Tom Toles © 2005, The Washington Post
Reprinted with permission of Universal Press Syndicate. All Rights Reserved
Quality in Texas
In Texas, students in low-income schools are more likely to be taught by less experienced, poorly qualified teachers, according to a recent study by University of Texas researcher Edward Fuller. Fuller's research looked at turnover rates, the percentage of teachers with less than three years of experience, and the number of teachers teaching outside their area of certification. "The real bottom-line problem is that we're dooming kids who live in certain ZIP codes because we don't provide them with the quality teachers they deserve," Fuller told the San Antonio Express-News.
Questioning the Military
In Warwick, N.J., a sophomore student created a controversial anti-war ad, which ran in one issue the school's newspaper before being pulled. The student, who remains anonymous, is a member of the Bruderhof community, a pacifist Christian order. The ad pictures rows of tombstones and reads: "You can't be all you can be if you're dead. There are other ways to serve your country. There are other ways to get money for college. There are other ways to be all you can be. Think about it before you sign your life away." The student designed and paid for the ad's placement. Some parents and faculty complained, saying the ad undermines those serving in the military.
The Advancement Project, a civil rights group based in Washington, D.C., says Florida's Miami-Dade school system unfairly targets black youth. According the Miami Herald, the number of students arrested last year increased 50 percent from two years ago, and more than 50 percent of those arrested were black, even though African Americans make up only 28 percent of the county's enrollment. In the 2003-2004 school year, African-American students were five times more likely to be suspended than whites.
A growing number of corporations are capitalizing on cheap, overseas labor to staff tutoring services. According to the San Jose Mercury News, many Silicon Valley parents are hiring tutors based in India. For example a company based in Fremont, Calif., called Growing Stars charges $20 per hour for the services of Indian tutors. The tutors work 40-hour weeks and are paid $226 to $339 per month. Tutors only require licenses if NCLB funds are involved.
Diversity Policy Upheld
At the end of October, a federal appeals court approved the Seattle school district's use of race as an admissions factor. In the district, students list their high schools of choice and when the number of applicants exceeds that of seat, the district uses tiebreakers. The presence of a sibling at the school is the first tiebreaker; racial composition at the school is the second. A parents' group sued the district over the policy and plans to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
A new report urges that the 2007 reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act focus on the benefits of racial diversity. It also suggests that the federal definition of a "highly qualified" teacher should include training in cultural competency. The report was developed by national civil rights, legal, political, and education advocates and chaired by former U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley. For more information on the report, see http://kwfdn.org/resource_library/resources/deliberate_speed.pdf.
A study that examined test data from 25 states demonstrates that the pressure of high-stakes tests does not improve student achievement. The report, titled "High-Stakes Testing and Student Achievement: Problems for the No Child Left Behind Act," was released by the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University and the Great Lakes Center for Education Research. The authors studied National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data and found that test-related pressure increased grade retention and dropout rates. They could not establish a link between the pressure to score high and student performance. View the document on the web at www.asu.edu/educ/epsl/EPRU/documents/EPSL-0509-105-EPRU.pdf.
More to the Story
Students at Brown University have assembled a website where people can post stories related to high-stakes testing. www.moretothestory.org.
Paige and Company
According to the Associated Press, virtually all of President Bush's former education officials have formed a new education consulting group, which will offer advice on NCLB. Former education secretary Rod Paige, William Hansen, Susan Sclafani, Ron Tomalis, and Patricia Sullivan will all draw paychecks from the firm.