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Is the Golden Age of education spending over?
TIME    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
As America starts to grapple with its out-of-control spending habits, we as a nation really should reckon with our education costs. Few federal education programs were targeted by President Obama's deficit-reduction commission, but that's because most school funding comes from the state and local levels. And that's where the big-time money problem is. According to a report issued jointly by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers, when federal stimulus funds run out in 2011, states — and, by extension, schools — will tumble off a fiscal cliff, and even an economic upturn won't bring state funding back up to where it was a few years ago. More

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Elementary students encouraged to set college goals
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
To get children thinking about college early, Los Penasquitos Elementary School in San Diego changed its name to No Excuses University at Los Pen. Instead of numbers, classrooms are identified by college names with flags from Ohio State or the University of Michigan hanging on the door. Students learn all about their assigned school, make up a cheer for it, and sometimes even have alumni visit. By creating a college-going culture in elementary school, the hope is that students will aspire to a lifelong path toward higher education and deeper learning that ends with a degree. To reach that goal, the school plays up the concept that there are no excuses for poor effort and staff members have a belief that all students can excel. More



Texas middle school expects expanded music programs will improve student performance
The Dallas Morning News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
The hallways at Austin Middle School in Texas were quieter just a year ago. The school's fine arts program was understaffed, and few instruments were available. Administrators didn't have the resources to establish a large orchestra, band and chorus program, and many of the students couldn't afford to buy their own instruments or take private lessons. But today, music can be heard in Austin's hallways, and gradually, throughout the district. Administrators are hopeful that if children become more involved with music programs, their academic performance will improve. More

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Some Massachusetts schools bar children's book over language
The Boston Globe    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Rockport, Mass., school officials have refused a literacy group's request to hand out free copies of a best-selling children's book to first-graders because it ends with a mouse calling a donkey a jackass. School officials in Gloucester said that they plan to send a letter home to parents asking whether they want their children to receive a copy of "It's A Book," by Lane Smith. Rockport Superintendent Susan King said she liked the book's message but felt the language is inappropriate. More



More healthful school lunches ordered up
The Denver Post    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Lunch in school cafeterias across Colorado is set to change with passage of the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids Act — but none can yet say what will be on the menu. The act would provide additional funding of free school lunches for poor children and healthier menus and require the U.S. Department of Agriculture to set new nutrition standards to curb obesity. More

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Kohn: Remember when we had higher standards? Neither do I
The Washington Post (commentary)    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
"In recent years, parents have cried in dismay that their children could not read out loud, could not spell, could not write clearly," while "employers have said that mechanics could not read simple directions. Many a college has blamed high schools for passing on students... who could not read adequately to study college subjects; high schools have had to give remedial reading instruction to boys and girls who did not learn to read properly in elementary schools…" More



House backs legal status for many young immigrants
The New York Times    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A bill to grant legal status to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrant students passed the House of Representatives, giving President Obama an unexpected although largely symbolic victory in the final days of Democratic control of Congress on an issue he has called a top priority. The bill, known as the Dream Act, passed the House by a vote of 216 to 198. More

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Grantmakers seeking to influence policy
Education Week    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A recent report from the nonprofit group Grantmakers for Education finds that philanthropies nationwide are increasingly getting engaged with education policy matters at the local, state, and federal levels through a range of activities, in recognition of the powerful reach of government in setting priorities for schools and directing far more money than philanthropies ever could. Some prominent national grantmakers, perhaps most notably the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have been deeply engaged in the policy arena for some time and are seen as wielding a powerful — and, to critics, outsized — influence. But plenty of other philanthropies with more of a state or local focus are stepping forward, too. More



Texas sets social media ethics rules for educators
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
More teachers are embracing electronic media to stay in touch with students, posting assignments on Facebook or answering homework questions via text message. But learning to take advantage of technology without crossing the social networking line can be a minefield. Because messages can be misinterpreted, school districts and state education officials are taking steps to be more clear about the rules that govern the use of electronic communication with students. On Dec. 26, new Texas rules take effect that say educators must "refrain from inappropriate communication with a student," including use of cellphones, text messaging, e-mail, instant messaging, blogging or other social networking. More

Group charges Chicago Public Schools flunking policy is discriminatory
The Chicago Tribune    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
A nonprofit group representing Chicago Public Schools parents alleges that the district's policy of flunking third-, sixth- and eighth-grade students who fail to meet cutoff scores on state standardized tests disproportionately harms black and Latino students. Parents United for Responsible Education, or PURE, filed a complaint against the CPS policy with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. More

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Report: Arizona out of step on pre-kindergarten programs
Public News Service    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Despite their budget problems, most states continue to fund early childhood education programs. A new report from the Pew Center on the States says 26 states and the District of Columbia made no cuts in their pre-kindergarten programs. Arizona is an exception, however, according to Pre-K Now project director Marci Young. "Unfortunately, we had some states that decreased their funding, and Arizona was one of the biggest culprits. Policymakers have not prioritized early learning in Arizona for years, and it doesn't look like it's getting any better." The report shows the state budget for early childhood programs was kept flat for five years until last year, when it was cut by nearly two-thirds. This year, funding was completely eliminated. More

Texas comptroller's plan would cut 12,000 teaching jobs to save $558 million
The Dallas Morning News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Nearly 12,000 elementary school teaching jobs would be slashed — for a total annual savings of $558 million — if the state scraps the current 22-pupil class size limit in elementary grades, Comptroller Susan Combs recommended. Combs' plan would eliminate the 25-year-old requirement that classes in kindergarten through fourth grade have no more than 22 pupils unless a school district gets a waiver from the state. The suggestion drew angry opposition from state teacher groups. But the comptroller says the Legislature should adopt an average class size for those grades of 22 students, rather than a strict limit enforced on each class. More

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Red tape tangles chefs wanting to improve school lunch
The Chicago Tribune    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
When top Chicago chefs visited a Northwest Side lunchroom and found bags of Tostitos with ground meat as the main course, their first instinct was to roll up their sleeves and start cooking. Within a month, the group of chefs — who call themselves Pilot Light — had organized a day of in-class demonstrations and a Thanksgiving-themed lunch for Disney II Elementary Magnet School. But while faculty and parents were thrilled, Chicago Public Schools officials were not. More

California parents use new law to demand school turnaround
The Associated Press via San Jose Mercury News    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
Chanting "yes we can!" and "si se puede!," a busload of parents became the first in California to try to force reforms at their children's failing school using a new law empowering parents to demand change. The group of Latino and African-American parents delivered a petition signed by 62 percent of parents at McKinley Elementary School to Compton Unified Acting Superintendent Karen Frison. The campus ranks in the bottom 10 percent of California's elementary schools. With the petition, the so-called "parent trigger" law mandates the campus be converted to a charter school next September. More



Video highlights the 2010 National Distinguished Principals Program
NAESP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
left Lifetouch School Portraits, a generous corporate partner of NAESP, has produced a video highlighting the various facets of the 2010 National Distinguished Principals (NDP) program. The program took place Oct. 14-15 and the video is a testament to the dedication and accomplishments of the 2010 class of NDPs. This year, NAESP honored 62 outstanding principals from across the nation and abroad. The video depicts the two-day event that took place in Washington, D.C., and included a reception at the U.S. Department of State, opportunities to discuss issues facing education today, and a black-tie awards dinner and dance. More

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Announcing 'The 3 Things You Need'
NAESP    Share    Share on FacebookTwitterShare on LinkedinE-mail article
NAESP has launched "The 3 Things You Need," a new feature to provide members practical resources in a timely manner. Every week, "The 3 Things You Need" will list three articles, blog posts, white papers, or web links that contain information principals can put to use right away. We are also interested in what you have to share, so feel free to send information or resources you've found that NAESP members might find helpful. Just send them in an e-mail to Kevin Craft at kcraft@naesp.org.
 
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Before the Bell is a benefit of your membership in the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP). For information about other member benefits, visit www.naesp.org or contact us at naesp@naesp.org.

Before the Bell is a digest of the most important news selected for NAESP from thousands of sources by the editors of MultiBriefs, an independent organization that also manages and sells advertising. The presence of such advertising does not endorse, or imply endorsement of, any products or services by NAESP. Neither NAESP nor Multiview is liable for the use of or reliance on any information contained in this briefing.

Feedback about an article? Contact NAESP Liaison Kevin Craft at kcraft@naesp.org.
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