ARCHIVE FOR MAY 2006
PUBLIC EDUCATION INSTITUTE TO HOST SCHOOL FUNDING FORUM (5/1/2006)
On Tuesday, May 23, the Public Education Institute will host a panel discussion entitled “A Conversation on New Jersey School Funding: Past, Present and Future.” The program will feature lawyers, state officials and school finance experts who have played key roles in shaping school funding policy over the last 30 years, including former Governor Jim Florio; Honorable Gary Stein, former Associate Justice of the New Jersey Supreme Court; Gordon MacInnes, Assistant Commissioner of NJDOE; and Ray Bateman, former Senate president. Professor Henry Coleman of the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy will moderate the discussion. Co-sponsors include Educational Testing Service, the New Jersey School Boards Association, and the Institute on Education Law and Policy. The event will be held at ETS in Princeton, and is free of charge and open to the public, although registration is required. To register, go to http://ntis12.ets.org/onyx/njfunding.htm.
FLORIDA SENATE DEFEATS AMENDMENT AUTHORIZING SCHOOL VOUCHERS (5/3/2006)
This week, the Florida Senate defeated a bill that would have authorized a referendum on a constitutional amendment allowing public funds to be used for private school tuition for students in kindergarten through grade 12. If passed, such an amendment would have effectively rescinded a recent state Supreme Court decision striking down a voucher program (see the Recent Development dated 1/6/2006 on this issue). By defeating this bill, the Florida Senate rejected a key legislative priority of Governor Jeb Bush, and has placed the state’s voucher programs in further jeopardy.
St Petersburg Times: Bush Suffers Voucher Defeat (5/2/2006)
PUBLIC EDUCATION NETWORK RELEASES REPORT ON PUBLICíS VIEW OF NCLB (5/4/2006)
A report on No Child Left Behind released this month by the Public Education Network finds that many people have concerns over the law’s implementation. Open to the Public: The Public Speaks Out on No Child Left Behind, identifies concerns voiced by more than 1500 parents, students, taxpayers, and community leaders at public hearings held between September 2005 and January 2006. The hearings were designed to gain grassroots and civic input on the law from groups often left out of the policy debate but affected by its implementation.
Among the points raised at the hearings were that performance on a single test is not an accurate measure of student achievement, and that labeling schools “in need of improvement” is seen as punitive, thereby eroding financial and educational resources from those schools. Students also spoke of feeling enormous pressure to succeed on NCLB tests from administrators and teachers worried about school performance.
The public hearings were held in Austin, Boston, Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, New York City, Orlando, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco. In addition to the national report, individual state reports are included as well. The hearings represent the second of three sets of national forums to be held by PEN and regional partners to help inform the debate over the law’s reauthorization, scheduled for 2007.
Open to the Public: The Public Speaks Out on No Child Left Behind
MAINE HIGH COURT UPHOLDS TUITION PAYMENT STATUTE (5/10/2006)
In a case that has been watched closely by school choice advocates, the Maine Supreme Judicial Court recently ruled that the state's tuition payment statute, which allows school districts that do not operate public high schools to provide public funds for students to attend private, nonsectarian high schools, does not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
The Maine statute has been the subject of several rounds of litigation in both the state and federal courts, including Strout v. Albanse, 178 F.3d 57 (1st Cir. 1999), and Eulitt v. State of Maine, No. 04-1496 (1st Cir. October 22, 2004). The courts have consistently ruled that the statute's prohibition on participation of religious schools does not result in federal constitutional violations.
Anderson v. Town of Durham (4/26/2006)
USDOE LETTER OUTLINES ENFORCEMENT POLICY ON NCLB CHOICE AND SES (5/30/2006)
On May 15, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings sent a letter to chief state school officers, outlining progress to date with public school choice and supplemental educational services (SES) under No Child Left Behind. The letter calls the programs “critical to students’ academic success,” but says participation in the two programs remains “unacceptably low” despite technical assistance and resources which the USDOE has provided to local educational agencies (LEAs). It goes on to say enforcement action will be undertaken against LEAs that continue to show unsatisfactory performance in implementing public school choice and SES.
Key Policies Letter from Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings (5/15/2006)
NCES RELEASES 2005 DIGEST OF EDUCATION STATISTICS (5/31/2006)
The National Center for Education Statistics has released the 2005 Digest of Education Statistics, Tables and Figures, containing a wide array of data covering pre-kindergarten through graduate school, as well as information on demographic, economic and labor force trends. The section on elementary and secondary education contains subsections on school finance, educational achievement and revenues and expenditures, as well as data on schools and school districts, enrollment and teachers and other instructional staff. The more than 400 tables and figures are clearly labeled and fully downloadable.
2005 Digest of Education Statistics Tables and Figures (5/2006)