Common Core’s enemies are another reason to support it

Chris Rickert

There’s a pretty good chance Scott Walker doesn’t know much about Common Core, the new set of education standards for kindergarten through high school being adopted by states and school districts across the country.
It’s not surprising, then, that when his spokesman was asked Tuesday to explain what his boss meant when he said the standards might be too weak, this newspaper got no response. It’s likely that Walker doesn’t know what he meant.
He’s not alone — a poll recently found that two-thirds of Americans hadn’t even heard of Common Core — and that’s unfortunate because it leaves the door open for those at the extreme ends of the political spectrum to step into the vacuum.
In May, state tea party groups sent a letter to Walker and the Legislature accusing the Common Core of being all sorts of bad things, including an “educational fraud” and something of a federal takeover of education.

Teaching to See

Inge Druckrey:

“A great story beautifully told.”
Ken Carbone, Designer, Chief Creative Director, Carbone Smolan Agency
“This [film] is about patient and dedicated teaching, about learning to look and visualize in order to design, about the importance of drawing. It is one designer’s personal experience of issues that face all designers, expressed with sympathy and encouragement, and illustrated with examples of Inge [Druckrey]’s own work and that of grateful generations of her students. There are simple phrases that give insights into complex matters, for example that letterforms are ‘memories of motion.’ Above all, it is characteristic of Inge that in this examination of basic principles the word “beautiful” is used several times.”
Matthew Carter, type designer, MacArthur Fellow

The Project to Reduce Racial Disparities in Dane County

Wisconsin Council on Children and Families:

Profound and persistent racial disparities in health, education, child welfare, criminal justice, employment, and income are common across the United States and in Wisconsin. These racial disparities compromise the life chances of many children and families and thwart our common interest that every child grows up healthy, safe and successful.
The Wisconsin Council on Children and Families (WCCF) aspires to make a greater contribution to narrowing and ultimately eliminating racial disparities in Wisconsin. We are beginning with a multi-year “Project to Reduce Racial Disparities in Dane County” and hope subsequently to move into a broader effort to reduce racial disparities across Wisconsin.

Related: Madison’s long time disastrous reading scores and the rejected Madison Preparatory Academy IB Charter school (by a majority of the Madison School Board).

Madison teachers union ratify contract for 2014-15

Jeff Glaze:

Madison School District teachers and staff will be covered under a collective bargaining agreement through the 2014-15, pending approval by the Madison School Board.
Madison Teachers Inc. members gathered Wednesday evening at Madison Marriott West in Middleton to ratify a one-year contract extension with the district. MTI’s five bargaining units, which include teachers, education assistants, clerical and security staff, and other district employees, all ratified the deal.
The Madison School Board will vote on the agreement Monday.
John Matthews, executive director of the union, said that pending school board approval, MTI would be the only teachers’ union in Wisconsin with a contract through the 2014-15 school year.

Related: Proposed City of Madison budget raises property taxes by 1.5%, while the Madison School District’s 2013-2014 budget increases taxes by 4.5%, after a 9% increase two years ago (and a substantial jump in redistributed state tax dollars last year).

Parent-Teacher Conferences

Madison Teachers, Inc. Newsletter, via a kind Jeannie Kamholtz email (PDF):

Some principals appear to be confused about scheduling of parent-teacher conferences. The following is the AGREEMENT between MTI and the District as regards scheduling of parent-teacher conferences, and whether or not teachers are obligated to report to school on Friday, November 15.
“Section V-M of the MTI / MMSD Collective Bargaining Agreement will be implemented by evening conferences being scheduled on two evenings after the regular school day (November 12 and 14 for 2013). No school will be scheduled for Friday of the week of evening conferences. Teachers can hold conferences for parents wishing conferences, but who could not make one of the two evenings, or teachers can agree to conference with the parent(s) at another mutually agreeable time/date. Teachers who complete all conferences during the two evenings or agree to hold conferences at times other than on Friday for those parents who could not make the evening conferences, need not report to school on Friday. Teachers will not be required to be present during the parent-teacher conference day once their parent teacher conferences are complete, or are scheduled to be completed.”

Lonelier and poorer: the incredibly depressing future for Americans

Matt Phillips:

Let’s face it. When push comes to shove, we all die utterly alone.
And apparently, more of us are living that way too, according to recent updates on the declining marriage rate in the US and its negative impact on American family finances.
In an analysis of the US Census Bureau’s recently released median household income data, Ben Casselman at WSJ’s Real Time Economics examined the entrails of the US Census Bureau’s recently-released median household income data and found that the income levels of a “typical” US family correlate with both the state of the US economy and changes in family structure. He writes:

Technology and the College Generation

Courtney Rubin:

As a professor who favors pop quizzes, Cedrick May is used to grimaces from students caught unprepared. But a couple of years ago, in his class on early American literature at the University of Texas at Arlington, he said he noticed “horrible, pained looks” from the whole class when they saw the questions.
He soon learned that the students did not know he had changed the reading assignment because they did not check their e-mail regularly, if at all. To the students, e-mail was as antiquated as the spellings “chuse” and “musick” in the works by Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards that they read on their electronic books.
“Some of them didn’t even seem to know they had a college e-mail account,” Dr. May said. Nor were these wide-eyed freshmen. “This is considered a junior-level class, so they’d been around,” he said.
That is when he added to his course syllabuses: “Students must check e-mail daily.” Dr. May said the university now recommends similar wording.a

Millennials Face Uphill Climb

Caroline Porter:

The on-ramp to adulthood is delayed and harder to reach for young people today, a reality that is changing the country’s society and economy, according to a new report.
More demanding job requirements, coupled with the pressures of the recession, have delayed the transition to adulthood for young people in the past decade and earned them the title of “the new lost generation,” according to the report from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, published Monday.
James Roy dropped out of college and now works at a coffee shop in a Chicago suburb. The 26-year-old calls his outlook ‘kind of grim.’
James Roy, 26, has spent the past six years paying off $14,000 in student loans for two years of college by skating from job to job. Now working as a supervisor for a coffee shop in the Chicago suburb of St. Charles, Ill., Mr. Roy describes his outlook as “kind of grim.”
“It seems to me that if you went to college and took on student debt, there used to be greater assurance that you could pay it off with a good job,” said the Colorado native, who majored in English before dropping out. “But now, for people living in this economy and in our age group, it’s a rough deal.”

Dallas school board reprimands Superintendent Miles

Brett Shipp:

Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles will keep his job, but he was reprimanded by the Board of Trustees on Monday night.
An external investigation determined that Miles violated policy and his contract, and on Monday night, the school board was split on what his punishment should be.
They voted 5-3 against a proposal to fire the superintendent after concluding that his transgressions fell short of that penalty, but later decided to give Miles a letter of reprimand in a 7-0 vote, with board member Carla Ranger abstaining.
Following a lengthy closed-door meeting, Miles’ contract was amended to prohibit disparaging comments about the school board, bullying, abusive behavior, and the release of confidential information.
In addition, he was placed on a “90-day growth plan,” although it was not immediately clear what that means.

What’s Wrong With Wharton?

Melissa Korn:

Applications to the University of Pennsylvania’s business school have declined 12% in the past four years, with the M.B.A. program receiving just 6,036 submissions for the class that started this fall. That was fewer than Stanford Graduate School of Business, with a class half Wharton’s size.
Wharton says the decline, combined with a stronger applicant pool and a higher percentage of accepted applicants who enroll, proves that the school is doing a better job targeting candidates.
But business-school experts and b-school applicants say Wharton has lost its luster as students’ interests shift from finance to technology and entrepreneurship.
“We’re hearing [applicants say] Stanford, Harvard or nothing. It used to be Stanford, Harvard or Wharton,” says Jeremy Shinewald, the founder of mbaMission, an admissions advisory firm.

Drawing conclusions: Politics of art class appear to come with different consequences

Ryan Ekvall:

A controversial art lesson in the Madison Metropolitan School District draws similarities from a 2012 incident in which a Louisiana middle school teacher was fired after displaying his student’s anti-President Obama drawings.
Kati Walsh, an elementary art teacher in Madison, published anti-Gov. Scott Walker political cartoons drawn by her kindergarten, first- and second-grade students. One drawing depicts Walker in jail, and another in which he appears to be in jail and engulfed in flames. Walsh said the orange in that drawing actually represented a prison jumpsuit.
Robert Duncan, a former Slidell, La., middle school social studies teacher at St. Tammany Parish School District, was fired after an internal investigation found he acted incompetently in displaying several student drawings depicting harm to Obama. The incident was first brought to light after a parent leaked photos of the drawings to WDSU, a local TV news outlet.

After learning to read well, critical thinking would certainly be a useful topic for all students.

How to Raise Kids Who Become Great Adults

Andy Andrews

When you ask parents of any background what they want, you will overwhelmingly get this response:
“I want to raise great kids.”
Curiously, that is not what most parents actually want. What they actually want is to raise great kids…who become great adults.
Think about it–how many great kids have you seen go totally crazy the second they leave home for college or adult life? It happens all the time. Why? Because their parents gave little thought to the people those great kids would become once they left the house.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day challenges of raising children that we often lose sight of the big picture of who those children are becoming.

Culture Warrior, Gaining Ground: E. D. Hirsch Sees His Education Theories Taking Hold

Al Baker:

A generation after he was squarely pummeled as elitist, antiquated and narrow-minded, the education theorist E. D. Hirsch Jr. is being dragged back into the ring at the age of 85 — this time for a chance at redemption.
Invitations to speak have come from Spain, Britain and China. He has won a prestigious education award. Curriculums developed by the Core Knowledge Foundation, which Mr. Hirsch created to disseminate his ideas, have recently been adopted by hundreds of schools in 25 states and recommended by the New York City Department of Education for teachers to use in their classrooms.
Not since 1987, when he first published “Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know,” whose list of 5,000 essential concepts left even Ph.D.’s a little dumbstruck, has Mr. Hirsch been so in demand.
“This is a redemptive moment for E. D. Hirsch, after a quarter-century of neglect by people both conservative and liberal,” said Sol Stern, an education writer and senior fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute.

Why the Gap? Special Education and New York City Charter Schools

Marcus Winters, via a kind Deb Britt email:

This study uses NYC data to analyze the factors driving the gap in special education enrollment between charter and traditional public schools. Among the findings:
Students with disabilities are less likely to apply to charter schools in kindergarten than are regular enrollment students. This is the primary driver of the gap in special education enrollments.
The gap grows as students progress through elementary grades, largely because charter schools are less likely than district schools to place students in special education–and less likely to keep them there.
The gap also grows as students transfer between charter and district schools. Between kindergarten and third grade, greater proportions of regular education students enter charter schools, compared to students with special needs.
There is great mobility among special education students, whether they attend a charter or traditional public school. Close to a third of students in special education leave their school by the fourth year of attendance, whether they are enrolled in charters or traditional public schools.

In-state Tuition for Undocumented Students?

PBS NewsHour:

RICK KARR: According to the law, Cynthia Cruz is an undocumented immigrant, a Mexican citizen living in the United States. According to Cynthia Cruz, New Jersey is home … because it’s where her parents brought her when she wasn’t even two years old … and Mexico is very far away.
CYNTHIA CRUZ: I don’t remember anything about it. I don’t remember how it looks. I don’t remember, like, where I lived, where I was born. I don’t remember anything. All I know is the American culture.
RICK KARR: Cruz says American culture taught her that the key to success is education. So after high school, she went to a local community college, and then last fall to Rutgers, New Jersey’s flagship public university. Her goal was a degree in public policy, but after only one semester on campus, she had to drop out because she ran out of money. As an undocumented immigrant, she couldn’t get financial aid from the state, and she had to pay higher tuition than other New Jersey residents. If you’re a resident of the state of New Jersey, the tuition and fees for one year as a full-time undergraduate at Rutgers is just over thirteen thousand dollars. If you’re not a resident, it’s going to cost you twice as much — nearly twenty eight thousand dollars.
And that’s the amount that students who are undocumented immigrants have to pay, even if they’ve lived the vast majority of their lives as residents of the state of the New Jersey. They support a bill in the state legislature that would allow them to pay the in-state rate. The idea is called tuition equity.

Inside the Nation’s Biggest Experiment in School Choice

Stephanie Banchero:

There is broad acknowledgment that local schools are performing better since Hurricane Katrina washed away New Orleans’ failing public education system and state authorities took control of many campuses here.
Graduation rates went to 78% last year from 52% before Katrina–surpassing Detroit, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Oakland, Calif., cities also struggling to boost achievement among lower-income students. The share of New Orleans students proficient in math, reading, science and social studies increased to 58% in 2012 from 35% before the 2005 storm, state data shows.
School officials now want to ramp up improvements, saying the city’s education marketplace still needs work. The enrollment system is complicated. There are far fewer available seats at good schools than at poor ones, leaving many families to choose between bad and worse. And few students can get into top-rated schools because of limited seats and strict admissions policies.
Boosters, including Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal, say New Orleans points to the future of public education. Giving parents a choice of schools, they say, fosters competition that weeds out badly run campuses. Academically, New Orleans is improving faster than any school district in Louisiana.

Related: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results.

“It would be great if our education stuff worked, but that we won’t know for probably a decade.”

Valerie Strauss:

That’s what Bill Gates said on Sept. 21 (see video below) about the billions of dollars his foundation has plowed into education reform during a nearly hour-long interview he gave at Harvard University. He repeated the “we don’t know if it will work” refrain about his reform efforts a few days later during a panel discussion at the Clinton Global Initiative.
Hmmm. Teachers around the country are saddled every single year with teacher evaluation systems that his foundation has funded, based on no record of success and highly questionable “research.” And now Gates says he won’t know if the reforms he is funding will work for another decade. But teachers can lose their jobs now because of reforms he is funding.
In the past he sounded pretty sure of what he was doing. In this 2011 oped in The Washington Post, he wrote:

Related: Small Learning Communities.

The Push for Universal Pre-K

Nancy Folbre:

On the other hand, universal pre-K eases economic stress on parents and improves human resources. It helps counter economic forces that are both driving up the relative cost of child-rearing and increasing economic inequality.
Sustained below-replacement fertility will increase the share of elderly in the population, threaten national and ethnic identity, and weaken the links between present and future generations that are forged by family commitments. The taxes paid by the working-age population benefit all elderly fellow citizens, including those who have contributed relatively little to their care. In tomorrow’s global economy, the quality of future workers will matter even more than the quantity.
Entirely self-interested individuals have no reason to worry about what happens after they die. But a nation, like a family, hopes and plans to live on.