Devastating Budget Cuts Still Look Like Increases So Far. The National Center for Education Statistics issued its “First Look” at comprehensive school district revenues and expenditures for the 2009-10 school year. It’s a welcome report, though not exactly a “first look” since it uses U.S. Census Bureau figures available since last fall.
According to the authoritative National Bureau of Economic Research, America’s “Great Recession” began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. Because of the vast number of agencies involved, it takes years to gather and report definitive public education revenue and spending data. So while we may eventually see figures that corroborate the tales of woe we hear from those quarters, that time has not yet arrived. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Here are a few of the center’s findings:
School districts reported $599.9 billion in total revenues.
That was an increase of 0.8 percent from the previous year, in inflation-adjusted dollars.
Current expenditures per-pupil, however, rose 1.0 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars.
Status Quo Costs More: Madison Schools’ Administration Floats a 7.38% Property Tax Increase; Dane County Incomes down 4.1%…. District Received $11.8M Redistributed State Tax Dollar Increase last year. Spending up 6.3% over the past 16 months.
Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Bettner email (PDF):
Thanks to the volunteers who helped make phone calls at MTI on April 23. With few volunteers, 51 callers were “patched through” to leave a message for Senator Sheila Harsdorf that voucher expansion is bad for Wisconsin and that public schools must be fully funded. The Governor’s proposed budget will take $96 million from public schools to fund private and parochial “voucher” schools and private charter schools.
This program was a great success in other Senate Districts as well, generating well over 200 contacts last week. Any member interested in giving this a try, another night of calling is being considered for Thursday, May 9, 4:30 – 7:30 p.m., at MTI. The constituents we are calling are targeted based on their likelihood to respond positively and include WEAC members and voters favorable to public schools. This fight is critical because if we lose, voucher schools will be coming to Madison, whether we want them or not, with slick marketing campaigns designed to lure tax dollars into their pockets by denigrating our public schools. Don’t let this happen! We need seven confirmed volunteers to make this set-up worthwhile.
If you can join us next Thursday, please contact Jeff Knight (firstname.lastname@example.org / 257-0491).
The Madison School District:
It came down to a very close finish but in an overtime session the Spring Harbor Middle team overtook the O’Keeffe Middle team at the African American History Bowl held on Saturday, April 13.
As first-place finishers, team members (pictured below l-r) Odoi Lassey, Russell McGee, James Horton (alternate), Shania Weaver (backup alternate) and Coach Sara Johnson will travel to New Orleans on an all-expenses paid trip to complete in the 100 Black Men National History Bowl Challenge in June.
The index score is the number of college-level tests given at a school in 2012 divided by the number of graduates that year. Also noted are the percentage of students who come from families that qualify for lunch subsidies (Subs. lunch) and the percentage of graduates who passed at least one college-level test during their high school career, called equity and excellence, (E&E). A (P) next to the school’s name denotes a private school.
While Middleton (#1097) and Verona (#1529) made the 2013 index, no Madison high schools were included. Interestingly, thirteen (13) high schools from the Austin, Texas area were included along with two from Minneapolis, MN, two from St. Paul, MN, one from Ann Arbor, one from Portland, one each from Mobile and Birmingham, AL.
I have been ranking the most challenging schools in the country and this region for 15 years. Rarely have I encountered anything like the American Indian Public Charter High School of Oakland, Calif., the No. 1 school on my 2013 list. It has risen to the top just as its city school board is trying to shut it down.
I visited the high school and its two American Indian charter middle schools two months ago. They hold classes in offices downtown and in a run-down residential part of the city, where they set an extraordinary standard of achievement.
The students enroll in Advanced Placement courses in the ninth grade and eventually take more of those college-level classes and exams per student than any high school in the Washington area. In their white shirts and dark slacks and skirts, the 243 students bustle around their little campus. Eighty-one percent of them are from low-income families, but their AP test-passing rate of 41 percent is higher than any D.C. school except Wilson and the School Without Walls, which have mostly middle-class students.
The three Oakland charter schools are in trouble because Ben Chavis, the unorthodox educator responsible for their success, has been charged by the school district with misappropriating public funds. Chavis denies doing anything wrong. He left the school in late 2011 to tend his cattle farm in North Carolina, leaving parents and new school leaders — with their own internal disputes — to fight for survival. The city school board voted last month to withdraw the schools’ charter by a narrow 4 to 3 margin, but the county or state school board could overrule that decision.
Carolyn Miller, Kathryn Zickuhr, Lee Rainie and Kristen Purcell:
The vast majority of parents of minor children — children younger than 18 — feel libraries are very important for their children. That attachment carries over into parents’ own higher-than-average use of a wide range of library services.1
The ties between parents and libraries start with the importance parents attach to the role of reading in their children’s lives. Half of parents of children under age 12 (50%) read to their child every day and an additional 26% do so a few times a week. Those with children under age 6 are especially keen on daily reading with their child: 58% of these parents read with their child every day and another 26% read multiple times a week with their children.
The importance parents assign to reading and access to knowledge shapes their enthusiasm for libraries and their programs:
MMSD offers Read 180 and System 44 as a reading intervention to adolescent students who are two or more years behind their grade level in reading in regular education, special education and the English as a Second Language program. Read 180 and System 44 are integrated into the District’s Response to Intervention (RtI) plan to provide students with access to these research-based intervention materials in all district secondary sites, including middle schools, high school and alternative programs.
Read 180 is an intensive reading intervention program that meets the needs of struggling adolescent readers whose reading achievement is below proficient. The program addresses individual needs through differentiated instruction, adaptive and instructional software, high-interest literacy and explicit instruction in reading, writing and vocabulary development.
The Read 180 instructional model provides a way to organize instruction and classroom activity. Each session begins and ends with whole-group teacher-directed instruction. During the class, there is a structure for the use of time including whole group and small student groups. In the small group time, students rotate among three stations, including:
Computer center – students use the READ 180 software independently, providing them with intensive, individualized skill practice;
Small group – students receive diagnostically informed instruction where individual needs can be met;
Independent center – students read from READ 180 paperbacks and audiobooks. Journal writing, reader responses and reading strategies are applied.
System 44 is an intervention program that is designed for struggling adolescents that need basic support in letter sounds, decoding, word recognition, word-level fluency and strategies for unfamiliar words. System 44 helps middle and high school students “crack the code” on the 44 sounds and 26 letters in the English language. It is intended to be a short term intervention, with students only remaining in the program until they have mastered the sounds of the English language. When student master the decoding, skills as determined by the Scholastic Phonics Inventory, they may advance to Read 180 or another intervention if appropriate. System 44 incorporates a screening tool for reading and phonics to assist with the proper identification of students into either System 44 or Read 180. While MMSD has used Read 180 for several years, System 44 was made available district-wide in 2012-13.
Data issues regarding READ 180 and System 44 by Andrew Statz
Because of these discrepancies and uncertainty over which students actually received the READ 180 or System 44 curriculum, any data staff of READ 180 and System 44 updates generated by MMSD would be misleading and could lead to improper estimates of the results these programs produce, which could in turn lead to misinformed decisions about the direction and effectiveness of these programs. As a result, the Research & Program Evaluation Office cannot report on these programs until data discrepancies are resolved in the future.
Next Steps. District staff are working with teachers and school staff to correct the errors in READ 180 and System 44 participant lists for the 2012-13 school year.
This process includes identifying specific students whose records are inconsistent and attempting to standardize their records, as well as meeting with middle and high school schedulers to emphasize the importance of consistent record keeping for these programs and discuss plans to make sure accurate records are maintained in the future. In, addition, district staff will conduct quarterly audits of READ 180 and System 44 participation to compare transcript and SAM records and correct disparities as quickly as possible.
Unfortunately, because SAM only stores a current list of READ 180 and System 44 participants, it is not known if there is a way to repair errors in historical MMSD data on these two programs. More exploration with the vendor is needed to determine what history, if any, can be recovered.
Sue Schaar, Madison Schools’ TAG Coordinator:
The Compliance Plan, including the timeline with benchmarks, is being drafted to outline the activities and processes that will take place in the next 13 months in order to bring MMSD into full compliance with DPI by May 31, 2014. A final document will be scheduled for Board review before the May 31, 2013 submission to DPI.
This document highlights areas of infrastructure that must be addressed as we move forward, including instructional design at the school level and consistent messaging from central office with measures of accountability incorporated. Clearly, our efforts in this area must be aligned with other improvement efforts as we move forward.
Issues around which decisions have been made:
Fine Arts and TAG will be creating a portfolio system to be utilized in the identification processes in areas of Leadership, Creativity, and Visual/Performing Arts
MMSD will incorporate the use of USTARS and utilize local norms into the identification processes for all 5 areas
Professional development regarding the characteristics of advanced learners, including those from typically under represented groups, will be accomplished at the local school level through a 45 minute DVD that the TAG department will create over the summer. This professional development should take place at all schools prior to winter break in 2013-14. Schools will have a menu of choices about how to deliver this PD.
Discussion is still occurring around:
Incorporation of advanced interventions into multi-tiered system of support and how to incorporate in School Improvement Plans
A review of consistent, qualitative difference between High School core courses and embedded and/or other Honors Courses as demonstrated by a review of the syllabi
The tension between implementing interventions for advanced learners through clusters, flexible groups or enrichment periods coupled with differentiated instruction throughout the school day
Barry Garelick, via a kind email
The tendency to interpret the standards along the ideological lines of the reform movement can be seen most readily in how the Standards for Mathematical Practice are interpreted. The SMP themselves are sensible and few mathematicians or teachers would disagree with their principles. Their interpretation and implementation is another matter, however.
Standards for Mathematical Practice: The Cheshire Cat’s Grin.
Standards for Mathematical Practice: Cheshire Cat’s Grin, Part Two
Standards for Mathematical Practice: Cheshire Cat’s Grin, Part Three
Parenting in a pathologically competitive, information-saturated city can make anyone crazy, even those parents lucky enough to be worried about fennel burgers in school lunches. And while Avenues offers its students every imaginable educational benefit — a 9-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio, a Harvard-designed “World Course” — it has also tapped into an even deeper, more complicated parental anxiety: the anxiety of wanting their kids to have every advantage, but ensuring that all those advantages don’t turn them into privileged jerks.
As Manhattan, and particularly downtown, is transformed by a staggering infusion of wealth, there is a growing market for creating emotionally intelligent future global leaders who, as a result of their emotional intelligence, have a little humility. In fact, when the nearby Grace Church School was researching whether to start its own high school, it asked top college-admission officers what was lacking in New York City applicants. The answers coalesced around the idea of values, civic engagement, inclusiveness and diversity — in a word, humility.
And so Avenues students may run to their “Empire State of Mind: Thinking About Jay-Z in a New Way” “mini-mester” while passing a Chuck Close self portrait, but they do so with the intent of being “humble about their gifts and generous of spirit,” as the school’s mission statement puts it. “We wanted a school that was innovative and wouldn’t force our kids into any particular mold,” says Sheree Carter-Galvan, an Avenues parent and a general counsel at Yale University. Or, as Ella Kim, mother of a 4-year old, explains, Avenues took the anxiety of a New York parent — albeit of a certain type — “and designed a school around that.”
Last winter, a group of Avenues 4-year-olds ventured out to the 532 Gallery Thomas Jaeckel in Chelsea to view the work of John A. Parks, an English painter, who fingerpainted his childhood memories. Schulman thought it segued seamlessly with a unit they were doing on abstract art, which included studies of Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee. Schulman, who always seems to be brimming with excitement, explained how the subject matter and the field trip were perfect for the immersion classes. “You can use the vocabulary in both languages,” she said, to learn about the art.
Much more on Avenues, here.
I frequently have my undergrad and grad students read Bill Easterly’s excellent book, The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics. They are often a bit depressed after reading the chapters on growth, noting how little we seem to know about growth in the real world. It is the education chapter, however, which really gets to them. In it, Easterly points out what has been known for ages but is rarely mentioned in print (see Lant Pritchett’s “Where has all the education gone?” for a refreshing exception), namely, that education is not positively and significantly related to economic growth for most samples. Sometimes you can find a weakly positive t-stat in a sample of OECD countries, but you are lucky if you merely find zero correlation (instead of a negative and significant) in the developing world.
Temple Grandin and Richard Panek:
The following article is adapted from The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across the Spectrum, out now from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
I was fortunate to have been born in 1947. If I had been born 10 years later, my life as a person with autism would have been a lot different. In 1947, the diagnosis of autism was only four years old. Almost nobody knew what it meant. When Mother noticed in me the symptoms that we would now label autistic–destructive behavior, inability to speak, a sensitivity to physical contact, a fixation on spinning objects, and so on–she did what made sense to her. She took me to a neurologist.
Bronson Crothers had served as the director of the neurology service at Boston Children’s Hospital since its founding, in 1920. The first thing Dr. Crothers did in my case was administer an electroencephalogram, or EEG, to make sure I didn’t have petit mal epilepsy. Then he tested my hearing to make sure I wasn’t deaf. “Well, she certainly is an odd little girl,” he told Mother. Then when I began to verbalize a little, Dr. Crothers modified his evaluation: “She’s an odd little girl, but she’ll learn how to talk.” The diagnosis: brain damage.
Legislators should be skeptical of a proposal by Gov. Scott Walker to sharply expand the school voucher program. There isn’t much evidence that students in voucher schools are better educated; in fact, they seem to perform at about the same level as their peers in mainline public schools.
We also remain deeply skeptical of the move by the Legislature two years ago to open up the program to lower middle-income families. If there is any justification for the voucher schools, it’s to give impoverished families a “choice.” We have long supported choice for the poor and believe the program should be limited to those families. Republicans essentially are advocating a shadow school system. Why not work harder to adequately fund and hold accountable the system we have?
Walker’s plan would expand private voucher programs to at least nine other districts outside Milwaukee and Racine. Families with income of to about $70,000 a year would be eligible.
Before they act, legislators should take a close look at outcomes.
In a report released last month, the state Department of Public Instruction found that students attending voucher schools in Milwaukee and Racine scored lower than public school students in Milwaukee Public Schools and the Racine Unified School District on the state standardized achievement test.
Comparing Milwaukee Public and Voucher Schools’ Per Student Spending
I find discussions of the per-pupil funding level of different types of Milwaukee schools usually turns into a debate on how to make a true apples-to-apples comparison of per-pupil support for the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP). While basic differences in MPS and MPCP schools and their cost-drivers make any comparison imperfect, the following is what you might call a green apples to red apples comparison.
DISCLAIMER: if you not interested in school funding, prepare to be bored.
Per-pupil support for MPS
Note I am not trying to calculate per-pupil education funding or suggest that this is the amount of money that actually reaches a school or classroom; it is a simple global picture of how much public revenue exists per-pupil in MPS. Below are the relevant numbers for 2012, from MPS documents:
Though not perfect, I think $13,063 (MPS) and $7,126 (MPCP) are reasonably comparative per-pupil public support numbers for MPS and the MPCP.
W. Lee Hansen, via a kind reader’s email:
This paper presents estimates of the full resource costs of Minority and Disadvantaged Student Programs for UW-Madison and the UW System. It shows that for 2008-09 the total resource costs of M/D programs are almost 60 percent higher than the published expenditure figures for UW-Madison and more than 75 percent higher than the published expenditure figures for the UW System. It provides several alternative estimates of the per student resource costs of these programs. Finally, it cumulates the value of the resources committed to M/D programs during Plan 2008 and in the years subsequent to 2008. These differences occur because the UW System’s Minority and Disadvantaged Student Annual Report (M/D Report) fails, without explanation, to include the full array of M/D program costs even though it openly acknowledges these omissions.
Based on the full resource costs estimates developed here, these costs range from as little as $1,000 per student to as much as $80,000 per student, depending on which groups of students receive the most benefit from these programs.
The results presented here for 2008-09 provide at best a snapshot view of the resource costs of M/D programs. Additional perspective comes from cumulating the resource costs of M/D programs for UW-Madison and for the UW System during the decade-long Plan 2008, and from estimates of these costs for the duration of Plan 2008 plus the first five years under UW’s new diversity plan called Inclusive Excellence.
The constant-dollar estimates of the resource costs incurred by UW-Madison during Plan 2008 total $280,000,000, and they approximate $500,000,000–half a billion dollars–for the 15-year period beginning in 1998-99 and continuing through 2012-13. Comparable estimates for the UW System are substantially greater, totaling $680,000,000 during Plan 2008 and approximating $1,150,000,000–more than one billion dollars–for this same 15-year period.
By understating the resource costs of its M/D programs and failing to provide evidence on the success of its M/D programs, the UW System fails to meet its commitments to transparency and accountability, and in the process compromises its institutional integrity.
Susan Schwartz Wildstrom:
I am moved to respond to Sol Garfunkel’s “Opinion” article.1 I am a long-time high school mathematics teacher in a public school. I started teaching around the time of SMSG and have been in the trenches throughout several of the math wars. I know Dr. Garfunkel’s fine work in creating interesting modeling projects and his outspoken opinion that using technology to solve problems that apply the mathematics we are teaching will better concretize students’ understanding of the underlying mathematics. It sounds like a fine idea, but the reality is often very different.
Our problems in teaching mathematics begin in elementary school. Sadly, many teachers working with our children at the start of their mathematical journeys are not themselves comfortable with the mathematics they are trying to teach. They often only know one way to teach an idea and they may not fully understand how that method works and why it gives the right answers. Such a teacher confronted with an alternate creative method (perhaps suggested by a clever child or a seasoned colleague) may reject the alternative rather than trying to see how and why two methods produce the same result. Beyond stifling the creativity of students and discouraging them from trying to see how the mathematics works, such an approach is not fertile ground for applications and modeling projects in which creative exploration and possibly unorthodox methods are encouraged as a means of truly understanding what is happening. Teachers who lack confidence in their own understanding of the ideas may not want to include these sorts of activities in their classrooms.
Related: Math Forum audio & video.
Rarely has the political payoff for a special interest group been as quick or blatant.
The American Federation for Children, one of the leading advocates for school choice in the country, brags in a recent brochure that it spent more than $325,000 – far more than the group has previously made public – to help elect state Sen. Rick Gudex in a closely contested Wisconsin race last fall.
Gudex won his seat by less than 600 votes.
Then, last week, the freshman lawmaker joined two other Senate Republicans in saying they were drawing a line in the sand by vowing to oppose a state budget bill if it doesn’t include an expansion of the state’s school voucher program.
“The American Federation of Children got exactly what they wanted,” said Mike McCabe, head of the left-leaning election watchdog group Wisconsin Democracy Campaign. “They want legislators who will go to the mat and make expanding the voucher program the bottom line.”
Just as interesting, McCabe said, is that the school choice organization is saying in its own material that it spent twice as much helping Gudex as it reported to state regulators. McCabe said his group is looking into filing an election complaint.
A source familiar with the American Federation’s political spending in Wisconsin called such a complaint “frivolous.” The organization, the source said, had abided by Wisconsin election laws.
Related: WEAC: $1.57 million for Four Wisconsin Senators.
This manages to be both incomprehensible and incredibly offensive at the same time. I have no idea what Friedman thinks he’s talking about when he blathers on about disappearing protective floors; I can only hope that he isn’t making a super-tasteless reference to the recent disaster in Bangladesh. But it’s simply wrong that today’s world is “tailored” for anybody who happens to be “self-motivated”. Both the self and the motivation are components of labor, not capital, and as such they’re on the losing side of the global economy, not the winning side.
Friedman is a billionaire (by marriage) who — like all billionaires these days — is convinced that he achieved his current prominent position by merit alone, rather than through luck and through the diligent application of cultural and financial capital. His paean to self-motivation recalls nothing so much as Margaret Thatcher’s “there is no such thing as society” quote: “parenting, teaching or leadership that ‘inspires’ individuals to act on their own will be the most valued of all,” he writes, bizarrely choosing to wrap his scare quotes around the word “inspires” rather than around the word “leadership”, where they belong.
True leadership, in a society where the workers are failing to be paid even half the fruits of their labor, would involve attempting to turn the red line in Blodget’s chart around, and to spread the nation’s prosperity among all its citizens. Rather than telling everybody that they’re “on their own” and that if they’re not a success then hey, they’re probably just not “self-motivated” enough.
Related: Status Quo Costs More: Madison Schools’ Administration Floats a 7.38% Property Tax Increase; Dane County Incomes down 4.1%…. District Received $11.8M Redistributed State Tax Dollar Increase last year. Spending up 6.3% over the past 16 months.
Cindy Koeppel, via a kind email:
* NEW SPECIAL PROJECT * “Civility in the Golden Age, 1959-1969”
On April 16, 2013, Dirksen Center staff member delivered remarks entitled “Civility in the Golden Age, 1959-1969” to a conference, “Returning Civility to Our Public Discourse,” funded by The Center and sponsored by the Institute for Principled Leadership at Bradley University.
Mackaman used documents from Everett Dirksen’s papers to illustrate the nature of civil discourse among the political leaders in the 1960s.
Read the remarks at: http://www.dirksencenterprojects.org/Civility.pdf
Lisa Hansel, via a kind reader’s email:
So why haven’t we ensured that all children get a rigorous, supportive education?
This is a question I ask myself and others all the time. I think it’s more productive than merely asking “How can we?” Those who ask how without also asking why haven’t tend to waste significant amounts of time and resources “discovering” things that some already knew.
Okay, so I’ve partly answer the why question right there. Much better answers can be found in Diane Ravitch’s Left Back: A Century of Failed School Reforms, E. D. Hirsch’s The Schools We Need and Why We Don’t Have Them, and Richard Hofstadter’s Anti-Intellectualism in American Life.
But still, those answers are not complete.
Right now, Kate Walsh and her team with the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) are adding to our collective wisdom–and potentially to our collective ability to act.
NCTQ is just a couple months away from releasing its review of teacher preparation programs. The results may not be shocking, but they are terrifying. Walsh provides a preview in the current issue of Education Next. In that preview, she reminds us of a study from several years ago that offers an insiders’ look at teacher preparation:
The most revealing insight into what teacher educators believe to be wrong or right about the field is a lengthy 2006 volume published by the American Educational Research Association (AERA), Studying Teacher Education. It contains contributions from 15 prominent deans and education professors and was intended to provide “balanced, thorough, and unapologetically honest descriptions of the state of research on particular topics in teacher education.” It lives up to that billing. First, the volume demonstrates the paucity of credible research that would support the current practices of traditional teacher education, across all of its many functions, including foundations courses, arts and sciences courses, field experiences, and pedagogical approaches, as well as how current practice prepares candidates to teach diverse populations and special education students. More intriguing, however, is the contributors’ examination of the dramatic evolution of the mission of teacher education over the last 50 years, in ways that have certainly been poorly understood by anyone outside the profession.
Studying Teacher Education explains the disconnect between what teacher educators believe is the right way to prepare a new teacher and the unhappy K-12 schools on the receiving end of that effort. It happens that the job of teacher educators is not to train the next generation of teachers but to prepare them.
Huh? Really? How exactly does one prepare without training? Walsh goes on to explain that. But the only way to prepare yourself to comprehend the teacher educators’ reasoning is to pretend like “prepare them” actually means “brainwash them into believing that in order to be a good teacher, you have to make everything up yourself.” Back to Walsh:
Harking back perhaps to teacher education’s 19th-century ecclesiastical origins, its mission has shifted away from the medical model of training doctors to professional formation. The function of teacher education is to launch the candidate on a lifelong path of learning, distinct from knowing, as actual knowledge is perceived as too fluid to be achievable. In the course of a teacher’s preparation, prejudices and errant assumptions must be confronted and expunged, with particular emphasis on those related to race, class, language, and culture. This improbable feat, not unlike the transformation of Pinocchio from puppet to real boy, is accomplished as candidates reveal their feelings and attitudes through abundant in-class dialogue and by keeping a journal. From these activities is born each teacher’s unique philosophy of teaching and learning.
There is also a strong social-justice component to teacher education, with teachers cast as “activists committed to diminishing the inequities of American society.” That vision of a teacher is seen by a considerable fraction of teacher educators (although not all) as more important than preparing a teacher to be an effective instructor.
Nowhere is the chasm between the two visions of teacher education–training versus formation–clearer than in the demise of the traditional methods course. The public, and policymakers who require such courses in regulations governing teacher education, may assume that when a teacher takes a methods course, it is to learn the best methods for teaching certain subject matter. That view, we are told in the AERA volume, is for the most part an anachronism. The current view, state professors Renee T. Clift and Patricia Brady, is that “A methods course is seldom defined as a class that transmits information about methods of instruction and ends with a final exam. [They] are seen as complex sites in which instructors work simultaneously with prospective teachers on beliefs, teaching practices and creation of identities–their students’ and their own.”
The statement reveals just how far afield teacher education has traveled from its training purposes. It is hard not to suspect that the ambiguity in such language as the “creation of identities” is purposeful, because if a class fails to meet such objectives, no one would be the wiser.
The shift away from training to formation has had one immediate and indisputable outcome: the onus of a teacher’s training has shifted from the teacher educators to the teacher candidates. What remains of the teacher educator’s purpose is only to build the “capacity” of the candidate to be able to make seasoned professional judgments. Figuring out what actually to do falls entirely on the candidate.
Here is the guidance provided to student teachers at a large public university in New York:
In addition to establishing the norm for your level, you must, after determining your year-end goals, break down all that you will teach into manageable lessons. While so much of this is something you learn on the job, a great measure of it must be inside you, or you must be able to find it in a resource. This means that if you do not know the content of a grade level, or if you do not know how to prepare a lesson plan, or if you do not know how to do whatever is expected of you, it is your responsibility to find out how to do these things. Your university preparation is not intended to address every conceivable aspect of teaching.
Do not be surprised if your Cooperating Teacher is helpful but suggests you find out the “how to” on your own. Your Cooperating Teacher knows the value of owning your way into your teaching style.
Related: When A Stands for Average: Students at the UW-Madison School of Education Receive Sky-High Grades. How Smart is That?.
Wisconsin has recently taken a first baby step toward teacher content knowledge requirements (something Massachusetts and Minnesota have done for years) via the adoption of MTEL-90. Much more on teacher content knowledge requirements, here.
Content knowledge requirements for teachers past & present.
When you look at the average performance of American students on international test scores, our kids come off as a pretty middling bunch. If you rank countries based on their very fine differences, we come in 14th in reading, 23rd in science, and 25th in math. Those finishes led Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to flatly declare that “we’re being out-educated.”
And on average, maybe we are. But averages also sometimes obscure more than they reveal. My colleague Derek Thompson has written before about how, once you compare students from similar income and class backgrounds, our relative performance improves dramatically, suggesting that our educational problems may be as much about our sheer number of poor families as our supposedly poor schools. This week, I stumbled on another data point that belies the stereotype of dimwitted American teens.
When it comes to raw numbers, it turns out we generally have far more top performers than any other developed nation.
That’s according to the graph below from Economic Policy Institute’s recent report on America’s supply of science and tech talent. Among OECD nations in 2006, the United States claimed a third of high-performing students in both reading and science, far more than our next closest competitor, Japan. On math, we have a bit less to be proud of — we just claimed 14 percent of the high-performers, compared to 15.2 percent for Japan and 16.2 percent of South Korea.
The Wisconsin State Journal:
School principals should know who their best teachers are, and those top performers deserve higher pay.
Jeff Charbonneau, honored last week by President Barack Obama at the White House as national teacher of the year, helps show why.
Charbonneau teaches chemistry, physics, engineering and architecture at Zillah High School in Zillah, Wash.
“I fight a stigma,” Charbonneau wrote in his award application. “Students hear the words ‘quantum mechanics’ and instantly think ‘too hard’ and ‘no way.’ It is my job to convince them that they are smart enough, that they can do anything.”
He’s succeeding. About two-thirds of juniors and seniors at the small, rural school are signing up for chemistry and physics. And nearly every student is graduating with some college credit, according to the Associated Press.
Charbonneau can award college credits to his high school students because he attained adjunct faculty status with local universities, and many of his fellow teachers at Zillah now are doing the same. Zillah offers 72 classes that can lead to college credits, and 90 percent of students go on to college, an apprenticeship or the military.
Much more, here.
The Urban Scientist, Scientific American
News of Kiera Wilmot’s arrest has seriously unnerved me. She is the Florida high school student who was experimenting with common household chemicals in science class that resulted in a minor explosion. There were no injuries and no damage to school property; however, she was taken away in handcuffs, formally arrested and expulled from school.
I acknowledge that too little information has been provided on the case. We have NO idea what was happening in the class. Where was the teacher? Were students involved in a laboratory activity at the time? I have spent time in the high school classroom. I know the shenanigans (and havoc) these pre-adults can cause. It is no laughing matter. Even if this were a prank, say something akin to my generation’s idea of setting off smoke bombs in the hall during the passing of classes, my gut reaction stands.
I don’t like what our public education (and justice) systems do to urban youth (e.g. the discipline gap with Black kids). I worry about urban kids who don’t (tend) to have access to social capital that advocates for them and gives them a chance after stupid mistakes. I worry what this will mean to her family financially. What will it mean for her future? Will graduating from an alternative school prevent her from attending college? Will she be marked as a trouble maker? Will she have a criminal record that prevents her from gainful employment and a meaningful life? More immediately, will she get locked away for 20 years? Shit like that happens to kids who look like her.
The Chicago Tribune:
Indiana lawmakers are proposing huge increases in state education funding this year. Ditto those in Wisconsin.
Here in Illinois, The Deadbeat State? Just the opposite. Education funding is being strangled by the same python that is strangling the rest of state government’s finances: pension obligations. Every day that the Legislature delays the enactment of pension reform, the unfunded liability of the state’s five pension funds grows by $17 million, according to Gov. Pat Quinn’s office.
In this state, we’re not arguing about how to, say, give more money to schools because great schools drive growth and innovation, attract businesses, create jobs.
No, we’re arguing instead about which school kids will get cheated more than other school kids because state lawmakers dither on a pension fix — kids from richer districts or those from poorer districts? That’s the depressing debate we’re having.
Here’s why: In Illinois, the Legislature sets a “foundation” funding level that the state says every student needs for an adequate education. That’s the starting point for a calculation that determines how much state aid each district receives. The calculation considers each district’s local taxing ability to meet that foundation level, and also looks at how many students in the district need extra support because they’re from low-income families. Districts that have relatively lower revenue and educate relatively more higher-need students receive more state aid.
Related: Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman’s 2009 Madison Rotary Speech:
“Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk – the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It’s as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands.” Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI’s vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the “impossibility” of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars (“Similar to GM”; “worry” about the children given this situation).
The Madison School District:
The team from West High School won at the Wisconsin Science Olympiad State Tournament on Saturday April 13th at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The team competed against high school teams from across the state. West High performed at a high level, winning many individual medals (8 first place medals) and the overall team championship. West followed up last year’s win with back to back titles. They also won the honor to represent the state of Wisconsin at the national tournament where the top Math and Science high schools will compete for national honors. Hamilton Middle School will also attend the national tournament.