June 2003 School Reform News

Issue Date: 
June, 2003
Newspaper PDF: 


On May 1, District of Columbia Mayor Anthony Williams, School Board President Peggy Cooper Cafritz, and Councilman Kevin Chavous pledged their support for expanded school choice--not just through charter schools, but through school vouchers as well. Cafritz explained she has been “listening to the frustrations of parents, who do not have another one or two or more years to wait for every [public] school to perform.”

Among this month’s other top stories:

  • Disrespectful student behavior is a source of grave concern among high school teachers, students, and parents. More than four in 10 teachers (43 percent), for example, say that in their schools, teachers spend less time teaching than they do trying to keep order in the classroom.
  • The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study found U.S. 11-year-olds ranked higher than their counterparts in 23 of the 34 other participating nations. That good news is tempered, though, by boy-versus-girl and minority-versus-white student reading achievement gaps ... and by the fact fourth grade is usually “as good as it gets” for student achievement in the U.S.
  • The National Commission on Writing in America’s Schools and Colleges is recommending a writing agenda for the nation that includes doubling the time most K-12 students currently spend on writing. Most fourth-grade students spend less than three hours a week writing, which is approximately the same amount of time per day they spend watching television.
  • An April study conducted by Educational Testing Service for the National Association of Manufacturers warns the U.S. education system is failing to prepare students for productive roles in the country’s increasingly high-tech manufacturing industry. Almost four out of five (78 percent) manufacturers believe K-12 schools are not doing a good job of preparing students for the workplace.

This issue also covers special education reform, school choice news from 10 states, public school spending, and NAEP reading and writing scores. This month’s featured interview is with Rod Paige, U.S. Secretary of Education--the first school superintendent and first African-American to serve in that position.

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