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Trends to Watch: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

What's Doin' in the Districts?

May 2008


Schoolhouse Rock<br />
Schoolhouse Rock


Something to chew on. Los Angeles County (CA) has set up a pilot program with Revolution Foods to provide healthier daily meals to some 500 students in three schools. Revolution already serves meals using local and organic ingredients to some 40 schools across the state.

A new film puts a face on global competitiveness. Two Million Minutes. That’s how long a student has between leaving junior high and graduating from high school. It’s also the name of a new documentary that compares the lives of high school students in China, India, and the United States. The film is not just a critique of educational systems but also an examination of the cultural expectations and individual mind-set students bring to the classroom, and it has prompted school districts across the nation to reconsider the role of education in the economy.

A search engine that pays your school to use it. GoodSearch donates half of its revenue to participating nonprofits. Powered by Yahoo!, the application is used just like any other browser, but each time you enter a new search, GoodSearch sends about one cent to the school of your choice. The pennies add up: 500 people searching four times a day yields around $7,300 in a year.


No taxation for representation? The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to review an Idaho state law that forbids school districts and other government agencies from making payroll deductions to fund political activity by unions. The law, passed in 2003 with support from so-called right-to-work forces, was overturned by an appeals court on the ground that it violates unions’ free-speech rights.

Evidence of a graduation gap. A recent report by America’s Promise Alliance, a group of nonprofits and education advocacy organizations, concludes that
17 of the nation’s largest cities have graduation rates lower than 50 percent. The study also reveals approximately 1.2 million students drop out of school every year. Link to the full report at


When elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings recently made a direct appeal to teachers to defend the Reading First program. Funds for the popular early literacy program, which has helped improve reading among disadvantaged students in some 37 states, was slashed by more than 60 percent when Congress discovered evidence of mismanagement and corruption in its administration.

The canon’s roar.
In the face of opposition from English teachers, the Texas State Board of Education has backed down from its proposal to embed a list of acceptable literary works into statewide curriculum standards, which it is currently revising for the first time since 1997. The critics contend that the list is out of step with contemporary life and does not reflect the ethnic diversity of Texas schools. Could this be a prelude to further controversy when the school board examines the science curriculum later this year?

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