December 05, 2005

The Education Innovator

USDE enlarged logo.jpgThe Education Innovator, a publication of the U.S. Office of Education, presents news of educational reform, change, and department activities. Almost every issue features a tradition-breaking school in some detail. Policy, arts education, technology, private schools, charter schools, innovative programs, funding opportunities and the like arrive in an attractive weekly email. This useful source with access to much other information can be subscribed to at no cost.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 03:29 PM | Comments (0)

November 16, 2005

No Child Left Behind

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There will likely be changes in the No Child Left Behind law in the next few years. To keep up-to-date on proposals, subscribe to the NCLB Insights, a free publication of Washington Partners, LLC, a government affairs and public relations firm specializing in education policy. This monthly notification provides insights as the law moves toward reauthorization.

Posted by Wayne Jennings at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

December 19, 2004

Nonpublic School Choices Increase

The latest study (2001-2002) of nonpublic schools, Characteristics of Private Schools in the United States: Results From the 2001–2002 Private Universe Survey by the U.S. Dept. of Education show:


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 06:28 PM

December 11, 2004

Homeschooling Increasing

Evidence of increased homeschooling comes from several sources with parents expressing a greater variety of interests. About 30 percent object to conventional school environments, about 30 want a values or religious tone, about 15 percent want a different academic focus, about 7 percent want their child's particular interest served. An article in the St. Louis Post Dispatch describes these factors. Authoritive information on homeschooling can be found on the U.S. Dept. of Education. The Parent-Directed Education website has a wealth of information and links.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 01:22 PM

November 01, 2004

Comprehensive School Reform

Comprehensive school reform efforts say different forms of schooling are necessary. There have been many such attempts over the past 15 years often with gigantic sums of money attached. A new report, From Whole School to Whole System Reform, describes two major approches: the work of the New American Schools in 4,000 schools and the federal Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration program in 5,000 schools with over $1,000,000,000 of funding. They define comprehensive reform as including: "instruction, assessment, classroom management, professional development, parental involvement, school management, aligning the school’s curriculum, technology, and professional development into a schoolwide reform plan. Wow, that should really change the operation of the nation's schools! Unfortunately, as with many other such efforts, after the dust clears, precious little has changed. Still, the report describes these considerable efforts and the small achievement gains made in some schools.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 06:47 AM

August 13, 2004

Creating Strong District Choice Programs

The U. S. Dept. of Education has published a booklet, Innovations in Education: Creating Strong District School Choice Programs to provide guidance to school districts in providing more learning alternatives. Public school choice—letting parents decide which public school is the best place for their child and allowing and enabling the transfer to that school—is a key strategy in current federal legislation aimed at improving educational outcomes. This handbook examines the choice options provided by some of the nation’s districts, including open enrollment, magnet schools, alternative schools, concurrent enrollment, and charter schools.

This public domain book can be downloaded or ordered by writing to: ED Pubs, Education Publications Center, U.S. Department of Education, P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398; or fax your request to: (301) 470-1244; or e-mail your request to:; or call in your request toll-free: 1-877-433-7827 (1-877-4-ED-PUBS) or order online at:


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:52 PM

July 30, 2004

Free Books on School Change

The U.S. Dept. of Education's Office of Innovation and Improvement is publishing 3 new booklets this fall:
"Successful Magnet Schools" (September 2004),
"Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification"(October 2004)
"Alternative Routes to School Leadership" (November 2004)
For free copies, call Cynthia Dorfman, 202-205-5560, or email: These public domain booklets can be freely used by anyone. They are part of a 6 booklet series: Innovations in Education.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 01:29 PM

June 11, 2004

Homeschooling as a Learning Alternative

Home schooling, as a learning alternative, has grown rapidly over the past two decades. The US Department of Education estimates approximately one million students being homeschooled-- about 2% of the public education base. Homeschooling is usually divided into two broad categories: religious-values based and progressive education. These differ considerably with the religious based emphasizing more traditional school content and methods. The progressive group is more child-centered and student-directed, sometimes bordering on unschooling. For an example of the second group, the Minnesota Homeschooling Alliance's web site contains a vast array of information. For an example of the more traditional see the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators.

Homeschooling took off in the U.S. when Life magazine published a story of an entirely homeschooled student accepted at Harvard, as were his two brothers. This story is captured splendidly in the parent authored book, Homeschooling for Excellence by David and Micki Colfax.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:06 AM

June 01, 2004

Florida Virtual School Enrolls 14,000 Students

One of many virtual or online high schools, Florida Virtual High enrolls over 14,000 students annually across the U.S. and in other countries since its founding in 1997. Their motto is "Any time, Any place, Any path, Any pace." This state funded school claims a 90% course completion rate and offer "franchises" to others wishing to establish their program.

Another school, Hudson High School offers 150 courses worldwide to its 5,000 students.

Virtual schools represent the fastest growing alternatives and serve students across the entire grade range K-16 plus graduate courses. The article, "Forum addresses virtual schooling myths" based on a meeting sponsored by the U.S. Dept. of Education answers many questions on this hot topic.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 11:21 PM

May 04, 2004

Virtual Schools, More Choices

The US Department of Education estimates that 50,000 students from 37 states attend virtual schools either full or part-time, a very rapidly expanding sector of school choice. Though critics worry about the lack of social contact and lack of regulation, parents are making the selection just as they do in the realm of homeschooling. The schools range from progressive to traditional and raise a host of questions about funding and other issues. A good article appeared in the Christian Science Monitor


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 12:18 PM

March 25, 2004

Homeschooling: A Learning Alternative

Homeschooling has grown dramatically in the past decade. The U.S. Dept. of Education estimates that close to 1,000,000 students are in home schools up sharply since 1995. Homeschoolers fall into two rough categories: those who want certain religious beliefs inculcated and those who want a more progressive individualized program. An excellent article describes how it works for several families and provides good background information.
(Illustration / Aaron Meshon)


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 07:39 PM

November 23, 2003

Home Schooling Doubles in a Decade

Another form of learning alternative is home schooling which has taken off rapidly in the U.S. during the past decade. The U.S. Department of Education study estimates some 850,000 students are home schooled up from 360,000 a decade ago. A story from the New York Times describes one family's reaction and provides other useful information.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 09:32 PM

October 10, 2003

National Charter Schools Conference

The 5th national charter schools conference will be in Miami, June 16-18, 2004 at the Fontainebleau Hilton sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. Check the site. Questions can be directed to Dean Kern, Information on previous conferences is also available.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 02:43 PM

May 20, 2003

Study of Alternative Schools

The National Center for Educational Statistics polled U.S. schools to determine the nature of alternative programs. They found 10,900 public schools serving 612,900 at-risk students. There are other alternative schools but this 2002 study examined just public schools serving at-risk students. The study contains much useful data on a little examined area. For example, 12 percent of the student population in at-risk schools had IEPs, about the same as the general population of students in district schools.


Posted by Wayne Jennings at 05:52 PM