How Wide Are the Racial Opportunity Gaps in Your Metro?

Margery Turner:

In December, MetroTrends graded America’s 100 biggest metros on measures of economic security. Today we offer a new report card, with grades reflecting the opportunity gaps facing African Americans and Latinos.
We’re all well aware of the national story. Despite the huge achievements of the civil rights era, neither African Americans nor Latinos (on average) enjoy the same school quality, job opportunities, or homeownership access as whites. But the picture isn’t the same in every metro area. So our report card scores metros on five factors: residential segregation, neighborhood affluence (for the average black, Latino, and non-Hispanic white), public school quality (for the average black, Latino, and non-Hispanic white student), employment (among working-age adults), and homeownership.
Let’s start by looking at the grades for black-white equity.
Surprised? The top scorers are mostly small- to medium-sized metros in the south and west (Charleston, SC, and Riverside, CA, for example), while the worst performers are big metros in the midwest and northeast (including New York, Boston, and Chicago).
When I first saw these results, I thought perhaps that so few African Americans live in the high-scoring metros that their high performance is irrelevant. For some top scorers (like Albuquerque and San Jose), that’s definitely the case. But lots of other metros scoring As and Bs on this report card have substantial African American populations.

Madison was given a C on Racial Equity. Milwaukee is the worst while Albuquerque is the best.

The end of Segregation?

The Economist:

“ALL-WHITE neighbourhoods are effectively extinct,” according to “The End of the Segregated Century”, a recent report by the Manhattan Institute, a New York think-tank. Only 0.5% of America’s 70,000 neighbourhoods are now all-white. In fact, American cities are today more integrated than they have been since 1910. And since 1960 the proportion of black Americans living in “ghetto neighbourhoods” (more than 80% black) has dropped from nearly half to about 20%.
Until the Great Migration north, beginning around 1910, most of the black population lived in the rural South. Then they were pushed into ghettos because of restrictive deed covenants and blatant discrimination by landlords. Although the Supreme Court ruled against race-based zoning in 1917 and New York City outlawed housing discrimination in 1958, real change did not begin until the 1960s during the civil rights era when segregation was still near its peak.

Predicting the Common Core Effect on American Education: The 2012 Brown Center Report

Tom Loveless:

The 2012 Brown Center Report on American Education distills the results of studies to examine the state of education in the United States. In particular, the report focuses on education policy, student learning measures, trends on achievement test scores and education reform outcomes.
Highlights from three of the studies featured in the report are:
Predicting the Effect of the Common Core State Standards on Student Achievement: The Common Core will have little to no effect on student achievement. The quality or rigor of state standards has been unrelated to state NAEP scores, Loveless finds. Moreover, most of the variation in NAEP scores lies within states, not between them. Whatever impact standards alone can have on reducing within-state differences should have already been felt by the standards that all states have had since 2003.
Measuring Achievement Gaps on NAEP: The Main NAEP consistently reports larger SES achievement gaps than the Long Term Trend NAEP. The study examines gaps between students who qualify for free and reduced lunch and those who do not; black and white students; Hispanic and white students; and English language learners and students who are not English language learners.

Challenging 100 Years of Sleep Guidelines for Children

Andrea Petersen:

For parents who feel like they’re failing to make sure their kids get enough sleep, this may be comforting: Your parents also failed, as did your grandparents and great-grandparents.
At least that’s according to a study released Monday in the journal Pediatrics, which found that children haven’t been getting the recommended hours of shuteye for at least a century.
The study looked at 32 sets of recommendations from the years 1897 to 2009. The researchers then gathered data on actual sleep time from roughly the same time period.

For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage

Jason DeParle and Sabrina Tavernise, via a kind reader:

It used to be called illegitimacy. Now it is the new normal. After steadily rising for five decades, the share of children born to unmarried women has crossed a threshold: more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage.
Once largely limited to poor women and minorities, motherhood without marriage has settled deeply into middle America. The fastest growth in the last two decades has occurred among white women in their 20s who have some college education but no four-year degree, according to Child Trends, a Washington research group that analyzed government data.
Among mothers of all ages, a majority — 59 percent in 2009 — are married when they have children. But the surge of births outside marriage among younger women — nearly two-thirds of children in the United States are born to mothers under 30 — is both a symbol of the transforming family and a hint of coming generational change.

Texting affects ability to interpret words


Research designed to understand the effect of text messaging on language found that texting has a negative impact on people’s linguistic ability to interpret and accept words.
The study, conducted by Joan Lee for her master’s thesis in linguistics, revealed that those who texted more were less accepting of new words. On the other hand, those who read more traditional print media such as books, magazines, and newspapers were more accepting of the same words.
The study asked university students about their reading habits, including text messaging, and presented them with a range of words both real and fictitious.

Oakland’s McClymonds High is a full-service school

Jill Tucker, via a kind reader’s email:

After school each day, dozens of students at Oakland’s McClymonds High School crowd through a generic-looking door and into a space that offers them amenities that are few and far between in their West Oakland neighborhood.
Just off the reception area of the school’s new Youth and Family Center is a dance studio with wooden floors, a large mirror and a sound system. A few more steps in is the learning center with brand new computers. Toward the back is a living-room-like area with a small stage, a big-screen television and comfortable sofas for meetings or informal gatherings.
A door at the end of a hallway opens to a Children’s Hospital Oakland clinic waiting room. In the clinic, free medical care is available to all students and their siblings, no appointment necessary.
The center is part of a growing national trend to create full-service schools for children who come from difficult family situations.

Related: Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

Teacher Unions: The New Haven Experiment

Nicholas Kristof:

I lost patience with teachers’ unions when union officials in New York City defended a teacher who had passed out in class, reeking of alcohol, with even the principal unable to rouse her.
Not to mention when union officials in Los Angeles helped a teacher keep his job after he allegedly mocked a student who had tried to commit suicide, suggesting that the boy slash his wrists more deeply the next time.
In many cities, teachers’ unions ensured no one was removed for mere incompetence. If a teacher stole or abused a student, yes, but school boards didn’t even try to remove teachers who couldn’t teach.
“Before, you had to go smack the mayor in order to get fired,” Reggie Mayo, the schools superintendent here in New Haven, told me.

Job Hunting: When Parents Run the Show

Ann Kadet:

Janine Guarino-McKown has every right to feel proud of her daughter Megan’s resume. Compared with the clumsy work history presented by your typical recent college grad, it’s a polished, professional and effective document: a crisp, beautifully formatted and compelling record of a star student’s achievements and aspirations. And then there’s the resume’s authorship: Janine’s the one who wrote it.
Back when Megan was finishing grad school in Dallas, the 25-year-old was busy studying for her boards and preparing for a medical rotation in the Australian outback. Janine, a retired health care administrator, had more free time, not to mention plenty of experience writing resumes for her friends — why not do the same for her daughter? But she wasn’t about to treat this as a pleasant little lark: To produce the two-page CV and cover letter template, Janine interviewed Megan closely over the phone, conducted a talent assessment and crafted a 147-word branding statement. Then she led her daughter through mock interviews and debriefed her after meetings with potential employers. And naturally, there was a little networking involved, as Janine introduced her daughter to a friend who knew the chief ER nurse at a local hospital.

Trends in AP Test-Taking: Bonjour Geography, Adieu French

Erik Robelen:

Question: What do geography, Chinese language and culture, computer science, world history, and environmental science have in common?
Answer: They’re apparently becoming a lot more popular subjects in high school, at least based on one national measure.
Participation in Advanced Placement tests in these subjects has grown most rapidly–from a percentage standpoint–when comparing the number of tests taken by the graduating class of 2011 with the class of 2010. That’s based on my quick analysis of new data from the College Board’s 8th annual AP Report to the Nation, which provides an interesting window into subject preferences among schools and students.
Next question: What do language and culture offerings in French and German have in common?

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Barack Obama’s budget – The phoney war

The Economist:

Such tax increase went nowhere when Democrats controlled both the House of Representatives and the Senate. With Republicans in charge of the House and able to filibuster almost anything in the Senate, the odds any of these tax proposals will pass this year are close to nil.
Much of his purported spending reduction is accounting legerdemain: he claims to save more than $800 billion from drawing down operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, but most of that was never going to be spent anyway. His cuts to Medicare and Medicaid consist almost entirely of squeezing health-care providers; benefits and beneficiaries are spared. There are painful cuts to discretionary spending excluding defence: it sinks from 3.1% of GDP in fiscal 2012 to 1.7% in 2022. Those cuts, however, were forced on him by budget deals last year, and it’s not clear how the federal government is supposed to fulfill so many of its responsibilities, from running the courts to fighting forest fires, on a starvation diet. Mr Obama did omit nearly $1 trillion of further cuts set to begin next year under last year’s budget deal (the “sequester”); he argued his budget provides a wiser alternative.

Do Medical School Acceptance Rates Reflect Preferences for Preferred Minority Groups?

Mark Perry:

The chart above (click to enlarge) is an update of the chart from this CD post from about a year ago, showing medical school acceptance rates for Asians, whites, Hispanics and blacks based on data from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) for the years 2009-2011 (aggregated).
For 2011, the average GPA of students applying to medical schools was 3.53 and the average total MCAT score was 28, and the chart displays the acceptance rates for students applying to medical schools with average GPAs (3.40-3.59) and average MCAT scores (27-29) in the highlighted blue column, and the acceptance rates for those students with slightly higher and slightly lower than average GPAs and test scores in the other columns. In other words, the table displays acceptance rates by race and ethnicity for students applying to medical school with average academic credentials (or just slightly above or below average). Here are some observations:

Madison dual-language immersion program informational sessions planned

The Madison School District:

The first of several information sessions for the Madison School District’s dual-language immersion program for next school year is scheduled for Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at Centro Hispano, 810 W. Badger Road.
Dual-language immersion programs are open to all students and offer academic instruction in both Spanish and English. The program will be available next year at Chavez, Glendale, Leopold, Midvale, Nuestro Mundo and Sandburg elementary schools.

Old-school bees still valuable

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

There’s something about a spelling bee that makes us feel good about our youth and the intrinsic value of working hard to chase a dream.
Granted, we’re a bit biased on the topic because the Wisconsin State Journal has been a long-time sponsor of the All-City Bee in Madison, as well as the Badger State Bee that has been contested since 1949.
Our latest interaction with top spellers came Saturday at Edgewood College, when 47 elementary and middle school students battled for a traveling trophy, and the right to represent Madison in the State Bee here on March 10.
In case you missed it, our All-City spelling champ is Aisha Khan, an 11-year-old sixth-grader from Spring Harbor Middle School. She was calm and cool, and earned her title by correctly spelling “thesaurus” to edge Lydia Anderson of Whitehorse Middle School.

A Book Review: Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?

Diane Ravitch:

In recent years, elected officials and policymakers such as former president George W. Bush, former schools chancellor Joel Klein in New York City, former schools chancellor Michelle Rhee in Washington, D.C., and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have agreed that there should be “no excuses” for schools with low test scores. The “no excuses” reformers maintain that all children can attain academic proficiency without regard to poverty, disability, or other conditions, and that someone must be held accountable if they do not. That someone is invariably their teachers.
Nothing is said about holding accountable the district leadership or the elected officials who determine such crucial issues as funding, class size, and resource allocation. The reformers say that our economy is in jeopardy, not because of growing poverty or income inequality or the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs, but because of bad teachers. These bad teachers must be found out and thrown out. Any laws, regulations, or contracts that protect these pedagogical malefactors must be eliminated so that they can be quickly removed without regard to experience, seniority, or due process.

Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland? by Pasi Sahlberg.

Presentation on Madison’s High School Graduation and Completion Rates

Madison School District Superintendent Dan Nerad (1.5MB PDF):

DPI has two official models for calculating high school completion rates. Regardless of which model is used, MMSD has lagging graduation rates for among its student subgroups.
As required by NCLB, a new four-year cohort graduation rate calculated by DPI provides an “on time” graduation rate. This calculation will eventually replace the so-called “legacy rate” which DPI has used for the past several years. That means that we could characterize our graduation rates in the following two ways:

Educating black males: Closing the gap: What Works, what doesn’t

The current issue of the Phi Delta Kappan magazine is devoted to articles on “Educating black males: Closing the gap: What Works, what doesn’t.”
Table of Contents — February 2012, 93 (5)
Featured articles include:
Pedro A. Noguera –
Saving black and Latino boys: What schools can do to make a difference
Christopher Emdin –
Yes, black males are different, but different is not deficient
Sandra Hughes-Hassell,Casey H. Rawson,Lisa McCracken,Mary Gray Leonard,Heather Cunningham,Katy J. Vance,and Jennifer Boone –
Librarians form a bridge of books to advance literacy
Terry Husband – Why can’t Jamal read?
Jerome E. Morris and Adeoye O. Adeyemo –
Touchdowns and honor societies: Expanding the focus of black male excellence
Gregory A. Patterson – Separating the boys from the girls
Tracey Sparrow and Abby Sparrow –
The voices of young black males

Beyond SATs, Finding Success in Numbers

Tina Rosenberg:

In 1988, Deborah Bial was working in a New York City after-school program when she ran into a former student, Lamont. He was a smart kid, a successful student who had won a scholarship to an elite college. But it hadn’t worked out, and now he was back home in the Bronx. “I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me,” he told her.
The next year Bial started the Posse Foundation. From her work with students around the city, she chose five New York City high school students who were clearly leaders — dynamic, intelligent, creative, resilient — but who might not have had the SAT scores to get into good schools. Vanderbilt University was willing to admit them all, tuition-free. The students met regularly in their senior year of high school, through the summer, and at college. Surrounded by their posse, they all thrived.

Providence to College: Pay Up

Jennifer Levitz:

As a nonprofit, Brown University has long enjoyed broad property-tax relief on its regal cluster of brick buildings in the state capital’s best neighborhood.
Now, Providence says it’s broke, and City Hall is pointing up College Hill at the Ivy League university, the city’s largest landowner. Mayor Angel Taveras, a Democrat who took office a year ago, has already raised taxes and fees on local residents and businesses, renegotiated labor contracts, and closed four public schools seeking to close a budget gap that amounts to $22.5 million for the fiscal year ending in June.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: California vs. the Other States

Richard Rider:

Here’s a depressing but documented comparison of California taxes and economic climate with the rest of the states. The news is breaking bad, and getting worse (twice a month, I update crucial data on this fact sheet):
REVISED: California has the 3rd worst state income tax in the nation. 9.3% tax bracket starts at $46,766 for people filing as individuals. 10.3% tax starts at $1,000,000. Governor Brown is putting on the ballot a prop to change the “millionaires’ tax” to 12.3%, starting at $500,000. If approved, CA will be #1 in income tax rates. BTW, there’s ANOTHER well funded proposition effort to raise the CA millionaires’ tax to 15.3%.
Highest state sales tax rate in the nation. 7.25% (as of 1 July, 2011 – does not include local sales taxes). Table #15

A Last-Minute Deal on New York Teacher Evaluations

Fernanda Santos & Winnie Hu:

The agreement, announced at a news conference in Albany, allows school districts to base up to 40 percent of a teacher’s annual review on student performance on state standardized tests, as long as half of that portion is used to analyze the progress of specific groups of students, like those who are not proficient in English or have special needs. It also offers other options: base 20 percent of the score on state test results and the other 20 percent on exams developed by the districts or by a third party, provided that the exams are approved by the state.
The remaining 60 percent of a teacher’s score is to come from subjective measures, like classroom observations and professional development projects.
The resolution came after an all-night negotiating session in Albany and included concessions from both sides, like an agreement by the state to relax certain requirements on the way teachers would be rated. The clear winner is Mr. Cuomo, who used his broad powers under the state’s budget process to push for a compromise.

Print|Email LAUSD Principal Focuses On Real Miramonte Criminals: The Children

Tim Cavanaugh:

One of the many privileges of having kids in the Los Angeles Unified School District is the accelerated education they get in official corruption, the stupidity of grownups, union strong-arming and many other topics – any topics other than reading, writing and arithmetic, that is.
The recent sex-abuse arrests of two teachers at Miramonte Elementary have become a feature of playground scuttlebutt and official conniptions. The school my children attend (separated from Miramonte by more than 15 miles, though both schools score in the “Least Effective” category in the L.A. Times’ value-added assessment) is no exception.
Yesterday my daughters brought home copies of a flyer containing the principal’s thoughts on the scandal. I guess this page of skylarking was intended to reassure us or something. I wouldn’t take note of it at all except that one paragraph illustrates the pathology of public employees with stunning clarity:

When Words Don’t Matter

William Major:

n my sophomore literature class, I read a passage aloud from perhaps our best-known slave narrative, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, in which Douglass characterizes the nefarious effects of slavery on his new mistress, Sophia Auld:
The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon.
But then I stopped and asked, “What does the word commenced mean?” Silence. “What about infernal?” Silence. “Accord?” Embarrassed smiles all around.

Groupthink: The Brainstorming Myth

Jonah Lehrer:

In the late nineteen-forties, Alex Osborn, a partner in the advertising agency B.B.D.O., decided to write a book in which he shared his creative secrets. At the time, B.B.D.O. was widely regarded as the most innovative firm on Madison Avenue. Born in 1888, Osborn had spent much of his career in Buffalo, where he started out working in newspapers, and his life at B.B.D.O. began when he teamed up with another young adman he’d met volunteering for the United War Work Campaign. By the forties, he was one of the industry’s grand old men, ready to pass on the lessons he’d learned. His book “Your Creative Power” was published in 1948. An amalgam of pop science and business anecdote, it became a surprise best-seller. Osborn promised that, by following his advice, the typical reader could double his creative output. Such a mental boost would spur career success–“To get your foot in the door, your imagination can be an open-sesame”–and also make the reader a much happier person. “The more you rub your creative lamp, the more alive you feel,” he wrote.

School choice opponents suggest Kaleem Caire is a long-lost Koch Brother

David Blaska:

Previously on Bring It!, we reported on the Left’s campaign of vilification directed at Kaleem Caire.
The Left must discredit Mr. Caire for daring to disrupt the comfortable “Madison Way” by proposing a non-union charter school catering to students of color. He must be politically neutered for pointing out this liberal bastion’s failure to graduate even half of its black students.
But how to disparage the president of the Madison Urban League, the founder of One Hundred Black Men of Madison, and the 2001 recipient of the city of Madison’s Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award?
By the usual and convenient method of tying him to that Great Right-Wing Conspiracy in the Sky. The man for that job is one Allen Ruff. In comments before the school board and on his blog, avidly picked up and repeated by other liberal/progressive outlets, the Madison-based historian and social activist has been spinning an intricate web of guilt by association and seven degrees of separation in order to out Mr. Caire as a closet conservative, a secret tea partier, and a suspect capitalist.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

Dumbing down of state education has made Britain more unequal than 25 years ago; In the name of equality, anti-elitist teachers are betraying the hopes of the young.

Toby Young:

A controversy broke out on Twitter earlier this week about an article in the Times Educational Supplement in which a teacher called Jonny Griffiths describes a conversation with a bright sixth-former who’s worried about his exam results. “Apart from you, Michael, who cares what you get in your A-levels?” he says. “What is better: to go to Cambridge with three As and hate it or go to Bangor with three Cs and love it?”
The controversy was not about whether the teacher was right to discourage his student to apply to Cambridge – no one thought that, obviously – but whether the article was genuine. Was Jonny Griffiths a real teacher or the fictional creation of a brilliant Tory satirist? Most people found it hard to believe that a teacher who didn’t want his pupils to do well could be in gainful employment.
Alas, Mr Griffiths is all too real. Since 2009, when I first mooted the idea of setting up a free school devoted to academic excellence, I’ve come across dozens of examples of the same attitude, all equally jaw-dropping.

We’ve certainly seen such initiatives locally. They include English 10, Connected Math and the ongoing use of Reading Recovery.
Perhaps Wisconsin’s Read to Lead initiative offers some hope with its proposal to tie teacher licensing to teacher content knowledge.
Related: Examinations for teachers, past and present.
There are certainly many parents who make sure that their children learn what is necessary through tutors, third parties, personal involement, camps, or online services. However, what about the children who don’t have such family resources and/or awareness?

(Madison) Teachers’ seniority rules not related to students’ success

Chris Rickert:

Teachers union seniority rules, though, appear less benign.
Joshua Cowen, a University of Kentucky assistant professor of public policy and administration, said there’s “indirect evidence” on “whether unions’ emphasis on seniority hinders academic achievement.”
Specifically, teachers don’t appear to get any better after three years on the job or after getting a master’s degree.
“What this means is that school districts are spending a good deal of money to reward teachers for characteristics that are not really related to student success,” he said.

Related: Madison Prep supporters revamping proposal to overcome district objections; Seniority Changes

Matthews, however, said MTI opposes the types of changes Madison Prep would seek, such as eliminating a provision that grants senior teachers priority for new job openings in the district.
“Those are rights people have,” Matthews said. “It gets us right back to why there was so much reaction to what Gov. Walker did last year.”

Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A

Question 23 has implications for the future of our public schools, along with the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school:

Given Act 10’s negative Impact on Collective Bargaining Agreements, will you introduce and vote for a motion to adopt the Collective Bargaining Agreements (182 page PDF Document) negotiated between MTI and The Madison Metropolitan School District as MMSD policy?

Both Silveira and Flores answered Yes.

Open Air Rooms…

Gillian Tett

A little while ago, I had a chance to visit New York’s City Hall, where Michael Bloomberg – the former trader-turned-financial-information-mogul – now works as mayor. As I entered his empire, I experienced a small shock.
During my career as a journalist, I have often walked through government buildings, and become accustomed to seeing a rabbit warren. Across the western world, senior officials typically work from offices interconnected by corridors, guarded by secretaries in ante-chambers.
Bloomberg’s building in downtown Manhattan, though, is different. He sits in a vast, airy, open-plan room, surrounded by officials and banks of giant data screens (showing information on things such as traffic flows or public satisfaction with the police). Anybody holding a meeting is encouraged to sit on a central, raised dais, rather than scuttle into a private hole; the idea, as one employee explained, is to encourage a climate of transparency and collaboration. In theory, in other words, anyone in the mayor’s office can see – and yell at – everyone else; much as they can on a modern financial trading floor or at a newspaper (which, of course, is no accident given that Bloomberg spent most of his career building the financial information giant that bears his name).

Open air classrooms blew through the local education world some time ago.

Autonomy for schools is producing some remarkable successes. Can others learn from them?

The Economist::

DANIEL RILEY, a young trainee teacher from west London, attended a school so bad that it was shut down while he was there. It was, he recalls with commendable understatement, an “unstructured” place. Fewer than 20% of pupils achieved five good GCSE passes, including mathematics and English (the main benchmark for secondary students, involving exams commonly taken at 16). There were fights. Some, involving knives, ended with arrests. There were drugs–the school drew its pupils from tough housing estates, and gangs prowled at the gates. The teaching was “not inspired,” Mr Riley says, sticking with the understatement. He recalls lessons spent copying texts from books.
As happened to a few dozen failing institutions under the previous Labour government, Mr Riley’s school was turned into an academy–a state school removed from local council control and given new freedoms over staffing and teaching methods. Six years on, Paddington Academy draws its pupils from the same estates. But the school is unrecognisable.

Shifting demographics and a shrinking school-age population

Katy Murphy:

We ran a story Sunday about shifting demographics in inner-city neighborhoods such as West Oakland — changes which have resulted in fewer school-age children in the area and declining public school enrollment.
Oakland, as a whole, lost 20 percent of its 5- to 17-year-olds between 2000 and 2010, according to the U.S. census; in West Oakland, it was 31 percent. (You can find a spreadsheet of West Oakland school enrollment trends here.)
I spent months looking for explanations and stories behind the census data, and we plan to continue following some of those threads in future pieces. One issue I want to explore, for example, is the school district’s school choice policy, put in place in 2005, which allows families to enroll their kids at schools with available space outside their local attendance boundaries.
What do you see happening in the area 10 years from now?

University places no longer assured

Dennis Chong:

Attending an elite secondary school will no longer be a guarantee of a university place, teachers warn.
As more pupils sit the new Diploma of Secondary Education, schools that have in the past enjoyed a university admission rate of close to 100 per cent say they expect to have to answer to parents disappointed when their children miss out.
Such is the concern over university places that a growing number of pupils are looking at courses abroad.
Traditionally, only about a third of pupils continued their studies and took A-levels after the Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination papers at the end of Form Five. Under the “3+3+4” system introduced in 2009, pupils will complete three years of junior secondary education and three years of senior secondary education. Those qualified to go on to university will take four years to complete standard courses.

It’s poetry in motion for some Madison high schoolers

Pamela Cotant:

Poetry written by Madison high school students is popping up on placards in the rear passenger areas of Metro Transit buses as part of a Bus Lines poetry contest.
The nine winning poems were selected from hundreds of entries in the growing contest now in its third year. It’s a joint effort of Metro Transit and the Madison Arts Commission.
“We like to do things that include community involvement, especially anything that includes schools and students. They’re a big part of our ridership,” said Jennifer Bacon, marketing specialist at Metro Transit. “Our riders really enjoy reading these poems.”
Bacon said Metro Transit gets positive feedback from riders and requests for copies of the poetry.

Do High-Needs Students Affect a School’s Grade?

Beth Fertig:

New York City’s latest plan to reform special education services encourages public school principals to take more of the neediest students. An analysis by WNYC shows how these students are not distributed evenly across all schools. The analysis also found that high schools with the best report card grades often take smaller percentages of the special education students who are the toughest to educate.
The chart below shows that high schools that earned As and Bs on their annual progress reports tend to take a small share of special education students who require segregated classes, or what the Education Department calls “self-contained” classes. These are students who can’t be included in mainstream classes most of the time because they require more intensive services. Some high-performing schools have just a sprinkling of these students, representing less than 2 percent of their overall population.
Still, it’s not clear that there’s a link between having a lot of these challenging students and getting a poor grade, contrary to what some critics contend.

Plea to improve Hong Kong public schools

Dennis Chong:

International and local English-language schools are filled with the children of local families dissatisfied with the public system, lawmakers heard yesterday.
Legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing said the picture painted of the local system by a number of business chambers and international schools was humiliating. She said the government must act or the city’s competitive edge might be jeopardised.
David O’Rear, chief economist of the General Chamber of Commerce, told the Legislative Council’s education panel that even if there were more international school places available, local families would snap them up because the local system was not providing the quality of education they demanded. He said that from an economist’s viewpoint, the problem of the lack of international school places would not be solved until local schools improved.

Teachers’ role huge in protests’ success

Norman Stockwell:

One year ago this week, Madison teachers voted overwhelmingly to walk off the job, and walk into the Capitol to protest the budget repair bill (later known as Act 10), which stripped public employees of most of their collective bargaining rights. As journalist John Nichols noted in a recent speech, “The teachers felt they had to go to the Capitol, because the Legislature had forgotten them.”
The decision was not taken lightly, as Madison Teachers Inc. Executive Director John Matthews recalls: “I got notice of what the governor planned to include in his budget repair bill, and it was more than financial issues, it was going to start attacking workers’ rights and that goes to the very core of the operation of what a union does, what it can provide for those it represents. When the word came that he was going to attempt to do away with public sector bargaining in Wisconsin, we’re talking about 50 years of work that we have put into developing not only rights but wages and benefits.”
Matthews noted that the timing happened to coincide with meetings that were already scheduled: “That very evening I had a scheduled meeting with the MTI board of directors and they immediately said, well, just get us the list of all of our reps and their phone numbers, we have reps at every one of 60 different work sites. … And they sat there at that time calling those reps. … Frequently in February and March our board of directors meeting is followed the next day by a representative council meeting. We had 120 people show up at that meeting. And I gave my same presentation, and immediately a motion came from the floor: We need to go to the Legislature tomorrow. And that motion passed immediately with little debate. The only discussion was are we gonna call in sick or are we going to call in well and simply tell the school district that we aren’t going to be at work tomorrow?”

Mooresville’s Shining Example (It’s Not Just About the Laptops)

Alan Schwarz:

Sixty educators from across the nation roamed the halls and ringed the rooms of East Mooresville Intermediate School, searching for the secret formula. They found it in Erin Holsinger’s fifth-grade math class.
There, a boy peering into his school-issued MacBook blitzed through fractions by himself, determined to reach sixth-grade work by winter. Three desks away, a girl was struggling with basic multiplication — only 29 percent right, her screen said — and Ms. Holsinger knelt beside her to assist. Curiosity was fed and embarrassment avoided, as teacher connected with student through emotion far more than Wi-Fi.
“This is not about the technology,” Mark Edwards, superintendent of Mooresville Graded School District, would tell the visitors later over lunch. “It’s not about the box. It’s about changing the culture of instruction — preparing students for their future, not our past.”

Most new voucher users already were enrolled in private schools

Milwaukee Public Policy Forum:

The Forum’s 14th annual census of schools participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP) finds that voucher use by Milwaukee students grew 10% in 2011-12 to 23,198 voucher students, reversing last year’s enrollment decline. In addition, the data indicate that most voucher students are attending hyper-segregated schools that have low reading and math proficiency rates.
The dramatic increase in voucher use is likely due to changes to the program in the most recent state budget, which allowed schools outside Milwaukee to join MPCP and expanded eligibility to include families at higher income levels. As a result, more than 2,200 additional students are using vouchers worth $6,442 each, increasing the program’s cost by $14.2 million.
Most of the new voucher users appear to have already been enrolled in private school. In 56 schools, the number of new voucher users exceed the growth in total enrollment in the school, while in 13 schools voucher growth and enrollment growth were equal. Over the past 10 years, total enrollment in the schools participating in the program has grown by roughly 5,300 students, while the number of voucher users has increased over twice as much.

Education bonus gap Gov. Daugaard wants to give extra cash to math and science teachers, but data suggest other classes are tougher to fill

Josh Verges:

For the Woonsocket School District, English has proved the most difficult teacher job to fill. In Britton-Hecla, it’s industrial technology.
Even Sioux Falls, the state’s largest and one of the best-paying school districts, routinely hires uncertified teachers for English Language Learner, special education and gifted classes.
While school leaders acknow-ledge good math and science teachers can be difficult to find, they question Gov. Dennis Daugaard’s proposal to single out two content areas for $5 million in annual bonuses in order to entice more college students to teach.
“There are others equally as difficult. It’s not just math and science,” said Don Kirkegaard, Meade superintendent and president of the South Dakota Board of Education.

The Day The Music Died

Marisa Buchheit, via a kind Steve Rankin email:

On October 20, 2011, after five months as an unemployed college graduate with a music degree, I read the news about Congress rejecting a bill that would have supported education. Republican Mitch McConnell, one of the main advocates for the bank bailouts, called this bill supporting public education a ‘bailout.’
When I had left Chicago for the Cleveland Institute of Music four years before, I was idealistic and confident, with plans to help other young people learn about music and the arts. As I studied, I also listened to my dad, my coauthor here, and followed the news about the state of education in the United States. With regard to funding, the stories became increasingly disturbing. Music programs seemed to be dying a slow death. It struck me, finally, on that otherwise quiet day in October, that Congress cared more about avoiding a .1% tax on millionaires than keeping music programs in schools around the country.

Some college-bound teens already know where they are going next, but even if they don’t, they’ve done all they can for now. It’s time to kick back.

Larry Gordon & Angel Jennings:

Among the college-bound crowd of America’s high school seniors, this is the time to exhale.
A happy few have been accepted by early admissions programs at the campuses of their dreams. Diana Orozco, a senior at Brentwood School, for example, has an enviable early offer from Yale University in her pocket and is ready to relax after all the drama of the college application process. “I have other priorities, like my sanity and being stress-free,” said the 17-year-old from Hawthorne.
Many more high school seniors are awaiting answers from colleges over the next couple of months or so. But they too appreciate the emotional intermission of these winter months, when they suddenly have more free time. “I feel relief that I don’t have something hanging on the back of my mind,” said Elliott Lee, 17, who goes to Arcadia High and is trying his chances at nine California state universities and four private schools.

NJEA And the Achievement Gap

New Jersey Department of Education:

The NJEA over the last several months has indicated again and again that they are not especially troubled with the significant achievement gap between disadvantaged students and their more advantaged peers in New Jersey.
In December, the NJEA distributed a press release suggesting that my claim that New Jersey has a “shameful” achievement gap was a “straw man” and based on a “deliberate misuse of data.” Instead, NJEA President Barbara Keshishian argued that while there is an achievement gap in New Jersey between white and African American students, and also high-income and low-income students, we really shouldn’t worry about it because it is not as bad as the gap in some other states.
Earlier this week, when asked about students stuck in failing schools across the state, a leader of the NJEA said, “life’s not always fair, and I’m sorry about that.”
Before we look at the evidence, let’s look at why this matters. The notion of an achievement gap may not be something that matters to the NJEA. But it matters to the nearly 40% of our students who can’t read at grade level in 3rd grade – an indicator closely tied to future success in school. It matters to the thousands of students that drop out of high school or even before high school each year.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: U.S. Taxes Really Are Unusually Progressive

Clive Crook:

If you ask me, Jonathan Chait, a writer I respect, has made an ass of himself in a fight he picked with Veronique de Rugy over taxes and progressivity. She offended him by saying that America’s income taxes are more progressive than those of other rich countries. Chait assailed her “completely idiotic” reasoning, called her an “inequality denier”, “a ubiquitous right-wing misinformation recirculator” and asked if it was really any wonder he cast insults now and then at such “lesser lights of the intellectual world”. (Paul Krugman said he sympathises. With Chait, obviously. The only danger here is in being too forgiving, Krugman advises. Chait may think the de Rugys of this world are only lazy and incompetent, but we know them to be liars as well.)
Just one problem. On the topic in question, De Rugy is right and Chait is wrong.
Income taxes in America are more progressive than in other rich countries–according to an authoritiative official study which, to my knowledge, has not been contradicted. The OECD’s report “Growing Unequal”, on poverty and inequality in industrial countries, includes a table that provides two measures of income tax progressivity in 2005. This is evidently the source of de Rugy’s numbers. Here they are in an excel file. According to one measure, America’s income taxes were the most progressive of the 24 countries in the sample, except for Ireland. According to the other, they were the most progressive full stop. (A more recent OECD report, “Divided We Stand”, uses different data, a smaller sample of countries and a different measure of progressivity: the results are similar.)

College Endowments: Why Even Harvard Isn’t as Rich as You Think

Andrew Rotherham:

It seems everyone has an opinion about what colleges and universities should do with their endowments. Use them to lower tuition! Let students attend for free! Improve facilities! Hire more professors! When the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO) released its annual report on endowments last week, the big numbers grabbed headlines — Harvard’s endowment, the nation’s largest, grew 15%, to $31.7 billion. Less attention was directed to Southern Virginia University’s endowment of $574,000, which won’t provide too many scholarships at a place that costs more than $18,000 a year. A few weeks ago I had lunch with a college president whose school has an endowment of about $20 million. It may sound like a lot of money, but he was consumed with fundraising efforts just to make ends meet. So the next time you hear someone pitching an idea for what a college should do with its endowment, think about these five reasons that the reality of how college endowments work is different from the rhetoric.
1. Most schools don’t have them. There are 2,719 four-year colleges in the U.S. (and another 1,690 two-year colleges), according to the most recent Department of Education figures. Most higher-education institutions have no endowment, says William Jarvis, managing director and head of research at the CommonFund Institute, which helps NACUBO with its endowment surveys. But as with everything else around higher education, it’s the elite schools — which tend to be the ones that have large endowments — that drive the conversation. Endowments just aren’t a big factor at most of the institutions of higher education in this country.

A Case For Value-Added In Low-Stakes Contexts

Matthew DiCarlo:

Most of the controversy surrounding value-added and other test-based models of teacher productivity centers on the high-stakes use of these estimates. This is unfortunate – no matter what you think about these methods in the high-stakes context, they have a great deal of potential to improve instruction.
When supporters of value-added and other growth models talk about low-stakes applications, they tend to assert that the data will inspire and motivate teachers who are completely unaware that they’re not raising test scores. In other words, confronted with the value-added evidence that their performance is subpar (at least as far as tests are an indication), teachers will rethink their approach. I don’t find this very compelling. Value-added data will not help teachers – even those who believe in its utility – unless they know why their students’ performance appears to be comparatively low. It’s rather like telling a baseball player they’re not getting hits, or telling a chef that the food is bad – it’s not constructive.

Conservatives wrecked Madison public schools. Somehow

David Blaska:

For our liberal/progressive acquaintances have run out of excuses. After all, they have owned the public school system, through the teachers union and its Democratic Party subsidiary, for the last 30 years or so.
Nowhere more so than in Madison, Wis., where not a single conservative serves on the 20-member Common Council, where the seven members of the current Madison School Board range on the political spectrum from Left-liberal to Hugo Chavez. (Beth Moss, Marjorie Passman, and Arlene Silveira are Progressive Dane.)
History, not conspiracy: The Left has had its hands on the controls of city government since Paul Soglin beat Bill Dyke in 1973 and the Madison School Board since forever.
Madison’s dominant Left is gagging a fur ball because its public schools have failed the very people liberal/progressives claim to champion. The Madison Metro School District graduates fewer than half – 48% – of its black students and only 56% of its Latinos.
Blacks and Latinos, where would they be without the tender ministrations of the liberal welfare state – living evidence of Republican perfidy! Clucked and cooed over in the tenured parlors of well-meaning West Side liberals – people like Nan Brien, Anne Arnesen, Barbara Arnold, and Carol Carstensen. All four ladies presided over this educational debacle as former Madison School Board members. Despite all evidence, these liberals are not one bit abashed by their failure, so strong is their faith in the powers of more spending and more government.
The Urban League’s school must not be approved, the four women write, because “Madison Prep will not be accountable to the Madison School Board nor to the taxpayers of Madison.” Touching, this sudden concern for the taxpayer. (Madison Prep Academy would cost the school district $17-28 million over five years. Supt. Nerad’s plan would cost $105.6 million over five years.)
Some would say that the Madison School Board has not been accountable to its children of color OR its taxpayers.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

Tweaked state grade system tougher, but fair?

Teresa Auch Schultz:

A sample of how local schools would have performed last year had they been Graded by a new model just approved on Wednesday shows mixed results, with more high schools earning an A but more Fs and Ds overall.
According to information released by Tony Walker, a local representative to the Indiana State Board of Education, seven area high schools would have earned an A instead of the C they received under the old grading model. Those include high schools in Munster, Chesterton, Merrillville, Kankakee Valley, Hobart, Highland, Munster and Valparaiso.
Several high schools had complained about the C grades because they were capped at the level after they did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress goals, which are tied to federal No Child Left Behind requirements. However, Indiana was one of 10 states granted on Thursday a waiver from NCLB, meaning Hoosier schools no longer have to include AYP in how they calculate a school’s grade. The new grading system, adopted by ISBOE, replaces NCLB to assess how schools are improving.

Recalibrating science education

The Malaysia Star:

THE problem of the lack of interest in science as a subject among Malaysian students is not new.
In fact, it was identified in the study by the Ministry of Education, to be more precise the Educational Planning and Research Division (EPRD) and the UNESCO Institute of Education Planning (IIEP), Paris in 1990 on the provision of science education in secondary schools.
Its report published in 1993 identified that among the reasons why students were shying away from science were the poor teaching of the subject, the lack of priority given to the subject by school management, the lack of information on career prospects in science-related fields and the poor prospects of promotion for science-qualified graduates, the deployment of teachers and insufficient professional support and supervision. Allow me to elaborate on the issues one by one.

Occupy Kindergarten: The Rich-Poor Divide Starts With Education

Jordan Weissman:

Economic class is increasingly becoming the great dividing line of American education.
The New York Times has published a roundup of recent research showing the growing academic achievement gap between rich and poor students. It prominently features a paper by Stanford sociologist Sean F. Reardon, which found that, since the 1960s, the difference in test scores between affluent and underprivileged students has grown 40%, and is now double gap between black and white students. (Graph courtesy of the Times.)
The children of the wealthy are pulling away from their lower-class peers — the same way their parents are pulling away from their peers’ parents. When it comes to college completion rates, the rich-poor gulf has grown by 50% since the 1980s. Upper income families are also spending vastly more on their children compared to the poor than they did 40 years ago, and spending more time as parents cultivating their intellectual development.
It may not simply be a matter of the rich getting richer, and the poor getting poorer — although that certainly is a part of it. The growing differences in student achievement don’t strictly mimic the way income inequality has skyrocketed since the middle of the 20th century. It’s actually worse than that. Today, there’s a much stronger connection between income and a child’s academic success than in the past. Having money is simply more important than it used to be when it comes to getting a good education. Or, as Reardon puts it, “a dollar of income…appears to buy more academic achievement than it did several decades a ago.”
Even more discouraging: The differences start early in a child’s life, then linger. Reardon notes another study which found that the rich-poor achievement gap between students is already big when they start kindergarten, and doesn’t change much over time. His own analysis shows a similar pattern.

Special education gets fresh look in Minnesota schools

Christopher Magan:

Nancy Cooley has spent 20 years helping struggling young readers build a foundation for academic success.
Each day, Cooley works individually with students like Gavin Bass, a Rosemount first-grader, who need extra help mastering specific literacy skills using a program called “Reading Recovery.” Interventions like these can help get a student back on course, possibly avoiding a learning-disability classification.
“It is designed to catch kids early on, before they feel like they are not successful,” said Cooley, a teacher at Diamond Path Elementary School for International Studies in Apple Valley. She will work with students such as Gavin for a half-hour each day – drilling, quizzing and practicing early literacy concepts to improve core skills.
For Gavin, the program has been a big confidence boost, said his mother, Sarah Bass.
“He loves to read because of it,” she said. “The intervention was everything we had hoped for and more. It has been so much fun for him, and he’s very proud of himself. We wouldn’t have known how to do this at home.”

Milwaukee’s language immersion programs face cuts

Erin Richards:

When Delara Chaoui travels with her family to Morocco or France, her third-grade son serves as the group translator, switching easily between English and French.
It’s a skill he’s developed at Milwaukee French Immersion School, one of a handful of language immersion programs in the city that are a magnet for many middle-class parents who value bilingualism, a world-focused curriculum and a diverse student body.
But a growing sense of concern about how another heavy round of budget cuts could affect the quality of the schools has moved Chaoui and other immersion parents to action in recent weeks, seeking greater public attention for programs they fear are threatened.
The most assertive are becoming a squeaky wheel in the Milwaukee Public Schools administration’s wagon because they want recognition – an acknowledgment that their schools, children and they, as parent advocates, are assets to the district and that specialty programs need funding to stay vibrant and keep parents in the district.

Top-performing schools feeling pinch from MPS budget cuts

Alan Borsuk:

Lisa Pieper stood Monday night in her daughter’s fifth-grade classroom at Fernwood Montessori School and concluded that, set up for 30 students, it had no room to spare. She tried to picture what would happen if 36 to 38 students were assigned to the class, because that’s what parents have been told might happen next year.
“There is just no room,” she told members of the Milwaukee School Board the next night at a hearing on what is looming for the 2012-’13 school year in Milwaukee Public Schools.
“My daughter is complaining about not enough time with the teacher and too much noise,” Pieper said. And that’s with 30 kids in the room.
“Don’t get me wrong,” Pieper added, “she loves her school. This is her eighth year there. But even she can’t see how she will continue to grow and learn in this environment.”
So, all you who make decisions that shape life in Milwaukee schools, are you as smart as a fifth-grader? Can you see how students will grow and learn in the circumstances many may face by next fall? Or that many face even now?

Spring Harbor sixth-grader uses ‘thesaurus’ to win Madison spelling bee

George Hesselberg:

In an epic spelling smackdown, a stoic Aisha Khan of Spring Harbor Middle School went affinity-to-thesaurus against sparkly Lydia Anderson of Whitehorse Middle School in the Madison All-City Spelling Bee.
After 224 words and three tense hours eliminated 45 other competitors Saturday, Lydia stumbled on “kruller,” and Aisha calmly, slowly and correctly spelled it “cruller,” followed by “thesaurus” to seal the match in the Anderson Auditorium at Edgewood College. Only then did the quiet sixth-grader permit herself her first smile of the morning.
Aisha, 11, who according to father Abdul Khader Patan “always seems to be reading a book,” gets to test that calm March 10 in the Badger State Spelling Bee.
To Lydia, who is the alternate, mom Cindy promised to buy her a cruller on the way home.

Claremont McKenna’s inflated scores bring new scrutiny to college rankings

Larry Gordon:

Some students and their counselors say they might take annual magazine listings of colleges less seriously than in the past.
As she looked for potential colleges, Elisha Marquez researched school rankings in U.S. News & World Report and other publications. As a result, she found some East Coast schools that previously were not on her radar.
“It wasn’t the most important factor,” she said of the magazine’s rankings. “But it did factor into my eventual decision of what schools to apply to,” said the Eagle Rock High School senior, who is awaiting word from 14 campuses: UCs, Ivy Leagues and others.
But Marquez heard disturbing news recently. Claremont McKenna College reported that an admissions dean inflated freshman SAT scores for six years to boost its standing in U.S. News. Such cheating makes Marquez “a little more skeptical of such rankings.”

Wisconsin’s waiver plan would boost accountability

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

A majority of Wisconsin schools will fall under the “needs to improve” category by 2014 if the state is not granted a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind law, and that could mean sanctions and mindless educational pain. With one of the largest educational achievement gaps between black and white students in the country, Wisconsin can’t afford that.
The problem from the start with NCLB has been that the law labels way too many schools as failing, then dictates unworkable remedies. That has tended to drive down standards, weaken accountability and narrow the curriculum – all of which runs counter to the laudable original goals of NCLB when it was passed with bipartisan support under President George W. Bush.
A waiver proposal put together by the state would help remedy this no-win situation. We think that the state’s proposal would boost standards, improve accountability and begin essential reforms to improve teacher effectiveness. We favor tough accountability standards – and, of course, improving student outcomes. But we don’t believe the current federal law is doing that, which is why seeking the waiver is necessary.

Teachers are Not Dentists

If I were to attend a convention of dentists, I would expect to see a lot of panels and presentations on what dentists do. New veneer techniques, the best compounds for fillings, root canal methods, successful implant procedures and the like. Of course, there would be little to no attention to what patients do, other than whether they seem to be following the recommendations to brush, floss and use the rubber tip at home. After all, the dentists are the trained paid professionals and it is what they do that is important.
Conventions of history teachers, one might guess, would be different. Of course there would be panels and presentations on class management methods, grading practices, the best history slide shows and films, the recommended history textbooks, the most effective lecture techniques, and interesting field trips, perhaps.
However, as at the dentists’ convention, surprisingly there would usually be almost nothing on what the patients (that is, the students) are doing in history. After all, the teachers are the trained and paid professionals and what they do is the most important thing.
Or is it? Remember, a dental patient’s job is to shut up, sit there, and take it. Is this really what we want from students? In too many history classes, it is. A dental patient could, if it were practicable, leave her brain at home. A history student always has his brain with him in the classroom, ready for employment.
If someone were to propose a revolution in history instruction, it might be one that would accept the fact that students are not passive vessels, with cavities of ignorance for the teacher to drill into and fill with the necessary knowledge, but rather active, thinking, curious, growing young people with brains and a capacity for serious academic work.
But this is very hard for teachers to do in practice. When it is suggested that students might benefit from reading a complete history book on their own, and from working on a serious history research papers, objections are raised. Many history educators will claim that high school students are not able (can’t?, won’t?, never been asked?) to read a history book, and the universal argument is that serious research papers take too much of a teacher’s time (the teacher’s, not the student’s time–when students are spending 53 hours a week with electronic entertainment media).
History teachers say they cannot afford to assign, guide, monitor, read and grade serious research papers by their students. So our students now, almost without exception, go off to college, to face the term papers and nonfiction books at that level, and thanks to us they have never read one complete nonfiction book or written one serious history research paper. They don’t know how to do those things, because we have decided they couldn’t do them and have not asked them to do such academic work.
Nothing of the sort happens in sports. “Scholar-Athletes” (so often celebrated for their athletic accomplishments in the local paper) are not sent off to play college basketball never having been taught to dribble, pass, and shoot the basketball, or to play football, never having been asked to block and tackle. That would be irresponsible of us, right?
I notice that, while high school chemistry classes require lab work, and biology classes require lab work (and laboratories cost money), the science teachers do not claim that students are incapable of such work or that they do not have the time to assign, guide, monitor, read and grade lab reports.
I do realize that these days, STEM is imagined to be more important than the ROOTS of history and academic literacy–the ability to read nonfiction books and write research papers–but perhaps if were to stop and think that our students are not passive dental patients, but young people with brains on board, fully capable of actually “doing” history, through reading books and writing papers, rather than just submitting to whatever presentation we have developed to keep them in their seats, then the day may come when a convention of history teachers will even include teachers talking about the academic work their students are doing in history, and even–imagine the day!–it might feature presentations by students on the papers they have written, and, in some cases, had published in The Concord Review. There have been 989 of such exemplary history papers now, by students from 46 states and 38 other countries since 1987, and on the few Emerson Prize occasions when the students were indeed allowed to talk at a meeting about their research, the teachers in attendance were well and truly interested to hear what they had to say.
“Teach by Example”
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review [1987]
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes [1995]
National Writing Board [1998]
TCR Institute [2002]
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
978-443-0022; 800-331-5007;
Varsity Academics®

The Achievement Gap in Madison

Rob Starbuck talks to leaders of the African-American community about the history of Madison’s academic achievement gap and what can be done to reverse the alarming trend.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Tepid response to Nerad’s plan to close achievement gap in Madison school district; $105,600,000 over 5 Years.
Event (2.16.2012) The Quest for Educational Opportunity: The History of Madison’s Response to the Academic Achievement Gap (1960-2011)

Budget & Wisconsin School Accountability

Mike Ford:

The perils of another strategy, finding lower-cost ways to deliver state services, shows up in another Journal Sentinel story this morning on the notable absence of a common school accountability system for all schools receiving public revenue in a new piece of education legislation. Erin Richards writes of the bill:

What is not mentioned in the story is that an identical public, private, and charter school accountability system is functionally impossible, and undesirable. The presence of religion in private choice schools for example requires that the schools spend (and document the purpose of) every dollar they receive annually through the choice program so as not to have a surplus that could be seen as aiding religion. In comparison, having and carrying over a surplus in a public school district may actually be a sign of responsible budgeting. And the heart of the charter school concept is a third party authorizer that serves as the accountability agent. A common accountability system undermines the very idea of a charter school.
More important, if choice and charter face identical public school rules and regulations, there is every reason to expect them to be nothing more than poorly funded public schools that may save the state money, but not increase educational quality. What is needed is a way to ensure all of our schools are accountable and transparent, not identical regulation.

Related: notes and links on Madison’s multi-million dollar Infinite Campus expedition… I’m not sure that a state-wide system makes sense. Rather, the state might create a set of data reporting “standards” that allows local Districts to collect and manage information in the way that they prefer.
More from Erin Richards Wisconsin Accountability article, here:

Its elements include:
A proposal to create a fund to which private donors could contribute money to fund successful literacy and early-childhood development programs.
A proposal to require schools to annually assess all kindergartners for reading readiness.
A proposal to require new elementary and special education teachers to pass a more rigorous reading test.
A proposal for education schools to submit to DPI a list of graduates and their graduation dates, so that the state can better link practicing teachers back to their institution of training.
A proposal to evaluate the performance of all public school teachers and principals.

Some Thoughts on Teaching

Bret Victor:

Some teachers teach from life.
My piano teacher played the piano. Like, all the time. He had to; it’s not easy to make a living as a musician. Between tours, his band played restaurants, bars, weddings, anywhere they could get a gig. He wrote jingles for infomercials and TV shows, produced tracks for hopeless hip-hop artists. He’d sit in twenty-hour recording sessions, driving home as the sun came up. He chose this life because he loved music, and when he taught music, he was teaching what he did. In that way, his teaching was honest.
My improv teachers perform improv. Not as a hobby, but as a centerpiece of their lives. I remember John Remak casually beginning a talk with, “I’ve been doing improv for twenty years, I love improv, it’s my life.” It’s my life. John makes his living as an attorney, but improv is his life. He teaches from his own experience, and in that way, his teaching is honest.

A View on Rhetoric & Reality on Madison Schools

“Penelope Trunk” (Adrienne GreenHeart) via a kind Brian S. Hall email:

7. We overlook key research.
When I relocated from NYC to Madison, I did tons of research. I knew everything about happiness and economic development and I knew what I was getting into even though I never stepped foot in Madison before I moved there.
But I ignored a crucial piece of research: The schools. I simply could not believe that the schools were as bad – relative to the rest of the country – as all the data showed. It’s a university town, I reasoned. It’s liberal. They must raise taxes a lot for schools. I couldn’t believe it. But it was true. And I ended up having to leave Madison because the schools were so bad.

More on Penelope Trunk, here.

Q&A with Madison School Board candidates

Wisconsin State Journal:

The Wisconsin State Journal, as part of its coverage of the Madison School Board election, is posing questions to the four candidates on various topics. Here the candidates react to Superintendent Dan Nerad’s achievement gap plan.
What are three strengths of the plan?
Mary Burke: Emphasis on K-3 literacy, research proves this is most effective in closing the achievement gap; AVID (expansion), in four years, I’ve seen AVID be effective, accountable and generate school support; and parental liaisons, but should be from low-income communities and trained to help parents engage in children’s education.
Michael Flores: Those that have the direct impact on children and families, such as expanding AVID/TOPS, parent liaisons to bridge the cultural gap that can exist between home and school, and implementing the mentor academy to provide positive role models to struggling minority students.
Nichelle Nichols: The document presented to the community is a document of ideas. It is not yet a plan. When the community is presented with a comprehensive plan for addressing the achievement gap in schools, and I have had sufficient time to review it, I will be happy to share my view.
Arlene Silveira: Early literacy programming and intervention focus because being able to read is critical for success. Expansion of the school day/year options to provide more time for our students in a learning environment. Parent engagement models because caregivers are important partners in supporting the education of our youth.

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichele Nichols
Arlene Silveira (incumbent) 2006 election links & video
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
Michael Flores
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio & Transcript.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Obama Forecasts $1,330,000,000,000 Budget Deficit This Year; 901,000,000,000 in fiscal 2013

Richard Wolf:

President Obama’s proposed 2013 budget will forecast a $901 billion deficit for next year, falling far short of his goal to halve the deficit in four years.
The budget, an outline of which was released by the White House Friday night, will show a higher deficit this year than in 2011, up from $1.3 trillion to $1.33 trillion.
In addition, the projected decline to $901 billion in 2013 is dependent on enactment of the president’s policies, including spending reductions agreed to last summer and ending George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy at the end of this year.

6 Colleges Cutting Tuition

Annamaria Andriotis:

While tuition bills continue to skyrocket, a small but growing number of private colleges and universities are bucking the trend and going on sale.
At least six colleges announced plans to reduce tuition costs in the upcoming school year. Many of these schools say lower-cost higher-education will attract more students from middle-income families those with incomes too high to qualify for free federal financial aid, but not high enough to pay for college costs without going deep into debt. “We are hoping to recruit more students from that group than in the past,” says Edwin Welch, president of University of Charleston, in West Virginia, which is slashing tuition by 22%. Others are looking to lure students away from nearby colleges that up to now have been more affordable, says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of, which tracks financial aid issues.

Madison Prep supporters revamping proposal to overcome district objections; Seniority Changes

Matthew DeFour:

And even though teachers would be unionized, they would have different rules from those at other schools to bring costs down, Caire said.
Caire’s original proposal for Madison Prep called for a “non-instrumentality” charter school, meaning it would employ its own staff and be free of day-to-day district oversight. In October, Caire and Matthews announced an agreement by which Madison Prep would use union staff, opening the door for Madison Prep to submit an “instrumentality” charter school proposal to the district.
But a district analysis based on language in the union contract found the cost would be higher than originally projected. Cost-saving changes to the contract, which expires in June 2013, couldn’t be made without nullifying it under the state’s new collective bargaining law.
In November, Madison Prep supporters changed their proposal to a non-instrumentality charter school. District officials opposed that option, saying it would have insufficient oversight and conflict with the union contract, which requires the district to hire union employees.
The latest iteration of Madison Prep would be an instrumentality charter school. But because it would open in fall 2013, the current union contract wouldn’t apply, meaning separate rules could be written for the school.
Matthews, however, said MTI opposes the types of changes Madison Prep would seek, such as eliminating a provision that grants senior teachers priority for new job openings in the district.
“Those are rights people have,” Matthews said. “It gets us right back to why there was so much reaction to what Gov. Walker did last year.”

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

Wisconsin Education Association Trust tries to adapt to changes in state law

Guy Boulton:

Politicians vilifying health insurance companies isn’t uncommon. But WEA Trust has the distinction of being attacked not by liberal Democrats but by conservative Republicans.
WEA Trust’s core business is selling health insurance to school districts. And the company – an outgrowth of the state’s largest teachers union but an independent, nonprofit company – became a frequent target in the clash over teachers’ benefits and collective bargaining.
Critics contended that WEA Trust’s rates were higher than its competitors and that school districts could save money by switching to other health insurers if benefits were not subject to collective bargaining.
WEA Trust countered that its rates were competitive and that school districts spent more on health insurance than private employers because the districts provided better benefits as part of teachers’ compensation.
The coming years will determine who is right. So far, no clear answer has emerged.
WEA Trust, one of the state’s largest health insurers, has lost about a third of its business with school districts now that state law excludes health benefits from union contracts. But it also has won some new customers and become a significant competitor in the market to insure state employees.

New Jersey Education Association Executive Director Compensation & Vouchers in the News

Mike Antonucci:

* Rafael Pi Roman, host of New Jersey Capitol Report, discussing school vouchers: “They can’t afford to pay, you know that. Some of these parents can’t afford to take their child out of these schools.”

  • Vincent Giordano, executive director of the New Jersey Education Association, responding: “Life’s not always fair and I’m sorry about that.”
  • Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey, on that response: “You know, as Vince drives out of the palace on State Street every day in his big luxury car with his $500,000 salary, I’m sure life’s really fair for him…. That level of arrogance, that level of puffed-up, rich man baloney, is unacceptable in this state. He should resign. He should resign today.”
  • Giordano, replying: “I have no intention of resigning. If he thinks he’s going to bully me like he bullies everyone else, he doesn’t understand who I am, or how deeply I care about the work I do…. For his abysmal record on education and his hypocrisy in claiming to care about children in urban districts while pursuing policies that have hurt them deeply, I call on Gov. Christie to resign from office immediately.

Narrowing Madison’s Achievement gap will take more than money

Wisconsin State Journal Editorial:

Madison school chief Dan Nerad’s plan to close the district’s achievement gap is certainly bold about spending money.
It seeks an estimated $105 million over five years for a slew of ideas — many of them already in place or attempted, just not to the degree Nerad envisions.
The school superintendent argues a comprehensive approach is needed to boost the academic performance of struggling minority and low-income students. No one approach will magically lift the district’s terrible graduation rates of just 48 percent for black students and 57 percent for Latinos.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.

Listen to most of the speech via this 25mb .mp3 file.

Well worth reading: Money And School Performance:
Lessons from the Kansas City Desegregation Experiment

For decades critics of the public schools have been saying, “You can’t solve educational problems by throwing money at them.” The education establishment and its supporters have replied, “No one’s ever tried.” In Kansas City they did try. To improve the education of black students and encourage desegregation, a federal judge invited the Kansas City, Missouri, School District to come up with a cost-is-no-object educational plan and ordered local and state taxpayers to find the money to pay for it.
Kansas City spent as much as $11,700 per pupil–more money per pupil, on a cost of living adjusted basis, than any other of the 280 largest districts in the country. The money bought higher teachers’ salaries, 15 new schools, and such amenities as an Olympic-sized swimming pool with an underwater viewing room, television and animation studios, a robotics lab, a 25-acre wildlife sanctuary, a zoo, a model United Nations with simultaneous translation capability, and field trips to Mexico and Senegal. The student-teacher ratio was 12 or 13 to 1, the lowest of any major school district in the country.
The results were dismal. Test scores did not rise; the black-white gap did not diminish; and there was less, not greater, integration.

And, In Kansas City, tackling education’s status quo “We’re not an Employment Agency, We’re a School District”

“Concessions Before Negotiations, Redux”; What can School Board candidates promise the teachers union?

Jack Craver:

Of the 33 questions on the questionnaire for School Board candidates crafted by Madison Teachers Inc., one asks the candidate whether he or she will “introduce and vote for a motion to adopt the Collective Bargaining Agreements negotiated between MTI and the Madison Metropolitan School District as [school district] policy.”
Both Arlene Silveira, who is running for re-election on the board, and Michael Flores, who is running for an open seat, responded “yes.” Both candidates received MTI’s endorsement.
Ed Hughes, a fellow board member, is dismayed by what he sees as a pledge that will restrict the administration’s ability to develop new solutions for district issues.
“The pledge of the MTI-endorsed candidates isn’t to exercise good judgment; it’s a pledge to renounce the exercise of any judgment at all,” he says.
In particular, Hughes is worried that retaining certain elements of the existing contract, such as the non-compete clause that keeps the district from contracting with non-union employees, will limit schools’ ability to get kids help from qualified outsiders.

Seat 1 Candidates:

Nichele Nichols

Arlene Silveira (incumbent)

Seat 2 Candidates:

Mary Burke

Michael Flores

Related: Chris Rickert: (Wisconsin Gubernatorial Candidate Kathleen) Falk’s pledge to union leaders hypocritical or admirable?
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio & Transcript.
Concessions Before Negotiations” has been going on for some time locally.

Connecticut Governor Malloy Urges New Tenure Rules for Connecticut Teachers

Peter Applebome, via a kind Doug Newman email:

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed a broad set of education initiatives, including major changes to teacher tenure, on Wednesday in his second State of the State address, a speech that found his efforts split between unfinished business from his first year in office and a new agenda for his second.
Mr. Malloy, a Democrat, cast himself as a governor focused on educational innovation in a state with the nation’s largest achievement gap between largely white suburban students and largely minority urban ones, even if that put him at odds with traditionally supportive constituencies, like teachers’ unions.
He said teachers could get tenure just by showing up for work, which he called unacceptable.
“Today tenure is too easy to get and too hard to take away,” he said in a joint legislative session at Connecticut’s ornate House chamber.

The presentation (PDF).

National Report Praises School-Choice System for New York City Students

Sam Dillon:

New York has the most effective school-choice system of any of the nation’s largest school districts, allowing students and parents the most freedom and providing them with the most relevant information on educational performance, according to a new Brookings Institution report scheduled for publication online Wednesday.
But even New York got a B under the report’s A-to-F grading system, with Brookings saying the city provided the least useful online information for comparing schools and giving it low scores in several other categories.
The Chicago public school district, which has the nation’s third-largest student population, after New York and Los Angeles, ranked second in choice, with a B. Los Angeles was 21st, with a C, and the Orange County district in Florida, which includes Orlando, came in last, with the report’s lone D.

Who’s Got the Silver? Khan Academy gets Google’s First Employee

Steven Levy:

Google’s very first employee–hired when the company was still working from its founders’ Stanford dorm rooms–is out of there. It came out today that after fourteen years at Google, Craig Silverstein would leave the company to work for Khan Academy, an educational startup that is itself a child of YouTube.
Craig was known for many things, but in the past few years most reporters connected with him as a mercurial commentator on Google culture. His gentle touch was instrumental in forming that culture. In the early days he would bring go around the cubicles crying out, “Bread!” and distributing loaves he’d baked himself. For the past few years he seemed to have a flexible portfolio, moving between New York and Mountain View. He was one of a surprising number of very early Googlers who, though rich enough to live like pashas without ever working again, have stuck with thecompany. Every so often one of those early employees peels off. Still, a number of the first group of employees– like Susan Wojicki (ads), Urs Hölzle (infrastructure), Salar Kamanger (YouTube), and Marissa Mayer (local) — still work long hours at key Google jobs. They can recall when just about the entire company could fit into a van for a ski trip. Now, if the Motorola Mobility deal goes through (word is that’s imminent) Google’s headcount will approach 50,000. That’s a lot of vans.

A Big Open Question: Do Value-Added Estimates Match Up With Teachers’ Opinions Of Their Colleagues?

Matthew DiCarlo:

A recent article about the implementation of new teacher evaluations in Tennessee details some of the complicated issues with which state officials, teachers and administrators are dealing in adapting to the new system. One of these issues is somewhat technical – whether the various components of evaluations, most notably principal observations and test-based productivity measures (e.g., value-added) – tend to “match up.” That is, whether teachers who score high on one measure tend to do similarly well on the other (see here for more on this issue).
In discussing this type of validation exercise, the article notes:

If they don’t match up, the system’s usefulness and reliability could come into question, and it could lose credibility among educators.

A Student-Centered Future for Higher Ed

Jeff Selingo:

The “disruption” of the higher-ed market is a popular refrain these days. Rising tuition prices and student debt have left many wondering if the current model is indeed broken and whether those like Harvard’s Clay Christensen are right when they say that innovations in course delivery will eventually displace established players.
What exactly those innovations will look like remains a matter of debate. One view from Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer of Facebook, envisions a future in which every industry will be disrupted and “rebuilt with people at the center.”

A Textbook Case of iPad Fun With Studying

Katherine Boehret:

As a kid, I was lucky to have a Dad who was a top-notch book-cover maker, wrapping my school textbooks in brown paper bags that he transformed into precisely folded, sharp cornered, blank canvases.
But even Dad’s covers couldn’t fix everything: Some books showed their age with dog-eared pages, highlights, tears and leftover love notes. Plus, they weighed several pounds each, tugging down my JanSport backpack.
This week, I tested a one-stop solution to much of that which ails textbooks: Apple’s iBooks 2. This redesigned iPad app offers enhanced educational textbooks that are, for now, focused on high-school students and cost no more than $15 each. Apple’s smallest and least expensive iPad can store roughly eight to 10 textbooks, along with other content. (High schoolers have an average of four textbooks a year, according to Apple.) The iPad, itself, weighs just over one pound.

Madison School Board candidates hold subdued forum

Jack Craver:

Although the debate over the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy has often inflamed emotions in the community over the past year, Wednesday night’s forum for candidates for the Madison School Board was respectful and largely subdued.
In fact, if there was any overarching theme to the discussion, which was hosted by the Dane County Democrats at the Madison Concourse Hotel, it was that the candidates largely agree on most major educational issues.
Notably, none expressed support for the Madison Prep charter school unless it remained subject to the rules of the current collective bargaining agreement between the school district and the teachers union. In December, the School Board rejected the plan for the charter school after its backers sought “non-instrumentality” status from the district in an effort to gain more flexibility in setting pay and work conditions for its employees.

Much more on the candidates and a recent forum, here.

Bibliomania has thousands of e-books, poems, articles, short stories and plays all of which are absolutely free. You can read the world’s greatest fiction by authors such as Dickens and Joyce, Sherlock Holmes mysteries, all Shakespeare’s plays, or just dip into some short stories by writers such as Mark Twain, Anton Chekov and Edgar Allan Poe.
We add many books every month along with new articles and interviews by our team of dedicated literary sleuths. Click “Discuss” at the bottom of the page on any book or author to join our messageboards where you can ask your fellow readers questions or just post your opinions.

Arlene Silveira: Focus on what’s most effective for all students

Arlene Silveira:

There are few topics that engender more debate, emotion and passion than our public schools. I wouldn’t have it any other way. For me, public education is one of the most critical components of a community’s ability to create a better future, not only for our children, but for all of us.
We have work to do in our community when it comes to our schools. My commitment to public education, to Madison School District’s 25,000 students, to our outstanding teachers and staff, and to staying in the fight for good public schools are the reasons I am running for re-election.
When our schools face challenges, as they do today, our agenda must be focused on what is most effective in helping all children learn and achieve. When there is a budget deficit and declining state revenues, we must prioritize initiatives that really work and provide the biggest bang for our buck. When there are hard choices to be made, we owe it to the children we serve to engage in respectful debate to find solutions.
Big issues face Madison’s schools. This spring, the board will pass a budget made more difficult by shrinking state dollars and exacerbated by the Walker administration’s unprecedented assault on teachers and education. Throughout my service on the board, I have balanced the current and future needs of the district with the needs of the taxpayer.

Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichelle Nichols
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
Michael Flores
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio.
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A.

2012 Madison School Board Candidates at Dane County Democrats Forum

Jack Craver. (Video)
Seat 1 Candidates:
Nichelle Nichols
Arlene Silveira (incumbent)
Seat 2 Candidates:
Mary Burke
Michael Flores
1.25.2012 Madison School Board Candidate DCCPA Event Audio.
Arlene Silveira & Michael Flores Madison Teachers, Inc. Candidate Q & A.

The Classes Drift Apart: Can the rich save the American dream by preaching what they practise?

The Economist:

JUST because he belongs to it himself does not make Newt Gingrich wrong when he grumbles that America is run by an out-of-touch elite. If you want evidence, the data can now be found in a book published this week by Charles Murray, the co-author in 1994 of “The Bell Curve”, which became controversial for positing a link between race and intelligence. That controversy should not deter you. “Coming Apart: The State of White America 1960-2010” brims with ideas about what ails America.
David Brooks, a conservative columnist for the New York Times, thinks it will be the most important book this year on American society. And even if you do not buy all Mr Murray’s ideas about what ails America, you will learn much about what conservatives think ails America, a subject no less fascinating. Though it does not set out to do so, this book brings together four themes heard endlessly on the Republican campaign trail. They are the cultural divide between elite values and mainstream values (a favourite of the tea-partiers); the case for religion and family values (think Rick Santorum); American exceptionalism (all the candidates); and (a favourite of Mitt Romney’s) the danger of America becoming a European welfare state.

Wisconsin Education Association Council draws flak over its endorsement of Kathleen Falk

Jason Stein & Patrick Marley:

he state teachers union is taking criticism from some members around the state for an early endorsement of Kathleen Falk [blekko] in the likely recall election against Gov. Scott Walker but is sticking with the decision.
Since the announcement of the Falk endorsement, the criticism of it has included a website soliciting signatures to have Wisconsin Education Association Council change its mind.
John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., the second-largest member union within WEAC and a union with members in the heart of Falk’s home county, said the endorsement came before it was clear whether there would be other challengers to Walker. He said his union would wait to make its own endorsement.
“We have a lot of our members who wish they would have waited until all the candidates were known. I think they made the wrong decision but I don’t see how they can get out of it,” Matthews said of WEAC.

David Blaska has more.

Wisconsin Schools’ Evers criticizes education reform bill

Matthew DeFour:

An education reform bill circulating this week would require kindergarten screening exams and teacher evaluations based partly on test scores, but doesn’t update the state’s system for holding schools accountable for student performance.
The omission concerned State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, who for the past year has worked with Gov. Scott Walker on three bipartisan task forces addressing literacy, teacher effectiveness and school accountability. The bill includes recommendations from the first two groups, but not the third.
Specifically, the bill doesn’t propose changes that would bring charter schools and private voucher schools under the new accountability system, or update language in state law related to No Child Left Behind.
Evers said the bill misses an opportunity to deliver action on promises made by Walker, legislators and education leaders, including advocates for charter and private voucher schools.

The DPI has much to answer for after the millions spent (and years wasted) on the oft-criticized WKCE.

After College, What?

George Leef:

A new study shows that students who coast through college often struggle after graduating.
Last year, the higher education policy world saw the publication of a smash, blockbuster book. Well, what passes for that in our little domain anyway–Academically Adrift by Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa. The book was a blockbuster because it put a granite peak of data on the mountain range of anecdotal evidence that lots of young Americans graduate from college without learning much.
The message from colleges and universities to families and the public at large is that they need and deserve support because they’re vital to “investing” in the next generation of human capital. Academically Adrift proves that claim to be at best a considerable stretching of the truth.
Arum and Roksa, aided by two researchers, have now published a follow-up study, “Documenting Uncertain Times: Post-graduate Transitions of the Academically Adrift Cohort.” They surveyed nearly 1,000 students from their original cohort to find out about their post-college experiences.

How Many Kids Are Sexually Abused by Their Teachers?

Brian Palmer:

Los Angeles police are investigating a teacher aide at Miramonte Elementary School who allegedly sent love letters to an 11-year-old student. The student’s mother discovered the letters in 2009, but she says police and school officials didn’t take the matter seriously until last week, when two other teachers at the same school were arrested for sexually abusing students in separate cases. Is sexual abuse in schools really as common as these reports make it seem?
Possibly. The best available study suggests that about 10 percent of students suffer some form of sexual abuse during their school careers. In the 2000 report, commissioned by the American Association of University Women, surveyors asked students between eighth and 11th grades whether they had ever experienced inappropriate sexual conduct at school. The list of such conduct included lewd comments, exposure to pornography, peeping in the locker room, and sexual touching or grabbing. Around one in 10 students said they had been the victim of one or more such things from a teacher or other school employee, and two-thirds of those reported the incident involved physical contact. If these numbers are representative of the student population nationwide, 4.5 million students currently in grades K-12 have suffered some form of sexual abuse by an educator, and more than 3 million have experienced sexual touching or assault. This number would include both inappropriate romantic relationships between teachers and upperclassmen, and outright pedophilia.

Reader Hazel asked for a link to the study. I added a link to the post above. That is all I could find.

Stanford Campaign Brings In $6.2-Billion, a Record for Higher Education

Emma Roller:

In a five-year fund-raising campaign that concluded December 31, Stanford University raised $6.2-billion, the largest sum ever collected in a single campaign by a higher-education institution, the university announced on Wednesday.
The money will go toward a variety of university projects, including 38 new or renovated campus buildings, $250-million in need-based scholarships for undergraduate students, 130 new endowed faculty appointments, and 360 new fellowships for graduate students. More than 166,000 alumni, parents, students, and others made 560,000 donations since the campaign began in 2006, the university said in a news release.
The campaign, called The Stanford Challenge, far surpassed its original goal of $4.3-billion, and exceeded the previous record for a concluded higher-education campaign by more than $2.3-billion, according to Pam Russell, spokeswoman for the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Related: NACBA:


Minnesota to be granted waiver from NCLB law

Beth Hawkins:

No Child Left Behind no more — at least for Minnesota.
This state will be among 10 that officially will learn — at 1 p.m. CST — that it has earned approval for its plan for doing better than the nation’s 11-year-old education reform law. A polarized Congress has agreed that NCLB is fatally flawed, but has made only cursory stabs at replacing it.
The waiver granted by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan will free numerous Minnesota schools — including some that graduate most of their students — from compliance with a series of burdensome requirements to show continuous progress on standardized tests educators have long insisted have no practical value for students or teachers.
If the waiver process is anything like other Obama administration education initiatives, more than two dozen other states will scour the lengthy waiver applications submitted by Minnesota and other winning states to get an idea of the accountability measures that meet the feds’ loosely articulated benchmark for earning a waiver.

White House Issues ‘No Child’ Waivers

Stephanie Banchero:

The Obama administration announced Thursday the list of 10 states it is releasing from key requirements of No Child Left Behind, in a major move away from the decade-old education law.
The states getting waivers are: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Eleven states applied for waivers from the law and 28 others and Washington, D.C., have told the U.S. Department of Education that they plan to apply in the next round.
Kaela Brown, a teacher at Anacostia High School in Washington, D.C., faced possible dismissal after her students posted low reading scores.
New Mexico applied for the waiver but didn’t get it.

Some Unexpected States on Union Membership Loss List

Mike Antonucci:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics provides invaluable statistics on union membership each year, but doesn’t disaggregate data by occupation and state. So all we have for individual states are total membership figures for all unions. Still, with public sector unions making up the majority of union membership in the U.S., we can get a reasonable picture of where NEA and AFT might be taking the biggest beatings. Some states on this list are obvious, while others are a surprise.
Rather than examine unionization rates, or market share based on the size of the entire workforce, I chose to look at raw totals. After all, a union could decline in total share, but as long as it gained members, it means more money in the till. Members lost equals money lost, and 20 states had fewer union members in 2011 than they had in 2010. I’ve ranked them according to percentage of membership lost:

Novo-virus sickens dozens in Madison area

Wisconsin News:

Dane County health officials are still waiting for test results from the most recent outbreak. It took place Jan. 29 when at least 16 people had vomiting and diarrhea after eating sandwiches and other food at the Mandrake Road Church of Christ in Madison.
Also last month, 28 people got sick after eating at Erin’s Snug Irish Pub in Madison. The other outbreaks took place at a drama-filming session at Madison West High School, the Pyle Center at U W Madison, and a Madison art show.
Health department epidemiologist Amanda Kita-Yarbro says the five outbreaks in a three-month period are a first for her agency. She said it could have been spurred either by food workers or people attending the various events.

Frequently Asked Questions About MDRC’s Study of New Small High Schools in New York City


On January 25, MDRC released the latest findings from its ongoing study of new, small, academically nonselective high schools in New York City, called “small schools of choice” (SSCs) by the researchers. The new brief reported that SSCs have:

  • Sustained impacts on graduation with Regents diplomas: Average four-year graduation effects have reached 8.6 percentage points (meaning nearly nine more graduates for every class of 100 entering ninth-graders). This effect is driven by an increase in Regents diplomas attained.
  • Positive graduation effects for virtually every subgroup, including students with low entering proficiency in math and English (levels 1 and 2, in New York City terminology), males and females, blacks and Hispanics, and students eligible for free and reduced-priced lunch.
  • A positive effect on a measure of college readiness: a 7.6 percentage point (or 25 percent) impact on scoring 75 or higher on the English Regents exam (which exempts students from remedial English at the City University of New York). There was no effect on scoring 75 or higher on the math Regents exam.
  • A five-year graduation effect: Students in the new small high schools are 7.1 percentage points more likely to graduate in five years than their control group counterparts (75.2 percent vs. 68.1 percent).

Madison School Board Candidate Notes

Matthew DeFour (Facebook link… beware privacy issues)

Yesterday I asked Nichelle Nichols and Mary Burke to respond to the post I shared about the DaneDems Forum. Nichelle posted the following response.
It’s worth noting that the “original” plan for Madison Prep was for a non-instrumentality, which changed to an instrumentality right before last October’s official public hearing because of an agreement reached with Madison Teachers Inc. When that agreement proved too expensive because of provisions in the current collective bargaining agreement, Madison Prep was again put forward as a non-instrumentality.

Much more on the 2012 Madison School Board Candidates, here.

Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say

Sabrina Tavernise
Education was historically considered a great equalizer in American society, capable of lifting less advantaged children and improving their chances for success as adults. But a body of recently published scholarship suggests that the achievement gap between rich and poor children is widening, a development that threatens to dilute education’s leveling effects.
It is a well-known fact that children from affluent families tend to do better in school. Yet the income divide has received far less attention from policy makers and government officials than gaps in student accomplishment by race.
Now, in analyses of long-term data published in recent months, researchers are finding that while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially during the same period.
“We have moved from a society in the 1950s and 1960s, in which race was more consequential than family income, to one today in which family income appears more determinative of educational success than race,” said Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford University sociologist. Professor Reardon is the author of a study that found that the gap in standardized test scores between affluent and low-income students had grown by about 40 percent since the 1960s, and is now double the testing gap between blacks and whites.
In another study, by researchers from the University of Michigan, the imbalance between rich and poor children in college completion — the single most important predictor of success in the work force — has grown by about 50 percent since the late 1980s.
The changes are tectonic, a result of social and economic processes unfolding over many decades. The data from most of these studies end in 2007 and 2008, before the recession’s full impact was felt. Researchers said that based on experiences during past recessions, the recent downturn was likely to have aggravated the trend.

Continue reading Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say

The End of Parental Choice?

Mike Ford:

Since the 1990s Wisconsin, and Milwaukee in particular, has been a national leader in the belief that parents should be the ones making education decisions for their children. The granting of the No Child Left Behind waiver currently being debated in Madison may be the act that finally puts that notion to rest.
Wisconsin is, like other states, pursuing a waiver to the flawed No Child Left Behind law. Without a waiver most Wisconsin schools and districts will eventually be designated as failing. The waiver has many positive aspects; most importantly it puts substantial focus on using student growth scores to evaluate school performance. The day may actually be coming when Wisconsin’s assessment system can inform the public of the impact a specific school is having on student achievement.
Included in the waiver, however, are provisions that give the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) substantial authority to intervene in private schools participating in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP). As written, DPI will first identify MPCP participants that are “among the persistently lowest performing schools in the state.” Schools that are identified will then have the option of:

The Teachers Union and Quality Teaching

David Cohen:

Some people would say that “the union” and “quality teaching” don’t belong in the same sentence, or blog post title.
My bet is that those people don’t know about the two Quality Teaching Conferences run by the California Teachers Association (CTA) each year. The Northern California conference took place in San Jose last weekend, and the Southern California conference is coming up next month.
I don’t mean to suggest that because CTA has conferences about quality teaching that they are therefore immune to criticism – but I would expect any fair-minded critic to consider whether or not their image of the union is informed by experience and a full awareness of CTA activities.

Maine Education Reform Proposal

Jay Field:

Students could enroll outside their home districts, and public tuition dollars would flow to private religious schools, under education reforms laid out by the LePage administration in Skowhegan this morning. Besides expanded school choice, the administration is also pushing legislation to toughen and standardize teacher and principal evaluation statewide and expand career and technical education. Some praise the proposals as bold and innovative, but others dismiss them as divisive and unfair.
The scene of the big announcement invoked a part of the governor’s education agenda that pretty much everyone seems to agree with. At just after 9 a.m., LePage welcomed guests assembled inside an automotive garage at a Skowhegan technical school, then turned the podium over to his education commissioner.
Stephen Bowen turned and marveled at the hydraulic lifts and other machinery. “It’s great to be in this facility,” he said. “I love this backdrop back here. I have a car, by the way, that I may bring in here later, ’cause there was something rattling on my way up here.”

It’s education, smarty

Rolf Wegenke:

Before I became president of the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, I worked in economic development in the administrations of five Wisconsin governors, both Democrats and Republicans. Over those years, leaders in both parties called for “jobs, jobs, jobs.”
Some economists rate Wisconsin’s personal income growth levels in 48th place. Now, in an election year and in a time of recession and jobless recovery, the critical question is what can the state do to promote job creation? The Journal Sentinel Editorial Board has rightly made jobs and job creation its sole agenda item for 2012.
There is a direct link between the level of educational attainment (percentage of the population with a postsecondary degree) in a state and the growth of personal income in that state. Because of that link, there is also a clear and certain pathway to economic growth and job creation.
The Wisconsin Technology Council has called upon the state to add 150,000 degree-holders to bring Wisconsin to the national average. Competitive Wisconsin Inc., a coalition of corporate and union leadership, not wishing our state to be average, urged Wisconsin to add 170,000 baccalaureate degree-holders to bring this state up to the level of our neighbor, Minnesota.

High Point, Abundant Life Christian schools to consolidate

Doug Erickson:

Two longtime Madison Christian schools — one thriving, one ailing — announced plans to consolidate Monday.
High Point Christian School, which has a waiting list, will take over the administration and operation of Abundant Life Christian School, which has seen its enrollment drop by half in 10 years.
The change, to occur this fall, is expected to involve an unspecified number of layoffs at Abundant Life, and all teachers there will be required to reapply for their jobs, according to school officials.
The schools will retain their names and facilities but will share a principal and other administrative functions, said the Rev. Tom Flaherty, lead pastor of City Church, which owns Abundant Life and sought the other school’s help.
“We realized that, financially, we were not going to be able to sustain the school as it was,” Flaherty said.

Should Home-Schoolers Play for High School Teams?

Room for Debate:

Legislation to allow home-schooled students to play varsity sports at public schools passed the Republican-controlled Virginia Assembly on Wednesday. It will now go before the State Senate. Robert McDonnell, Virginia’s Republican governor, has said he supports the bill.
Alabama and Mississippi are considering similar legislation, and 25 states now allow home-schooled students to play sports at public schools with varying restrictions. Is this a move in the right direction?