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ESEA Alert May 19, 2003

MAY 19 ESEA Alert

Brown Commemorated: The 50th anniversary of Brown vs. the Board of Education, a landmark Supreme Court decision that changed the course of American public education, is a year away - May 17, 2004. But NEA, the NAACP and many other civil rights oriented organizations are planning yearlong celebrations to commemorate the decision that overturned the doctrine of separate but equal and helped desegregate America’s public schools. On Monday, NEA hosted a forum attended by a number of national organizations planning special Brown commemorations. The forum not only focused on Brown’s positive impact, but also its unfulfilled legacy. "Today, NEA finds that we are still being confronted with some of the same tactics -- vouchers, school choice, and other schemes -- that could lead to closing public schools rather than doing the right thing -- providing the much-needed resources for school improvement," says executive director John Wilson. "We must not allow the victory that was gained 50 years ago, at so great a price, to stand still, frozen in time. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi echoed this sentiment in a statement released Thursday. “As we approach the 50th Anniversary of Brown, it is clear that access to and equality of education are more vital to success than ever, and we still have a long way to go. Almost 50 years after segregation was declared unconstitutional, many poor and minority children are concentrated in schools that fail to meet their needs…… America has the resources to provide all children with a good public education, and we cannot afford to do anything less." For more Brown vs. Board updates, contact Michelle Y. Green in NEA’s Human & Civil Rights Department.

Dept of Ed TV: Education News Parents Can Use, a new monthly television series that promises to give parents a better understanding of the No Child Left Behind federal education law, will feature a live format, viewer call ins and lively discussion, says its sponsor, the U.S. Department of Education. The program, which replaces the Department's Satellite Town Meeting, promises to give parents tools and information that will help them be effectively involved in their children's learning and improve teaching and learning in schools and at home. It will feature brief segments, one-on-one interviews, "how-to" demonstrations, video and graphics as well as brief conversations with parents, educators, education experts and community, business and religious leaders. The show will air on local cable access stations the third Tuesday of each month during the school year. It will be rebroadcast on the Discovery Networks’ TLC (The Learning Channel), Channel One Network and some Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) stations. For more info, email or call 1-800-USA-LEARN…. Also, Ed t also announced state accountability plan were approved for New Jersey and Rhode Island (for a total of 18 approved states). Texas and New Hampshire were awarded Reading First grants. Texas gets a whopping $79 million for year one and possibly $532 million over six years; Wisconsin receives $11.1 million the first year and a possible 74.5 million over six years.

NCES Report: Trends in the Use of School Choice: 1993 to 1999, a report released by the National Center for Education Statistics, says public school choice has increased over the past decade and that parents are more satisfied when they select a school for their children. According to Trends, the percentage of students enrolled in public, chosen schools increased from 11 percent in 1993 to 14 percent in 1999, while the percentage of students enrolled in public, assigned schools decreased from 80 to 76 percent. Access Trends at
Boycott threatened: A group of minority politicians and religious leaders in Florida say they will call for a boycott against some of the state's largest industries- tourism, sugar and citrus - unless Gov. Jeb Bush suspends an achievement test that approximately 12,500 seniors failed. Students who failed the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (F.C.A.T) won’t qualify for a diploma. The majority is black and Hispanic. The F.C.A.T, a part of Gov. Bush’s plan to improve the state’s education system, was introduced when the current seniors started high school. Many students, who have had up to seven opportunities to pass F.C.A.T’s math and reading portions, will forfeit college admissions, scholarships of military enlistments. Also, nearly 12,000 third-graders are at risk of being barred from fourth grade in the fall. The boycott would be levied against tourism and business because “Bush listens to big money and they are the ones who put money in his pocket,” says pastor Victor Curry of New Birth Baptist Church.

Prayer Checks: Most of the country’s more than 15,000 school districts say they are not stifling court protected prayer by students and teachers. A total of 42 states met the federal April 15 deadline for assuring all their schools follow the federal law permitting prayer in schools – as long as it takes place outside regular class instruction and is not initiated by school officials. Five states – Ohio, Arizona, California, Illinois and New York – had 150 to 200 school districts out of compliance. Indiana, Nevada and New Hampshire say paper work problems delayed their response but they expect to submit clean reports soon. No response yet from The District of Columbia. Collecting this info cost Ohio more than $500,000. Also, the Fairfield National Education Association is considering action against a Sylvia (Kansas) principal who asked teachers to stand by students’ desks and pray for them on National Prayer Day (May 1). The union said teachers found the memo from Principal Ellen Green offensive and inappropriate.

NEA Guides: NEA has published six new guides for parents.
· A Parent's Guide to Testing at Your Child's School
· A Parent's Guide to Choosing Supplemental Service Providers
· A Parent's Guide to Helping Your Child Learn to Read
· A Parent's Guide to Raising Ready Readers
· A Parent's Guide to School Involvement
· A Parent's Guide to Supporting School Success

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