Why First-Born Kids Do Better in School Parents focus on disciplining their first children, and then … they give up.

Joseph Hotz:

Time and again, research has shown that first-born children are better at a lot of things than their younger siblings. First-borns do better on IQ tests and are more likely to become president of the United States than their kid brothers or sisters. And, at the other end of the spectrum, first-borns are less likely to do drugs andget pregnant as teenagers.
So it probably won’t surprise anyone that first-borns do better in school than their younger siblings, a finding documented in a recent study I wrote with Juan Pantano, an assistant professor of economics at Washington University in St. Louis.

Boston Charter School Demand and Effectiveness

Sarah R. Cohodes, Elizabeth M. Setren, Christopher R. Walters, Joshua D. Angrist & Parag A. Pathak:

Boston charter schools have had many reasons to tout their performance in 2013. Research reports and MCAS scores have shown exceptional progress by charter students. But while we were buoyed by these findings, the Boston Foundation and NewSchools Venture Fund sought to better understand in more detail not only how well charters are working, but for whom.
The answer–or at least the beginnings of it–is described in this report by a team of researchers from MIT’s School Effectiveness and Inequality Initiative (SEII). This is the third in a series of studies examining charter and Boston Public Schools (BPS) student performance. The first, released in 2009, was groundbreaking in its use of individual student data, its research design–which incorporated an observational study–and a lottery analysis. The second report, released in May 2013, examined Boston’s charter high schools and found gains in their students’ MCAS, Advanced Placement and SAT scores compared to their peers in the Boston Public Schools.
This report updates the 2009 study and uses a similar methodology. It examines the performance of all students enrolled in Boston’s charter schools as well as that of important subgroups of high-needs students, including those whose first language isn’t English or who have special needs. Importantly, this report also examines demand and enrollment patterns and finds a changing student population that includes more of these subgroups.
Like earlier studies, this report finds that attending a charter school in Boston dramatically improves students’ MCAS performance and proficiency rates. The largest gains appear to be for students of color and particularly large gains were found for English Language Learners.
At the same time, it is important to note that the analysis showed that charter school students are less likely to have special needs or to be designated as English Language Learners. While that gap has narrowed since the passage of education reform in 2010, the charters’ success with high-needs students should provide an even greater impetus to connect those student populations with charter schools.
In addition, the research team found that charter schools continue to be a popular option for Boston families. As the number of available seats grows, so too does the number of applicants. Nonetheless, the report finds that the odds of receiving a charter offer are roughly comparable to a student receiving his or her first choice through the BPS school-assignment process.
Readers of this report will draw many different conclusions, but the takeaway for us is clear: charters work for their students. It’s not only evident that we need more of these schools, but we must also redouble our efforts to ensure that students who have the most to gain are afforded greater access to them.

Rethinking the Move from High School to College

Pablo Muirhead:

High school graduates may be better served by taking a year off after graduation for an intense immersion experience in a country of their choosing instead of diving straight into college.
Too often students rush from high school to college and don’t seriously contemplate taking some time to grow in other directions. My response to students who would thrive in such an experience but feel compelled to race off to college with their peers is questioning what they would really lose if they started college a year later. In fact, students that go abroad for year often end up acquiring a second language and culture, and more importantly, calling a new place home.
American Field Service (AFS), perhaps the most well-respected and distinguished study abroad program, has been an integral part of bridging youth from the Milwaukee area with youth from all over the globe. It was born as a result of WWI and WWII. The idea spawned from a group of volunteer ambulance drivers that were tired of the carnage and atrocity of war. They thought that the only way to avoid future conflict was to get youth from all over the world to live in and experience other countries. Over sixty years later AFS continues advancing its mission with the help of a strong cadre of volunteers and dedicated teachers.

Education critic Diane Ravitch says test scores went up for 40 years until federal No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top initiatives


Education analyst and professor Diane Ravitch is a harsh critic of many recent trends in education, from high-stakes testing to privately run charter schools.
Ravitch supported many of those efforts when she was assistant secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush.
But she later concluded they didn’t work. And she has been especially critical of both the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind Act, championed by President George W. Bush, and President Obama’s 2009 Race to the Top grant program.
Ravitch offered some of her insights in a speech Oct. 15, 2013, at the University of Rhode Island.
Part of her argument is that champions of such so-called reforms are overstating the problem. She said a decades-look back at standardized test scores shows more student improvement than the nation’s public schools get credit for.
“Test scores had gone up steadily for 40 years until No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top,” she said.
We wondered whether scores had increased so steadily and whether, as her statement implies, they leveled off or dropped after the two federal programs took hold.

On the non-payment of adjuncts at CUNY

Jonathan Buchsbaum:

An email landed in my inbox this morning about widespread non-payment of adjuncts in the CUNY system. I’ll reprint it below the fold. IANAL, but those who are might want to comment on this in light of NY’s “Wage Theft” law.
Here, though, read how Anthony Galluzo, one of those affected, describes his situation:

I’m supposed to be paid–finally–tomorrow, although classes started the last week of August. The explanation? Well, I was hired late–the week before said classes began–and there is a state mandated pay schedule. Fantastic. A system apparently designed with long term employees in mind, hence the glacial in-processing, even though it now runs on casualized permatemps hired at the last minute. This scenario was compounded by the fact that the secretary in the English department only submitted materials for one of my courses. I am teaching three. A fluke that happens all too often, as I’ve since learned from other adjuncts. Of the several adjuncts I talk to, I don’t know one who was paid on time.

If you’ve been affected by non-payment, late payment, or partial payment, contact Debbie Bell dbell@pscmail.org. To offer support of any kind, contact Jonathan Buschbaum. Below the fold, more details:

Frederick Wiseman’s “At Berkeley,” or, Seeing Like an Administration

reclaim uc:

rederick Wiseman’s films often document the insipid, noxious operations of bureaucracies. This is certainly the case with High School, released in the auspicious year 1968. If At Berkeley can be read as a sequel to that earlier film, what becomes clear is that it is not only the character of educational institutions that has changed over the past fifty years–like the Fordist factory in the era of globalization, the factory-like public school has faded as well (although many schools have at the same time become increasingly prison-like)–but also the character of the director, who has become, notes one reviewer, “something of an institution himself.”
Another way of putting this comes from Wiseman’s reflections on the documentary form itself. The following comes from a Q&A panel after a screening at the New York Film Festival (above), but it’s an argument Wiseman repeats in nearly every discussion of the film:

People don’t want to believe that other people can act the way they sometimes do. Both good and bad–not necessarily just because it shows people doing difficult, uncomfortable or occasionally sadistic or cruel, but it’s equally true that some people don’t want to admit that other people can do nice, kind, helpful things. And in part that’s related to the idea that documentary film should always be an expose, should reveal something bad about government or people’s behavior. . . . I think it’s equally important when people are doing a good job and care and are kind and sensitive to other people, that’s an equally good subject for a documentary.

College students still often find spouses on campus

Cara Newton:

In 2013, women generally don’t go to college for their “MRS” degrees — meaning, going to college to find a young man with a good education and high earning potential — instead, they often focus on education and career before getting married.
A 2011 Pew Research survey found that the median age of first marriage was around 27 for women and 29 for men — years after college graduation.
That doesn’t mean college students have stopped finding their fiancés in the undergraduate dating pool.
A Facebook Data Sciences study released last week found that about 28% of married graduates attended the same college as their spouse. About 15% of individuals on Facebook attended the same high school as their spouse.
Though the results are limited by the population on Facebook and how diligently users update their relationship statuses, people clearly are still meeting their future partners in college.

Pushing back against Republican lawlessness over Act 10

Ruth Conniff:

When Dane Country Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas held officials in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration in contempt this week, he was pushing back against a level of unchecked lawlessness by this administration that is “practically seditious,” says attorney Lester Pines.
Colas had already ruled a year ago that parts of Act 10 — the law that ended most collective bargaining rights for most public employees — were unconstitutional. This included Act 10’s requirement that unions hold annual recertification elections. But commissioners at the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission decided to ignore that decision. They went ahead and prepared for recertification elections for more than 400 school district and worker unions in November.
“The commissioners knew full well” they were flouting the court, Colas said, despite their cute argument that the word “unconstitutional” applied only to the specific plaintiffs in the case — teachers in Madison and city workers in Milwaukee.
As John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., put it, Colas’ decision “is one of the most important decisions not only in public-sector labor history, but also in democracy.”
The principle here is simple. If a law is unconstitutional on its face, it’s unconstitutional in every case. That has always been understood in Wisconsin courts. And, Judge Colas pointed out, the Walker officials understood it, too.

The Decline of Wikipedia

Tom Simonite

The sixth most widely used website in the world is not run anything like the others in the top 10. It is not operated by a sophisticated corporation but by a leaderless collection of volunteers who generally work under pseudonyms and habitually bicker with each other. It rarely tries new things in the hope of luring visitors; in fact, it has changed little in a decade. And yet every month 10 billion pages are viewed on the English version of Wikipedia alone. When a major news event takes place, such as the Boston Marathon bombings, complex, widely sourced entries spring up within hours and evolve by the minute. Because there is no other free information source like it, many online services rely on Wikipedia. Look something up on Google or ask Siri a question on your iPhone, and you’ll often get back tidbits of information pulled from the encyclopedia and delivered as straight-up facts.
Yet Wikipedia and its stated ambition to “compile the sum of all human knowledge” are in trouble. The volunteer workforce that built the project’s flagship, the English-language Wikipedia–and must defend it against vandalism, hoaxes, and manipulation–has shrunk by more than a third since 2007 and is still shrinking. Those participants left seem incapable of fixing the flaws that keep Wikipedia from becoming a high-quality encyclopedia by any standard, including the project’s own. Among the significant problems that aren’t getting resolved is the site’s skewed coverage: its entries on Pokemon and female porn stars are comprehensive, but its pages on female novelists or places in sub-Saharan Africa are sketchy. Authoritative entries remain elusive. Of the 1,000 articles that the project’s own volunteers have tagged as forming the core of a good encyclopedia, most don’t earn even Wikipedia’s own middle-­ranking quality scores.

Michigan teachers fight unions over forced dues

Sean Higgins:

Michigan teachers are discovering that their union is determined to make it as hard as possible for them to take advantage of the state’s new right-to-work law, which prohibits workers from being forced to pay dues to a union.
Nine teachers sued the Michigan Education Association in the last week alleging unfair labor practices.
Eight teachers sued the MEA on Monday. They are being represented by the conservative Mackinac Center Legal Foundation. Their complaint alleges the union is violating the intent of the right-to-work law by only giving them a very brief period — the month of August — to drop their membership.
One of the eight, Coopersville teacher Miriam Chanski, told MEA in a May letter she was leaving the union. MEA denied her request because it was sent in too early.
She claims the union did not tell her this at the time. She only learned of the August opt-out window in September. That was when MEA informed her she would now have to pay another year’s dues.
“It surprised me that there would be more to the process — I had not heard anything else,” she told the local ABC affiliate.
It got worse for her when MEA said that if she didn’t continue to pay, they would report her to a collection agency, which would negatively affect her credit rating.

The Teacher’s Journey To Technology Integration

Catlin Tucker:

The SAMR model (substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition) explores the impact of integrating technology on both teaching and learning. It attempts to outline a progression that educators follow in their journey towards redefining teaching and learning with technology. I’ve used this model as a guide to identify where a particular lesson or activity falls on the spectrum of technology integration, but it does not reflect the teacher’s evolution.
In professional development, it’s common to hear teachers groan, “I’m so behind. There’s so much to learn. I won’t ever catch up.” That’s right. We won’t ever catch up. We will never be in front of the rapid advances transforming technology…and that’s okay. We don’t need to be ahead of the Edtech curve. We just need a willingness to continue learning and taking risks! It also helps to have a powerful PLN (personal learning network) supporting you.

Is significant school reform needed or not?: an open letter to Diane Ravitch (and like-minded educators)

Grant Wiggins:

It’s also noteworthy how you tiptoe here around the elephant in the room in the preceding paragraph: to what extent today’s teachers are doing an adequate job. Indeed, much of your polemic is to criticize those who say that “blame must fall on the shoulders of teachers and principals.” Well, why shouldn’t it? That’s where achievement and change do or do not happen. Instead, you blame the forces of privatization and corporatism and poverty. Indeed, even, in the first paragraph above you lament merely a lack of “standards” and “curriculum” – a de-personalized critique. So, which is it? Are schools doing as well as they can with the teachers they have, or not? Are kids getting the education they deserve or not?
I think there is plenty of evidence about the inadequacies of much current teaching that you and I find to be credible and not insidiously motivated. How else, in fact, would you say that schools aren’t “fine” as they are? Reform is strongly needed in many schools (and not just the dysfunctional urban schools). To say that these problems are somehow not due to teaching and mostly due to forces outside of school walls belies the fact that schools with both non-poor students and adequate resources are also under-performing, and outlier schools serving poor children have had important successes.

America does not have equal opportunity, in one chart

Dylan Matthews:

Americans love equality of opportunity. The idea that, if you work hard and play by the rules, you can end up better than you, is pretty deeply embedded in the national psyche. It’s what the American dream’s all about.
And it doesn’t apply if you’re black. Patrick Sharkey, a sociologist at NYU, has been studying trends and causes of social mobility, and finds that white children born into the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution are twice as likely to move up to the top 80 percent as black kids. Even worse, 78 percent of black kids born into the top three fifths of the income distribution fall below it as adults. Social mobility goes *backwards*. By comparison, only 43 percent of white kids fall back that much.

The Emergency in Pakistan’s Schools

Madiha Afzal:

Pakistan’s daily disasters and constant crises mean that long-term issues, education prominent among them, get little attention from our harried leadership. When education is addressed, the focus is almost entirely on increasing access, enrolment and literacy, and if we’re lucky, on girls’ schooling. Getting children to go to school, and to stay there, is obviously critical. Fortunately, we appear to be on a positive trajectory in terms of this goal, especially in Punjab.
But that goal overlooks the glaring education emergency within our schools. The fact is that our schools are failing miserably in educating the children who make it to them. Each day is an opportunity lost for each uniform-clad, schoolbag-burdened child who heads to school in the morning. These children attend school, but are not getting an education. Their inquisitive spirit is crushed, their thinking ability never developed. They are never taught that there are, at least, two sides to every story, and every history. They never learn to question and to analyse, much less to imagine and to create.
Let me be clear here — I am not talking about the schools which cater to our elite, but about those that reach our masses. In these schools, textbooks following the official curriculum, with their poor quality, and questionable and biased content, reign supreme. The teachers literally teach one page of the textbook per lecture, asking students to memorise the content, with barely any explanation and no additional material taught.

Wisconsin DPI: 73 percent of statewide voucher students already enrolled in private schools

Molly Beck:

The statewide voucher program, in its first year, is at capacity, with about 500 students receiving vouchers statewide, according to the department. Of those, 79 percent did not attend a Wisconsin public school last year.
The program’s enrollment limit will rise to 1,000 next year. The statewide program exists in districts outside of Milwaukee and Racine, which have had programs for years.
Seventy-three percent of students now attending private schools using a voucher were already enrolled in a private school last year, according to the department. Twenty-one percent of students were from public schools. About 3 percent did not attend any school and 2 percent were home schooled.
Sen. Luther Olsen, R-Ripon, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he would probably support adding a preference given to applicants from public schools given those numbers.

“I Quit Academia,” an Important, Growing Subgenre of American Essays

Rebecca Schuman:

Sarah Kendzior, Al-Jazeera English’s firebrand of social and economic justice, suggested this week that there should be a Norton Anthology of Academics Declaring They Quit, among whose august contributions she would place Zachary Ernst’s “Why I Jumped Off the Ivory Tower.” Ernst’s Oct. 20 essay is a deeply honest account of his acrimonious departure from what many would consider a dream job: a tenured position as a philosophy professor at the University of Missouri.
Ernst’s contribution is indeed part of a raucous subgenre of “I Quit Lit” in (or rather, out of) academe, which includes Kendzior’s own acidic “The Closing of American Academia,” Alexandra Lord’s surprisingly controversial “Location, Location, Location,” and my own satirical public breakdown. All of us faced, and continue to face, the impressively verbose wrath of a discipline scorned, which itself is the completing gesture of initiation into the I Quit Oeuvre.

Number sense in infancy predicts mathematical abilities in childhood

Ariel Starra, Melissa E. Libertus & Elizabeth M. Brannon:

The uniquely human mathematical mind sets us apart from all other animals. How does this powerful capacity emerge over development? It is uncontroversial that education and environment shape mathematical ability, yet an untested assumption is that number sense in infants is a conceptual precursor that seeds human mathematical development. Our results provide the first support for this hypothesis. We found that preverbal number sense in 6-month-old infants predicted standardized math scores in the same children 3 years later. This discovery shows that number sense in infancy is a building block for later mathematical ability and invites educational interventions to improve number sense even before children learn to count.

The £54,000 degree: how well is AC Grayling’s college doing?

Amelia Gentleman:

At 9.30am promptly, AC Grayling begins a two-hour Introduction to Philosophy lecture for year one students in an airy conservatory at the back of his new private college. For anyone whose attention is straying, there are views on to a yard with plane trees, a white stucco mews house and the blackened brick of the smart Bloomsbury townhouse where the New College of the Humanities is based. None of the 19 students is gazing out of the window, however. They are focused on the lecture, which centres on René Descartes, but considers along the way the nature of knowledge and how we obtain it.
“You all know, because you were reading a biography of him last night in the bath no doubt, that Descartes was born in 1596 and died in 1650, a period of great advance in science and philosophy,” Grayling begins in a melodious voice. The students make dutiful notes on A4 pads, or straight on to their laptops. The lecture is fascinating; 45 minutes pass happily, and I have to force myself to stop paying attention so I can look at the students: 15 male, four female, all white, dress code quite preppy, not much piercing.

Taking Risks

Dahv Logic:

Most people do not believe me when I tell them that I can be shy at first.
When I was younger, the actual tone of my voice would change just because I was nervous (in person or over the phone). A majority of the time, if I don’t know someone that well, I prefer keeping my sunglasses on, ear buds in and conversation to myself. Unless we are friends or I want to get to know you, the chance that I’ll start a conversation is pretty low.
Over the years, my introversion has improved – and to me – it doesn’t seem noticeable.
If it wasn’t for a conversation I had with my Dad years ago, I don’t think I’d be the person I am today.
He taught me how to take a risk.

The Man Who Would Teach Machines to Think

James Somers:

“It depends on what you mean by artificial intelligence.” Douglas Hofstadter is in a grocery store in Bloomington, Indiana, picking out salad ingredients. “If somebody meant by artificial intelligence the attempt to understand the mind, or to create something human-like, they might say–maybe they wouldn’t go this far–but they might say this is some of the only good work that’s ever been done.”
Hofstadter says this with an easy deliberateness, and he says it that way because for him, it is an uncontroversial conviction that the most-exciting projects in modern artificial intelligence, the stuff the public maybe sees as stepping stones on the way to science fiction–like Watson, IBM’s Jeopardy-playing supercomputer, or Siri, Apple’s iPhone assistant–in fact have very little to do with intelligence. For the past 30 years, most of them spent in an old house just northwest of the Indiana University campus, he and his graduate students have been picking up the slack: trying to figure out how our thinking works, by writing computer programs that think.

Science has lost its way, at a big cost to humanity

Michael Hiltzik:

In today’s world, brimful as it is with opinion and falsehoods masquerading as facts, you’d think the one place you can depend on for verifiable facts is science.
You’d be wrong. Many billions of dollars’ worth of wrong.
A few years ago, scientists at the Thousand Oaks biotech firm Amgen set out to double-check the results of 53 landmark papers in their fields of cancer research and blood biology.
The idea was to make sure that research on which Amgen was spending millions of development dollars still held up. They figured that a few of the studies would fail the test — that the original results couldn’t be reproduced because the findings were especially novel or described fresh therapeutic approaches.
But what they found was startling: Of the 53 landmark papers, only six could be proved valid.
“Even knowing the limitations of preclinical research,” observed C. Glenn Begley, then Amgen’s head of global cancer research, “this was a shocking result.”

Genetics’ Rite of Passage

David Dobbs:

If you want a look at a high-profile field dealing with a lot of humbling snags, peer into #ASHG2013, the Twitter hashtag for last week’s meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, held in Boston. You will see successes, to be sure: Geneticists are sequencing and analyzing genomes ever faster and more precisely. In the last year alone, the field has quintupled the rate at which it identifies genes for rare diseases. These advances are leading to treatments and cures for obscure illnesses that doctors could do nothing about only a few years ago, as well as genetic tests that allow prospective parents to bear healthy children instead of suffering miscarriage after miscarriage.
But many of the tweets–or any frank geneticist–will also tell you stories of struggle and confusion: The current list of cancer-risk genes, the detection of which leads some people to have “real organs removed,” likely contains many false positives, even as standard diagnostic sequencing techniques are missing many disease-causing mutations. There’s a real possibility that the “majority of cancer predisposition genes in databases are wrong.” And a sharp team of geneticists just last week cleanly dismantled a hyped study from last year that claimed to find a genetic signature of autism clear enough to diagnose the risk of it in unborn children.

Zero to Eight: Children’s Use of Media in America

Common Sense Media Research:

This report is based on the results of a large-scale, nationally representative survey, the second in Common Sense Media’s series on children’s media use; the first was conducted in 2011 (Zero to Eight: Children’s Media Use in America). By replicating the methods used two years ago, we document how children’s media environments and behaviors have changed. We survey parents of children ages 0 to 8 in the U.S., and cover media ranging from books/reading and music to mobile interactive media like smartphones and tablets.

Act 10: Wisconsin Employment Relations Commissioners in Contempt of Court

Madison Teachers, Inc. Solidarity Newsletter via a kind Jeanie (Bettner) Kamholtz email (PDF):

Collective bargaining was restored for all city, county and school district employees by a Court ruling last week through application of an earlier (9/14/12) Court decision achieved by MTI. Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas found that Governor Walker’s appointees to the WERC, James Scott and Rodney Pasch, were in contempt of court “for implementing” those parts of Act 10 which he (Colas) previously declared unconstitutional, which made them “a law which does not exist”, as Colas put it.
The Judge told Scott & Pasch to comply with his finding of unconstitutionality or be punished for their contempt. They agreed to comply.
Judge Colas made his ruling on unconstitutionality on September 14, 2012. MTI was represented by its legal counsel, Lester Pines.
In the contempt claim, in addition to MTI, Pines represented the Kenosha Education Association and WEAC. The latter was also represented by Milwaukee attorney Tim Hawks, who also represented AFSCME Council 40, AFT Wisconsin, AFT nurses and SEIU Healthcare, in last week’s case. Also appearing was Nick Padway, who partnered with Pines in representing Milwaukee Public Employees Union Local 61 in the original case.
Judge Colas specifically ordered the WERC to cease proceeding with union recertification elections, which in his earlier ruling were found to be unconstitutional. Act 10 mandated all public sector unions to hold annual elections to determine whether union members wished to continue with representation by the union. Act 10 prescribed that to win a union had to achieve 50% plus one of all eligible voters, not 50% plus one of those voting like all other elections. The elections were to occur November 1.

Standards? Yes! Current Implementation? No!: How we have re-invented Soviet-era wheat quotas

Grant Wiggins:

Readers know that I am a strong supporter of Standards generally and the Common Core specifically. To me it is simply a no-brainer: there is no such thing as Georgia Algebra or Montana Writing. In a mobile society, and based on economies of scale, common national standards make a lot of sense.
But no friends of Standards can be happy with how this effort has evolved logistically, on the ground, in terms of guidance to and resources for districts; or satisfied with the incentives – actually, disincentives – provided for undertaking such challenging work. Worse, we are in the unenviable position of fighting over a set of standards that now belongs to no official entity, so there is no way to amend the Standards, properly defend them from critics, or (especially) push back on how they are implemented by states.
And indeed, the chief culprits here are the states, in my view, employing tactics that run counter to everything we know about organizational change.

Why Do Teachers Quit?

Liz Riggs:

Richard Ingersoll taught high-school social studies and algebra in both public and private schools for nearly six years before leaving the profession and getting a Ph.D. in sociology. Now a professor in the University of Pennsylvania’s education school, he’s spent his career in higher ed searching for answers to one of teaching’s most significant problems: teacher turnover.
Teaching, Ingersoll says, “was originally built as this temporary line of work for women before they got their real job–which was raising families, or temporary for men until they moved out of the classroom and became administrators. That was sort of the historical set-up.”
Ingersoll extrapolated and then later confirmed that anywhere between 40 and 50 percent of teachers will leave the classroom within their first five years (that includes the nine and a half percent that leave before the end of their first year.) Certainly, all professions have turnover, and some shuffling out the door is good for bringing in young blood and fresh faces. But, turnover in teaching is about four percent higher than other professions.

At-risk Madison students play school district’s waiting game

Chris Rickert:

@hen I asked district officials why they aren’t interested in throwing some of that money the way of programs like these, the answer I got can be boiled down to what Chicago Cubs fans like me are all too well accustomed to hearing: Wait until next year.
“Going forward, the district will work to further align our resources with the district’s framework and support schools to the fullest,” said district spokeswoman Rachel Strauch-Nelson in a statement. “Until we do that, we don’t want to ask taxpayers for additional investments.”
School Board president Ed Hughes said that the district’s state aid next year would decrease by about 50 cents on each extra dollar it were to spend out of the property tax cut windfall this year.
“So if we don’t increase our spending now and instead are able to lower our tax levy, this makes it more likely that we’ll also be able to keep the tax levy at a manageable level for next year as well,” he said.
School board member T.J. Mertz described this year’s budget as “transitional” and said, “at this point, the current administrative team believes we need to concentrate on doing better with what we have while figuring out what we are not doing but should be, or aren’t doing enough of (and what we are doing and isn’t working).”

On Sun Prairie School Governance


We live in a school district with many things. But one thing we mot definitely lack is any administrators with cojones. As Metallica would sing, “Sad, but true.” The district office is populated by eunuchs. We thought that Joe Palooka might bring a pair with him to Buildings & Grounds, but apparently the rule is that one’s cojones must be tuned over in order to obtain your district ID. Lord knows that Tim Culver grows evermore like Tootles, constantly in search of his lost marbles. Phil Frei is a fiscal wizard, but don’t ask him to hold anyone accountable for paying their bills. Sad but true. One would think that collecting money due would be the prime directive for a Business Manager….wouldn’t one?
Now we understand that money due to the district–and UNPAID— for camps and such exceeds $40,000 just for the past school year alone. And the usual suspects are all whining and moaning about how to collect it. Or even whether to bother collecting it at all. Just tack maintenance costs onto the tax levy. After all…it’s all for the kids, right?

Bullying is not on the rise and it does not lead to suicide

Kelly McBride:

Yet, in perpetuating these stories, which are often little more than emotional linkbait, journalists are complicit in a gross oversimplification of a complicated phenomenon. In short, we’re getting the facts wrong.
The common narrative goes like this: Mean kids, usually the most popular and powerful, single out and relentlessly bully a socially weaker classmate in a systemic and calculated way, which then drives the victim into a darkness where he or she sees no alternative other than committing suicide.
And yet experts – those who study suicide, teen behavior and the dynamics of cyber interactions of teens – all say that the facts are rarely that simple. And by repeating this inaccurate story over and over, journalists are harming the public’s ability to understand the dynamics of both bullying and suicide.
People commit suicide because of mental illness. It is a treatable problem and preventable outcome. Bullying is defined as an ongoing pattern of intimidation by a child or teenager over others who have less power.
Yet when journalists (and law enforcement, talking heads and politicians) imply that teenage suicides are directly caused by bullying, we reinforce a false narrative that has no scientific support. In doing so, we miss opportunities to educate the public about the things we could be doing to reduce both bullying and suicide.

Seattle School Board and So-Called “Dysfunction”

Melissa Westbrook:

Following up on my analysis/thoughts on the Peters/Dale Estey race in District IV, I had promised a thread on this issue of so-called School Board “dysfunction.”
As I have pointed out, in the Board evaluation, not a SINGLE member of the Board called the Board dysfunctional. One Board member said if they didn’t trust each other more, they would become “the poster child for a dysfunctional Board.” That’s far from saying that they are. (One senior staff member did call them dysfunctional.)
Now if you read the whole evaluation, you can see there are issues. No denying that. BUT, what the Times and Dale Estey and all these people leave out are all the pages of comments – by both the Board and senior management – about the good things said about the Board as people and as Board members.

“I Quit Academia,” an Important, Growing Subgenre of American Essays

Rebecca Schuman:

Sarah Kendzior, Al-Jazeera English’s firebrand of social and economic justice, suggested this week that there should be a Norton Anthology of Academics Declaring They Quit, among whose august contributions she would place Zachary Ernst’s “Why I Jumped Off the Ivory Tower.” Ernst’s Oct. 20 essay is a deeply honest account of his acrimonious departure from what many would consider a dream job: a tenured position as a philosophy professor at the University of Missouri.
Ernst’s contribution is indeed part of a raucous subgenre of “I Quit Lit” in (or rather, out of) academe, which includes Kendzior’s own acidic “The Closing of American Academia,” Alexandra Lord’s surprisingly controversial “Location, Location, Location,” and my own satirical public breakdown. All of us faced, and continue to face, the impressively verbose wrath of a discipline scorned, which itself is the completing gesture of initiation into the I Quit Oeuvre.
Ernst’s “Why I Jumped” is thus not unusual in and of itself: Academe is a profession full of erudite free-thinkers who feel disillusioned by a toxic labor system in which criticism is not tolerated–so those who leave often relish the newfound ability to say anything they want (talking about “a friend” here). In its insularity and single-mindedness, academe is also very similar to a fundamentalist religion (or, dare I say, cult), and thus those who abdicate often feel compelled to confess.

The Umbilical Link of Man to Robot

John Markoff:

Atlas doesn’t shrug. But he teeters, loses his grip, stutters and staggers.
His task one afternoon is to clear a debris field. After many agonizing moments, in a set of abrupt and jerky movements, he crouches and with painstaking precision manages to grasp a two-by-four board and then drop it to his right. At the rate he is moving, completing the chore might take days.
Atlas in this case is an imposing, six-foot-tall humanoid robot that evokes the bipedal “Star Wars” robot C-3PO. It stands in a cluttered robotics laboratory here at Worcester Polytechnic Institute where a team of students, engineers and software hackers are training the 330-pound bundle of sensors, computers, metal struts, joints and cables.
Seven teams are working with Atlas robots, manufactured by Boston Dynamics, a small military-funded research firm based in Waltham, Mass. Like the others, the Worcester team is preparing for a December contest held by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. The contest is meant to accelerate work in the field of robotics by prototyping machines that can work effectively and autonomously in extreme emergencies, like the failure of a nuclear power plant.
The vision evokes decades of sci-fi movies like “I, Robot” in which self-directed walking machines glide through the world with grace and precision. At the moment the gap between that dream and reality is daunting.
The immensity of the challenge is underscored by the fact that, here in the lab, Atlas remains tethered — “on belay,” in the mountain climbing sense. Like a toddler learning to walk, it wears a safety harness, and whenever it moves, its human operators, equipped with safety glasses, position themselves behind a transparent plastic enclosure.

Bidding farewell to a great teacher who beat dumb ideas

Jay Matthews:

Nothing I have read in The Washington Post lately has been more lucid and bracing than Patrick Welsh’s assault on catch-phrase school reforms in the Sept. 29 edition of the Outlook section. It was vintage Welsh — detailed, angry, literate. It’s what you expect from one of our best education writers and high school teachers. He added a dash of melancholy for fans like me as we learned he had just retired after 43 years at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria.
My only complaint about the piece is that it did not celebrate Welsh or his school enough. It would be out of character for him to mention his own accomplishments. He did say how superb several of his colleagues on T.C. Williams’s faculty have been, but someone reading his piece too fast might think that dumb programs such as Effective Schools, SPONGE and Standard-Based Education had turned T.C. Williams into a bad school. The truth is that they failed to diminish a great school.

Wisconsin 8th graders show gains against international peers

Alan Borsuk:

Take that, Finland.
Wisconsin eighth graders are doing better in math and are on a par in science with eighth graders in the Scandinavian country often spotlighted in recent years as having the highest performing students in the world, according to an analysis released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress last week.
In fact, the study concluded Wisconsin eighth graders rate in the upper bracket when compared to all American states and 47 other education systems around the world. The groundbreaking study is the first I’ve seen that specifically compares Wisconsin kids to kids around the world in a way that many education statisticians would regard as reasonably solid (although some would disagree).
The results are pretty encouraging, not only for Wisconsin but for most states, especially in the region that stretches from the Midwest through New England. In math, eight of the top 10 states were in that region, including four of the six New England states.
Does that mean we can stop beating ourselves up about how the U.S. is so far down the ladder compared with other countries when it comes to educational accomplishment? Well, not exactly, but perhaps a lot of people get a bit carried away with dumping on where we stand — just as others might get carried away with self-congratulation over the new results.
“It’s better news than we’re used to,” David Driscoll, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, which runs the NAEP program, told the New York Times. “But it’s still not anything to allow us to rest on our laurels.

Related: www.wisconsin2.org.

The China Americans Don’t See

Xia Yeliang:

The 21st-century romance between America’s universities and China continues to blossom, with New York University opening a Shanghai campus last month and Duke to follow next year. Nearly 100 U.S. campuses host “Confucius Institutes” funded by the Chinese government, and President Obama has set a goal for next year of seeing 100,000 American students studying in the Middle Kingdom. Meanwhile, Peking University last week purged economics professor Xia Yeliang, an outspoken liberal, with hardly a peep of protest from American academics.
“During more than 30 years, no single faculty member has been driven out like this,” Mr. Xia says the day after his sacking from the university, known as China’s best, where he has taught economics since 2000. He’ll be out at the end of the semester. The professor’s case is a window into the Chinese academic world that America’s elite institutions are so eager to join–a world governed not by respect for free inquiry but by the political imperatives of a one-party state. Call it higher education with Chinese characteristics.
“All universities are under the party’s leadership,” Mr. Xia says by telephone from his Beijing home. “In Peking University, the No. 1 leader is not the president. It’s the party secretary of Peking University.”

The United States, Falling Behind

The New York Times:

Researchers have been warning for more than a decade that the United States was losing ground to its economic competitors abroad and would eventually fall behind them unless it provided more of its citizens with the high-level math, science and literacy skills necessary for the new economy.
Naysayers dismissed this as alarmist. But recent data showing American students and adults lagging behind their peers abroad in terms of important skills suggest that the long-predicted peril has arrived.
A particularly alarming report on working-age adults was published earlier this month by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a coalition of mainly developed nations. The research focused on people ages 16 to 65 in 24 countries. It dealt with three crucial areas: literacy — the ability to understand and respond to written material; numeracy — the ability to use numerical and mathematical concepts; and problem solving — the ability to interpret and analyze information using computers.
Americans were comparatively weak-to-poor in all three areas. In literacy, for example, about 12 percent of American adults scored at the highest levels, a smaller proportion than in Finland and Japan (about 22 percent). In addition, one in six Americans scored near the bottom in literacy, compared with 1 in 20 adults who scored at that level in Japan.

The Shanghai Secret

Tom Friedman:

Whenever I visit China, I am struck by the sharply divergent predictions of its future one hears. Lately, a number of global investors have been “shorting” China, betting that someday soon its powerful economic engine will sputter, as the real estate boom here turns to a bust. Frankly, if I were shorting China today, it would not be because of the real estate bubble, but because of the pollution bubble that is increasingly enveloping some of its biggest cities. Optimists take another view: that, buckle in, China is just getting started, and that what we’re now about to see is the payoff from China’s 30 years of investment in infrastructure and education. I’m not a gambler, so I’ll just watch this from the sidelines. But if you’re looking for evidence as to why the optimistic bet isn’t totally crazy, you might want to visit a Shanghai elementary school.
I’ve traveled here with Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America, and the leaders of the Teach for All programs modeled on Teach for America that are operating in 32 countries. We’re visiting some of the highest- and lowest-performing schools in China to try to uncover The Secret — how is it that Shanghai’s public secondary schools topped the world charts in the 2009 PISA (Program for International Student Assessment) exams that measure the ability of 15-year-olds in 65 countries to apply what they’ve learned in math, science and reading.
After visiting Shanghai’s Qiangwei Primary School, with 754 students — grades one through five — and 59 teachers, I think I found The Secret:
There is no secret.

Open Data and Algorithmic Regulation

Tim O’Reilly:

Regulation is the bugaboo of today’s politics. We have too much of it in most areas, we have too little of it in others, but mostly, we just have the wrong kind, a mountain of paper rules, inefficient processes, and little ability to adjust the rules or the processes when we discover the inevitable unintended results.
Consider, for a moment, regulation in a broader context. Your car’s electronics regulate the fuel-air mix in the engine to find an optimal balance of fuel efficiency and minimal emissions. An airplane’s autopilot regulates the countless factors required to keep that plane aloft and heading in the right direction. Credit card companies monitor and regulate charges to detect fraud and keep you under your credit limit. Doctors regulate the dosage of the medicine they give us, sometimes loosely, sometimes with exquisite care, as with the chemotherapy required to kill cancer cells while keeping normal cells alive, or with the anesthesia that keeps us unconscious during surgery while keeping vital processes going. ISPs and corporate mail systems regulate the mail that reaches us, filtering out spam and malware to the best of their ability. Search engines regulate the results and advertisements they serve up to us, doing their best to give us more of what we want to see.
What do all these forms of regulation have in common?

After three seasons, 2 wins Beloit Memorial High School to change football coaches

Jim Franz:

When he was hired in March, 2011, as Beloit Memorial High School head football coach, Jon Dupuis knew he was accepting a major undertaking.
“I’m passionate about it,” Dupuis said at the time. “I’m home grown. I really believe in these kids and this community. I want to make going to Beloit games something you do on Friday nights again.”
After three seasons and just two victories to go with 25 losses, Dupuis wasn’t ready to throw in the towel.
The high school’s administration, however, did it for him. Dupuis said Monday he learned he was being let go.
“I went in and asked for a three-year commitment and was told they wanted to move in a different direction,” Dupuis said. “I think my staff and I deserved (the three additional years) because of the progress we were making. I was told they want a powerhouse and I told them you’re not going to turn this into a powerhouse in three years. I don’t know how you could do that.
“When I originally interviewed for this job I wanted five years to turn it around and they gave me three. I don’t know much more of what we could have done

Saving Lives with Distributed Intelligence

Alex Tabarrok:

ne of the general features of information technology is that through coordination it makes better use of distributed resources, such as workers, automobiles or energy. An excellent case in point is being tested in Stockholm, Sweden. SMSlivräddare (in Swedish) has a large list of people who are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). When an emergency call is received indicating a possible heart attack, SMSlivräddare finds the mobile phone user(s) closest to the potential victim and alerts them with a text message. The message also contains a map to the victim’s location.
Survival rates for heart attack outside a hospital in Sweden are low, only about 5-10% but every minute shaved off the time it takes to begin CPR increases the survival rate by 10%. When notified, SMS responders arrive faster than ambulances about 50% of the time so the potential for saving lives is quite large (final data on the research project are not yet in).

The Wannabe Oppressed

Stanley Kurtz

What do America’s college students want? They want to be oppressed. More precisely, a surprising number of students at America’s finest colleges and universities wish to appear as victims — to themselves, as well as to others — without the discomfort of actually experiencing victimization. Here is where global warming comes in. The secret appeal of campus climate activism lies in its ability to turn otherwise happy, healthy, and prosperous young people into an oppressed class, at least in their own imaginings. Climate activists say to the world, “I’ll save you.” Yet deep down they’re thinking, “Oppress me.”
In his important new book, The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse: Save the Earth, Punish Human Beings, French intellectual gadfly Pascal Bruckner does the most thorough job yet of explaining the climate movement as a secular religion, an odd combination of deformed Christianity and reconstructed Marxism. (You can find Bruckner’s excellent article based on the book here.) Bruckner describes a historical process wherein “the long list of emblematic victims — Jews, blacks, slaves, proletarians, colonized peoples — was replaced, little by little, with the Planet.” The planet, says Bruckner, “has become the new proletariat that must be saved from exploitation.”
But why? Bruckner finds it odd that a “mood of catastrophe” should prevail in the West, the most well-off part of the world. The reason, I think, is that the only way to turn the prosperous into victims is to threaten the very existence of a world they otherwise command.

The United States, Falling Behind

New York Times Editorial:

Researchers have been warning for more than a decade that the United States was losing ground to its economic competitors abroad and would eventually fall behind them unless it provided more of its citizens with the high-level math, science and literacy skills necessary for the new economy.
Naysayers dismissed this as alarmist. But recent data showing American students and adults lagging behind their peers abroad in terms of important skills suggest that the long-predicted peril has arrived.
A particularly alarming report on working-age adults was published earlier this month by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a coalition of mainly developed nations. The research focused on people ages 16 to 65 in 24 countries. It dealt with three crucial areas: literacy — the ability to understand and respond to written material; numeracy — the ability to use numerical and mathematical concepts; and problem solving — the ability to interpret and analyze information using computers.
Americans were comparatively weak-to-poor in all three areas. In literacy, for example, about 12 percent of American adults scored at the highest levels, a smaller proportion than in Finland and Japan (about 22 percent). In addition, one in six Americans scored near the bottom in literacy, compared with 1 in 20 adults who scored at that level in Japan.

Head Trauma in Football: A Special Report

Peter King:

Three years ago today, I sat in the office of Massachusetts neuropathologist Ann McKee, who studies the brains of deceased former football players to discover the effects of repetitive brain trauma. She showed me slides of cross-sections of brains of former NFL players with evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). This was five days after Rutgers player Eric LeGrand was paralyzed after a big hit in a college game, and four days after frightening blows by pro players James Harrison, Brandon Meriweather and Dunta Robinson. “I wonder,” McKee said that day. “Can we make it more of an Indy 500 and less of a demolition derby?”
The race is on to see if football can change–and so far, after three years, the effort is there on all levels. With the emphasis on the head trauma issue evident all over football and society, The MMQB will spend this week publishing a series of stories taking the temperature of people across America–high school coaches and players, parents of players, medical experts and current and former pro players–about the game.
What you’ll read on our site this week:

Who Will Teach Our Police Our Bill of Rights?

Nat Hentoff:

My primary hero of the full existence of the Constitution is George Mason, a Virginia delegate to the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Why him? He refused to sign the Constitution because it didn’t have a “declaration of rights” — the individual liberties of American citizens.
Because of George Mason, who was followed by other non-signers, James Madison introduced the Bill of Rights. These first 10 amendments to the Constitution, when ratified by enough states in 1791, guaranteed to We The People specific limits on government power.
In this self-governing republic, the Fourth Amendment in these guarantees clearly states:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
In last week’s column, I focused on two shocking cases, unknown to most Americans because the media in its various forms ignored them. These cases dealt with public school students who had been “locked down” in mass searches by police and drug-sniffing dogs. The searches were conducted without court warrants or any indication that the students being searched for drugs or drug paraphernalia had any connection at all to these suspicions.

Measuring America’s Decline in Three Charts

John Cassidy:

In recent years, a number of international surveys have raised alarms that the United States is falling behind other countries in terms of educational achievement. Now there is another one, and its findings represent a serious threat to the country’s future prosperity. In basic literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving skills, the new study shows, younger Americans are at or near the bottom of the standings among advanced countries.
The survey was carried out by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a Paris-based forum and research group, which counts thirty-three high- and middle-income countries among its members. Some of its findings have been well covered elsewhere, particularly by the Times’ editorial board and its economics columnist Eduardo Porter.
But the data comparing young adults aged sixteen to twenty-four in different countries–the folks who will be manning the global economy for the next thirty or forty years–deserves a closer look. The figures come from three charts in the report’s statistical annex, which we have adapted here. Taken together, they vividly illustrate some of the challenges facing an economic hegemon that has for decades been plagued by wage stagnation and rising inequality, and which, as President Obama has pointed out, desperately needs to raise its game.

College Tuition Increases Slow, but Government Aid Falls

Douglas Belkin & Caroline Porter:

After decades of rampant growth, the rate of tuition increases at U.S. colleges and universities has slowed for the second academic year in a row, but government aid has fallen, continuing a cycle of rising costs and debt for American students.
Published tuition and fees rose 2.9% for in-state students at four-year public schools, the smallest one-year increase since 1975-76. At private schools, tuition and fees rose 3.8%, a bit lower than in recent years, according to a report from the College Board, a New York nonprofit that tracks university costs.
“The news in terms of college price increases is that it does seem the spiral is moderating, not turning around, not ending, but moderating,” said Sandy Baum an economist at the College Board.
After adjusting for aid, students attending public four-year institutions this academic year are paying an average of $12,620, up $220 from last year, for tuition, room and board. Private-school costs rose $700, to $23,290.
The continued rising costs come as student debt has topped $1 trillion and the default rate on student loans has risen for six straight years. One in 10 students now defaults within two years of starting repayment, according to Department of Education figures released earlier this month.

Free (UK) schools: our education system has been dismembered in pursuit of choice

Stephen Ball:

The English education system is being dismembered. Gradually but purposefully first New Labour and now the coalition government have been unpicking and disarticulating the national system of state schooling. With free schools and academies of various kinds, faith schools, studio schools and university technical colleges, the school system is beginning to resemble the patchwork of uneven and unequal provision that existed prior to the 1870 Education Act.
At the same time, we are moving back to an incoherent and haphazard jigsaw of providers – charities, foundations, social enterprises and faith and community groups – monitored at arm’s length by the central state. Furthermore, private providers are waiting in the wings for the opportunity to profit from running schools.
Local democratic oversight has been almost totally displaced. Our relationship to schools is being modelled on that of the privatised utilities – we are individual customers, who can switch provider if we are unhappy, in theory, and complain to the national watchdog if we feel badly served – but with no direct, local participation or involvement, no say in our children’s education.
These changes have been pursued in the name of choice, diversity and autonomy. Some parents now have new schools to choose from for their children, but some do not. This simply depends on where you live. You may have a local academy or you may not. If you do, it might be a sponsored academy (Bexley, south-east London), a chain academy (Ark, ULT, AET), a converter academy, or a school subject to forced academisation. There are 174 free schools and you may live near one of these, but many are faith schools or have specialisms that may not suit your child. The free schools were supposed to be targeted at areas of social disadvantage but recent research by Rob Higham at the Institute of Education indicates their distribution does not reflect this aim. There is a distribution map of free schools on the DfE website.Some of these free schools already have problems – unqualified teachers, poor management – as Nick Clegg will point out in his speech on Thursday. Academies seem to display the same diversity of outcomes as the schools they replaced. If you live in a rural area you’re unlikely to have much, if any, choice of school.

Many States Show Shameful Records in Holding Schools Accountable for the Progress of Special Needs Students

Matthew Ladner:

The No Child Left Behind Act required student testing and reporting of data in return for continuing receipt of federal education dollars. The law however left granular details to the states, most of whom happily went about abusing them.
This chart is from a new study about the inclusion of special needs children in state testing regimes. As you can see from the third column, states held a glorious 35.4% of schools accountable for the academic performance of special needs children during the 2009-10 school year. This ranged from a glorious 100% in Connecticut and Utah to a sickening 7% in Arizona.
I have heard through the grapevine that addressing this national scandal has been a major point of emphasis in Arne Duncan’s waiver process. As someone who views this process skeptically overall and suspects that it is creating a mess that will be difficult to unwind, let me say bully for Duncan on this score.

Homely lessons from a Tiger Mum

Patti Waldmeir:

Cao Qing is home-schooling her 13-year-old son because, among other things, “he doesn’t like homework”.
In the land of the midnight homework project, the average teenager’s distaste for homework would not normally give Tiger Mum pause. Most Chinese children learn early to sacrifice playtime and sleeptime on the altar of schoolwork: kids who do not excel in primary school fail to get into the middle school that gets them into the high school that guarantees the right university entrance scores. School is a serious business in China, right from the beginning.
So who cares if the offspring hate homework? Is that not part of the human condition – not just in China, but around the world?
Ms Cao is one of an increasing number of Chinese parents who no longer think suffering is a necessary condition of academic success.
“The school gives too much homework,” she says, as an autumn breeze blows through the open patio door of the walk-up duplex flat she rents in a Shanghai suburb to use as a home-schooling base for her son, Zhou Yi. “Besides, he’s a boy, and boys like to play, they don’t like to sit still for a long time,” she says, adding: “They can’t just get all their knowledge from textbooks.” Our chat is obviously distracting the boy in question, who pops up from his studies at the nearby kitchen table and goes off to fondle the family’s newborn kitten and fetch his beetle collection for us to admire.

Bloomberg’s Education Plan Is Working: Don’t Ditch It

Paul Hill:

In October 2002, about nine months after Bloomberg took office, he and schools Chancellor Joel Klein unveiled “Children First: A New Agenda for Public Education.” Children First sought to increase the four-year high school graduation rates–which hovered around 50 percent–and preparedness for college. Because children from advantaged households already graduated at high rates, the only way to increase the number of graduates was to improve results for children who were at risk of never graduating. The only way to do that was to improve schools–high schools so students would be encouraged to take necessary courses and persevere to graduation, and elementary and middle schools so that students would enter high school ready to succeed. Children First also worked to rescue high school-age students who had already dropped out or fallen drastically behind. It did this by creating career and technical education schools that linked students to jobs, and “multiple pathways to graduation” that offered flexible schedules and concentrated learning opportunities so students could graduate.
Here’s an assessment of the results.
Graduation rates are up. When Bloomberg became mayor, less than half the students in New York City’s high schools graduated in four years. Today, nearly two-thirds graduate on time. Every year, 18,000 more young people graduate high school than would have been expected in 2002. The percentage of graduates who enter college without needing to take remedial courses has doubled since 2001.
From 2005 to 2012, the graduation rate for Asian students rose from 66.3 percent to 82.1 percent, for black students from 40.1 percent to 59.8 percent; for Hispanic students from 37.4 percent to 57.5 percent; and for white students from 64.0 percent to 78.1 percent.
The percentage of city students dropping out after entering high school fell from 22 percent in 2005 to 11.4 percent in 2012. The percentage receiving an Advanced Regents Diploma increased from 12.5 percent in 2005 to 16.6 percent in 2012.

School districts should regulate school choice, not compete with it

Doug Tuthill:

Florida’s Duval County School District is losing students to charter schools, and the district’s entrepreneurial superintendent, Nikolai Vitti, is fighting back.
But his efforts to regain lost market share raise an important question: Should districts place maximizing student enrollment over ensuring all children have access to the learning options that best meet their needs?
Most school boards and district superintendents want to maximize district enrollment, but this is not the best way to ensure student success. K-12 students today are incredibly diverse. School districts have never been able to meet the needs of all students, which is why parents are demanding more school choice options and flocking to charter schools, private schools, virtual schools, and homeschooling.
The Duval school district is the sixth largest in Florida and 22nd largest in the nation. Its enrollment has dropped from 126,873 in 2003-04 to 119,188 today, while enrollment of charter schools within the district has increased from 609 to 7,795 over the same period. Duval’s private schools now enroll more than 24,000 students.

At hearing of Missouri House committee, KC officials weigh in on education

Mara Rose Williams:

On the same day that state officials left Kansas City Public Schools unaccredited for now, Mayor Sly James and Superintendent Steve Green asked state lawmakers to support their efforts to improve education in the city.
At a public hearing before 18 members of the 22-member Missouri House Interim Committee on Education, the conversation ranged from a push for early childhood education to support for the mayor’s city-wide reading initiative. The potential transfer of students from unaccredited Kansas City schools to surrounding suburban districts also was discussed.
The committee, which is traveling the state hearing from educators and residents, said its plan is to put together a report on what people across Missouri say is needed to improve education and present it to other legislators.

Much more on the Kansas City schools, here.

N.Y. Education Dept.: 91.5% of teachers rated effective

Joseph Spector:

Nearly 92 percent of teachers were rated highly effective or effective in the first year of a new evaluation system, the state Education Department said Tuesday.
The highly controversial testing of teachers produced few poor grades, the state said. Just 1 percent was deemed ineffective, and 4 percent were characterized as developing.
The results are for 126,829 teachers outside New York City; 91.5 percent were deemed effective or highly effective.
The results come after the state released new student assessment scores as part of the Common Core program last summer that showed just 31 percent of New York students in elementary and middle schools were proficient in math and reading.
“The results are striking,” state Education Commissioner John King said in a statement. “The more accurate student proficiency rates on the new Common Core assessments did not negatively affect teacher ratings. It’s clear that teachers are rising to the challenge of teaching the Common Core.”

Local teachers unions hail judge’s ruling; many school districts not yet receiving new requests to bargain

Molly Beck:

Local teacher union officials say they are hopeful after Monday’s ruling by a Madison judge finding state labor commissioners in contempt of court for continuing to enforce collective bargaining restrictions he deemed unconstitutional last year.
Meanwhile, some area school districts are saying it’s too soon to tell if the ruling will produce new calls for negotiations.
“We are back to the point that unions and the people they represent have equal standing,” said John Matthews, executive director of Madison Teachers Inc., one of two plaintiffs that brought a lawsuit challenging Act 10, resulting in Dane County Circuit Judge Juan Colas’ 2012 decision.
The Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission had argued that decision applied just to the plaintiff unions. Colas said Monday the ruling applied statewide and the commission was purposefully ignoring it.
In Madison, teachers and the district just extended a contract through June 2015.

Wisconsin School District Redistributed State Tax Dollar Receipts

Matthew DeFour:

Public schools will receive $4.26 billion in general state aid this school year, up $87.5 million or 2.1 percent from last year, the Department of Public Instruction announced Wednesday.
The aid figures are a revision from those released Oct. 15. Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Sunday to increase aid by $100 million over two years. The bill did not include an increase in state-imposed limits on school district revenues, so school boards are expected to use the additional aid to lower property taxes.
The aid figures were marginally different than estimates released by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau last week as part of the discussion of the property tax relief bill. The Madison School District, for example, will receive $12,680 less than reported last week, a change of 0.02 percent.
Over all, Madison will get $52.2 million in state aid, a 10.7 percent decrease.

Madison received an increase of $11,800,000 in redistributed state tax dollars last year…

Madison Schools’ 2013-2014 Budget Charts, Documents, Links, Background & Missing Numbers.

Joint MTI/MMSD District Committees; MTI Survey

Madison Teachers, Inc (PDF), via a kind Jeanie (Bettner) Kamholtz email:

Several joint committees were created in the recent negotiations over MTI’s 2014-15 Teacher Collective Bargaining Agreement. The joint committees will study and potentially recommend modification of Contract terms. Each committee will report its recommendations, if any, to Superintendent Cheatham and to the MTI Board of Directors.
The Committee on Teacher Assignments will discuss potential modification of Contract Section IV-F, Teacher Assignments, Surplus, Vacancies and Transfers. MTI’s appointees are: Andy Mayhall (Thoreau), Nancy Roth (West), Karlton Porter (Cherokee) and Doug Keillor.
The Committee on Teacher Evaluation will study and make recommendations pertaining to the District’s implementation of the State-mandated teacher evaluation system, “Educator Effectiveness”. Any revisions will be incorporated into Section IV-H of the Teacher Collective Bargaining Agreement and will become effective July 1, 2014. MTI’s appointees are: MTI President Peggy Coyne (Black Hawk), Andrew McCuaig (La Follette), Kerry Motoviloff (Doyle) and Sara Bringman.
The Committee on Professional Collaboration Time will discuss implementation of the MTI/MMSD Memorandum of Understanding on High School & Middle School Professional Collaboration Time. MTI’s appointees are: Art Camosy (Memorial), Karen Vieth (Sennett), Aisha Robertson (West), and Nichole Von Haden (Sherman).
The Committee on Elementary Planning Time will discuss potential modification of Section V-I-1-d, Early Monday Release and Section V-P, Planning Time. MTI’s appointees are: Nancy Curtin (Crestwood), Greg Vallee (Thoreau), Holly Hansen (Falk) and Doug Keillor.

Language-Gap Study Bolsters a Push for Pre-K

Motoko Rich (NYT)
Nearly two decades ago, a landmark study found that by age 3, the children of wealthier professionals have heard words millions more times than those of less educated parents, giving them a distinct advantage in school and suggesting the need for increased investment in prekindergarten programs.
Now a follow-up study has found a language gap as early as 18 months, heightening the policy debate.
The new research by Anne Fernald, a psychologist at Stanford University, which was published in Developmental Science this year, showed that at 18 months children from wealthier homes could identify pictures of simple words they knew — “dog” or “ball” — much faster than children from low-income families. By age 2, the study found, affluent children had learned 30 percent more words in the intervening months than the children from low-income homes.
The new findings, although based on a small sample, reinforced the earlier research showing that because professional parents speak so much more to their children, the children hear 30 million more words by age 3 than children from low-income households, early literacy experts, preschool directors and pediatricians said. In the new study, the children of affluent households came from communities where the median income per capita was $69,000; the low-income children came from communities with a median income per capita of $23,900.
Since oral language and vocabulary are so connected to reading comprehension, the most disadvantaged children face increased challenges once they enter school and start learning to read.
“That gap just gets bigger and bigger,” said Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund, an advocate of early education for low-income children. “That gap is very real and very hard to undo.”

The Secrets to Creating a Positive School Culture

Eric Sheninger:

If someone would have asked me this question a few years ago I honestly would not have had a good answer. I always thought a positive school culture was one where strict rules were created and consistently enforced to keep students focused on learning. In my mind, the more I could control the environment that my students were a part of the better the results. There was not much flexibility in terms of the structure of the day and what students were “allowed” to do. The end result was either compliance or outright defiance. Those who were compliant were celebrated while those who were defiant were disciplined accordingly.

George Washington University Has for Years Claimed to be ‘Need-Blind.’ It’s Not.

Marian Wang:

George Washington University — which got in trouble last year for misreporting admissions data to bolster its college ranking — is making yet another confession.
The university has been misrepresenting its admissions and financial-aid policy for years, touting a “need-blind” admissions policy while in fact giving preference to wealthier students in the final stages of the admissions process, according to the student newspaper, the GW Hatchet, which first reported on the practice. Meanwhile, hundreds of academically comparable but needier students were put on the waitlist for admission because they lacked the financial resources.
Many colleges and universities like to tout “need-blind” admissions processes, or the practice of judging their applicants’ academic qualifications strictly on their merits and making decisions without factoring in applicants’ wealth. In recent years, some colleges that have traditionally been need-blind have weighed whether to become more need-aware.
Until a few days ago, the undergraduate admissions page for George Washington University stated, “Requests for financial aid do not affect admissions decisions.” That language was removed over the weekend. (Here’s the archived version.)

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Dr Hunt explains the great monetary experiment. It will be historic, no matter

Lacy Hunt:

The Fed’s capabilities to engineer changes in economic growth and inflation are asymmetric. It has been historically documented that central bank tools are well suited to fight excess demand and rampant inflation; the Fed showed great resolve in containing the fast price increases in the aftermath of World Wars I and II and the Korean War. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, rampant inflation was again brought under control by a determined and persistent Federal Reserve.
However, when an economy is excessively over-indebted and disinflationary factors force central banks to cut overnight interest rates to as close to zero as possible, central bank policy is powerless to further move inflation or growth metrics. The periods between 1927 and 1939 in the U.S. (and elsewhere), and from 1989 to the present in Japan, are clear examples of the impotence of central bank policy actions during periods of over-indebtedness.
Four considerations suggest the Fed will continue to be unsuccessful in engineering increasing growth and higher inflation with their continuation of the current program of Large Scale Asset Purchases (LSAP)

Students reaching for ADHD drugs to deal with academic stress

James Bradshaw:

The pressure of the year’s first exam-and-essay crunch is driving some students at Canadian universities to look for help in study drugs. A dealer might charge $20 for a single pill of the prescription Adderall, but students under stress are willing to pay.
A few weeks ago, before midterm season, that same pill might have cost $5. Students who have used a range of medications commonly prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, say they can help casual users focus for hours, study stacks of material or write papers through the night without fatigue.
Nearly 4 per cent of students who have no medical need for the drugs take them to cope with academic demands, despite risks to their health, according to a major national study released this year. Many buy them from friends or classmates with legitimate prescriptions. Schools are aware of the problem – and the ethical questions – but have few tools to combat it.
The Globe and Mail asked student journalists across the country to probe the use of study drugs on their campus. In more than 20 interviews, students said they turned to the drugs, often before exams, because they had too many non-academic commitments or felt anxious to get good marks to be accepted to graduate school. Others confessed that they had procrastinated. Nearly every one said the drugs gave them a clear boost. The Globe contacted the students to verify the interviews. All of them declined to be identified on the record, out of concern about harming their academic or job prospects.

Teach for America rises as political powerhouse

Stephanie Simon:

Teach for America is best known for sending bright young college graduates to teach for two years in poor communities.
But it’s much more than a service organization. It’s a political powerhouse.
With a $100 million endowment and annual revenues approaching $300 million, TFA is flush with cash and ambition. Its clout on Capitol Hill was demonstrated last week when a bipartisan group of lawmakers made time during the frenzied budget negotiations to secure the nonprofit its top legislative priority — the renewal of a controversial provision defining teachers still in training, including TFA recruits, as “highly qualified” to take charge of classrooms.
It was a huge victory that flattened a coalition of big-name opponents, including the NAACP, the National PTA and the National Education Association. But it barely hints at TFA’s growing leverage.
TFA has already produced an astounding number of alumni who have transformed the education landscape in states from Tennessee to Texas by opening public schools to competition from private entrepreneurs; rating teachers in part on their ability to raise student test scores; and pressing to eliminate tenure and seniority-based job protections. Convinced that quicker, bolder change is needed, TFA executives are mining their network of 32,000 alumni to identify promising leaders and help them advance.

The Most Basic Freedom Is Freedom to Quit Schools will become moral institutions only when children are free to quit.

Peter Gray:

We like to think of human rights in affirmative terms, so we speak most often of our rights to move toward what we want: our rights to vote, assemble freely, speak freely, and choose our own paths to happiness. My contention here, however, is that the most basic right–the right that makes all other rights possible–is the right to quit.
Quitting often has negative connotations in our minds. We grow up hearing things like, “Quitters never win, winners never quit.” We’re supposed to stick things out, no matter how tough the going. I rather like this variation, which I heard somewhere: “Quitters never win, winners never quit, but those who never win and never quit are idiots.”
If we move our minds out of the quagmire of competition (indeed, we can’t win tennis matches by quitting) and think of life’s broader goals–the goals of surviving, avoiding injury, finding happiness, and living in accordance with our personal values among people whom we respect and who respect us–then we see that freedom to quit is essential to all of these goals. I am talking here about the freedom to walk away from people and situations that are harmful to our wellbeing.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Maps of Economic Disaster

Robert Oak:

America has a problem, a big one, the middle class has been wiped out. It is economic genocide and the target is most of America. The statistics just continue to pour in on how poorly America is doing. Even as the great manufactured crisis is over in D.C., the political agenda once again has nothing to do with helping America’s middle class. Why jobs are not job #1 by this government we do not know. To drive home just how bad it is below we show some damning maps.
The Southern Education Foundation has a new report showing the percentage of low income students in public schools from 2011. In 2010 and 2011 there was a new record set, the majority of kids in public schools in the West are poor. Below is their map showing in the South and West, the majority of students are low income. In other words, America is now raising a nation of poverty stricken kids.

An Industry of Mediocrity “”Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. And those who can’t teach, teach teaching.”

Bill Keller, via a kind Peter Gascoyne email:

WHOEVER coined that caustic aphorism should have been in a Harlem classroom last week where Bill Jackson was demonstrating an exception to the rule. Jackson, a 31-year classroom veteran, was teaching the mathematics of ratios to a group of inner-city seventh graders while 15 young teachers watched attentively. Starting with a recipe for steak sauce — three parts ketchup to two parts Worcestershire sauce — Jackson patiently coaxed his kids toward little math epiphanies, never dictating answers, leaving long silences for the children to fill. “Denzel, do you agree with Katelyn’s solution?” the teacher asked. And: “Can you explain to your friend why you think Kevin is right?” He rarely called on the first hand up, because that would let the other students off the hook. Sometimes the student summoned to the whiteboard was the kid who had gotten the wrong answer: the class pitched in to help her correct it, then gave her a round of applause.
After an hour the kids filed out and the teachers circled their desks for a debriefing. Despite his status as a master teacher, Jackson seemed as eager to hone his own craft as that of his colleagues. What worked? What missed the mark? Should we break this into two lessons? Did the kids get it? And what does that mean?
“Does ‘get it’ mean getting an answer?” Jackson asked. “Or does it mean really understanding what’s going on?”
At that point Deborah Kenny, the founder of the Harlem Village Academies charter schools, leaned over to me: “That right there, that is why we’re starting a graduate school.”

Related: Teacher prep ratings.

The Counterreformation in Higher Education

Christopher Newfield:

AMERICANS WHO WONDER what the heck is happening to their public colleges can find answers in the British case. While American educational and political leaders deny the negative outcomes of the actions they barely admit to be taking, the United Kingdom’s Tory government has offered explicit rationales for the most fundamental restructuring of a university system in modern history. The stakes are very high. Both countries have been downgrading their mass higher education systems by shrinking enrollments, reducing funding for educational quality, increasing inequality between premier and lower-tier universities, or all three at once.
Oddly, policymakers are doing this in the full knowledge that mass access to high-quality public universities remains the cornerstone of high-income economies and complex societies. The public has a right to know what politicians and business leaders are really doing to their higher education systems, why they are doing it, and how to respond.

How Washington Really Redistributes Income The renowned money manager goes back to school to explain how entitlements are helping the Baby Boomers rip off future generations.

James Freeman:

Stan Druckenmiller makes an unlikely class warrior. He’s a member of the 1%–make that the 0.001%–one of the most successful money managers of all time, and 60 years old to boot. But lately he has been touring college campuses promoting a message of income redistribution you don’t hear out of Washington. It’s how federal entitlements like Medicare and Social Security are letting Mr. Druckenmiller’s generation rip off all those doting Barack Obama voters in Generation X, Y and Z.
“I have been shocked at the reception. I had planned to only visit Bowdoin, ” his alma mater in Maine, he says. But he has since been invited to multiple campuses, and even the kids at Stanford and Berkeley have welcomed his theme of generational theft. Harlem Children’s Zone President Geoffrey Canada and former Federal Reserve Governor Kevin Warsh have joined him at stops along the tour.
Mr. Druckenmiller describes the reaction of students: “The biggest question I got was, ‘How do we start a movement?’ And my answer was ‘I’m a 60-year-old washed-up money manager. I don’t know how to start a movement. That’s your job. But we did it in Vietnam without Twitter and without Facebook and without any social media. That’s your job.’ But the enthusiasm–they get it.”
Even at Berkeley, he says, “they got it. There is tremendous energy in the room and of course they understand it. I’d say it’s a combination of appalled but motivated. That’s the response I’ve been getting, and it’s been overwhelming.”

Why Are Hundreds of Harvard Students Studying Ancient Chinese Philosophy?

Christine Gross-Loh:

Picture a world where human relationships are challenging, narcissism and self-centeredness are on the rise, and there is disagreement on the best way for people to live harmoniously together.
It sounds like 21st-century America. But the society that Michael Puett, a tall, 48-year-old bespectacled professor of Chinese history at Harvard University, is describing to more than 700 rapt undergraduates is China, 2,500 years ago.
Puett’s course Classical Chinese Ethical and Political Theory has become the third most popular course at the university. The only classes with higher enrollment are Intro to Economics and Intro to Computer Science. The second time Puett offered it, in 2007, so many students crowded into the assigned room that they were sitting on the stairs and stage and spilling out into the hallway. Harvard moved the class to Sanders Theater, the biggest venue on campus.
Why are so many undergraduates spending a semester poring over abstruse Chinese philosophy by scholars who lived thousands of years ago? For one thing, the class fulfills one of Harvard’s more challenging core requirements, Ethical Reasoning. It’s clear, though, that students are also lured in by Puett’s bold promise: “This course will change your life.”

The Smartest Kids In The World: 50 Brilliant Students That Model A Love For Learning


There have always been some pretty smart–make that incredibly smart–teenagers around.
Take, for example, the French mathematician Evariste Galois (1811-1832; at left), who invented the field of abstract algebra known as group theory while still in his teens. This branch of mathematics lies at the heart of modern quantum mechanics, among other things.
Galois may have been brilliant, but he was no nerd: He died in a duel over a love affair at the tender age of 21! So, teen geniuses are nothing new. However, it does seem like there are more of them around today than ever before.
Some of them are inventors; some, like Galois, solve difficult mathematical problems; some are brilliant artists, performers, or entrepreneurs; and some have encyclopedic knowledge, speak multiple languages, or can correctly spell any word.
They are all smart. Very smart. Smart way beyond their years. So, how do we measure intelligence? The most popular measure for intelligence is the Stanford-Binet IQ test offered through Mensa International, an organization for high-IQ people. An average IQ score is 85-114; 144 or above is considered genius-level. Yet, some people have intelligence and gifts that defy or go beyond a test score.
At first glance, it’s pretty hard to recognize the smartest teenagers. Just like fruit and other gifts of nature, we can’t (and shouldn’t) judge that proverbial book by its cover. You’ll recognize the diversity among these 50 smart teenagers and find very little in common among them in terms of physical characteristics, locations, background, etc.

What is the difference between ‘lie,’ ‘deceive’ and ‘mislead’?

Oxford University:

The University of Oxford is today releasing a set of sample interview questions from tutors who conduct Oxford interviews, in an attempt to explain the reasoning behind even the most strange-sounding questions.
The questions have been released to mark the deadline day for students to apply to study at Oxford University next year. Students applying for biological sciences might be asked whether it is easier for an organism to live on sea or land, history applicants might be asked which historical figure they would like to interview and why, while aspiring philosophers might be asked to distinguish between ‘lie’, ‘deceive’ and ‘mislead’.
‘When considering an application to Oxford, we look very carefully at GCSE results, aptitude test scores, personal statement, teacher’s reference and interview performance, and we know that for many students the interview is the most daunting part of the process,’ says Mike Nicholson, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at Oxford University. ‘Academic interviews will be an entirely new experience for most students, so we want to show students what they are really like so they aren’t put off by what they might have heard.
‘Interviews are designed to give candidates a chance to show their real ability and potential, which means candidates will be pushed to use their knowledge and apply their thinking to new problems in ways that will both challenge them and allow them to shine. Interviews are an academic conversation in a subject area between tutors and candidate, similar to the undergraduate tutorials which current Oxford students attend every week. Like tutorials, interviews are designed to get students to think, not recite specific facts or answers.’

Rich People Love Diversity, Until They Have Kids

Jessica Gross:

Since the suburban boom of the post-World War II era, parents of means have moved from cities to affluent areas with better schools. Despite what facile style section pieces tell you, this has long been a trend. But a new analysis of census data featured in the Wall Street Journal shows that wealthy people with kids are now twice as likely to segregate themselves from the poor than they were in the 1970s. Conversely, poor families now cluster together as well.
According to an analysis of census data by Kendra Bischoff of Cornell University and Sean Reardon at Stanford University, the proportion of families living in affluent areas doubled from 1970 to 2009–it went from 7 to 15 percent. At the same time, the percentage of families living in poor areas also more than doubled–it went from 8-18 percent.
So what’s going on here? Why are more affluent Americans with children clustering together now than they did in the ’70s? Presumably wealthy people have always wanted their kids to live in areas that had good public schools and low crime rates–what’s changed?
I asked my former colleague Tim Noah, contributing writer for MSNBC and the author of The Great Divergence: America’s Growing Inequality Crisis and What We Can Do About It, why he thinks more wealthy families are now living in affluent communities than they did 40 years ago. He wrote in an email:

Parents are turning increasingly to agencies for baby sex selection

Christy Choi:

With the faint whiff of eugenics about it, the act of choosing the sex of your baby may be anathema to many people.
But increasing numbers of Hong Kong and mainland parents are getting around laws which ban the procedure at home by hiring the services of middlemen to smooth the way – at a price.
These facilitator businesses partner with clinics and hospitals in places like Thailand and the United States, where an IVF procedure can cost anything from HK$250,000 to HK$2.3 million.
“We have people who want a boy and a girl at the first go,” says 32-year-old Tina Fong Wai-lan, who runs Eden Hospitality with her husband Alfred Siu Wing-fung. Set up in 2008, it has arranged for more than 300 couples to go overseas on IVF and sex selection packages. “If it’s the first time they’re having children, the [Chinese] government won’t penalise them,” she said. Others look to even out the sex balance in their families.
Business has spiked with their client base tripling to 300 in the past year – about 70 per cent from the mainland and the rest from Hong Kong. The increase could be partly due to an advertising strategy which offers marriage packages alongside baby sex selection services.

The ‘Universal Pre-K’ Fallacy Free school for 4-year-olds? Sounds great. Too bad it is of no educational value and the cost would be staggering.

Rec Jahncke:

Universal pre-kindergarten schooling, every progressive’s fondest dream, is back in the news. Bill de Blasio, the overwhelming favorite in the New York mayoral race and the likely future head of the nation’s largest school system, is pushing universal pre-K as his No. 1 policy proposal. President Obama offered a national version of this idea in his February State of the Union address and has since pushed hard in other settings. Two problems: Such programs would have negligible educational value, and they would be massively expensive.
Mr. de Blasio wants to raise taxes on the city’s rich to collect $530 million annually mostly to fund full-day pre-K. The money would go for 68,000 lower-income New York City children, most of whom already attend publicly funded pre-K either full- (20,000) or part-time (38,000) at a current annual cost of about $190 million. Mr. de Blasio’s proposal means nearly tripling the annual cost for roughly the same group of children.
“Universal” is a misnomer. since Mr. de Blasio’s program would serve only lower-income kids out of a total New York population of about 120,000 four-year-olds. Perhaps, by saying “universal,” Mr. de Blasio intends to rally public support with something seemingly equally available to all. Mr. Obama takes a similar tack, offering the combination of a lofty “universal pre-K” vision with a more limited and targeted program in practice. Yet his program would also cost tens of billions of dollars.

Commentary on the Common Core & Madison Schools

Madison School Board President Ed Hughes:

As I hope someone might have noticed, I have not been posting much lately. Part of the reason is that I have another outlet. I have been writing a column in the school district’s bi-weekly family newsletter.
My latest column focused on a recent School Board retreat where we learned more about the Common Core State Standards. Even though the family newsletter is a district publication, I should point out that the views I express in the column (as well as in this blog) are my own and do not necessarily represent the views, positions or policies of the Madison Metropolitan School District. But however unofficial my words may be, here is what I wrote:
On Saturday, September 28, the Madison School Board held the first of our quarterly board retreats. We get together on a Saturday for an extended discussion of a few topics of particular interest. Our focus this time was on the much-misunderstood Common Core academic standards for literacy and math.

On Mary Burke, the Rejected Madison Preparatory IB Charter School, The School Board and Running for Governor

Madison School Board President Ed Hughes:

Mary Burke’s past activities are coming under increased scrutiny now that she is an active candidate for governor. Mary has generously supported different educational initiatives for many years. Her primary focus has been the AVID/TOPS partnership between the Madison School District and the Boys and Girls Club. But her pledge of support for the Madison Prep charter school proposal has drawn the most attention. Since I was more involved in the Madison Prep saga than most, I thought it might be helpful if I provided a summary of what I know about Mary’s involvement.
In December, 2010, the Urban League of Greater Madison presented an initial proposal to the Madison School Board to establish a charter school called Madison Prep. The Urban League described the school as “a catalyst for change and opportunity among young men, particularly young men of color.” The school was intended to inculcate a culture of hard-work and achievement among its students through a host of practices, including single-sex classrooms, an International Baccalaureate curriculum, longer school days and school years, intensive mentoring, and obligatory parental involvement.
Madison Prep was controversial from the start and the initial proposal was adjusted in response to various concerns. By the fall of 2011, Madison Prep was planned to be an instrumentality charter school, like our existing charter schools Nuestro Mundo and Badger Rock. As an instrumentality, all teachers and staff would have been union members.

Burke’s candidacy will bring additional statewide attention (and rhetoric) to the Madison schools, particularly its challenges. It will be interesting to see what, if anything Mary Burke says about her time on the local school board.

Where Are The Boomers Headed? Not Back To The City.

Joel Kotkin:

Perhaps no urban legend has played as long and loudly as the notion that “empty nesters” are abandoning their dull lives in the suburbs for the excitement of inner city living. This meme has been most recently celebrated in the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal.
Both stories, citing research by the real estate brokerage Redfin, maintained that over the last decade a net 1 million boomers (born born between 1945 and 1964) have moved into the city core from the surrounding area. “Aging boomers,” the Post gushed, now “opt for the city life.” It’s enough to warm the cockles of a downtown real-estate speculator’s heart, and perhaps nudge some subsidies from city officials anxious to secure their downtown dreams.
But there’s a problem here: a look at Census data shows the story is based on flawed analysis, something that the Journal subsequently acknowledged. Indeed, our number-crunching shows that rather than flocking into cities, there were roughly a million fewer boomers in 2010 within a five-mile radius of the centers of the nation’s 51 largest metro areas compared to a decade earlier.
If boomers change residences, they tend to move further from the core, and particularly to less dense places outside metropolitan areas. Looking at the 51 metropolitan areas with more than a million residents, areas within five miles of the center lost 17% of their boomers over the past decade, while the balance of the metropolitan areas, predominately suburbs, only lost 2%. In contrast places outside the 51 metro areas actually gained boomers.
Only one city, Miami, recorded a net gain in the boomer population within five miles of the center, roughly 1%. Much ballyhooed back to city markets including Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco suffered double-digit percentage losses within the five-mile zone.

A Future With Only 10 Universities (Minding the Future, #OpenVA)

Audre Watters:

Here are the notes from the brief 10-minute talk I gave yesterday at the University of Mary Washington at a “conference before the conference” (Namely: OpenVA). I was part of an afternoon-long event called “Minding the Future,” that brought together a number of educators and technologists. (Namely: Kin Lane, Gardner Campbell, David Wiley, Alan Levine, and myself). We each spoke for 10 minutes about our thoughts on the future of higher education, then took 20 minutes of questions. And at the end of the evening, we sat on a panel, taking questions from Jeff McClurken and the audience. Video and slides are also embedded below.

Wisconsin’s Common Core education standards face public, GOP scrutiny

Jon Swedien:

Tom Larson is one of the legislators responsible for reviewing the set of academic standards for public schools in Wisconsin, yet the rural Colfax assemblyman admitted last week that he was still trying to catch up with the arguments swirling around the “Common Core.”
In 2010, state schools Superintendent Tony Evers voluntarily agreed to adopt the Common Core State Standards, which cover math and English and promote literacy in history/social studies, science and technical subjects for students from kindergarten through high school. According to the Common Core website, the standards also define a vision of what it means to be a literate person in the 21st century.
On paper, that all sounds good, but, in the real world, the Common Core standards have sparked a firestorm of controversy in the Badger State and elsewhere.
Speaking Monday before a group of local education officials in Eau Claire, Larson said he had been selected as one of nine representatives to sit on the Assembly Select Committee on Common Core Standards.

Related: the oft criticized WKCE.

Are Private Schools Worth It?

Julia Ryan:

Sarah Theule Lubienski didn’t set out to compare public schools and private schools. A professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she was studying math instructional techniques when she discovered something surprising: Private schools–long assumed to be educationally superior–were underperforming public schools.
She called her husband, Christopher A. Lubienski, also a professor at the university. “I said, ‘This is a really weird thing,’ and I checked it and double checked it,” she remembers. The couple decided to take on a project that would ultimately disprove decades of assumptions about private and public education.
Studying the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, they have found that, when controlling for demographic factors, public schools are doing a better job academically than private schools. It seems that private school students have higher scores because they come from more affluent backgrounds, not because the schools they attend are better educational institutions. They write about these conclusions–and explain how they came to them–in their book, The Public School Advantage: Why Public Schools Outperform Private Schools. Here’s an interview with the Lubienskis about their work, edited and condensed for clarity and length.

Can the art of letter writing survive

Andrew Hill:

For more than 200 years from its beginnings in the 1770s, the Dead Letter Office was where Americans’ letters and parcels were sent if they were unclaimed or undeliverable. Some items were redirected: the DLO had a “blind reading” department trained to decipher illegible or vague addresses (“To my Son he lives out West he drives a red ox the rale rode goes By Thar”).
The office would incinerate the others or auction their contents, which included, according to one sale list, anything from wedding rings to “False Bosoms” and quack medicines, such as “the cure-all Tennessee Swamp Shrub”. It was estimated that 6bn pieces of mail were posted in the US in 1898, of which 6.3m ended up at the DLO in Washington, DC. “What romance was to be had in an undelivered or undeliverable letter!” Simon Garfield writes in To The Letter. “And what mystery and sadness too.”
Well, the romance and mystery have certainly gone. The US Postal Service has renamed the DLO the Mail Recovery Center, consolidated four locations into one in Atlanta, Georgia, and is pushing through a “Lean Six Sigma” process improvement project to make it more efficient. Asked if they write letters, most people would echo the DLO’s famous fictional former clerk Bartleby in the Herman Melville story: “I would prefer not to.”
Plainly, instant electronic means of communication – email, of course, but increasingly social media such as Twitter and Facebook – have pushed pen, paper and postboxes to the edge of most private correspondents’ consciousness. It may be nice to think that investors’ enthusiasm for this month’s public offering of shares in Britain’s Royal Mail, the world’s oldest postal service, is based on a revival of letter writing, “the humane art, which owes its origins to the love of friends”, in Virginia’s Woolf’s words. In fact, Royal Mail’s daily postbag is at its lowest for 20 years, and it predicts the volume of letters – most of which are for business and marketing – will fall at up to 6 per cent a year. The Royal Mail’s future lies in delivery of items ordered on the internet. Even Postman Pat, the children’s cartoon character, has had to amend his theme tune to reflect the fact he now brings more “parcels through your door” than letters.

Commentary on The Milwaukee Public Schools’ Empty Buildings

Alan Borsuk:

And if there’s a happy future in the whole MPS buildings issue, it’s unlikely to lie in vacant buildings. It lies in doing something different with current schools that chronically get poor results. What if those buildings housed something much better? Keep watch to see if there is fresh action on that front, including offering some to charter schools.
The specific factors around the Malcolm X matter are one reason for the big fight now. But the bigger reason, in my view, is the continuing failure by, oh, close to everybody to get past those sharp divisions among us and to take actions that best serve the largest number of kids by creating the largest number of quality schools.

Minneapolis Property Taxes are over 50% less than Madison’s on a Similar Home; Mayoral Election Education Commentary

Beth Hawkins:

A cynic would be forgiven for wondering whether the press conference Minneapolis mayoral candidate Mark Andrew held Monday afternoon, flanked by five members of the school board, was at least partly an exercise in damage control.
At the session, held in the library at Windom Dual Immersion School in southwest Minneapolis, Andrew announced a three-pronged education agenda. At its center: a promise to convene a collaborative headed by education advocates with divergent philosophies, Mike Ciresi and Louise Sundin.
“The conversation about improving educational outcomes for kids of color has gotten extremely polarized and increasingly heated in the past several years,” Andrew explained in the plan. “The reformers vs. unions dichotomy is unproductive, and doesn’t serve the best interests of our children or find Minneapolis solutions to the problems in Minneapolis’ schools.”

Minneapolis plans to spend $524,944,868 (PDF budget book) during the 2013-2014 school year for 34,148 students or 15,364 per student, about the same as Madison.
Yet, property taxes are substantially lower in Minneapolis where a home currently on the market for $279,900 has a 2013 property tax bill of $3,433. A $230,000 Madison home pays $5,408.38 while a comparable Middleton home pays $4,648.18 in property taxes. Madison plans to increase property taxes 4.5% this year, after a 9% increase two years ago, despite a substantial increase in redistributed state tax dollar receipts. Yet, such history is often ignored during local tax & spending discussions. Madison Superintendent Cheatham offers a single data point response to local tax & spending policy, failing to mention the substantial increase in state tax receipts the year before:

When we started our budget process, we received the largest possible cut in state aid, over $8 million,” Cheatham said. “I’m pleased that this funding will make up a portion of that cut and help us accomplish what has been one of our goals all along: to reduce the impact of a large cut in state aid on our taxpayers.”

A bit more background.

K-12 Tax & Spending Climate: Where even the middle class can’t afford to live

Emily Badger:

High-cost cities tend to have higher median incomes, which leads to the simple heuristic that, sure, it’s costlier to live in San Francisco than in Akron, but the people who pay bills there make enough money that they can afford it.
In reality, yes, the median household income in metropolitan San Francisco is higher than it is in Akron (by about $30,000). But that smaller income will buy you much, much more in Ohio. To be more specific, if you make the median income in Akron – a good proxy for a spot in the local middle class – 86 percent of the homes on the market there this month are likely within your budget.
If you’re middle-class in San Francisco, on the other hand, that figure is just 14 percent. Your money will buy you no more than 1,000 square feet on average. That property likely isn’t located where you’d like to live. And the options available to you on the market are even fewer than they were just a year ago, according to data crunched by Trulia. To frame this another way, the median income in metro San Francisco is about 60 percent higher than it is in Akron. But the median for-sale housing price per square foot today is about 700 percenthigher.

Iowa Regents to study university performance-based funding

Des Moines Register:

Funding the state’s public universities based on performance will be examined by an Iowa Board of Regents task force on Friday.
The task force will study how state dollars are awarded to Iowa’s universities, and determine what metrics should be used to measure performance. The regents board governs the state’s universities.
Across the country, some state legislators have sought to hold public universities accountable for better performance. In Tennessee, 100 percent of higher education funding is based on a variety of performance measures, including graduation rates.

Some data on education, religiosity, ideology, and science comprehension

Dan Kahan:

Because the “asymmetry thesis” just won’t leave me alone, I decided it would be sort of interesting to see what the relationship was between a “science comprehension” scale I’ve been developing and political outlooks.
The “science comprehension” measure is a composite of 11 items from the National Science Foundation’s “Science Indicators” battery, the standard measure of “science literacy” used in public opinion studies (including comparative ones), plus 10 items from an extended version of the Cognitive Reflection Test, which is normally considered the best measure of the disposition to engage in conscious, effortful information processing (“System 2”) as opposed to intuitive, heuristic processing (“System 1”).
The items scale well together (α= 0.81) and can be understood to measure a disposition that combines substantive science knowledge with a disposition to use critical reasoning skills of the sort necessary to make valid inferences from observation. We used a version of a scale like this–one combining the NSF science literacy battery with numeracy–in our study of how science comprehension magnifies cultural polarization over climate change and nuclear power.

Number of homeless children in Madison schools continues steep climb

Pat Schneider:

That’s the number of students in the Madison Metropolitan School District identified as homeless seven weeks into the 2013-14 school year. The count is on a pace to continue record-setting numbers of homeless children over the past decade, say school officials.
The number of homeless children and youth in the school district has climbed more than 2-1/2 times since the 2004-2005 school year, from 485 to 1,263 in the 2012-2013 school year, according to district statistics.
“We’re learning more and more that the trauma created by having to go through homelessness stays with them the rest of their lives,” Amy Noble, a social worker with the school district, told participants at Homelessness in Dane County, a summit hosted Tuesday by Leadership Greater Madison.
The number of students in families who are homeless rises over the course of the school year as families lose housing and students’ circumstances are recognized by school personnel. The count, under federal law, includes children whose families are doubled up for economic reasons, a common circumstance for low-income families not included in most other calculations of the homeless population.

China’s Cram School from Hell

Rachel Lu:

Students taking China’s hypercompetitive college entrance exam, according to a popular saying, resemble an army of 10,000 rushing across a narrow log. So what happens to those who fall off?
Each year, more than 9 million Chinese students endure the gaokao, as the exam is known. A grueling two or three days’ experience — it varies by region — the test covers Chinese, mathematics, a foreign language, chemistry, physics, geography, and history, among other subjects. The test results, which range from the 200s to the 600s (scores of over 700 sometimes make headlines), comprise almost the entirety of a student’s college application portfolio. While some of the multiple-choice questions would be familiar to U.S. teenagers sweating over Advanced Placement exams, gaokao essay prompts are sometimes so bizarre that even Chinese state media challenged its mostly adult readers to answer some of the more notorious essay prompts, such as this one: “It flies upward, and a voice asks if it is tired. It says, ‘No.'”
Because Chinese parents often expect their children to become family breadwinners, the pressure to perform is intense. Faced with the gaokao’s high stakes and frustrating unpredictability, tens of thousands of test takers choose to sit through the ordeal again, when their scores fall short of their — or their parents’ — expectations. Having already graduated from high school, some of these re-takers hunker down at home for a year to study. Others attend cram schools like Maotanchang High School, which lies tucked away in a small town in the mountains of central China’s Anhui province and specializes in the dark art of military-style test prep. With an annual enrollment of more than 10,000 students, the school, known as Maozhong, has earned the dubious honor of being called “China’s Largest Gaokao Factory” in Chinese state media.

New Wolfram Problem Generator

Wolfram Alpha:

We are proud to announce Wolfram Problem Generator, a website where students decide which topic they want to practice and we provide the questions and solutions. This is an exciting new way to help students with their classes: previously, students provided their own practice questions and Wolfram|Alpha helped them find answers with Step-by-step solutions. Students can now ask Wolfram|Alpha for help with practice and homework questions and can do practice problems with Wolfram Problem Generator.
Currently, there are six main topics that Wolfram Problem Generator covers: arithmetic, number theory, algebra, calculus, linear algebra, and statistics. The topics range from early elementary school all the way through college calculus. Moreover, for elementary and secondary education material, we are closely following the Common Core Standards initiative to provide a comprehensive list of topics.

Michael Gove: governments must stop lying to children about life chances Education secretary says ‘inflated’ GCSE figures were used in past to tell pupils they could go to university or get skilled work

Richard Adams:

The education secretary, Michael Gove, has urged politicians to stop “lying to children” about their life chances and allowing inflated exam grades that he compared to Soviet tractor production propaganda.
“For years, ministers in previous governments looked at the way more and more people were getting GCSEs and they congratulated themselves, like Soviet economics ministers on the growth in statistics,” Gove a US summit on education reform on Thursday night.
Slipping into a mock Russian accent and syntax, Gove said: “Look in Russia, thousands more get GCSEs. Surely now we are education powerhouse?”

Rebooting Our Brains

Gillian Tett:

A few years ago John Donoghue, professor of neuroscience at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, met Cathy Hutchinson, a young woman who was suffering from locked-in syndrome following a stroke. Until recently, this would have condemned her to a life of helplessness and hopelessness: locked-in syndrome means that somebody cannot move their limbs, even if their brains are functioning normally (as Jean-Dominique Bauby described so movingly in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).
But Hutchinson had a dream: she longed to drink a cup of coffee on her own, in one vestige of normality. And Donoghue was convinced he could help. Over the past few years, he has run a project called Braingate that combines the latest advances in computing science, engineering and mathematics with neuroscience, to map the connections inside the brain – and replicate them on a computer.
More specifically, this project uses the impulses that our brains send whenever the body makes a movement – or even just thinks about a movement – to activate a robot, via a computer.

Why the Hell Are We Teaching Excel To 11 Year Olds?

Josh Orr:

So my daughter’s computer class has progressed now from typing Word documents to Excel spreadsheets. What the hell does a 6th grader need with Excel? Is she realistically going to balance her piggy bank with a complicated spread sheet formula? Or is that meant to inspire her to enter the Future Excel Drones of America(c) club?
When I was in 6th grade I was learning HyperCard. We were animating stick figures and making choose your own adventure decks. You know, the kind of things that are appropriate for a 6th grader. In the process the groundwork was laid for my programming career.

Study Finds Gains From Teacher Evaluations

David Leonhardt:

The education research of recent years has pointed overwhelmingly to the importance of teachers. Perhaps more than anything else – quality of principal, size of school, size of class – the strength or weakness of classroom teachers influences how much students learn and even how they fare later in life.
The great unknown is how to improve teacher quality, be it by attracting more good teachers, weeding out more bad teachers or helping teachers become better at their craft.
A new study released on Thursday, offers powerful if still tentative evidence that teacher-evaluation programs can play an important role. The study is especially notable because past research about evaluation programs suggested they had little effect. The new paper, however, studies an evaluation program – called Impact, in the District of Columbia school system – that is far larger, with bigger rewards and stiffer penalties, than most programs.
Impact, which began under Michelle Rhee while she was chancellor, has been a hotly debated program, and the new study is sure to attract attention from both supporters and critics of teacher evaluation. New York state’s plan to begin evaluating teachers has also been the subject of intense praise and criticism, as have such programs elsewhere.

A High School Is Actually Not Manhattan’s Saddest Spot, a Researcher Says

Corey Kilgannon:

A research group that named Hunter College High School the saddest tweeting spot in Manhattan now says it was mistaken in its finding. The group’s acknowledgment of the error came to light after many questions were raised about an initial post on the study.
In August, the group, New England Complex Systems Institute, released a study assessing the moods of New Yorkers based on their Twitter posts. The lead researcher on the study, Prof. Yaneer Bar-Yam, told media outlets that Hunter High School, an elite public school on the Upper East Side, had the highest percentage of “negative sentiment” posts of any place in Manhattan.
This was determined, he said, by a computer program that sorted geo-tagged posts into negative or positive sentiment designations, based upon their language and emoticons.
Hunter High School was the source of an unusually high percentage of negative Twitter messages, even higher than hospital locations and spots with particularly frustrating rush-hour traffic, said Professor Bar-Yam, who offered possible reasons that included the high school’s lack of windows, high workload and the fact that the posts were collected just as the students had returned from spring break and were facing final exams.

Firing the Bad Teachers: Ted Olson and LAUSD Parents Sue

Hillel Aron:

It’s unusual for a man like the influential Deasy to enjoy being sued. But these are unusual times. As Deasy had hoped, Superior Court Judge James Chalfant tentatively ruled that Los Angeles Unified School District’s leaders had ignored a key state law, the 1971 Stull Act, which requires LAUSD to grade not just its students but its teachers.
Hailed 31 years ago as a key reform, the Stull Act requires all school districts to evaluate their educators annually. Teachers were to be assessed on many criteria, including how well pupils progressed under their tutelage.That never happened.
Assessing teachers by how well their students learned was all but ignored statewide. LAUSD, which educates one in every nine children in California, never bothered.
Deasy’s courtroom loss inDoe v. Deasy “did exactly what has been my position,” Deasy says. Chalfant ordered school districts to take student progress into account in grading their teachers.

Missing out on timeless literature

Jamie Gass, via Will Fitzhugh

He is immortal, not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice,” Mississippi’s William Faulkner said of man upon receiving the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature, “but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance. The poet’s, the writer’s, duty is to write about these things.”
New Englanders can rightfully claim to have been America’s 19th-century literary hub, but no other regional landscape dominated 20th-century literature like the South and its genius for storytelling. Famously, Faulkner’s imaginary Yoknapatawpha County, Chickasaw for “split land,” provided the setting for his most inspired novels.
American high school students should read Southern writers like Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy, author of the 1962 National Book Award-winning “The Moviegoer.” Percy crafted stories about “the dislocation of man in the modern age,” while contributing to a “community of discourse” around fiction writing. His Greenville, Miss., was a wellspring of outstanding writers.
Greenville’s patriarch, William Alexander Percy, was a lawyer, planter and poet from a suicide-plagued family. He authored the best-selling 1941 memoir “Lanterns on the Levee.” His second cousin, Walker Percy, and Walker’s lifelong best friend, Shelby Foote, were both young when they lost their fathers. Will Percy’s book-filled house became a sanctuary for writers, journalists and musicians, as the man himself mentored a region.

Facebook’s New Teen Policy Draws Fire

Reed Albergotti:

Facebook Inc.’s move Wednesday to let teenagers share items more widely reflects growing competition among social networks for the attention of teens–and the advertisers that want to reach them.
Facebook said it would let users between the ages of 13 and 17 make posts “public” so that they can be seen by anyone on the network. Previously, teenagers’ posts could be seen only by their friends and “friends of friends.”
With the shift, Facebook will operate more like such rivals as Twitter Inc. that let teens share publicly. Twitter, unlike Facebook, also lets users post anonymously or with pseudonyms.
Analysts said Facebook risks losing the next generation of young users if it doesn’t keep pace with competitors. But some privacy advocates are more concerned about public posts on Facebook than on other sites because of its vast reach. It has 1.2 billion users world-wide, roughly five times as many as Twitter. Facebook also allows users to post a wider range of media and to comment more broadly than Twitter does.
“This is about monetizing kids and teens,” said James Steyer, founder and chief executive of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit devoted to online privacy.
Aaron Everson, president of Shoutlet, a Madison, Wis., company that helps brands manage social-media campaigns, said Facebook wants to “compete against other networks that might have a younger demographic, and potentially help them reel in more advertisers.” Marketers will have to be creative in grabbing the Web-savvy teen’s attention without alienating parents, he added.

Regular Bedtimes Tied to Better Behavior

Nicholas Bakalar:

A regular bedtime schedule is unquestionably helpful for parents, but a new study has found it that it may be even more beneficial for their children.
British researchers interviewed mothers when their children were ages 3, 5 and 7, asking how often their children had a regular bedtime: always, usually, sometimes or never. The mothers and the children’s teachers also completed questionnaires about behavioral difficulties.
Almost 20 percent of 3-year-olds had no regular bedtime, compared with 9.1 percent of 5-year-olds and 8.2 percent of 7-year-olds. After controlling for many social, economic and parental behavioral factors, the scientists found that children with a regular bedtime, whether early or late, had fewer behavioral problems. And the longer irregular bedtimes persisted, the more severe the difficulties were.
The study, published Monday in Pediatrics, also found that children who had irregular bedtimes at ages 3 and 5 had significant improvements in behavior scores if their bedtime was regular by age 7.
Still, the lead author, Yvonne Kelly, a professor of lifecourse epidemiology at University College London, warned against exaggerating the importance of the findings.

Comparing Teacher And Principal Evaluation Ratings

Matthew DiCarlo:

The District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) has recently released the first round of results from its new principal evaluation system. Like the system used for teachers, the principal ratings are based on a combination of test and non-test measures. And the two systems use the same final rating categories (highly effective, effective, minimally effective and ineffective).
It was perhaps inevitable that there would be comparisons of their results. In short, principal ratings were substantially lower, on average. Roughly half of them received one of the two lowest ratings (minimally effective or ineffective), compared with around 10 percent of teachers.
Some wondered whether this discrepancy by itself means that DC teachers perform better than principals. Of course not. It is difficult to compare the performance of teachers versus that of principals, but it’s unsupportable to imply that we can get a sense of this by comparing the final rating distributions from two evaluation systems.
These are different, completely untested systems measuring different jobs. Moreover, the principal evaluations (appropriately) employdifferent measures than those used for teachers, and they are combined in a different way. For instance, principals can only be rated effective if they meet their proficiency targets in either math or reading and “make gains” in the other. (Side note: Cross-sectional proficiency gains are a terrible measure that, in my view, should not be used in these systems.)