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Articles: Policy & Compliance

Nelson Smith, president and CEO of the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools.

Is a longer school day and school year a ticket to higher achievement? Recent reports on 26 schools throughout Massachusetts and 39 schools in Miami-Dade (Fla.) County Public Schools provide widely different answers.

In just four years, Arthur W. Stellar has helped Taunton Public Schools become first in English language arts and second in math among the 22 urban districts in Massachusetts. It is one of only two urban districts to make AYP for three years in a row. The dropout rate has gone from 6.8 percent to 4.2 percent. The fourth grade at one elementary school—with 80 percent low-income students—finished third highest in math among the state’s 1,176 elementary schools. Another elementary school is eligible for state nomination for National Blue Ribbon status.

Mayoral control of public schools is nothing new. Boston pioneered the practice in 1992, replacing elected school committee members with mayoral appointees. Since then, a dozen urban districts—including Cleveland, Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C.—have undergone a similar change in school governance that has shifted some or most of the power to mayors, with some cities having mayors make appointments to the school board and others having mayors outright manage the district budget and spearhead large-scale initiatives.

 

In April 2009, Paul Vallas, superintendent of the Louisiana Recovery School District, spoke with associate editor Don Parker-Burgard about Detroit Public Schools, what it takes to transform a district in decline, and the best use of federal stimulus money. Here are excerpts of what he had to say.

 

The federal stimulus package provides badly needed aid to school districts, allowing them to avoid massive staff and teacher layoffs and injecting them with a healthy dose of funds for many programs ranging from technology to renovation work.

 

Pennsylvania Online Schools Struggle Amid Bad Economy

Innovative technology and better access have had online school enrollments going strong for the past 10 years, but the recent slump in the economy may be painting a different picture in Pennsylvania’s cyberschools.

 

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U.S. Students Move Up in Math and Science

Critics who argue that the United States lags behind its international peers in the education rankings might find some evidence to the contrary in the recent results of a major international assessment, which shows fourth- and eighth-graders making strong gains in math and modest improvements in science.

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