University of Arkansas Office for Education Policy

Weekly Links

In OWL-OEP Weekly Links on April 19, 2012 at 1:50 pm

From the OEP

Happy Thursday to you all!  We are getting closer to conference time and wanted to direct your attention to a few posts we have featured this week on Khan Academy, an innovative education company that will be featured at the conference. First, we have a post which features an article discussing Khan Academy. In the article, our featured speaker, Sundar Subarrayan, discusses the benefit of this free resource to public schools.

And speaking of public schools, we heard a rave review of the Khan Academy program by a teacher in the Little Rock School District. Not only did she provide a review, but she also sent a video presentation her students made for the district school board. Check out this video and more at our blog!

Registration for our conference is now up. If you are interested in attending, and let us just say it’s going to be well worth your time, please register. We expect this conference to quickly fill up, so we encourage prompt registration!

News from Around the Natural State

Former President Bill Clinton Encourages High School Students in El Dorado
Former President Bill Clinton served as the keynote speaker at the sixth annual El Dorado Promise event where seniors pledge to go to college with money provided by the El Dorado Promise Scholarship program. The promise event was held for the first time at the new El Dorado High School. Established in 2007 by El Dorado-based Murphy Oil, the Promise is a $50 million dollar scholarship commitment by the private company that can be used at any accredited two or four year university—public or private.

Parents Fight School Transfer Law
A state law that allows parents to move their children to schools outside of their home districts unconstitutionally restricts some of those transfers based on the children’s race, attorneys for a group of parents argued in federal court Monday. The parents want to transfer their children, who are white, from the Malvern School District, which is about 60 percent white, to the Magnet Cove School District, which is about 95 percent white.

State Gets 2 Plans to Cut Costs

The Pulaski County Special School District and its two employee unions submitted to state Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell by Monday’s deadline conflicting proposals for cutting about $11 million in costs in the state-controlled, fiscally distressed district. In a letter late last week, Kimbrell “respectfully request[ed]” that the school district, the Pulaski Association of Classroom Teachers and the Pulaski Association of Support Staff provide to him “specific, written recommendations on how the staffing and the fiscal practices of the [district] should be modified in order to realize $11 million in cost savings by the end of the 2012-13 school year.” Kimbrell told the two sets of parties that the Arkansas Department of Education staff will use the proposals in deciding “what binding recommendations” to impose on the district.

School Leaders to Attend National Conference
School leaders from across the nation will get to hear about the Fayetteville School District this weekend when the National School Boards Association gathers in Boston for its annual meeting. The School District has been invited to make two different presentations: one on implementing sustainability in the learning environment and the other on how the district gained voter approval in an ailing economy to finance a portion of the $95 million expansion and renovation of the Fayetteville High School.

News from Around the Nation

Study Links Zoning to Educational Disparities

The mantra of real estate agents and their clients alike is now the target of a new report from the Brookings Institution linking housing prices and zoning practices to effectively depriving low-income student of high-quality schools. Using test scores from schools in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the country, senior research analyst Jonathan Rothwell found that housing costs an average of 2.4 times more—close to $11,000 more per year—near a high-scoring public school than near a low-scoring one. Housing prices can be a barometer of zoning practices because near high-scoring schools, the homes are typically larger and fewer and more expensive than in the areas surrounding low-scoring schools. Zoning regulations that intend to keep population density low segregate cities and towns by race and income, according to the study released today.

States’ Waivers Weak on Extended Learning Time
Most of the dozen states that have already gotten wiggle room from the No Child Left Behind Act don’t have very good plans in place when it comes to a key piece of the U.S. Department of Education’s requirements for turning around low-performing schools: extending learning time, according to a report out by the Center for American Progress today. The Washington-based think-tank singled out three applications—Colorado, New Mexico, and Tennessee—as exceptionally thin, when it comes to adding time to the school day or extra time for teachers to collaborate.

Click here to check out these news stories and more on the OEP Blog!!!

Don’t forget, you can always keep up with more education news on the In the News section of our website.

Site Seeing

A new report examines the contractors involved in the school improvement grants, a topic of significant interest to educators and policymakers in Arkansas. Check out the detailed report and suggestions from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. Education Should Take Additional Steps to Enhance Accountability for Schools and Contractors

Mark Your Calendar

May 7-8, 2012: Joint Commission on Education Committee Meetings, State Capitol, Room171

May 14, 2012: State Board of Education Meeting, Little Rock, AR

May 17, 2012: OEP Conference

Save the Date: May 17th, 2012

Annual OEP Conference

Using Technology to Increase Student Achievement

Clinton Presidential Center

Breakfast and Registration starting at 8:00 AM

Final Thought:

From our city perspective we realize we do have a role to play through our planning and zoning process. When we put our resources and our time and our talent into things, we can really move the needle,” –Chris Poynter, spokesman for City of Louisville on zoning to improve desegregation purposes.

 Thanks for reading!  See you next week!

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