News Update

News Update

2008 Education Budget Gives and Takes Away

President Bush's proposed 2008 education budget offers a mixed bag for school districts, increasing Title I money for high schools but cutting funds for vocational education and a technology assistance program.

In its budget the Bush administration ostensibly emphasizes the importance of high school reform. Although the budget contains some support for such efforts-like the Title I increase-it also cuts programs that benefit high schools, says Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education.

"The real fundamental issue in terms of funding is if there's going to be a serious effort for high school and secondary reform," Wise says.

Overall, the proposed fiscal year 2008 budget for the Department of Education represents a $550 million reduction from the FY 2006 spending level, according to the Alliance. The budget proposes a $1.5 billion reduction in spending relative to FY 2007. (The U.S. Department of Education, which will receive $57.5 billion for FY 2007, has not yet released funding levels of individual programs for that budget year.)

Bush's budget would provide a $1.2 billion increase in Title I funds, targeted to high schools in an effort to expand the impact and rigor of No Child Left Behind.

The budget also would provide $122 million for advanced placement programs-a $90 million increase over FY 2006-to expand opportunities for students in high-poverty schools to take Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate classes.

The Striving Readers program, which supports interventions for secondary students reading below grade level, would receive $100 million, a $70.3 million increase over FY 2006.

But the proposed budget would also hurt high schools by cutting so-called Perkins funds for career and technical education from $1.18 billion in FY 2006 to $600 million, Wise says.

Perkins funds are "a way that a lot of schools are trying to address global competitiveness and workforce readiness issues,"

Wise contends.

Bush's proposed budget also eliminates funding for smaller learning communities, a growing area of high school reform. "We don't think eliminating funding is a smart idea," he says.

In all, Bush's budget would scrap 44 education programs, including the Enhancing Education Through Technology program, which provides money to states for teacher professional development and other initiatives that enhance the use of technology in education.

Scrapping the program would potentially produce a negative impact on student learning, says Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking.

Krueger believes that with the new budget we "are going the wrong way on the escalator."

The FY 2008 Department of Education Budget Summary is available online at www.ed.gov.

-Kevin Butler

Ohio District Eases High School Transition for Students

One of life's more challenging transitions is being made just a little easier for eighth- and ninth-graders in the Cleveland Municipal School District (www.cmsdnet.net) in Ohio, thanks to a five-year United Way Vision Council grant given in 2004 to fund the district's evolving High School Transition (HST) program as part of the Post Secondary Education Department.

The Cleveland Community Vision Council, a group of private and public sector leaders that identifies and formulates long-term solutions for community priorities, decided with the district to pilot the initiative as an eighth-grade curriculum. Now 19 of the district's 83 K8 schools are implementing the program, in addition to all of the district's high schools, which have enacted a ninth-grade curriculum.

The HST effort is intended to prepare eighth-graders to enter high school and help them make good education and career choices following graduation. Delivered by a task force of district eighth-grade social studies teachers and high school guidance counselors, students are learning how to sharpen their skills in studying, note taking, communicating and processing information, and are gaining an understanding of how to finish high school successfully.

The other 64 K8 schools are also receiving a version of the curriculum, albeit stripped down, that focuses on topics such as entering a new community and understanding high school choices.

"Teachers and counselors delivering the lessons have given rave reviews of the curriculum and teaching materials provided," says Karen Thompson, director of postsecondary education for the Ohio district.

The HST task force is cultivating partnerships with groups such as Junior Achievement, Youth Opportunities Unlimited and City Year to put volunteers in the classrooms throughout the year to provide a "crosswalk of services to schools" to expand the HST experience, says Thompson.

The HST program also incorporates the Ohio Career Information System (OCIS), an online career and academic portfolio that assesses students' skills to help them discover their strengths and how to reach their goals. The system had been available prior to the HST initiative but was underused, says Thompson. Now it is impacting students in grades eight through twelve district-wide.

The high school transition initiative has experienced great early success and is viewed as a value added to the district, says Thompson.

Dr. Russ Brown, director of assessment and evaluation for the district, will be working with the United Way liaison this summer to evaluate the progress of the program.

Fruit Tree Tour Rolls Through California

Inner-city students throughout California are learning about sustainable ecology and turning their barren schoolyards into abundant orchards of apples, pears, cherries, plums and more, through the Common Vision (www.commonvision.org) fourth annual Fruit Tree Tour, a 20-city, 70-day tour of urban schools from San Diego to Sacramento.

On February 14, covered in forest murals and carrying 1,000 fruit tree plants and 27 volunteers, the world's largest veggie-oil caravan made its first stop at Emerson Elementary School in Riverside, Calif., just one of the more than thirty schools it plans to visit.

Dedicated to developing working relationships with teachers and administrators to integrate sustainability into schools' curricula and landscapes, Common Vision volunteers teach elementary, middle and high school students through daylong programs that include everything from tree planting exercises and ecology learning workshops to West African agricultural drumming and "eco hip-hop" sessions. Their efforts will create living classrooms with the potential to produce enough fruit for the school cafeterias and the surrounding community.

The caravan of volunteer artists, educators and tree planters travels the length of California each year to support local teachers and grassroots groups in their day-to-day work to leave behind a better world, says Michael Flynn, director of education for Common Vision.

Each year the tour plants new fruit trees at first-time schools and starts new initiatives at schools with existing orchards, such as school nurseries for communities and grafting programs.

The kids are all deeply involved in the lessons and planting, adds Flynn, and while the whole program might start in the schoolyard, eventually the entire local community becomes enriched by the process, and there is often a deep feeling of urban reconnect.

"The tree planting is a reminder of the profound power of hands-on learning," says Ley Yeager, principal of Vista Del Valle Elementary School in Claremont. "The legacy of 20 planted trees will live with us throughout our campus for many years to come ... Our students are already asking, 'Who else could we help feed?'" he remarks.

In addition to the planting and other hands-on aspects of the tour, the program also features teach-ins on the environmental challenges the planet is currently facing, such as global warming and harmful carbon dioxide emissions.

The tree-planting program hopes to inspire everyone involved to realize their responsibility to look ahead at least seven generations when taking actions that affect the local environment, says Flynn.

The tour, which ends on Earth Day on April 22, can be followed online at the Common Vision

Web site, www.commonvision.org, and on YouTube.

Nike Grants Support Schools in Its Oregon Home

Three Oregon districts-Portland Public Schools, Hillsboro Public Schools and the Beaverton School District-in January received grants from the Nike School Innovation Fund (NSIF) totaling $9 million to support innovative schooling methods targeting the need for quality education and leadership development.

Nike President and CEO Mark Parker was joined at the announcement by Portland Public Schools Superintendent Vicki Phillips, whose district received the first three Innovation Grants, totaling $1 million. Phillips says the grants are the largest contribution ever received by PPS from a business.

Parker says that Nike wants to support the school districts that serve their community "as they pursue their own creative ideas about improving the education" their kids receive.

The three grants given to PPS are now funding three initiatives: kindergarten academy, a summer instructional program starting this summer to prepare kindergartners for first grade; elementary and middle school leadership teams, for developing coaching practices that support high quality instruction; and business managers, an initiative that gives high school principals more time to spend on educational leadership to support, mentor and coach teachers.

Nike is currently working with leaders from the Beaverton (www.beaverton.k12.or.us) and Hillsboro (www.hsd.k12.or.us) districts to discuss their ideas on the innovative programs they wish to implement, and the new Beaverton programs will be announced early this month. The two districts plan on enacting formative leadership programs.

Nike's "support for early childhood education and strong leadership in our schools will serve as a catalyst for success," says Phillips, "benefiting every one of our students and the community at large."

www.pps.k12.or.us

Nike Grants Support Schools in Its Oregon Home

Three Oregon districts-Portland Public Schools, Hillsboro Public Schools and the Beaverton School District-in January received grants from the Nike School Innovation Fund (NSIF) totaling $9 million to support innovative schooling methods targeting the need for quality education and leadership development.

Nike President and CEO Mark Parker was joined at the announcement by Portland Public Schools Superintendent Vicki Phillips, whose district received the first three Innovation Grants, totaling $1 million. Phillips says the grants are the largest contribution ever received by PPS from a business.

Parker says that Nike wants to support the school districts that serve their community "as they pursue their own creative ideas about improving the education" their kids receive.

The three grants given to PPS are now funding three initiatives: kindergarten academy, a summer instructional program starting this summer to prepare kindergartners for first grade; elementary and middle school leadership teams, for developing coaching practices that support high quality instruction; and business managers, an initiative that gives high school principals more time to spend on educational leadership to support, mentor and coach teachers.

Nike is currently working with leaders from the Beaverton (www.beaverton.k12.or.us) and Hillsboro (www.hsd.k12.or.us) districts to discuss their ideas on the innovative programs they wish to implement, and the new Beaverton programs will be announced early this month. The two districts plan on enacting formative leadership programs.

Nike's "support for early childhood education and strong leadership in our schools will serve as a catalyst for success," says Phillips, "benefiting every one of our students and the community at large."

www.pps.k12.or.us

New Dell Web Site to Share Educational Technology Ideas

Dell Chairman and CEO Michael Dell said at a statewide education summit in Texas in February that today's Internet generation is poised to use technology in revolutionary ways, but we must work to ensure they can translate that technical proficiency from their personal lives to their schoolwork, and ultimately to their careers.

Mr. Dell discussed the importance of information and communication technology literacy, teamwork, and "figure it out" skills to compete in today's global economy. He says that this is "new territory" for many schools and that Dell doesn't have all the answers but is "an important part of figuring it out."

During his remarks, Mr. Dell encouraged educators, parents and students to register on IdeaStorm, their new Web site devoted to multiple expanding technology areas, to share ideas about how technology can be used to improve today's education system. IdeaStorm lets users interact with each other as well as with Dell product and services development teams.

The most popular education-related topics discussed on the Web site will be considered in the creation of future Dell products and services.

www.dellideastorm.com


Advertisement