“They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!

Two of the most popular — and most insidious — myths about academically gifted kids is that “they’re all rich, white kids” and that, no matter what they experience in school, “they’ll do just fine.” Even in our own district, however, the hard data do not support those assertions.
When the District analyzed dropout data for the five-year period between 1995 and 1999, they identified four student profiles. Of interest for the present purpose is the group identified as high achieving. Here are the data from the MMSD Research and Evaluation Report from May, 2000:
Group 1: High Achiever, Short Tenure, Behaved
This group comprises 27% of all dropouts during this five-year period.
Characteristics of this group:

  • Grade 5 math scores – 84.2 percentile
  • Male – 55%
  • Low income – 53%
  • Minority – 42%
  • African American – 31%
  • Hispanic – 6%
  • Asian – 5%

“We know best”, Disastrous Reading Results and a bit of history with Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond: these stories of isolated societies illustrate two general principles about relations between human group size and innovation or creativity. First, in any society except a totally isolated society, most innovations come in from the outside, rather than being conceived within that society. And secondly, any society undergoes local fads. By fads I mean […]

Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read? “The study found that teacher candidates in Mississippi were getting an average of 20 minutes of instruction in phonics over their entire two-year teacher preparation program”

Emily Hanford: Balanced literacy was a way to defuse the wars over reading,” said Mark Seidenberg, a cognitive neuroscientist and author of the book “Language at the Speed of Sight.” “It succeeded in keeping the science at bay, and it allowed things to continue as before.” He says the reading wars are over, and science […]

Class and acculturation also need to be examined

Janice Rashhed: My prior experience (and observation) as a parent of two former OPRF High School teens is that black kids’ experience at OPRF is mediated by several factors: prior academic preparation, parental involvement, and social class and acculturation. Specifically, black kids transferring from (under-performing) inner-city CPS elementary and/or CPS high schools have had a […]

Seeing the Forest: Unpacking the Relationship Between Madison School District (WI) Graduation Rates and Student Achievement

Laurie Frost and Jeff Henriques [PDF]: Dear Simpson Street Free Press: Thank you for leading the way in looking more closely at recent reports of an increase in MMSD minority student graduation rates and related issues: http://simpsonstreetfreepress.org/special-report/local-education/rising-grad-rates http://simpsonstreetfreepress.org/special-report/local-education/act-college-readiness-gap Inspired by your excellent work, we decided to dig deeper. We call the result of our efforts […]

In favor of deep (and complex) reporting

Amanda Ripley: The lesson for journalists (or anyone) working amidst intractable conflict: complicate the narrative. First, complexity leads to a fuller, more accurate story. Secondly, it boosts the odds that your work will matter — particularly if it is about a polarizing issue. When people encounter complexity, they become more curious and less closed off to new […]

Tackling Inequality in Gifted-and-Talented Programs

Max Nisen, via a iind reader: In many places around the U.S., low-income and minority children are significantly underrepresented in gifted-and-talented programs. This seems to be the case whether the process for identifying gifted children relies on teacher referrals for screening, or on evaluations arranged and paid for independently by parents. So what happens when […]

Gifted in Math, and Poor

New York Times To the Editor: Re “Even Gifted Students Can’t Keep Up” (“Numbers Crunch” series, editorial, Dec. 15): Educators know that when the curriculum is set at an optimal difficulty level, students learn to persist, attend carefully and gain self-confidence. For mathematically gifted students, the curriculum must move more quickly and in greater depth […]

Gifted, Talented and Seperated, Deja Vu

Al Baker:

IT is just a metal door with three windows, the kind meant to keep the clamor of an elementary school hallway from piercing a classroom’s quiet. Other than paint the color of bubble gum, it is unremarkable.
But the pink door on Room 311 at Public School 163 on the Upper West Side represents a barrier belied by its friendly hue. On one side are 21 fourth graders labeled gifted and talented by New York City’s school system. They are coursing through public school careers stamped accelerated.
And they are mostly white.
On the other side, sometimes sitting for reading lessons on the floor of the hallway, are those in the school’s vast majority: They are enrolled in general or special education programs.

Related:
English 10
TAG Complaint
“They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!

Madison African American Test Scores Lower than Kenosha’s and for some, lower than Beloits

Susan Troller, via a kind reader’s email:

Madison’s achievement gap — driven in large part by how well white students perform on the Wisconsin Knowledge and Concepts Exam — is significant compared to other urban districts in the state with high minority populations. White students here perform significantly better on the annual tests than students in Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Beloit and scores for Madison’s black students are somewhat better than in Milwaukee or Racine. But black students’ scores in Madison are lower than Kenosha’s and, among younger students, lower than Beloit’s, too.
The point spread between the scores of Madison’s white and black sophomore students on the WKCE’s 2008 math test was a whopping 50 points: 80 percent of the white students taking the test scored in the advanced and proficient categories while just 30 percent of the black students scored in those categories. It’s a better performance than in Milwaukee, where just 19 percent of black students scored in the advanced and proficient categories, or Racine, where 23 percent did, but it lags behind Kenosha’s 38 percent. None of the scores are worth celebrating.
Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Education Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a nationally known expert whose work has often explored issues related to the achievement gap. He says racism, overt or inadvertent, may make school feel like a hostile environment for black students, and that it needs to be recognized as a potential factor in the achievement gap.
“It would be naive to say it doesn’t exist, and that it’s not a problem for a certain number of students,” Gamoran says. He cites disproportionate disciplinary actions and high numbers of black students referred to special education, as indicators of potential unequal treatment by race.
Green, who attended Madison’s public schools, says when black students are treated unfairly it’s a powerful disincentive to become engaged, and that contributes to the achievement gap.
“There’s plenty of unequal treatment that happens at school,” says Green who, while in high school at La Follette, wrote a weekly, award-winning column about the achievement gap for the Simpson Street Free Press that helped her land a trip to the White House and a meeting with Laura Bush.
“From the earliest grades, I saw African-American males especially get sent out of the classroom for the very same thing that gets a white student a little slap on the wrist from some teachers,” she says. “It’s definitely a problem.”
It manifests itself in students who check out, she says. “It’s easy to live only in the present, think that you’ve got better things to do than worry about school. I mean, it’s awfully easy to decide there’s nothing more important than hanging out with your friends.”
But Green advocates a doctrine of personal responsibility. She encourages fellow minority students to focus on academic ambitions, starting with good attendance in class and following through with homework. She also counsels students to take challenging courses and find a strong peer group.
“The bottom line, though, is that no one’s going to get you where you’re going except you,” she says

Related: “They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!.

Madison’s K-12 Governance Non Diversity: Police in Schools Meeting

Logan Wroge: Throughout the public comment period, several people said the presence of police officers inside school can negatively affect students of color and feeds into the “school-to-prison pipeline.” “Ain’t no amount of training, ain’t no amount of special certificates is going to matter when it comes to black and brown kids, because (police officers) […]

Written Off

Amber Walker: Reese’s experience raises broader questions about what information is shared between MMSD and the Dane County Juvenile Court when it comes to youth in their care. While the district insists it was an isolated incident, juvenile court staff, like Smedema and her supervisor, Suzanne Stute, said collecting statements from school staff is a […]

Educating Black Boys

Iman Rastegari, Leah Shafer : Every year, far too many African American boys fail to graduate from high school and attend a competitive four-year college. What’s standing in their way? In the second episode of Walking the Talk, we explore obstacles on the road to college, and other issues affecting student equity, in a conversation […]

Parents need more information to hold schools accountable

Susan Olivieri: This week, states begin submitting their implementation plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act and they find themselves in the driver’s seat to ensure that the public has access to clear and accurate information about schools in their community. The challenge for states will be to find the political will to do the […]

Madison School District vows to do better for African-American students

Kelly Meyerhofer: The Madison School District’s new long-term plan looks vaguely similar to its predecessor, a strategic framework produced in 2013. Two of three overarching goals share similar language. The third goal, however, stands out from its 2013 counterpart by explicitly vowing to do better for African-American students. Superintendent Jennifer Cheatham said she attended nearly […]

“The legislation would require the U.S. Department of Education to reveal which schools have been accused of violating students’ civil rights, as well as any corrective actions or other resolutions of its probes”

Annie Waldeman: Under federal law, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Office for Civil Rights is responsible for ensuring equal access to education and investigating allegations of discrimination in the country’s schools and colleges. Families and students can file complaints with the office, which then investigates and determines whether a college or school […]

“But more importantly, their parents do not rely on school programming to prepare their children for TJ admissions or any other milestone on their way to top STEM careers.”

Hilde Kahn, via Will Fitzhugh: One of few bright spots in the just-released National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) results was an increase in the number of students reaching “advanced” level in both math and reading at the 4th- and 8th-grades. But the results masked large racial and economic disparities. While 30 percent of Asian […]

Students in Poverty Less Likely to be Identified as Gifted

Kenneth Best: UConn gifted education specialists have published the first study to demonstrate a link between student poverty, institutional poverty, and the lower identification rate of gifted low-income students. The study, “Disentangling the Roles of Institutional and Individual Poverty in the Identification of Gifted Students,” was published in the journal Gifted Child Quarterly. Researchers found […]

A Conversation with Leigh Turner

Jim Zellmer: Good afternoon, Leigh Let’s begin with your education. Leigh Turner: Like increasing numbers of people in today’s modern world, I grew up in several countries, in Nigeria, in Britain, then again in Lesotho, in southern Africa, and then again in Britain. I went to several different, as we would say in English, schools […]

Madison’s Mayor on Transfer Students & The Achievement Gap; District Plans to Release Data “Within 3 Weeks”

Paul Fanlund, via a kind reader’s email

There is an achievement gap. A significant part of the achievement gap is not because of the failure on the part of the Madison public schools, but it is because of the number of students who have transferred here from other districts, districts like Chicago,” he says.
“Those kids come here unprepared. They come from poorly performing schools. There is a reluctance to discuss this factor. The reluctance to discuss it has at least two consequences. The first is that we come to erroneous conclusions about the quality of education in Madison. The second problem is that we don’t develop strategies for these kids so that we can close that achievement gap.”
Soglin says a child who’s far behind in reading “who transferred in from a poorly performing district as opposed to a child who’s been in Madison her entire life, could require very different interventions. There are people who don’t want to talk about this problem and that’s one of the reasons we fail in addressing the achievement gap.
“Now, talking about this alone is not going to solve it, but addressing it and analyzing it properly may in the short term cast some negatives, but it is going to lead to a better job in terms of correcting the problem.”

I (and others) inquired about the data behind the Mayor’s assertion several months ago. I received an email today – after another inquiry – from the District’s Steve Hartley stating that the data will be available in “under 3 weeks”.
Related, also from Madison Mayor Paul Soglin: “We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”.
Background links:
November, 2005 When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before
“They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!
60% to 42%: Madison School District’s Reading Recovery Effectiveness Lags “National Average”: Administration seeks to continue its use
61 Page Madison Schools Achievement Gap Plan -Accountability Plans and Progress Indicators

“We are not interested in the development of new charter schools”



Larry Winkler kindly emailed the chart pictured above.

Where have all the Students gone?

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin:

We are not interested in the development of new charter schools. Recent presentations of charter school programs indicate that most of them do not perform to the level of Madison public schools. I have come to three conclusions about charter schools. First, the national evidence is clear overall, charter schools do not perform as well as traditional public schools. Second where charter schools have shown improvement, generally they have not reached the level of success of Madison schools. Third, if our objective is to improve overall educational performance, we should try proven methods that elevate the entire district not just the students in charter schools. The performance of non-charter students in cities like Milwaukee and Chicago is dismal.
In addition, it seems inappropriate to use resources to develop charter schools when we have not explored system-wide programming that focuses on improving attendance, the longer school day, greater parental involvement and combating hunger and trauma.
We must get a better understanding of the meaning of ‘achievement gap.’ A school in another system may have made gains in ‘closing’ the achievement gap, but that does not mean its students are performing better than Madison students. In addition, there is mounting evidence that a significant portion of the ‘achievement gap’ is the result of students transferring to Madison from poorly performing districts. If that is the case, we should be developing immersion programs designed for their needs rather than mimicking charter school programs that are more expensive, produce inadequate results, and fail to recognize the needs of all students.
It should be noted that not only do the charter schools have questionable results but they leave the rest of the district in shambles. Chicago and Milwaukee are two systems that invested heavily in charter schools and are systems where overall performance is unacceptable.

Related links:

I am unaware of Madison School District achievement data comparing transfer student performance. I will email the Madison School Board and see what might be discovered.
Pat Schnieder:

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin has some pretty strong ideas about how to improve academic achievement by Madison school children. Charter schools are not among them.
In fact, Madison’s ongoing debate over whether a charter school is the key to boosting academic achievement among students of color in the Madison Metropolitan School District is distracting the community from making progress, Soglin told me.
He attended part of a conference last week sponsored by the Urban League of Greater Madison that he says overstated the successes elsewhere of charter schools, like the Urban League’s controversial proposed Madison Preparatory Academy that was rejected by the Madison School Board a year ago.
“A number of people I talked with about it over the weekend said the same thing: This debate over charter schools is taking us away from any real improvement,” Soglin said.
Can a new committee that Soglin created — bringing together representatives from the school district, city and county — be one way to make real progress?

The City of Madison’s Education Committee, via a kind reader’s email. Members include: Arlene Silveira, Astra Iheukemere, Carousel Andrea S. Bayrd, Erik Kass, Jenni Dye, Matthew Phair, Maya Cole and Shiva Bidar-Sielaff.

Lowering the bar for students isn’t the answer

Leonard Pitts:

Indeed, for all the talk about the so-called reverse racism of affirmative action, I have long argued that the real problem with it – and the reason it needs an expiration date – is that it might give African-American kids the mistaken idea they carry some inherent deficiency that renders them unable to compete with other kids on an equal footing.
We should be wary of anything, however well-intentioned, however temporary, which conveys that impression to our children. I am proof we have been doing just that for a very long time. And it burns – I tell you this from experience – to realize people have judged you by a lower standard, especially when you had the ability to meet the higher one all along. So this “interim” cannot end soon enough.
Because ultimately, you do not fix education by lowering the bar. You do it by lifting the kids.

Related:

Tyrany of Low Expectations: Will lowered test scores bring about broader change in Madison schools?

Chris Rickert via several kind readers:

Wisconsin has a “long way to go in all our racial/ethnic groups,” said Adam Gamoran, director of the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at UW-Madison.
My hope is that, given Wisconsin’s overwhelmingly white population, proficiency problems among white students will spur more people to push for policies inside and outside of school that help children — all children — learn.
“I hate to look at it that way, but I think you’re absolutely right,” said Kaleem Caire, president and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison. “The low performance of white students in our state may just lead to the type and level of change that’s necessary in public education for black and other students of color to succeed as well.”
Indeed, Gamoran said Massachusetts’ implementation of an evaluation system similar to the one Wisconsin is adopting now has been correlated with gains in reading and math proficiency and a narrowing of the racial achievement gap in math. But he emphasized that student achievement is more than just the schools’ responsibility.
Madison has known for a while that its schools are not meeting the needs of too many students of color.

The issue of low expectations and reduced academic standards is not a new one. A few worthwhile, related links:

Stakes high for Nerad on achievement gap proposal, including his contract which currently expires June, 2013

Matthew DeFour:

lot is riding on Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad’s upcoming plan for improving low-income, minority student achievement.
The plan is billed as a blueprint for addressing an intractable, divisive issue in Madison, and it could also factor into the upcoming School Board discussion of Nerad’s future in Madison.
The United Way of Dane County has made closing the achievement gap one of its primary issues for more than 15 years through the Schools of Hope tutoring program. But president Leslie Howard said the recent debate over the proposed Madison Prepatory Academy charter school has drawn more public attention to the issue than ever before.
“I don’t want to say something so grandiose that everything’s at stake, but in some ways it feels like that,” Howard said.

Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory IB charter school, here.
Related links:
When all third graders read at grade level or beyond by the end of the year, the achievement gap will be closed…and not before
“They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!
Acting White
Event (2.16.2012) The Quest for Educational Opportunity: The History of Madison’s Response to the Academic Achievement Gap (1960-2011)

Urban League/Madison Prep to Address Madison School District Report on Charter School

Kaleem Caire, via email:

Fails to address core issues impacting racial achievement gap and middle class flight
WHAT: The Urban League of Greater Madison and the founding Board of Madison Preparatory Academy will share their response to the Madison Metropolitan School District Administration’s recommendation that the Board of Education not Support Madison Prep, and will call for immediate and wider education reforms within the Madison Metropolitan School District to address the racial achievement gap and middle-class flight and crises.
WHEN: 12:00 pm, Thursday, December 8, 2011
WHERE: Urban League of Greater Madison, 2222 S. Park St., Suite 200, Madison, WI 53713
WHO: Kaleem Caire, Urban League President & CEO Urban League of Greater Madison Board of Directors Madison Preparatory Academy Board of Directors Community Leaders and Parents
For more information, contact Laura DeRoche Perez, Director of School Development, Urban League of Greater Madison, at lderoche@ulgm.org or 608-729-1235.

Related: “They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!.
Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy IB charter school, here.

Complaint Filed Against Madison Schools

greatmadisonschools.org, via a kind reader’s email:

News Release, Complaint attached

Fifty Madison School District parents filed a formal complaint on September 20, 2010, with the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (“DPI”) against the Madison School District for violating State statutes for gifted education. The complaint targets Madison West High School‘s refusal to provide appropriate programs for students identified as academically gifted.

State statutes mandate that “each school board shall provide access to an appropriate program for pupils identified as gifted and talented.” The DPI stipulates that this programming must be systematic and continuous, from kindergarten through grade 12. Madison schools have been out of compliance with these standards since 1990, the last time the DPI formally audited the District’s gifted educational services.

“Despair over the lack of TAG services has driven Madison families out of the district,” said Lorie Raihala, a parent in the group. “Hundreds have left through open enrollment, and many have cited the desire for better opportunities for gifted students as the reason for moving their children.”

Recognizing this concern, Superintendent Dan Nerad has stated that “while some Madison schools serve gifted students effectively, there needs to be more consistency across the district.”

“At the secondary level, the inconsistencies are glaring,” said Raihala. “There are broad disparities among Madison’s public high schools with regard to the number of honors, advanced/accelerated, and AP courses each one offers. Also, each school imposes different requirements and restrictions on students seeking advanced courses. Surprisingly, Madison’s much touted West High School offers the fewest advanced course options for ninth and tenth graders. While the other schools offer various levels of English, science, and social science, Madison West requires all students to follow a standardized program of academic courses, regardless of their ability. This means that students with SAT/ACT scores already exceeding those of most West seniors (obtained via participation in the Northwestern University Midwest Area Talent Search program) must sit through the same courses as students working at basic and emerging proficiency levels.”

Related:

Gayle Worland:Parents file complaint over ‘talented and gifted’ school programming.

“They have the power, but I don’t think anyone has looked at this. So [once again], I’m the angry black man.”

ibmadison.com interviews Kaleem Caire about the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, via a kind reader:

In Caire’s mind, kids can’t wait. Consider the data he cites from the ACT District Profile Report for the Madison Metropolitan School District’s 2010 graduating class:

Of students taking the ACT, average test scores differed significantly between African Americans and white students:

English Math Reading Science Composite
African Americans 16.3 18.0 17.1 18.4 17.6
Caucasian/White 25.1 25.6 25.8 24.8 25.4

The percent of students meeting ACT College Readiness Benchmark Scores, broken out by ethnicity, for the 2010 graduating class seems more alarming:

Total Tested English (18) Math (22) Reading (21) Science (24)
All Students 1,122 81% 68% 71% 51%
African Americans 76 38% 24% 25% 9%
Caucasian/White 733 90% 77% 79% 60%
Hispanic 71 59% 39% 45% 18%
Asian/Pacific Isl. 119 67% 65% 61% 45%

Numbers like these fuel Caire’s fire, and his vision for The Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men. “I’m amazed that [the primarily white leadership in the city] hasn’t looked at this data and said, ‘wow!’ They have the power, but I don’t think anyone has looked at this. So [once again], I’m the angry black man.”

Caire understands the challenges that lie ahead. By November, he needs to formally propose the idea to the School Board, after which he will seek a planning grant from the Department of Public Instruction. He anticipates other hurdles along the way. Among them, a misconstrued conception. “Madison believes it’s creative, but the reality is, it’s not innovative.” Will the community accept this idea, or sit back and wait, he wonders.
Second: The resources to do it. “We can survive largely on what the school system can give us [once we’re up and running], but there’s seed money you need to get to that point.”
Third: The teacher’s union response. “No one knows what that will be,” Caire said. “The school board and district are so influenced by the teacher’s union, which represents teachers. We represent kids. To me, it’s not, ‘teachers at all costs,’ it’s ‘kids first.’ We’ll see where our philosophies line up.” He added that the Urban League and those behind the Charter School idea are not at all opposed to the teacher’s union, but the Prep School’s design includes, for example, a school day longer than the teacher’s contract allows. “This isn’t about compensation,” he said of the contract, “it’s about commitment. We don’t want red tape caught up in this, and we want to guarantee long-term success.”

Related: “They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT! and outbound open enrollment.

Too Long Ignored

Bob Herbert:

A tragic crisis of enormous magnitude is facing black boys and men in America.
Parental neglect, racial discrimination and an orgy of self-destructive behavior have left an extraordinary portion of the black male population in an ever-deepening pit of social and economic degradation.
The Schott Foundation for Public Education tells us in a new report that the on-time high school graduation rate for black males in 2008 was an abysmal 47 percent, and even worse in several major urban areas — for example, 28 percent in New York City.
The astronomical jobless rates for black men in inner-city neighborhoods are both mind-boggling and heartbreaking. There are many areas where virtually no one has a legitimate job.

The complete PDF report can viewed here.
Related: They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine.

Must-read new report on high school dropouts

Jay Matthews:

I have long considered high school drop-outs not only the least soluble of our education problems but the least clear. School districts have traditionally fudged the numbers, reporting their drop-out rates as only 5 or 6 percent, a grossly deceptive one-year rate.
The National Governors Association and other policymakers, ashamed of this charade, have put an end to it. Everyone is switching to a four-year drop-out rate, the percentage of ninth-graders (about 31 percent nationally) who do not receive diplomas four years later. The improved data has not only raised the level of the debate but also made possible a new report with some unnerving revelations about graduation rates.
My wife made the mistake of letting me go with her to her office last Sunday to catch up on work. While there I read the new Education Week report, “Graduation by the Numbers: Putting Data to Work for Student Success,” and kept squealing at one statistical surprise after another. I insisted on reading each one to her, delaying her efforts to get back outside on a nice weekend day.

Graduation by the Numbers: Putting Data to Work for Student Success.
Related: “They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!.

“Anything But Knowledge”: “Why Johnny’s Teacher Can’t Teach”

from The Burden of Bad Ideas Heather Mac Donald, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2000, pp. 82ff.
America’s nearly last-place finish in the Third International Mathematics and Sciences Study of student achievement caused widespread consternation this February, except in the one place it should have mattered most: the nation’s teacher education schools. Those schools have far more important things to do than worrying about test scores–things like stamping out racism in aspiring teachers. “Let’s be honest,” darkly commanded Professor Valerie Henning-Piedmont to a lecture hall of education students at Columbia University’s Teachers College last February. “What labels do you place on young people based on your biases?” It would be difficult to imagine a less likely group of bigots than these idealistic young people, happily toting around their handbooks of multicultural education and their exposés of sexism in the classroom. But Teachers College knows better. It knows that most of its students, by virtue of being white, are complicitous in an unjust power structure.
The crusade against racism is just the latest irrelevancy to seize the nation’s teacher education schools. For over eighty years, teacher education in America has been in the grip of an immutable dogma, responsible for endless educational nonsense. That dogma may be summed up in the phrase: Anything But Knowledge. Schools are about many things, teacher educators say (depending on the decade)–self-actualization, following one’s joy, social adjustment, or multicultural sensitivity–but the one thing they are not about is knowledge. Oh, sure, educators will occasionally allow the word to pass their lips, but it is always in a compromised position, as in “constructing one’s own knowledge,” or “contextualized knowledge.” Plain old knowledge, the kind passed down in books, the kind for which Faust sold his soul, that is out.
The education profession currently stands ready to tighten its already viselike grip on teacher credentialing, persuading both the federal government and the states to “professionalize” teaching further. In New York, as elsewhere, that means closing off routes to the classroom that do not pass through an education school. But before caving in to the educrats’ pressure, we had better take a hard look at what education schools teach.
The course in “Curriculum and Teaching in Elementary Education” that Professor Anne Nelson (a pseudonym) teaches at the City College of New York is a good place to start. Dressed in a tailored brown suit, and with close-cropped hair, Nelson is a charismatic teacher, with a commanding repertoire of voices and personae. And yet, for all her obvious experience and common sense, her course is a remarkable exercise in vacuousness.
As with most education classes, the title of Professor Nelson’s course doesn’t give a clear sense of what it is about. Unfortunately, Professor Nelson doesn’t either. The semester began, she said in a pre-class interview, by “building a community, rich of talk, in which students look at what they themselves are doing by in-class writing.” On this, the third meeting of the semester, Professor Nelson said that she would be “getting the students to develop the subtext of what they’re doing.” I would soon discover why Professor Nelson was so vague.
“Developing the subtext” turns out to involve a chain reaction of solipsistic moments. After taking attendance and–most admirably–quickly checking the students’ weekly handwriting practice, Professor Nelson begins the main work of the day: generating feather-light “texts,” both written and oral, for immediate group analysis. She asks the students to write for seven minutes on each of three questions; “What excites me about teaching?” “What concerns me about teaching?” and then, the moment that brands this class as hopelessly steeped in the Anything But Knowledge credo: “What was it like to do this writing?”

Minorities in gifted classes studied

Michael Alison Chandler:

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine announced Tuesday that the Virginia Education Department has launched a study of minority students’ low participation in gifted education programs statewide.
African Americans represent 26 percent of the state’s 1.2 million students but 12 percent of those in gifted education programs. Hispanics are 9 percent of the state’s schoolchildren, but 5 percent of gifted students.
“Virginia is proud of both the high standards of our educational system and the wealth of diversity in our communities. . . . It’s critical we assess any disproportionate barriers . . . so we can ensure students of all backgrounds have the opportunity to participate,” Kaine said in a release.
NAACP officials have urged Kaine in recent months to address racial and ethnic disparities in new regulations for gifted education that he is expected to sign in the next few weeks. Some said a study does not go far enough to address their concerns.

Related: ““They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” — NOT!

Anything but Knowledge

Why Johnny’s Teacher Can’t Teach” (1998)
from The Burden of Bad Ideas
Heather Mac Donald
Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2000, pp. 82ff.
America’s nearly last-place finish in the Third International Mathematics and Sciences Study of student achievement caused widespread consternation this February, except in the one place it should have mattered most: the nation’s teacher education schools. Those schools have far more important things to do than worrying about test scores–things like stamping out racism in aspiring teachers. “Let’s be honest,” darkly commanded Professor Valerie Henning-Piedmont to a lecture hall of education students at Columbia University’s Teachers College last February. “What labels do you place on young people based on your biases?” It would be difficult to imagine a less likely group of bigots than these idealistic young people, happily toting around their handbooks of multicultural education and their exposés of sexism in the classroom. But Teachers College knows better. It knows that most of its students, by virtue of being white, are complicitous in an unjust power structure.
The crusade against racism is just the latest irrelevancy to seize the nation’s teacher education schools. For over eighty years, teacher education in America has been in the grip of an immutable dogma, responsible for endless educational nonsense. That dogma may be summed up in the phrase: Anything But Knowledge. Schools are about many things, teacher educators say (depending on the decade)–self-actualization, following one’s joy, social adjustment, or multicultural sensitivity–but the one thing they are not about is knowledge. Oh, sure, educators will occasionally allow the word to pass their lips, but it is always in a compromised position, as in “constructing one’s own knowledge,” or “contextualized knowledge.” Plain old knowledge, the kind passed down in books, the kind for which Faust sold his soul, that is out.
The education profession currently stands ready to tighten its already viselike grip on teacher credentialing, persuading both the federal government and the states to “professionalize” teaching further. In New York, as elsewhere, that means closing off routes to the classroom that do not pass through an education school. But before caving in to the educrats’ pressure, we had better take a hard look at what education schools teach.
The course in “Curriculum and Teaching in Elementary Education” that Professor Anne Nelson (a pseudonym) teaches at the City College of New York is a good place to start. Dressed in a tailored brown suit, and with close-cropped hair, Nelson is a charismatic teacher, with a commanding repertoire of voices and personae. And yet, for all her obvious experience and common sense, her course is a remarkable exercise in vacuousness.

One in Five US Dropouts May be Gifted

Alison Kepner:

They are bored — so much so that they may not pay attention in class or will act out in frustration.
Some make poor grades, either because they no longer care or because they have spent so many of their younger years unchallenged that when they suddenly face a rigorous course in middle or high school, they don’t know how to study.
They are the nation’s gifted children, those with abilities beyond other children their age. Too many of their abilities, advocates argue, remain untapped by U.S. schools that don’t serve them as they focus instead on lifting low-achieving students to meet the goals of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Statistically, 20 percent of U.S. school dropouts test in the gifted range, said Jill Adrian, director of family services at the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a nonprofit founded by philanthropists Bob and Jan Davidson out of a concern that the nation’s most gifted and talented children largely are neglected and underserved.

Related: “They’re all rich, white kids and they’ll do just fine” by Laurie Frost & Jeff Henriques:

Two of the most popular — and most insidious — myths about academically gifted kids is that “they’re all rich, white kids” and that, no matter what they experience in school, “they’ll do just fine.” Even in our own district, however, the hard data do not support those assertions.
When the District analyzed dropout data for the five-year period between 1995 and 1999, they identified four student profiles. Of interest for the present purpose is the group identified as high achieving. Here are the data from the MMSD Research and Evaluation Report from May, 2000:
Group 1: High Achiever, Short Tenure, Behaved
This group comprises 27% of all dropouts during this five-year period.

The Two Faces of Advance Placement Courses

Tamar Lewin writes in the New York Times January 8, 2006, about Advance Placement Classes – students and parents believe AP classes are important preparation for college, colleges have mixed feelings about students who take AP classes. “We’ve been put off for quite a while about the idea of teaching to the test, which is […]