ARCHIVE FOR NOVEMBER 2005
HOME RULE, SCHOOL DISTRICT CONSOLIDATION WEIGHED ON WNYC'S BRIAN LEHRER SHOW (11/4/05)
Jon Shure, President of New Jersey Policy Perspectives, spoke on the topic of home rule in New Jersey on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show on Tuesday, Nov. 1. In a very provocative discussion, Shure called the state's system of local control of government services, including schools, "dysfunctional," and said it is the leading cause of high property taxes, separate and unequal schools, and what he called "family unfriendliness" in New Jersey. Callers to the show had mixed opinions, some stating that home rule provides better accountability on the part of local officials, and other saying it leads to educational segregation and more opportunities for corruption.
Brian Lehrer Show: Home Rule in New Jersey (11/1/2005)
STUDY FINDS LARGE SCHOOL SIZE A FACTOR FOR HISPANIC STUDENTS (11/09/05)
A new study by the Pew Hispanic Center finds a difference between high schools attended by Hispanic students and those attended by students of other ethnic groups. According to the study, “Hispanic youths are much more likely than white or black youths to attend public high schools that are large, that have a high student-to-teacher ratio, and that have a substantial proportion of students who come from relatively poor families.” These characteristics are important for student success, the study notes, as large high schools have been found by other studies to be correlated with high drop-out rates, and schools with high student-to-teacher ratios have been found to have lower student performance.
The Pew study includes data on schools in the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with detailed analyses of data from the seven states with the highest Hispanic populations: California, Texas, Florida, New York, Arizona, Illinois, and New Jersey.
Pew Hispanic Center Report: The High Schools Hispanics Attend (11/1/2005)
STUDY ON PRESCHOOL FINDS PROS AND CONS (11/17/05)
A recent study on the value of preschool has found that while children who attend such programs receive a boost in language and math skills, they may be hindered in social development. The study, undertaken jointly by the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University, was released on Nov. 1.
Its findings may fuel the debate on whether states should fund preschool programs only for low-income families or make them available regardless of income.
Universal preschool is seen by some as a key way to close the achievement gap between children from lower income families and those from more affluent backgrounds. Margaret Bridges, an author of the study, said that while cognitive gains are important, “we have to pay heed to what’s going on with kids emotionally and socially.”
Advocates for universal preschool note that the study did not examine particular preschool programs, and therefore question the validity of any general conclusions about the effects of preschool.
Preschool Study Finds Bright Side, Dark Side (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/1/2005)
The Influence of Preschool Centers on Children’s Development Nationwide: How Much is Too Much? (11/1/2005)
SCHOOLS CONSTRUCTION CORPORATION CASE IN THE NEWS (11/17/05)
On November 7, the New Jersey Supreme Court heard oral argument on an application by the Education Law Center, on behalf of plaintiffs in Abbott v. Burke, for an order requiring the Department of Education to request additional funds from the legislature within the next 15 days, to continue school facilities projects approved by the Schools Construction Corporation. The SCC said it would need at least six months to “get its house in order” before the projects it has currently undertaken may continue.
In a separate announcement, the New Jersey Economic Development Association this week approved the sale of $675 million in bonds that would fund another six months of school building.
NJ Supreme Court Hears Argument for More Construction Funds
(Educ. Law Center, 11/8/2005)
School Builders Ask Time to ‘Get Act Together’ (Star-Ledger, 11/8/2005)
$675M More Borrowed to Build Schools (Star-Ledger, 11/10/2005)
PRE-K NOW REPORT HIGHLIGHTS POSITIVE TREND IN STATE SPENDING ON EARLY EDUCATION (11/28/05)
Pre-K Now, an organization committed to high-quality early education for all children ages 3 and 4, has released a report, Votes Count: Legislative Action on Pre-K Fiscal Year 2006. The report documents a positive trend, with 30 states and the District of Columbia increasing or expecting to increase their funding for pre-k programs in the next fiscal year (the report includes four states that are expected to increase their funding for pre-k programs whose budget figures were not available at the time of the report’s publication). New Jersey is one of (with Vermont) only two states reported to expect a decrease in pre-k funding for 2006. Funding for New Jersey’s Abbott preschools will increase slightly, but Early Childhood Program Aid will be flat, and funding for the Early Launch to Learning Initiative will decrease, resulting in a small decrease overall.
Votes Count: Legislative Action on Pre-K Fiscal Year 2006
TRENTON SUPERINTENDENT LYTLE ANNOUNCES RESIGNATION (11/28/05)
James Lytle, Trenton Superintendent of Schools, has announced that he will resign his post to assume a position with the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. Lytle has been credited with implementing numerous reforms in the Trenton school district, but also received criticism earlier this year when violence broke out in Trenton Central High School-West and other parts of the district. Lytle will stay in his current position through June 2006.
Lytle Quits, Stunning District (Trenton Times, 11/22/2005)
JUDGE RULES FOR DEFENDANT IN NCLB CASE (11/29/05)
On November 24, Judge Bernard A. Friedman of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted the federal government’s motion to dismiss Pontiac v. Spellings, a suit brought by the NEA and several school districts challenging the No Child Left Behind Act. The judge ruled that the federal government has the authority to require states to spend their own money to comply with the law. The NEA reportedly plans to appeal. The Michigan ruling could have an effect on a similar suit brought by the State of Connecticut.
A Recent Development dated 11/1/2005 contains background information on Pontiac v. Spellings.
Judge Rejects Challenge to Bush Education Law (New York Times, 11/23/2005).
Plaintiffs in “No Child Left Behind” Lawsuit Will Appeal Decision (press release, NEA, 11/23/2005).
USDOE PROVIDES ROADMAP ON NCLB; ANNOUNCES PILOT PROJECT (11/29/05)
During the month of November the U.S. Department of Education released two resources related to No Child Left Behind. The first, No Child Left Behind: A Roadmap to State Implementation, is described as “a user-friendly guide” designed to “help education policymakers navigate the road” to compliance with NCLB. The second, a pilot program in which interested and qualified states develop “growth models” for achieving compliance with NCLB. In an address announcing the pilot program, Secretary Margaret Spellings said, "We're open to new ideas, but we're not taking our eye off the ball. There are many different routes for states to take, but they all must begin with a commitment to annual assessment and disaggregation of data. And they all must lead to closing the achievement gap and every student reaching grade level by 2014. This is good policy for all students and we must stick with it."
No Child Left Behind: A Roadmap to State Implementation (11/2005)
Fact Sheet: Growth Model Pilot Program (11/2005)
NEW JERSEY TO RECONVENE ABBOTT EVALUATION WORK GROUP (11/30/05)
Acting Education Commissioner Lucille Davy has announced that the Abbott Evaluation Work Group will reconvene to review the original evaluation design and recommend next steps.
The New Jersey Supreme Court’s 1998 ruling in Abbott V included a directive to conduct an evaluation of Abbott program implementation. The Work Group was formed as a result of a mediation agreement between NJDOE and the Education Law Center, which represents the plaintiffs in Abbott. The Work Group was suspended in June 2005.
Work Group members include researchers and educators from New Jersey and elsewhere. For a full list of members, see the press release below.
NJDOE: “Final Report: Improving the Evaluation Method of Abbott Schools” (10/14/2005)
ELC Press Release: State to Reconvene Abbott Evaluation Work Group (11/10/2005)