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The Best of Our Knowledge # 889


Congress is back in session. And it's already passed one piece of
important education legislation. Congress approved a bill that politicians
and educators say will provide students with the largest increase in federal
aid since the GI Bill after World War Two. The compromise would, among
other things, trim government subsidies to student-loan companies and use
the savings to: reduce the federal deficit, raise the maximum pell grant, and halve the interest rate on subsidized student loans. To appease President
Bush, and get his signature on the bill, lawmakers scaled back the number
of new programs from 10 to four, and raised the maximum pell grant to 54-hundred dollars. But the bill's price tag still swelled from 18-billion to nearly
21-billion dollars.

Next up on Congresses agenda is their attempt to also find a compromise
for renewing the No Child Left Behind Act. That battle is well underway
with several differences in the discussion draft put out by legislators and
a version preferred by the administration. TBOOK spoke about those differences with Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings.
Glenn Busby reports. (9:36)


* The George Lucas Educational Foundation publishes its own magazine called, Edutopia. Its new fall issue always features predictions for the school year ahead. Ironically, among its predictions is that No Child Left Behind will be accepted, if grudgingly, as a fact of educational life, but will evolve thru policy advocates and the new congressional leadership. Other predictions include: that Chinese language classes will replace French in popularity; and merit pay and other new approaches will be seen as the best answer to getting and retaining gifted teachers.

* Just this past summer, we ran a story on efforts by some administrators in higher education to make it easier to transfer credits from one college to another. Well, New Jersey has moved ahead on its own. The governor just signed a new law that says, upon acceptance, an associate degree awarded by a county college must be fully transferable and count as the first two years toward a baccalaureate degree at any of the state's public institutions. Transfers typically have been facilitated by individual articulation agreements between two-and four-year colleges. But now, students have a guarantee all their credits will be accepted.

* Recently, we gave you highlights of separate reports by Virginia Tech, and by the state of Virginia, outlining recommendations for handling emergencies, like the shooting spree six-months ago that killed 32 students and faculty. Now, comes word that relatives of seven of the slain victims have retained a Washington law firm that specializes in high-profile wrongful death cases. This raises the prospect of an expensive legal battle between the state and the families over whether the university could have done more to prevent those shootings.

* In related news from Canada, the Quebec Premier has announced that guns will be banned in schools and on public transit. It's an effort to tighten gun control in response to a shooting last fall at Dawson College. The law also requires physicians and teachers to report suspicious behavior, even if it breaks confidentiality. There's been lots of discussion about this in the wake of the Dawson College and Virginia Tech shootings.
Dr. Karen Hitchcock reports. (2:35)

After our first story today with Secretary Spellings, we were interested
in getting reaction to No Child Left Behind from someone outside
Washington politics. Someone firmly embedded in major inner city
education efforts. We found Dr. Eric Cooper, President of the National
Urban Alliance for Effective Teaching. Dr. Cooper founded NUA 18
years ago, and has been working with school systems, teachers, and
students ever since. The National Urban Alliance views its mission as
helping public schools in urban America to build the capacity of all
children so they can reach the highest levels of learning and thinking.
NUA does this through a series of steps which include: assessments,
action plans, teacher motivation, engaging communities, and aligning
instruction and standards. TBOOK asked Dr. Cooper about the NCLB
Glenn Busby reports. (6:03)

**(Attention Program Directors. To learn more about the work of the
National Urban Alliance, visit their website at www.nuatc.org.)**