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WITH A PROCLAMATION by President George W. Bush and a series of visits by federal education officials, charter schools enjoyed a week of national attention in May, celebrating their supporters' claim that they can be more effective than other public schools in boosting student achievement.
In Okemos, Mich., Paula Pulter's first grade class at the Cornell Elementary School has covered units on American history, the Revolutionary War, U.S. presidents, weather and recycling. At the Thorn Apple Elementary School in Grand Rapids, Nancy Lass had led her second graders through a six-week unit reading and writing about microscopic animals.
Back in the 1980s and early 1990s, boys and girls in sixth grade in Osseo Area Schools, Minn., learned the term masturbation. All fourth-graders learned about anatomy in mixed-gender classes and the definition of sexual intercourse. And junior high students learned methods to avoid the risk of HIV infection.
It was a comprehensive family life curriculum, considered a prime model of a comprehensive human sexuality and family life education, according to B.J. Anderson, then the curriculum and instruction specialist for the district.
Holly Herndon no longer waits for district officials to crunch the local assessment numbers before she can make decisions on instruction. Herndon, like other teachers in Florida's School District of Indian River County, can access her classroom's assessment results-24 hours after the exams are scored-using a new data management software tool.
Problem: When a Syracuse (N.Y.) City School District faculty member was going to be absent, he or she would call the principal and start a chain reaction. The principal would then call the superintendent's office and two office staffers would spend four hours a day finding substitutes.
Solution: Using Sub-IT software, from central xchange, the district has reduced the number of people involved in finding subs and cut in half the amount of time the office staff has to be directly involved.
Larry Price of Wilson County (N.C.) Schools is not so different from the other inspirational superintendents featured in this magazine, except, perhaps, for one thing: his ability to tend a farm plot. In spite of a penchant for farming due to his upbringing in rural Nash, N.C., however, Price's career took a sharp turn from planting seeds in the ground to reaping what he and his teachers sowed by way of smart students in the classroom.
Maryland to Take Over Troubled Schools
State school board officials in Maryland, the first in the nation to invoke a provision of No Child Left Behind to take control of some Baltimore schools, are considering financial penalties in the wake of the General Assembly's vote for a one-year moratorium on the takeover.
Reacting to MySpace
I JUST READ [Gary Stager's] article ("Guess Why They Call It MySpace," May 2006, page 78). While I agree with him in principle, we have blocked the site and others like it at our district. Why? Because we had one student threaten to kill another student using MySpace.
The "problem" the Internet has created is that there are no more rumors. If you hear something you can quickly see if it is true or not simply by accessing the Internet and the site(s) where it originated.