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Whether you agree or disagree with the accountability called for in No Child Left Behind, one thing is starting to become clear--the standards and the Title I money attached to meeting those standards may depend a lot more on where you live than on how well you teach your students.
Use it or lose it. It's a cute saying, but it is particularly fitting for the brain-especially in small, developing brains. "During the first three years of life, there's an overabundance of activity in the brain," says Kenneth A. Wesson, education consultant at Neuroscience in San Jose. "If brain cells don't find a job, they will be eliminated. There is no welfare in the brain. These brain cells seek a job to do. They go dormant or are eliminated if kids don't have specific kinds of experiences and nothing to build on."
The "Great White" fire in Rhode Island earlier this year was a horror--killing nearly 100 people when rock fans were trapped inside a burning building with too few fire exits. Science laboratory safety expert Jim Kaufman worries that a similar tragedy could befall a school science lab anywhere in the U.S.
A teacher recently forwarded to me a disturbing series of images that supposedly documented the Feb. 1 explosion of the Space Shuttle Columbia. The message stated the pictures were taken by an Israeli satellite, and released by the U.S. Department of Justice to "hopefully give NASA a better idea of what happened." The e-mail was sent to more than 70 colleagues, who in turn likely forwarded it to countless others.
In Southern California's Lake Elsinore area, the area's namesake also happens to be the community's biggest headache. The town is divided by--you guessed it--a big lake. For those on the wrong side, often without transportation, access to county services used to seem impossible.
When it comes to helping English language learners make adequate yearly progress in school, most people agree on one point: the sink-or-swim method won't work. Research strongly supports this conclusion, and federal law (Lau v. Nichols, 1974) requires that students who are learning English get some extra help. The $64,000 (or considerably more) question is, What kind and how much?
Maine's Attempt to Be Exempt Axed
After the state Senate and House of Representatives in Maine passed a resolution requesting a waiver to exempt Maine from the federal No Child Left Behind legislation, the U.S. Department of Education rejected the plea.
"To opt out of the law basically would mean leaving behind the neediest kids," says Jo Ann Webb, department spokeswoman.
OK, first things first. I want everyone to know that I tried. I did. In writing a story that highlights the vast variations in state standards, I really tried to give No Child Left Behind, its principles and its accountability, the benefit of my doubt. I even tried to be optimistic.