It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.

Antonucci: This Is What It Looks Like When Teacher Unions Fight Their Own Employees

Antonucci: This Is What It Looks Like When Teacher Unions Fight Their Own Employees

The majority of individuals employed by teacher unions are also members of a separate union known as a staff union. They engage in collective bargaining with union executives and managers, often finding themselves in difficult positions when negotiations do not go smoothly. In these instances, union managers may have to make tough decisions such as budget cuts, layoffs, reduction of benefits, or engaging in behaviors that they criticize school administrators for.

On one hand, employees of teacher unions receive more generous salaries and benefits compared to the teachers they represent. However, on the other hand, union managers can exhibit similar negative traits and attitudes as seen in the corporate world. One common complaint is that union executives often show little respect for their subordinates.

Currently, employees of the Kentucky Education Association (KEA) are in the process of negotiating a new contract with their managers. Although a tentative agreement was reached last September, it was rejected by the staff union, leading both parties to return to the bargaining table. To increase pressure on KEA managers, the staff union has resorted to forming informational picket lines outside the union headquarters.

Over the years, there have been numerous disputes between teacher union employees and managers. Fortunately, most of these conflicts are resolved before any drastic job actions are taken. However, there have been instances where staff unions have gone on strike against teacher unions, and the state of Kentucky is one such example.

In January 2000, employees of KEA went on strike not only for higher pay but also because union managers sought to tie any pay increase to maintaining a membership level of at least 28,500. Unfortunately, the timing was unfavorable for the union as they were concurrently lobbying for a collective bargaining bill in the state legislature.

Efforts by management to prevent the strike actually made it inevitable. At the time, Charlie Vice, the executive director of KEA, sent a memo to all employees addressing their concerns about the strike. Vice informed them that in the event of a staff strike, KEA had the legal right to hire permanent replacements. He also stated that striking employees had the right to return to their former positions if they were available. Lastly, he assured them that they had a legal right to work and were welcome.

Vice further advised KEA employees on the process of resigning from the staff union. Unsurprisingly, this did not sit well with the workers, leading them to go on strike for a duration of six days. Eventually, a satisfactory settlement was reached, but the collective bargaining bill failed to pass in the legislature.

Internal labor disputes within unions rarely benefit teachers. Often, managers give in to employee demands in order to avoid negative media coverage brought about by a staff strike. This in turn leads to higher union dues. However, when unions resort to layoffs and benefit cuts to balance budgets, it gives school administrators the justification to adopt similar measures, to the detriment of teachers.

The conflicts highlighted in these situations demonstrate that collective bargaining is not a simple battle between good and evil. Infinite desires and limited resources result in differing opinions on how they should be allocated.

Much like the TV show "Undercover Boss" exposes corporate managers to the challenges faced by their employees, staff union negotiations expose unionists to the difficulties of dealing with organized labor demands.

While it remains unsure if this premise would make for a successful reality series, it has the potential to entertain and educate us.

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Analysis: By 2022, America Will Need 1 Million More College Grads With STEM Training Than We Are On Track To Produce

Analysis: By 2022, America Will Need 1 Million More College Grads With STEM Training Than We Are on Track to Produce

Change is an essential part of life, and fearing the unknown or different is essentially fearing life itself. Teddy Roosevelt’s words ring true even today, as we live in a time of significant change and endless possibilities. One area where this change is most evident is in the transformation of America’s workforce due to automation and rapid technological advancements, which are reshaping the global economy.

These forces of change have sparked national discussions on how to prepare our students for the evolving nature of work and how to seize the opportunities presented by the 21st-century economy.

As the economy continues to evolve, we must adapt along with it, creating a workforce that is ready to meet the demands of this new era. This is our chance to build a workforce that will thrive not just for a few years but throughout their entire lives.

At the heart of the opportunities and challenges we face in a global economy are the growing importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) skills. In fact, 10 out of the 14 fastest-growing industries require STEM training. To keep up with the projected demand for STEM jobs, the United States will need to produce an additional 1 million college graduates with STEM training by 2022.

Furthermore, traditional middle-skills jobs that used to only require a high school diploma now demand a stronger background in STEM. Consequently, industries are currently experiencing a shortage of qualified candidates for these skilled positions.

However, most attempts to address this issue have focused on short-term solutions, such as rapidly training individuals to fill existing jobs. To truly solve this problem, we need a long-term approach.

With the rapid pace of technological advancement, it’s highly likely that a job that can be easily learned in a few months may become automated in a couple of years. The World Economic Forum predicts that 65 percent of children entering primary school today will have jobs that do not yet exist. Therefore, it will be crucial to adapt our foundational skills to new settings.

To prepare future generations of workers for the changes that lie ahead, we must invest in developing their fundamental skills from an early age. This investment should begin in kindergarten and continue throughout high school and beyond. In order to thrive in the 21st-century economy, K-12 teachers must focus on teaching STEM skills and imparting critical thinking, creativity, and careful problem solving.

That’s why we are both committed to a collaborative national effort called 100Kin10, which aims to recruit and train 100,000 exceptional K-12 STEM teachers by 2021. Strengthening K-12 STEM education is the most effective long-term investment we can make to prepare our nation for the challenges of the future. 100Kin10 is driven by a diverse coalition of leading organizations and businesses, including the New York City Department of Education, the American Federation of Teachers, Google, Chevron, the UTeach Institute, and nearly 300 others. All of these entities recognize the urgency of this moment and share a stake in preserving America’s global competitiveness.

In the past, America has faced similar shifts. When automation reduced the need for farmworkers in the early 20th century, the country introduced universal high school education to prepare children for the jobs of the future. By expanding our vision and investing in new skillsets for kids, the nation reaped the benefits.

Now, we find ourselves facing a similar shift driven by economic realities. History teaches us that we must ensure our schools teach the skills that will drive tomorrow’s economy. This is our opportunity to set up our workforce for lifelong success, far beyond the next few years.

Nevertheless, we should not neglect mid-career training programs for workers who need to develop new skills. These programs are crucial for individuals like coal miners in West Viriginia or unemployed car assemblers in Ohio. However, we can and must simultaneously help existing workers acquire new skills and foundational STEM knowledge, while also ensuring that recent high school graduates possess the adaptability and skills necessary for the future.

To address these issues, we must take a long-term approach. We need a sustainable strategy for workforce development that not only responds to the changing needs of workers but also focuses on building a solid foundation of knowledge and skills for our younger generations.

Your assignment is to rephrase the entire text using more refined vocabulary and ensure it is original while maintaining a natural flow. All content must be written in English. The original text to be rephrased is as follows:

Virtually There

The purpose of a field trip for teachers is to bring learning to life for students in a way that cannot be achieved through textbooks alone. Although there may be some challenges, such as students wandering off or buses getting stuck in traffic, the overall experience is usually worth the effort. Reading about something is not the same as seeing it in person.

According to the experience of three 5th-grade classes at Lyles-Crouch Elementary School, virtual field trips are no exception. The students at this school recently participated in a virtual field trip through Turner Educational Services’ Adventure Learning program. They "visited" Berlin to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.

During the three-day live television broadcast, the students virtually explored the Brandenburg Gate in what was previously East Berlin. They also visited a historic church that was bombed during the war and the future location of Germany’s Parliament. Additionally, they had the opportunity to interact with World War II veterans, survivors of the bombing of Dresden, and German high school students and their teacher. Students could ask these experts questions through telephones, computer networks, and fax machines, with the possibility of having their questions answered on air.

Just like physical field trips, this virtual experience had its challenges. It rained in Berlin, which affected the quality of the broadcast. However, the 5th graders at Lyles-Crouch Elementary School remained comfortable and dry. Teachers also encountered some confusion regarding the technology and where to send their students’ questions. Some of the students were disappointed when their questions were not broadcasted, unlike those from the other schools watching the program. Additionally, there was a minor incident where a boy vomited on the rug in the first row. However, these setbacks did not diminish the overall value of the experience for the students and teachers.

Kiana Williams, a student at Lyles-Crouch, admitted that she initially wasn’t very enthusiastic about learning World War II history. However, after the virtual field trip, she has developed a newfound interest in the subject. Turner Educational Services is among the few organizations experimenting with virtual field trips. The Jason Project, founded by oceanographer Robert Ballard, is one of the most well-known initiatives in this field. Through this project, students have the opportunity to interact with experts and even remotely control robotic equipment for scientific expeditions.

Educators and entrepreneurs aspire for virtual field trips to become more common in schools across the country. These experiences allow students to visit places that would otherwise be inaccessible to them. Linda G. Roberts, the director of the U.S. Education Department’s office of technology assistance, emphasizes the importance of providing these opportunities for all students, especially those who do not have access to resources like science museums in their communities.

The hope is that virtual field trips will continue to gain popularity and become a regular part of the educational experience for students nationwide.

Questions and Technical Issues

However, schools like Lyles-Crouch Elementary are still years away from having access to the advancements mentioned above. According to national statistics, schools typically have an average of one computer for every nine or 10 students. In contrast, Lyles-Crouch only has 15 computers for three grades. Additionally, only two computers are equipped with modems that allow teachers to access large computer networks.

Due to these technological limitations, all 70 5th graders had to gather in the school’s library for the telecast from Berlin. Furthermore, the school does not subscribe to America Online, which is the computer network that students could have used to send questions to Berlin. The teachers received a start-up kit from Turner, which included a free trial subscription to the network a day or two before the field trip. However, they expressed the desire for more preparation time, such as a 15-minute practice run the previous day.

Many teachers and participants in a computer forum during the broadcast shared the same sentiment. In the initial minutes of the program, educators from all over North America were asking where to send their students’ questions. However, these inquiries disappeared later in the broadcast.

Although the 5th graders at Lyles-Crouch don’t usually study World War II, the field trip presented an irresistible opportunity for their teachers. The Retired Officers Association, a national organization, generously offered to cover the fee for the school, allowing them to take part in the trip.

Instead of giving their students an intensive crash course on World War II prior to the field trip, the teachers decided to use the experience as an introduction to the subject and to ignite their curiosity for further study. This approach was successful for the most part.

During the trip, the students had a multitude of questions. Michelle Clark wanted to know why certain places were called concentration camps. Louis Smith was curious about the weapons used in the war. Michelle Heinz asked a former German soldier if they believed they would win or lose at the beginning of the war. Shantice Bates asked German high school students how they learned about World War II through various forms of media.

However, the students were most interested in learning about the daily lives of children who experienced the war. Megan Shapiro asked if they were aware of what was happening around them. Other students were curious about whether war-era children had toys to play with and what frightened them the most during their experiences.

In total, students from all participating schools sent 800 questions via America Online and the internet. Some questions were also conveyed through telephone and fax machines. Turner’s spokesperson reported that one week after the broadcast, 150 of the 800 computer-generated questions had been answered. Lyles-Crouch also submitted a question, but they were still waiting for a response two weeks later. This was disappointing for both the students and their teachers, as they were hoping for immediate feedback. However, Turner officials noted that getting on the air for the field trip was akin to trying to be on air during a broadcast of "Larry King Live" – there is a lengthy electronic queue that needs to be navigated.

A Blend of Novelty and Education

The three one-hour broadcasts were hosted by an American woman and a German man. Throughout the electronic journey, they took students on a historical adventure, starting from the Allied Forces’ victory in Europe and ending with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. They also discussed the growth of the "skinhead" movement in present-day Germany, the rebuilding of Germany, the birth of the United Nations, the Cold War, and various other topics. The program featured a mix of prepared segments that resembled Turner’s Cable News Network broadcasts, as well as live tours and interviews with people who were present at the historical sites.

One of the participants, a former German airman, shared his experience of being wounded by machine-gun fire when the Russians invaded eastern Germany. He recounted how a Russian doctor played a vital role in nursing him back to health. Another German participant, who was a 14-year-old schoolboy during the Allied bombing of Dresden, described helping a friend search for his parents amidst the city’s devastated buildings.

Your assignment is to rephrase the entire content using enhanced vocabulary and creating a unique version using natural language. All the output must be written in English. The text to be revised is as follows:

Schools Hit By Vouchers Fight Back

Change has arrived at Spencer Bibbs Advanced Learning Academy, represented by the colors blue and white. Students at this K-5 school are now wearing new uniforms consisting of navy shorts and crisp white polo shirts. The girls are accessorizing their outfits with matching hair ribbons and beads. Furthermore, the school’s teachers, secretaries, and even classroom volunteers have also adopted this dress code to promote unity within the school community. This new uniform policy serves as a visible reminder of the intangible changes that the staff members at Spencer Bibbs have made since the school was designated as a failing school by the state. As part of a new accountability initiative, which includes the introduction of the first statewide voucher program in the country, the school received an F rating, a fate that befell nearly 80 other schools across the state.

However, the situation at Bibbs is different from most failing schools in Florida. Only two schools, including A.A. Dixon Elementary School located just two miles away, were given the opportunity to offer vouchers to their students, allowing them to attend another public or private school of their choice. Although both schools dislike this new state policy, the staff members at Bibbs and Dixon are determined to overcome the stigma associated with their low ratings and strive for higher academic achievement in the future. To support this effort, Bibbs has implemented new uniforms, extended the school year, and focused extensively on reading, writing, and mathematics. Linda Scott, the principal of Bibbs, emphasizes that everyone present at the school is there because they genuinely want to be. The students themselves seem to have a greater level of commitment this year, as they are tired of being labeled as failing students.

Unfortunately, the implementation of the voucher program has had some negative consequences. After the passage of the accountability program, 58 students from the neighborhoods served by Bibbs and Dixon were chosen through a lottery to receive vouchers worth approximately $3,400 each. These students now attend one of five participating private schools, the majority of which are Catholic schools. Additionally, around 80 more students transferred to other public schools within the Escambia County district. As a result, both Bibbs and Dixon have experienced a decline in enrollment.

To be eligible for vouchers, students at Bibbs and Dixon had to meet certain performance requirements on the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test, a state assessment that was first administered in February. Under the legislation signed by Governor Jeb Bush, schools are graded on an A-to-F scale primarily based on the results of this state test. Schools graded as F for two out of every four years qualify for vouchers of up to $4,000, which can be used to attend qualifying public, private, or religious schools. On the other hand, schools graded as A receive performance incentives of up to $100 per student. Although this is only the first year of the new policy, Bibbs and Dixon were selected for the voucher program because they were the only two out of the 78 Florida schools that received F ratings, which were also on the state’s 1998 list of critically underperforming schools. If the program continues, it is expected that many more schools will qualify for vouchers in the following year.

A lawsuit has been filed with the aim of eliminating the voucher program. The lawsuit, filed in June by a coalition that includes the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the state affiliate of the National Education Association, is currently pending in state court. The plaintiffs argue that the program violates state and federal constitutional provisions that prohibit government funding for religious purposes, and also harms public schools by diverting public funds. Bibbs and Dixon, which serve children from six low-income public housing projects, have always faced challenging circumstances. The majority of students at these predominantly black schools come from low-income backgrounds and rely on free or reduced-price lunches. Additionally, students are constantly entering and leaving these schools throughout the year. This year, as the first schools affected by the high-profile accountability plan, the staff members at Bibbs and Dixon have had to adapt to increased scrutiny as they become the focus of the ongoing national debate surrounding vouchers.

"We will have to make some cuts," stated the principal of Bibbs School. "Due to a decline in enrollment, we need to find areas where we can make adjustments."

The principals of both Bibbs and Dixon schools currently feel encouraged by the overwhelming support they have received from the community. Banners, balloons, and baskets of apples have been delivered by well-wishers from other schools in the district. Local organizations even raised $5,000 to provide uniforms for Bibbs students who are unable to afford them. Additionally, a nearby health club offered staff members massages. The principal, Ms. Scott, emphasized the importance of the offers to volunteer, estimating that there are now over 50 volunteers available thanks to local churches, companies, and a group of retirees known as the "foster grandparents" of the school.

The impact of this extra help was evident during Bibbs’ mandatory 90-minute reading block. Twenty-nine kindergarten students were seen quietly engaged in their new phonics-based reading program, with two teachers and two volunteers closely monitoring their progress. Ms. Scott mentioned that the recent hiring of a new teacher would soon reduce class sizes to 20. With support from various faculty members, such as the music instructor and the gym teacher, who assist in teaching reading in the mornings, students receive ample personal attention. A parent named Rita Grandberry, who turned down vouchers to keep her 2nd grader and kindergartner enrolled in Bibbs School, expressed satisfaction with the improvements: "I can see a significant change. The overall environment and learning structure are much better this year."

However, for Tracy Richardson, a single mother who decided to use a state voucher to send her 8-year-old daughter to a nearby Montessori school, Bibbs’ extensive efforts to improve come too late. Ms. Richardson had previously resorted to sending her daughter to live with her grandmother in another part of town just to avoid Bibbs School. She explained, "I desperately wanted her to attend a different school because of all the negative things I had heard about Spencer Bibbs from people in the neighborhood." Now, with the help of a voucher, Ms. Richardson’s daughter lives at home and attends a structured school environment that her mother believes has positively impacted her behavior and concentration. Despite hearing about the recent changes at Bibbs, Ms. Richardson still intends to make her daughter’s switch to Montessori education permanent. She remarked, "It took competition to provoke improvements at Bibbs. Now, everyone’s focus is on the kids. It’s a completely different atmosphere. Why didn’t they do this earlier?"

Although competition may have driven improvements this year, the principals of the schools acknowledge that it has not come without consequences. Bibbs and Dixon schools are now unashamedly teaching to the state test, shifting their academic programs to heavily focus on reading, writing, and math.

At Dixon School, teachers have introduced mechanical timers during their teaching drills to help students become more comfortable working under pressure. Ms. Ladner, one of the principals, recalled a student who felt so overwhelmed by the time constraints during the previous year’s test that he angrily pushed his test booklet off his desk and refused to continue. Some classrooms even have cardboard note cards filled with problems from the state test, with students completing one problem a day to familiarize themselves with the exam format. During recently added Saturday and after-school tutoring sessions, the focus is on improving test-taking skills. However, Superintendent May believes that this emphasis on high-stakes testing fails to consider the whole person. "Reading, writing, and math have taken precedence over everything else," May stated. But what the principals find even more distressing than the pressure to succeed on these tests is the "failing" label that they believe misrepresents their teachers and schools.

Ms. Ladner recounted a visit to the home of a 5th-grade boy who had missed school two days in a row due to rain. She expressed how staff members went door-to-door at the start of the summer, urging parents to send their children to school. Teachers who showed such dedication take the failure label personally. "The implication of being an F school in the state’s eyes is that we are not effectively teaching," she refuted. "This is completely untrue and unjust."

Your assignment is to rephrase the entire text using improved vocabulary and creating a unique version with natural syntax. The final output should be expressed in English. The given text to be rewritten is as follows:

N.Y.C. To Post School Attendance Amid Swine Flu Scare

On Wednesday, two additional public schools in New York City were closed due to concerns about swine flu. Students at a school that lost an assistant principal to the disease were also instructed to stay away longer than originally planned. These closures bring the total number of city public and private schools shut down within the last week due to flu fears to at least 23.

The most recent closures affect P.S. 242, an elementary school in Queens where 10 students showed flu symptoms in the past three days, and P.S. 130, another elementary school in Queens where 12 students and 23 staff members fell ill. P.S. 130 also accommodates approximately 70 students from a special education school called P.S. 993.I.S. 238, the school where Mitchell Wiener, the assistant principal who died from swine flu, worked, is set to reopen to students on Tuesday instead of Friday as initially planned. However, teachers will still return on Friday. The city Health Department has not provided an immediate explanation for the decision to bring teachers back first.

During the funeral of Mitchell Wiener, mourners paid their respects to the administrator, who had been known for his dedication to students. Wiener had been teaching at the Queens school since 1978. Student Jeffery Grey expressed his sadness and feeling of loss at Wiener’s passing. The funeral highlighted the frustration of Wiener’s family, who claimed that the city should have closed the school earlier. Some parents in the city also questioned the timing and scale of school closures.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden defended the city’s approach of deciding whether to close each public school on a case-by-case basis. Education officials released attendance rates on Wednesday, which revealed that one school that stayed open had an attendance rate as low as 39 percent. However, officials cautioned against interpreting high absenteeism as an indication of a flu outbreak, as many parents are keeping their children at home out of fear.

Amid the anxieties surrounding the virus, more than half of the city’s schools still had 90 percent or more of their students attending classes on Wednesday. In Queens, a tent was set up at the Queens Hospital Center as a field triage unit to handle concerned parents seeking reassurance, rather than a surge of sick patients. As of now, there have been 201 confirmed cases of swine flu in New York City out of a total of 299 statewide. The Levittown school district on Long Island also announced the closure of 12 schools on Thursday due to flu concerns.

Mastery Of Science Standards Long Way Off, NAEP Suggests

While state and education leaders strive to finalize a set of voluntary national standards to enhance the quality of science education, current students are struggling to demonstrate a deep understanding of key science concepts prioritized by these new standards. The results of the first National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), conducted in 2009 and recently released, revealed that students in 4th, 8th, and 12th grades performed poorly when asked to apply higher-level problem-solving and critical-thinking skills in real or simulated laboratory settings. Furthermore, the 2011 NAEP results in science, published last month, showed that less than a third of 8th graders performed at a "proficient" level.

Although these outcomes were expected, concerns remain regarding the challenges associated with improving science education. Merely encouraging states to adopt uniform national science standards, which emphasize the improvement of students’ in-depth knowledge of science concepts, their understanding of connections between these concepts, and their application to the real world, may not be sufficient. Practical obstacles, such as district budget cuts and the pressure to cover curriculum and regularly assess students, may hinder the implementation of such changes. Susan Singer, a professor of natural sciences at Carleton College in Minnesota, emphasized the importance of developing excellent curriculum alongside the implementation of strong standards.

The recent hands-on and computer-based NAEP in science assessments required students to predict and observe particular scenarios, as well as explain the findings of their experiments or investigations. These assessments aimed to evaluate students’ ability to engage in "real-life" science situations, comprehend the scientific concepts underlying their investigations, and reason through these situations. The report from the National Center for Education Statistics highlighted that modern graduates are increasingly expected to perform tasks that demand more than rote memorization and following instructions. Alan J. Friedman, a member of the National Assessment Governing Board, stated that these tests cannot be memorized for and cannot be prepared for through rote practice. Instead, they assess students’ ability to navigate complex environments and utilize their understanding of real-world applications.

Each test was administered to approximately 2,000 students at each grade level. Students were given two 40-minute hands-on tasks or three interactive computer tasks, lasting between 20 to 40 minutes. For example, 8th graders might have been asked to plan a simulated recreation area for a town, assess the impact of different locations on wildlife, and determine the best space to build on. On average, students were capable of accurately reporting observations in scenarios with limited data. However, they struggled when manipulating multiple variables and making decisions as part of running an experiment. Moreover, a higher number of students were able to draw correct conclusions from experiments compared to those who could provide explanations or justifications based on the findings. For instance, although 71% of 4th graders accurately determined how volume changes when ice melts, only 15% were able to explain why based on evidence from the experiment.

The findings were fairly consistent across grade levels, with 12th graders performing approximately 15 percentage points lower than younger students on the interactive computer tasks. The release of these results coincides with a draft of the new national science standards, currently under development by a group of 26 states and led by Achieve, a nonprofit organization based in Washington. These standards focus on scientific and engineering practices, cross-cutting concepts, and core subject matter in science, engineering, and technology. The final standards are expected to be published early next year, requiring participating states to allocate resources towards improving science curricula, assessments, and teaching methods.

‘Fused Knowledge’

While some educators express concern about the outcomes of recent hands-on and interactive computer tasks, others are less worried. Nancy Butler Songer, a professor specializing in science education and learning technologies at the University of Michigan, believes it is encouraging that NAEP officials and national organizations like Achieve are acknowledging the need for changes in science education, particularly the development of "fused knowledge" which combines content knowledge with scientific practices.

These ongoing efforts represent crucial steps towards improving science education, with components including professional development to enhance teaching skills, curriculum and standards to guide instruction, and assessments to measure students’ comprehension of concepts. "We used to have a false understanding of what it means to truly comprehend science," explained Ms. Songer. "It has taken time to uproot this misconception, but we now understand that achieving deep understanding in science requires actively engaging in sophisticated scientific practices. This entails using models, conducting experiments, and applying evidence to concepts in order to genuinely grasp scientific knowledge."

ESEA To Boost Federal Role In Education

After an extensive effort by Congress that lasted almost three years and gained broad bipartisan support, President Bush was expected to sign the revised Elementary and Secondary Education Act into law this week.

The legislation establishes requirements that will impact almost every public school in the country. It mandates statewide reading and mathematics tests each year for grades 3-8, the presence of a "highly qualified" teacher in every classroom, and measurable progress by states and districts towards academic proficiency for all students within 12 years. It also applies new pressure to improve low-performing schools, with a series of consequences for those that consistently fail to make progress.

Known as the "No Child Left Behind" Act of 2001, this major measure is accompanied by the largest increase in federal education funding ever. The Department of Education’s budget will rise by $6.7 billion in fiscal year 2002, totaling nearly $49 billion. Congress approved the education appropriation for the current budget year shortly after passing the final version of the ESEA. This legislation and the accompanying budget aim to better allocate resources to high-poverty school districts. The ESEA now also provides greater flexibility, especially for districts, in terms of how they utilize their federal funding.

The final package represents a political compromise involving various interests, but it incorporates many of the president’s original proposals introduced just days after Mr. Bush assumed office a year ago this month. The bill garnered nearly 90 percent support in Congress, with significant majorities from both parties. The ESEA, last reauthorized during President Clinton’s term in 1994, is the primary federal law governing precollegiate education. It was initially enacted in 1965 under President Lyndon B. Johnson and includes the flagship federal K-12 program, Title I.

Representative George Miller of California, the ranking Democrat on the House Education and the Workforce Committee, described the "No Child Left Behind" measure as bipartisan legislation in the truest sense of the word. The bill passed the House with a 281-41 vote on December 13. Less than a week later, it received approval from the Senate with a vote of 87-10. Secretary of Education Rod Paige applauded the "educational consensus between President Bush and congressional leaders in both parties." He argued that the legislation would transform the federal role in education from merely providing funding to investing. "When federal spending becomes an investment, it enables the federal government to demand results," the Secretary stated. "And demanding results is exactly what the Department of Education will do."

However, while most politicians in Washington have praised their work, education leaders across the country have had a more mixed response to the plan. "I share the same concerns that you will likely hear from many educators: the excessive focus on testing," said Lewis W. Finch, the superintendent of the Cedar Rapids school district in Iowa, which has 18,000 students. "They are relying on such a narrow set of information to make critical judgments." Mr. Finch also voiced concerns about the new requirements potentially outweighing the level of federal aid provided. "If it’s only about 7 percent," he remarked regarding the estimated federal share of district expenditures nationwide, "don’t you think they’re going a little too far?"

Key Concessions

Although the final legislation reflects many of President Bush’s priorities, it also includes some significant changes from the 28-page blueprint he revealed a year ago. For instance, his proposal to provide private school vouchers to students in persistently failing public schools was removed early on due to firm opposition from Democrats. Democrats also effectively stopped his plan to allow some states to convert most ESEA funding into a block grant in exchange for negotiating a performance agreement with the Education Department. Additionally, both Republicans and Democrats together rejected Mr. Bush’s proposed system of financial rewards and penalties for states based on their progress in improving student achievement.

Meanwhile, the overall spending for the Department of Education increased to $48.9 billion, which is $4.4 billion higher than Mr. Bush’s original request. While Democrats had been pushing for an even greater increase in total funding, they had to make concessions as well. The final bill includes a level of program consolidation and flexibility for districts to spend federal aid that some Democrats found unfavorable. They also lost funding for a highly valued program for school repairs, amounting to about $1 billion. However, Democrats reluctantly agreed to another of the president’s ideas for increasing families’ educational options: allowing parents to allocate a portion of a failing school’s Title I aid for private tutoring.

Many members of both parties had to accept the new testing and accountability provisions imposed by the federal government. Currently, few states seem to meet the law’s testing requirements. Representative John A. Boehner, the chairman of the House education committee, had to work hard to persuade his conservative colleagues to support the bill, despite their past calls for eliminating the federal Education Department. In the end, only 33 House Republicans voted against the bill.

However, Mr. Boehner cautioned that congressional action on the bill is just the beginning. Implementing the reforms in each state will be a challenging task. Many states have yet to fully comply with core requirements from the 1994 version of the ESEA, especially those related to standards and testing. The new ESEA builds upon the changes set in place by that previous reauthorization.

The road to this reauthorization did not start last January with President Bush’s arrival in town. In the spring of 1999, President Clinton presented his own plan to overhaul the ESEA. Lawmakers spent a significant amount of time from 1999 to 2000 working on the legislation, but with substantial differences remaining between President Clinton and the GOP-controlled House and Senate as the 2000 election campaign intensified, the effort was eventually abandoned.

President Bush made education a top priority during his campaign and pursued an active federal role in schools. It was an unusual stance for a Republican presidential candidate since the 1996 party platform advocated for the abolishment of the Department of Education. President Bush unveiled his education package just two days after taking office, receiving applause from Representative Boehner who commended him for taking education and the party in a new direction.

Former Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley, who led the Education Department during the Clinton administration, expressed satisfaction with the final result of the bill. Although he had some reservations about President Bush’s original plan, he believed that the final plan aligned closely with what President Clinton wanted. Mr. Riley stated that if he were still secretary, he would recommend that the measure be signed into law.

Overall, the reauthorization of the ESEA is seen as a boost for urban schools and a significant step forward in addressing educational challenges across the nation.

The final agreement on the education legislation excluded a significant measure that would have allocated more money to school districts nationwide. This measure involved shifting the spending for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) from the "discretionary" to the "mandatory" side of the federal budget. By making this change, the annual appropriations process in Congress would have been bypassed, and special education spending would have been guaranteed to increase for several years. Although this measure was included in the Senate version of the legislation, it was ultimately removed due to strong opposition from Republicans in the House of Representatives.

This decision led Senator James M. Jeffords of Vermont, who was the Senate’s only Independent, to vote against the final legislation. He emphasized that without proper funding, the changes made would be counterproductive and discouraging. Senator Jeffords’ decision to leave the Republican Party and become an Independent, as well as support the Democrats in Senate governance votes, shifted the balance of power in the Senate to the Democrats. However, other members who supported the special education provision believed that, despite not meeting their desired funding levels, the overall bill was still worth supporting.

Senator Kennedy highlighted various provisions in the bill that aimed to improve education, including expanding opportunities for professional development among educators, providing funding to reduce class sizes, and strengthening after-school programs. He also mentioned that the bill would allocate resources and support to underperforming schools. While he regretted that not all children who could benefit from these programs would be reached, he stressed that there would still be a significant increase in resources. Senator Kennedy vowed that Democrats would continue to advocate for more funding, acknowledging that this battle would persist in the coming years.

Although funding for special education will remain discretionary for now, the budget for state grants under the IDEA saw an increase of approximately $1.2 billion, bringing it to a total of $7.53 billion for fiscal year 2002. The funding for ESEA programs, particularly Title I, also experienced substantial growth with an additional $1.6 billion allocated, bringing the total to $10.35 billion.

On the Republican side, there is satisfaction with certain provisions in the ESEA overhaul that grant parents new options when a poorly performing school fails to show sufficient progress over time. If a school fails to make adequate progress for two consecutive years, it must offer public school choice. After three years, parents have the option to direct a portion of the school’s Title I aid towards private tutoring. Republicans highlighted that this tutoring opportunity would be available to at least 3,000 schools already identified as failing, starting from the next academic year. They believe that this provision provides a significant incentive for parents to seek additional support for their children and for school systems to improve their performance.

When asked about the tutoring provision, some state and district leaders expressed concerns about the potential complications associated with implementing it.

Certain prominent members of the Republican party have emphasized that the final version of the legislation has reduced the total number of individual programs under the ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) from 55 to 45. However, upon closer examination of the final appropriations bill, it becomes evident that some of the programs that were supposedly consolidated within the ESEA legislation have resurfaced as separate items in the budget. These include provisions such as $50 million allocated for physical education programs, $25 million for grants targeting alcohol abuse prevention among young people, $32.5 million for elementary school counseling, and $142 million to encourage the establishment of smaller schools.

It is understandable that members of Congress and officials within the Bush administration have been highlighting the significance of finally passing this education bill, considering the lengthy process it has undergone. Furthermore, it serves as one of the few domestic-policy achievements that both Republicans and Democrats can proudly point to this year in Washington.

Leaders from both parties, as well as various commentators, have described this bill as the most comprehensive reform of federal education policy since the initial implementation of the K-12 education law 36 years ago. However, some experienced political figures urge caution when it comes to getting carried away by such rhetoric. Former Secretary Riley recalls that in 1994, when Congress passed both the Goals 2000 legislation and the previous reauthorization of the ESEA, it was seen as a momentous change.

"The changes we made were described as sweeping," remarks Mr. Riley. "Whoever passes the next reauthorization will undoubtedly describe it in the same way."

Charter School Activist Gains New Influence In L.A.

From the downtown headquarters of his charter school company, Green Dot Public Schools, Steve Barr can observe exactly what he believes is problematic with education in Los Angeles. He guides a visitor to the terrace, deliberately overlooking the remarkable Frank Gehry-designed Walt Disney Concert Hall, and directs their attention west to the 29-story headquarters of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Mr. Barr, the founder of Green Dot Public Schools, is a supporter of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who is preparing to oversee his own subset of schools next year. Green Dot currently operates 10 small high schools.

"That building represents everything that Green Dot schools are not, and what no schools should be," says Mr. Barr, a robust man standing at 6-foot-3 with disheveled gray hair and a fondness for untucked oxford shirts. "It’s large, bureaucratic, and unapproachable for students and their parents."

Mr. Barr, a former Democratic political organizer who has now established an empire of charter schools, has engaged in a contentious two-year campaign to persuade leaders in the nation’s second-largest school system to allow him to manage one or more struggling high schools. Thus far, the answer has been no. However, with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, his ally, set to assume control of the district on January 1st, Mr. Barr may finally have the opportunity he has been seeking to bring his reform methods to some of the city’s large, underperforming high schools. A new state law will grant Mr. Villaraigosa the power to directly control a cluster of three low-performing high schools, as well as the middle and elementary schools that feed into them.

"There are many aspects of Green Dot that we would like to emulate," said Ramon C. Cortines, the deputy mayor for education, youth, and families, who is leading Mr. Villaraigosa’s plans for the "mayor’s schools". "They have an efficient administration, a successful focus on 9th grade mathematics and literacy, and excellent teachers who are hired because they align with the schools’ mission. Additionally, they have shown positive results."

Mr. Barr, 47, is not an educator by trade. His passion for public schools stems from his upbringing in Cupertino, Calif., where his mother, a waitress, raised him and his younger brother. Mr. Barr, who excelled in sports and leadership during high school, graduated with average grades, attended junior college, and eventually graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara. His brother, however, dropped out of school at 16 and tragically died from a drug overdose at the age of 30.

"High school was an awful experience for him; it fails too many students," Mr. Barr stated. His desire for better outcomes led him to envision a map of Los Angeles dotted with small, exceptional schools, not just managed by him, but by anyone willing to contribute.

Mr. Barr joined the Teamsters labor union when he worked at United Parcel Service loading trucks during college. He now attributes that experience as one of the reasons he insists on having a unionized teaching staff, which is uncommon in charter schools. In the early 1990s, he gained recognition through his involvement with Rock the Vote, a national campaign he co-founded to increase youth voter turnout. This led to other roles in politics and progressive causes, while the memory of his brother’s untimely death and negative experiences in high school continued to haunt him. It was at this point that Mr. Barr had the idea to "create the great urban high school", coinciding with California’s developing charter school law and the growing acceptance of publicly funded but largely independent schools.

Now, six years after establishing his first school, Mr. Barr has become one of the most outspoken advocates for high school reform in the country. He received early support from the NewSchools Venture Fund, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that backs charter school management organizations in various cities. Last spring, he was among several operators sought out by Louisiana education officials for guidance in establishing new, independent public schools in post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.

Five brand new schools were established by Mr. Barr this autumn, despite being rejected by the district. These schools are located within Jefferson High’s attendance area and have about 140 freshmen enrolled at each site. Most of these freshmen would have otherwise attended Jefferson. In an agreement with district officials, two of these charter schools will be housed at a new middle school.

Green Dot, the organization behind these schools, now has a total of 10 schools. All of these schools are located in disadvantaged neighborhoods and primarily serve Latino and African-American students. They all operate based on the same set of principles called the "six tenets," which include small student enrollments, a college-preparatory curriculum, mandatory parental involvement, school-based decision making, more money in classrooms, and open schools for community use.

Mr. Barr, who resides in the Silver Lake neighborhood, spoke with a member of the Los Angeles Parents Union during a meeting last month. He is aiming to organize parents in middle and upper-middle-class areas, just as he has done in low-income parts of the city.

Each of the Green Dot schools have control over their hiring, budget, and curriculum. However, they must offer a curriculum that meets the minimum requirements for admission into the University of California system. Parents are also required to volunteer for at least 35 hours each year.

Last July, Green Dot parents, with support from Mr. Barr, established the Los Angeles Parents Union. This union has roughly 1,000 members and many of them supported Mayor Villaraigosa’s efforts to gain authority over the district. The union’s goal is to ensure that children receive education in small and successful schools.

Green Dot is unique among California charters because it employs a unionized teaching staff. According to Mr. Barr, it wouldn’t make sense to hire non-union teachers in a city where almost all teachers are unionized. Compared to Los Angeles Unified, Green Dot pays higher salaries, does not provide tenure, and its union is not affiliated with the United Teachers Los Angeles.

Since the opening of his first school, Animo Leadership Charter High School in 2000, Green Dot students have consistently achieved higher scores compared to students in other similar high schools in Los Angeles Unified and nearby districts. Last spring, Animo Inglewood Public Charter High School saw its first class of seniors graduate, with over 75% of them being accepted to a four-year college or university.

The Green Dot Charter Schools have received significant private investment due to their promising academic achievements. Since 2000, they have raised around $25 million to establish and maintain their schools.

Green Dot aims to go beyond just running schools and hopes to have a wider impact on Los Angeles. This has attracted private investment and the support of the Broad Foundation. Oscar De La Hoya Animo Charter High School, named after the famous Mexican-American boxer who is a generous supporter and board member of Green Dot, educates 520 Latino students.

At Green Dot schools, efforts have been made to ensure that students are prepared for college. When the senior class arrived as the founding class in 2002, over half of them were not reading at their grade level. Teachers implemented a literacy-intervention program called Read 180 and regularly assessed the progress of students. All seniors have now taken the SAT and are currently working on applications to at least three colleges or post-secondary institutions.

Students at Green Dot schools appreciate the smaller environment. Daisy Cuellar, who would have otherwise attended Garfield High School, said, "You don’t get lost here." She is currently applying to Harvard University and Wellesley College after visiting these campuses on a school trip last spring.

In California, schools are required to achieve a minimum score of 800 on the Academic Performance Index, which is measured on a scale of 200 to 1,000. If schools fall short of this requirement, they are given annual growth targets. These targets are compared to the base scores of the previous year to assess progress. The schools operated by Green Dot are either meeting or surpassing their targets. Negative numbers indicate a decline in scores. You can see the full chart by clicking on the image.

This information is sourced from the California Department of Education.

The teachers at Green Dot schools are well aware of their students’ performance as well. According to Ms. Terry, when test scores are released, it is easy to identify which teachers need to work on improving their students’ performance. There is no invisibility here.

At the newly established Animo Jackie Robinson Charter High School in South Los Angeles, Principal Lori Pawinski oversees a freshman class consisting of 144 students and 10 teachers. Many of these students arrived with reading skills below the 4th grade level. Ms. Pawinski, a former assistant principal at Roosevelt High School in East Los Angeles, explains the transformative impact the new school has had on one student, Precious Dennis, who admits to struggling with reading. The school’s commitment to supporting students like Precious gives her hope and motivates her to keep trying.

Mr. Barr, inspired by Mayor Villaraigosa’s upcoming role in managing the Los Angeles schools, expresses his desire to take on one of the district’s underperforming high schools, possibly Crenshaw High. However, a lawsuit has been filed by the school board and other parties challenging the mayor’s state legislation. Mr. Barr, who is not a proponent of charter schools, sees Green Dot charters as potential centers for research and development in the education system, particularly within the L.A. Unified District.

Funding for coverage on new schooling arrangements and efforts to improve classrooms is provided by a grant from the Annenberg Foundation.

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Schools In England ‘to See First Real-terms Funding Cuts In 20 Years’

A prominent thinktank has warned that schools in England are facing their first significant cuts to funding since the mid-1990s. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), spending per pupil is to fall by 6.5% by 2019-20. Although the IFS notes that school funding has been well protected over the past two decades, funding for 16- to 18-year-olds is no higher than it was almost 30 years ago. Over this period, sixth-form budgets have already reduced by 6.7%, with a further 6.5% reduction anticipated over the next few years.

A new IFS report considers education spending across various age groups, ranging from early years provision to universities, over a number of years. The report reveals that spending on schoolchildren in England has seen the greatest increase over the past 20 years, with £4,900 spent on each primary school pupil and £6,300 spent per secondary student. In both cases, this represents almost double the amount expended in the mid-1990s. Nevertheless, the report predicts a 6.5% cut in education spending by 2020, a period which will see real-terms cuts to spending per pupil since the mid-1990s.


When examined over the past 25 years, further education has been the sector that has lost most from spending changes. The IFS report adds that this sector “experienced larger cuts in the 1990s than other sectors, smaller increases during the 2000s and is currently experiencing the largest cuts”. In 1990, further education spending per student was 45% higher than for secondary schools. By 2019-20, it is expected to be 10% lower, at the same level as in 1990.


Luke Sibieta, one of the report’s authors and an IFS associate director claims schools are about to experience cuts after significant increases over the last few decades. Meanwhile, spending in further education will remain at about the level of 1990. A Department for Education spokesman criticised the previous Labour government for cutting funding of further education most severely. The spokesman claimed that the Conservative government had since increased funding for disadvantaged pupils whilst creating new free schools.

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