The Education Innovator #18
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The Education Innovator
 June 30, 2003 • Number 18
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  Past issues
What's inside...
Galileo Magnet School
What's New
Secretary Rod Paige testified on the school choice plan for the District of Columbia; OII on "Innovation;" latest reading report of the National Assessment of Education Progress released; and speech on school choice and other themes of No Child Left Behind posted.
Innovations in the News
A "Parents Academy" was launched in Delaware by Appoquinimink School District; plus information on parental involvement, charter schools, school choice, and virtual schools.

New Galileo Magnet School Established to Meet the Needs of a Changing Community
What do you do when the community you live in makes a major economic shift? In Danville, Virginia, community leaders and educators realized that as the textile and tobacco industries were waning, the environmental, medical, and aerospace technology industries had taken off, and the schools needed to respond. NASA-Langley Research Center, Virginia Tech, Danville Community College, Averett University, the Danville City Council, the School Board and a large number of business leaders all came together to develop the Galileo Magnet School as part of an overall revamping of the K-18 school program.

In formulating the idea for the Galileo Magnet School, Virginia Tech, NASA and the Danville Public School System worked together to study what educational programs would meet the short and long-term education and economic improvement needs of the community. At the conclusion of the study, the local stakeholders decided to develop a new high school that takes advantage of advances in technology and provides a more rigorous academic program for Danville students.

Three program strands were developed for students to explore. These strands were developed as part of the International Baccalaureate Program, which would enable all students to achieve higher levels of academic excellence. The three strands are:

  • Advanced Communications—featuring both wire and wireless communications. State-of- the-art laboratories containing a wide variety of computer driven technologies and virtual reality environments are the heart of the school. Students work alongside Virginia Tech technicians at the Multimedia Services Access Point, which is a hub for high-speed data transmission throughout Southside Virginia and North Carolina.
  • Air and Space—including laboratory investigations into aircraft and spacecraft design, construction and flight. Students participate in research, experimentation, model building and testing. Danville Regional Airport is an adjunct campus of the high school as students are involved in all areas of avionics. In some classes, students construct individual aircraft for their final exam.
  • Biotechnology—featuring techniques of molecular biology applied to real world problems in areas of human health, agricultural productivity, and environmental quality. University students and instructors are partnered with high school students through a mentorship. Students are able to track pharmaceutical development and production and gene therapy. Biotechnology and computerized analysis in genetic code breaking and code making will be the unique information science employed in this programmatic strand.
In addition to these three major academic strands, students examine other subjects such as fine arts, foreign language, social studies and mathematics. Also, the school sponsors extra curricular activities that relate to the three strands. For example, the school sponsors a Robotics Club, where students create a functioning robot in six weeks, and a robotics competition to demonstrate solutions to an engineering challenge. Also, the school sponsors a club called "Paw Pals" which is part of "Roots & Shoots," a national organization that focuses on helping the environment, wildlife and community through hand-on projects.

The Galileo Magnet School is funded through a Magnet School Assistance Grant administered by the Office of Innovation and Improvement. To find out more about the Galileo Magnet School, please visit: For more information about the Magnet Schools Assistance Program, go to:


What's New
From the U.S. Department of Education

Secretary Rod Paige testified on the school choice plan for the District of Columbia that was introduced by Representatives Tom Davis and John Boehner on June 23rd. For a press release on this statement, please see (June 24)

From OII

OII has released a document on what we mean by "innovation." This statement can be read at (June 23)

Deputy Under Secretary Nina S. Rees's speech on school choice and other themes of No Child Left Behind, which was given at a Center for Education Reform luncheon in Los Angeles on April 29, has been posted on the OII website at (April 29)


The latest reading report of the National Assessment of Education Progress shows that "students at all three grades [tested] who attended nonpublic schools had higher average reading scores in 2002 than students attending public schools." For more information about the NAEP reading report card, see (June 19)

Funding Opportunities

The Advanced Placement Incentives grant competition closes this week. The applications for this program are due July 3, 2003. Incentive program grants are awarded to State educational agencies, local educational agencies, including charter schools that are LEAs, or national nonprofit educational entities to expand access to rigorous coursework for low-income students in grades 6-12. Funding will be used to prepare these students for success in Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs. For information on how to apply, go to

The Teaching American History grant competition closes soon, as well. The deadline is July 7, 2003. The competition is open to local education agencies (LEAs), including charter schools that are LEAs, in partnership with nonprofit history or humanities organizations. For information about how to apply, go to For a webcast with information about preparing the grant application package, go to

The grant competitions for Models in Arts Education and Professional Development for Arts Education are still open. The deadline for both competitions is July 10, 2003. Grants will be awarded to local education agencies, including charter schools that are LEAs, that collaborate with at least one of the following: an institution of higher education; a state education agency; or a public or private nonprofit agency with a history of providing high quality professional development to public schools. For more information about these competitions, see and

The grant competition for Parental Information and Resource Centers remains open. Applications for this program are due July 18, 2003. The competition is open to nonprofit agencies, including faith-based and community organizations, or consortia of nonprofit agencies and school districts (though not school districts alone). These centers will, among other things, inform the parents of children who attend schools needing improvement about their options. For more information, see


Innovations in the News

Parental Involvement
A "Parents Academy" was launched in Delaware by Appoquinimink School District. The Parents Academy not only aims to help parents through tough challenges in a child's school life, but also to help parents meet one another and get to know more faculty members. [More-The Delaware News Journal] (June 17)

Founded in September, members of a group called DADS (Dads Are Doing Something) are volunteering in the Pasadena Unified School District, and their list of contributions is lengthy. [More-The Pasadena Star News] (June 14)

Charter Schools
A study by Stanford University's Hoover Institution found that elementary and high school students enrolled in charter schools made larger gains on standardized tests between 1999 and 2001 than students in traditional public schools. [More-Los Angeles Times] (June 18)

Kamehameha Schools' Ho'olako Like program recently awarded nearly $665,000 in financial support to eight public charter schools. Ho'olako Like offers startup charter schools a chance to collaborate with Kamehameha Schools for financial, technical and resource support. [More-The Honolulu Advertiser] (June 19)

Virtual Schools
The United Nations opened the virtual doors of a new online, global university. Secretary General Kofi Annan has high hopes that this breakthrough project will bring students from developing countries into the age of information and communications technology. [More-The Global and Mail] (June 18)

Virtual education is coming to Iowa schools. The Iowa Virtual School Program is for kindergartners through seventh graders. The program, based in the Pocahontas School District in Northern Iowa, will start in September. [More-The Iowa] (June 16)

Lawmakers in Arizona expanded a technology-learning program to allow 10 new virtual schools for kindergartners through high school seniors. Under a new law, there is no limit on enrollment and no school district boundaries. [More-The Arizona Daily Sun] (June 9)


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Last Modified: 04/26/2011