This is a blog to talk about town issues,School and education issues,Health and life style,community groups and events, arts and entertainment cooking feel free to start a topic !

Monday, July 30, 2007


How the Teachers union got involved with our Local budget and school board election. They had a political action commitee, and with the help of some local residents achieved the outcome they wanted, a union backed and controlled board !

*** * * * * * * * * * *COMMUNITY ALERT* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


FYI- Every year around budget time, a group called the concerned parents gets active. They send out mailings that back community members in the local school board election. The group also makes phone calls, thousands of them. This is done by an army of non-resident teachers ! They ask you to vote "yes" for the budget
and ask you to vote for the person they are backing ! If you live in this School District you must have recieved the phone calls and mailings
from the CONCERNED PARENTS group.I hope you did not listen to the concerned parents group.Alot of information has come out about the group and its president(Patrick Flamio).

It is now a known fact that the phone calls are from the East islip teachers union members,and most of them are non resident teachers.
They use the CONCERNED PARENTS group as a front to gain your trust.


Because if they called you as the teachers union it would send up a flair ! (The teachers union is sucking the life out of us )

has been asked
how the group pays for all the mailings ? He will not put out the information.Alot of people in the community think the union also pays for the mailing and this is why.After this years election
THE TEACHERS UNION Sent out a thank you letter to all the people that helped with "THE UNIONS MAILING" THE UNIONS PHONE BANK"
and they thanked PATRICK FLAMIO president of concerned parents in that letter! (can you say union front man ?)

MR.PATRICK FLAMIO president of the CONCERNED PARENTS is a union school teacher in plainedge School district !

The concerned parents and the union have backed the last 3 board members that have been elected,and we see this as a problem because of the union helping to get them elected.This new union controlled board is wasting millions of your tax dollars (more on that later)

HOW DIRTY IS FLAMIO ? Well time will tell but this is what we have so far ! It does seem that the concerned parents group is all smoke and mirrors and even the people that FLAMIO and his group have put in OFFICE must now back away from him and they have.
The board has just removed the concerned parents listing from the school district calendar for this school year !
The Group held honorable mention for over a decade listed on the community school services page.

Why they took the concerned parents out ?
It has come to light that the listing is full of lies.
The listing says :
concerned parents
Founded in 1989,This community action group seeks to insure a top quality education for our children.through its monthly newsletter
and other community publications,concerned parents endeavors to
keep the community informed and involved. Each year a community service scholarship award is granted to a graduating senior.
for information call patrick flamio.

The above info sounds good, but the truth is the group does not
give a scholarship and they DO NOT have a newsletter or other publications like the calendar said.



This forum is for Special Ed discusions. It is not supported or monitored by the Board of Education or SEPTA. If you would like to pose a question to the Board of Education, you can email them at



sabio posted on 07/30/07 at 15:23
Lawmaker: No Child law should be changed

By NANCY ZUCKERBROD, AP Education Writer

A revised No Child Left Behind law should include merit pay for teachers and new ways of judging schools, the chairman of the House education committee said Monday.

"We didn't get it all right," said Rep. George Miller, D-Calif.

The law, which is now up for renewal, requires annual math and reading tests in grades three through eight and once in high school. Schools that miss progress goals face consequences, such as having to offer tutoring or fire their principals.

Miller said the law places too much emphasis on the math and reading tests, although those are still important indicators. Other tests or graduation rates could also be used to judge how schools are doing, he said.

The teachers unions have called for that kind of change, but the Bush administration and some Republicans in Congress say it could weaken the law.

Miller also said the law should pay teachers extra for boosting student achievement, an idea generally opposed by the national teachers unions.

Miller said he hopes the full House will vote on the legislation this September.

Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Edward Kennedy, who chairs the Senate education committee, said he hopes the bill gets through his committee in September.

The legislation is a priority for President Bush, who pushed for its initial passage in 2001.

A majority of Americans want the law to be renewed as it is or with minor changes, according to a poll out Monday by Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and Education Next, a publication of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.



Nobull posted on 04/30/07 at 09:59
Can these philosophies be transcended to public education?

April 30

Balancing Fundamental Tensions
By Daniel H. Weiss

Last year — my first as the president of a liberal arts college — I attended a gathering of about 40 college and university presidents along with various experts on higher education where the challenges of higher education were being discussed. At one point during the meeting, all other attendees were asked to exit the room, leaving just the college leaders. The idea was to give us the opportunity to have an honest and forthright discussion, to offer questions and answers about issues such as increasing diversity and improving accessibility that we had all agreed were crucial.

I asked: since we effectively had the power in that room to transform the world of higher education, why weren’t we doing it? Much to my consternation, one of my peers responded that we are “lacking in both the individual and collective courage to do so.” This is indeed troubling.

I’ve been struck by the challenges facing higher education today. And, as someone who has spent his career in higher education, first as an academic and then as an administrator, I believe the issues facing higher ed leaders now are more profound than at any other time in the last several decades — and are perhaps even unprecedented.

We face mounting pressure from all sides to do well in the rankings and increase revenue; but, as our institutions become significantly more market driven, we’re in grave danger of losing touch with our core academic missions. Reports like the one issued by the Spellings Commission are escalating the demands on leaders for new approaches to the pressing issues facing higher education including affordability, access, and outcomes assessment. There are also genuine real-world problems — challenges that impinge directly on our institutions and missions — from trying to keep pace with the breathtakingly rapid changes in technology to facing a global environment rife with injustice, violence, and a deepening divide between world cultures and religions.

And what do people hear about us, the leaders of these institutions? Often, media coverage characterizes college and university presidents as highly compensated career opportunists more concerned with our generous perks and benefits than in tackling the tough issues facing our institutions today.

It is therefore disconcerting to me that the traditional model of college leadership does not appear to be up to the challenge. The new and evolving demands being placed on our leadership need new and creative strategies. And we educational leaders must look to each other for examples of successful experimentation and innovation as well as for counsel and criticism.

There is cause for optimism. If we look beyond the overheated rhetoric, we see individual examples of educational leaders rising to meet these challenges. Deborah Bial, founder of the Posse Foundation, for example, is helping bring about greater social and intellectual pluralism on American campuses. Lloyd Thacker is working to restore reason and educational values to calm the admissions frenzy through the Education Conservancy. And with his colleagues, William Bowen has done groundbreaking work in setting a national agenda for substantive assessment and reform in the areas of race sensitive admissions, college athletics, and most recently, socioeconomic status and educational attainment.

At Lafayette College, we are in the throes of developing a strategic plan and using a very inclusive, time-consuming, and at times down-right frustrating process. The challenge has been to make this process open and interactive enough to gain the benefit of valuable individual contributions while creating a vision that is widely embraced and actively supported.

As we move forward, it seems increasingly clear to me that presidential leadership must acknowledge that fundamental tensions exist between what we feel pressured to do to be successful leaders today (such as raising funds and worrying about rankings) and what, ethically, we need to do (improving the quality of the academic core of the institution, increasing diversity and accessibility, and producing an engaged and enlightened citizenry.) As educational leaders, the most important challenge facing us today is balancing these fundamental tensions.

As we continue the work on our strategic plan here at Lafayette, we have been thinking about how to balance some of these conflicting pressures:

1) The commitment to educational excellence with the prudent management of costs. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. To reach this seemingly straightforward objective, two fundamental facts have to be addressed.

First, especially at liberal arts colleges, our model of education — that of faculty working closely with individual students — is inherently inefficient and always will be. There is no substitute for individual mentoring, teaching in small classes, or interaction between students and faculty outside of the classroom. But there are opportunities to do this work more effectively, beginning with more efficient use of technology and better use of faculty time. (As a start, we might reduce by half the number of committees on which our faculty members are required to serve which would free up several additional hours per month for each of our professors to work with students).

Second, it requires college leadership to understand that a hand-tooled education is, above all else, what makes a student’s college experience distinctive — and it is worth the cost. If we acknowledge these factors, we set priorities more clearly and manage more effectively.

2) The enduring values of a liberal education with support for the skills needed in an increasingly professional marketplace. Students and their families have begun to question the utility of a broad, values-based curriculum in this fast-paced, skills-driven economy. They are concerned, and justifiably so, about outcomes and their prospects for gainful employment. However, we need to make clear that, for most of our students, the real value of time at college is to obtain a liberal education: to encourage individual growth, the cultivation of ethics, new capacities for expression, and most important, the skills and desire to continue learning.

3) Preparing students to function in a global environment, regardless of where they are located or the limitations of resources. By providing them with an educational experience that is international in reach and presence, they will have a basis for understanding what it really means to be global citizens. I see this not so much as a technological or logistical challenge as a creative one requiring new thinking about curriculum, allocation of faculty resources, and campus climate. For example, at no additional cost, a small number of existing faculty positions might be redeployed to support a program for visiting international faculty in various content areas.

4) Strengthening our core programs by reaffirming our commitment to community and civic engagement. Our institutions need to show by example the type of community partners we can and should be. At Lafayette, service learning has been used to great educational and community benefit in many of our departments, including civil engineering, English, economics, sociology and mathematics. By modeling values and principles we espouse and encouraging students to join us in this work, we can help instill greater recognition of the importance of civic engagement and an educated citizenry. We serve our educational mission best when we foster our role as vital and engaged citizens, connected in myriad ways to our communities and to the world.

5) Embracing technology as a fundamental component of the educational process not merely its infrastructure. This too, at bottom, is not a resource problem — it’s a question of vision. We must understand that technology is no longer a productivity enhancer nor a marginal benefit. Rather it is a core element of our educational system just as it is for our society. It’s difficult to be a technological leader if we can’t keep pace with the technological sophistication of our own students. This was brought home to me recently when a student complained about a faculty member who was still using old-fashioned e-mail rather than a hand-held PDA. Academic and facilities planning must include various perspectives on how technology contributes to learning across the disciplines and the campus.

6) Pursuing excellence and an agenda of pluralism. True diversity — social and intellectual pluralism — enriches the educational possibilities by a measure greater than any other means. Diversity in its broadest sense must be a core value of higher ed institutions because it provides us with the optimal access to talent, quality of learning environment, and service to our social mission. To achieve this, however, it requires rethinking the admission and financial aid paradigm, the structure of the curriculum, and the very nature of the communities we create. Difficult though it is, initial success in student recruitment is far easier than the ongoing challenge of maintaining a vibrant community that is fundamentally diverse.

The challenges are great but the opportunities to do the right things on the right issues are greater. If we wish to succeed in the new century — if we wish to have a transformative impact on higher education in America and throughout the world — we must accept the challenge that we can do more for our students and the broader communities that we serve. The work ahead will require both individual and collective courage.


Nobull posted on 05/02/07 at 10:52
Statistics show higher standards lead to higher education

By Rebecca Correa , Staff writer

Raise the bar and students will jump higher.

Salem High School students must earn more credits than the state Department of Education requires them to before they can receive a diploma. Instead of the state minimum 20 credits, Salem students must earn 28 credits before they can graduate from high school.

And all their extra work may pay off.

State Department of Education statistics show that students who graduate from schools that require more than the minimum course requirements to graduate are more likely to attend college - and less likely to drop out.

Pelham, Londonderry and Salem all require more than 25 course credits to graduate. All three schools had more than 80 percent of students from the Class of 2006 go on to a two- or four-year colleges, and less than 2 percent of students from last year's graduating class dropped out.

At Timberlane Regional High School in Plaistow and Pinkerton Academy in Derry, where students only need 20 credits to graduate, just 74 percent of students went on to college and nearly 3 percent of last year's graduating class dropped out.

Local administrators agree that by expecting more from students in high school and raising the number of required credits, students are more likely to be motivated to continue learning in college.

"It really boils down to having higher expectations for kids, and they'll share those higher expectations for themselves," said Elaine Cutler, superintendent of Pelham and Windham schools.

She said by requiring more courses and offering more options, students have a better chance to explore potential career paths. Schools that offer block scheduling, including Pelham and Salem, give students a chance to graduate with as many as 32 credits.

"By giving students more opportunities to take a varied course load, it will hopefully engage them and pique their interest in learning that continues past high school," Cutler said.

The extra courses - on top of the state's requirements - at some local schools range from a mandatory economics course to an additional science requirement, such as physics.

Londonderry High School guidance director Michael Dolphin said students are urged to use their extra required credits to explore vocational classes or college preparatory classes, such as additional science and math courses, if they're considering a career in one of those fields.

"Having 24 credits means that Londonderry High School is going to demand rigor, but be flexible enough to allow educational learning opportunities outside of the normal LHS eight-period day," he said.

He added that many students also participate in internships outside school for course credit.

Pinkerton Academy only requires 20 credits for graduation, but the school is considering upping the ante for students who become freshmen in 2008, according to spokesman Robin Perrin.

He said part of the reason school officials are considering the change is because about 40 percent of the students already graduate with 21 to 25 credits. A secondary reason could be to increase the number of students who go on to college, according to Perrin.

"We think to be one of the premier secondary schools in the state, we need to raise the bar a little bit more," he said. "And there are many benefits to raising the bar, college and successes in life being one of them."

Although Pinkerton may change its graduation requirements in the future, it's unlikely the state will be raising its expectations anytime soon.

The Department of Education revisited the minimum graduation requirements in July 2005 by adding a quarter credit of health, raising the requirements for a high school diploma from 193/4 to 20 credits.

Sanborn Regional High School offers proof that raising the number of required credits can get more students to go on to college.

In the past 10 years, Sanborn has slowly increased the number of credits needed for graduation from 22 to 27. In that same time span, the number of students who went on to a two- or a four-year college increased from 58 percent to 72 percent.

The percentage of students going on to college remained fairly steady at other local high schools over the same 10 years, or increased by a maximum of 7 percent.

Sanborn guidance director Shanyn Grenier was not working for the school district while credit requirements were increased. But she said she wasn't surprised to see the correlation between increasing requirements and more college-bound students.

"My understanding was that the whole idea to moving to a higher credit requirement was to improve student readiness for post-high school education and raise the standards and expectations," she said. "To let them know we expect them to prepare for and go on to college."

Nobull posted on 05/02/07 at 16:00
Education secretary asks public for ways to make schools safer

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced that she is seeking public comment in an effort to gather thoughts and suggestions from across the country.

"Nothing is more important to American parents than the safety of their children," said Secretary Spellings. "I invite all concerned Americans -- parents, educators, law enforcement officials and students -- to share their ideas about school safety. Together, we can strengthen our best practices, raise awareness of warning signs and help prevent tragedies."

Secretary Spellings is especially interested in thoughts concerning:

-- Ways in which technology can help communicate with students and school professionals before, during, and after a crisis

-- How various institutions involved in protecting students -- schools, colleges, law enforcement agencies, the medical and mental health community, and others -- can share critical information in a way that protects individual privacy without sacrificing public safety

-- The most effective programs and best practices for preventing school violence and managing crises at U.S. schools and college campuses

Parents, educators, law enforcement officials and students who would like to offer suggestions for improving safety at college campuses and schools throughout the country are encouraged to submit comments by e-mail to

For more information about this initiative, visit


Nobull posted on 05/03/07 at 08:11
Third-grade reading scores take historic fall
Nearly 3, 000 are in jeopardy of not going on to fourth grade.
Published May 3, 2007

TAMPA - Hillsborough's third-grade reading scores dropped precipitously this year, mirroring a troubling state trend in FCAT results released Wednesday.

This year, 67 percent of Hillsborough third-graders are reading at grade level, a drop of 6 percentage points. That's the greatest annual decline since third-graders began taking the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test in 2001.

The stakes are highest for the nearly 3, 000 Hillsborough students who scored at the lowest level in reading. They could be held back from fourth grade. The percentage of students in that category is up 4 points from last year.

"We're obviously concerned, " said John Hilderbrand, Hillsborough's testing director, who is reviewing the school-by-school results to identify trends.

While Hillsborough's third-grade reading declines mirrored the state's, the district fared slightly worse overall. Sixty-nine percent of Florida third-graders met the FCAT's reading standards, which is 2 percentage points higher than in Hillsborough.

Hilderbrand questioned whether the problem was with third-graders, or the test itself. By another measure, given at the same time as the FCAT, third-grade reading scores improved.

Is FCAT harder?

The other assessment, the Norm-Referenced Test, compares Florida to the nation. It found that Hillsborough's third-graders read well above average - at the 61st percentile nationally - up from the 59th last year.

"It tells me that the kids are not worse than last year, " said Hilderbrand, who wondered if changes to the third-grade FCAT may have made it harder.

Florida Education Department officials insisted nothing of the sort happened. Some test questions are switched out every year, but they said the overall difficulty level does not change.

They also said it's possible that one year's class of third-grade students could be smarter than another's. State officials found the 2006 class scored significantly higher than their 2005 peers - about 4 percentage points - on questions that showed up on both years' tests.

"It was very compelling evidence, " said Cornelia Orr, the state's testing chief, that the 2006 cohort "did achieve higher."

But the theory didn't hold true in math, where this year's third-graders outperformed last year's supposedly smarter class.

Statewide, 74 percent of students met grade-level expectations in math, up 2 points from last year. In Hillsborough, 72 percent of students hit the mark - an increase of 3 points.

Graduation hurdle

The reading declines overshadowed the other news in the test scores released Wednesday, including pass rates for 12th-graders who had yet to meet the FCAT graduation requirement.

Few of the high school seniors did well. Just 16 percent of the 1, 500 Hillsborough test-takers passed reading. Twenty-nine percent of 570 seniors cleared the FCAT graduation hurdle in math.

Like third-graders, seniors who fail the FCAT have other options. If they do well enough, high school students can substitute scores from the ACT or SAT college entrance exams. Third-graders can attend summer reading camps and show their abilities in a portfolio of their work.

Schools also may feel the pinch of the third-grade declines when school grades are issued in the coming weeks, though test scores of students with disabilities and those still learning English are discounted in that calculation.

Among the schools seeing large declines was Cleveland Elementary, where only 38 percent of third-graders met grade-level expectations in reading. That was a 30 percent drop from last year.

On the upside, Riverhills Elementary logged a 13 percent increase, with 60 percent of third-graders reading at grade level.

Nobull posted on 05/03/07 at 09:14
Let's not miss opportunity to help at-risk children
''We know that quality early education can make a measurable difference in a child's development.''JOHN REYNOLDS

Rarely has there been a clearer consensus on matters of social and educational policy than the understanding that early childhood is profoundly significant in developing a child's capacity to succeed in school and beyond. Furthermore, anyone who cares is painfully aware of the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged children as they enter school. Whether they come from rural, urban or suburban communities, children who start behind, stay behind.

The budget under review by the state Legislature features ambitious proposals regarding taxes, transportation and health care, but it is the Pennsylvania Pre-K Counts proposal that might very well hold the greatest significance for the commonwealth's future. It would invest $75 million to create half- and full-day pre-kindergarten programs in Head Start, child care centers and nursery schools across the state, serving as many as 11,000 children 3 and 4 years of age. The programs would be voluntary and funding would go through an RFP process. Priority would be given to school districts and other providers who serve at-risk children. Programs serving 30 percent or more children in the free or reduced lunch program, or providers focusing on services to at-risk children would receive priority.

Studies show that children who participate in quality pre-kindergarten programs not only enter school with better reading, math, and language skills but are also better prepared for paying attention, following directions, and getting along with others. Children who attend high-quality pre-kindergarten also perform at a higher academic level after entering school, are less likely to require special-education services, and are more likely to graduate from high school and attend college. These successes also lower demands for future public services and produce the rewards of productive, tax-paying adults. Preliminary estimates indicate that Pennsylvania taxpayers will get back about $1.68 for ever dollar invested in preschool programs (counting educational savings, increased earnings of school graduates, and savings on public assistance and corrections) and that quality pre-kindergarten programs could save the citizens of the state $100 million in future special education costs alone.

Quality pre-K programs will also make the state a more attractive place for young, productive families. In order to remain competitive on quality-of-life measures, Pennsylvania needs to keep pace with states where pre-K programs are in development or already in place. Four states -- Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma and Illinois -- have committed to universal pre-K programs. New York, New Jersey and West Virginia are making significant commitments, and 31 states are committed to increasing pre-K funding in the coming fiscal year.

The program would be voluntary. Parents would remain in control. It is also important to note that the program provides opportunities for public-private partnerships, cooperation between public education and current private providers. Such partnerships can build on each other's strengths and communities where public schools don't have the physical space to serve preschoolers (such as Allentown) can allow participation by any provider that serves at-risk children and meets the standards. In Illinois, New York and New Jersey, a large percentage of pre-K is already delivered through community-based private providers.

Just four years ago, Pennsylvania was one of only nine states that did not invest any state revenues in the type of pre-kindergarten education. Some progress has been made under Governor Rendell through early childhood initiatives such as the Accountability Block Grants, Keystone STARS and the Head Start Supplemental Assistance program. Still, less than a third of Pennsylvania's 3 and 4 year olds receive the benefits of quality early education programs. Particularly important here is that many children in our most at risk communities have very limited access to the benefits of such experiences. This is compelling because we know that quality early education can make a measurable difference in a child's development. Indeed, such a program is likely to be the best opportunity for at-risk children to enter school at a level approaching that of those for whom the benefits of quality preschool might already be available. We have an opportunity to do something. As I see it, a failure would be a moral one that also puts the commonwealth's future at risk.

John Reynolds is chair of the Children's Coalition of the Lehigh Valley and a professor of political science at Moravian College.


Nobull posted on 05/04/07 at 10:53
MTV Joins Strong American Schools to Promote Education Reform on Eve of First GOP Presidential Debate

LOS ANGELES, May 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In the first major public event following its April kick-off, the Strong American Schools campaign partnered today with MTV to highlight the importance of education reform in the 2008 presidential campaign. Held on the eve of the first Republican presidential primary debate, the event featured a roundtable discussion with high school students discussing this vital issue, moderated by Strong American Schools Chairman Roy Romer, California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell and MTV News Correspondent SuChin Pak. The purpose of the
event, which took place at Grant High School in Los Angeles, was to provide students with a platform to send a strong and clear message to all 2008 presidential candidates that education must be a top priority for the next president.

"MTV is an icon among young American citizens, many of whom understand firsthand just how important education reform is to the future of this country," stated former Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, a Strong American Schools board of trustees member. "That's why we're so proud MTV is co-sponsoring in this event with Strong American Schools and helping to make sure the voices of future generations are heard loud and clear by presidential hopefuls of both parties."

"We've worked hard in California to raise expectations and hold schools accountable," said State Superintendent Jack O'Connell. "Improving test scores show our students, teachers and schools are working hard to meet this challenge, but much more work needs to be done to prepare all students for success in the 21st century. Our state and every state needs a commitment from our nation's leaders to invest in public schools, to give teachers the support they need and students the education they must have to survive in today's demanding global economy."

"We're proud to partner with Strong American Schools to amplify the voices of America's youth and help make education reform a top priority for every candidate," said Dave Sirulnick, Executive Vice President, MTV Multiplatform, News, Production & Music. "Few issues affect young people more than today's dropout crisis and we're committed to offering them a platform and the tools to bring about the changes that are desperately needed."

The Strong American Schools' "ED in 08" campaign, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, is an unprecedented up to $60 million nonpartisan movement, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation, which calls on all presidential candidates to improve America's public schools.

"Each year more than 1 million students drop out of high school. That's one child every 29 seconds," said Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "We all must demand that candidates and our leaders share their opinions and policies on how our country will offer all young people Strong American Schools."

"The American dream is slipping away, and unless our leaders dramatically improve our public schools, our standard of living, our economy and our very democracy will be threatened," said Eli Broad, founder of The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation. "Our country's education system is no longer the best in the world. We need every American to demand better schools and specific policy solutions from presidential candidates. Our future depends on it."

"We're calling on every American to support "ED in '08." Together, we can make education a top priority for all presidential candidates in this election," said Strong American Schools Chairman Roy Romer, who has been a leader in education and government for the last 50 years. Romer was elected to three terms as governor of Colorado and most recently led the nation's second largest school system as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District. "If candidates aren't talking about education, they're not talking about the future. Without an educated and skilled workforce, America's competitiveness and security are undermined. A strong America depends on strong American schools."

Since its inception, MTV has been committed to empowering its audience to effect change on the issues that matter to them most. As part of an ongoing effort to help more high school students graduate prepared for college, career and life, MTV News will soon premiere "The Dropout Chronicles," a new documentary that follows 3 high school students approaching graduation but on the brink of dropping out. The special premieres on-air May 9th (MTV: 2pm ET/PT; MTV2: 8:30pm ET/PT) and will also be screened that day at the "National Summit on America's Silent Epidemic," where Congressional leaders, students, governors and educators will put in motion a plan to help end America's dropout crisis. The summit is co-sponsored by MTV, TIME Magazine, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Civic Enterprises and the National Governors Association and will feature diverse speakers including Mrs. Laura Bush, MTV President Christina Norman, Tim Russert and many other leading voices on the topic.

Seventy percent of all American 8th graders are not proficient in reading and most will never catch up. In California alone, 45 percent of college freshman are not prepared for college-level English and are required to take remedial catch-up courses, according to a new study by the California State University System.

Strong American Schools launched its "ED in '08" campaign last month on the eve of the first Democratic Party primary debate in South Carolina. "ED in '08" is a sweeping public awareness and action campaign that will mobilize the public and presidential candidates around solutions for the country's education crisis. The campaign brings together for the first time leaders of all major political parties who are willing to address education as an American challenge rather than a narrow political issue. Strong American Schools will use the tools of a modern presidential campaign to take the issue to the general public and give Americans many ways for their voices to be heard-including on-the-ground activities in key presidential primary states and a cutting-edge interactive E-campaign based on the Web at

As part of its call to action, Strong American Schools will urge leaders to address and debate three common-sense priorities that hold tremendous promise for improving education:

1) Strong American education standards. Regardless of where they live, all students need to acquire knowledge and skills that prepare them for college, for the workplace, and for life.

2) Effective teachers in every classroom. We need to enable teachers to improve their skills, measure teachers' performance in the classroom, and pay them more if they produce superior results or take on challenging assignments.

3) More time and support for learning. We need to provide successful and struggling students alike more time for in-depth learning and greater personal attention.

Strong American Schools' steering committee is comprised of prominent business, education, and political leaders. In addition to Broad and Romer,

the steering committee includes: Allan Golston, President of the U.S. program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Janet Murguia, President and CEO of National Council of La Raza; Lou Gerstner, former CEO of IBM Corporation; John Engler, former Governor of Michigan and President of the National Association of Manufacturers; and Marc Lampkin, former 2000 Bush for President Deputy Campaign Manager and current Executive Director of Strong American Schools.

The foundations have committed up to $60 million to support the campaign through November 2008. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with state leadership offices opening across the country in the coming months. Strong American Schools does not support or oppose any candidate for public office and does not take positions on legislation. To join the "ED in '08" campaign, and for more information, log onto:

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation is a national venture philanthropy established by businessman and philanthropist Eli Broad to advance entrepreneurship for the public good in education, scientific and medical research and the arts. Broad, who founded two Fortune 500 companies, SunAmerica Inc. and KB Home, created The Broad Foundation to dramatically improve K-12 urban public education through better governance, management, labor relations and competition. The Broad Foundation's Internet address is

Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to reduce inequalities and improve lives around the world. In developing countries, it focuses on improving health, reducing extreme poverty, and increasing access to technology in public libraries. In the United States, the foundation seeks to ensure that all people have access to a great education and to technology in public libraries. In its local region, it focuses on improving the lives of low-income families. Based in Seattle, the foundation is led by CEO Patty Stonesifer and co-chairs William H. Gates Sr., Bill Gates, and Melinda French Gates. More information is available at

Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps donors to create thoughtful, effective philanthropy throughout the world. RPA provides research and counsel on charitable giving, develops philanthropic programs, and offers complete program, administrative and management services for foundations and trusts. For more information visit

THINKMTV is the umbrella for the network's on-air, off-air and online "pro-social" campaigns that engage, educate and encourage young people to take action on some of the biggest challenges facing their generation, including the Break the Addiction campaign on global warming, the Choose or Lose campaign on the presidential election, and ongoing efforts with the Kaiser Family Foundation on sexual health and HIV/AIDS. THINKMTV and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have also joined in an ongoing effort aimed at using MTV's reach and credibility with young people, particularly low-income and minority youth, to provide them the tools, resources and media platform to graduate from high school prepared for college, career and life. The campaign consists of long-form documentaries such as the Dropout Chronicles and Think Over Your School, PSAs featuring high school students talking candidly about their aspirations for college and beyond; MTV News reports on young people and their educational aspirations; and online tools at, including resources to prepare themselves for graduation, college, and the workplace.

Strong American Schools, a project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, is a nonpartisan campaign supported by The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation promoting sound education policies for all Americans. SAS does not support or oppose any candidate for public office and does not take positions on legislation. Web:

Source: Strong American Schools
Nobull posted on 05/04/07 at 10:59
Education matters
No room for apathy in schools debate

JUST 10 days away in Los Angeles, there's a hotly contested election upon which hangs the fate of the nation's second-largest school district and its 700,000 students. On Wednesday, the two candidates in that race met for two rare debates.

Guess how many people showed up?

Two dozen, at best, at the first event. Maybe 60 at the second. Garage sales typically attract bigger crowds.

The choice in the May 15 school board election between reformer Tamar Galatzan and status-quo defender Jon Lauritzen couldn't be more profound. The stakes - our children and their future - couldn't be higher.

And most voters couldn't care less.

In the March primary election, a dismal 7.8 percent of eligible voters turned up at the polls. We'll be lucky to match that May 15.

At the very time when the need for quality education is greatest, due to the ever-competitive global marketplace, the public's interest in education is at a low.

It's not just in Los Angeles. National polls show the public's interest in education well below interest in several other topics.

Why? Probably because the issue has proved so intractable.

The Los Angeles Unified School District is a glaring example of how education policy has been hijacked by bureaucrats and special interests. We want better schools, but we lack confidence that our votes can bring them about. We've grown weary of politicians mouthing the same old platitudes without any substance or follow-through.
Enter Ed in '08, a project of Strong American Schools, headed up by former LAUSD Superintendent Roy Romer.

This bipartisan campaign, funded with up to $60 million from the Broad and Gates foundations, has one goal: Make education a top issue in the 2008 presidential race.

Ed in '08 has a unique platform based on higher standards, more effective teaching and extra attention to students who need it. The campaign plans to stir up voter pressure to force presidential candidates from both parties to take up its agenda.

That's the key. Our leaders won't take education seriously until we do.

We can only hope that Ed in '08 will do its part to get the politicians' attention. Meanwhile, we must all do our own part, and that begins with showing up at the polls May 15.
Nobull posted on 05/04/07 at 11:28
VIDEO: Gov. Eliot Spitzer lauds education funding, accountability
RA 2007 - May 4, 2007

"It's important that we're working to explain what we put in the budget and why we will craft a future budget for every New Yorker," said Gov. Eliot Spitzer in an address to delegates at NYSUT's Representative Assembly April 27, 2007, thanking NYSUT President brain Iannuzzi for his leadership in building support for the budget. Education is more important than ever, Spitzer said, with the concentration of wealth shifting farther away from the middle class.


Nobull posted on 05/04/07 at 11:37
Earlier training pushed for kids

Friday, May 4, 2007


WASHINGTON -- Many children in special education classes may not belong there, the government says.

A new policy is aimed at intervening early with intensive teaching to give struggling students a chance to succeed in regular classrooms and escape the "special ed" label.

"If there was a significant intervention program with the dollars behind it, we could keep a lot of those children in regular education classes ... and bring them up to a successful level of student achievement without being put into the formal special education classes," said West Paterson Schools Superintendent Scott Rixford. Before becoming superintendent, Rixford was in charge of special education for the district.

There are nearly seven million special education students in the United States, and roughly half have learning disabilities. Most of those are reading related, such as dyslexia or problems in processing information.

The Bush administration, after passage of a broad special education law, issued rules in October that rewrote the way schools determine if a child has a learning disability.

States have largely relied on a 1970s-era method that looks for disparities between a child's IQ and achievement scores.

"The fundamental concept here is unexpected underachievement," said Tom Hehir, a special education expert at Harvard University. He said a child with a normal IQ who is lagging behind in learning would generally be identified as having a learning disability.

Such a diagnosis often is made around fourth grade. At younger ages IQ tests are seen as less reliable, and it often takes that long for severe achievement problems to become apparent.

But that, critics say, is a wait-to-fail approach. They point to research showing that intervening early can make it easier for children to overcome their problems.

Under the new rules, states can no longer rely solely on the IQ-vs.-achievement method. Instead the guidelines give states more latitude, allowing them, for example, to observe how well children respond to intensive instruction in the subjects where they're having problems.

"I have one student who was just placed as a sixth-grader into special education. For her to go from a mainstream classroom to a special ed is one of the hardest adjustments a child can make at that age," said Mary Carroll Smith, a special education teacher at Paterson School 20. "If she had one-on-one instruction for a couple months, she'd be fine in a regular classroom. Without a doubt."

The new federal rules also make another important change: They allow schools for the first time to use up to 15 percent of their special education funds to provide the required early intervention. That could help reduce the number of children who ultimately are labeled as learning disabled.

Schools nationwide get roughly $11 billion a year in federal money for special education.

In cases where districts have a disproportionately high number of minorities in special education, the set-aside becomes mandatory -- educators must use 15 percent of special education funds on intensive services in the early grades.

Hehir said the goal is to address an old problem: "There is over-placement of minority kids, particularly African-American males, in special education."

One reason is that black students, who are more likely to be poor than whites, could be behind in school due to socio-economic disadvantage -- not disability. They may have lacked quality preschool experience or had few books at home, and are less likely to have the best teachers, experts say.

Alexa Posny, director of the Education Department's Office of Special Education Programs, has been traveling the country talking about the new rules. She concedes not everyone likes them -- particularly parents of special ed students who object to money earmarked for their children being used for non-disabled students.

Madeleine Will, who has an adult son with Down Syndrome and is vice president for public policy at the National Down Syndrome Society, said the federal government already underfunds special education. She said it's unfair to take money from students with disabilities to pay for services for students who haven't yet been diagnosed with a disability.

Will said she also is concerned that there isn't enough research behind the early instructional approach highlighted in the new rules. The approach, called "response to intervention," recommends giving targeted instruction of increasing intensity. Those students are then monitored and tested frequently to see how they respond. Failing to improve academically at an adequate pace could indicate a learning disability.

Experts such as Vanderbilt University's Doug Fuchs say research suggests the approach can help prevent children from being labeled incorrectly as learning disabled, particularly when their problems are related to reading. However, they add, more research is needed.

The Department of Education recently said it will award $14 million over five years to set up model programs and disseminate information to schools about the response-to-intervention approach.

Lisa Soloff, who directs programs for low-income students in the Augusta, Ga., area, said school officials are trying to figure out how to implement the change with limited resources. Some interventions require working in small groups or even one-on-one.

That, Fuchs said, requires money. "Who is going to collect these data? What measures and procedures will be used? Who will interpret the data, and who will use the data?" asked Fuchs, a special education researcher.

He said the law may be premature. "It presumes we have our technical ducks in a row, and we do not have them in a row," he said.

Already, the response-to-intervention method is being tried in districts in Iowa, Minnesota, and California, among others.

David Gordon, schools superintendent in Sacramento, Calif., was among the first to implement it when he was leading schools in nearby Elk Grove in the 1990s. He asked the state board of education for the change when he saw schools helping students only after they qualified for special ed services.

"We said this is crazy," he said, adding that teachers knew which students needed help early on. "They could forecast that you're going to put this kid in special ed in about the third grade."

Gordon said the change required a lot of training, but was worthwhile.

"The idea of correcting reading deficiencies early is obviously much, much better than putting a kid in special ed," he said. "The more you can create the incentive to not give the kid a life sentence in special ed simply because he has a deficiency in reading makes a lot of sense."

Nobull posted on 05/05/07 at 08:42
Florida lawmakers approve random steroid testing of high school athletes
Associated Press Sports
Updated: 1:09 p.m. ET May 4, 2007

TALLAHASSEE, Florida (AP) -Some Florida high school athletes who play three sports would be subject to random testing for anabolic steroids under a one-year pilot program.

One percent of students who compete in American football, baseball and weightlifting during the 2007-08 school year would be tested under the legislation passed Friday, which would become effective on July 1 if Gov. Charlie Crist signs it.

The Florida High School Athletics Association would oversee the tests of all of its 426 public and 224 private member schools. The bill includes $100,000 to pay for the testing.

Any athlete who refuses to provide a urine sample would be ineligible to remain on the team. Those who test positive would be suspended from the team, but could be reinstated if they pass a follow-up test later.

New Jersey became the first state to start a testing policy for high school athletes last year. Its initial testing for performance-enhancing drugs found no users among 150 random samples, the state athletic association said.

Republican state Rep. Marcelo Llorente, a former university athlete, has pushed for the legislation in Florida for several sessions.

"It's been a four-year endeavor, but I'm elated that both chambers passed the bill unanimously,'' Llorente said. "I'm optimistic the governor will sign it.''


Nobull posted on 05/05/07 at 08:45
Saturday, 05/05/07

Dirty air on old school buses may jeopardize kids' health

Associated Press

Children across the U.S. are riding to school on aging buses, breathing what some activists say is a dangerous brew of pollutants up to five times dirtier than the air outside.

Breathing high concentrations of diesel emissions — known as particulates — can cause minor ailments such as headaches, wheezing and dizziness. Studies have found the contaminants can also lead to asthma and lung cancer.

Researchers say older buses also let lots of emissions enter through doors and windows.

"The exhaust that swirls around the bus gets into the bus and can stay elevated throughout the ride," said Betin Santos, an air quality specialist for the nonprofit group Environmental Defense.

But pollutants seem to be among the least of bus-related woes in Middle Tennessee, where the state school board has set mandates to ensure air quality on school buses.

Leslie Powers said her son, a sixth-grader at Croft Middle School, has never complained about pollution. "We've had many more issues concerning behavior on the school bus."

Brittany Hummer, a junior at Antioch High School who rode the bus her whole school life before getting a car last year, said she often found it hard to breathe — but not because of diesel emissions.

"The air's really thick and hot, and everybody's really nasty," Hummer said.
Nobull posted on 05/09/07 at 14:49
Students at Daphne Elementary School South Improve Their Reading Skills Using Speech Recognition Technology
Soliloquy Reading Assistant helps all types of students

May. 9, 2007 01:54 PM

DAPHNE, Ala., May 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The entire student body at Daphne Elementary School South is using Soliloquy Reading Assistant, an interactive, speech-enabled educational software program, to develop their reading fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. The 322 students working with the program include mainstream and remedial readers, as well as English Language Learners (ELL), and Special Education students.

School-wide usage of Soliloquy Reading Assistant began in September of the 2006-7 school year after success with special education students the previous year. Kathy Smith, a Special Education Teacher, who encouraged Daphne to adopt the program, said, "One of my students began the year reading between 27 and 32 words per minute. After using Soliloquy, his average is up to 70 words per minute. His progress has also led to significant improvements in his other studies."

Teachers have seen success stories across the school. Bentia Battle, a fifth grade teacher, said, "Students feel reading is more fun using the technology. The program seems to motivate them to read more so than traditional books."

One of Ms. Battle's students commented, "I love Soliloquy because no one judges me while I read. My classmates don't know about the mistakes I make, and I have a chance to correct them all on my own. Being able to record my voice and then listen to it is pretty cool too!" Of course, Ms. Battle is able to review the detailed records the program provides on her students, which include audio recordings, specific errors, current status and trend lines.

Students use Soliloquy Reading Assistant by reading e-books into a computer using a standard headset and microphone. Through a proprietary speech-recognition technology, the software is able to "listen" and recognize when readers hesitate or make mistakes on specific words. When a student struggles, the program assists or corrects the reader by repeating the word clearly while creating a record of it for the teacher's review. Vocabulary assistance and comprehension questions are other features of the program. When students do not know a word's meaning, they can click on it for a context- sensitive definition, pronunciation example and photographic memory aid. As the students read, comprehension questions are presented to ensure understanding. Students can also have the story read to them, and compare the model with their own version to improve pronunciation.

ELL students benefit from using the Reading Assistant because they can spend extra time listening to, and reading, vocabulary words in context. All students benefit from answering comprehension questions so that they focus on the meaning of the text.

Dana Horst, South Daphne's Principal, commented, "The Soliloquy Reading Assistant helps teachers as much as it does its students by freeing up their time to focus on core teaching. It also provides that one-to-one ratio that so many students need, but are unable to get, because teachers have to tend to twenty or more students at all times."

Jon Bower, CEO of Soliloquy Learning, the company that develops Soliloquy Reading Assistant, stated, "The successes that Daphne has experienced show that innovative technology combined with traditional teaching methods have a great impact on learning. We're extremely proud to be a part of that process."

Soliloquy Reading Assistant is available for students in grades one through 12, plus adult remedial reading classes. For elementary students (grades 1-5), reading content is drawn from children's stories, poems and expository passages to build literature appreciation. For secondary students (grade 5 - grade 12 or above), content is drawn from science and social studies subjects covered by many state tests, providing experience with the content to improve comprehension as the student gets older. Since its launch in 2002, various versions of the Soliloquy Reading Assistant have been used by more than 5,000 schools across the country. For more information, visit, or call 1-877-235-6036.

About Soliloquy Learning, Inc.

Founded in 2000, Soliloquy Learning has pioneered new and effective methods for improving reading and spoken language skills. The company's flagship product, Soliloquy Reading Assistant, provides one-on-one reading support, using proprietary speech recognition technology to monitor and assist students through Guided Oral Reading, the research-proven best practice for fostering reading progress beyond the basics. Design has been led by literacy expert, Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams. Research on the efficacy of Soliloquy Reading Assistant has been sponsored through research grants from NICHD and IES. Soliloquy Learning is a privately held company based in Waltham, Mass. For more information visit: />
Media Contact: Chris Hamilton Connors Communications 212.798.1409

Soliloquy Learning, Inc.
CONTACT: Chris Hamilton of Connors Communications, +1-212-798-1409,

Web site: />

susitoo3 posted on 05/09/07 at 16:45
Thanks for continuing to post information that may be of some use to people in our community. I fear your posts might be getting lost in the shuffle among all the childish and inconsequential ramblings of a few diehard posters, though I truly hope not.

Nobull posted on 05/09/07 at 16:48
Your welcome Susan, I'm glad that some people can benefit from and appreciate these posts.

eciccarell posted on 05/09/07 at 17:35
Nobull if the board is in a tie vote 2 to 2 doesn't Maloney's vote break the tie. Does he vote?

Nobull posted on 05/10/07 at 11:11

I do not know. I could not find a NYS regulation covering this. However, school boards have an odd number of members to reduce the possibilities of ties. One member would have to be absent or abstain for there to be a tie.

Nobull posted on 05/10/07 at 11:15
Reading First Program Plagued With Problems
Advisers Had Deep Financial Ties To Publishers

POSTED: 9:13 am EDT May 10, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Officials who gave states advice on which teaching materials to buy under a federal reading program had deep financial ties to publishers, according to a congressional report Wednesday.

The report, compiled by Senate Education Committee Chairman Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., details how officials contracted by the government to help run the program were at the same time drawing pay from publishers that benefited from the reading initiative.

Kennedy's report added new detail to a conflict-of-interest investigation by the Education Department's inspector general, John Higgens, who earlier had found that the Reading First Program favored some programs over others and that federal officials and contractors didn't guard against conflicts.

The new report focused on four contractors who headed centers that guided states in choosing reading programs aimed at kindergartners through third graders.

It found the contractors "had substantial financial ties to publishing companies while simultaneously being responsible for providing technical assistance to states and school districts." That damaged the program's integrity and illustrated the need for Congress to head off future conflicts, the report concluded.

The report zeroed in on four people who directed the program's regional Technical Assistance Centers:
Edward Kame'enui, who headed the western technical assistance center based at the University of Oregon. Between 2002 and 2004, while holding positions in which he was evaluating Reading First assessment programs and giving state education agencies technical assistance, Kame'enui entered into three different contracts with the publisher Pearson/Scott Foresman, the report said.

"Due largely to his contracts with Pearson/Scott Foresman, Dr. Kame'enui's income soared in the period following the implementation of the Reading First program," the report said, adding that the majority of his royalties were derived from products used by states and districts in conjunction with Reading First.

Kame'enui, who now works as a commissioner at the Education Department's research arm, earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties from Pearson/Scott Foresman between 2001 and 2006, the report said. He also received tens of thousands of dollars in consulting fees from Voyager, another publisher of products used by states under Reading First from 2000 to 2003.

Scott Foresman also tapped Kame'enui to travel to education conferences and workshops on the company's behalf while he was the western center director, the report said. Kame'enui did not respond to requests for comment.
Douglas Carnine, who replaced Kame'enui as the western center's director in 2005, when Kame'enui left to take up his federal position. Previously Carnine had other roles related to Reading First.

Even as he headed the western center, Carnine worked with and continues to work with numerous publishers, the report said. He earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties from publishers that did well under Reading First, such as Houghton Mifflin Company from 2002 to 2006.

However, Carnine said in an interview Wednesday that his royalties from Houghton Mifflin and other publishers were for educational programs that had nothing to do with K-3 reading, the focus of Reading First.
Joseph Torgesen, who directed the eastern regional district at Florida State University from 2003 until the present. Torgesen is co-author of a McGraw Hill reading program that can be used under Reading First. The study found that from 2002 to 2006, Torgesen earned thousands of dollars in royalties and other payments from companies such as McGraw Hill and Pearson and Sopris West, which later was acquired by Cambium Learning.

In one internal e-mail, Torgesen questioned whether he should seek special permission from the department to review the new Scott Foresman curriculum for Maine. "I had a discussion with some folks in Washington yesterday who rightly pointed out that we might want to think about rewarding Pearson (/Scott Foresman) for significantly strengthening their program," Torgesen wrote.

Torgesen, in an interview Wednesday, said a review for the state of Florida had initially identified a Scott Foresman reading program as weak. However, Torgesen said Scott Foresman subsequently made significant improvements to the program, after which education officials in Maine asked Torgesen's center to review the program again.

"That prompted my e-mail to the folks in Washington, who suggested perhaps we might make an exception to re-reviewing Scott Foresman, since they had worked so diligently to improve their program," Torgesen said.

Sharon Vaughn headed the central technical assistance center at the University of Texas-Austin from 2003 to 2005. She received tens of thousands of dollars in royalties from Pearson Education Inc. and "other income" from Voyager Expanded learning, two programs used under Reading First.

Vaughn's lawyer, Gaines West, said it was noteworthy that the report did not say that Vaughn was improperly influenced by her relationship with publishers while she was the center's director.

The report concluded by recommending that Congress adopt new restrictions to safeguard against financial conflicts in federal education programs.

"Individuals serving on advisory committees or in the peer review process for the department should be prohibited from maintaining significant financial interests in related educational products or activities," the report said.

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is scheduled to testify in Congress on Thursday on the Reading First program and problems in the student loan industry.

Spellings said in an Associated Press interview Wednesday that she had not yet thoroughly reviewed Kennedy's report but that any new findings of wrongdoing would be addressed by the department.

She said, however, that it would be impossible to run department programs without relying on some people with ties to the private sector. "We want and need expertise as we make policy and do this work," she said.

Nobull posted on 05/10/07 at 11:26
Dr. Edward F. Dragan, Education Expert, Consultant and Founder of Education Management Consulting, LLC, Exposes Graduation Night's Silent Killer

Dr. Edward F. Dragan reveals protecting our children on graduation night means more than keeping illicit drugs and alcohol out of their hands. Schools and parents embrace chaperoned all-nght "safe alternative" graduation events but often neglect to consider graduation night's growing "silent killer," the potentially lethal combination of sleep deprivation and driving. More and more of our children are falling prey to drowsy driving each year after "safe" all-night graduation parties.

(PRWEB) May 10, 2007 -- Dr. Edward F. Dragan, writer of the soon-to-be published book, "Keeping Kids Safe: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know," exposes graduation night's silent killer.

Dr. Dragan, education expert and consultant, exposes the combination of sleep deprivation and driving as the overlooked silent killer among graduating high school students. All-night school sponsored graduation events are popular because they reduce the incidence of alcohol and drug abuse by students who might otherwise attend unsupervised events. However, these alternative "safe" events potentially expose students to the equivalent danger of drowsy driving.

Drowsy driving is the is the second biggest killer on our nation's roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration puts the number of such accidents at 100,000 per year of which approximately, 1600 result in fatalities and 71,000 in injuries.

Research has shown that the effects of sleep deprivation are similar to the effects of alcohol intoxication. One such study was reported in 1997 by Dawson and Reid of Australia's National Center for Sleep Research. They found that subjects kept awake for 17 hours performed on cognitive-psychomotor tests the same as a rested person with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 percent.

At 24 hours of sustained wakefulness, performance was equivalent to a BAC of 0.10 percent. In 16 states drivers are considered drunk with a BAC of 0.08; the remaining states set a level of 0.10.

Many schools and parents fail to consider that allowing students to drive after staying up all night is equally as dangerous as allowing students to driver under the influence of alcohol. Data gathered through a national survey, conducted by Education Management Consulting, LLC, of more than 300 high schools revealed that fatigue and sleep deprivation are generally not considered risks by the planners of all-night graduation parties.

Rather, the focus was on sponsoring a supervised alcohol and drug free event. Typically, event planners keep high school graduates entertained from the beginning of the party until the next morning with a variety of activities, including music, dancing, and competitive events. For many graduates taking part in these events means staying awake for 24 hours. When they leave in the morning- unchecked and unsupervised- their condition is similar to being impaired by alcohol or drugs.

Dr. Dragan said students need not be placed in this life threatening situation. School leaders have a duty to to protect students from known risks, and that includes the clear risk of driving while drowsy.

Fortunately, a few easy and effective precautions can protect students, Dr. Dragan said. First, consider transporting students in school buses, or leased buses to the event and home after the event. For little cost, the school can provide safe transportation after a fun-filled, sleep deprived night for graduates. Even if transportation is provided, adopt clear procedures to protect students from driving while sleep deprived. Specify that under no circumstances will any student, faculty member, or parent chaperon be allowed to drive after attending an all-night graduation party.

Says Dr. Dragan: "No reasonable educator would allow an intoxicated student to get behind the wheel of an automobile and drive away. Why allow a sleep deprived student to do the same? Assessing the risk and planning contingencies for prom and graduation events will help keep students safe, and protect schools from liability."

Edward F. Dragan, Ed.D. is the founder of Education Management Consulting, LLC, providing consultation to school administrators and education expert witness services to attorneys on education-related issues including school management, safety, bullying, sexual harassment, child custody, and special education . His book, Keeping Kids Safe in School: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know, is scheduled for publication in 2007.

Contact Information
Edward F. Dragan, Ed.D.
Education Management Consulting, LLC


Nobull posted on 05/15/07 at 14:04
Spellings unsure whether she’ll ask for resignation of official reported to have benefited financially from his position.By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

A federal official gained significant financial benefit from a commercial reading program he wrote, which he actively promoted while serving as a high-level adviser to states during the implementation of the Reading First program, a Senate report said last week.

The official, Edward J. Kame’enui, may have misrepresented those details when he testified under oath before a congressional committee last month, according to the preliminary results of a Senate education committee investigation.

Mr. Kame’enui, who is now serving as the commissioner for special education research at the U.S. Department of Education, had close ties to publishing companies that were competing for business among schools and districts participating in the $1 billion-a-year reading initiative, concludes the report. It was released May 9 by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass, the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.

At a House hearing on Reading First and student loans last week, Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said she was “deeply concerned” by the Senate report and was “vigorously” investigating the allegations.

When asked after the May 10 hearing if she would ask for Mr. Kame’enui’s resignation, she answered, “I don’t know.”

Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, said Mr. Kame’enui should resign.

“His testimony [of April 20] was less than candid … and the conflicts are there,” Mr. Miller told reporters after last week’s hearing by his committee. The secretary shouldn’t “keep employing people who have acted on their conflicts contrary to the interests of the department,” he said.

The Senate report describes the financial gains and contracts of Mr. Kame’enui and three other researchers who served as directors of the regional technical-assistance centers for Reading First during the rollout of the 5-year-old program.

“The committee’s investigation revealed that four [technical-assistance-center directors] had substantial financial ties with various education publishers during the time they were under contract or subcontract with the department for the Reading First program,” the report says.

Last month, Sen. Kennedy issued formal requests for documents from a number of Reading First contractors, including Douglas Carnine and Mr. Kame’enui from the University of Oregon, Joseph Torgesen of Florida State University, and Sharon Vaughn of the University of Texas at Austin. They served as directors of three regional technical-assistance centers that provided advice to states on meeting the grant program’s strict guidelines.

Outside income from publishing agreements “soared” for the researchers between 2001 and 2006 when they were serving as consultants to Reading First, the report says, based on documents gathered by the Senate committee.

Lucrative Contracts
Income for Mr. Kame’enui and Ms. Vaughn, in particular, jumped significantly during implementation of Reading First at a time when they provided advice to states on the kinds of texts and assessments that would meet the program’s requirements.

Between 2003 and 2006, for example, the Senate report says, Mr. Kame’enui earned some $150,000 a year or more in royalties and compensation from Pearson Scott Foresman, which publishes Early Reading Intervention, a textbook he wrote with former University of Oregon professor Deborah C. Simmons. He also received consulting fees in excess of $100,000 total from his work designing Voyager Expanded Learning, a reading program that experienced rapid success over the past several years. He helped Ms. Vaughn secure contracts with Scott Foresman and Best Associates, which published the Voyager program, that have earned her some $500,000 in royalties since 2001, according to the report.

Those agreements had nothing to do with her work on Reading First, Ms. Vaughn said in an interview, and had been vetted for possible conflicts of interest by University of Texas officials.

Rep. George Miller, on TV screen, addresses Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, right, at a House education committee hearing on the Reading First program and student loans.

Mr. Carnine has also drawn considerable profits from the sale of textbooks he has written, about $750,000. But the textbooks are primarily for the college market and in other subject areas.

Mr. Torgesen was also on contract as a member of the Voyager design team, but he wrote in a 2003 e-mail to his colleagues that he was resigning because of his concerns that the arrangement posed a conflict of interest with his other work. At the time, he was the director of the Eastern regional-assistance center at Florida State. In a statement, Mr. Torgesen said that he received relatively small amounts of royalty income—stipends of $1,000 to $3,000 and then $20,000 from Voyager, coming to about $50,000 over five years—from his publishing contracts.

Mr. Kame’enui is on leave from the University of Oregon while he serves as the commissioner of the National Center for Special Education Research, an arm of the Department of Education. He testified at a contentious hearing before the House education committee April 20 that there were no “real conflicts of interest” among him and his colleagues who served as advisers on Reading First. ("House Panel Grills Witnesses on Reading First," April 25, 2007.)

He told the House panel that he had never promoted his reading text, but the Senate report documents numerous occasions on which he spoke at conferences and training events at the request of the publisher.

He also said in his testimony that he had not known that his textbook was being packaged with a reading assessment that is widely used in Reading First schools. The Senate report, however, includes excerpts from e-mails in which he discusses the possibility of marketing the two products together.

The Education Department would not make Mr. Kame’enui available for response last week.

“The Department is deeply concerned about conflicts of interest and takes the allegations contained in Senator Kennedy’s report very seriously,” Education Department spokeswoman Katherine McKlane said in a statement. “We are studying this report to determine if further actions are necessary and will act aggressively if any wrongdoing is found.”

Oversight Failures’
At last week’s hearing, House Republicans lauded Secretary Spelling for making administrative changes to the Reading First program that the Education Department’s inspector general recommended in a report last fall.

“We all are in agreement that Reading First is a successful and worthy program,” Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon of California, the senior Republican member of the panel, said in his opening statement. “Now, we must take the initiative to change the law accordingly to ensure past instances of mismanagement never repeat themselves again.”

“When I look at the whole body of evidence that has been amassed about both the student-loan and Reading First programs, it is clear that—at a minimum—the Education Department’s oversight failures have been monumental,” Rep. Miller said.

The initiative to improve reading instruction in the nation’s low-performing schools—adopted as part of the No Child Left Behind Act—has come under growing scrutiny since the release of a series of reports suggesting that federal officials and their consultants appeared to favor some commercial reading programs over others and may have overstepped legal prohibitions against federal influence on state and local decisionmaking on curriculum issues.




These guides can assist with abbreviations, conversions between Standard English and Metric measurements, identifying and converting unusual weights and measures, and substituting for ingredients that are high in fat and cholesterol.


Standard English Equivalents Converting Between Standard English and Metric Units

1 ounce = 28.35 grams
1 pound = 453.59 grams
1 gram = 0.035 ounce
100 grams = 3.5 ounces
1000 grams = 2.2 pounds
1 kilogram = 35 ounces
1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds

1 milliliter = 1/5 teaspoon
1 milliliter = 0.03 fluid ounce
1 teaspoon = 5 milliliters
1 tablespoon = 15 milliliters
1 fluid ounce = 30 milliliters
1 fluid cup = 236.6 milliliters
1 quart = 946.4 milliliters
1 liter (1000 milliliters) = 34 fluid ounces
1 liter (1000 milliliters) = 4.2 cups
1 liter (1000 milliliters) = 2.1 fluid pints
1 liter (1000 milliliters) = 1.06 fluid quarts
1 liter (1000 milliliters) = 0.26 gallon
1 gallon = 3.8 liters

Conversion formulas:
°C = (°F - 32) X 5/9
°F = (°C X 9/5) + 32

32°F = 0°C
40°F = 4.4°C
100°F = 37.7°C
200°F = 93.3°C
225°F = 107.2°C
250°F = 121.1°C
275°F = 135°C
300°F = 148.9°C
325°F = 162.8°C
350°F = 176.7°C
375°F = 190.6°C
400°F = 204.4°C
425°F = 218.3°C
450°F = 232.2°C
475°F = 246.1°C
500°F = 260°C

1 inch = 2.5 centimeters
1 foot = 30 centimeters
1 millimeter = 0.04 inch
1 centimeter = 0.4 inch
1 meter = 3.3 feet

These guides can assist with abbreviations, conversions between Standard English and Metric measurements, identifying and converting unusual weights and measures, and substituting for ingredients that are high in fat and cholesterol.


Standard English Equivalents Converting Between Standard English and Metric Units

1 ounce = 28.35 grams
1 pound = 453.59 grams
1 gram = 0.035 ounce
100 grams = 3.5 ounces
1000 grams = 2.2 pounds
1 kilogram = 35 ounces
1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds

1 milliliter = 1/5 teaspoon
1 milliliter = 0.03 fluid ounce
1 teaspoon = 5 milliliters
1 tablespoon = 15 milliliters
1 fluid ounce = 30 milliliters
1 fluid cup = 236.6 milliliters
1 quart = 946.4 milliliters
1 liter (1000 milliliters) = 34 fluid ounces
1 liter (1000 milliliters) = 4.2 cups
1 liter (1000 milliliters) = 2.1 fluid pints
1 liter (1000 milliliters) = 1.06 fluid quarts
1 liter (1000 milliliters) = 0.26 gallon
1 gallon = 3.8 liters

Conversion formulas:
°C = (°F - 32) X 5/9
°F = (°C X 9/5) + 32

32°F = 0°C
40°F = 4.4°C
100°F = 37.7°C
200°F = 93.3°C
225°F = 107.2°C
250°F = 121.1°C
275°F = 135°C
300°F = 148.9°C
325°F = 162.8°C
350°F = 176.7°C
375°F = 190.6°C
400°F = 204.4°C
425°F = 218.3°C
450°F = 232.2°C
475°F = 246.1°C
500°F = 260°C

1 inch = 2.5 centimeters
1 foot = 30 centimeters
1 millimeter = 0.04 inch
1 centimeter = 0.4 inch
1 meter = 3.3 feet

Wet Measure

1 tablespoon = 1/2 fluid ounce
1 jigger = 1 1/2 fluid ounces (3 tablespoons)
1 fluid cup = 8 fluid ounces
1 fluid cup = 1/2 pint
1 pint = 2 fluid cups
1 quart = 4 fluid cups
1 quart = 2 pints
1 gallon = 128 fluid ounces
1 gallon = 4 quarts
1 peck = 8 quarts
1 peck = 2 gallons
Dry Measure

1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons
1/3 cup = 5 1/3 tablespoons
1/2 cup = 8 tablespoons
2/3 cup = 10 2/3 tablespoons
3/4 cup = 12 tablespoons
1 cup = 16 tablespoons
1 cup = 48 teaspoons
1 pound = 16 ounces
1 bushel = 4 pecks