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Morning Announcements: September 28, 2011

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September 28, 2011 02:52 pm


President Obama took his “pass the jobs bill” campaign to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado yesterday, according to USA Today, telling a crowd at a Denver high school that his plan will put people back to work by building roads, bridges, and other projects that include upgraded schools. “There are construction projects like these all across this country just waiting to get started,” Obama told a supportive crowd at Abraham Lincoln High School in Denver. “And there are millions of unemployed construction workers who are looking for jobs.” And in his message to students at Washington’s Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, Obama delivered  the message that “the nation is counting on you for the future.”  He encouraged students to work hard in their classes, according to the Associated Press.

The New York Times reports on a new study that found ignorance  by American students of the basic history of the civil rights movement has not changed — in fact, it has worsened, according to a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The report says that states’ academic standards for public schools are one major cause of the problem. The report assigns letter grades to each state based on how extensively its academic standards address the civil rights movement. Thirty-five states got an F because their standards require little or no mention of the movement, it says.

The Los Angeles Times reports that growing numbers of college students are in school part time, and they face increasingly long odds of ever graduating, according to a report released Tuesday. The report, Time is the Enemy, by the nonprofit group Complete College America, includes data on full- and part-time students at public colleges and universities in 33 states, including California. It was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Lumina Foundation and others.

The Huffington Post reports that standardized tests should rank students by percentile and rate teachers in teams, according to a new policy brief by Derek Neal, an economics professor at the University of Chicago. “I’m very opposed to ever using this [data] to give individual scores for teachers,” said Neal, speaking at a Tuesday conference hosted by the Brookings Institution’s Hamilton Project.

Many immigrants come to the United States seeking a better life for their children, but a new report says children who come to the country illegally face worse social and academic development as they grow, according to Education Week. The report, published as part of a special fall issue on immigration in the Harvard Educational Review, is the first to analyze research on the effect of living in a family of uncertain immigration status on children from early childhood through their entry to college and career.

The Christian-Science Monitor reports on a trend of schools weighing the risks and benefits of using Facebook in the classroom or to connect with their students. The publication profiles one teacher, Mr. Collins of Missouri’s Clayton High School, who  posts between 10 and 15 articles a week on a page he’s set up for the class. Students need to read at least one of the articles and write a thoughtful, substantive response that weaves in class material in the comments section below the post.

US News & World Report reports many students decide to study science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) early in their high school careers, according to a new survey released earlier this month by Microsoft. Almost four in five college students who are pursuing a STEM-related degree say they decided to go into their field in high school or earlier; about one in five say they decided in middle school or earlier.

Education Week reports that in many ethnically diverse school districts across the country, teachers in schools that serve the top quintile of African-American and Latino students are paid significantly less—approximately $2,500 per year—than the average teacher in such districts, according to an analysis released today by the U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights.

Education Week reports California will need billions in federal aid to overhaul teacher evaluations and adopt new learning standards before it can qualify for a waiver from No Child Left Behind student achievement rules, according to state Superintendent Tom Torlakson. “I would hope that the administration is prepared to provide the funds necessary to implement these provisions, or provide greater flexibility to California,” Torlakson said.

According to the Wall Street Journal, 16 rural school districts have sued New Jersey, saying Gov. Chris Christie illegally cut their state funding. Under state law, the districts should receive nearly $19 million more than the $131 million they will get in the budget for this school year, according to the Education Law Center, an advocacy group for urban districts that is assisting on the case, which was filed last month in appellate court.

Winners of the $4 billion Race to the Top jackpot committed to grand goals in using the federal grants to raise student achievement, as measured by higher test scores, narrowed achievement gaps, and increased graduation and college-going rates—all in four years, according to Education Week. Now comes the hard part: With the money in hand, the 11 states and the District of Columbia must deliver on those goals, which often involve making leaps in student achievement at a record-setting pace. For most states, that amounts to a long shot.

Education Week reports the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted Tuesday to take steps to require special training for teachers who teach academic content to English-language learners after a U.S. Department of Justice investigation found the state had violated students’ civil rights, largely by placing too many of them in classes with inadequately prepared teachers.


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