchool News staff and wire service reports,
Two weeks after the Nov. 2 elections that granted President George W. Bush an extended tour of duty, school leaders are still trying to understand what the results will mean for educational technology.

One thing educators now know for sure is that Education Secretary Roderick Paige won't be back for a second term. Paige officially tendered his resignation Nov. 15, stating, "I did not come to
Washington as a career move. I came to help President Bush establish a culture of accountability in American education."

It was not immediately clear at press time who would become Paige's successor, though Beltway insiders speculated the job would be offered to Margaret Spellings, Bush's domestic policy advisor. Spellings was responsible for shaping Bush's education policy while he was governor of
Texas and served on the White House staff during the president's first term.

Officials from the U.S. Department of Education (ED) did not return an eSchool News reporter's telephone calls before press time.

Regardless of who's in charge at ED, educators and school administrators can anticipate "more of the same" when it comes to school technology leadership during the next four years, according to several education policy experts who spoke with eSchool News shortly after the election.

"I don't see a lot of change. I don't see more funds being marked specifically for ed tech," said Ann Flynn, director of educational technology for the National School Boards Association (NSBA). "While I know people care greatly about education, issues like the war in
Iraq and terrorism so upstaged education" leading up to these elections.

The election results, which also solidified the Republican Party's majority in both the Senate and the House, could mean an expansion of the landmark No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), Bush's signature education plan. In fact, in the run up to the election, Bush vowed to extend the accountability provisions of NCLB to high schools, promising $200 million to pay for that expansion.

Elsewhere on the funding front, Bush also said he would commit another $200 million to assist struggling readers. He promised to increase funding for math instruction by $269 million. He said he would increase the maximum college Pell grants from $1,000 to $5,500 and would raise first-year loan limits for college students. He also promised to commit $125 million to help community colleges offer credit to high school students.

Though NCLB, as structured in Bush's first term, requires greater accountability in exchange for federal dollars, its critics--which include local school administrators and state legislators from both political parties--say it's grossly underfunded. Some say the law's emphasis on testing and research-based methods also leaves little room for creativity in the classroom.

Although much of the federal focus will remain on using technology to implement various aspects of NCLB, the Bush administration also will be looking to implement a few new ed-tech initiatives announced during the campaign.

These initiatives include creating an eLearning Clearinghouse to promote online courses available to students and adults from both public and private sources; providing $200 million to establish individualized learning plans for high school students; and offering greater access to specialized teachers and Advanced Placement courses through distance learning. (See "Bush floats new eLearning plan,"

"This is going to be good for ed tech," said John Bailey, deputy policy director for the Bush campaign and former director of ED's Office of Educational Technology. "The President has made a clear commitment to educational technology in the midst of an incredibly tight budget."

Details about how these new programs would be implemented were unavailable at press time. But advocates of educational technology say they are genuinely concerned about how the administration intends to pay for these new programs when its existing ed-tech programs are already in jeopardy.

"I think a lot of people would like to see the eLearning Clearinghouse happen, and we hope that there will be ample funding for it," said Jon Bernstein, vice president of Leslie Harris and Associates, a legislative specialist contracted by groups such as the Consortium for School Networking, the International Society for Technology in Education, and others.

Ed-tech advocates have been lobbying hard against a proposed $91 million reduction to the nation's primary ed-tech program in the fiscal year 2005 budget (see "Ed-tech advocates protest budget cuts": Bailey points out that the idea to cut the program's funding came from the House floor and not the Bush administration.

"The President recommended keeping that $90 million in there. That's not his position," Bailey said. He noted that the most drastic cuts to school technology funding have come at the state level, and he said he'd like to see ed-tech advocates launch the same lobbying efforts at the state level as well.

Another possible result of Bush's reelection is that the work educators, students, and ED officials have put into crafting the new National Educational Technology Plan won't be wasted or undone, said NSBA's Flynn.

"They spent many, many months crafting the new ed-tech plan, which is just starting to get traction," Flynn said. "Since there wasn't an administration change, I would expect this is the document they will work from."

ED has floated drafts of the new plan among education experts, and it is believed the plan officially will be available in December.

The freeze on eRate funding is another issue ed-tech advocates hope the feds will fix. They'd like Congress to pass a bill exempting the eRate program from complying with the Anti-Deficiency Act, which abruptly caused funds to pay for internet and telephone service to stop flowing to the nation's schools and libraries Aug. 3 (see "eRate chaos looms for schools": "I hope--through whatever process it takes--I hope we can get back the reliability and dependability of the eRate," Flynn said. "The unpredictably that happened to our schools this fall was not good."

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Michael Powell said he is in favor of working with members of Congress to draft legislation to exempt the eRate from the law. It remains unclear whether the decision to apply the Anti-Deficiency Act to the eRate--out of the blue and in mid-stream--was Powell's call alone or whether it came from the White House Office of Management and Budget; both offices have evaded the question to date. (eSchool News has filed a Freedom of Information Act request for the relevant public documents, but the FCC's latest response has been to postpone action.)

It had been rumored that Powell would leave his post to take a position at his alma mater, the
College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va., but Powell told reporters Nov. 9 that he is happy where he is, though he added he won't stay past 2007 when his term ends.

An FCC insider speculated that perhaps Rebecca Klein, former Texas Public Utility commissioner, would replace FCC Commissioner Kathleen Q. Abernathy, whose term expired last June. Democratic commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, whose term has also expired, might have a chance at staying on, reported Communications Daily.

Republicans gained at least four seats in the House (the final tally will not be known until Dec. 4, when the results of
Louisiana runoffs are in) and four seats in the Senate, but it's still unclear what the changes in the House and Senate will mean for committee representation.

"I have never viewed ed tech as a partisan issue. We have had champions on both sides of the aisle," Bernstein said. "No matter what side of the aisle you're on, everyone recognizes the value of educational technology."


Those Bake Sales Add Up, to $9 Billion or So
By GREG WINTER, New York Times,

Camping trips in the desert. Excursions to the famed Scripps Institute on the
California coast. A summer at space camp. Not to mention the other standards of a solid education: art classes, chess, sports and individual tutors.

No, it is not the roster at an exclusive private school. It's the menu of extracurricular activities offered at the public
Nadaburg Elementary School in Wittmann, Ariz., where about 70 percent of the children are low income, if not more.

So where does the money come from? Not from education budgets or some benevolent foundation. The answer lies miles away, in immaculate retirement communities with names like Sun City West and Sun City Grand. The residents there may not have any grandchildren who attend the school, near
Phoenix, but they have become among its staunchest patrons.

The school offers an unusual glimpse of the degree to which private fund-raising has reshaped the nation's schools. In
Arizona, for example, residents are allowed to take up to $250 of their state taxes and apply it directly to any school, regardless of whether they have children who attend. Nadaburg's teachers and administrators use the rule to great advantage.

They ride buses to retirement communities nearby to sign up benefactors. They invite the people there to luncheons. They lead the children in Christmas caroling for those who have transformed their school.

"I consider it to be a legitimate, viable factor in the success of our kids academically," said Steven Yokobosky, Nadaburg's superintendent. "I mean, the kids aren't excelling, but if you look at the demographics of our school they shouldn't be doing as well as they are."

Private support of public schools has become a wide phenomenon. Big city districts look to foundations and businesses to help meet students' needs. Parents around the nation are raising money for vital school functions as state spending on education slows down.

But is all this private money enough to really change the character of schools? And does it help close the gap between wealthy and poor schools or widen it?

Public elementary and secondary schools claimed nearly $373 billion in federal, state and local revenues during the 1999-2000 school year, federal statistics show. Nearly $9 billion of that came from nongovernmental sources.

Foundations, the institutional donors with a focus on helping communities in need, gave about $1.2 billion to public and private K-12 education in 2002, according to the Foundation Center, a group in New York that works to strengthen the nonprofit sector. That is a small fraction of the amount coming from other private sources — most notably, parents.

In an informal survey of about 100 of its member organizations by the National PTA, conducted at the request of the reporter, the group concluded that parents and their communities contribute as much as if not more than $10 billion in cash and services to the nation's schools.

The gifts and services that PTA's furnish range from libraries, computer labs and playgrounds to a laundry list of smaller essentials that many districts may not be able to afford.

Parental giving and fund-raising varies widely by income level. The PTA's for the poorest 25 percent of schools surveyed typically contributed $13 to $68 a student, while the wealthiest 25 percent of schools surveyed typically donated $192 to $279.

Some experts say there is not enough evidence to prove that private money ends up favoring wealthier schools, partly because their poorer counterparts get more money from corporations and foundations. But given the lopsided amounts that parents raise, some contend that private money ultimately worsens the disparity.

"I think it clearly makes it worse," said Tom Vander
Ark, the education director for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has pledged more than $1 billion to start schools serving low-income students. "But it's tricky, because we don't want to condemn individual contributions to local schools. They're certainly supporting important things for young people. It's a benign way that our society exacerbates the inequity between the rich and the poor."

There are exceptions. Nadaburg's campaign in retirement communities raised almost $244,000, or more than $488 a pupil, under the rule in 2002, researchers have found, though the area has a much higher poverty rate than the state average.

But statewide in
Arizona, between 1998 and 2002, the poorest quarter of schools received a total of about $8 million in contributions under the law, according to Glen Y. Wilson, an assistant professor of education policy at the University of Connecticut, while the wealthiest quarter received more than $29 million.

Other state policies have had a similar effect, sometimes by accident. In the late 90's,
Vermont legislators tried to make sure all schools had enough money, so they required districts with higher property taxes to share some of the wealth. To get around the law, about two dozen communities deliberately kept property taxes down and started local foundations that were exempt from the rules on sharing. Local residents put more than $11 million into these private funds last year, the state said.

Vermont has since changed the law, effectively dismantling these local funds, but not because they ran contrary to the spirit of sharing, state officials said. Instead, animosity developed in some towns because not everyone contributed, said Bill Talbott, chief financial officer for Vermont's education department.

When state spending on education shot up nationwide in the late 90's, buoyed by the hearty tax receipts of a forceful economy, the financial gap between rich and poor districts began to narrow, according to a report released last month by the Education Trust, a research group that aims to close the achievement gap between students. But growth in education spending has slowed considerably. Wealthier districts have made up for much of the slowdown by raising property taxes, so the financial gap between rich and poor has expanded again, the report found.

"What foundations shouldn't try to do is fund gaps in the system, or fill holes that the public ought to be filling," said William Porter, executive director of Grantmakers for Education, a network of 200 foundations. "The resources that we can put toward a problem pale in comparison to the problem itself."

As public spending on education slows, even PTA's in some of the better-off districts say they have little choice but to prop up their local schools. For example, beyond the thousands of dollars parents have raised to outfit the playground at Emerson Elementary School, a magnet school with few poor students in Westerville, Ohio, the school's PTA says it spends thousands more on essentials like library books.

"It's no longer about arranging the parties and cleaning up the playgrounds," said Trina Shanks, past president of Emerson's PTA. "It's a whole lot more."


Kentucky teachers taking alternative paths to certifications
Associated Press, 11/15/04

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A growing number of Kentucky teachers are taking alternative routes to their certification - getting into the classroom while earning their credentials.

In the past six years, more than 1,400 people have taken one of
Kentucky's six alternative paths to teaching. Nearly half earned their alternative certification last year, according to the latest state data available.

The university-based route allows aspiring teachers to teach during the day and take courses at night or on weekends. That route had 631 people enrolled last year, five times as many as the previous year.

Kentucky officials in charge of the alternative routes say they are vital to easing the state's teacher shortage, increasing diversity and helping school districts meet federal rules that require a skilled teacher in every classroom by the end of the 2005-06 school year.

"This just gives folks, particularly the mid-career folks, an option to get certified without having to go back and start their college career over again," said Susan Lieb, executive director of the state's Education Professional Standards Board, which oversees teacher and school administrator credentialing.

Not everyone in education is sold on the idea. Some warn that alternative programs often emphasize subject knowledge over teaching skills such as classroom management.

"That's a real problem," said Brent McKim, president of the Jefferson County Teachers Association. "It's not good for the kids for the first years, and I think it makes it much less likely that teachers who are licensed by way of those routes will remain in the classroom."

Nonetheless, state officials predict enrollment in alternative programs will continue growing. Last summer, the General Assembly added a seventh alternative route that allows a person to begin teaching after completing a six- to eight-week instructional training course.

Last month, the Kentucky Department of Education started using a $1.3 million federal grant to recruit mid-career professionals and college graduates without teaching degrees into alternative programs so they can teach in high-poverty school districts around the state.

A handful of states, including
New Jersey and Texas, began using alternative certification routes in the early 1980s to ease teacher shortages. By 1997, 41 states and the District of Columbia had adopted some type of alternative program. Those programs have supplied an estimated 200,000 teachers since 1985, according to a study published last year by the National Center for Education Information.

Alternative programs are helping districts meet new federal requirements that no longer allow states to issue emergency teaching certificates, a tool many districts used to fill positions in math, science, special education and English as a second language.

Educators acknowledge there are drawbacks to alternative routes, most notably that people begin teaching lacking a full background in instruction.

"These folks are put into classrooms oftentimes before they've had any training at all. They're kind of thrown to the wolves," said Cindy Gnadinger, the graduate director at
Bellarmine University's Annsley Frazier Thornton School of Education.

Universities such as Bellarmine and Spalding encourage students to begin their college training in the summer so they have some instructional knowledge before school starts. But Gnadinger and others say alternative teachers strengthen
Kentucky's classrooms with their knowledge, experience and maturity.

Betty Lindsay, dean of
Spalding University's College of Education, says candidates often "bring a commitment to teaching. It's a decision they've made after considering it very carefully and trying other things in their lives."


Evolution foes see opening to press fight in schools
Raja Mishra, Boston Globe,
A long-running American cultural clash has flared yet again, with a trial in suburban
Atlanta this month over teaching evolution in public schools. Several Georgia parents are challenging a local school board's decision to require biology textbooks to include a prominently placed label stating that evolution is ''not a fact."
Georgia case is the first to land in court, but this year alone 13 states have had challenges to teaching evolution in schools. With the new federal No Child Left Behind education law mandating a broad review of science curriculum in every state over the next two years, those challenges may accelerate, as religious activists and evolution opponents seize on opportunities to shape guidelines on what public school students learn about the natural world.
Those challenging evolution rarely say that schools should teach creationism, the biblical account of the origin of life. Instead, they insist that teachers present evolution as a debated and uncertain hypothesis, though most scientists consider it among the most important and well-supported scientific theories of all time. Scientists worry that the antievolution campaign will weaken American science education and see it as part of a broader push to incorporate religion in public schools.
The debate is unfolding as the nation wrestles with the role of religion in public life, as the recent presidential election made clear.
The mobilization of religious conservatives that helped to reelect President Bush greatly impressed officials at the Institute for Creation Research, a self-proclaimed ''Christ-focused creation ministry" in
Santee, Calif., committed to challenging the teaching of evolution in schools.
''When people get organized, those that approach politics from a point of view that God exists, it's clear that things can be changed," said the institute's vice president, Duane Gish. ''The evolutionists use every device available in politics. Why shouldn't we?"
Once disparate antievolution groups have become more organized in recent years, establishing networks on the Internet, sharing tactics, developing literature, and honing arguments.
''The case in Georgia is the first court case to take this up, but there will be more," said Paul R. Gross, life sciences professor emeritus at the University of Virginia and author of a recent book on the antievolution effort. ''This is a very serious movement. It touches the deep and sincere feelings of a great many people in our country."
While most of the challenges to the teaching of evolution have been in states won by Bush, the issue has also emerged in the last two months in three states won by John F. Kerry:
In western
Wisconsin, the Grantsburg school district passed a measure mandating the teaching of ''various scientific models or theories of origin."
Pennsylvania, the Dover area school board passed a measure requiring the teaching of ''intelligent design" along with evolution. This theory argues that life is so complex that some intelligent force, above and beyond evolution, must be behind it. Proponents say the intelligent force is God.  
In many local battles, evolution opponents have successfully argued that students should be exposed to questions about evolution and alternative theories. In
Ohio, the state Department of Education passed a measure in March encouraging teachers to hold classes that question the evolutionary theory.
''We were very pleased by the science standard that was developed" in Ohio, said John West, associate director of the Center for Science & Culture of the Discovery Institute, a Seattle-based think tank active in opposing the teaching of evolution in schools around the country. He added, ''I certainly do see more of these policies being pursued" as the No Child Left Behind law prompts states to review their science curricula.
The law requires review of all subjects, and in most states the process is well underway in English and math. The reviews, conducted by state school boards, can lead to changes in curriculum, textbook selection, and standardized test content. School board officials are elected or appointed by elected officials and therefore subject to political pressure.
''When you do get organized, when you use political pressure, it is effective," said Gish of the Institute for Creation Research. He said he would like to see ''the schools present the best case for evolution, and let the creationists present their best case, and let students decide."
Evolutionary scientists have fought against such sentiment for decades.
''This is such old-hat stuff," said Harvard emeritus professor Ernest Mayr, who at age 100 is one of the titans of evolutionary science.
Mayr is adamant that antievolutionary arguments, even those that don't directly mention religion, have no place in public schools.
''What it really amounts to is a break with our Constitution, which tells you that you should keep religion out of public life," he said.
Another major figure in the field, Harvard professor Edward O. Wilson, said the current challenges to evolution are fringe movements, noting that Pope John Paul II, in a 1996 statement, acknowledged that evolutionary scientists had amassed considerable evidence for their theory.
''They are really going outside the beliefs of most Christians in the world and most other religions in the world," said
Wilson of evolution opponents.

Senior wants gun photo in yearbook
Beverley Wang,
Chicago Sun-Times, 11/16/04
CONCORD, N.H. -- Where other students might pose for their senior yearbook photo with a tennis racket or favorite car, Blake Douglass wants to be seen with his shotgun.
The 17-year-old filed a federal lawsuit Monday to force
Londonderry High School to allow the photo and give up the policy school officials used to reject it.
''What they're doing is basically discriminating based on content or message,'' said Penny Dean, Douglass' lawyer and a specialist in gun cases. ''You can't do that. You might want to but you can't -- and especially you can't with a broad policy like this.''
An avid hunter and trap and skeet shooter, Douglass said he decided long ago on his senior photo -- an outdoor shot in a sportsman's pose, with him wearing a shooting vest and holding his broke-open shotgun over his shoulder.
''He would look at his yearbooks since he's been a freshman and say, 'I can't wait until I'm a senior -- this is how I want my senior picture done,''' said his mother, Kathy Douglass.
Blake Douglass saw seniors in previous classes have posed with musical instruments, dogs, in-line skates and a Ford Mustang.
''Those were their hobbies and I just want to put my hobby in,'' he said. ''I don't see it as a threat.''
School officials said the photo lacks context in the yearbook's seniors section. They offered to publish it in a separate ''community sports'' section, but Douglass refused.
Principal James Elefante said that although the photo isn't threatening, ''I still stand by that holding a saxophone is different from holding a shotgun.''


Bush moving to target older students this term
Ben Feller, The Associated Press, Daily Southtown
WASHINGTON — President Bush is ready to shift his education focus to older students, building on the law he pushed through before terrorism and war came to define his presidency.
No Child Left Behind, Bush's first big domestic legislative victory, orders schools to show yearly gains among students regardless of their race or background.
The federal role in education has never been so big, and the president says his plans to expand the law "could move pretty quickly" in the new Congress.
"Do you remember the No Child Left Behind Act?" Bush said in his first news conference after his re-election, when asked how he would reach across party lines. "I think there's the model I would look at if I were you."
Yet some say that model needs much repair. Many Democrats who supported the law criticize what they call lackluster spending and enforcement under Bush's leadership.
And with an expanded majority in Congress, some Republicans want Bush to put his power behind a more conservative school-choice agenda. That would mean a bigger push for private-school vouchers and charter schools, which are public but largely independent.
"We're going to find out a lot about what George Bush is really all about," said Andrew Rotherham, who directs education policy for the Progressive Policy Institute, a think tank aligned with centrist Democrats. "He would be better remembered as the president who put in place the framework for closing the achievement gap — not the one who got a multicity voucher plan passed, which is the base-pleasing stuff."
Bush will have a new education secretary to shepherd his policies. He has chosen his domestic policy adviser, Margaret Spellings, to replace Rod Paige, who resigned Monday. The nomination must be confirmed by the Senate.
Bush wants to extend his education law by requiring two more years of state math and reading tests in high school grades. That's part of a broader promise to improve high school standards, graduation rates and the value of the diploma — all of which are welcomed, said Patty Sullivan, a leader of the Council of Chief State School Officers.
Even with the larger GOP majorities in Congress, Bush still lacks the votes to halt Democratic delay tactics in the Senate. Since the election, Sen. Edward Kennedy of
Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on education, has signaled he wants to work with Bush to make early childhood learning a bigger priority.
There's still plenty of room for bipartisan school progress, Kennedy said, "without taking divisive steps, such as diverting scarce public education dollars to private schools."
Yet in the House, Education Committee Chairman John Boehner, R-Ohio, will look for ways to work with Bush and others to expand school choice, spokesman David Schnittger said. Bush has won vouchers in the
District of Columbia and transfers for students out of some struggling schools across the nation. The agenda also includes such items as extra pay for teachers whose students perform well. But given the deficit, spending won't come easy.
"There won't be many surprises on education," Schnittger said, "but there will be a lot of action."
That's because Congress has a backlog of laws due for updates. They include:
—Head Start, the popular preschool program for poor children. Bush wants the program's emphasis shifted toward literacy, and he favors giving states more control.
—Higher education, where Bush has a series of college-aid plans and will push for greater accountability in how that money is spent.
—Vocational education, the federal program that helps students prepare for trade and technical jobs. Bush wants to require more academic rigor from such schools receiving federal aid.
And then there is the question of what to do about No Child Left Behind, a matter expected to continue dominating the national conversation over schools.
Although the law is lauded for its goals, Democrats and Republicans say some parts need work, including the way school progress is measured. The Bush administration has shown some flexibility but appears unwilling to adjust the law before its scheduled update in 2007.
"There is a range of concern out there, from serious and thoughtful to outrageous and disingenuous," said
Rotherham, a former adviser to President Clinton. "The administration has done a terrible job of distilling that. They need to rebuild the broad bipartisan coalition."
Or not. Some Republicans say Bush can't satisfy Democrats, particularly on funding, no matter what he recommends. They want the White House to be more proactive about No Child Left Behind and to keep shaking up what they deem to be a public education monopoly.
"My cardinal rule in
Washington is you're on offense or you're on defense," said William Bennett, who was education secretary under President Reagan. "They're on defense too much."


'Value Added' Models Gain in Popularity
Growth Yardstick Appeals to States
By Lynn Olson, Education Week, 11/17/04

The concept sounds appealing: Measure the effectiveness of schools and teachers based on the amount of academic progress their students make from one year to the next. Often known as “value added” measures because they track the “value” that schools add to individual students’ learning over time, such methods are increasingly popular with educators and policymakers.

Some view the methods as an antidote to accountability systems that focus solely on getting children to a specified achievement level on a state test, regardless of where they start. Others view them as a way to isolate the effects of teachers and schools on learning, separate from such background characteristics as race and poverty.

Three national conferences on the topic took place last month alone. And this week, the Washington-based Council of Chief State School Officers planned to host a meeting on their use.

“Value-added measurement is a very active area today,” Nancy S. Grasmick, the state superintendent of education in
Maryland, said during a conference at the University of Maryland College Park last month. “We know there’s controversy surrounding this,” she added. “We need to ferret out all of the factors and not just jump into this without a strong research base.”

Indeed, as policymakers and practitioners rush to take up value-added methods, researchers continue to debate their merits and how the existing models can be improved.

While value-added assessments are well past their infancy, noted Robert Lissitz, the director of the
Maryland Assessment Research Center for Student Success at the University of Maryland, “the practical applications of value-added models are complex, difficult, and often controversial.”

Fairer Measurement?

That hasn’t stopped the momentum, which has gained steam in part because of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. The law requires states to test every student annually in reading and mathematics in grades 3-8 and at least once in high school.

That mandate has opened up the possibility of tracking individual student growth from grade to grade in far more states, a prerequisite for value-added modeling. At the same time, concerns that the law’s accountability provisions are unfair to schools has sent people scrambling for alternatives.

Sixteen state schools chiefs wrote to U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige earlier this year requesting the flexibility to use value-added or growth measures to meet the accountability requirements. States such as
Ohio and Pennsylvania are now working to incorporate such models into their state accountability systems, joining existing ventures in Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, and Tennessee. And many other states, including Arkansas, California, Colorado, Louisiana and Minnesota, are considering adding value-added assessments.

One of the big attractions for educators is that value-added methods could provide a fairer way to measure school and teacher effectiveness than existing accountability systems.

The NCLB law, for example, judges schools primarily on the percentage of children who perform at the “proficient” level on state tests. Schools don’t get credit for students who make lots of growth in a given year but still fail to reach the proficiency bar, or for advanced students who continue to progress.

Schools also are judged by comparing the performance of cohorts of students in successive years—for example, the performance of this year’s 3rd graders vs. last year’s 3rd graders—even though the two groups may be quite different. In contrast, value-added methods track the growth of each student in a school over time from the child’s starting point.

Such methods also can provide schools with diagnostic information about the rate at which individual children are learning in particular subjects and classrooms, making it possible to target assistance to students or teachers or areas of the curriculum that need help.

In 2002, the
Pennsylvania education department invited districts that were already testing in grades 3-8 to participate in a pilot value-added project, using the model that William L. Sanders developed for Tennessee in 1992. The plan is to take the project statewide next school year.

‘A Great Diagnostic Tool’

The 4,500-student
DuBois Area School District, about 100 miles from the Ohio border, signed up immediately.

“There are people who are really worried about this concept and want it to be perfect before we say yes,” said Sharon Kirk, the superintendent of the district. She spoke last month at a conference in
Columbus, Ohio, sponsored by Battelle for Kids, a nonprofit there that is working with about 80 Ohio districts on a value-added pilot using the Sanders method. “I can’t imagine why we would not absolutely embrace information that is going to make us better.”

One of the first things Ms. Kirk did was ask each principal to predict which group of students his or her school was serving best. Daniel Hawkins, the principal of the
DuBois Middle School, said he’d been confident the school was doing a fine job educating its most academically advanced students. When the data came back, it showed that in both math and reading, those students were making less progress over the course of a year than similarly high-performing students in other schools.

“I was wrong,” he said, “obviously wrong.”

Amy Short, an algebra teacher at the school, said educators realized they were spending too much time reviewing material at the start of each school year and needed to accelerate instruction.

The school set up four different levels of algebra and provided additional periods of math practice for students with the lowest math scores who also were falling behind their peers. Each week, teachers in the same grade and subject sat down to decide what they would teach in the coming week, and crafted nine-week assessments to track students’ progress.

By 2003,
DuBois Middle School students were demonstrating significantly more growth over the course of the year than similarly performing students elsewhere.

“I really like this because I think it’s a great diagnostic tool for me,” said Ms. Short, who uses the data on individual students to tell whether they need additional support or enrichment. “I thought I was teaching my kids better.”

Research by Mr. Sanders and others in the field has found that the variability in effectiveness between classrooms within schools is three to four times greater than the variability across schools. Moreover, students assigned to highly effective teachers for several years running experience much more academic growth than students assigned to a string of particularly ineffective teachers, although the precise size of those effects and how long they persist are unclear.

Based on such findings, said Daniel Fallon, the chairman of the education division at the Carnegie Corporation of
New York, people have come to recognize that the effects of good teaching “are profound and appear to be cumulative.”

High Stakes?

Most people appear comfortable using value-added information as a powerful school improvement tool. The bigger question is whether states are ready to use such methods in high-stakes situations.

So far, the U.S. Department of Education has not permitted any state to use a value-added model to meet the requirements for adequate yearly progress under the No Child Left Behind law. And it’s not certain the department has the authority to do so without changing the statute.

Celia H. Sims, a special assistant in the department’s office of elementary and secondary education, said at the time states submitted their accountability plans to the federal government, most didn’t have in place the grades 3-8 testing or student-information systems that would permit them to track individual student gains over time.

“Value-added can certainly be used even right now as an additional academic indicator by the state,” she noted, although no state has made that choice. In part, that’s because additional academic indicators can only serve to increase the number of schools potentially identified for improvement under the federal law.

“States are still looking at how growth can fit within No Child Left Behind,” Ms. Sims said. She does not know of any value-added model that specifies how much growth students must make each year, so that all students perform at the proficient level by 2013-14, as the law requires. “That’s the non-negotiable,” she said.

Researchers in at least three organizations—the Dover, N.H.-based Center for Assessment, the Portland, Ore.-based Northwest Evaluation Association and the Washington-based American Institutes for Research—have been working on models to combine value-added analyses with absolute measures of student performance, so that students would be on track to achieve proficiency by a specified point.

“This, to me, is a central issue with value-added,” said Mitchell D. Chester, the assistant state superintendent for policy and accountability in the
Ohio education department. By state law, the department must incorporate Mr. Sanders’ value-added method into the accountability system by 2007-08. “How do you combine looking at progress with still trying to ensure youngsters in Ohio end up graduating with the skills and knowledge that they need to succeed beyond high schools?”

Some policymakers also are eager to use value-added models as part of teacher evaluation or compensation systems. But while many researchers and educators said value-added results might, eventually, be used as one component of such systems, they should not be the only measure.

“I think that really puts too much of a burden on value-added measures,” said Henry I. Braun, a statistician with the
Princeton, N.J.-based Educational Testing Service.

In general, such measures can distinguish between highly effective and ineffective teachers, based on the amount of growth their students make, researchers say, but they have a hard time distinguishing between the vast majority of teachers whose performance hovers around average.

Moreover, while value-added models can identify schools or teachers that appear more effective than others, they cannot identify what those teachers do that makes them more effective.

“In the earliest years of implementing a value-added assessment system, it’s probably smart to lower the stakes,” said Dale Ballou, a professor of education at
Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

It’s also unclear how such measures would work for teachers whose subjects are not measured by state tests.

Both the Ohio Federation of Teachers and the Ohio Education Association have supported the use of a growth measure as part of
Ohio’s accountability system.

“We felt there were a lot of hard-working people out there who were not getting adequate credit for moving kids along the way they do,” said Debbie Tully, an official with the OFT, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers.

But while the union is “more than open” to using such measures as one component in teacher evaluation, Ms. Tully added, it’s far too early to tell if it can be used as an evaluation tool.

‘Under the Hood’

Yet for all the criticism of value-added methods, said Mr. Braun of the ETS, “we have to confront the logic behind the enthusiasm that we see out there in the world for value-added measures.”

The key, he said, is for policymakers to “look under the hood,” and not just take such measures at face value.

“I think the fact that people are taking this stuff seriously now is focusing people on the right questions,” said Vanderbilt’s Mr. Ballou.

While value-added models may eventually run up against insurmountable limitations, they’re not there yet.

“All the other methods are also flawed,” Mr. Ballou noted, “so if you’re not going to use this one, what’s the alternative?”


Tests of Youngest English-Learners Spark Controversy
By Mary Ann Zehr, Education Week, 11/17/04

At a time when many states are poised to roll out new standardized tests to evaluate English-language proficiency in unprecedented depth,
California is balking at carrying out a federal requirement to test the literacy of young children who are learning English.

In a unanimous vote last week, the
California board of education decided to ask the U.S. Department of Education to exempt the state’s English-language learners in kindergarten and 1st grade from being tested in reading and writing, as required under the No Child Left Behind Act.

California officials argue that their schools’ current practice of testing such children only in listening and speaking should be sufficient. Schools in the state enroll about 30 percent of the nation’s 5.5 million English-language learners.

“You can imagine the amount of time it would take to give the assessment,” said Deb Sigman, the state testing director for the California Department of Education. “We think it’s in the best interest of students that that time be focused on instruction of those preliteracy skills.”

Meanwhile, many other states are gearing up for new exams to assess English-language learners of all ages—including kindergartners and 1st graders—in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. For the youngest of them, some test developers have designed assessments that must be given one-on-one and could take up to an hour and a half for a single child, though they aren’t expected to be given in one sitting.

The tests for young children, planned to start next spring or next school year in many places, measure such factors as whether a child knows that English is read from left to right and can recognize letters of the alphabet or single words, rather than whether the child can actually read or write, test developers say.

The No Child Left Behind Act requires states to include English-language learners in the statewide assessments given to all students in grades 3-8 and high school. But in addition, states must test English-language learners in grades K-12 each year on their English proficiency.

Extra Burden?

California, officials do not want to alter the California English Language Development Test to include reading and writing sections for kindergartners and 1st graders, Ms. Sigman said. The sections, she said, would need to be individually administered.

Ms. Sigman said the federal requirement for English-proficiency testing puts an extra burden on young English-language learners that their native-English-speaking classmates don’t have to deal with. She pointed out that the No Child Left Behind Act does not require standardized testing of native English-speakers until the 3rd grade.
California starts all children with such testing in 2nd grade.

Kathleen Leos, the associate deputy undersecretary in the office of English-language acquisition in the U.S. Department of Education, declined to comment last week on
California’s request for a waiver from the testing requirement for young English-language learners. She said the department hadn’t yet formally received it.

But Ms. Leos reiterated the importance of the requirements. “I’m assuming classrooms will be doing an ongoing assessment [of English-language learners], so you know where your students are and what your students understand over a period of time,” she said.

The discussion on the national level about the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act for English-language learners has focused on Title I, the section of the law governing aid for disadvantaged children.

Under Title I, English-language learners must take standardized state mathematics tests in the first round given after they enter
U.S. schools. They have to take state reading tests in the first administration given after they’ve been in U.S. schools for a year.

Previously, many states didn’t include English-language learners in statewide assessments until they had attended
U.S. schools for three years.

‘Low Ceilings’

Under the No Child Left Behind law, schools must break out the test scores for English-language learners. That provision has garnered lots of attention, given educators’ concerns that schools can be penalized if such students—like other subgroups, such as pupils with disabilities—don’t meet the “adequate yearly progress” goals set by their states under the federal law.

But behind the scenes, educators who work directly with English-language learners have been equally worried about complying with the law’s requirements for testing such students for English-language proficiency.

In the past, federal law required schools to test the language proficiency of all English-language learners, but it didn’t specify how to do that.

The NCLB law, a 3-year-old overhaul of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, spells out for the first time that schools must test them annually in oral language and reading, as well as writing. The law says the English-proficiency tests were supposed to be in place by the 2002-03 school year, but in many states that didn’t happen.

The act also says states must report English-proficiency scores to the federal government. And it says states must establish standards for raising the proficiency of English-language learners and align those standards with state academic-content standards.

Testing experts say most of the English-proficiency tests used to date won’t cut it anymore.

“The old tests weren’t anchored in standards,” said Margo Gottlieb, the developer for a consortium of nine states and the
District of Columbia led by the Wisconsin education department that has created an English-proficiency test. “They had very low ceilings that weren’t rigorous. We had no idea if a child shown to be proficient in English would succeed in math or science.”

California, up until now, states have tended to test young English-language learners only in listening and speaking, though they did test older children in English literacy.

One at a Time

Test developers are now taking pains to produce English-proficiency tests that will measure the skills of young children in four domains of English. Representatives of four consortia of states developing tests said that in kindergarten, at least, the tests will be administered one-on-one.

The consortium that Ms. Gottlieb is working with has devised a separate version of its test just for kindergartners that will be given individually. The test is expected to take about an hour if the child knows enough English to stay with it until the end.

Four of the states in the consortium—
Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont—expect to roll out that test in grades K-12 next spring.

The Mountain West Assessment Consortium, a group of 11 states, has produced a version of its English-proficiency test for kindergartners and early 1st graders that will also be administered individually. That test is estimated to take about an hour and a half.

Two consortia of states have designed versions of their English-proficiency tests for youngsters in kindergarten through 2nd grade. They are a 14-state consortium led by the Washington-based Council of Chief State School Officers and a five-state consortium managed by AccountabilityWorks, a nonprofit organization based in

The CCSSO consortium’s English-proficiency test for grades 3-12 will be ready in the spring, but the K-2 part of the test won’t be out until next school year.

AccountabilityWorks plans to have its test, which is being developed by the
Princeton, N.J.-based Educational Testing Service, ready for all grades in the spring.

One commercial test developer, Ballard & Tighe, has gone beyond the requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act to include prekindergarten in its new English-proficiency test.

“What we see is that state and federal funding is being given to pre-K programs as well,” said Sari Luoma, the director of assessment for the Brea, Calif.-based Ballard & Tighe. “The need for assessment at the pre-K level will rise.”


Post-Election Outlook for State Aid to Schools Uncertain
By Joetta L. Sack,
Washington, Education Week, 11/17/04

States will continue to see fiscal challenges in the coming years, a prospect that does not bode well for increasing their K-12 budgets, analysts from the National Conference of State Legislatures said at a post-election meeting here.

Along with Medicaid and other health-care expenses, precollegiate education is commanding a larger share of state budgets, the analysts said, squeezing out other programs in a time of revenue shortfalls and aversion to higher taxes.

Moreover, the federal government’s huge budget deficit and other pressing priorities—including the
Iraq war, homeland security, tax changes, and Social Security—could take a big bite out of federal funds available to states, experts at the Nov. 5 gathering said.

 “We clearly are very concerned about what all this means for state budgets,” said state Delegate John A. Hurson, a Democrat in
Maryland’s lower house who is this year’s president of the NCSL.

The Denver-based NCSL brought its analysts here three days after the general elections to help dissect how the results might affect state policy—and to make the case that the outcomes of state-level campaigns should be looked at in addition to those for federal offices.

“All the oxygen gets sucked up by the race for the White House, but we happen to think that [states] is where the work is really being done,” said NCSL senior fellow Tim Storey.

Calling state legislative races the “hidden election,” Mr. Storey said some noteworthy trends emerged from the results. Among them were the dominance of Republicans in the South, and the strong showing in some places by Democrats, who picked up significant numbers of legislative seats in
Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, and Vermont.

Close Party Splits

But the results did little to ease the close divisions between the two parties in many states.

“While the Democrats did manage to do OK at the state level, we are now in the position of a country that is very, very evenly divided,” Mr. Hurson said.

Given that reality, analysts said that legislators in many states will have to find ways to work together on big-ticket items such as the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which was identified by the experts here as one of the top issues for state lawmakers in the upcoming legislative sessions.

An NCSL task force has been meeting monthly since April of this year to discuss potential changes to the No Child Left Behind law. The panel’s recommendations, which are expected to center on the costs of implementing the law and the viability of states’ testing systems, are due to be released in late January.

Corinna Eckl, the NCSL’s fiscal-affairs director, said the preliminary data from states’ fiscal 2005 budgets show that revenues are at about the same levels they were in fiscal 2002, before states began to see massive budget shortfalls from the recession.

“I don’t think revenues will have the ability to return to the robust levels of the 1990s,” Ms. Eckl said. Further, she added, “we are in a more conservative fiscal climate.”

That conservative climate extended to ballot initiatives related to school finance that were put before voters around the country on Nov. 2. In general, voters were receptive to measures that increased education funding—if the proposals did not translate into higher taxes, said Jennie Bowser, an NCSL program principal. ("Voters Largely Reject Funding, Policy Shifts,"
Nov. 10, 2004.)

While the tax-limitation movement may be starting to sputter, she said, the idea of tax increases for education is still not drawing many votes.

But states will be under a lot of pressure to restore money cut in the budgets for higher education in the last two years, as most residents see college as a means of improving their states’ economies, Ms. Eckl said.

The cuts to higher education have shifted more costs, including large tuition and fee increases, onto students and their parents, she said.

“There’s going to be additional pressure on lawmakers to relieve these pressures and give students greater access and more affordability,” Ms. Eckl said.


Dual-language school lauded as national model
By Sanjay Bhatt, Seattle Times staff reporter, 11/16/04
When Principal Karen Kodama enters a kindergarten classroom in
Seattle's John Stanford International School, the students pause from learning numerals, greet her in Japanese and enthusiastically bow to her as a "sensei," or teacher.
And on Friday, the school's newest kids on the block — Bantu refugees from
Somalia — joyfully sang a poem in their native Maay tongue. They weren't in harmony, but they were a hit.

The Latona neighborhood school, now in its fifth year, requires students to learn math and science in Spanish or Japanese as well as study reading, writing and social studies in English — an approach called "dual-language immersion."

Today the public school is being recognized by the nonprofit Asia Society and the Goldman Sachs Foundation in a national report, "Schools for the Global Age: Promising Practices in International Education." The two groups hope to inspire others to replicate the school's model.

"The Stanford school is probably the most outstanding elementary school we've looked at," said Michael Levine, director of education at the New York-based Asia Society, which promotes awareness of Asian cultures. "It serves as a model for how foreign-language studies should be taught in

Less than three months before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a commission brought together by the Asia Society warned that most Americans, especially young people, lacked basic knowledge about Asia, even though it comprised 60 percent of the world's population.

The commission found that more than 80 percent of American adults and students could not identify
India as the world's largest democracy.

One-quarter of college-bound high-school students could not name the
Pacific Ocean as the body of water separating Asia from North America.

And among K-12 students who are studying a foreign language, fewer than 2 percent study an Asian language, the commission found.

Striving to be bilingual, says John Stanford's Kodama, is "really an appreciation of other cultures. That in and of itself is important, as well as having a global perspective of the world."

Applying knowledge of other cultures to solving international problems — such as terrorism, poverty and environmental destruction — is a critical skill for the 21st century, according to the Asia Society and the foundation.

"This is so clear after 9/11," said Michele Anciaux Aoki, director of educational programs at the World Affairs Council in
Seattle. After the attacks, federal investigators made public appeals for Arabic translators. "We are not building the capacity we need in this country to communicate with the rest of the world on their terms."

Moreover, one in six
U.S. jobs is tied to international trade, the report states. Asia overtook Europe as the United States' leading trade partner in 1979. The whooshing sound of high-tech or food-processing jobs moving to Asia or South America has been particularly acute in Washington state.

Aoki, a leader in a coalition called International Education Washington, says the state should require high-school students to take foreign languages to graduate. Generally, only students who plan to attend four-year colleges and universities need to have taken at least two years in one foreign language.

Nationwide, some 304 dual-language immersion programs exist in 26 states, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Applied Linguistics. Their numbers grew sharply starting in the early 1990s, but nearly all of them offer only English-Spanish programs.

A recent survey by the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction found very few schools offering language instruction in Arabic, Chinese, Russian or Japanese.

Those that want to offer dual-immersion programs often can't raise enough money to put a bilingual instructional assistant in every classroom, as Stanford International does.

And raising money has been part of Stanford International's success. An annual breakfast at the W Hotel has raised $60,000, which the elementary school splits with
Hamilton International Middle School.

The Goldman Sachs Foundation awarded the school $25,000 last year, while several foundations gave $150,000 in grants, including money to support international artists-in-residence. And the school's parents raised about $70,000.

Kodama has a grants committee of parents and staff members who raise money so the school can conduct videoconferences with children in other nations. Last month, the school mailed videotapes to a "sister school" in
Japan, with students introducing themselves in Japanese and showing off watercolor self-portraits and Japanese calligraphy.

Despite the buzz the school has generated, Kodama said her staff is still learning by trial and error. Last year was the first time the school's fourth-graders took state tests. Native Spanish speakers did poorly on the math test, which prompted teachers to start giving them math homework in Spanish and English.

"We're not there yet," Kodama said, but "we're willing to share what we've learned with others so they don't have to reinvent the wheel."


Conferees Pass Compromise for 6.5 Million Special Education Pupils
New York Times, 11/18/04

WASHINGTON, - A House-Senate conference committee gave near unanimous approval to major changes in the law that governs special education for 6.5 million disabled students, charting new ways for schools to identify children for extra help more swiftly, reduce legal challenges by dissatisfied parents and make it easier for schools to remove disruptive students whose misbehavior is not caused by their disability.

The bill, widely expected to have votes by the full House and Senate on Friday, stopped short of more sweeping changes proposed last year in a House bill.

That version, which school administrators and state officials supported, drew bitter opposition from the parents of disabled children and their advocates.

It would have let governors limit states' reimbursements to lawyers who won suits on behalf of disabled children and would have let schools remove disabled children who violated codes of conduct, whether or not their misbehavior was related to medical conditions.

Instead, after weeks of House-Senate talks, a more moderate approach that passed the Senate with a bipartisan majority in May prevailed in most areas.

"A nation, at its best, is evaluated by how it cares for its children," Senator Edward M. Kennedy of
Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said. "This is really about hope for children that, too often, don't have it."

Senator Judd Gregg, the New Hampshire Republican who is the departing chairman of the committee, said the bill met "four basic goals: make sure students are learning, free teachers from burdensome bureaucratic requirements, help parents and schools work together better and create the safest classroom environment possible for all students."

The bill would broaden the ways for schools to identify special education pupils, allowing schools to reach children in earlier grades and, the lawmakers said, reduce the relatively high share of minority children who are tracked toward special education.

It would also give districts the flexibility to spend up to 15 percent of federal special education money on services to children who are not in special education, but who may need extra help to succeed in regular classrooms.

Regarding the contentious issue of classroom discipline, the compromise bill maintains federal protections that require schools to show that a disabled child's misbehavior is not a result of a disability or of the school's failure to provide services that could have prevented the outburst. But if a review determines that the misconduct is unrelated to the disability, the school could expel the pupil.

Diane Smith, senior disability legal specialist at the National Association of Protection and Advocacy Systems, said her organization was more relieved than pleased by the compromise bill.

"Obviously, it's a vast improvement over the House version," Ms. Smith said. "It's not an improvement over current law. But it's the best we're going to get."

Advocates and parents of disabled children, who packed the hearing room on Wednesday, complained that they were unsure of exactly what was agreed to, because summaries of the major points were distributed only to the news media and not the public. The precise language of the compromise accord was not released at the hearing.

"You can't get a copy," said Marilyn Arons, founder of the Parent Information Center of New Jersey, who had traveled here for the committee vote.

Ms. Arons said her group had hoped to see the law explicitly permit parents to represent their children at legal proceedings, a point that, as far as she could tell, the bill did not ultimately address.

She said, "We are sitting here absolutely appalled and devastated."


Burnley wants to lean on state
Detroit schools CEO's plan to get out of bankruptcy centers on borrowing $200 million.
By Christine MacDonald,
Detroit News, 11/18/04

Detroit Public Schools CEO Kenneth Burnley released more details Wednesday on his plan to lift the district out of bankruptcy, which hinges on the state letting it borrow about $200 million this year to cover its deficit.

Burnley said borrowing buys time by eliminating this year's problem and prevents more severe cuts.

If the Legislature doesn't give him the OK to borrow the cash, it would mean the worst-case scenario of running another year in deficit along with 4,700 job cuts and up to 40 school closures this summer, he said.

"That would cause a huge community upheaval, more than we can bear,"
Burnley said. "You don't want to go so far as to jeopardize what we do."

Those cuts would likely send more of the district's 140,700 students fleeing to nearby districts and charters and exacerbate the district's financial situation, he said. School financing in
Michigan is based on the number of students, so when a child leaves, so does his or her funding at about $7,100 per student in Detroit.

If DPS is allowed to borrow, the district would pay an estimated $20 million a year over the next 15 years to pay off the loan -- at an estimated interest of $100 million.

Burnley said the district would only need about 2,000 job cuts.

If the district can't borrow the money, it wouldn't resort to major layoffs until this summer in hopes of having more staffers take advantage of early retirement offers, which would avoid more expensive unemployment costs for the district, said Bob Moore, the district's deputy CEO.

Others question if borrowing is the right solution and argue that deep cuts need to be made for the district's long-term health.

"Bonding is just a stopgap that leads to further deficit," said Dan DeGrow, superintendent of the St. Clair Intermediate School District, who while in the Legislature helped lead the 1999 takeover of the district.

Controversy continued Wednesday over the district's financial woes, with the board meeting cancelled for security reasons, officials said. Dozens of protesters rallied at
Martin Luther King Jr. High School, calling for Burnley's resignation.

Burnley announced Monday that Detroit's finances were worse than originally projected. The district ended last fiscal year in June $48 million in the red despite nearly depleting its rainy-day fund. And this year, $150 million needs to be trimmed. Together, that $198 million is 13 percent of the district's $1.5 billion budget.

The district has already cut about $76 million in part through 2,100 layoffs and five building closures.

Administrators must present a plan to the Department of Education in 90 days that outlines how they will balance the budget over the next two years. The state can withhold state funds or appoint a receiver if no plan is presented and the district doesn't follow through.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm is open to reasonable plans to help
Detroit, said her spokesperson. But the Senate Majority Leader Ken Sikkema, R-Wyoming, has said through his staff that he is skeptical of bonding as a solution.

The reasons for the budget problems include an increase in health care and retirement costs and three years of frozen or reduced state funding, officials said.

The district also underestimated how many students it would lose this year by about 3,800 students. It lost 9,300, which cost $66 million.

Some, including union officials, criticize
Burnley for not acting sooner to make cuts.

For example, in June he said they could lay off up to 3,200 employees, but only let go 2,100.

"That is what we felt we could do; now we are going to have to do much more," he said.

Others are blaming the 1999 state takeover when the district had surplus funds. In June 2001, the district had a $90 million rainy-day fund.

"You had a surplus and the district was supposed to be in such worse shape," said the Rev. Joseph Jordan, president of the Council of Baptist Pastors of Detroit. "It is worse (now)."

But DeGrow disagreed, saying that districts across the state and nation are facing similar problems. If there is any state blame, it should be that
Michigan has had stagnant school funding over the past three years.

Some say the severity of
Detroit's deficit is the largest they've seen nationally this year.

"Detroit Public Schools seems to have the most dire situation," said Henry Duvall, spokesman for the Council of Great City Schools in
Washington D.C.

But financial woes and student loss are not new for the district.

From 1974 to 1975, the district lost nearly 7,700 students, bringing the student count to 247,600.

And John Porter, a former
Eastern Michigan University president, became Detroit's superintendent under similar circumstances in 1989, with a $160 million deficit. He closed 19 schools and a group of businesses paid his salary in order the save the district money.

Porter said the problem is not insurmountable if the community narrows the focus on three or four areas that can be improved.

"This is not Ken Burnley's problem, this is our problem," he said. "We can't as a state let 140,000 students ... be denied a quality education."


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