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Debbie O'Leary
School of Education
devo99@indiana.edu
812-856-8031

Last modified: Monday, June 16, 2003

Learning Matters/June 2003

News tips about education from Indiana University

A four-day school week may work in some locations, but it probably wouldn't be successful in Indiana. This is the main finding from a recent study by the Indiana Education Policy Center at IU Bloomington. Jonathan Plucker, center director and an IUB associate professor of education, said, "The four-day school week is intuitively appealing at a time when Indiana faces major budget shortfalls, but this has not been implemented in larger rural, suburban or urban districts." Some evidence shows that the four-day plan may be beneficial in small rural districts, he noted. Finances are the main reason to question the plan because substantial savings are unlikely without reducing personnel costs, and child care costs would increase, he said. The report, which has been presented to state officials, is available online at http://www.indiana.edu/~iepc/policy.html. For more information, contact Plucker at 812-855-1240 or jplucker@indiana.edu.

Imposing zero tolerance to improve school safety doesn't work as claimed, according to Russell Skiba, an IU Bloomington School of Education faculty member who is an expert on the topic. Skiba recently presented findings at a Harvard University conference as further evidence that zero tolerance does not improve student behavior or the school learning environment. He and colleagues at the Indiana Education Policy Center completed research showing that states with higher rates of out-of-school suspension also had higher rates of juvenile incarceration and lower rates of academic achievement. Skiba said school administrators need training in disciplinary alternatives, and policy-makers may have to decide "whether they are more committed to the appealing but ultimately hollow rhetoric of punishment and exclusion, or to strategies that can guarantee America's children safe and effective schools." The report can be found on the Web at http://www.civilrightsproject.harvard.edu/research/pipeline03/call_resegpapers.php. For more information, contact Skiba at 812-855-5549 or skiba@indiana.edu.

Working with difficult teens, providing education for homeless children and youth, and school violence and its implications for counselors are some of the subjects that will be discussed at the 40th Annual Paul Munger Conference. The School of Education will host the conference June 23-26 at the W.W. Wright Education Building on the IU Bloomington campus. The conference is designed to supply current and relevant information to counselors, graduate students and others interested in school counseling. For more information, contact Rex Stockton at stocktor@indiana.edu or call 812-856-8344 or visit the Munger Conference Web site at http://www.indiana.edu/~pmungerc/. The conference schedule is available on the Web site.

Teaching non-English-speaking families how to plant a vegetable garden is just one of many multi-functional opportunities provided by Monroe County Children Matter! -- a project of Community Alliances to Promote Education. The CAPE project is funded by a $5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help ensure that all Monroe County children enter school ready to learn, stay in school and graduate with the skills needed to assume a job or to pursue further education. IUB Education Professor Mary McMullen and Michael Conn-Powers, director of the Early Childhood Center at IU's Indiana Institute on Disability and Community, are overseeing the grant in collaboration with several Monroe County programs and services. They have implemented three initiatives to help create lifelong learners and good citizens among Monroe County children. Strong Families Matter! provides comprehensive, coordinated, accessible family education and support services, including five family resource centers in the community. Strong Partnerships Promoting Family Literacy Matter! created 10 family literacy centers in public elementary schools to encourage strong partnerships among families, early childhood care and education, elementary schools, and adult education to strengthen literacy skills and positive dispositions toward education in children and families. Strong Communities Matter! supports the concept that strong communities provide children with the relationships, opportunities, skills and values they need to become lifelong learners and productive citizens. "The beauty of this program is that it's owned by the community," said McMullen. "By focusing our efforts, we hope the CAPE project will make a deep and lasting impact on the community." According to McMullen and Conn-Powers, sustainable growth and change can be made to happen not by imposing solutions from outside but by working within the community, building upon existing assets to ensure that all children and families have access to the rich educational resources and opportunities in Monroe County. For more information on the CAPE project, contact McMullen at mmcmulle@indiana.edu or 812-856-8196.