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Timeline | Elsewhere

| In Short

Ask Catalyst | Math Class


TIMELINE

July 26: Tests Cut

To save some $6 million, students will no longer take state tests in social

studies or writing beginning in 2005, state education officials announce. Because

the federal No Child Left Behind Act requires testing only in reading, mathematics

and science, legislators elected to stop the tests to help pay for the $154-per-pupil

increase in state funding for local school districts. But some education experts

express concern that cutting the tests will result in fewer resources and less

classroom time being spent on the subjects.

Aug. 2: Crackdown

Citing poor academic performance at their schools, the School Board fires principals

at Cregier Multiplex, Fenger High and Bouchet Elementary. Several others reportedly

agree to quit, but the board does not name them. Some 20 principals are given

new plans for improving their schools. The leader of the local principals group

says principals are being scapegoated and criticizes the board for failing to

inform local school councils. A CPS spokesman says the actions were an employee

performance evaluation.

Aug. 10: More taxes

In response to a less-than-expected increase in state per-pupil funding that

left the district with a $45 million deficit, Schools CEO Arne Duncan announces

a 2.4 percent increase in school property taxes. The increase will raise $40

million, but more cuts will have to be made throughout the year to make up the

remaining $5 million. The districts total budget reaches $5 billion and targets

more money toward early childhood, reading and dropout prevention. Critics later

question whether the budget is as lean as CPS claims.

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ELSEWHERE

Miami: School shakeup

Supt. Rudy Crew plans an overhaul of 39 failing schools, according to the Aug.

17 Miami Herald. The plan includes 10 more days in the academic calendar, an

extra hour in the school day, smaller classes and more training for teachers.

Crew will have to negotiate with labor unions to implement the plan, but if

the unions resist, Crew could take advantage of state Board of Education rules

that allow districts to suspend union contracts in order to improve poorly performing

schools. The director of United Teachers of Dade County says teachers who want

to leave the 39 schools should be allowed to do so.

California: Funding lawsuit

The state has agreed to pay more than $1 billion to settle a class-action lawsuit

charging that poor children were denied adequate textbooks, trained teachers

and a safe school environment, according to the Aug. 11 Los Angeles Times. The

proposed settlement, which is subject to approval by a judge, would require

the state to spend $1 billion to improve 2,400 low-performing, deteriorating

schools. The state will also pay nearly $139 million for new textbooks this

fall.

Kentucky: GED program

A GED program for struggling students could result in schools dumping low-achieving

students who might drag down test scores, according to the Aug. 12 Lexington

Herald-Leader. Aimed at students who are still in school, the program requires

that students take state tests and have their scores included in their school

scores. But critics argue that requirement can be sidestepped because a student

could complete the GED program, then be pushed to drop out before the end-of-year

state tests are given.

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IN SHORT

I don’t want competition, selective enrollment, a neighborhood

lottery. Education should not be a game where I cross my fingers.”

Fuller Elementary LSC member Brenda Perry at an Aug. 24 press

conference where activists spoke against Renaissance 2010, which favors charter

and contract schools.

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ASK CATALYST

More students enter high school having already earned high school

credits, and find that there are no suitable courses available for them senior

year. How can we provide advanced courses to students who are too few in number

to make up a full class?

Norman Gelfand, LSC Chair, Von Steuben High School

Illinois Virtual High Schools (www.ivhs.org)

offers a full high school curriculum including Advanced Placement classes, says

Edward Klunk of the Office of High School programs. Participating schools have

a student mentor to oversee the program.

CPS also pays for qualified high school juniors and seniors to enroll in a course

at any of 12 local colleges. For more information on the College Bridge Program,

talk to a guidance counselor at your school.

E-mail your question to

or send it to Ask Catalyst, 332 S. Michigan Ave., Suite 500, Chicago,

IL 60604.

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MATH CLASS

Chicago Public Schools will receive an extra $40.4 million

in federal Title I poverty funds this year, bringing in $291 million,

an increase of 17 percent, according to a report from the Washington,

D.C.-based Center on Education Policy. The report explains how the No Child

Left Behind Act sparked changes in Title I funding formula, benefiting high-poverty

districts like Chicago. First, Title I now uses annual, rather than biennial,

Census Bureau updates of the population of low-income children, making the formula

more accurate. Second, the formula is now weighted in favor of children in high-poverty

cities, which means that each such child counts more than a child in a low-poverty

city. 44 percent of districts that receive Title I funds will

get more money, while 56 percent will receive less. To read

the full report, go to http://www.ctredpol.org.

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