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From DA

05/2005

Connecticut: We Will Sue Over NCLB

Connecticut is on the verge of becoming the first state in the country to challenge President Bush's No Child Left Behind law in court, state Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announced in early April.

Blumenthal said a lawsuit is being prepared that would contend the law illegally and unconstitutionally requires states and communities to spend millions of dollars more than the federal government provides for test development and school reform programs.

Change Coming to No Child Left Behind

A fundamental change in how the Education Department enforces the No Child Left Behind act could affect the education of millions of students as states seek federal approval on everything from teacher quality to the measuring of student progress.

Lessons to Learn: U.S. vs. Singapore Math

When a particular country comes out on top for student achievement in a well-known international study, educators are bound to be talking about what that country might be doing right. But singing the praises of Singapore, which ranked first in the world in mathematics achievement in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study-2003, can really only begin when harmony is reached about what's being done in schools over there.

Monte Vista Elementary students are running in class. And jumping. And stretching. Teachers not only look on, but encourage the behavior. The 3-6 grade teachers are guiding students through targeted exercises and games as part of the Early Sport program, a research-driven fitness program that exemplifies 'new PE.'

After a demonstration of Furl at a professional conference, Jim Wenzloff was so taken with the powerful new online tool, he wrote a Guide to Furl for his district Web site. "Furl allows you to save anything you view on the Web and share it with teachers or students," said the interactive media consultant for Michigan's Macomb Intermediate School District. "And you can use it for so many educational purposes." Indeed, Furl is a hot topic on school-related blogs such as Wenzloff's Visit My Class, yet most educators are not familiar with the term.

The great scientist, Marvin Minsky, once said, "Imagine what it would be like if TV actually were good. It would be the end of everything we know." For the sake of this article I'd like to play with Minsky's words and say, "Imagine if online education were actually good. It would end schools as we know them."

Call it state pride. But when the fight between Connecticut (where District Administration is based) and the federal Department of Education started, at least one argument got my attention.

Problem: It sounds like a Nancy Drew novel: The Case of the Missing Books. Except, for the Lee County School District in Fort Myers, Fla., the problem was all too real. During a standard review of costs by the governor's task force, a process that analyzes possible cost savings and procedure improvements in Florida's schools, a startling discovery was made about textbook losses. The task force estimated that from 1997 to 2002, the school system had lost 62,272 books, representing approximately $2 million.

While reports of rising childhood obesity rates have prompted schools to examine what gets served in the cafeteria and in school vending machines, interest in student health has not yet sparked a revolution in what gets served in the classroom. Health education is not identified as a core subject in the No Child Left Behind act; neither does the legislation call for highly qualified health teachers. Only 16 percent of states require student testing on health education topics.

Adobe

Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Professional

www.adobe.com, Software, $449

When continuing assaults from viruses, spam, pop-up ads and adware made Internet use almost intolerable in my teacher-son Karl's K-12 school in Massachusetts, the staff changed Web browsers from Internet Explorer to Firefox and the problems decreased significantly. The changeover was quick and easy, thanks to a setup wizard that walked people through the process, and the new browser imported previous settings including passwords and favorite sites.

"We were able to start using Firefox immediately," he says, "and our annoying pop-up ads dropped to zero."

Put on your dunce caps! It's international education comparison season again. I know. I know... Eritrea is kicking our butt in long division. If we don't get tough quickly, all of our best fast-food jobs will be outsourced overseas.

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