Teacher of the Year
Charter Schools Week
Quotes to Note
NCLB Update (http://www.nochildleftbehind.gov/)
To mitigate the loss of reading skills research shows takes place during the summer, the No Child Left Behind Summer Reading Achievers Program encourages kindergarten through eighth-grade students to read 10 or more age-appropriate books during vacation. In return, students receive certificates and prizes, with special recognition for those schools with the highest percentages of participating students. Last summer, nearly 18,000 of Atlanta Public Schools' 41,000 students took part in the program, and almost 11,000 met the goal of reading at least 10 books. This summer, the Department is expanding to 10 cities and one state, selected on the basis of strong business involvement in education, as well as supportive community groups and active district leadership. The pilot sites are Springfield, MA; Portsmouth, NH; Pittsburgh; Camden, NJ; Atlanta; Alachua County (Gainesville), FL; Kansas City, KS; Minneapolis; Albuquerque; San Diego; and South Dakota. In addition to covering the cost of promotional materials and certificates, the Department will conduct outreach to local, state, and national partners; organize local workshops; and provide support for kickoffs and other media events. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/parents/academic/summer/reading/.
On April 21, Secretary Paige announced a new initiative to engage some of the best teachers and education experts in sharing techniques for raising student achievement with other teachers across the U.S. The four-pronged Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative features teacher roundtables, summer workshops, a Research-to-Practice Summit, and teacher email updates. The initiative also includes a new web site, https://www.teacherquality.us/default.asp, with information about effective practices and efforts at the state and local level. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2004/04/
Findings from a bicoastal public opinion poll conducted by the Mass Insight Education and Research Institute (Boston, MA) and the Partnership for Learning (Seattle, WA) suggest the public wants more math taught in school. Indeed, more than 75 percent of the adults surveyed in the two states believe all students should take algebra and geometry, and one-third think all students should study trigonometry and calculus. Overall, just one in fiveand only two of the 32 executives polledfelt American students do as well at math as other nation's students do. For more information, please go to http://www.massinsight.org/docs/MoreMathPlease.pdf.
Teacher of the Year
During a special Rose Garden ceremony with President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush, Kathy Mellor, an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher at Davisville Middle School in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, was named National Teacher of the Year. The 54th recipient of the nation's top teaching honor, she now begins a full-time, one-year term as spokesperson for education. The National Teacher of the Year program, sponsored jointly by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic, designates an outstanding representative of America's teachers from among the 56 State Teachers of the Year (from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense, and four territoriessee http://www.ccsso.org/
projects/National_Teacher_of_the_Year/State_Teachers/). A panel composed of representatives from 14 leading national education organizations meets in early December to choose four finalists from the nominations received and, following personal interviews with the finalists in late February, chooses one winner. For more information, please go to http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/04/20040421-2.html.
Charter Schools Week
This year marks the fifth anniversary of National Charter Schools Week (May 3-7). As in previous years, activities will take place across the country, with state associations and schools planning events and inviting students, parents, and teachers to share their stories of success. Department officials will be participating in some of these events. For more information, please go to http://www.cslc.us/ncsw/about.asp. (A listing of events, state-by-state, is available at http://www.cslc.us/ncsw/events.asp.)
Time is running out to submit grant applications under several competitive programs. For example, the Improving Literacy Through School Libraries Program seeks to improve the literacy skills and academic achievement of students by providing them with up-to-date library materials, well-equipped school libraries/media centers, and certified library/media specialists. However, only school districts in which at least 20 percent of students served are from families with incomes below the poverty line are currently eligible to apply (http://www.ed.gov/programs/lsl/eligibility.html). Applications are due May 20. The Community Technology Centers Program assists in the creation or expansion of community technology centers that will provide disadvantaged residents of distressed urban and rural communities with access to information technology and related training. Eligible applicants include states, school districts, institutions of higher education, faith-based and community organizations, and other non-profit groups, and up to one-fourth of the available funds will be set aside for "novice" applicants. Applications are due June 1. Meanwhile, applications are being reviewed as they are received under the State- and Local-Flexibility Demonstration Programs. http://www.ed.gov/GrantApps/ lists all the competitions that are currently underway and provides links to electronic application packages, forms, and other key information.
It is no longer lonely at the top. Secretary Paige proudly announced the White House's appointments of Gene Hickok as Deputy Secretary of Education and Edward McPherson as Undersecretary of Education. Hickok (http://www.ed.gov/news/staff/bios/hickok.html) had been serving as both acting Deputy Secretary and Undersecretary, while McPherson (http://www.ed.gov/news/staff/bios/mcpherson.html) joins the agency after serving as Chief Financial Officer at the U.S. Department of Agriculturemore than appropriate for his new role as the Secretary's principal advisor on financial and management issues. Also, the Secretary named Doug Mesecar as Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy, a position that provides strategic guidance and policy recommendations on the implementation of the No Child Left Behind Act. A native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, Mesecar is a former elementary school teacher. Prior to his promotion, he served on the staff of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where he played a role in drafting No Child Left Behind, and was chief of staff in the Department's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
A new report from the Department's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) presents a broad overview of the out-of-school time of kindergarten through eighth-grade children in 2001. Results suggest that children's experiences before and after school were quite varied. Some children were in the care of their parents, but 20 percent had regularly scheduled non-parental arrangements before school and 50 percent had non-parental arrangements after school. Moreover, differences exist across racial/ethnic lines: black children were more likely than white and Hispanic children to be cared for by a relative and to be in self-care before and after school. They were also more likely to participate in center- or school-based programs after school. Intrigued? The report's data includes children's activities within their non-parental arrangements, the location and costs of arrangements, characteristics of relative and non-relative providers, and the number of children and adults present in different arrangement "types." For more information, please go to http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/
Quotes to Note
"To a child, it's a special feeling when a teacher knows your name, asks your opinion, cares what you think, and gives you encouragement. For some students, unfortunately, you might be the only person who does that. Anyone who has visited the classroom can see that teaching demands poise and warmth, and, often times, extraordinary patience, as my fourth-grade teacher had to show."
President George W. Bush (4/21/04)
"John Adams, the first President to live here in the White House, knew that education was vital for the development of our country and the development of our character. He once said, 'There are two educationsone should teach us how to make a living, and the other should teach us how to live.' I know that every one of you [State Teachers of the Year] do both."
First Lady Laura Bush (4/21/04)
The last three regional high school summits are in successive weeks: San Diego (May 7-8), Cleveland (May 14-15), and Boston (May 21-22). For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/
Speak Up Day for Teachers is a unique, online opportunity for teachers to share their views about their personal and professional use of technology and the Internet. The survey, which has already attracted 3,500 teachers, will be open through May 7. For more information, please go to http://www.netday.org/speakup_forteachers.htm.
The Department's next "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast, titled American History, Humanities, and Civics, is scheduled for May 18. For more information, please go to http://registerevent.ed.gov/downlink/
The Secretary is giving the keynote address at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's 2004 Partnerships Conference (May 20-21). The conference will address the content, structure, and effectiveness of business and K-12 education partnerships. For more information, please go to http://www.uschamber.com/ViewEvent.asp?eventID=242.
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