Advice for Parents
Quote to Note
NCLB Update (http://www.nochildleftbehind.gov/)
"A Guide to Education and No Child Left Behind," a new 31-page resource published by the Department, includes sections on education and the economy, national expenditures and achievement, and the history and components of the No Child Left Behind Act. Interspersed are key statistics on alternative education systems, the school community, graduation trends, etc. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/nclb/overview/intro/guide/.
Last week, the Department announced $5.2 million in grants to two groups to develop urban reading centers and inform parents about their many options under the No Child Left Behind Act. The National Urban League will use its $2.7 million grant to add eight Reading Information Centers to an existing project; enhance its after-school programs in four communities; and engage parents, caregivers, and communities in a "conversation" around the opportunities available to them under No Child Left Behind. The Black Alliance for Educational Options will use its $2.5 million grant to further the activities of Project Clarion, which is a communications and outreach effort designed to educate parents about No Child Left Behind, public school choice, tutoring, and charter schools; to motivate them to exercise their rights; and to connect parents to educational options in their communities. Both grants are from the Fund for the Improvement of Education. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2004/10/10262004.html and http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2004/10/10262004a.html.
Along the same lines, Secretary Paige and Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson recently participated in a six-day, six-city tour of America aimed at educating parents in urban communities about the benefits of the No Child Left Behind Act. "The two of us set out on this tour because we share a moral obligation to help parents whose lives and backgrounds are similar to our own," the Cabinet officials wrote in a letter that appeared in the Washington Times, "and because it is our duty to get the word out so people can truly benefit from this law." For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/opeds/edit/2004/10202004.html.
The final "Education News Parents Can Use" broadcast (November 16, 8:00-9:00 ET) of 2004 will focus on dropout prevention and recovery. Although dropping out is a problem across the board, many disadvantaged communities -- African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, low-income students, and students with disabilities -- are at greatest risk of not completing high school. At the same time, a variety of factors may influence students to dropout -- among them academic problems; a death, divorce, or other significant transition in the family; and language barriers and cultural assimilation difficulties. In fact, studies show that academically gifted students can be at risk. The good news is that there are prevention and recovery measures being used across the U.S. that are helping to catch these students before it is too late. Research shows that early identification, strong family involvement, clear instructional objectives, and the monitoring of student progress can be effective in dropout prevention. Additionally, recovery efforts can help reconnect dropouts to a high school program that will better ensure completion. For more information, please go to http://www.ed.gov/news/av/video/edtv/. (You can watch live and archived webcasts at http://www.connectlive.com/events/ednews/.)
Three worthwhile recognition periods are scheduled for the next two weeks:
National Veterans Awareness Week (November 7-13) encourages schools to invite veterans into their classrooms in the days leading up to and following Veterans Day (November 11). Veterans are asked to share their experiences and teach students lessons about the history and significance of Veterans Day, helping students reflect upon the importance of the ideals of liberty, democracy, and freedom. For more information, please go to http://www.va.gov/vetsday/.
International Education Week (November 15-19) recognizes the importance of educating students about people and nations throughout the world in preparing students to live in a diverse and tolerant society and succeed in a global economy. This year marks the fifth annual commemoration of the week, jointly sponsored by the Departments of Education and State. For more information, please go to http://exchanges.state.gov/iew/. (Secretary Paige's statement is available at http://exchanges.state.gov/iew/statements/paige.htm.)
American Education Week (November 14-20), co-sponsored by the Department and 12 other organizations, celebrates teachers and school staff. The 2004 theme, "Celebrating the American Dream," is intended to remind citizens that teaching and learning is a team effort, at home and in the classroom. As part of the week, support staff (bus drivers, cafeteria workers, janitors, teachers' aides) will be honored on Wednesday and substitute teachers will be honored on Friday. For more information, please go to http://www.nea.org/aew/.
Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Director Grover "Russ" Whitehurst has named Barbara Foorman the Department's first Commissioner for Education Research. Foorman is professor of Pediatrics and Director of the Center for Academic and Reading Skills at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. She has published extensively in the areas of language development, phonemic awareness, reading, spelling, and vocabulary and is the principal investigator on federal grants in early reading interventions, early reading assessment, and bilingual/bi-literacy. She also chaired Houston Independent School District's Committee on a Balanced Approach to Reading and worked to revise and validate the Texas Primary Reading Inventory, now used in 95 percent of the school districts in Texas and in several other states. During her one-year appointment, Foorman will work with Whitehurst and a new advisory board to fund research activities to develop scientifically proven educational practices. For more information, please go to http://cars.uth.tmc.edu/staff/foorman.shtml.
While the majority of the attention during Tuesday's general election was reserved for the presidential race, voters in 15 states decided education-related ballot issues. Consider:
- Voters in Nevada approved Question 1, requiring that education funding be passed before any other budget item, but rejected Question 2, which would have required the state to fund education at the national average by 2012.
- Oklahomans agreed to create a state lottery, with proceeds used to fund education, leaving just nine states that do not use this form of gambling to raise revenue.
- For the third time in eight years, Washington voters rejected an effort to allow charter schools in the state. They also rejected a proposal that would have funneled $1 billion into all levels of education by adding one penny to the state sales tax, making it the highest in the nation.
Meanwhile, Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, and Washington reelected their incumbent Chief State School Officer, and North Carolina -- an open seat -- chose a new chief. For more information, please go to http://www.ecs.org/politics.
Advice for Parents
KSA-Plus Communications and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation's ENLACE initiative have teamed up to present four new resources, collectively known as "Learning 360," with advice on what parents can do "at home and at school" to help their children become successful learners. The new resources (in English and Spanish) include a parent primer on education in the U.S. (designed primarily for immigrant families) and tip sheets on reading, supplemental educational services, and testing. For more information, please go to http://www.parents.ksaplus.com/plpubs.html#learn360.
Quote to Note
"Education is a gift of men and women doing their best to pass along the wisdom and civilization of our intellectual heritage. It is not a perfect enterprise. Education is a very human activity, often fraught with mistakes, falsehoods, or ignorance. And it has very human lessons to teach us, such as the importance of each person, the need for forgiveness and compassion, the powerful calling of service and altruism, and the desperate demand for wisdom and good judgment."
Secretary of Education Rod Paige (10/28/04)
On December 2 and 3, the Department will host the second annual National High School Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. This year's summit will serve as the "next step" for coordinating and strengthening the high school improvement efforts that are encouraged by the No Child Left Behind Act and enacted by leaders across the country. There is no fee for the summit. For more information, please go to http://www.dtiassociates.com/highschool/. (Note: The same web site has a webcast of the first summit, held October 8, 2003. It will be available through January 19, 2005.)
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