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Community Involvement

Letters Connect Generations
A pen pal program involving Utah fifth graders and senior citizens has created new connections between the generations and introduced students to the almost-lost art of formal letter-writing. The program is benefiting the entire community.

Creative Commons: Transforming Education Through More Accessible Resources
The Internet and digital technologies have transformed how people learn. Creative Commons provides the legal and technical infrastructure that makes it possible for educational resources to be widely accessible, adaptable, interoperable, and discoverable.

Siemens Foundation Chief Aims to Expand Programs Reach
The Siemens Foundation long has been known for honoring top math and science students. New foundation president Jeniffer Harper-Taylor wants to make math, science, engineering, and technology education more accessible to students at all grade levels.

Executive Gives Arts a Boost Where He Got His Start
Now a successful businessman and philanthropist, Richard Fields still remembers his elementary school music teacher with appreciation. He now is funding an extensive arts program at his former school to give todays students the experiences he had.

Teachers Can Help With the U.S. Census
The U.S. Census provides the federal government with key data that affects local communities, and the Census Bureau wants educators to spread the word about the 2010 head count through lesson plans and teaching materials it has prepared for teachers.

Enlisting the Community to Promote Achievement
Concerned that many urban students, especially African-American ones, were underachieving in school, Hugh B. Price made community involvement in local schools a focus of his tenure at the National Urban League as well as the subject of a book.

Preventing MRSA in Your School
Many U.S. schools already have dealt with outbreaks of Methicillin-resisitant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), a potentially-deadly skin infection that spreads rapidly. Good personal hygiene and cleanliness are the best defenses against this serious illness.

Why We All Need to Appreciate the Gravity of Transitions
When something terrifies you to the bottoms of your socks, its difficult to regard the experience as a privilege. One of the best kids Ive ever met just recently started college and shes scared."

How Teachers Can and Must Reverse the ‘Boy Crisis’
In the book The Trouble With Boys former Newsweek reporter Peg Tyre outlines boys’ struggles in school, describes how education became less friendly to boys, and warns that failing to engage boys in school could seriously impact the nation’s future.

When Hovering Isnt Helping
Nowhere in my previous column concerning the need for students -- at all stages of their development -- to embrace appropriate independence and autonomy, did I suggest that parents should be barred from interacting with their children or with their childrens various instructors."

Coping With Parent (Over) Involvement
“I’m hearing from teachers that it’s as if the kids come to school with home strapped to their backs -- or, perhaps more accurately, strapped to their ankles like house arrest bands. These parents from the 1970s have been referred to as ‘helicopter parents.’”

Educators Seek More Flexibility in NCLB
Concerns that the No Child Left Behind Act is forcing schools to narrow their curriculums and stressing sanctions over incentives surfaced at different forums. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said some changes are likely to come.

For Hungry Kids, Backpacks Lighten Load
Students who are disruptive, can't concentrate, or lack motivation may not need a firm hand; they might, instead, need a helping hand. Principals in many states have initiated programs that fill backpacks with food to help kids get the fuel they need to flourish.

National PTA Taps First Man to Serve as President-Elect
Charles Saylors has a message for dads who think the PTA is just for moms: The PTA needs you. Saylors, a PTA veteran, is slated to be the first man to serve as president of the 110-year-old National PTA. Getting more fathers involved is one of his top priorities.

CES Develops Engaged Students Who Demonstrate Their Learning
The Coalition of Essential Schools believes that helping students master certain essential skills and basic knowledge and requiring them to demonstrate mastery of those skills will help them succeed in life, and it wants to share its philosophy with others.

Why Teachers Unions Are Needed
The growing number of mandates and non-educators enforcing them make teachers unions more critical than ever, according to professor Diane Ravitch. Unions need to ensure that teachers influence on curriculum and practices is not further eroded.

Minorities Benefit from Integrated Schools
While the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court decision Brown vs. Board of Education ordered schools desegregated, many schools remain segregated, and because of that, unequal. A study indicates, though, that minority students learn less in segregated schools.

Enlisting Students to Make the Internet Safer
The potential dangers to young people using the Internet become more real every day -- yet, so do the opportunities for enrichment. iSAFE Inc. aims to help students understand and navigate online hazards, and encourage them to educate their peers as well.

Twenty Things that Frighten Me about the Holiday Season
Dare-you-not-to-cry holiday movies, friends who shop early and often, and alcohol-free eggnog are just a few terrors of the season.

A Framework for Raising Well-Balanced Children
Children may be pampered with a plethora of gadgets, but they are not nurtured in a way that helps them develop into responsible and caring citizens, argues Dr. Peter L. Benson. All segments of society must commit to childrens well being, he argues.

NEA Launches NCLB Reform Effort
Many educators have expressed concerns about the requirements and sanctions of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, and the National Education Association has adopted a plan to reform the law, which it wants Congress to hear.

District Buys House for Homeless Kids
Concerned that students with unstable or no homes often wound up dropping out of school, the Maplewood Richmond Heights (Missouri) School District decided to buy a house and convert it to a group home for homeless teens.

65 Percent Solution: Gimmick or Gold Mine?
Founders of the First Class Education movement want all states to mandate that 65 percent of education dollars go to "in-classroom" expenses. While that may sound great, educators worry that the definition of classroom expenses is too narrow.

Help for Teaching Students With Learning Disabilities
More educators are teaching children with learning disabilities, at the same new regulations and strategies for helping these students are coming out. The National Center for Learning Disabilities has new resources to help all teachers.

Principal Unites School Around Student Strengths
When changes hit Khowhemun Elementary School in British Columbia, staff members and the community initially found it hard to adjust. Charlie Coleman, ASCD's 2005 Outstanding Young Educator, helped give the school focus and unified the staff.

School, Town Create Holocaust Memorial
While studying the Holocaust, Whitwell Middle School students set out to collect 6 million paper clips to comprehend the number of Jews killed by the Nazis. They not only exceeded their goal, but with community help, created a memorial to those who died.

Communicating With Adults, Tots
Cultivating the (same) skills for communicating with co-workers, preschoolers.

Using Student Ears, Eyes to Stop Crime
Building on the success of its community programs, Crime Stoppers USA is encouraging schools to set up Crime Stoppers in Schools programs. These programs allow students to anonymously pass on tips to authorities about potential crimes or threats.

O, Say, Does Your Class Know the National Anthem?
For years, students learned "The Star-Spangled Banner" and other patriotic songs in music class. Budget cuts, though, have forced many schools to eliminate music, so the National Association for Music Education is urging people to learn and sing the anthem.

Helping Boys Learn
Over the past several decades, boys' behavior and performance in school has continued to decline. Researchers like Michael Gurian say these are indications that schools are not structured to accommodate how boys' brains work and how they learn.

Teen Brings Unique Voice to School Board
Many high school students might groan about attending a school board meeting. But for senior Pallas A. Snider, serving on the Anne Arundel County school board is a chance to make her voice heard on issues important to the community and fellow students.

Budgeting in the Accountability Age
Doing more with less has been the challenge for school districts in recent years, but now the demands of the No Child Left Behind Act, coupled with shrinking resources, are making budgeting even harder.

A Son Became a Soldier, and a Dad Became a Teacher
When teacher and Army National Guard member Brian Harvey was called to Iraq, his first thoughts were for his family, but not far behind was concern for his classes. Then his father, Boyce, made a life-changing decision to teach Brian's classes while he was gone.

Businesses Provide Supplies, Grant Money
Office supply companies often find themselves paying to store extra inventory or have it carted away. But the Kids In Need Foundation matches companies with schools that need supplies and helps teachers fund innovative lessons.

Play Fair and Win
John Hourihan, a coach and writer, passes on lessons from two decades of coaching youth sports in his book, Play Fair And Win. Many children spend almost as much time with coaches as they do with teachers, and they can complement one another.

Arms Open Wide for "Katrina's Kids"
Hundreds of thousands of students and thousands of teachers remain displaced after Hurricane Katrina damaged or destroyed their schools and communities. But schools across the U.S. are taking them in and helping them to feel at home.

Growing Caring Citizens Through Good Works
Social studies teacher Peter White always felt compelled to help the less fortunate, and he spread and channeled his passion through a student club called Students for 60,000. Students have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for causes in the U.S. and adopted two Nicaraguan towns

School-Community Relations is Great PR And Then Some
George Pawlas, author of The Administrator's Guide to School-Community Relations, says every principal should carry a list of "six statements you can say with pride about your school." Pawlas offers that PR advice and much more in this EdWorld interview.

Community Evaluates Superintendent Online
Opening oneself up to an evaluation by the community takes some nerve, but Nashville's superintendent Dr. Pedro Garcia was up for it. The responses are leading to changes in how he communicates with the community. Included: The online evaluation form.

Banding Together to Stop Gun Violence
With the support of a teacher, students at Suncoast High School in Florida wrote and recorded a CD of songs urging an end to gun violence. Now the students want schools and radio stations across the U.S. to play the title track March 15 in a show of solidarity.

Preventing a School Hostage Crisis in the U.S.
The hostage crisis at a Beslan, Russia, school last month has raised questions about the safety of public schools in the U.S. A security consultant tells Education World why he thinks schools need tougher security measures.

A Community Pitches In to Repair its Schools
A lack of maintenance and funding had taken a toll on Baltimore, Maryland's schools. A call to the community for help this summer, though, yielded donations and thousands of volunteers who completed hundreds of thousands of dollars of work -- and are still at it.

Message to D.C.: Educators Need Money, Support, Respect
Educators often wish they could tell national leaders what schools need. Last night, they got their chance, as small groups around the U.S. brainstormed ways to get education in the national spotlight and make schools' needs known.

Treasuring Kids and Their Education on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
As the smallest K-12 public school in North Carolina, Ocracoke School strives to provide diverse learning opportunities in a place that can be reached only by ferry or plane. The small number of students and the isolation on their island home on the Outer Banks foster a close relationship between the school and community.

Mobilize for Education September 22
A coalition of organizations, calling itself the National Mobilization for Great Public Schools, is asking people to meet at house parties September 22 to discuss education concerns and possible solutions.

A Day With Experience Corps Volunteers
They worked all over New York City, almost all of them in fields other than education. Now they are a team, helping first and second graders at P.S. 154 in Harlem learn to read. Included: Descriptions of an Experience Corps program.

Calling All Grandparents: Senior Volunteers Transform Schools
They are reliable and passionate, and they bring learning and love to urban classrooms. They are Experience Corps volunteers, retirees recruited and trained to tutor students and assist teachers. Volunteers and educators alike have nothing but praise for the program.

Service Learning Thrives Despite Less Funding, Time
Even though demands on school time and funds continue to increase, service-learning programs remain popular, according to research. Principals praised their positive influence on student learning and school climate.

Cold Mush: Serving Stories from the Iditarod Trail
Jeffrey M. Peterson of Minnesota, this year's Teacher on the Trail, is eager to experience the Iditarod and to share his observations and lessons with students around the world.

Restorative Practices Build Community, Responsibility
Although student misbehavior impacts many people at school, often only the student is involved in the discipline process. The restorative practices approach stresses correcting the harm rather than punishing the deed, and advocates including the affected parties in the process.

"Not Much, Just Chillin'," a Window on Middle School Life
Washington Post education writer Linda Perlstein spent a year following five Maryland middle school students, and then wrote "Not Much, Just Chillin'" a rare insight into the lives of young adolescents.

Calendar Exposes School Financing Problems
When bake sales and walk-a-thons aren't enough to save critical school programs, what's a community to do? Members of the Long Tom Grange in Junction City, Oregon, found a solution: they "took it all off" for a calendar that's eliciting orders from around the world.

PTA President Seeks Larger, More Diverse Membership
Attracting and keeping involved parents, and reaching out to underrepresented parent populations, are among the priorities for Linda Hodge, the National PTA's new president. Hodge brings experience from the local and national level.

Mexican Arts, Culture Frame Learning
Mexican arts and culture are woven through the curriculum at Chicago's Telpochcalli Elementary School. The school's mission is to help students appreciate their heritage and to use studies of the art and culture of Mexico teach other content areas.

Senior Substitute Has No Plans to Retire
How many people can say after 34 years on the job that they still love going to work every day -- at age 90? Substitute teacher George Thomas can. Teaching is his second career, and he is packing every minute he can into it. He has been substituting almost every day at Cheshire (Connecticut) High School since he retired from full-time teaching 20 years ago.

Putting American History in the Forefront
Shortly after the tragedies of September 11 sparked a renewed interest in American history and patriotism, a federal grant program announced awards aimed at improving ways of teaching U.S. history. Administrators in districts receiving the awards tell Education World they are hopeful that exposing their teachers to primary materials and to history scholars will make them more confident and excited about teaching American history.

'Adopted' Classes Thrive With Personal, Financial Support
When Miami lawyer Jamie Rosenberg volunteered in a local school, he was shocked by the school's limited resources and wanted to do something to help the classroom teachers. So, in 1998, Rosenberg left his law practice and founded Adopt-A-Classroom, an organization that asks individuals and businesses to contribute $500, so a teacher can buy classroom supplies.

Paige Urges Schools to Join Simultaneous National Pledge of Allegiance
Secretary of Education Rod Paige urges America's more than 100,000 schools to join in a simultaneous nationwide Pledge of Allegiance on Friday.

NEA Seeks Corporate Support for Teacher Recruitment Campaign
The National Education Association (NEA) is talking with at least one major business about supporting a nationwide teacher-recruitment campaign. The multi-faceted approach to recruitment and retention also would include efforts to raise teachers' salaries and improve alternate certification programs. -

Program Links Hispanic Families to Education Resources
The goal of the ENLACE Initiative, a project funded by the philanthropic W.K. Kellogg Foundation, is to support Hispanic students' academic efforts and increase the number of Hispanic students who complete high school and college. ENLACE programs team Hispanic students and their families with resources from the local and academic communities.

New PTA President Focuses on Parent Involvement, Diversity
Shirley Igo, the new National PTA president, discusses how the organization plans to further its goal of increasing parent involvement in the schools.

New PTA President Focuses on Parent Involvement, Diversity
Shirley Igo, the new National PTA president, discusses how the organization plans to further its goal of increasing parent involvement in the schools.

Old School Buildings: Prehistoric or Worth Preserving?
A recent report from the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) makes a case for renovating old school buildings instead of razing them. Although demolition might be the wisest choice in some instances, the NTHP offers resources for helping school boards decide whether to raze or renovate. Education World writer Ryan Francis recently spoke with members of three communities that have faced that dilemma.

Bush Takes His Education Plan on the Road
President George W. Bush visited Connecticut this week to tout the priorities set forth in his proposed education budget. Bush answered critics who say his plan doesn't allocate enough funds for education and that his emphasis on national testing is unfair, even racist. Noticeably absent from his speech was any mention of school vouchers.

Student Matchmaking Leads to Wedding Bells for Teacher
Student matchmaking efforts didn't help kids make the honor roll, but they did result in the engagement of Clark, 28, to Kevin Wiles, 32.

Maybe It's Time to Reform Demands We Put on Educators, by David Waters, columnist for The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tennessee
Need a little inspiration? The Commercial Appeal of Memphis, Tennessee, has granted Education World permission to reprint this column, "Maybe It's Time to Reform Demands We Put on Educators," by columnist David Waters. It first appeared February 21, 2001, in Waters's "Faith Matters" column.

New High School Phone System
North Carolina family psychologist John Rosemond, whose weekly column appears in approximately 200 newspapers nationwide, is a nationally recognized expert on parenting. He has written nine best-selling books on the subject and has appeared on such TV programs as 20/20, Good Morning America, The View and The Today Show. Rosemond's columns, including "New High School Phone System," his January 11, 2001, column, can be read online at John Rosemond's Affirmative Parenting.

Ed Secretary Nominee Has Fans in the Field
Colleagues of Houston Independent School District Superintendent Rod Paige say that although they will miss him, the country will benefit from his experience in dealing with urban education issues.

Election Results Show Education Consensus, Riley Says
U.S. Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley gave a speech today at the National Press Club, calling the recent elections a "new consensus, built on partnership, not partisanship." While the presidential election results might still be up in the air, Americans are firm on the direction in which our schools are moving, the Secretary said.

Change for Kids: Working With Other Nonprofits to Make a Difference
Four years ago, a group of friends decided to make a difference by raising money to buy school supplies for kindergarten teachers at four New York City schools. Three fund-raising events later, other individuals and nonprofit organizations interested in making a difference have joined the effort. Included: Nonprofit directory of New York City nonprofit organizations that focus on children's education.

Ballot Measures Lead To Heavy Spending, Lobbying
In Arizona, voters ended bilingual education. California and Michigan voters soundly defeated propositions to allow school vouchers. In Oregon, voters decided against tying teachers' pay increases to student performance. The results of an Oregon measure to ban instruction promoting or sanctioning homosexual or bisexual behavior was too close to call as of Wednesday morning.

Can You Spell D-I-S-C-R-I-M-I-N-A-T-I-O-N?
As a Supreme Court ruling highlights the Boy Scouts' ban on homosexuals, the organization finds itself being excluded too. A growing number of local school districts are denying the Boy Scouts access to school buildings for meetings. The Boy Scouts organization is crying foul, stating it's not fair that schools are discriminating against their "moral" values. Included: Guidelines from the National School Boards Association. >

A Teacher's Influence Is Often Lasting by guest editor Kristen Spruill
Attending the funeral of a former teacher prompted freelance writer Kristen Spruill to reflect on lessons learned from all of the special teachers at her junior high school. This moving editorial, first published last August in the Raleigh News & Observer, is "chicken soup" for any teacher's soul!

Teacher Crowned Miss America 2001: An Education World e-Interview
An elementary school gym teacher is the new Miss America. Angela Perez Baraquio says schools need to infuse character education into the daily culture of every school. This week, Education World and Ms. Baraquio discussed character education and other issues facing educators. Included: Baraquio talks about teacher pay, who inspired her to become a teacher, and being the first Asian American to wear the Miss America crown!

For Sale: Houses Half Price for Teachers
Teachers can purchase homes for 50 percent off the list price through a Housing for Urban Development (HUD) program called Teacher Next Door. A teacher can select from 750 revitalization areas nationwide to purchase a home, townhouse, or condominium. So far, more than 400 U.S. teachers have bought homes through the program! "When the government says, I'll pay for half of your house, it says that they value the work you do," said Alexander Chambers, the first teacher to purchase a home through Teacher Next Door. Included: Program criteria and links to more information about the program.

Before You Pull That Lever ...
Democratic candidate Al Gore and Republican candidate George W. Bush both promise to make education one of their top priorities as president. How do their proposals differ? Today, Education World news editor Diane Weaver Dunne sums up the candidates' education platforms!

Bush and Gore on Education
Education World editor Diane Weaver Dunne recently posed five questions to presidential candidates George W. Bush and Al Gore. For the next five days, we will present the candidates' candid thoughts and ideas about national standards, national testing, technology in the classroom, and school prayer.

Peddling Products to Kids in School on the Rise
According to a government report, commercial activities in our nation's schools are increasing. The report also states that few school districts closely monitor those activities and are not aware of how commercial technologies that gather marketing information can affect kids. Included: Join a discussion about advertising in schools on Education World's message boards.

Education World Goes One-on-One With the Secretary of Education!
An Education World e-Interview with Richard W. Riley

Where does Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley get his passion and energy for education? What do the final months of his term hold in store? Then what? If he leaves the Department of Education at the end of his term, which accomplishment will he be most proud of? As the Success Express rolled along the river, Riley took a few minutes to chat with Education World. Today, we share that conversation.

All Aboard the Success Express: On the Road With the Secretary of Education
Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley is traveling this week on the Success Express-- and Education World is going along for the ride! This year's America Goes Back to School ride will stop in about 20 towns in seven states along the Mississippi River. Follow along as we file reports from the Success Express!

Millionaire Teacher: 'Teaching Is the Best Job on the Planet!'
Education World talked with history teacher Bob House, winner of $1 million last week on the hit ABC show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? What's his final answer to the question everybody's been asking? Quitting his job never even crossed his mind!

Chicago to Introduce Report Cards for Parents
Recognizing the important role of parents in a child's education, Chicago's public schools are moving ahead with a plan to send home report cards for parents! Are these report cards a useful tool that will help students achieve, or are they a waste of time?

Football or Full-Day Kindergarten?-- Budget Cuts Force Tough Choices
School districts across the country are coping with the problems that arise when school funding provides less money than schools need. Which programs should stay and which can go? Does it all boil down to the squeakiest wheel? Read what some school boards have done; then share with Education World readers your own experiences with program cuts and budget battles!

Look Out Harry Potter! -- Book Banning Heats Up
J.K. Rowlings best-selling Harry Potter childrens book series topped the most frequently banned books last year. The sorcerer may head up the list again, for the second year in a row, if the shift in censorship cases continues to focus on books about fantasy. This week, National Library Week, Education World examines the issue of book banning. Included: Resources for establishing procedures in your school system to handle challenges to popular books.

FROM THE P-FILES:Principals Share Parent Involvement Ideas
This month, Education World asked a number of principals to tell us about ways their teachers involve parents in the classroom and the school. Dozens of ideas flooded our e-mailbox! Here we share some of those great ideas! Included: More than 30 practical ideas for including parents across the grades!

Middle School Helps Parents With Resource Center
Part of a national partnership program to encourage parent and community involvement in schools, a parent resource center in a Connecticut middle school helps parents understand their middle-school-age youngsters. Included: Tips for starting a parent center in your school!

Newsletter Connects Middle-School Parents and Schools
Every Minneapolis parent with kids in fifth grade to eighth grade receives *Middle School Connection* at home. This six-times-a-year newsletter provides information and tools to help parents navigate the web of school choices and become advocates for their kids. Written by parents *for* parents, the newsletter is widely accepted by school administrators. Included: Advice for school administrators ---from parents--- on communicating with parents!

Student-Led Conferences: A Growing Trend
For years parent-teacher conferences have been the primary means of school-home communication. But now, many schools are trying something new --- student-led conferences that communicate not only how a student's doing but also why.

Citizens Speak Out on Public Education
What do people think about our nation's public education? Some of the answers from two polls and a report may surprise you.

Bring Your Fathers to School!
Just in time for Father's Day! A recent study reveals that a father's participation in in-school activities and events can have a significant impact on his children's educational success. Read about the implications of that study and learn some things you can do to make every day Fathers' Day at your school.

Familiar Ground: Traditions That Build School Community
An inspiring new book from the Northeast Foundation for Children describes how a school staff uses traditions to weave a school of individual students, staff, and families into one community.

"Family Involvement in Children's Education"
Strategies used by 20 local Title I programs to overcome barriers to parent involvement are featured in an idea book recently added to the U.S. Department of Education's Web site. Here we explore in-depth one of those programs.

"New Skills for New Schools: Preparing Teachers in Family Involvement"
A new report looks at promising methods in preparing teachers to understand the family's role in a child's education and to effectively involve the family.

Coming Up: Two Teleconferences From the DOE
Two teleconferences are coming up: one on "preparing teachers to involve families" and one on "supporting quality teachers."

Debate in the News: Should PTAs Be Allowed to Fund Teacher Salaries?
The floodgates of a longstanding debate were reopened recently when a group of New York City parents raised $46,000 to pay the salary of a laid off teacher.

America Goes Back to School!
The America Goes Back to School initiative draws attention to the critical need for parents and communities to support their schools. Take a look at a few of the special AGBTS activities planned across the U.S. this fall!

Room Mothers and a Whole Lot More
Involving Parents as Partners in Education.