The Education Innovator #37
Volume II
Archived Information

The Education Innovator
 October 4, 2004 • Number 37
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What's inside...
Maryland's "Nonpublic Schools Workgroup"
What's New
Secretary Paige gives back-to-school address, praises teachers, and discusses the role of education and business in the economy; the National Association of State Directors of Special Education publishes Primers on Special Education in Charter Schools; Progressive Policy Institute releases study of charter schools in Indianapolis; Troops-to-Teachers introduces new quarterly newsletter; and Eckerd College posts a new website for military personnel interested in going into teaching.
Innovations in the News
Amistad Academy charter school eighth-graders performed better than the state averages on the 2004 Connecticut mastery achievement tests, plus information on nonpublic education, supplemental educational services/choice, and technology.

Maryland's "Nonpublic Schools Workgroup" Ties the Public and Private Sectors Together To Help All Students
One boy needs extra help in reading; a girl needs assistance in learning the English language; and middle school students are participating in a conflict resolution program. Even though the boy goes to a Jewish Day School, the girl attends her parish Catholic school, and the middle school students are enrolled in an independent school, they all receive the same federally funded services provided to their public school counterparts. In fact, private school teachers can also benefit from federally funded programs to improve their teaching or to integrate technology into their classrooms. In Maryland, the Maryland State Department of Education Nonpublic Schools Workgroup facilitates communication and coordination between the public and nonpublic education sectors.

Under No Child Left Behind (NCLB), the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, local educational agencies are required to provide equitable services to eligible private school children, teachers, and other education personnel. These services must meet the needs of the private school students and teachers, be comparable to those provided to public school children and teachers, and must be provided in a timely way. While students and teachers in private schools, including religious schools, receive federal benefits and services, the private schools themselves do not receive any funding.

For this to happen, however, local educational agencies must engage in timely and meaningful consultation with private school officials regarding the needs of private school students and teachers. The Maryland State Department of Education Nonpublic Schools Workgroup began tackling this challenge as far back as 1998, when Maryland State Superintendent Nancy Grasmick established the group. This workgroup operates independent of the state department of education in order to provide an organized forum for addressing issues of mutual interest to Maryland's public and nonpublic school communities. The workgroup is balanced by design and is currently chaired by Lois Kleinhenn Lanier of Anne Arundel County Public Schools and Mary Ellen Russell of the Maryland Catholic Conference.

The workgroup first concentrated on educating both the public and private school communities about the need for closer collaboration and coordination. When the workgroup was formed, there were two issues to be addressed. First, the nonpublic sector felt that the local public school systems were not being responsive to their needs. Second, some nonpublic schools were reluctant to participate in services managed by the local public school system.

To break down barriers to communication, the workgroup made some specific recommendations out of which came concrete actions. A full-time position was created at the state department of education, and that staff person was dedicated to coordinating the efforts around federally funded services to nonpublic school students across the 24 local Maryland school systems (about a quarter of which are among the largest in the nation). Also, each local school system in the state established one point of contact for services for nonpublic students. In addition, the workgroup and the state coordinator provided technical assistance for implementing the provisions in federal education laws. And, finally, the workgroup disseminated information to the public and nonpublic communities in a timely way.

As a result of the commitment, education outreach, and technical assistance of the workgroup, awareness of the services and benefits available to nonpublic school students and teachers has been raised, and both the public and nonpublic communities have opened up to the shared responsibility for providing needed services to nonpublic school students and teachers.

Now, the workgroup has become institutionalized. It recommends policy and guidance to the State Superintendent of Education. It continues to improve collaboration and communication between local school systems and nonpublic school officials. And, it looks for and creates opportunities for the state department of education to facilitate the flow of communication.

For example, the workgroup is currently developing a toolkit to further improve the consultation process. When released, the toolkit will give promising practices and models, particularly for Title I schools, to assist local school districts in providing services to nonpublic schools.

In addition, the group is creating a web page on the Maryland Department of Education website, to share information about nonpublic participation in education, and an email listserv for members of the group and other interested individuals. Ultimately, the workgroup hopes to be a springboard for creative partnerships between public and nonpublic education officials to help build a stronger educational community across the state, with all students and teachers in mind.

Since the passage of No Child Left Behind, the workgroup has reinforced the requirements for providing services to nonpublic school students and teachers. The group is developing a publication with guidelines for implementing NCLB. In addition, it also holds annual meetings to update public and private schools about NCLB, as well as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, to highlight models of successful public/private collaborative activities in the state.

At the same time that the workgroup is identifying local models, it also attempts to serve as the state model for similar local groups. According to Mary Ellen Russell, "One of the most positive outcomes of the Nonpublic Schools Workgroup is not simply the fact that we've seen a marked increase in the participation of nonpublic students and teachers in programs authorized under NCLB. What's really exciting is the way in which the state workgroup has become a model for establishing similar collaboration at the local level, where public and nonpublic school administrators are best able to develop programs that meet the unique needs of all students in their communities."

The Office of Innovation and Improvement houses the Office of Non-Public Education (ONPE), which provides information and technical assistance to states, local educational agencies, and nonpublic educational entities about the benefits and services available to them under No Child Left Behind. For information about these programs and benefits to private school students and teachers, visit the ONPE website. ONPE has produced a booklet, Benefits to Private School Students and Teachers, which is available free from ED Pubs (order number EU 0086B).

Resources: Note: This feature describes a state-sponsored collaborative workgroup that is dedicated to coordinating services and benefits to nonpublic school students and teachers under NCLB. It is offered as a case study from which other states might learn.


What's New
Secretary Paige's Back-to-School Address
U.S. Secretary of Education Rod Paige gave the back-to-school address at the National Press Club, where he said that in the first year of No Child Left Behind (2002-2003), 112,000 low-income children received supplemental educational services, and 50,000 parents took advantage of school choice when they transferred their children from poorly performing schools to better educational environments. (Sept. 24)

Secretary Paige's Remarks at American Stars of Teaching
Secretary Paige spoke at an American Stars of Teaching Award Ceremony in West Virginia and said that the President and the Congress have provided $16.1 billion since 2001 to support the teaching profession (some of which has been in OII grants for teacher professional development). (Sept. 27)

Secretary Paige's Remarks at NJ Chamber of Commerce
Secretary Paige also discussed education and the role of business with the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce. He said that a thriving economic policy depends on sound education policy. Educators and American business can have a powerful impact on economic improvement through higher educational achievement in a new economy dependent on technology, innovation, information, and technical skills. (Sept. 23)

Primers on Special Education in Charter Schools
The SPEDTACS Project at the National Association of State Directors of Special Education has published a set of Primers on Special Education in Charter Schools. The primers, produced under a grant from OII, are written for authorizers, charter school developers/operators, and state officials. (Sept. 29)

Study on Charter Schools in Indianapolis
The Progressive Policy Institute has released a new study of charter schools in Indianapolis by Bryan C. Hassel. Findings from the study show that the Indianapolis charter schools initiative has involved community leadership, family interest, parent satisfaction, and student learning. (Sept. 21)

Troops-to-Teachers Newsletter: TTT Connections
The Troops-to-Teachers Program has a new quarterly newsletter entitled TTT Connections download files PDF (197K), which is available online. The newsletter contains information on programs in various states and a close-up of an individual program. (Oct. 1)

Alternative Certification: ACT2TEACH Website
A new website,, has been launched with information for military personnel interested in going into teaching. The site, managed by Eckerd College in St. Petersburg (FL), coordinates with Troops-to-Teachers and provides information on alternative teacher certification.


Innovations in the News

Charter Schools
Amistad Academy charter school eighth-graders performed well on the 2004 Connecticut mastery achievement tests: 80 percent achieved mastery in reading, 75 percent in math, and 85 percent in writing, compared to overall state averages of 67, 56, and 62 percent, respectively. [More-Heartland Institute] (Oct. 1)

Students at High Tech High charter school in San Diego test better than their peers in California. In physics, for example, 42 percent reach proficiency versus 17 percent in the state. Everyone at High Tech High graduates, too. [More-Forbes] (Sept. 23) (see also Innovator, March 1, 2004)

Mayor Bart Peterson of Indianapolis has chartered ten schools and plans to open three more in the next two years. He is convinced that providing optimal educational alternatives for young people and families is a matter of necessity. [More-Agape Press] (Sept. 28)

Charter schools in Jackson County (MI) are enjoying larger enrollments this fall. Charter schools have gained popularity and have become more known since they were introduced in Michigan 10 years ago. Most recently, the Michigan Department of Education announced $21 million in federal start-up grants from OII for new charter schools. [More-Jackson Citizen Patriot] (Sept. 25)

A few hundred yards from a broken-down trailer that used to be a school, leaders of Chicago's Perspectives Charter School cut the ribbon on a new $4.9 million building, showing the power of fundraising in the city's charter school movement. [More-Chicago Sun-Times] (Sept. 15)

Nonpublic Education
Enrollment is up at private schools in Johnson County (IN). The growing trend of home-schooling students also is evident. Last year, 557 students in the county were reported as home-schooled to the Indiana Department of Education. [More-Daily Journal] (Sept. 28)

Supplemental Educational Services/Choice
More Colorado students are being tutored or are transferring out of schools in need of improvement. Last school year, three times the number of students transferred than transferred the year before, and 2,061 students were tutored under the supplemental educational services provisions of NCLB, compared to 77 the year before. [More-Rocky Mountain News] (Oct. 4)

For the past two years, New York City schools have been providing supplemental educational services, but they are withdrawing from directly delivering them. The chairwoman of the City Council's Committee on Education said the new plan should help students by enabling them to "shop around" for tutors among the private groups. [More-New York Sun] (Sept. 27)

America Online and Dell are expanding Dell's TechKnow program by providing 5,000 low-income middle school students with free PCs and Internet access after they successfully complete a class that teaches them about the inner workings of a computer. [More-CNET] (Sept. 28)


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Last Modified: 02/04/2008