Spellings Cites Urban School Ach

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                                                                                             The Nation’s Voice for Urban Education

   Vol. 15, No. 4                                                   www.cgcs.org                                    April 2006

        Study Finds                                               Council Honors
         Gains Up                                                  Congressman
      In City Schools
                                                                   As a member of the House of
                                                               Representatives Education and Work-
     For the first time in comparing
                                                               force Committee, Rep. Major Owens
state and federal test scores, a study
                                                               (D-NY) has taken the lead in sup-
finds parallel upward achievement in
                                                               porting school libraries, school con-
the nation’s big-city public schools.                                                                           Education Secretary Spellings
                                                               struction and greater job training for
    The Council of the Great City                              youth.
Schools’ sixth annual report called
                                                                    He was recently recognized for his
                                                                                                               Spellings Cites
                       Beating     the
  Beating The Odds     Odds shows
                                                               efforts when the Council of the Great           Urban School
                       students in
                                                               City Schools presented him with the
                                                               Thurgood Marshall Award for Excel-
                       66 major city
                                                               lence and Equity in Urban Education            U.S. Secretary of Education Mar-
                       public school
                                                               at its Annual Legislative/Policy Con-      garet Spellings recently traveled to
                       systems in 38
                                                               ference in Washington, D.C.                Newark, N.J., with First Lady Laura
                       states posting
                       new gains in
      A City-by-City Analysis of Student                                                                  Bush to present the school district
                                                                    “The amount of money big-city
 Performance and Achievement Gaps on State

                                                                                                          with a $14 million grant to improve

                       fourth- and
 Results from the 2004-2005 School Year

                                                               school districts get in Title I is in
                       eighth-grade                                                                       reading.
                                                               large part due to Major Owens,” said
                       mathematics                             Council Executive Michael Casserly in           The grant is just one of eight Striv-
and reading on state-mandated assess-                          presenting the award to the lawmaker.      ing Readers grants the U.S. Department
ments in 2005.
                                                                                                          of Education has awarded this year.
                                                                                   continued on page 6F
     And in examining scores of ur-                                                                       However, Spellings is looking forward
ban school districts that volunteered                                                                     to the day when the grants will no lon-
to take the often more rigorous fed-                                                                      ger be needed.
eral test – the National Assessment
                                                                                                               “That’s the goal we set with No
of Educational Progress (NAEP)
                                                                                                          Child Left Behind (NCLB),” Spellings
– the study shows evidence generally
                                                                                                          told more than 300 urban educators at
corroborating that the state gains are
                                                                                                          the Council of the Great City Schools’
                                                                                                          recent Annual Legislative/Policy Con-
                                                                                                          ference. “As a parent, I don’t think
                                                                                                          that’s too much to ask, and I’m sure
                                        continued on page 3F              Rep. Major Owens                you agree.”

                                                                                                               Spellings believes the nation is
                                                  In this Issue                                           well on its way to every child learning
                                                                                                          on grade level by 2014 and pointed as
World-Class Curriculum Being Created........................................5                             evidence to the results found in the
                                                                                                          Council’s new report, Beating the Odds.
Buffalo Gets College Board School..............................................8
Legislative Column: Who’s Voting ‘Yes’ or ‘No’?........................10                                                      continued on page 4F
                                                    Inside the Council

                                                           Cleveland, Charlotte and St. Paul
                                                             Name New Superintendents
        A newsletter published by the
  Council of the Great City Schools, repre-          The superintendent of Ohio’s To-              In St. Paul, Minn., the school board
   senting 66 of the nation’s largest urban
           public school districts.             ledo Public Schools, Eugene Sanders, has       chose Meria Carstarphen, the chief ac-
                                                received the nod to head the Cleveland         countability officer for the District of
         Albuquerque      Memphis
                                                Municipal School District, while North         Columbia Public Schools, to be the next
               Atlanta    Milwaukee             Carolina’s Charlotte and Minnesota’s St.       superintendent.
                Austin    Minneapolis           Paul school systems have picked out-of-
            Baltimore     Nashville             state educators to lead their districts.           “It was a tough decision and all five
         Birmingham       Newark
                                                                                               candidates brought amazing experience
                          New Orleans
         Broward Co.      New York City             The Cleveland school board as well         and talent to the table, but we ultimately
               Buffalo    Norfolk                                as the mayor approved                           felt that she would be
           Charleston     Oakland
                                                                 Sanders to be the next                          the best fit,” said Elona
                          Oklahoma City
              Chicago     Omaha                                  chief executive offi-                           Street-Steward, board
             Christina    Orange County                          cer, succeeding Bar-                            chair of the St. Paul
            Cincinnati    Palm Beach
             Clark Co.
                                                                 bara Byrd-Bennett,                              Public Schools, in a
            Cleveland     Pittsburgh                             who resigned after                              news release.
            Columbus      Portland                               serving as CEO since
                Dallas    Providence                             1998.                                               Carstarphen      has
               Dayton     Richmond
               Denver                                                                               Meria        been with the public
                          Rochester              Eugene Sanders
          Des Moines      Sacramento                                  “He’s had a won-            Carstarphen   school system in Wash-
               Detroit    St. Louis                               derful track record in                       ington, D.C., since 2004,
           Fort Worth     St. Paul
                                                Toledo,” said Cleveland board member           and is credited with overseeing key initia-
                          Salt Lake City
          Greensboro      San Diego             Louise Dempsey in the city’s newspaper,        tives under a new superintendent.
              Houston     San Francisco         The Plain Dealer.
         Indianapolis     Seattle

                                                                                                   Baltimore Wins
              Jackson     Shreveport
                                                    Sanders has led the Toledo public
                                                school system for six years, receiving
         Kansas City
         Long Beach
                          Tucson                honors for academic achievement. One              Takeover Attempt
         Los Angeles      Washington, D.C.
                                                such honor came from the National As-               State efforts to take over 11 Balti-
                                                sociation for the Advancement of Col-          more City schools recently fell to defeat
            Newsletter Staff:
  Executive Director Michael Casserly
                                                ored People, recognizing the district for      in the Maryland legislature, which over-
              Editor Henry Duvall               outstanding service to minority youth          rode the governor’s veto.
   Associate Editor Tonya Harris                and bridging the racial achievement gap.
                                                                                                   State Superintendent Nancy Gras-
             Council Officers:
                                                      North Carolina’s largest school dis-     mick had set in motion a plan to restruc-
            Arlene Ackerman                     trict, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, re-      ture the low-performing schools under
      Superintendent, San Francisco             cently picked the superintendent of Cal-       the federal No Child Left Behind Act --
                                                ifornia’s Tustin Unified School District,      with the U.S. Department of Education
            George Thompson III                 Peter Gorman, to take the reins from in-       threatening to withdraw Title 1 funds
           Board Member, Nashville              terim district leader Frances Haithcock.       from the state if the action was blocked.
                Carol Comeau
                                                     Gorman has been at the helm of the             “The federal No Child Left Behind
          Superintendent, Anchorage             school system in Tustin, Calif., since 2001,   Act does not require state takeover or
                                                and his leadership has led to the district     privatization of public schools,” says
     All news items should be submitted to:
                 Urban Educator                 meeting all Adequate Yearly Progress           Jeff Simering, legislative director of the
        Council of the Great City Schools       (AYP) goals under the federal No Child         Council of the Great City Schools. “Fed-
   1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Suite 702
            Washington, D.C. 20004              Left Behind law, according to a Charlotte      eral law provides a number of options
     (202) 393-2427 / (202) 393-2400 (Fax)      district statement.                            under the mantel of program improve-
      Editor’s E-mail: hduvall@cgcs.org
  Associate Editor’s E-mail: tharris@cgcs.org                                                                        continued on page 12F

Page                                                                                                 Council of the Great City Schools
                                                 Inside the Council

Continued from page 1
Study Finds...                                  Increases in Percentages of 4th and 8th Grade Urban Students
                                                      Scoring at or above Proficiency in Reading and Math*
     “The 2006 Beating the Odds study con-
firms what we saw with the latest Nation’s                          2002           2003       2004          2005         Change
                                              4th Grade Reading      43.3%         47.9%      50.5%         54.4%        +11.1
Report Card for urban schools,” said U.S.
Secretary of Education Margaret Spell-
                                              4th Grade Math        44.5%          50.9%       55.4%        58.5%        +14.0
ings, referring to NAEP. “The Great
City Schools are raising achievement in       8th Grade Reading      36.1%         37.7%      38.6%         39.7%         +3.6
many ways, for many students.”
                                              8th Grade Math        37.3%          39.3%       43.1%        45.7%        +8.4
         State Test Scores
     Data reveal that 58.5 percent of ur-
ban school students in the study scored        *Percentages reflect student performances on differing state assessments in cities
at or above proficiency in fourth-grade               that administered the same test in each of four consecutive years
math, a 14 percentage point increase from
44.5 percent in 2002 on state tests. For
eighth graders, the percentage climbed to        “The data suggest that improve-           and eighth-grade math and reading scores
45.7 percent, compared with 37.3 percent     ment can be attained and sustained in         that were equal to or greater than their
in 2002.                                     the nation’s inner cities,” says Council      respective states.
     In reading, urban schoolchildren also   Executive Director Michael Casserly.
                                             “Evidence from two completely different              Achievement Gaps
posted gains, but not as fast as in math.
From 2002 to 2005, the percentage of         assessments indicates that the progress in         Beating the Odds also presents data on
fourth graders scoring at or above pro-      urban schools is indeed real.”                racially identifiable achievement gaps, lan-
ficiency in reading/language arts on state                                                 guage proficiency, disability and income,
                                                      City-by-City Data                    as well as urban school demographic
tests rose to 54.4 percent from 43.3 per-
cent in 2002 – an 11.1 percent gain. For         Beating the Odds gives city-by-city       conditions and funding.
eighth graders, the percentage increased     analysis of how inner-city schools are
to 39.7 percent from 36.1 percent in         performing on the academic goals and               Academic achievement gaps by race
2002.                                        standards set by their respective states to   and ethnicity appear to be narrowing, but
                                             measure student achievement.                  the results are still preliminary, according
             NAEP Scores                                                                   to the study.
                                                  The study also includes, for the first
     When examining fourth-grade math        time, how student test scores of 11 big-           The report attributes the standards
and reading scores on the NAEP, or fed-      city school districts that volunteered for    movement as the catalyst that triggered
eral test, data show that the gains coin-    the Trial Urban District Assessment, a        improvement in urban schools. “The
cide with the state trends, but at lower     special project in NAEP, compare with         public reminded educators – particularly
percentages of students scoring at or        scores resulting from their respective        those in cities – why we were in business
above proficiency on what is generally       state tests. Among the 11 cities are New      in the first place and what we were be-
considered a more stringent exam than        York, Chicago and Los Angeles, the na-        ing held responsible for delivering,” says
most state tests.                            tion’s largest school systems.                Casserly, noting that urban educators are
                                                                                           “working harder and smarter than ever
     Some 24 percent of fourth graders            Although urban schools show gains        before.”
in math scored at or above proficiency in    in math and reading performance, the big
2005 on NAEP, a 4 percentage point hike      cities still lag behind state and national        Casserly further points out, “It is
from 20 percent in 2003, the first year of   averages in fourth and eighth grades.         now time to determine how the pace of
urban NAEP math results. In reading,                                                       improvement can be accelerated.”
20 percent reached or went beyond the            Three major urban school districts
proficiency level in 2005, a 3 percentage    – Albuquerque, Anchorage and Florida’s             The Beating the Odds report, includ-
point increase from 17 percent in 2002.      Palm Beach County – had both fourth-          ing city-by-city data, can be found on the
                                                                                           Council’s web site at www.cgcs.org.

April 006                                                                                                                  Page 
                                                  Inside the Council

Continued from page 1                         these classes and that 40 percent of high        •	 Recruiting new teachers and
Spellings...                                  schools offer no AP classes.                        training others to teach AP courses

                                                  The secretary also noted that white            The secretary urged educators to
     The report found that big-city fourth    students are far more likely than African      make these math and science initiatives a
grade students showed a 14 percentage         Americans or Hispanics to take advanced        priority so students today will be better
point increase in math and an 11 percent-     courses in math and science.                   prepared for tomorrow’s jobs.
age point gain in reading since 2002 on
state-mandated tests.                              “Sounds like the soft bigotry of ex-           “If we raise our expectations,” said
                                              pectations to me,” said Spellings. “With       Spellings, “our students will rise to the
    “The Great City Schools are raising       the way we ration these courses, you           challenge.”
achievement in many ways, for many stu-       would think we don’t want students to
dents,” said Spellings, a graduate of the     take them.”                                        After her address, Spellings held a
Houston Independent School District.                                                         question-and-answer session with con-
                                                   She commended several urban dis-          ferees.
    ‘Pocket-Protector Skills’                 tricts that were recently recognized by the
     The nation’s top education official      College Board for their AP programs and                 Katrina Concern
recalled that 30 years ago most manufac-      said that the problems facing education             Houston Schools Superintendent
turing workers did not have high school       must be addressed starting in elementary       Abelardo Saavedra said his district is
diplomas, but now not only do most of         schools.                                       educating 5,500 Hurricane Katrina evac-
them have high school diplomas, but al-                                                      uees this year and expects 80 percent
most one-third have attended college.              According to Spellings, the U.S. De-
                                                                                             will return to the district next year. He
                                              partment of Education has received the
                                                                                             expressed his concern that the federal
     Spellings observed that employers        largest percentage
                                                                                                              government would not
in today’s society are looking for people     budget increase of
                                                                                                              provide enough funding
who have “pocket protector skills”-- cre-     any domestic non-
                                                                                                              to help cover the cost of
ative problem-solvers with strong math        security-related
                                                                                                              educating these students
and science backgrounds.                      agency, with Title I
                                                                                                              for an additional year.
                                              funding increasing
    According to Spellings, a million stu-    by 45 percent and                                                     Spellings said that
dents drop out of high school every year,     funding for NCLB                                                  the Department of Ed-
with nearly five out of 10 African Ameri-     increasing by 40                                                  ucation has asked Con-
can and Hispanic ninth graders failing to     percent.               Houston Schools Superintendent Abelardo
                                                                     Saavedra expresses concern                gress for money to re-
graduate from high school on time.
                                                                                                               imburse school districts
                                                   And in an effort
     “We wouldn’t tolerate five out of 10                                                    whom have taken in displaced students
                                              to prepare students to compete in a so-
planes going down,” said Spellings. “We                                                      and said money has been allocated. She
                                              ciety that has become increasingly global,
wouldn’t tolerate five out of 10 heart sur-                                                  also noted that President Bush is sympa-
                                              Spellings said President Bush has created
geries failing. And we shouldn’t tolerate                                                    thetic to districts that are educating stu-
                                              the American Competitiveness Initiative,
five out of 10 city students dropping out                                                    dents from New Orleans and the Gulf
                                              which would devote $380 million to ex-
of high school!”                                                                             Coast.
                                              tend high standards and accountability
                                              from K-12.                                          Spellings also urged educators to
     Spellings believes that rigorous
coursework is one of the best ways to                                                        contact their congressional representa-
                                                  The initiative calls for:
solve the dropout problem and noted                                                          tives about this issue and continue to
that a student’s chance of graduating          •	 Creation of a National Math                “fight the fight” and said she and other
from college in four years increases by           Panel to compile the best                  federal officials are focusing on getting
just taking one or two Advanced Place-            research on teaching math;                 aid to the districts that need it.
ment (AP) courses.
                                               •	 A program called Math Now                      Spellings was not the only official
     Yet, she observed that many students         to help elementary and middle              from the Department of Education to
in economically disadvantaged commu-              school students prepare for                address the conference. Urban educators
nities don’t have the opportunity to take         rigorous high school math; and                                     continued on page 5F

 Page                                                                                              Council of the Great City Schools
                                                   Inside the Council

Continued from page 4                          rates of students eligible to receive these
Spellings...                                   services have been abysmally low and ed-          World-Class
                                               ucation officials are working on ways to          Curriculum
                                               increase the number of students, as well
also heard from Ray Simon, deputy sec-
retary of education.                           as expand the number of options avail-          Being Developed
                                               able for parents to choose from.                   Hatched in Louisville
     A former teacher, school district su-
perintendent and Arkansas chief state               Simon acknowledged that the edu-
                                                                                                  Kentucky’s Jefferson County
school officer, Simon said that since 2002     cation department and the Council have
                                                                                              Public Schools in Louisville has
when President Bush signed NCLB into           been working to give 10 school districts
                                                                                              launched an initiative to align its
law, the measure “is making a difference       labeled as being in improvement under
                                                                                              mathematics and science curriculum
for kids,” with test scores on the rise, the   NCLB the opportunity to provide their
                                                                                              to world-class standards, considered
achievement gap narrowing and fewer            own supplemental services.
                                                                                              uncommon in the United States.
                                                   “We want the law to be a valid mea-
                                                                                                   In collaboration with the Jeffer-
     He said the                                               sure of what’s going on
                                                                                              son County Teachers Association, the
law is maturing and                                            in schools,” said Simon,
                                                                                              district recently reviewed curriculum
the Department of                                              “and we want to make
                                                                                              materials and instructional resources
Education is trying                                            sure the right things are
                                                                                              and found that its math and science
to improve the law,                                            happening for kids.”
                                                                                              programs were not sufficient to sup-
without changing it                                                                           port implementation of international
significantly.                                                                                standards.
      “We want to                                                                                  As a result, the district has de-
                                                                  In     legislative
make sure we un- Deputy Secretary of Education Ray Simon                                      cided to create the standards – “an
                                                             briefings, conferees
derstand what works                                                                           effort to emulate high-achieving na-
                                                             heard from Kerri
and doesn’t work,”                                                                            tions such as Singapore,” says an ar-
                                         Briggs, senior policy adviser for the De-
said Simon. “But we are not giving up                                                         ticle in the Louisville Courier-Journal.
                                         partment of Education, who discussed
the core mission of every child being on
                                         some of the steps being taken regarding                   “Building our own curriculum
grade level by 2014.”
                                         NCLB.                                                represents a tremendous opportunity
     Simon also addressed the issue of                                                        to improve the quality of instruction-
                                                    Briggs said federal education of-
schools using growth models to measure                                                        al materials needed for our students
                                               ficials are working to make the state as-
adequate yearly progress under NCLB.                                                          to achieve at world-class standards,”
                                               sessment systems more robust and noted
Last year, the Department of Educa-                                                           says Superintendent Stephen Dae-
                                               that states are making progress in com-
tion announced a pilot program in which                                                       schner, noting that this will prepare
                                               piling data on student achievement in an
states could receive credit for student                                                       students for global competition.
                                               effort to ensure that all students gain pro-
improvement over time by tracking indi-
                                               ficiency by 2014.                                    A recent $25-million grant from
vidual student achievement from year to
year.                                               Conferees also heard from Erik Fa-        the GE Foundation set the stage for
                                               temi, a staff member with the U.S. Senate      the school district to embark on the
     Approximately 20 states submitted                                                        initiative.
                                               Labor, Health and Human Services and
proposals and Simon said up to 10 high-
                                               Education Appropriations Subcommit-                 The new math and science pro-
quality growth models will be chosen to
                                               tee. Fatemi discussed the recent Senate        gram is scheduled to be implemented
participate in the pilot program for 2006-
                                               passage of a budget amendment pro-             in the 2007-08 school year, although
                                               posed by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and          a portion of the elementary science
          Tutoring Needed                      Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), which would        curriculum will be expanded this fall.
                                               restore $7 billion in health and education
     Under NCLB, children in low-per-          funding that was previously eliminated.
forming schools are eligible to receive tu-
toring, known as supplemental education              “The passage was an outstanding
services. Simon noted that participation       victory for education,” said Fatemi.

April 006                                                                                                                   Page 
                                                    Inside the Council

Continued from page 1                           geon’s operation room, yet people with
Council Honors...                               little or no experience in education are
                                                allowed to make decisions concerning
                                                                                                  Nebraska Moves
“Thank you for being our champion and           education policy.                                   To Break Up
our beacon for education excellence.”
                                                     “Only education professionals know
                                                                                                   Omaha District
     Owens was elected to Congress in           what works,” said Owens. “We must not
1982 and, after 24 years of service, is re-     allow amateurs from other professions               In an unprecedented move, the
tiring at the end of the year. He recalled      dictate to us.”                                Nebraska legislature recently voted to
how he has served through four presi-                                                          divide the Omaha Public Schools into
dents and said that the nation has come a           He also urged big-city leaders to keep     three separate districts – each serv-
long way in regard to education.                pressuring the federal government to al-       ing predominantly African American,
                                                locate more funds for schoolchildren.          white and Hispanic students.
     “Twenty-four years ago we were tee-
tering on the edge of the federal govern-           Owens noted that the war in Iraq is             The vote, with the governor sign-
ment not being responsible for education        approaching $400 billion and the nation’s      ing the measure into law, would break
and wanting to minimize its role,” said         wealthy have received tax cuts.                up the state’s most culturally diverse
Owens.                                                                                         public school system in July, 2008, ac-
                                                    “Don’t tell us that it’s unrealistic       cording to news reports.
     He said that the nation now realizes       the federal government can’t spend that
that in order to produce enough people          much money on education,” said Owens.              “We will go down in history as
to run a complex society, there must be                                                        one of the first states in 20 years to set
a greater emphasis on education at the
                                                      School Construction                      race relations back,” stressed Omaha
federal level. “You cannot talk about it             The congressman said that during          Sen. Pat Bourne in an Associated Press
[education]      anymore                                     his 24 years in Congress          story after the vote.
just being a state or local                                  he has often been accused
                                                                                                   But the state’s only African Ameri-
function.”                                                   of being a fanatic because
                                                                                               can senator, Ernie Chambers of Oma-
                                                             of his relentless focus on
     The congressman                                                                           ha, who spearheaded the bill through
                                                             school construction and
strongly believes that                                                                         the legislature, argues that minorities
unless the nation moves                                                                        would receive a better education if they
rapidly to increase the                                               But he noted that        had more control of their own district.
amount of money the Congressman Owens receives the Thur- school construction is                     Omaha Public Schools has tried
federal     government good Marshall Award in urban education one area in which the            to rally the public around the concept
spends on education, from, left to right, Council legislative       federal    government
                                                                                               of “One City, One School District.”
                           director Jeff Simering and Executive
which is currently only Director Michael Casserly.                  can easily get involved
                                                                                               Supporters include billionaire investor
8 percent, the problems                                             and make a difference.
                                                                                               Warren Buffet, who reportedly indi-
facing education won’t be solved.                                                              cated that the legislative action will be
                                                       “The federal government can give
     “Twenty-five percent ought to be              us the capital funds we need to build       defeated in court.
the minimum of what the federal gov-               schools,” said Owens. “It’s one area
                                                                                                    “One City, One School District”
ernment puts in,” stressed Owens. “The             where they could do the least amount of
                                                                                               is about solving the problems of racial
belief that the nation must stay out of            damage and the most good.”
                                                                                               and socio-economic isolation that cur-
federal education is a ridiculous idea.”                                                       rently exist between school districts in
                                                       The congressman urged urban edu-
     In addition to a lack of funding,             cators to not be intimidated and afraid     Omaha, and it is about assuring more
Owens cited what he thinks is another              to speak out for what they think is right   financial equity,” says Superintendent
problem facing education: most adults in           when it comes to helping the nation’s       John Mackiel and Board of Education
America, as well as politicians, think they        schoolchildren.                             President Sandra Kostos Jensen in a
are experts on education.                                                                      letter to parents back in January.
                                                       “We depend on you,” said Owens.
     Owens said that society would                 “You have to be the Mafia of education
never allow a lawyer to take over a sur-           and bow to nobody.”                                             continued on page 10F

 Page 6                                                                                              Council of the Great City Schools
                                                     Inside the Council

             Urban Schools Receive Federal Striving Readers Grants
    When sixth graders at Avon Avenue                  “We know that with stronger reading           school tutoring and professional devel-
School in Newark, N.J., practice their           skills, these students are more likely to           opment programs for staff, including a
reading and writing skills, they usually         graduate, less likely to drop out of school         teacher training initiative in partnership
don’t get a lot of visitors in their class-      and more likely to go on to be able to find         with National-Louis University.
room.                                            good jobs,” said Bush in
                                                 the Newark Star-Ledger.                                                  And in Portland, Ore.,
     But one day last month, they had two                                                                             the grant will help provide
visitors: First Lady Laura Bush and U.S.              Big-city schools re-                                            services to increase student
Secretary of Education Margaret Spell-           ceiving grants for the                                               achievement in four high
ings.                                            2006-2007 school year                                                schools and five middle
                                                 included Memphis City                                                schools.
    They visited the school to award             Schools, ($16 million);
Newark Public Schools with a $13.9 Striv-        San Diego Unified School                                                   Each district’s Striving
ing Readers grant from the U.S. Depart-          District, ($17.5 million);                                            Readers program must include
ment of Education.                               Portland Public Schools,                                              targeted intervention for
                                                 ($23.5 million); and Chi-                                             struggling readers and must
      The district was one of eight recipients   cago Public Schools,                                                  undergo a research-based
to receive a five-year grant to implement        ($24.5 million).                                                      evaluation to measure the ef-
                                                                              First Lady Laura Bush visits Avon
Striving Readers, a new program designed to                                   Avenue School in Newark to pres-        fectiveness of the program.
increase the reading achievement levels of           Chicago will use its     ent the district with a $13.9 million
students in grades 6-8 in schools with a sig-    grant in 32 elementary       reading grant.
nificant number of struggling readers.           schools to fund after-

                                                                                                            Boston, NYC
             NYC to Grade Schools -- ‘A’ to ‘F’
                                                                                                           Schools Named
    Three years ago, a multi-year reform             Schools that receive low letter grades                Again for Prize
effort called Children First was imple-          and quality reviews may receive targeted
mented to improve teaching and learning          improvement efforts, new leadership,                    The Boston and New York City
in New York City’s public schools.               undergo restructuring or eventually be              school districts again this year have been
                                                 closed.                                             chosen among the five finalists for the
     As part of that effort, the district                                                            2006 Broad Prize for Urban Education,
recently launched an accountability initia-           The program will cost up to $25 mil-           an annual million-dollar prize awarded
tive designed to measure student prog-           lion to create and implement, according             to urban school districts that have made
ress. Beginning next year, every school          to The New York Times, and the school dis-          the greatest improvements in academic
will receive a progress report—a grade           trict plans to solicit contributions from           achievement.
ranging from “A” to “F” based on stu-            donors.
dent performance on annual state exams,                                                                   The other finalists: Florida’s Miami-
student learning gains and school envi-               A pilot quality review program has             Dade County Public Schools, Connecti-
ronment, including attendance rates and          begun in some schools and district ad-              cut’s Bridgeport Public Schools and New
parent satisfaction.                             ministrators say by next spring, all schools        Jersey’s Jersey City School District.
                                                 will have participated in a review.
    Schools will also receive quality re-                                                                 The winner of the Broad Prize will
views based on criteria such as principals’           “We can’t afford to make excuses for           receive $500,000 in college scholarships
leadership skills and parent involvement.        the status quo; we must constantly strive           for students while each of the four other
                                                 to improve,” said New York Schools                  finalists will receive $125,000.
    These quality reviews will determine         Chancellor Joel Klein in a press state-
whether schools are labeled as “well             ment. “The accountability we are infus-                 “The strength of our nation depends
developed,” “proficient” or “undevel-            ing into our schools is a crucial step in           on the strength of our schools, especially
oped.”                                           that direction.”                                                               continued on page 10F

April 006                                                                                                                                Page 
                                                    Inside the Council

             Pittsburgh to Close 22 Schools                                                          College Board
                                                                                                    To Open School
                                                                                                       In Buffalo
     The Board of Education of the              			•		Eight schools become accelerated
Pittsburgh Public Schools recently ap-                learning academies; and
proved a comprehensive plan to close 22                                                             When James Williams took the reins
schools, 18 buildings and create one new        			•	Early childhood education programs        of New York’s Buffalo Public Schools
school aimed at maintaining the district’s           expand.                                   last July, he made the traditional new-
financial footing and boosting its aca-                                                        comer rounds of community meetings,
demic program.                                      Board President Bill Isler is especially   church services, and dinners with public
                                                pleased to have early childhood services       officials.
      Called the Right-Sizing Plan, the         expanded. “The district is committed to
initiative is projected to save the district    serving 3-year-old and 4-year-old chil-             It didn’t take long for him to get the
$14.7 million each year in operating costs,     dren at a critical stage in their learning,”   message that there were only a few high
a district news release points out.             he emphasizes.                                 schools in Buffalo that were top choices
                                                                                               for parents and students.
     “I’m pleased that so much of the en-
ergy that has been expended on this plan                                                                             As a result, one of
now can be refocused on implementing                                                                            the first promises Wil-
the changes that will have our students
                                                     Broward District                                           liams made to the dis-
attending more positive learning environ-              Wins Award                                               trict was to create high
ments in September,” says Superinten-                                                                           schools of excellence in
dent Mark Roosevelt.
                                                    In Communications                                           every part of the city,
                                                                                                                according to Heather
                                                                                                James Williams
    The Right-Sizing Plan eliminates                 Florida’s Broward County Public                            Groll, special assistant
10,117 of the Pittsburgh district’s 13,706      Schools in Fort Lauderdale recently won        to the superintendent for community re-
empty seats, reducing the district from         a crisis communications award at the           lations.
86 schools in 80 buildings to 65 schools        American Association of School Admin-
in 63 buildings. Also, one administrative       istrators (AASA) conference in recogni-             His conversations with longtime col-
building will close.                            tion of its performance during last year’s     leagues in education led to a visit to the
                                                hurricanes.                                    district from College Board officials, re-
     Closing schools is not easy. “It’s ev-                                                    sulting in a recent announcement that a
ery bit as hard to close a school as it is to       The school district received the NTI       College Board School will be located in
close a military base, and it’s on a much       Award of Honor in Hurricane Commu-             Buffalo.
more personal, intense level when you talk      nications – “Grace Under Fire” -- for
about schools,” stresses Michael Casserly,      providing leadership and communica-                With support from two founda-
executive director of the Council of the        tions to lead staff, students, parents and     tions, the College Board opened its first
Great City Schools, in Education Week.          the public through the impact of Hurri-        small, secondary school to serve low-in-
                                                canes Katrina and Wilma.                       come and minority students in grades six
    The Pittsburgh school system has                                                           through 12 in 2004 in New York City. In
had more than 50 public meetings and                The award is the result of a new           2005, it opened three more College Board
community forums since November to              partnership among the AASA, National           Schools in New York, aimed to prepare
determine the final Right-Sizing Plan for       School Public Relations Association and        students for college, especially those in
implementation.                                 The NTI Group, which is involved with          urban areas.
                                                the manufacture and delivery of elec-
   Among some of the changes to be              tronic notification systems.                       It recently announced that four more
made under the comprehensive plan:                                                             schools -- three in New York City and
                                                     A $10,000 endowment is included with      one in Buffalo -- will open this fall. The
			•		Three schools and one program will        the award, which will aid students planning    College Board plans to create up to 18
      be relocated;                             a communications major in college.             public schools in grades six to 12.
 •	 Ten schools expand to K-8 schools;                                                                               continued on page 12F

 Page                                                                                                Council of the Great City Schools
                                                        Inside the Council

                                Pictorial of 2006 Legislative Conference

    Council Executive Director Michael Casserly presents
    Council chair and San Francisco superintendent emeritus           Memphis Superintendent Carol Johnson,left, chats with
    Arlene Ackerman an award for her outstanding leadership           Hillsborough County (Tampa) Superintendent MaryEllen
    at the Council.                                                   Elia.

                                                                      San Diego board members John de Beck and Sheila Jackson
   Atlanta Superintendent Beverly Hall makes a point at legislative   attentive to legislative talks.
   briefing as school board chair Kathleen Patillo looks on.

   Jackson Superintendent Earl Watkins shares his views during the    Anchorage Superintendent Carol Comeau addresses the Council
   legislative conference.                                            legislative staff at a session.

 Photos by Alex Jones
April 006                                                                                                               Page 
                                                  Inside the Council

                                                                                            Continued from page 7
 Who Votes For Federal Education Funding                                                    Boston, NYC...
          -- And Who Does Not?
                                                                                            those in large urban districts that serve
                   By Jeff Simering, Director of Legislation                                so many of our children,” said Eli Broad,
                                                                                            founder of The Broad Foundation.
    Enough with the rhetoric,                          theless, this notable level of
                                                                                                 The five districts were chosen among
the spin, and the excuses. Let’s                       bipartisan support for increas-
                                                                                            100 urban school systems nationwide
look at the votes!                                     ing FY2007 federal education
                                                                                            eligible for the award, with the selection
                                                       funding raises serious questions
     After three years of erod-                                                             based on a rigorous review of data.
                                                       about what the other 27 sena-
ing increases in federal funding                       tors were thinking of when they           A fifth-time finalist, the Boston pub-
for elementary and second-                             voted against the Specter-Har-       lic school district “continues to do what
ary education, President Bush                          kin measure.                         some say is impossible – improve stu-
proposed to cut the budget
                                                                                            dents’ performance, regardless of their
for the U.S. Department                                     The 27 United States sen-
                                   LEGISLATIVE                                              race or family income,” stressed Broad in
of Education in FY2006,                                ators voting against the bipar-
                                       COLUMN                                               a news release.
and Congress followed suit                             tisan Specter-Harkin amend-
with reductions in virtually every federal ment to increase the education and health             The New York City school system
K-12 program from No Child Left Behind     budget for FY2007 were:                          has been named a finalist for the second
(NCLB) to the Individuals with Disabili-                                                    year. “All of us involved in the public
ties Education Act (IDEA). Now in the         Allard (R-CO)          Craig (R-ID)           schools of New York – students, parents,
FY2007 budget, President Bush and the         Allen (R-VA)           Crapo (R-ID)
                                                                                            teachers, administrators and all staff –
                                              Bond (R-MO)            DeMint (R-SC)
House and Senate Budget Committees            Brownback (R-KS)       Ensign (R-NV)          should be very proud of this, our second
are poised for further cuts in education      Bunning (R-KY)         Enzi (R-WY)            nomination as a Broad finalist,” said New
funding.                                      Burr (R-NC)            Graham (R-SC)
                                                                                            York Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.
                                                 Chambliss (R-GA)      Gregg (R-NH)
                                                 Coburn (R-OK)         Inhofe (R-OK)
     The battlefield is not without its he-      Cornyn (R-TX)         Isakson (R-GA)           The winning district will be selected
roes, however. Senators Arlen Specter                                                       by a group of educational researchers
                                                             Kyl (R-AZ)
(R-PA) and Tom Harkin (D-IA) have ral-                       Martinez (R-FL)                and educators who conduct site visits to
lied hundreds of national education and                      McCain (R-AZ)                  each of the finalist school districts.
health organizations to coalesce around                      McConnell (R-KY)
                                                             Sessions (R-AL)
an initiative to add back $7 billion into                    Shelby (R-AL)                     Virginia’s Norfolk Public Schools
the education and health budget areas,                       Sununu (R-NH)                  won the Broad Prize last year.
restoring funding to FY2005 levels. On                       Thomas (R-WY)
                                                             Vitter (R-LA)
a 73-27 vote, the Senate overwhelmingly
                                                                                            Continued from page 6
adopted the $7 billion Specter-Harkin
amendment to the FY2007 budget.                    In the House of Representatives,         Nebraska...
                                              Congressman Michael Castle (R-DE) has
     The strong support in the Senate                                                            A few days before the Nebraska leg-
                                              also rallied national education and health
for increasing the FY2007 federal edu-                                                      islature voted on the district breakup, the
                                              organizations behind a similar $7 billion
cation and health budget featured some                                                      Council of the Great City Schools issued
                                              amendment, jointly sponsored with Rep-
prominent “yes” votes, including Senate                                                     a statement announcing that it will move
                                              resentatives Nancy Johnson (R-CT), Dave
Majority Leader Bill Frist, Senate Minor-                                                   its annual conference, scheduled to be
                                              Reichert (R-WA), Robert Simmons (R-CT),
ity Leader Harry Reid, Senate Appro-                                                        held in Omaha in 2008, to another venue
                                              Jim Ramstad (R-MN), and Todd Platts
priations Chairman Thad Cochran, and                                                        outside of Nebraska if the bill passed.
                                              (R-PA). Another education and health
Senate Appropriations Ranking Minority        amendment by Representative Rosa De-
Member Robert Byrd. To be fair and bal-                                                          The Council is now mobilizing other
                                              Lauro (D-CT) was rejected by the House        national organizations, including civil rights
anced, it should be noted that some of        Budget Committee, and the outcome of
the 73 senators who voted in favor of the                                                   groups, to draw attention to what Execu-
                                              the Castle amendment awaits House floor       tive Director Michael Casserly calls an ac-
Specter-Harkin amendment also voted to        consideration of the budget until after the
cut education funding in FY2006. None-                                                      tion that creates racially segregated systems
                                              mid-April congressional recess.               that are “contrary to the American ideal.”

 Page 10                                                                                            Council of the Great City Schools
                                                      Inside the Council

     Orlando Students Spend Spring Break                                                             Hurricane Katrina
          Helping with Katrina Relief                                                                  Survivor Now
                                                                                                     Teaches in Omaha
     Spring break for most Florida high              “People wouldn’t stop saying thank
school students involves soaking up some         you as they drove past,” said 10th grader             Patricia King is a paraprofessional
rays at the beach or just enjoying a week        Lauren Rinaldi. “It felt good that they ap-       at Central Park Elementary in Omaha,
away from school.                                preciated what we were doing.”                    Neb., but for this former teacher from
                                                                                                   New Orleans, the journey to Omaha was
     But for 46 stu-                                                        For the next           a harrowing experience.
dents at Olympia High                                                   three days, the stu-
School in Orlando, Fla.,                                                dents worked at the             A long-time resident of New Or-
this year’s spring break                                                K-8 Capdau Charter         leans, King was used to hurricane sea-
held a special meaning.                                                 School, one of the         son.
While their peers were                                                  few schools open in
                                                                                                        In fact, she didn’t realize how dan-
on vacation, they were                                                  the city, where they
                                                                                                   gerous Hurricane Katrina was until over-
in New Orleans, aiding                                                  moved furniture and
                           Bryce Muller, grade 10, left, and Mahogany                              night, when the water rose to the top
in the rebuilding effort                                                prepared two rooms
                           Gordon, grade 9, work to repair a room at                               floor in her house. The neighbor’s family
of the city devastated     Capdau Charter School in New Orleans.        for painting.
                                                                                                   was with her at the time, and carrying the
by Hurricane Katrina.
                                                      The trip also provided students the          children on their shoulders in water up to
    The trip was the brainchild of two           opportunity to soak up the culture and            their necks, the group made their way to
Olympia teachers, Takumi Sato and                history of New Orleans. The group met             higher ground.
Stephanie Johnson-Possell, and was co-           with local residents and toured historical
                                                                                                       “I never thought this could happen
ordinated in conjunction with Tulane             landmarks, such as the Destrehan Planta-
                                                                                                   in real life,” said King in an interview
University’s alternative spring break pro-       tion where they ate a home cooked jam-
                                                                                                   with the school district’s newsletter, OPS
gram.                                            balaya dinner after a long day of work.
                                                                                                   News. “It was devastating. The water was
      Once the trip was announced, so                 “They learned so much more than              unimaginable.”
many students signed up that a waiting           they could in a classroom by experienc-
                                                                                                        Eventually, the group made its way to
list had to be created.                          ing the devastation and despair as well as
                                                                                                   a highway, and slept overnight to ensure a
                                                 gaining a deeper appreciation for life,”
     Funding for the trip -- to cover ex-                                                          spot on a bus to the Houston AstroDome.
                                                 said Sato.
penses ranging from student insurance to
                                                                                                         Once in Houston, King decided to
goodie bags packed with granola bars--               And the students returned from
                                                                                                   resettle in Omaha, a place she had vis-
was provided by Olympia High’s Parent            New Orleans with so much enthusiasm
                                                                                                   ited only once, but where she thought she
Teacher Student Association. Donations           for volunteering, they have formed a
                                                                                                   could make a life for herself.
also poured in from local businesses and         community service club.
individuals.                                                                                            King arrived in Omaha in Septem-
                                                        “In coming to New Orleans, we each
                                                                                                   ber, and with the help of a friend, found
     Once the students arrived in New            showed support and brought hope to the
                                                                                                   a house and a job at Central Park El-
Orleans, their first assignment was to re-       people of this city,” 11th grader Kara Jor-
                                                                                                   ementary, where she is very happy.
move debris from a neighborhood in a             dan wrote in a journal she kept during the
severely damaged section of the city. This       trip. “And they in turn gave us insight into           “I love it here,” said King in the OPS
experience gave them their first look at         their lives. And the spirit of their culture...   News. “The kids are great and the teach-
the devastation caused by the hurricane,         has given me so much respect and even             ers have been so welcoming.”
as they saw tattered family photo albums         more gratitude for the things I have.”
and personal belongings strewn about.                                                                   King returned to New Orleans to
                                                                                                   retrieve some of her belongings, but af-
    Their work was very much appreciat-                                                            ter witnessing the devastation left behind
ed by the local residents, many of whom              Story reported by Rebekah Shep-
                                                                                                   by Hurricane Katrina, is grateful for her
hadn’t seen anyone come to help in their         pard, 9th grade student at Olympia
                                                                                                   new life in Omaha.
neighborhood in six months.                      High, in Orlando.

April 006                                                                                                                          Page 11
                                                     Inside the Council

                                                                                               Continued from page 8
       Urban Schools Win ‘Grammy Awards’                                                       College Board...
    The Duke Ellington School of the                  The school was one of 42 schools
Arts in Washington, D.C., was recently           nationwide that have been designated as             In Buffalo, the new Math, Science &
recognized for its strong commitment             GRAMMY Signature Schools for their            Technology Preparatory School at Seneca
to music education with a $15,000 award          outstanding music programs.                   will be housed at the former Seneca High
from the GRAMMY Foundation.                                                                    School, which had been closed along with
                                                      The Duke Ellington School received
                                                                                               other school buildings because of shrink-
Continued from page 2                            the GRAMMY Signature Schools Enter-
                                                                                               ing student enrollment.
                                                 prise Award, which recognizes schools
Baltimore Wins...
                                                 that are economically underserved.                Groll indicates that there will be
ment, corrective action, and restructuring                                                     “high expectations for students in the
                                                     In addition, urban schools in Dallas,
of public schools.”                                                                            program.”
                                                 Houston and Las Vegas were selected as
                                                 “Gold” recipients and received a $5,000           In August, 160 students in grades six
     In an editorial, the Baltimore Sun crit-
                                                 award to benefit their music programs.        and nine will attend a summer program
icized the governor’s veto. “Gov. Robert
Ehrlich Jr. has insisted that Baltimore’s                                                      at Buffalo State College that will include
                                                       Big-city schools in Seattle, Jackson-
schoolchildren have not received their                                                         mathematics, science, and study skills to
                                                 ville, Fla., and Long Beach, Calif., were
constitutional rights to an adequate edu-                                                      prepare them for the new school.
                                                 awarded a $1,000 gift, with the Douglas
cation – and he’s right. But the constitu-       Anderson School of the Arts in Jackson-             Then in September, they become
tional outrage is that the city is not receiv-   ville receiving an additional $5,000 grant    the first students at the new Math Sci-
ing its fair share of state school aid.”         to benefit its guitar and piano program.      ence & Technology Preparatory School at
     The Maryland General Assembly im-                                                         Seneca. They will be expected to take ad-
                                                      Sponsored by 7 UP, the GRAMMY
posed a one-year moratorium on the state’s                                                     vanced classes, work on research projects
                                                 Signature Schools program was estab-
takeover plan. After the final vote, Balti-                                                    with scientists, and attend extra classes af-
                                                 lished in 1989 to honor public high
more school board chairman Brian Mor-                                                          ter school and in the summer, leading to
                                                 schools that have top music programs.
ris reportedly said, “The only thing that                                                      graduation and preparation for college.
counts will be how well and how quickly
we achieve our academic goals….”

                   Council of the Great City Schools                                                                      PRESORT
                   1301 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.                                                                         First Class
                   Suite 702                                                                                             U.S. Postage
                   Washington, D.C. 20004                                                                              Washington, D.C.
                                                                                                                        Permit No. 251

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