| In Short
July 26: Tests Cut
To save some $6 million, students will no longer take state tests in social
studies or writing beginning in 2005, state education officials announce. Because
the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires testing only in reading, mathematics
and science, legislators elected to stop the tests to help pay for the $154-per-pupil
increase in state funding for local school districts. But some education experts
express concern that cutting the tests will result in fewer resources and less
classroom time being spent on the subjects.
Aug. 2: Crackdown
Citing poor academic performance at their schools, the School Board fires principals
at Cregier Multiplex, Fenger High and Bouchet Elementary. Several others reportedly
agree to quit, but the board does not name them. Some 20 principals are given
new plans for improving their schools. The leader of the local principals group
says principals are being scapegoated and criticizes the board for failing to
inform local school councils. A CPS spokesman says the actions were an employee
Aug. 10: More taxes
In response to a less-than-expected increase in state per-pupil funding that
left the district with a $45 million deficit, Schools CEO Arne Duncan announces
a 2.4 percent increase in school property taxes. The increase will raise $40
million, but more cuts will have to be made throughout the year to make up the
remaining $5 million. The districts total budget reaches $5 billion and targets
more money toward early childhood, reading and dropout prevention. Critics later
question whether the budget is as lean as CPS claims.
Miami: School shakeup
Supt. Rudy Crew plans an overhaul of 39 failing schools, according to the Aug.
17 Miami Herald. The plan includes 10 more days in the academic calendar, an
extra hour in the school day, smaller classes and more training for teachers.
Crew will have to negotiate with labor unions to implement the plan, but if
the unions resist, Crew could take advantage of state Board of Education rules
that allow districts to suspend union contracts in order to improve poorly performing
schools. The director of United Teachers of Dade County says teachers who want
to leave the 39 schools should be allowed to do so.
California: Funding lawsuit
The state has agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit
charging that poor children were denied adequate textbooks, trained teachers
and a safe school environment, according to the Aug. 11 Los Angeles Times. The
proposed settlement, which is subject to approval by a judge, would require
the state to spend $1 billion to improve 2,400 low-performing, deteriorating
schools. The state will also pay nearly $139 million for new textbooks this
Kentucky: GED program
A GED program for struggling students could result in schools dumping low-achieving
students who might drag down test scores, according to the Aug. 12 Lexington
Herald-Leader. Aimed at students who are still in school, the program requires
that students take state tests and have their scores included in their school
scores. But critics argue that requirement can be sidestepped because a student
could complete the GED program, then be pushed to drop out before the end-of-year
state tests are given.
I don’t want competition, selective enrollment, a neighborhood
lottery. Education should not be a game where I cross my fingers.”
Fuller Elementary LSC member Brenda Perry at an Aug. 24 press
conference where activists spoke against Renaissance 2010, which favors charter
and contract schools.
More students enter high school having already earned high school
credits, and find that there are no suitable courses available for them senior
year. How can we provide advanced courses to students who are too few in number
to make up a full class?
Norman Gelfand, LSC Chair, Von Steuben High School
Illinois Virtual High Schools (www.ivhs.org)
offers a full high school curriculum including Advanced Placement classes, says
Edward Klunk of the Office of High School programs. Participating schools have
a student mentor to oversee the program.
CPS also pays for qualified high school juniors and seniors to enroll in a course
at any of 12 local colleges. For more information on the College Bridge Program,
talk to a guidance counselor at your school.
or send it to Ask Catalyst, 332 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 500, Chicago,
Chicago Public Schools will receive an extra $40.4 million
in federal Title I poverty funds this year, bringing in $291 million,
an increase of 17 percent, according to a report from the Washington,
D.C.-based Center on Education Policy. The report explains how the No Child
Left Behind Act sparked changes in Title I funding formula, benefiting high-poverty
districts like Chicago. First, Title I now uses annual, rather than biennial,
Census Bureau updates of the population of low-income children, making the formula
more accurate. Second, the formula is now weighted in favor of children in high-poverty
cities, which means that each such child counts more than a child in a low-poverty
city. 44 percent of districts that receive Title I funds will
get more money, while 56 percent will receive less. To read
the full report, go to http://www.ctredpol.org.