A reporter asked me "what went wrong with the small schools idea?" It's odd question because all the networks developing highly effective new schools--KIPP, Achievement First, Success Network, Green Dot, Alliance and dozens more--still use the tried and true rule of thumb of 100 students per grade.Related: English 10.
The better question is "what went wrong with the big schools idea?" The 50-year experiment with mega-high schools of 1,500-4,500 students had disastrous results especially for low income students. The combination of anonymity and a proliferation of low expectation courses set up the results we see today: one third of American students drop out and one third graduate unprepared for college or careers.
Fixing this problem has proven vexing. The one difference between good schools and bad schools is everything--structure, schedule, curriculum, instruction, culture, and connections with families and community. That makes turnarounds, especially at the high school level, really difficult. Layer on top of that outdated employment contracts and revolving door leadership and you have a national Gordian knot.
For nearly three decades, California's largest teachers union has all but handpicked the candidate who went on to win the race for state superintendent of public instruction.
It was pretty much a given for the candidate: Get the California Teachers Association's campaign cash, gain the support of most other education groups in the state and win the race.
This year is different.
In a packed field of 12 candidates, three have emerged as the top contenders for the nonpartisan job. All three are Democrats, two of whom are splitting the support of the education establishment, and a third who has attracted support of non-establishment education reformers.
POLITICIANS around the world love to promise better education systems. Proposals for reform come in many flavours. Some tout the benefits of more competition among schools; others aim to train more teachers and reduce class sizes. Still others plump for elaborate after-school programmes or for linking teachers' pay to how well pupils do.
A relatively recent addition to this menu is the idea of paying students directly for performance. Boosters argue that pupils may fail to invest enough time and effort into education because the gains--better jobs and higher incomes--are nebulous and distant. Cash payments, on the other hand, reward good performance immediately. Link payments to test results or graduation rates, the argument goes, and test scores should increase and drop-out rates decline. Two new papers* describe the effect of such schemes in Israel and America. Their results will disappoint those who hope for a silver bullet. But they also suggest that cash payments may have their uses in some situations.
Joshua Angrist of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Victor Lavy of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem studied high-school students in 40 Israeli schools where few pupils went on to get their school-leaving certificate (the Bagrut). In half the schools students were offered a chance to earn nearly $1,450 if they passed all the tests and got the certificate. The economists found that completion rates in "payment schools" increased by about a third--but only for girls and mainly for those who needed to do only a tiny bit more to graduate.
When Nitya Rajendran started kindergarten, she didn't talk until November. "She'd point and wave," said her teacher, Rick Parbst. This year she was the lead in Trinity School's spring musical and decided to translate parts of "The Iliad" from ancient Greek. She's headed to Georgetown University in September.
In fourth grade, Cody Cowan's class was studying ancient Egypt, and he was asked to develop an irrigation system. He was fine with the engineering, but didn't know how to draw people and animals. "By the time I turned around, he had four girls doing his drawings," recalled his teacher from that year, Mary Lemons. This summer, Mr. Cowan will intern on Representative Carolyn B. Maloney's re-election campaign, and he plans to study international relations in the fall.
At Trinity, one of Manhattan's oldest independent schools, a roomful of graduating seniors and their childhood teachers unearthed these pieces of the past at the annual survivors breakfast, a rite of passage for seniors who received all 13 years of their formal education at Trinity. Over coffee and bagels and chocolate Jell-O pudding doused with crushed Oreos and gummy worms (a class of 2010 culinary tradition), the students reconnected with teachers and dished about who, at age 5 , ate Play-Doh, sang well and cried whenever his mom left the room.
California middle-and high schoolers will have to find another way to quench their thirst during lunch, other than those brightly-colored, sugar-sweetened sports drinks.
On Thursday, the California Senate passed Senate Bill: 1255, which prohibits the sale of sugar-sweetened sports drinks in public middle and high schools as part of an effort to combat childhood obesity, according to the Ventura County Star.
"Studies have shown weight gain is connected to consuming sports drinks, and I applaud the California Senate for taking action to help prevent childhood obesity," Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, R-Calif., said in a press release. Schwarzenegger sponsored the bill, which was authored by Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles.
An original 32-ounce Gatorade has four servings per container, with 14 grams of sugar, meaning consumers are taking in 56 grams of sugar if they drink one regular-size bottle. It contains no fruit juice.
Like all human beings, educators accept rules and procedures that make sense to them, even when academic types wave data in their faces proving they are wrong. That appears to be the case with one of the most powerful and widespread practices in Washington area high schools -- the extra grade point for college-level courses.
Thousands of students are taking panicked breaths wondering whether what I am about to reveal will incinerate their grade-point averages, keep them out of any college anyone has heard of and consign them to a life of begging for dollar bills like that scruffy guy on Lynn Street south of Key Bridge.
A new study shows that grade weighting for Advanced Placement courses is unnecessary. Schools have been promising students 3 grade points (usually given for a B) if they get a C in an AP course so they will not be frightened away by its college-level demands. It turns out, however, they will take AP with or without extra credit.
Academy status is "a state of mind more than anything else".
That is the view of the former Schools Commissioner, Sir Bruce Liddington, who heads EACT, which sponsors eight academies with more in the pipeline.
He was trying to answer my question: "what exactly makes an academy different?"
As we could be about to see academies in England leap from just over 200 now to well over 2,000 in a few years, it is a key issue.
Professor Chris Husbands of the Institute of Education says that it could be "the most significant change in the school system for 45 years".
Cell phone companies are finding that they're sitting on a gold mine--in the form of the call records of their subscribers.
Researchers in academia, and increasingly within the mobile industry, are working with large databases showing where and when calls and texts are made and received to reveal commuting habits, how far people travel for public events, and even significant social trends.
With potential applications ranging from city planning to marketing, such studies could also provide a new source of revenue for the cell phone companies. "Because cell phones have become so ubiquitous, mining the data they generate can really revolutionize the study of human behavior," says Ramón Cáceres, a lead researcher at AT&T's research labs in Florham Park, NJ.
Like all human beings, educators accept rules and procedures that make sense to them, even when academic types wave data in their faces proving they are wrong. That appears to be the case with one of the most powerful and widespread practices in Washington area high schools---the extra grade point for college-level courses.
Thousands of students are taking panicked breaths wondering if what I am about to reveal will incinerate their grade point averages, keep them out of any college anyone has heard of and consign them to a life of begging for dollar bills like that scruffy guy on Lynn Street south of Key Bridge.
A new study shows that grade weighting for Advanced Placement courses is unnecessary. Schools have been promising students 3 grade points (usually given for a B) if they get a C in an AP course so they will not be frightened away by its college-level demands. It turns out, however, they will take AP with or without extra credit.
The Madison School Board meets Tuesday evening, June 1, 2010 to discuss the 2010-2011 budget. A few proposed budget amendments were posted recently:
I recommend that we place a moratorium on all funding for implementation of task force recommendations, with two exceptions:
1) Funding for middle school teachers to take UW-Madison courses designed to provide algebraic concepts, reasoning, and other content for middle school math teachers who are not proficient in upper level mathematics content. (up to $67,000) [Math Task Force]
2) Funding for fine arts teachers to work over the summer to develop a curriculum guide that is aligned to the recommendations of the Fine Arts Task Force and with state standards. (up to $20,000)
This is just one example. The recent correspondence from teachers and community members regarding the difficulties in producing a quality fine arts curriculum guide point to similar issues in that curricular area. It is impossible to produce change in an organization that is not willing to change. As such, it is hard to rationalize continued funding for initiatives with little or no relationship to the task forces' findings and recommendations at a time when resources are scarce.
The board decreased Administrative Professional Development (Conference Travel) to a total of $25,000 ($10,000 Elementary, $10,000 Secondary and $5,000 Doyle-based staff). This amendment would increase this dollar amount by $87,350 to a total of $112,351..
The National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) recently released its report on "Teachers' Use of Educational Technology in U.S. Public Schools: 2009." While 97% of those teachers surveyed said they had access to computers in the classroom, the ratio of computer to student was more than 5 to 1. And while 94% of teachers responding indicated they used the Internet often, most of them - 66% - said they used it for "research."
But Internet technology has done more than make research easier and more timely for teachers and students. Educators are using the real-time Web for a variety of innovative purposes, both in and out of the schoolroom.
The Real-Time Web in the Classroom
It may be cliche to emphasis the world wide aspect of the Web, but Internet technologies have lowered the proverbial walls of the classroom, giving students access to information that far surpasses the print-bound copies of encyclopedias and periodicals that were once the standard for K-12 research projects. As technology-educator Steven Anderson argues, these technologies "really make the world smaller for our students and show them that they can find the answers they need if we equip them with the tools and resources do to so." But in addition to simply making information more accessible, real-time technologies including Twitter, Skype, and Google Wave have shaped the types of lessons teachers can create and the types of projects they can task their students.
The exam was simple yet devilish, consisting of a single noun ("water," for instance, or "bias") that applicants had three hours somehow to spin into a coherent essay. An admissions requirement for All Souls College here, it was meant to test intellectual agility, but sometimes seemed to test only the ability to sound brilliant while saying not much of anything.
"An exercise in showmanship to avoid answering the question," is the way the historian Robin Briggs describes his essay on "innocence" in 1964, a tour de force effort that began with the opening chords of Wagner's "Das Rheingold" and then brought in, among other things, the flawed heroes of Stendhal and the horrors of the prisoner-of-war camp in the William Golding novel "Free Fall."
No longer will other allusion-deploying Oxford youths have the chance to demonstrate the acrobatic flexibility of their intellect in quite the same way. All Souls, part of Oxford University, recently decided, with some regret, to scrap the one-word exam.
Like many middle-class families, Cortney Munna and her mother began the college selection process with a grim determination. They would do whatever they could to get Cortney into the best possible college, and they maintained a blind faith that the investment would be worth it.
Today, however, Ms. Munna, a 26-year-old graduate of New York University, has nearly $100,000 in student loan debt from her four years in college, and affording the full monthly payments would be a struggle. For much of the time since her 2005 graduation, she's been enrolled in night school, which allows her to defer loan payments.
This is not a long-term solution, because the interest on the loans continues to pile up. So in an eerie echo of the mortgage crisis, tens of thousands of people like Ms. Munna are facing a reckoning. They and their families made borrowing decisions based more on emotion than reason, much as subprime borrowers assumed the value of their houses would always go up.
Basil Smikle Jr. has a lot of ideas about how to address Harlem's most vexing problems, from crime to housing to underemployement, but his biggest asset as he runs for state Senate against Bill Perkins may be that he supports charter schools.
Mr. Perkins, a two-term legislator from Harlem, has outraged the charter-school community with his vocal opposition of the schools.
During a hearing on charter schools that he organized in April, Mr. Perkins said that because so many of the schools serve predominantly African-American and Hispanic children, "there is concern that charters are creating a de facto re-segregationist educational policy in New York City," Mr. Perkins said.
On Wednesday, Education Secretary Arne Duncan tried to publicly shore-up support for the $23 billion "Education Jobs Fund" being considered by Congress. Flanked by union heads Dennis Van Roekel (President, National Education Association) and Randi Weingarten (President, American Federation of Teachers) and Representatives Dave Obey (D-WI) and George Miller (D-CA), Secretary Duncan pleaded for additional taxpayers dollars:School boards and state legislatures are finalizing their education budgets for the upcoming school year and many face tough choices about whether to retain teachers and continue programs that are vital to their ability to provide a world-class education for their students. We must act quickly and responsibly to provide schools the resources they need so they don't have to make choices that would not be in the best interests of their students and teachers.
A 3.5 grade-point average is enough to qualify a student for honor roll and be considered above a B-plus average at Brookfield East High School, but it might not be enough to put a student among the top third of the class.
That's one of the reasons why sophomores at the school say they won't be sad when class rank is eliminated from high school transcripts and report cards in two years.
"We get good grades, but we don't get credit for it," said Alison Kent, a sophomore at Brookfield East. "You can have a 3.5 or higher and it looks terrible."
Nearly a decade after some of the state's top-performing high schools began dropping class rank from their students' transcripts, more are following their lead.
The Elmbrook School Board voted this month to end reporting class rank on high school transcripts and student report cards in the 2011-'12 school year. The school boards for Nicolet and Mequon-Thiensville will consider whether to enact similar measures this summer.
Under plans unveiled by Michael Gove last week, the school system in England and Wales will be radically overhauled. Some will break away from local government control. Elsewhere, other new schools will be created by parents. Here, experts discuss whether this shake-up will benefit those who matter most - our children
His fake diamond earring, only just small enough to meet school rules, is gleaming in the May sunshine. Under a tough exterior, over-long, frayed trousers and a shambling walk, is a sensitive teenager coping with a lot. Shane tells me that his girlfriend has run off with his best friend, he is not getting on with his dad's new "bird", he is looking after his seven-year-old brother who is depressed and To Kill a Mocking Bird is just "bare" hard.
This student and 80 like him have been subjected to a carefully choreographed series of interventions - one-to-one mentoring, Saturday school, motivational assemblies, extra revision classes - at the London comprehensive where I work, to try to get them to the magic number of five good GCSEs.
Girls once again outclassed boys, this time in the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) Class X examination, the results of which were announced on Friday. In Ajmer region, 93.51% candidates cleared the examination. The success rates for boys and girls were 92.26% and 95.42% respectively. Ajmer region stood second as Chennai region secured the top slot with 96.18% success rate. Board examination will be abolished from next year.
A total of 9,02,747 candidates (9.50% more than last year) had registered for the board examination and 89.28% students cleared the examination . Last year, 88.84% students cleared the test, with 90.68% girls clearing the test and 88.30% boys being successful. For the first time, the results were not in the form of marks but grades and candidates had mixed reactions about it. Under the new grading system, the CBSE has introduced a nine-point scale --A 1 (91-100 marks), A2 (81-90 ), B1 (71-80 ), B2 (61-70 ), C1 (51-60 ), C2 (41-50 ), D (33-40 ), E1 (21-32 ) and E2 (20 and below).
Simon Jenkins is right to be critical of the way in which the education proposals in the Queen's speech will further undermine local government (Comment, 26 May). However, that is the least of the problems inherent in the expansion of academies and the proposed introduction of Swedish-style "free" schools. What we will see, if the Treasury does not sabotage these expensive proposals, is more and more outsourcing of public education to private, profit-driven companies.
If this could be shown to be an effective means of raising overall standards, it might be a price worth paying, but all the evidence is to the contrary.
In middle school, Ivan Cantera ran with a Latino gang; Laura Corro was a spunky teen. At age 13, they shared their first kiss. Both made it a habit to skip class. In high school, they went their separate ways.
This fall, Ivan will enter the University of Oklahoma, armed with a prestigious scholarship. "I want to be the first Hispanic governor of Oklahoma," declares the clean-cut 18-year-old, standing on the steps of Santa Fe South High School, the charter school in the heart of this city's Hispanic enclave that he says put him on a new path.
Laura, who is 17, rose to senior class president at Capitol Hill High School, a large public school in the same neighborhood. But after scraping together enough credits to graduate, Laura isn't sure where she's headed. She never took college entrance exams.
The divergent paths taken by Laura and Ivan were shaped by many forces, but their schools played a striking role. Capitol Hill and Santa Fe South both serve the same poor, Hispanic population. Both comply with federal guidelines and meet state requirements for standardized exams and curriculum. Santa Fe South enrolls about 490 high school students, while Capitol Hill has nearly 900.
At Santa Fe South, the school day is 45 minutes longer; graduation requirements are more rigorous (four years of math, science and social studies compared with three at public schools); and there is a tough attendance
From the recent apocalyptic pronouncements of Education Secretary Arne Duncan and others, you may think our schools are selling their last bits of chalk and playground sand to employ mere skeleton crews of teachers and staff. The truth is "apocalypse not."
Yes, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten last week warned that, without a huge infusion of federal cash, public schools face "draconian cuts." And the American Association of School Administrators declared a few weeks ago that without a bailout, job losses "would deal a devastating blow to public education."
Then there's Duncan's warning, while making the TV-news rounds last week, of educational "catastrophe" if a federal rescue isn't forthcoming. And now the National Education Association has launched something called "Speak Up for Education & Kids" -- a campaign to get people to call their congressmen and demand a handout for education.
The scaremongering is producing results. House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wisc.) is planning to put $23 billion to save education jobs in a supplemental spending package. The move appears to have widespread Democratic support.
I think it's fair to say that most people know we're in the midst of an educational emergency. Just this week, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan told CNN, "There isn't one urban school district in the country--Chicago, L.A., New York, D.C., Philly, Baltimore--there's not one urban system yet where the dropout rate is low enough and the graduation rate is high enough." And for those people who work in the school system, no issue has come to represent the struggle to save public education more than the fight over charter schools. For the sake of clarity, let me just note that a charter school is one which uses public funds to run a school that is managed privately, thus giving them the freedom to experiment as well as hire nonunion teachers. Charters such as the Harlem Children's Zone HCZ in New York have longer school days (and a longer school year) with kids often required to come in Saturdays to work with tutors. The most successful charter schools (and they are not all the same in either quality or mission) have produced stunning results. At the Harlem Success Academy, 100 percent of third graders passed their state math exam and 95 percent passed the state English exam.
The inspector general of the U.S. Department of Education has reaffirmed a recommendation that the department should consider sanctions for the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, one of the nation's major regional accrediting organizations. In a report this week, the Office of Inspector General issued its final recommendations stemming from a 2009 examination of the commission's standards for measuring credit hours and program length, and affirmed its earlier critique that the commission had been too lax in its standards for determining the amount of credit a student receives for course work.More here.
The Higher Learning Commission accredits more than 1,000 institutions in 19 states. The Office of Inspector General completed similar reports for two other regional accreditors late last year but did not suggest any sanctions for those organizations.
Possible sanctions against an accreditor include limiting, suspending, or terminating its recognition by the secretary of education as a reliable authority for determining the quality of education at the institutions it accredits. Colleges need accreditation from a federally recognized agency in order to be eligible to participate in the federal student-aid programs.
At Saturday's rally in Trenton, teachers wondered when the Earth started spinning in the other direction.NJ Teacher who complained of low pay to Gov. Chris Christie makes >$100,000 with benefits.
"It's like we woke up one morning and the world had changed," said Linda Mirabelli, a music teacher in Livingston. "We were liked and respected, and now, overnight, people have turned against us."
How did it happen? That's easy: One bad decision, one stupid miscalculation: An overwhelming majority of teachers refused to accept a pay freeze. They could have won taxpayers' eternal gratitude, but instead demanded their negotiated raises and fought against contributing a dime toward budget-breaking health insurance benefits. Teachers could have pitched in, but they dug in.
They thumbed their noses at taxpayers, who have lost their jobs, had their pay cut, gone bankrupt and fallen into foreclosure. As taxpayers made less, teachers demanded more. You do that, you become a villain. Fast. It doesn't matter how many stars Junior gets on his book report.
Teachers listened to their overpaid brain trust, the architects of this disastrous public relations strategy. Together, NJEA president Barbara Keshishian, executive director Vincent Giordano and spokesman Steve Wollmer earn more than a million dollars.
Keshishian, who has been outmaneuvered by the governor at every turn, earns $256,450 annually. Giordano, with salary and deferred compensation, earned $550,203 in 2009, and Wollmer makes $300,000.
Who says you get what you pay for? Union members are shelling out a lot of money for lousy representation. They should stage a coup. Instead they joined hands at Saturday's You-And-Me-Against-The-World rally and tried to convince each other they're doing the right thing.
Steven Eisman, a hedge-fund manager whose bet against the housing market was chronicled in a best- selling book, said he has found the next "big short": higher education stocks.
The stocks of companies operating for-profit colleges could fall much as 50 percent if the U.S. tightens student-loan rules, said Eisman, manager of the financial-services fund at FrontPoint Partners, a hedge-fund unit of New York-based Morgan Stanley.
An Obama administration proposal to limit student debt would slash earnings of Apollo Group Inc., ITT Educational Services Inc. and Corinthian Colleges Inc. by forcing them to reduce tuition and slow enrollment growth, Eisman said yesterday at a New York investment conference. Without new regulation, students at for-profit colleges will default on $275 billion of loans in the next decade, he said.
Sarae White is an all-too-typical student in Philadelphia -- she stopped going to school last year, and was on her way to becoming one more dropout.
"The teachers didn't care, the students didn't care," White said. "Nobody cared, so why should I?"
In Philadelphia, the country's sixth largest school district, about one of every three students fails to graduate -- about the national average. CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker reports that of the 4 million students who enter high school every year, one million of them will drop out before graduation. That's 7,000 every school day -- one dropout every 26 seconds.
Michael Piscal, Headmaster of View Park Prep Charter School in Los Angeles said, "It's not working for teachers, it's not working for students -- it's not working for society.
Two updates on the Steven Brill NYT Mag piece and the various fallout from it.
Old: No further word from the AFT on their claim that Brill made up quotes. For his part Brill’s denial is here. If Brill’s right don’t they owe him some sort of apology? And if he’s not where’s The Times Mag?
New: A lot of back and forth about some data in the Brill article. The Washington Post published it and then published the most evasive and confusing clarification you might see all year. I think its main point is that numbers are confusing? Is Valerie Strauss becoming the bloggy equivalent of Mikey? She’ll publish anything! The school in question, NY’s HSA, disputes the claims here.
The Chicago Public Schools is a system so broke it can't afford sophomore sports, wants assistant coaches to work for free, and has summoned hundreds of teachers to the principal's office to let them know they'll be laid off over the summer. But it can still afford to pay 133 central office officials more than $100,000 a year.Ruth Robarts classic bears a visit: Annual Spring Four Act Play: Madison School's Budget Process.
That's what budget reform looks like to schools CEO Ron Huberman.
About two months ago, when Huberman and the Board of Education cut sophomore sports, they said the district, roughly $900 million in the red, could only afford to let freshmen, juniors, and seniors play after-school sports--even after laying off dozens of well paid administrators.
It irked me that a city so rich it could afford to shower subsidies on profitable corporations such as United Airlines and MillerCoors to the tune of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars couldn't afford to let sophomores play.
So I decided to do a little digging. After spending hours plowing through the 350-page 2009-2010 CPS budget, I discovered that contrary to cutting wages at the central office, Huberman and the board had given raises to scores of top bureaucrats.
The Funding Disparity: Now and Then
In 2005, a group of researchers associated with the Thomas B. Fordham Institute examined the comparative funding of charter schools in the broader context of educational finance. The goal of that study, which used data from the 2002- 2002-03 school year, was to determine whether and to what extent there were differences in the financial resources provided to charter schools when compared to public school districts in the same states. These researchers used data from 18 states across the United States, and released their results in the report "Charter School Funding: Inequity's Next Frontier." The results of this first study demonstrated a clear pattern of inequity in charter school funding. Across the states included in the study, the per pupil funding gap was $1,801 per pupil, or 21.7 percent of district funding. The funding disparity was most severe in the study's 27 focus districts, many of them urban, where charter schools received $2,256, or 23.5 percent less funding per pupil compared to the school districts in which they were located. The researchers identified lower local funding as the primary source of this fiscal gap, particularly with respect to capital investment.
What has the government proposed?
Every state school in England will be allowed to apply to become an academy - a school funded by the state but independent from local authorities. That leaves them free to set their curriculum and run themselves as they see fit. In practice, however, anything too unconventional will attract a bad rating from Ofsted, the schools watchdog. Fears that this academic freedom could, for example, lead to the teaching of Creationism as a factual discipline can therefore be largely allayed.
Hasn't this all been done already by Labour?
Yes, but the policy was limited. Only 203 academies were established under Labour out of a possible 3,100 secondary schools. The last government mainly invited bids from schools in deprived areas, arguing that this was where radical changes such as the creation of academies were most needed. But Michael Gove, the Conservative education secretary, said on Wednesday he expected the bulk of secondaries to become academies eventually. He has also invited applications from primaries, which were disbarred by Labour from bidding for academy status.
Are these academies the same as "free schools"?
Wendy Kopp is founder and chief executive of Teach For America. She proposed the creation of Teach For America in her 1989 undergraduate senior thesis at Princeton University and has spent the past 20 years working to sustain and grow the organization. Today, 7,300 corps members teach in 35 urban and rural regions across the country. The organization expanded to Milwaukee in 2009, and Marquette is one of two area universities that provides course work for corps members.Clusty Search: Wendy Kopp.
Kopp gave the Commencement address to Marquette's Class of 2010 on May 23, 2010 at the Bradley Center. More than 2,000 graduating students, their family and friends, and members of the Marquette community attended.
Last week I visited the Carpe Diem charter school in Yuma Arizona. Yuma is off the beaten path, in far western Arizona near the borders of California and Mexico.
Carpe Diem is a 6-12 school with 240 students. A value added analysis of test scores found that they have the biggest gains in the state of Arizona. Their math results are really off the chart, with some grades averaging at the 98th percentile on Terra Nova.
Carpe Diem is a hybrid model school, rotating kids between self-paced instruction on the computer and classroom instruction. Their building is laid out with one large computer lab, with classroom space in the back. They had 240 students working on computers when I walked in, and you could have heard a pin drop.
Carpe Diem has successfully substituted technology for labor. With 6 grade levels and 240 students they have only 1 math teacher and one aide who focuses on math. Covering 6-12 and 240 students and getting the best results with a demographically challenging student body = no problem for Carpe Diem. Their founder, Rick Ogston, told me they use less staff than a typical model, and have cash reserves in the bank despite relatively low per pupil funding in AZ. They have never received support from philanthropic foundations, making due with state funding, but their model seems like it could be brought to scale with the right investment.
After years of frustration over school taxes, New Jersey residents turned out in record numbers last month to reject 58 percent of their school districts' budget proposals -- sounding an unmistakable call to arms that echoed across the country.
But in the weeks since, many of the 316 defeated budgets have been adopted with few, if any, changes by town councils, where members risked thwarting the will of voters -- and incurring their wrath -- rather than cut sports, lay off teachers or increase class sizes.
In Ridgewood, an affluent village in Bergen County known for its schools, the Council whittled $100,000 from the proposed $84.9 million budget, or 0.1 percent. Average savings to taxpayers: $12 per year.
If Seattle Public Schools didn't have enough financial problems already, it now has a few of its own making.
The latest audit of the state's largest school district says the district overpaid employees by at least $335,000 in the 2008-09 school year, made several mistakes in its financial statements, and continues to claim more Native American students than it can document.
District officials called the errors unacceptable and pledged to fix them, while at the same time saying that it brought most of them to the auditor's attention and that they are a very small part of the district's budget.
The overpayment of salaries, for example, represents a small fraction of 1 percent of the district's $558 million budget, said Duggan Harmon, the district's executive director of finance.
Harmon also said none of the problems will add to the $27 million in expenses that the district already is planning to cut from its budget for the 2010-11 school year.
I once interviewed Alyson Barker, a former student at Annandale High School in Fairfax County, about her attempt to use the college admission process to drive her relationship with her parents into a ditch.
Barker's parents wanted her to attend the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, a fine state school with lower tuition for Virginia residents. Barker told them, with a 17-year-old's irritating certitude, that instead she would attend a small, expensive private school in Ohio.
Because so many area families are starting their college searches, I am going to write a few columns on the hidden pitfalls of the process. I started last week warning against overlooking the quality of campus extracurricular activities. That was important but, I realize now, not the right place to begin.
South Orange County is a suburban paradise is southern California. The climate is unbeatable, the surfing is great and the public schools are performing well. But not everything is perfect in the Capistrano Unified School District.
In April 2010, 2,200 teachers went on strike for three days after the school board imposed a 10 percent pay cut. The children who attended school during the strike had to walk past their teachers who, instead of preparing for class, were marching in front of the school with picket signs reading "It's not about the money" and "We'd rather be teaching."
Some parents honked in support of the union as they drove by. Other parents were frustrated by union members who were unwilling to work out a compromise with a district that is facing a $34 million budget deficit. Lots of parents talked about using the strike as "a teaching moment."
Are you worried that we are passing our debt on to future generations? Well, you need not worry.Locally, the Madison School Board meets Tuesday evening, 6/1 to discuss the 2010-2011 budget, which looks like it will raise property taxes at least 10%. A number of issues have arisen around the District's numbers, including expenditures from the 2005 maintenance referendum.
Before this recession it appeared that absent action, the government's long-term commitments would become a problem in a few decades. I believe the government response to the recession has created budgetary stress sufficient to bring about the crisis much sooner. Our generation -- not our grandchildren's -- will have to deal with the consequences.
According to the Bank for International Settlements, the United States' structural deficit -- the amount of our deficit adjusted for the economic cycle -- has increased from 3.1 percent of gross domestic product in 2007 to 9.2 percent in 2010. This does not take into account the very large liabilities the government has taken on by socializing losses in the housing market. We have not seen the bills for bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and even more so the Federal Housing Administration, which is issuing government-guaranteed loans to non-creditworthy borrowers on terms easier than anything offered during the housing bubble. Government accounting is done on a cash basis, so promises to pay in the future -- whether Social Security benefits or loan guarantees -- do not count in the budget until the money goes out the door.
A good percentage of the structural increase in the deficit is because last year's "stimulus" was not stimulus in the traditional sense. Rather than a one-time injection of spending to replace a cyclical reduction in private demand, the vast majority of the stimulus has been a permanent increase in the base level of government spending -- including spending on federal jobs. How different is the government today from what General Motors was a decade ago? Government employees are expensive and difficult to fire. Bloomberg News reported that from the last peak businesses have let go 8.5 million people, or 7.4 percent of the work force, while local governments have cut only 141,000 workers, or less than 1 percent.
I've not seen any updates on Susan Troller's April, 12, 2010 question: "Where did the money go?" It would seem that proper resolution of this matter would inform the public with respect to future spending and tax increases.
Is Seattle Schools Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson in for a drubbing tomorrow?Melissa Westbrook has more.
The school board will hear a report from a local consulting company that summarizes what individual board members have said about the superintendent in one-on-one interviews, as well as what Goodloe-Johnson has said about herself.
The report will be used for a formal evaluation of the superintendent and will help determine whether she gets a raise and an additional bonus. It will also influence whether her contract, which runs through 2012, is extended.
If the report is anything like a recent community group's survey, Goodloe-Johnson is in trouble.
Kurt Schmoke, the former mayor of Baltimore who helped broker the contract agreement between D.C. schools and its teachers union, had strong words for those who wanting to improve education. "Stop demonizing the unions," he told an education roundtable convened Wednesday at the Aspen Institute. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan quickly seconded his message. I couldn't help wondering if the two had happened to catch Monday night's final episode of "Law & Order."
The program, centered on a frantic search to find a blogger threatening to assault a New York City high school, deals with some of the thorny issues of school management and reform. The program's title, "The Rubber Room," comes from the real-life temporary reassignment centers where New York City teachers who are facing disciplinary action are sent. For those who are less avid "Law & Order" fans and missed the show, detectives first suspect a deranged student, but it turns out the blogger, called Moot, is a teacher who had been sent to a rubber room after he was falsely accused of molesting a student.
Academy status will become the norm for state secondary schools, the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, forecast yesterday.More here.
Mr Gove revealed he had written to every state school head in England - primary, secondary and special - urging them to consider putting in a bid for academy status.
If they take up his offer, it would bring to an end 108 years of local authorities running the vast majority of state schools. Mr Gove predicted that secondary schools would initially be more interested in taking up the offer than primaries. "I anticipate that's likely to be the case [for academy status to be the norm for secondary schools]," he added. "However, I'm not putting a time limit on it. It's up to the schools to decide."
The NCAA has a message for would-be college athletes hoping to use online courses to bolster their high school transcripts: proceed with caution.
The organization announced Tuesday that it will stop accepting course credit from two virtual schools based in Utah and Illinois as part of a move to strengthen high school eligibility standards in Division I.
That means no more high school credit from Brigham Young University's independent study program. The school in Provo, Utah, has previously been targeted by NCAA investigators and federal prosecutors pursuing claims of academic fraud at Missouri, Kansas, Mississippi, Nicholls State and Barton County Community College in Kansas.
Also on the prohibited list is the American School, a correspondence program based in Lansing, Ill.
New NCAA rules approved last month require "regular access and interaction" between teachers and students in the 16 core courses required to establish initial eligibility for new college athletes.
Guess how long it is before the state of New York runs out of cash? Less than a week, according to the state's comptroller.
On June 1, New York is due to send $3.8 billion in aid to local school districts, including $2.1 billion that was supposed to be paid in March but not sent for lack of funds. Yet New York is still $1 billion short. This could affect school operations, the solvency of any business that sells goods or services to the state, the paychecks of state workers, and ultimately home values.
At the state capitol in Albany, you wouldn't sense there's a crisis. The state senate still meets only half a work-week, Monday evening through Wednesday. Meanwhile, Democratic legislators (in the majority) are shuttling back and forth between Albany and the Democratic Party's state nominating convention at the Rye Town Hilton in Westchester County, 150 miles away.
The crowded meeting rooms and festooned ballrooms are where you'll find the action. Legislators are securing their nominations for another two-year term. Never mind that legislative malpractice is to blame for the cash running out.a
Lesley Surman, a 42-year-old housewife and mother of three - "working class and proud of it" - wants to set up a new secondary school in the west Yorkshire village of Birkenshaw.Related Links: The Guardian's Editorial.
Mrs Surman is no fantasist. She is part of a group of about 60 activists trying to establish the school in 2013 because she harbours doubts about the alternatives available to local parents. "We want to get back to core values, pastoral care and a school where you celebrate winning." Instead of offering "beauty therapy and mechanics" - vocational subjects increasingly offered in the state sector - she would prefer a focus on nine or so academic subjects, including science and history.
The answer to her problems could lie several hundred miles across the North Sea. Tomorrow's Queen's Speech, outlining the ruling coalition's legislative priorities, is expected to use Sweden's "free schools" as a model for an overhaul of the English education system, making it easier for parents and teachers to create privately run but state-funded primary and secondary schools.
"Free" in the sense of independent, these private establishments were introduced in 1995 to provide greater choice for parents unable to afford the fees for Sweden's tiny (now even tinier) privately funded sector. Underpinning the policy of the country's centre-right government was the free-market principle that competition would raise standards in all schools as state institutions were forced to work harder to keep up.
The government has similar hopes for England (Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are responsible for their own education policies) - where, in spite of large numbers of private, fee-charging, schools, 93 per cent of children are state educated.
"Legislation will be introduced to...give teachers greater freedom over the curriculum and allow new providers to run state schools."
The purpose of the Bill is to:
Give full effect to the range of programmes envisaged in the Coalition agreement.
The main benefits of the Bill will be:
The main elements of the Bill are:
- To give all schools greater freedom over the curriculum
- To improve school accountability
- To take action to tackle bureaucracy
- To improve behaviour in schools
- To provide schools with the freedoms to deliver an excellent education in the way they see fit.
- To reform Ofsted and other accountability frameworks to ensure that head teachers are held properly accountable for the core educational goals of attainment and closing the gap between rich and poor.
- To introduce a slimmer curriculum giving more space for teachers to decide how to teach.
- To introduce a reading test for 6 year olds to make sure that young children are learning and to identify problems early.
- To give teachers and head teachers the powers to improve behaviour and tackle bullying.
- We expect standards across the education sector to rise through the creation of more Academies and giving more freedom to head teachers and teachers. We will also ensure that money follows pupils, and introduce a 'pupil premium' so that more money follows the poorest pupils.
With young children receiving twice as many vaccines as they did 25 years ago, many parents are seeking to postpone at least some shots. A new study, though, finds no benefit to a child's development in delaying vaccines, and doctors warn that waiting can expose kids to possible disease.
One of the researchers, Michael J. Smith, a pediatric infectious-disease specialist at the University of Louisville School of Medicine in Kentucky, says some parents request alternative immunization schedules out of concern that getting so many vaccines in such a short time period might lead to health problems later on.
Dr. Smith and Charles R. Woods, also a pediatric infectious-disease specialist, looked at results of intelligence, speech and behavior tests conducted on children several years after receiving their infant vaccines and found few differences between children who were vaccinated on schedule and those who waited. "This study suggests that delaying vaccines does not give infants any advantage in terms of brain development," Dr. Smith said. Published online Monday in the medical journal Pediatrics, the study is believed to be the first to address the issue of delayed vaccination.
CNN's Alina Cho talks to a recent graduate loaded down with $275,000 in student debt.
The law of supply and demand drove SKEMA, a French business school, to open campuses in the emerging markets of China and Morocco, and to start planning for expansion into India, Brazil and possibly Russia.
But the decision to set up shop in the United States was driven by something a bit more emotional. "For European students, this is a dream; America is a dream for them," says Alice Guilhon, the school's dean. "And it is a dream for us, to be known in the U.S."
While Harvard Business School, the Wharton School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business might not be the kind of competition that most institutions would willingly seek out, well-regarded European business schools like SKEMA have in the last few years ratcheted up their efforts to be known and respected in the United States.
SKEMA -- created last year by the merger of ESC Lille School of Management and CERAM Business School - is hoping to build its global reputation by situating its new campuses near hubs of the technology industry, and saw a venture in the United States as key to that strategy. "To be in America is to be close to the headquarters of all the big firms, to be where the story began," Guilhon says. "To be well-known in America, it is leverage for the visibility of the school in the world."
The congratulations offered by the comedian Patton Oswalt to Brian Corman, the Columbia University 2010 School of General Studies valedictorian, in a Twitter message on Tuesday were hardly heartfelt. The message linked to an online video showing that Mr. Corman's valedictory speech had appropriated material from Mr. Oswalt's stand-up routine. The Twitter message drew an apology from the student and a statement by the university that it was "deeply distressed." On his Twitter account Mr. Oswalt, right, a star of "The King of Queens" and "Ratatouille," wrote: "Congrats to Columbia University valedictorian Brian Corman! Great speech."
In this postrecession, digital era, colleges must reevaluate how accessible they are--or, often, how inaccessible they really are--to their potential customers, or, as you call them, "college students." Schools must change their business models to attract more students if they have any hope of surviving in the current competitive economic environment.
Over the past 10 years, we have seen a definitive shift from brick-and-mortar to online offerings across most industries. If 20 years ago you were told that shopping malls would be cannibalized by online shopping sites like eBay (EBAY) and Amazon.com (AMZN), and that movies would be accessed online through Netflix (NFLX) instead of at the movie theater, many of us would have found that difficult to believe. Yet the companies that failed to adapt to the digital consumer's demand for instant, online access struggled or failed. And for the companies actively marketing online to consumers with infinite options at their fingertips, competition has never been tougher. Online consumers today are looking for the best, most reliable bargain.
Alameda voters embark today on a monthlong, mail-only election to decide whether taxes will be raised to support public schools. Both sides describe the outcome as Armageddon for the quiet island city.
Measure E is a parcel tax that would give Alameda some of the highest school taxes in the Bay Area: Homeowners would pay $659 a year and business owners would owe up to $9,500 annually per parcel.
If it passes, many small business owners, already struggling with the recession, say they'll be forced to close, stripping Alameda of its mom-and-pop charm. If the measure fails, the district's superintendent warns that half the schools in town would close.
"If this doesn't pass, all bets are off in Alameda," said Encinal High School Principal Mike Cooper, a fifth-generation Alamedan. "We're watching the collapse of public education. We've been trying to make this work, but something's got to give."
You know what would be, like, a total buzzkill? Signing a scholarship to play collegiate basketball at a major institution, making good on your end of the commitment, and then finding out after a year -- or two or three -- that, hey, thanks for coming, but we kind of need that scholarship for someone vastly more talented now. Would you mind transferring? This is where we the school will kindly remind you that your scholarship is a one-year, merit-based, renewable document, and we are under no obligation to extend it for another year should we choose not to. Any questions?
Harsh, bro. Harsh. The practice of sending players away via transfer to make room for scholarships is called a runoff, and it happens more frequently than it should -- which is to say it shouldn't happen at all.
Typically, runoff players transfer quietly, moving on from their schools with little protest. Sometimes, though, a player or a player's family gets angry about what they see as a raw deal. Sometimes they talk to the media. These are important moments; they draw the curtain back on one of college basketball's most unfair, exploitative policies, and they're worth discussing when they arrive.
Last year's biggest such moment came when Kentucky coach John Calipari oversaw the transfer of seven players leftover from Billy Gillispie's tenure at the school. Several of those players publicly claimed they forced out of the program, while Calipari insisted that he merely told those players they likely wouldn't get much playing time if they decided to stay at UK.
State Superintendent Tony Evers issued a statement today on the $13.8 million, four-year longitudinal data system (LDS) grant Wisconsin won to support accountability. Wisconsin was among 20 states sharing $250 million in competitive funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.2. Post-graduation Information Available to Wisconsin Schools
"Receiving this U.S. Department of Education grant is very good news for Wisconsin and will allow us to expand our data system beyond its current PK-16 capacity. Through this grant, the Department of Public Instruction will work with the University of Wisconsin System, Wisconsin Technical College System, and the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities to develop an interoperable data system that supports the exchange of data and ad hoc research requests.
"Teacher quality, training, and professional development are key factors in improving student achievement. However, Wisconsin's aging teacher licensing and certification system is insufficient for today's accountability demands. This grant will allow us to improve our teacher licensing system and incorporate licensing data into the LDS, which will drive improvement in classroom instruction and teacher education.
Public schools in Wisconsin can now obtain, at no cost, post-graduation student data for local analysis.
The Department of Public Instruction recently signed a contract with the National Student Clearinghouse, a non-profit organization which works with more than 3,300 postsecondary institutions nationwide to maintain a repository of information on enrollment, degrees, diplomas, certificates, and other educational achievements.
The NSC data can answer questions such as
Where in the country, and when, do our high school graduates enroll in college?
How long do their education efforts persist?
Do they graduate from college?
What degrees do they earn?
The DPI will integrate information about graduates from Wisconsin high schools into the Wisconsin Longitudinal Data System (LDS). In addition, any public high school or district in Wisconsin can use the NSC StudentTracker service to request similar data for local analysis.
Sports: swimming, tennis, soccer
Swimming highlights: John is a four-time letterwinner and two-year captain at East. He was a member of three state-qualifying relays his senior year. He earned All-State honorable mention for the 200 freestyle relay, which tied for seventh at the WIAA Division 1 state meet. He also swam on the 200 medley relay (16th) and 400 freestyle relay (13th). He earned Wisconsin Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association Academic All-State honors and the team's Purgolder Award for leadership his senior year. He was an alternate at state as a junior and named the team's Most Improved Swimmer his freshman year.
Other sports highlights: John is a four-year member of the Purgolders' JV tennis team as a doubles player. As a senior, he is playing No. 1 doubles with Aaron Lickel and they have a 15-4 record. He earned a varsity letter as a sophomore when was an alternate for East at the state tournament. He played soccer as a freshman and on the JV team as a senior.
The Madison School District is holding an update to their Strategic Planning Process this week. A number of documents have been distributed, including:
Cristina Sepe and Marguerite Roza via a Deb Britt email:
K-12 school districts that lay off teachers by seniority, a policy known as "last in, first out," disproportionately affect the programs and students in their poorer and more minority schools than in their wealthier, less minority counterparts.Complete report: 354K PDF.
Looking at the 15 largest districts in California, researchers at the Center on Reinventing Public Education found that teachers at risk of layoffs are indeed concentrated in schools with more poor and minority students.
In these districts, if seniority-based layoffs are applied for teachers with up to two years' experience, highest-poverty schools would lose some 30 percent more teachers than wealthier schools, and highest-minority schools would lose 60 percent more teachers than would schools with the fewest minority students.
Thousands of New York City's strongest teachers are in danger of losing their jobs--with no consideration given to their talent, only how long they've been teaching. And the real losers will be children, says Schools Chancellor Joel Klein.
When the principal at P.S. 40 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, talks about the impact on students of one of her best teachers, Malvola Lewis, her eyes fill with tears.
After growing up in homeless shelters, Lewis earned an education degree from Brooklyn College and returned to her old neighborhood to teach at P.S. 40, a historically hard-to-staff school. Now she's one of the school's strongest teachers; her students are making more progress than almost any other class in the school. And they love her.
Lewis is a terrific teacher. Despite her exceptional work, though, she (and thousands of teachers like her) may be laid off shortly because of antiquated seniority rules in New York City. The real losers will be children.
Teachers are professionals, and they deserve to be treated the way professionals in almost every other line of work are: evaluated based upon their work.
The District's Appeal Brief is in -- A link to the appeal is shown on the lower left.Much more on the initial, successful rollback of Seattle's Discovery Math program here
The Seattle School District's first brief in its appeal of Judge Spector's decision was filed on Friday. To me, it is not surprising that its arguments are weak. I don't think we could ever have scored this unprecedented victory had our case not been extremely well founded. Nonetheless, one can't predict what the appeals panel will rule.
Basically, the brief restates the district's original contention that, because the specified process was followed, any decision made by the board, (I might add -- regardless of how it flouted overwhelming evidence) must stand. Also, the brief misstates and misinterprets many aspects of our case. One of the most egregious examples is the contention that the court overstepped its authority by making a decision on curriculum. Not so - the court simply remanded the board's decision back to the board on the basis of the lack of evidence to support the decision.
We have 30 days to file our response brief (by June 21), and SPS has 15 days after (by July 6) to file its rebuttal. Our attorney tells me that a hearing will be scheduled after all briefs have been filed.
Today, when you were supposed to be reading your book, and while I was meeting with another student, I saw you writing something furiously. You are one of the few students in the class who regularly and dutifully records your thoughts on post-its, and, when I excused myself from my conference to come see what you were doing, I expected to see just that. However, when I asked you what you were doing, you told me about your book. I listened, but continued to glance at what you were trying to hide under your arm. When I saw it, I was less than happy. You were doing last night's homework, and I was livid.
I did not react as I should have. Taking your paper and crumpling it was inappropriate. Had I thought for a moment, instead of reacting instantly, I would have remembered that you are one of the most diligent, hard-working students in the class. I would have realized something was amiss.
I should have asked you why you didn't do your homework, rather than make rash assumptions. But I didn't. Instead, I tossed your paper in the trash and returned to the other student, without a word to you or even a glance back, thinking that you'd receive the message of disappointment and disdain I sought to deliver. (Maybe I didn't want to see the horror that had surely set upon your face).
When I finished with the other student, I called you over to my desk and told you to sit. Again, I seethed, and let my emotions get the best of me. I continued to lecture you and said I was upset with two things: you didn't do your homework, and you lied to me.
When he moved to Milwaukee from a tiny town in Mexico, Carlos Torres couldn't speak a word of English. Not even hello or goodbye.
He was a frightened kid, plunked into fifth grade at a south side Milwaukee school. His family - he's the youngest of 10 children - rented a place near 14th and Lincoln.
Now, a mere dozen years later, Carlos is a standout graduate of Marquette High School and, as of last weekend, the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Faced with an enviable choice among four medical schools that accepted him, he has chosen Harvard on a full-tuition scholarship. He's the first member of his family to graduate from college.
As American dreams go, this one's pretty vivid.
Carlos became an American citizen, by the way. You may already be wondering about that. We're living in sensitive times when it comes to immigration issues. Carlos admits he was tempted to wear a shirt to UW graduation saying, "Do I look legal? Want to see my papers?" but he thought better of it.
Lately, when Cheryl Gismonde logs onto her Facebook account, she often finds messages that veer wildly from the usual array of restaurant recommendations and photos of other people's children.
A recent post from one of her friends reads: "Burlington County has 39 school districts!! So let's figure the average Super makes $150K, maybe an assistant at $100K, and a Business Administrator at $90K. That's approx. $13 million and some of these Supers have districts with just 2-3 schools. Entirely too much $$ wasted on positions that arent hands-on with the ki. . .ds."
Similar messages are being posted by friends and fellow parents from around South Jersey on an almost daily basis, said Gismonde, a mother of three living in Cherry Hill.
"People are starting to get angry. They're asking why we need to give up teachers when we're floating another $50,000 to an administrator," she said. "People are posting this person's salary and that person's salary. It's getting pretty crazy."
With public schools across New Jersey facing historic budget cuts next school year, taxpayers - and the governor's office - are turning their attention to the matter of school administrator pay.
The average salary for a superintendent in New Jersey is $154,409, about $9,000 above the national average but below that of other states in the region, according a 2008 report commissioned by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators (NJASA).
A former Pennsylvania high school student has sued school and county officials for damages in a controversial sexting case.
The student alleges a violation of her constitutional rights, in a civil suit filed last week that could serve as a cautionary tale to other officials considering punishing students over risque self-portraits.
In the complaint filed in a U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania, the former student -- identified only as "N.N." -- accuses former District Attorney George P. Skumanick, Jr., principal Gregory Ellsworth, the Tunkhannock School District and Wyoming County of violating her constitutional rights (.pdf). The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages.
The complaint alleges that officials had no probable cause to seize and search her phone, and violated her privacy and her right to free expression by punishing her for storing nude and semi-nude photos of herself on her phone.
To track how well Johnny could read last week -- and the week before that -- Gina Tortorice can now drag her finger across the front of an iPod Touch and watch her student's progress.
The first-grade teacher is one of 11 educators at the adjacent Black Hawk Middle and Gompers Elementary schools using KidGrid, an experimental iPod application designed by UW-Madison researchers to make documenting student progress frequent, instantaneous and high-tech.
"It's been very powerful for teachers, because they can keep track of data over time to see trends, and they can see specific growth in student learning," said Anne Schoenemann, an instructional resource teacher at Gompers. "What we really need to be doing is moving into the technology age and supporting teachers with the tools they need to collect data in an efficient manner - and paper and pencil doesn't always do it."
COMPARISONS between California and the land of Socrates have become frequent recently. They are different, of course. California is nowhere near defaulting on its debts (though rating agencies consider that risk greater in California than in the other 49 states). But California has become America's symbol of fiscal mismanagement as Greece is now Europe's.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's lame-duck governor, conceded as much on May 14th, when he updated his budget proposal to the legislature. After several rounds of painful spending cuts, California is now contemplating a budget that is, when adjusted for inflation and population growth, smaller than it was a decade ago. And yet the state still confronts a budget hole estimated at $17.9 billion in the current and coming fiscal years. Mr Schwarzenegger, a Republican in a high-tax state, wants to plug that hole without raising taxes, with more cuts and some federal aid.
The AJC examined the oft-made charge that schools are not cutting many high-salaried central office while they slash and burn their way through the teacher ranks. Turns out it's true.
The AJC analysis found that while metro school districts have laid off "central office staff," most of those cuts are lower-salaried jobs, not high-paid administrators. (Many of these folks function as cabinets to the superintendents, and I think few leaders ever want to get rid of their personal posses.)
In the story, central office staffs are defended as behind-the-scenes lifelines, who help and support schools. But are these folks in "adviser" and "expert" roles any real help to teachers and students? Or do a lot of people at the top only put more pressure on the bottom?
According to the AJC analysis: (This is only an excerpt. Please, read the whole piece.)More than 1,000 public school administrators in metro Atlanta earn more than $100,000 a year, an Atlanta Journal-Constitution review of school salary data shows.
The review shows that Atlanta Public Schools, the smallest of metro Atlanta's major school districts, has the highest administrative costs. Cobb County, while having the second-largest student population in the state, has one of the smallest central-office staffs and some of the lowest costs. DeKalb schools have more people making $100,000-plus a year than any district.
The AJC analysis comes as metro school districts are laying off more than 1,500 teachers, increasing class sizes and cutting budgets by tens of millions of dollars. While districts say they are also cutting "central office staff," most of those cuts are lower-salaried jobs, not high-paid administrators.
Stuart Bennett, executive director of the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders, says central office pay is not out of line.
"I don't think they've just pulled these salaries out of thin air," he said. "A lot of districts have done salary studies with private industry. It looks like a lot of people are making those salaries, but we have a couple of districts whose budgets are around a billion dollars."
On average in Georgia, the central office accounts for 5 percent of a district's operating budget. In metro Atlanta, that average increases to 6 percent. But Atlanta Public Schools spends nearly 10 percent of its budget on administration.
And then there were two. Friday's abrupt withdrawal by Robert Schiller from consideration as Polk County school superintendent leaves two candidates to replace Gail McKinzie, who will retire near year's end.
It also leaves in its wake a big divide between Polk Businesses for World Class Education - which pledged $50,000 to assure a nationwide search for a replacement - and the School Board. The board meets Tuesday to make a selection and to hear a plea from Polk Businesses' Hunt Berryman, who said the entire process should begin anew.
"The whole thing is a sham and a shame," Berryman said. He's particularly upset at School Board member Frank O'Reilly, who asked Schiller if he'd ever applied for another superintendent's position in Florida.
When Schiller said yes (15 years ago in Palm Beach County), O'Reilly asked a follow-up: "Never applied in Pinellas County?"
Schiller replied, "No, not that I can recall." Caught by an Internet search (the information was on the St. Petersburg Times' website), Schiller later told O'Reilly he should have asked the question "in private."
From the outside, it looks like any other school in Kabul. A red two-story building is sealed off from the street by a high wall. A few trees stand in the front yard. Children constantly go in and out.
But listen carefully. When the noise of the traffic dies down, you can hear the gentle sounds of violins being played and the patter of drums. In this city where music was illegal less than a decade ago, a new generation of children is being raised to understand its joys.
"This school is unique in Afghanistan," said Muhammad Aziz, a 19-year-old student who dreams of becoming one of the world's greatest players of the tabla, a South Asian drum. "It's the only professional music school and there are so many good teachers here."
The new National Institute of Music has been offering some courses for the past several months, but the formal opening will be later in May.
Shocking findings about violence and abuse at schools have been revealed in a survey of secondary students.
About seven in 10 students questioned by researchers from the Chinese University of Hong Kong said they have been victims of physical violence and verbal abuse, while a third have been sexually harassed.
More than half of the 1,800 respondents to the survey, which was conducted between December and February, admitted they have bullied schoolmates, though this sort of bad behavior lessens as they grow more mature.
On that, Chen Ji-kang, an assistant professor at the university's department of social work, said there is a higher incidence of violence among juniors, particularly Form One students, and boys are usually the aggressors.
On positive interaction between students, Chen said support from friends is crucial for victims.
There's an ugly secret of global poverty, one rarely acknowledged by aid groups or U.N. reports. It's a blunt truth that is politically incorrect, heartbreaking, frustrating and ubiquitous:
It's that if the poorest families spent as much money educating their children as they do on wine, cigarettes and prostitutes, their children's prospects would be transformed. Much suffering is caused not only by low incomes, but also by shortsighted private spending decisions by heads of households.
That probably sounds sanctimonious, haughty and callous, but it's been on my mind while traveling through central Africa with a college student on my annual win-a-trip journey. Here in this Congolese village of Mont-Belo, we met a bright fourth grader, Jovali Obamza, who is about to be expelled from school because his family is three months behind in paying fees. (In theory, public school is free in the Congo Republic. In fact, every single school we visited charges fees.)
News of Martin Gardner's death began circulating on Saturday night. For those of you who are unfamiliar with his work, here's a taste of the kinds of puzzles he was famous for bringing to the world. Of course, he did much more: 15 years ago, I had the great honor of meeting him and his wife for a profile of him, which you can read here.
I still have the trick pen he gave me as a souvenir, one that I'll show anyone who comes by my desk. (I'll try to post a video of the pen.) It brings back fond memories of being shown his stash of magic tricks and gag gifts, his thoughtful comments on irrational beliefs, his experiences with mathematicians like Paul Erdős and the Gardners' feeding of feral kittens that came to the back deck of the house every afternoon.
The future of charter schools in New York hangs on negotiations between City Hall and teachers union President Michael Mulgrew. This is perverse.
The United Federation of Teachers is fighting to limit the growth of charters even as the state's application for as much as $700 million in federal Race to the Top money demands letting the number of schools expand.
Mulgrew's strategy has been to give the nod to upping the charter cap while trying to make it all but impossible for a sponsor to open one of these privately run, publicly funded academies. For example, by creating barriers to moving a charter into unused space in a public school building.
Although the city's charter schools have almost universally racked up amazing achievement gains, the UFT resists them because most are not unionized. And the more successful charters have become, the greater the resistance has grown
The Houston Independent School District is in the midst of developing a long-term strategic plan that will provide a road map for the future as the district strives to become the best public school system in the nation. To ensure that all key stakeholders are engaged and involved in this process, HISD is inviting any member of the Houston community to give their input at an open discussion on Monday, May 24, from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at the Hattie Mae White Educational Support Center's board auditorium (4440 West 18th Street).Related: Madison School District Strategic Planning Process.
To develop a long-term Strategic Direction, HISD is working with the Apollo Consulting Group in a six-month effort that started in February 2010 and will culminate in August with the release of a final plan. The goal is to create a set of core initiatives and key strategies that will allow HISD to build upon the beliefs and visions established by the HISD Board of Education and to provide the children of Houston with the highest quality of primary and secondary education.
Over the past two months, HISD has been gathering input from members of Team HISD, as well as from parents and members of the Houston community, including faith-based groups, non-profit agencies, businesses, and local and state leaders. After analyzing feedback and conducting diagnostic research, a number of core initiatives have emerged. They include placing an effective teacher in every classroom, supporting the principal as the CEO, developing rigorous instructional standards and support, ensuring data driven accountability, and cultivating a culture of trust through action.
"True transformation cannot happen overnight and it cannot happen without the input from everyone at Team HISD and those in our community who hold a stake in the education of Houston's children," says Superintendent of Schools Terry B. Grier. "In order for it to be meaningful, we need everyone to lend their voice to the process and help us shape the future direction of HISD."
Sokhom Mao will do something today that few like him ever do: He'll graduate from college.
Little about Mao appears unusual, except maybe his waist-length black hair. He's 23, like many students who will walk the stage today at San Francisco State University. He majored in criminal justice, has applied for the usual summer internships and wants to become a politician.
What's rare about this graduating senior is that he was raised in a group home since age 12. His mother had died, leaving him in the care of abusive relatives. Just 2 percent of foster youth earn a bachelor's degree, research shows.
Mao is in that small club because of the Guardian Scholars, a program at San Francisco State that mimics, to the extent possible, the role of parents for students who have none.
The Detroit school board and its emergency financial manager battled over money and power in two Wayne County Circuit Court cases on Friday.
Irene Nordé, a math administrator for the Detroit Public Schools, testified Friday that state appointee Robert Bobb made changes to the curriculum that put students in jeopardy of not being able to pass standardized tests.
That's because, she said, teachers have been instructed to focus on remediation, rather than moving students forward.
Nordé was subpoenaed by attorneys for the school board, which alleges that Bobb is violating state law by making academic decisions and not consulting with the board on financial plans as required by law.
Bobb refuted Nordé's claim. "We'll let the data speak for itself," he said, referring to test scores.
The case, which will continue for another six to eight weeks, could determine who has authority over much-needed reform in a school district where students received the lowest scores on 2009 national math and reading tests.
Colorado won a $17.4 million federal grant to build a statewide data system that will link information about public school students from the time they enter preschool to when they graduate from college.
The grant was announced at noon by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
Colorado was one of 20 states to share $250 million in stimulus funds intended to support the development of systems that link data across time and databases, from early childhood into careers, including matching teachers to students, according to the Institute of Education Sciences.
The student data will be kept private.
All 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands applied for the grants. Colorado's was the fourth largest grant.
Police estimate there are now more than 1,100 confirmed gang members in Madison and about 40 gangs, about 12 of which are the main Latino gangs.Related: Gangs & School Violence Forum audio, video & links.
The Dane County Enhanced Youth Gang Prevention Task Force recommended in August 2007 that a countywide gang coordinator's position be considered. That group's co-chairman, former Madison police Capt. Luis Yudice, who's also security coordinator for the Madison School District, first called for a "comprehensive strategy so we can all work in unison" to address gang violence in September 2005.
Since then, Yudice said, staff in Madison schools are recognizing more issues involving gangs among students, which he attributes in part to greater awareness and training.
"We have gang-involved kids in probably most of our high schools and middle schools and some of our elementary schools," he said. Staff do a good job of keeping gang activity out of the schools, he said, and work closely with students, families, police and social workers in an effort to keep students out of gangs.
Locally, the gang issue is not unique to Madison schools. "We're seeing more gang activity in the suburban school districts," Yudice said, as well as the emergence of hate groups targeting blacks and Latinos in Madison, Deerfield, Cottage Grove and DeForest.
Summer vacation for Hawaii's schoolchildren starts on Wednesday. About 170,000 young people will be hitting the beach, the mall, grandma's house, the sofa -- all the places they have already been spending most Fridays for nearly the entire school year. Seventeen school days were sliced out of their educations by a series of school-closing teacher furloughs to help close a nearly $1 billion state budget gap.
The furloughs were rightly deplored by parents and denounced by Education Secretary Arne Duncan, and showed Hawaii's political and education establishment at its worst. When the first "furlough Friday" happened last October, we didn't imagine that Hawaii -- which has one statewide school district with a lackluster record of achievement -- would slouch through the rest of the school year without getting its kids back in their seats.
Mike Lipp is athletic director at Madison's West High School. Previously, he was a science teacher at the school for 20 years, and coached swimming, soccer and baseball. He also was a science teacher in DeForest for 15 years.
Lipp, 59, this month began a one-year term as president of the teacher unit of Madison Teachers Inc., the union that represents teachers, related professionals and school support personnel. His grandmother and father-in-law were union members and he was in the United Auto Workers during a summer when he was a graduate student.
In your personal finances, what would you do if your expenses exceeded your revenue?
That happens in several levels, when you get a mortgage or when you get a car loan. I have never bought a car with cash. ... Personally, you can operate in the red but governments have to operate in the black. It's a funny system.
I requested the messages via an open records request out of concerns expressed to me that public communications to this email address were not always making their way to our elected representatives on the Madison Board of Education. Another email address has since been created for direct public communication to the Board of education: email@example.com
There has been extensive back and forth on the scope of the District's response along with the time, effort and expense required to comply with this request. I am thankful for the extensive assistance I received with this request.
I finally am appreciative of Attorney Dan Mallin's fulfillment (a few items remain to be vetted) and response, included below:
As we last discussed, attached are several hundreds of pages of e-mails (with non-MMSD emails shortened for privacy purposes) that:It would be good public policy to post all communications sent to the District. Such a simple effort may answer many questions and provide a useful look at our K-12 environment.
(1) Are not SPAM / commercial solicitations / organizational messages directed to "school districts" generally
(2) Are not Pupil Records
(3) Are not auto-generated system messages (out of office; undeliverable, etc.)
(4) Are not inquiries from MMSD employees about how to access their work email via the web when the web site changed (which e-mails typically contained their home email address)
(5) Are not technical web-site related inquiries (e.g., this link is broken, etc.)
(6) Are not random employment inquiries / applications from people who didn't know to contact the Human Resources department and instead used the comments address (e.g., I'm a teacher and will be moving to Madison, what job's are open?).
(7) Are not geneology-related inquiries about relatives and/or long-lost friends/teachers/etc.
(8) Are not messages that seek basic and routine information that would be handled clerically(e.g., please tell me where I can find this form; how do I get a flyer approved for distribution; what school is ____ address assigned to; when is summer school enrollment, etc.)
Some of the above may have still slipped in, but the goal was to keep copying costs as low as possible. Once all of the e-mails within your original request were read to determine content, it took over 2 hours to isolate the attached messages electronically from the larger pool that also included obvious pupil records, but you've been more than patient with this process and you have made reasonable concessions that saved time for the District in other ways, and there will be no additional copying charge assessed.
I am indebted to Chan Stroman Roll for her never ending assistance on this and other matters.
Related: Vivek Wadhwa: The Open Gov Initiative: Enabling Techies to Solve Government Problems
Read more: http://techcrunch.com/2010/05/22/the-open-government-initiative-enabling-techies-to-solve-problems/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29#ixzz0ohshEHIG
While grandma flips through photo albums on her sleek iPad, government agencies (and most corporations) process mission-critical transactions on cumbersome web-based front ends that function by tricking mainframes into thinking that they are connected to CRT terminals. These systems are written in computer languages like Assembler and COBOL, and cost a fortune to maintain. I've written about California's legacy systems and the billions of dollars that are wasted on maintaining these. Given the short tenure of government officials, lobbying by entrenched government contractors, and slow pace of change in the enterprise-computing world, I'm not optimistic that much will change - even in the next decade. But there is hope on another front: the Open Government Initiative. This provides entrepreneurs with the data and with the APIs they need to solve problems themselves. They don't need to wait for the government to modernize its legacy systems; they can simply build their own apps.
Instead of better officers, the academies produce burned-out midshipmen and cadets. They come to us thinking they've entered a military Camelot, and find a maze of petty rules with no visible future application. These rules are applied inconsistently by the administration, and tend to change when a new superintendent is appointed every few years. The students quickly see through assurances that "people die if you do X" (like, "leave mold on your shower curtain," a favorite claim of one recent administrator). We're a military Disneyland, beloved by tourists but disillusioning to the young people who came hoping to make a difference.Bruce Fleming website
In my experience, the students who find this most demoralizing are those who have already served as Marines and sailors (usually more than 5 percent of each incoming class), who know how the fleet works and realize that what we do on the military-training side of things is largely make-work. Academics, too, are compromised by the huge time commitment these exercises require. Yes, we still produce some Rhodes, Marshall and Truman Scholars. But mediocrity is the norm.
Meanwhile, the academy's former pursuit of excellence seems to have been pushed aside by the all-consuming desire to beat Notre Dame at football (as Navy did last year). To keep our teams in the top divisions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, we fill officer-candidate slots with students who have been recruited primarily for their skills at big-time sports. That means we reject candidates with much higher predictors of military success (and, yes, athletic skills that are more pertinent to military service) in favor of players who, according to many midshipmen who speak candidly to me, often have little commitment to the military itself.
One absolutely great thing that the folks at CPPS did was to include every single comment. There are pages of them so it takes awhile to read. But it is valuable reading because you start seeing a theme to them even as each one differs somewhat in its issue.
What did people say? If I had to sum it up, it would be two things. One, there is almost zero feeling that Dr. Goodloe-Johnson listens to parents. There were several comments that applauded her strong stance (which many others thought autocratic) or the changes she has made in the district . I didn't see one comment saying she was approachable or was someone who collaborates well with the community.
Two, is the overwhelming sense that she is hurting the district, either through her lack of ability to engage/motivate/inspire and/or the amount of churn that she has caused in the district with not a lot to show for it in terms of results.
Sandra Stotsky & Ze'ev Wurman [PDF]:
During the past year, academic experts, educators, and policy makers have waged a confusing and largely invisible war over the content and quality of Common Core's proposed high school exit and grade-level standards. Some critics see little or no value to national standards, explaining why local or state control is necessary for real innovations in education and why "one size doesn't fit all" applies as strongly to the school curriculum as it does to the clothing industry. On the other hand, some supporters believe so strongly in the idea of national standards that they appear willing to accept Common Core's standards no matter how inferior they may be to the best sets of state or international standards so long as they are better than most states' standards. In contrast, others who believe that national standards may have value have found earlier drafts incapable of making American students competitive with those in the highest-achieving countries. No one knows whether Common Core's standards will raise student achievement in all performance categories, simply preserve an unacceptable academic status quo, or actually reduce the percentage of high-achieving high school students in states that adopt them.
All these alternatives are possible because of the lack of clarity about what readiness for college and workplace means - the key concept driving the current movement for national standards - and what the implications of this concept are for high school graduation requirements in each state and for current admission and/or placement requirements in its post-secondary institutions. There has been a striking lack of public discussion about the definition of college readiness (e.g., for what kind of college, for what majors, for what kind of credit-bearing freshman courses) and whether workplace readiness is similar to college readiness. According to Common Core's own draft writers, these college readiness standards are aimed at community colleges, trade schools, and other non-selective colleges, although Common Core hasn't said so explicitly.
A new study comparing reading skills of fourth- and eighth-grade children in 18 urban school systems once again places Milwaukee Public Schools near the bottom of the ladder, a pattern of underachievement that gave voice to worries Thursday about the future of Milwaukee's children and calls - yet again - for a greater sense of urgency to improve.
In a set of national reading tests, Milwaukee's fourth-graders outperformed only Detroit, Cleveland and Philadelphia, while its eighth-graders outperformed only Detroit, Fresno, Calif., and Washington, D.C., according to the results of the Trial Urban District Assessment, a special project of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress is a periodic national assessment, often referred to as the Nation's Report Card, that allows for state-to-state comparisons in core academic subjects. The urban district study isolates scores among a number of the country's high-minority, high-poverty school systems to better compare how those students are doing.
All of the voluntary participants in the program are from cities with populations of at least 250,000, ranging from districts serving Fresno, Calif., and Louisville, Ky., to those in New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago.
This is the first time that Milwaukee Public Schools participated in the reading tests for the urban districts. Last year, results from the math tests also carried bad news for MPS, which did better than only Detroit at the eighth-grade level.
Under the state's new math curriculum, lower scores plus a quicker pace of instruction equal greater anxiety for both students and their teachers.
"In my classes, I have 60 kids and only 17 are passing. You know how stressful that is on me?" said Donna Aker, a veteran math teacher at South Gwinnett High School.
It's a problem common to many metro Atlanta schools. Nearly one in five ninth-graders in metro Atlanta last year got an F in Math I -- the first year of the state's new math curriculum in high school.
The math failure rate was more than double that experienced by the same group of kids in the eighth grade the year before.
Keeping just 20 books in the home can boost children's chances of doing well at school, according to a major study.
Regular access to books has a direct impact on pupils' results, irrespective of parents' own education, occupation and social class, it was claimed.
Researchers said that children coming from a "bookish home" remained in education for around three years longer than young people born into families with empty bookshelves.
The study, led by Nevada University, in the United States, comes despite continuing concerns over a decline in reading at school.
It is feared that some teachers are being forced to dump books - and teach children using basic worksheets - to boost their performance in literacy tests.
Michael Rosen, the former Children's Laureate, has said that many pupils now go all the way through their formative years at school without reading a single novel.
Genetic watchdog groups want UC Berkeley to suspend plans to ask incoming freshmen and transfer students to supply a DNA sample to participate in what is considered the first mass genetic testing by a university.
Next month, about 5,500 first-year students will receive testing kits in the mail and be asked to submit DNA swabs to test three genes. The genes include those related to the ability to break down lactose, metabolize alcohol and absorb folates.
Berkeley officials said the university has followed appropriate privacy and consent procedures and has no intent to changes its plans.
But the Center for Genetics and Society, a Berkeley public interest organization, and the Council for Responsible Genetics, which is based in Cambridge, Mass., say the project disregards the potential harmful use of the information.
We're in graduation days for the Class of 2010. 1.6 million bright-faced young men and women getting undergraduate degrees, college diplomas, across the country.Ashbrook included a segment from media "star" Anderson Cooper's commencement address at Tulane in his show. While not a fan of the generally thin coverage provided by the "Mainstream Media", Cooper's story of determination, risk and luck is worth a look:
And the job market? Brutal. It was brutal last year, of course. Now it's brutal stacked on brutal. 19.6 percent unemployment for Americans under 25. The highest since 1948.
Just one in four new college grads who applied for a job has one. Twenty five percent. And many have applied for scores of jobs.
This Hour, On Point: we talk to the Class of 2010 about the job hunt - and survival strategies in the economy of 2010.
When I graduated there were hiring freezes at most TV news networks. I tried for months to get an entry-level job at ABC news, answering phones, xeroxing, whatever, but I couldn't get hired. At the time it was crushing. But in retrospect, not getting that entry-level job, was the best thing that could have happened to me.
After months of waiting, I decided if no one would give me a chance as a reporter, I should take a chance. If no one would give me an opportunity, I would have to make my own opportunity.
I wanted to be a war correspondent, so I decided to just start going to wars. As you can imagine, my mom was thrilled about the plan. I had a friend make a fake press pass for me on a mac, and I borrowed a home video camera... and I snuck into Burma and hooked up with some students fighting the Burmese government... then I moved onto Somalia in the early days of the famine and fighting there.
I figured if I went places that were dangerous, I wouldn't have as much competition, and because I was willing to sleep on the roofs of buildings, and live on just a few dollars a day, I was able to charge very little for my stories. As ridiculous as it sounds, my plan worked, and after two years on my own shooting stories in war zones, I was hired by ABC news as a correspondent. I was the youngest correspondent they had hired in many years. Had I gotten the entry-level job I'd wanted, I would have never become a network correspondent so quickly, I probably would never have even become one at all. The things which seem like heartbreaking setbacks, sometimes turn out to be lucky breaks.
For virtually every school district in the country teacher pay depends upon a teacher's years of experience (steps) and some measure of educational attainment (columns). Harrison School District Two in Colorado made national news when it announced their new salary schedule which moves away from the step and column approach. There proposal appears to be a perfectly rational and balanced approach. See the charts below for more details. The district will conduct evaluations, incorporate outcomes, and consider level of educational experience. This data will annually be assessed to determine whether a teacher advances to the next pay level gets a raise, or advances to the next job description (gets a promotion). Presumably over time, teachers would receive a cost of living adjustment even if they stay at the same salary tier. Teachers will initially be placed on thin the new salary tiers with plenty of room to grow. If a teacher receives three consecutive poor evaluations, the teacher can go down a level.
What is shocking to anyone who doesn't work in education, is that this a major innovation in teacher compensation. Prior to working for Education Sector, I worked for state government ( for the Legislature in California), and had basically the same type of salary structure being implemented by Harrison. Annually, I was reviewed, and based on the review of the work that I had done that year and an evaluation of my superior, I would either advance a tier or two (we had a few more tiers than this system). Over time, the super stars advanced a little faster than others, the generally effective staff advanced, but more slowly, and a few would remain at the same pay level for several years, and then many of them would decide this was not the profession for them.
The progressive decline of students' ability in English worries me as a secondary school teacher. Do people know students are no longer formally tested in grammar?
Instead, it would appear that our curriculum is leaning toward encouraging students to be more creative and expressive. I would argue that this can be beneficial as long as students have a basic understanding of the foundation in the language.
A glaringly clear example of this going wrong is when Chinese medium of instruction students, who cannot demonstrate a clear understanding of the tenses, are asked to have a group discussion about a book or film.
Nevada has recently been considering whether to change the way its state education agency is run. The governor has asked for the state superintendent to be part of the cabinet and for the power to name the state school chief. The legislature has turned down this request with a political argument, arguing the governor would have too much power under such an arrangement.
Today is a pretty big day for anyone who cares about school funding in California. This morning a broad coalition of people and organizations--individual students and parents, nine school districts (including SFUSD!), the state PTA, the California School Boards Association (CSBA) and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA)--announced that a school funding adequacy lawsuit has been filed against the state.
The lawsuit, Robles-Wong v. California, requests that the current education finance system be declared unconstitutional and that the state be required to establish a school finance system that provides all students an equal opportunity to meet the academic goals set by the State.
In a press release, the plaintiffs said:
In Act 1 of "My Fair Lady", Eliza Doolittle, the Cockney flower girl learning to speak like a lady, fantasizes about meeting the king. Of course, because it's a musical, she sings:
One evening the king will say, 'Oh, Liza, old thing -- I want all of England your praises to sing. Next week on the twentieth of May, I proclaim Liza Doolittle Day.Since I'm not Julie Andrews or Audrey Hepburn -- or Marni Nixon, who sang for Audrey Hepburn in the movie, I'll spare you the rest. But suffice it to say, Eliza envisions all of England celebrating her glory. The only ones who recognize Eliza Doolittle Day, however, are music theater geeks like me. And while an evening of cocktails and show tunes sounds like fun, it's insufficient to mark the occasion because Eliza's message is all too relevant today.
You see, "My Fair Lady" is based on George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion", and both pieces explore the ramifications of learning how to speak properly at a time when elocution was valued as a symbol of education and upward mobility.
Emphasis on the was.
Listen to Franklin Delano Roosevelt say, "The only thing we have to feah is feah itself," and it's almost inconceivable that ordinary Americans trusted someone who sounded like Thurston Howell III. We are now in an age when Sarah Palin speaks to a quarter of the electorate, even though she talks like she's translating into Korean and back again. Even the rhetorically gifted President Obama has felt compelled to drop his g's while tryin' to sell health care reform.
Nowadays, soundin' folksy has become more important than sounding educated. As Eliza's teacher Henry Higgins says, "Use proper English, you're regarded as a freak." But our country's biggest competitors are learning proper English and, judging from all the Indian call centers, learning it quite well. Our country was built by people striving to move up, not dumbing down. So on this Eliza Doolittle Day, perhaps we should all take a moment to think before we speak.
Marc Acito is the author of How I Paid for College and Attack of the Theater People.
They are no longer rare, random acts of one or two nutcases far from the rest of the country. A series of knife attacks in kindergartens has become the symptom of a virus lurking deep in the soul of the new China.
Premier Wen Jiabao said as much on May 13, a day after the fifth attack and as the death toll among children as young as three reached 16, with dozens also wounded since the first attack two months ago. "We need to resolve the deep-seated causes that have resulted in these problems," Wen said in an interview with Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television. "This includes handling social contradictions, resolving disputes and strengthening mediation at the grassroots level."
According to The Global Times, a popular newspaper published by the official People's Daily, police have foiled seven attacks at schools since the first killings. That was at the hands of Zheng Minsheng, an apparently deranged 42-year-old man who hacked eight children to death with a cleaver in the coastal province of Fujian on March 23 . Zheng was convicted and executed on April 28, the day of the second successful attack, when 16 children were stabbed in a primary school in the southern province of Guangdong. The next day, 29 children and three teachers were wounded a kindergarten in Taixing, Jiangsu province, by another cleaver-wielding madman.
The Unincorporated Man is a science fiction novel in which shares of each person's income stream can be bought and sold. (Initial ownership rights are person 75%, parents 20%, government 5%--there are no other taxes--and people typically sell shares to finance education and other training.)
The hero, Justin Cord a recently unfrozen business person from our time, opposes incorporation but has no good arguments against the system; instead he rants on about "liberty" and how bad the idea of owning and being owned makes him feel. The villain, in contrast, offers reasoned arguments in favor of the system. In this scene he asks Cord to remember the starving poor of Cord's time and how incorporation would have been a vast improvement:
The best use of government is as a catalyst for social system innovation. Yes, that's right: "Innovation bureaucrat" need not be an oxymoron. Leaders should get the innovation reaction started--and then get out of the way.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is showing how it can be done. The "Race to the Top" program offers $4 billion in grants to states committed to reforming their education systems. Duncan outlined a clear goal of restoring the U.S. as a world leader in preparing students to succeed in college and the workplace and announced the first grants on Mar. 29, 2010--$100 million for Delaware and $500 million for Tennessee.
A number of sectors of the economy appear to be bouncing back. Housing starts, home foreclosures and job creation all show movement in the right direction. But the fiscal situation in most states will not improve for quite some time. And, for public schools, the coming year promises to be the worst yet of the economic downturn.
Years of budget cuts in the vast majority of school districts already have taken their toll, with sharp reductions in after-school programs, academic enrichment and other so-called extras. Most states have exhausted their federal stimulus funds, and many states long ago tapped out their financial reserves. School districts now are cutting into bone, eliminating classroom teachers and core academic offerings like foreign languages.
According to a survey of more than 80% of school districts by the American Association of School Administrators, 275,000 teachers and other school staff will receive pink slips. It's not that these schools will educate fewer children, or that students won't need the personnel and programs that will be cut. But the cuts could rob an entire generation of students of the well-rounded education they need and deserve. Class sizes will swell, and students will lose important classes and programs, such as art, music, physical education, Advanced Placement classes, and counseling and intervention programs for those who need the most help.
I always tell entrepreneurs outside of the Valley--whether they are in the middle of my country or a developing one--if they want to build the next great social media darling aimed at a Western audience, they're probably better off moving to the Valley.
It's not that you can't do it elsewhere: The right entrepreneur at the right time with the right opportunity can largely build a great company anywhere. But in the Valley it's easier to get funded, find the right talent and get acquired--which are three things most high-growth startups are going to need. In this new media game, connections matter at least as much as the best features and technology.
So with that in mind, I get excited when I see other countries exploiting holes that the Valley just isn't going to tackle. One of those is mobile apps for non-smart-phones, as I've written about at length. Another is online education.
Online education was tried and mostly failed in the Valley in the late 1990s, with University of Phoenix a rare billion-dollar-plus win. Rosetta Stone is one of a few examples that's made it big since, and despite some awesome software that approaches language learning in a new way, the company has still floundered since going public in 2009. Its stock is off its lows, but hardly soaring.
When Gabby Abramowitz was younger, she was cautious about inviting new friends to the house. She wasn't sure how they would react to her younger brother, Ben, who is autistic. And she didn't want a repeat of the Simpsons incident. That was the time she had a friend over for dinner, and Ben sat at the table reciting the entire "Treehouse of Horror" Simpsons Halloween special.
Gabby pleaded with him to stop, but he persisted.
"My friend was like, 'What's going on?' and then started laughing," she said.
At that time, she was in elementary school and lacked the words and understanding to explain her brother's condition. But with the help of her parents and through her own study, Gabby, now 16 and a sophomore at Tenafly High School, has grown to understand the nuances of autism and often speaks out to teach her peers while growing closer to Ben, 14.
Through her research, she found that her experiences, and those of others like her, often are overlooked. "I think the effect on siblings is underestimated. We get pushed into the background."
If educators want to shrink the number of students who drop out of high school each year, they must greatly increase the number who can read proficiently by the time they're in fourth grade, a key non-profit children's advocacy group says in a new report.Valerie Strauss has more.
The findings, out today from the Baltimore-based Annie E. Casey Foundation, echoes research on reading proficiency going back decades, but it's the first to draw a direct line between reading and the nation's long-term economic well-being.
"The bottom line is that if we don't get dramatically more children on track as proficient readers, the United States will lose a growing and essential proportion of its human capital to poverty," the authors say.
Ralph Smith, the foundation's executive vice president, says recent research shows that dropouts "don't just happen in high school" but that students give clear indications as early as elementary school that they're on a "glide path" to dropping out. Among the clearest signs: difficulty reading and understanding basic work that becomes more detail-oriented around fourth grade.
In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would say that it is time for this community to support the Waukesha School Board. Currently, the Waukesha School Board and the Education Association of Waukesha are seeking arbitration over the latest contract negotiations due to a $5.7 million dollar discrepancy in salary and benefits between the two sides.
A little history is in order here. The qualified economic offer and revenue caps passed the state Legislature back in the early '90s due to the ever increasing burden of salaries and Cadillac benefits placed on school district budgets and taxpayers. The QEO was designed to limit salary and benefit increases to 3.8 percent to avoid arbitration. Acknowledging that the QEO and revenue caps (the control on school spending) were out of line, the state Legislature eliminated the QEO. This was to help school boards limit or eliminate budget reductions seen every year.
There are several items in dispute between the EAW and the Waukesha School Board: restoring the insurance back to the WEA Trust (the state teachers-owned health insurance), reinstating and making permanent early retirement language and total compensation calculations.
First, the insurance. Traditionally the district has had to use WEA Trust for the teacher's Cadillac insurance plan. There were minimal outof-pocket expenses to the employee, no contribution to the cost and a whopping $21,000-plus price tag (family plan). For the 2007-09 contract, the board successfully worked in a premium contribution of $20 for a single plan and $40 for a family plan per month from the employee. In addition, a $250/500 outof-pocket was added. The current school board proposal is looking to change this in the new contract to $500 single/$1000 family and a 10 percent premium contribution. These changes reflect what is really happening in the private sector today.
The University of California at Berkeley is an experimental place, and sometimes those experiments start as early as the summer before new students set foot on campus.
This summer, the university's College of Letters and Science -- home to three quarters of Berkeley's 25,000 undergraduates -- will ask freshmen and transfers to return a cotton swab covered in cells collected from their inner cheeks in an effort to introduce them to the emerging field of personalized medicine.
Like so many other institutions, the college usually asks students to read a specific book or watch an assigned movie in the weeks before classes start, to inform discussion during orientation and throughout the fall. But a reading assignment didn't make sense for something as cutting-edge and personalized as genetic analysis.
How to increase union membership among non-government workers? Legislate it - and include it as a non-fiscal policy item in your state's massive budget bill.
Just what the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and its supporters did in 2008. And just what the SEIU did in earlier years, first establishing a pilot referral program in Dane County.
The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign provides the "follow-the-money" history: In 2002,"four SEIU locals made over $750,000 in independent expenditures, mostly on behalf of Dem primary candidate (and not coincidentally, Dane County Executive) Kathleen Falk. Eight SEIU locals inside and outside Wisconsin contributed another $190,000+, with "most of the contributions" going to Falk.
In 2004, SEIU locals contributed $17,500 to Governor Jim Doyle, not up for reelection that year. In 2006, the SEIU Political Education and Action Fund (SEIU PEA) made independent expenditures of $36,651 on behalf of Doyle. They also joined with AFSCME in sponsoring issue ads targeting Doyle opponent Mark Green, with plans to spend about $500,000.
Undercover investigators trying to enroll a handful of fictitious children in federally funded Head Start child care centers found that in about half of the cases, workers fraudulently misrepresented parents' incomes, addresses and other information to allow kids to qualify for a slot.
In one instance, according to the investigators' report, a Head Start worker in New Jersey handed back one of two pay stubs and told an investigator posing as a parent, "Now you see it, now you don't."
Prompted by anonymous tips to a fraud hotline, investigators with the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) looked at centers in six states -- California, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Wisconsin -- and the District of Columbia. In 13 of 15 cases, they tried to enroll children whose family incomes made them ineligible. In two more, families qualified but GAO wanted to find out if Head Start would count children as enrolled even if they never attended the program. In all, investigators found fraud in eight cases.
Finding depressing education news is easy. The recession, combined with the waning of federal stimulus money, is about to trigger hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs--an "education catastrophe," warns Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
The layoffs will play out against a background of flat national reading scores and mediocre showings on international education rankings. Looming behind everything: the country's much-debated school reform law, No Child Left Behind, has fallen into disrepute.
None of this can be sugarcoated; yet dwelling on the negatives masks some significant education breakthroughs that promise to pay dividends for years to come. Together they represent the country's best shot at achieving President Obama's ambitious goal of pushing the country back to the top of international education rankings--measured by college graduations by 2020.
These developments include breakthroughs on answering these questions:
We hear a lot of talk about the importance of educational achievement and the knee-buckling costs of college. What if you could get kids to complete two years of college by the time they finish high school?Related: Credit for Non-Madison School District Courses.
That is happening in New York City. I had breakfast a few weeks ago with Leon Botstein, the president of Bard College, to talk about Bard High School Early College, a school on the Lower East Side of Manhattan that gives highly motivated students the opportunity to earn both a high school diploma and a two-year associate of arts degree in the four years that are usually devoted to just high school.
When these kids sail into college, they are fully prepared to handle the course loads of sophomores or juniors. Essentially, the students complete their high school education by the end of the 10th grade and spend the 11th and 12th grades mastering a rigorous two-year college curriculum.
The school, a fascinating collaboration between Bard College and the city's Department of Education, was founded in 2001 as a way of dealing, at least in part, with the systemic failures of the education system. American kids drop out of high school at a rate of one every 26 seconds. And, as Dr. Botstein noted, completion rates at community colleges have been extremely disappointing.
Education reform is "moving into prime time," writes Steven Brill in the Times Magazine article "The Teachers' Unions' Last Stand." He looks at how Race to the Top, the charter-school movement and other factors are coming together to overhaul public education in the United States -- and why teachers' unions are resisting many of these reforms.
...[Race to the Top] has turned a relatively modest federal program (the $4.3 billion budget represents less than 1 percent of all federal, state and local education spending) into high-yield leverage that could end up overshadowing health care reform in its impact and that is already upending traditional Democratic Party politics. The activity set off by the contest has enabled [the school-reform network New Leaders for New Schools] to press as never before its frontal challenge to the teachers' unions: they argue that a country that spends more per pupil than any other but whose student performance ranks in the bottom third among developed nations isn't failing its children for lack of resources but for lack of trained, motivated, accountable talent at the front of the class.
If a state mandates that every school reduce class sizes, will students learn more? Since reducing class size is very expensive, that is a question state legislatures are asking themselves at a time when fiscal deficits are looming nearly everywhere. To that question, a just released study of the Florida Class Size Amendment says "No." Telling schools they must reduce class size yields no benefit, it reports.
Florida is an interesting place to explore this issue, because students there have been improving at a faster rate than any other state in the union, according to Matt Ladner at the Goldwater Institute. Using data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, Ladner shows that student performance in 4th and 8th grade reading and math has leaped forward in Florida while it has remained stagnant in many other states.
Some have attributed the spectacular Florida gains to the state's accountability system, its Just Read initiative, or the state's school choice programs. But others have attributed the Florida gains to an amendment to the Florida Constitution, adopted by the voters in 2002, which requires every school district to reduce its average class size. To fulfill the purposes of the amendment, the Florida state legislature has in recent years allocated state funds that must be used for class size reduction in those districts not yet at the limit. The remaining districts have received comparable amounts to be used for any educational purpose they see fit.
Sharon Begley, science editor at Newsweek, doesn't have anything nice to say about education research. In a recent article, she refers to it as "second-class science" and "so flimsy as to be a national scandal."
I agree that there is a problem, but I don't think she's diagnosed it correctly.
There is a lot of excellent research in education. I spend most of my time reading basic scientific work and trying to understand what it means for classrooms and for policy, and much of what I draw on is education research.
There is, however, also a good deal of dreck.
There is a certain amount of poor science in other fields as well. Go to the psychology section of a large book store and you'll see plenty of nonsense. Books with crazy suggestions on dieting, love, self-actualization, and so on.
The difference between psychology and education is that psychology, as a field, is more vigilant in its self-regulation, particularly through its professional societies.
On March 30 2010, President Obama signed "historic student loan legislation" into law. The Education Reconciliation Act is intended to generate $61 billion in savings, by streamlining the student loan program and reinvesting the money to make college more affordable. Sadly, it is too little, too late.
Once a Great Nation
The student loan burden on today´s working population has already destroyed the economy, practically removed any last semblance of freedom in our workplace and just served to fatten the wallets of the bankers, lawyers and corporate suits that now run the country. The virtues that once made America a great nation have been abused by those entrusted with its care, and even $61 billion will not reverse the situation that we now find ourselves in.
In 1944, the GI Bill ("Servicemen´s Readjustment Act") was enacted to help war veterans further their educations and, in turn, increase the number of employable persons in order to strengthen the U.S. economy. Throughout the next twenty years, improvements were made to this system through the National Defence Student Loan Program (1958 - aka Perkins Loan Program) and the Higher Education Act of 1965 - creating the Guaranteed Student Loan Program.
Although it would be easy to say that the rot set in with the founding of Sallie Mae in 1972, you have to acknowledge that they only exasperated later problems through their incompetence and greed. In 1972, people still worked their way through college, and Sallie Mae was established to simply facilitate loans to those who needed them, rather than lend any funds themselves.
No. The cause of all today´s problems are those pillars of education - the colleges.
Jessica Colotl, a 21-year-old college student and illegal Mexican immigrant at the center of a contentious immigration case, surrendered to a Georgia sheriff on Friday but continued to deny wrongdoing.
Ms. Colotl was arrested in March for driving without a license and could face deportation next year. On Wednesday the sheriff filed a felony charge against her for providing a false address to the police.
The case has become a flash point in the national debate over whether federal immigration laws should be enforced by local and state officials. And like Arizona's tough new immigration law, it has highlighted a rift between the federal government and local politicians over how illegal immigrants should be detected and prosecuted.
"I never thought that I'd be caught up in this messed-up system," Ms. Colotl said Friday at a news conference after being released on $2,500 bail. "I was treated like a criminal, like a threat to the nation."
I can remember once when my eyes started to wander, ever so slightly, over to my neighboring classmate's desk in a high school math class.
"Amy Graff keep your eyes on your own paper, and go sit in the back of the class," my teacher screamed.
The school's football coach was also my math teacher so you can only imagine the harsh tone he used when he said those words.
I was humiliated and my eyes never wandered again.
Less than a month after signing the nation's toughest law on illegal immigration, Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona has again upset the state's large Hispanic population, signing a bill aimed at ending ethnic studies in Tucson schools.
Under the law signed on Tuesday, any school district that offers classes designed primarily for students of particular ethnic groups, advocate ethnic solidarity or promote resentment of a race or a class of people would risk losing 10 percent of its state financing.
"Governor Brewer signed the bill because she believes, and the legislation states, that public school students should be taught to treat and value each other as individuals and not be taught to resent or hate other races or classes of people," Paul Senseman, a spokesman for the governor, said in a statement on Thursday.
Judy Burns, president of the governing board of the Tucson schools, said the district's ethnic studies courses did not violate any of the provisions of the new law and would be continued because they were valuable to the students.
via a kind reader. Apparently, the event has been held by Madison Memorial High School for a number of years.
During the angry debate over teacher pay, little has been said about the higher salaries of New Jersey school administrators. On the contrary, Gov. Chris Christie praises many of them for taking wage freezes while most teachers are refusing.
Don't expect that to last long.
"I'm sure that at some point the governor is going to push obviously with administrators as well," said Boonton superintendent Christine Johnson, singled out by Christie for freezing her salary. "I would think that writing is on the wall."
One reason: six-figure salaries are common among administrators, who include superintendents, assistant superintendents and principals. A Star-Ledger analysis of data from the state Department of Education for 2008-09 found:
A 2008 report commissioned by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators found the average superintendent salary in New Jersey was $154,409, about $9,000 higher than the national average. That compared with $152,782 in New York and $146,906 in Connecticut.
- The median salary for full-time school administrators in New Jersey -- the salary figure that half of them exceed, and half do not -- was $113,083.
- In more than 425 districts, the median salary for an administrator was at least $100,000. Less than 2 percent of teachers -- 1.6 percent -- made $100,000 or more.
- Christie's $175,000 salary is less than the pay of 235 school administrators from 184 districts.
A school district that gained the support of President Barack Obama for promoting accountability after it fired all its teachers from a struggling school announced on Sunday it had reached an agreement with the union to return the current staffers to their jobs.
The two sides said a transformation plan for Central Falls High School for the coming school year would allow the roughly 87 teachers, guidance counselors, librarians and other staffers who were to lose their jobs at the end of this year to return without having to reapply. More than 700 people had already applied for the positions.
The agreement calls for a longer school day, more after-school tutoring and other changes.
"What this means is that they have come to an agreement about a reform effort and that will change the quality" of the education program at Central Falls, said Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist, who applauded both sides for working together.
WHAT'S the key to success in the United States?
Short of becoming a reality TV star, the answer is rote and, some would argue, rather knee-jerk: Earn a college degree.
The idea that four years of higher education will translate into a better job, higher earnings and a happier life -- a refrain sure to be repeated this month at graduation ceremonies across the country -- has been pounded into the heads of schoolchildren, parents and educators. But there's an underside to that conventional wisdom. Perhaps no more than half of those who began a four-year bachelor's degree program in the fall of 2006 will get that degree within six years, according to the latest projections from the Department of Education. (The figures don't include transfer students, who aren't tracked.)
For college students who ranked among the bottom quarter of their high school classes, the numbers are even more stark: 80 percent will probably never get a bachelor's degree or even a two-year associate's degree.
Richard Scott, 58, has been minority services coordinator at Madison's East High School for 34 years. He retires in June and will focus more on his artistic endeavors, including playwrighting, performing in musical groups and coordinating a step-dance group.
Will you miss the students?
Absolutely. I'm going to miss their energy. I'm going to miss their spontaneity. I'm going to miss their youthfulness. I receive their energy.
What do students want?
They need attention. They need respect. They need opportunities to express themselves ... Not all minority students come from one point of reference. I look at them individually. I tell them 'I love you all, but I love you all differently.'
You focus a lot on conflict resolution. How do you do that?
I try to initiate a discussion based on commonalities ... If you have a conflict with someone, you have a commonality, something to build on. ... I try not to solve problems for students but give them the tools by which they can transform conflicts into something positive. I'm not saying 'You're going to forget what happened, but you're going to go beyond what happened.'... A lot of young people are very emotional, very reactive in their processes, and I want them to think about it. ... I truly enjoy when students who are very, very angry see a situation differently. If they can be something else, something else than what people have told them they are, then we've done our job.
the intensive use of data to guide decisions on daily policing - is a hot strategy when it comes to law enforcement, including in Milwaukee.
If used well, data can make police work more precise and effective and leaders can be more effective in determining what works and even in determining who is getting the job done.
This is education's version of CrimeStat: Rooms filled with round tables, each table surrounded by a team of people from one school poring over data to try to figure out what they can do to get better results at their school.
In fact, Milwaukee Public Schools calls its program EdStat. Two-day "data retreats" are becoming centerpieces of how to run an MPS school, and the wealth of data available at the click of a mouse at any time to principals and others is growing quickly. A variety of test scores, attendance records, discipline records, and information on what teaching techniques are being used in each classroom, some of it updated every day - it's impressive.
The concept is simple: Find out all you can about what is going on in a school and put it to the smartest, best use you can in moving forward. The mountain of information can be just an impenetrable mass or a gold mine of insight.
The burst of interest in data use may be one of the less exciting, but most important trends in American education. Good data use is high on the list of priorities of education advocates who might otherwise differ on just about everything.
Itzie Duarte is glad her children are enrolled in the West Valley School District. But she is far from happy with the school board's decision to move fifth-graders to the middle school this fall.
"A fifth-grader isn't mentally capable of being in a school where there is no recess," said Duarte, who will have one child entering kindergarten and another entering third grade. "If we need the space, turn the middle school into an elementary school."
But district officials say next year's grade reconfiguration - which includes sending ninth-graders to the old high school - is needed to help with overcrowding.
Much of the growth is in the elementary schools. In the past three years, about 300 additional students - including about 60 this year - have entered the district.
The middle school, officials added, is built to accommodate students traveling throughout the building and is not designed for instructing young children.
In a dramatic show of White House support, President Obama's education czar will visit a Brooklyn charter school Tuesday to help persuade the foot-dragging state Assembly to lift the cap on the number of charters, The Post has learned.
The timing of Education Secretary Arne Duncan's trip is significant since New York has just two weeks to revamp its charter-school law ahead of the June 1 deadline for the state to submit its application for $700 million in federal education funds.
"I hope the Legislature will do the right thing by children," Duncan told The Post yesterday.
If I were looking for people who had done much to curb the use of performance-enhancing drugs, I think I might take Arnold Schwarzenegger over Bud Selig. Apparently, the Taylor Hooton Foundation thinks differently.NEW YORK -- Commissioner Bud Selig was named the first recipient of Taylor's Award, presented by the Taylor Hooton Foundation to an individual who has made a major impact on efforts to educate and protect American youth from the dangers of using performance-enhancing drugs.
As an education policy analyst, I am very concerned about the quality of education our children are receiving. My research has led me to conclude that the key impediment to improving public education is not lack of money, but the organizational structure of public schools. Private schools in Washington and public charter schools in other states are given the advantage of operating free of public education's centralized and highly regulated superstructure. As a result, private and public charter schools can better direct resources to the classroom, more reliably place effective teachers in every classroom, and offer better life prospects to children through higher-quality education. Cutting central bureaucracies and putting qualified principals in charge of their schools would help make sure that education dollars actually reach the classroom.
Recently, I turned my attention to a restrictive policy that applies to public schools but not to private or public charter schools: mandatory collective bargaining agreements. Here is a link to our full study of Seattle's current collective bargaining agreement [563K PDF], and below is a summary of our findings.
School district salaries and benefits
- Teachers in Seattle receive an average of $70,850 in total salary (base pay and other pay), plus average insurance benefits of $9,855. These figures apply to a ten-month work year.
- Teachers in Seattle public schools can earn up to $88,463 in total base and other pay for a ten-month work year, or $98,318 including benefits.
- Seattle Schools employ 371 people as "educational staff associates," who receive an average of $76,339 for a ten-month year, or $86,194 including benefits.
- Seattle Schools employs 193 non-teachers, mostly senior administrators, who each receive more than $100,000 in total pay.
Though shrouded in the overly formal language of district documents, new amendments to the proposed 2010-'11 Milwaukee Public Schools budget signal an ultimatum to unions from the Milwaukee School Board: Accept changes to your health care and be open to a furlough, or watch your colleagues be laid off next year.This is not a new topic. Some elements of the Madison School District have sought similar changes.
In a Strategic Planning and Budget Committee meeting Thursday night that carried into Friday morning, the board got its first chance to discuss and act on amendments to the administration's proposed $1.3 billion budget, which calls for an estimated 150 to 200 teacher layoffs and hundreds of other staff job eliminations.
Amendments that direct changes to the health-care plan and the implementation of furloughs would require an agreement with labor unions that represent certain employees. But the board's amendments could set the ball in motion for those discussions.
One of those included restoring about a third of the positions set to be eliminated for teachers, paraprofessionals and general education aides, but only if those bargaining units - namely, the Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association - agree to accept the less expensive health care plan.
Despite Lansing politicians touting projected savings through the school employee retirement incentive plan that passed the Legislature Friday, some area school officials say the measure leaves unanswered questions and they wonder how much of a savings it truly will hold for their districts.
"We've just taken a major step in the right direction to provide support for schools around the state," said Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop of Rochester. The bill passed the Republican-led Senate by a 21-14 vote and the Democratic House, 56-45.
Proponents of the legislation, which the governor says she will sign, contend it could save school systems more than $670 million in the next fiscal year.
But that will depend on how many of the 57,000 school employees eligible to retire actually choose to do so. They must decide by Sept. 1.
It's a question that can make most any mom stop in her tracks: "Can I wear makeup?"
In a world where little girls of 5 or 6 get spa treatments and mega-birthday parties, can lip gloss and mascara be such a leap?
What's the right age? What's the right "starter makeup"? Why can't she wait just a little while?
It's a question that's popping up sooner than it once did. Little girls whose ages have not yet reached the double-digits are wanting to wear makeup more and more.
A new report by the NPD Group, which researches consumer trends, finds that makeup usage is going up in the fresh-faced group known as tweens (ages 8 to 12).
The true aim of the humanities is to prepare citizens for exercising their freedom responsibly.
In 1867, when he discharged his main responsibility as honorary rector of St. Andrews University by delivering an address on liberal education to the students, the philosopher and civil servant John Stuart Mill felt compelled to defend the place of the sciences alongside the humanities. Today it is the connection of the humanities to a free mind and citizenship in a free society that requires defense.
For years, an array of influential voices has been calling for our nation's schools and universities to improve science and math education. Given the globalized and high-tech world, the prize, pundits everywhere argue, goes to the nations that summon the foresight and discipline to educate scientists and engineers capable of developing tomorrow's ideas.
No doubt science and math are vital. But all of the attention being paid to these disciplines obscures a more serious problem: the urgent need to reform liberal education.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he's taller than Barack Obama and has a better jump shot than Sen. John McCain but stopped short of challenging the commander-in-chief's own skills on the court.
Duncan, speaking Saturday to University of Wisconsin-Madison spring graduates at the Kohl Center, joked about his credentials over other notable speakers, referencing a student newspaper article chiding officials for taking so long to invite someone with "somewhat" the same speaking prowess as the president, who spoke at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor two weeks ago.
Like most graduation speeches this spring, Duncan referenced the tough job market facing graduates but offered advice for adapting to the new age of employment. He spoke at one of UW's five ceremonies that add up to about 6,000 graduates this spring.
"Rather than telling you about time-honored truths, I want to talk about skillfully managing uncertainty and serendipity as the defining elements of the 21st century education," Duncan said. "It's not just knowledge and subject mastery; your ability to adapt, be creative and pursue your passion will determine how you fare in the job market."
Citing the "hallmarks of a great progressive education," Duncan told graduates they need to focus on their ability to work both independently and in teams and be creative in a global job market.
Welcome to the new age of school autonomy and teacher freedom.
At least that is what has been promised: fewer directives and targets, less guidance and prescription.
However, there are conflicting messages on English education policy from the new coalition government.
They can be summed up by two consecutive sentences in the "coalition agreement", which has become the working handbook for the new government.
First, it promises that all schools will have "greater freedom over the curriculum". Then, it adds that all schools will be held "properly accountable".
Flag football, long relegated to family picnics and gym class, has quietly become one of the fastest-growing varsity sports for high school girls in Florida. A decade after it was introduced, nearly 5,000 girls play statewide -- a welcome development in a state that, like others, has struggled to close the gender gap in high school athletics.
Jupiter High School's Megan Higgins facing Dwyer High School in a game in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Flag football has become one of the fastest-growing varsity sports in Florida.
But rather than applaud the new opportunities, some women's sports advocates call it a dead-end activity. Flag football is played only at the club and intramural level in colleges, and unless one counts the Lingerie Football League, no professional outlets exist. Alaska is the only other state that considers it a varsity sport.
"No one is saying flag football isn't a great sport to play," said Neena Chaudhry, the senior counsel at the National Women's Law Center, which has brought several cases against high schools alleging violations of Title IX, the federal law mandating gender equity in education. "But I do think it's relevant to ask questions about whether girls are getting the same kind of educational opportunities as boys."
The moment of truth for Ivan and Olga Rojas came in 2008, when their son Esteban finished his sophomore year at the Blackstone Academy Charter School in Pawtucket and told his parents he wanted to transfer to Central Falls High School. The thought alarmed them. The high school had been under-performing for years, and Esteban's mother feared there were gangs and drugs at the school.
For Blanca Giraldo the reckoning came in February 2009, when Central Falls High School Principal Elizabeth Legault sent a letter asking her to come to the school. Legault told Giraldo that her daughter Valerie Florez was failing: she was frequently late, skipping class and not doing her work.
For Jackie Wilson, a random act of violence forced her to uproot her daughter Sakira during her junior year at Central Falls High.
Kudzu, (Pueraria lobata), I learn from Wikipedia, was "... introduced from Japan into the United States in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, where it was promoted as a forage crop and an ornamental plant.
From 1935 to the early 1950s, the Soil Conservation Service encouraged farmers in the southeastern United States to plant kudzu to reduce soil erosion.... The Civilian Conservation Corps planted it widely for many years.
It was subsequently discovered that the southeastern United States has near-perfect conditions for kudzu to grow out of control--hot, humid summers, frequent rainfall, and temperate winters with few hard freezes...As such, the once-promoted plant was named a pest weed by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1953."
We now have, I suggest, an analogous risk from the widespread application of "the evidence-based techniques and processes of literacy instruction, K-12."
At least one major foundation and one very old and influential college for teachers are now promoting what I have described as "guidelines, parameters, checklists, techniques, processes and the like, as props to substitute for students' absent motivation to describe or express in writing something that they have learned."
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger proposed a revised spending plan Friday that pegged the state's budget shortfall at $19.1 billion and called for deep cuts to welfare and health programs--but no tax increases--to close the gap.
The new shortfall estimate is higher than the previous projection of $18.6 billion partly because the state collected less tax revenue than expected in April for the 2009 tax year. Court decisions challenging some of Mr. Schwarzenegger's cuts also added to the budget gap.
This will be the third straight year that Mr. Schwarzenegger has proposed deep spending cuts. Tax revenue in California has plunged because of the collapse of the real-estate and financial markets. Legislators closed a $60 billion budget gap last year, but not before state officials had to issue IOUs to creditors to keep the state solvent.
A bill introduced this month in Congress would put the federal and state governments in the business of tracking how fat, or skinny, American children are.
States receiving federal grants provided for in the bill would be required to annually track the Body Mass Index of all children ages 2 through 18. The grant-receiving states would be required to mandate that all health care providers in the state determine the Body Mass Index of all their patients in the 2-to-18 age bracket and then report that information to the state government. The state government, in turn, would be required to report the information to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for analysis.
The Healthy Choices Act--introduced by Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee--would establish and fund a wide range of programs and regulations aimed at reducing obesity rates by such means as putting nutritional labels on the front of food products, subsidizing businesses that provide fresh fruits and vegetables, and collecting BMI measurements of patients and counseling those that are overweight or obese.
A seven-year school revamp spearheaded by this gas-rich emirate's first lady is emerging as test case for radical education overhauls in the Mideast.
The United Nations and World Bank have long blamed low educational standards for contributing to economic stagnation and instability across the region, which faces the highest rates of youth unemployment in the world and the threat of growing religious extremism.
Schoolteachers across the region have been bound by entrenched programs that emphasize religion and rote learning, often from outdated textbooks. Qatar, with a tiny population and outsize natural-gas export revenue, launched a new system in 2004 that stresses problem-solving, math, science, computer skills and foreign-language study. The final slate of new schools in the program was approved last month, giving Qataris over 160 new schools to choose from when the next school year begins in September.
"The old system churned out obedient but passive citizens. What good is that for a global economy?" says first lady Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned.
via a kind reader's email. The survey is apparently available via the District's "Infinite Campus" system:
1. The Embedded Honors option provided work that was challenging for my child.
o Strongly disagree
o Neither agree nor disagree
o Strongly agree
2. Please provide an explanation to Question 1.
3. The Embedded Honors work allowed my child to go more in-depth into the content of the course.
o Strongly disagree
o Neither agree nor disagree
o Strongly agree
4. Please provide an explanation to Question 3.
5. For Embedded Honors, my child had to do more work than other students.
o Strongly disagree
o Neither agree nor disagree
o Strongly agree
6. For Embedded Honors, my child had to do more challenging work than other students.
o Strongly disagree
o Neither agree nor disagree
o Strongly agree
7. Mark the following learning options that were part of your child's experience in the Embedded Honors for this corse.
o extension opportunities of class activities
o class discussions and labs to enhance my learning
o flexible pace of instruction
o access to right level of challenge in coursework
o opportunities to focus on my personal interests
o independent work (projects)
o opportunities to demonstrate my knowledge
o opportunities to explore a field of study
o additional reading assignments
o more challenging reading assignments
o additional writing assignments
o helpful teacher feedback on my work
o activities with other Embedded Honors students
o more higher-level thinking, less memorization
8. My child benefited from the Embedded Honors option for the course(s) for which he/she took, compared to courses without Embedded Honors.
o Strongly disagree
o Neither agree nor disagree
o Strongly agree
When Christopher Xu turned 2, his mother's worst fears were confirmed. The other babies at her son's birthday party babbled, gestured and used simple words as they played and interacted with their parents and each other. But Christopher was different.Much more on autism here and via Wolfram Alpha.
"He was locked in his own world," Sophia Sun recalls. "No eye contact. No pointing. No laughing at cartoons or looking at me when I talk to him."
In fact, Sun says, she and her husband, Yingchun Xu, both Chinese-born computer engineers who earned their graduate degrees in Vancouver, British Columbia, had never known anyone with this kind of remote, inaccessible child.
The couple were living with their older daughters, Iris and Laura, in a Chicago suburb when Christopher was born. Both girls were interactive, affectionate babies, but Christopher paid little attention to his mother, his family or his surroundings. As a toddler he spent most of his time lining up his favorite toys in order or spinning himself in circles -- over and over again. When the Xu family went to an air show, his mother pointed to the planes roaring overhead, saying, "Christopher, look at that! Look up!" but the little boy just spun around and around, oblivious to the noise or the world surrounding him.
Now Christopher is 11, and he will soon graduate from the fifth grade at Madison's John Muir Elementary to head off to middle school. Thanks to the love and persistence of his family, powerful early training, insightful teachers and accepting classmates, his story has changed dramatically, and his remarkable abilities are increasingly apparent.
The book can be purchased, using a credit card, from the print-on-demand service CreateSpace (an Amazon.com affiliate) or by check or purchase order directly from CRPE.
Unique Schools Serving Unique Students (Robin Lake, editor) offers a pioneering look at the role of charter schools in meeting the needs of special education students. The book addresses choices made at the intersection of two very important policy arenas in education: special education and charter schools.
Drawing lessons from parent surveys and case studies, this volume poses and addresses a number of important questions that have received limited attention to date: How many students with disabilities attend charter schools? How do parents choose schools for their children with special needs and how satisfied are they with their choices? What innovations are coming out of the charter school sector that might be models for public education writ large? Finally, what challenges and opportunities do charter schools bring to special education?
Today's math curriculum is teaching students to expect -- and excel at -- paint-by-numbers classwork, robbing kids of a skill more important than solving problems: formulating them. Dan Meyer shows classroom-tested math exercises that prompt students to stop and think. (Recorded at TEDxNYED, March 2010 in New York, NY. Duration: 11:39)
ALL month schools in China have been on what the state-controlled press calls a "red alert" for possible attacks on pupils by intruders. In one city police have orders to shoot perpetrators on sight. Yet a spate of mass killings and injuries by knife or hammer-wielding assailants has continued. To the government's consternation, some Chinese have been wondering aloud whether the country's repressive politics might be at least partly to blame.
In the latest reported incident, on May 12th, seven children and two adults were hacked to death at a rural kindergarten in the northern province of Shaanxi. Eleven other children were injured. It was one of half a dozen such cases at schools across China in less than two months. Three attacks occurred on successive days in late April, when more than 50 children were injured. The previous deadliest attack killed eight children in the southern province of Fujian on March 23rd. The killer was executed on April 28th.
This has been embarrassing for a leadership fond of trumpeting its goal of a "harmonious society". In 2004, two years after Hu Jintao became China's top leader, he and his colleagues called for better security at schools. But occasional attacks continued. Assailants were often said to be lone, deranged, men venting their frustrations on the weak. A report last year in the Lancet, a British medical journal, said that of 173m Chinese it estimated were suffering from mental illness, fewer than 10% had seen a mental-health professional (see article). Knives are the weapons of choice in China, where firearms are hard to obtain.
WILX-TV LANSING, MI -- For last year's graduating Class of 2009, women dominated at every level of higher education. Here's the national breakdown: for every 100 men, 142 women graduated with a bachelor's, 159 women completed a master's and 107 women got a doctoral degree. University of Michigan Economics Professor Dr. Mark Perry says similar numbers are in tow this year (see chart above for the Class of 2010).
"What's happening is historic and unprecedented and we're seeing this huge structural change in higher education," says Perry. "When it happens year by year, we just don't pay as close attention." But Perry says attention now must be paid. According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 1971, the percentage of men outnumbered women in degrees conferred 61 to 39, but by 2017, expect a complete reversal.
"LIFELONG learning" is a phrase beloved by business schools. But not, it seems, by their clients. According to a recent survey by Mannaz, a management-development firm, the number of professionals taking part in formal corporate training drops rapidly after the age of 55. Are these wise, old heads being overlooked?
It is tempting to conclude that older executives are falling victim to age discrimination, as firms focus resources on younger talent. But according to Jorgen Thorsell, Mannaz's vice-president, this is not the case. Reticence, he says, comes not from the organisations but from the employees themselves.
Mr Thorsell believes that conventional training simply no longer serves their needs. Formal programmes are often seen as a repetition of lessons already learned and become increasingly irrelevant in the light of experience and expertise. The resulting "training fatigue" is resistant to most incentives.
Thanks largely to the efforts of President Obama, more Americans are paying attention to education reform. In Wisconsin, many people were forced out of their comfort zone (we are pleased about ranking either #1 or #2 in ACT scores) when the Obama administration snubbed our request for federal "Race to the Top" money.
Just as the public is coming to understand the vulnerability of the Wisconsin economy, they are beginning to see the vulnerability of our K-12 school system. Dropouts are up, test scores are down, and we have never spent more on education. Increasingly, people are beginning to demand more performance from their education dollar.
In education, like so many aspects of our lives, we look for success stories. Today's rock star of education reform is the diminutive head of the Washington D.C. schools, Michelle Rhee. She is shaking up the world of education based on her passion around one simple concept; performance. Enabled by changes in federal and city laws, Rhee has put in place a teacher evaluation system, 50% of which is based on teachers' impact on student learning. Using this tool, Rhee laid off dozens of teachers. If they were not performing, they were gone.
There are many reasons that public education institutions face credibility challenges, including:
The need to succeed at teaching children is at the basic core of everything we do in Madison schools.
So why did the very society that depends on us to educate their most precious beings, their children, come to be so apprehensive about us? How did this happen? When did our state Legislature and many of our fellow citizens decide that an increase and/or a change in public financing of education was not in their interest?
Perhaps we all need to calm down and ask ourselves the very basic question of why we have public schools. The following tenets are a good start:
1. To provide universal access to free education.
2. To guarantee equal opportunities for all children.
3. To unify a diverse population.
4. To prepare people for citizenship in a democratic society.
5. To prepare people to become economically self-sufficient.
6. To improve social conditions.
7. To pass knowledge from one generation to the next.
8. To share the accumulated wisdom of the ages.
9. To instill in our young people a love for a lifetime of learning.
10. To bring a richness and depth to life.
Many Americans have either forgotten, disregard, or no longer view public schools as needed to achieve the above. Some, not all, view the public schools in a much more narrow and self-indulgent way -- "What are the public schools going to do for me and my child?" -- and do not look at what the schools so richly provide for everyone in a democratic society.
Madison taxpayers have long supported spending policies far above those of many other communities. The current economic situation requires a hard look at all expenditures, particularly those that cannot be seen as effective for the core school mission: educating our children. Reading scores would be a great place to start.
The two Madison School Board seats occupied by Marj Passman and Ed Hughes are up for election in April, 2011. Interested parties should contact the Madison City Clerk's office for nomination paper deadlines.
Monday evening's Madison School Board meeting included a shifting of the chairs as Maya Cole succeeds Arlene Silveira as President and Beth Moss steps in for Lucy Mathiak as Vice President. Best wishes.
Via a Judy Reed email:
"We have failed our African American kids, and hence we have failed our schools and all our kids... efforts at reform have been a joke. Its time for outrage". - Neil Heinen Editorial -
March 30, 2010
Dane County Transition School is sponsoring a Speak Out, the invitation is attached [PDF]. We are hoping those (students, parents, community members, educators...) who are passionate use this opportunity to voice their thoughts, ideas, and/or concerns for the need for more educational alternatives.
We are having the television stations, and the newspapers cover the Speak Out.
We are asking anyone who would like to speak to RSVP so we can order enough t-shirts, and plan the time accordingly.
Looking forward to seeing you at the Speak Out!
Judy & DCTS Community
* We have also attached a true story about two sisters; one who attends DCTS, and the other who...
Sisters-Two Different Journeys... One Given the Opportunity to Succeed...One Not...
A student approached me and said that she had a sudden revelation the evening before. She could not discuss this revelation in a public space, and requested that we talk in private. Her brows were slightly furrowed, but she had energy about her; like she had discovered her dream career, or that she had fallen in love with the boy next door. When we sat down in a small classroom, alone, I realized that she was not going to tell me about the love of her life, or that she wanted to travel the world to discover her spirituality; no, she was going to tell me something bad.
The dark side of a teacher's career is getting to know the bad things about kids. In many circumstances, these bad things aren't pleasant; they make us feel uncomfortable, angry, sad, or depressed. Nevertheless, it is our duty to not just instruct students on mathematics and science, but to be role models; or, individuals who understand and listen to other people. What may have been a revelation to this student, or a sudden explanation for so many things that have gone wrong in her life, was not parallel to my own feelings on the matter. Hearing the news that this student, Sara, remembered that she had been sexually abused as a child by a close family member, was completely disheartening. Her younger sister, Teresa, was also a victim of this heinous act.
According to the American Psychological Association Commission on Violence and Youth, "children and youths suffer more victimization than do adults in virtually every category, including physical abuse, sibling assault, bullying, sexual abuse, and rape." In addition to this statistic, "long term effects of child abuse include fear, anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor self esteem, tendency toward substance abuse and difficulty with close relationships." (Browne & Finkelhor).
Despite Sara's realization that many of her troubles in life may be results of being a victim of sexual abuse as a child, she has made a lot of progress. Sara was given the opportunity to attend an alternative school, DCTS, for 2.5 years. During her time at DCTS, Sara has learned a variety of skills, from academics to social and emotional growth. She is now employed at a nursing home, is planning on earning her C.N.A license, and is taking the steps to enroll in college. Her sister, on the other hand, is in a different place. Teresa has been expelled from her home district 3 times; each expulsion occurred for different reasons. Teresa is currently not going to school, and her district has refused her access to the alternative school of her choice. Both Sara and Teresa have struggled with self-esteem issues (that at times were self-destructive), drug and alcohol abuse, cutting, and have experienced bouts of psychological symptoms related to depression. The difference between these girls is that there is no difference. Both were brought up in the same home, and experienced the same trauma. Both endured hardships related to their childhood. The difference lies in the system; Teresa has been denied the right to be educated in an environment deemed safe by her. Teresa deserves to learn, grow, and become a productive person; she deserves the right to attend an alternative school like DCTS. While Sara has learned to grow from trauma, Teresa is being pushed further into a dark, desolate hole.
It is shameful that our society forgets to place an emphasis on the needs of students; we say that we do, but when it comes down to it, we don't. We don't allow our students to learn from their mistakes, to learn how to be strong people, to learn how to advocate for themselves. The educational system has victimized Teresa in the same way that she was victimized as a child; she does not have a choice, does not have a voice, and her opinion is stifled. The miraculous thing about Teresa is that she has hope, a personality, and motivation. She is fighting the district to give her the school placement she deserves. The devastating factor is that Teresa has to keep fighting for something that our country perceives as a given right: an education.
Under President Obama's new $4.35 billion Race to the Top program, states can compete for funds by creating programs that improve the quality of their schools. The idea of rewarding school reform initiatives is good, but one-time grants from the federal government will not improve our public education system by itself.Mr. Williams is a state senator from Pennsylvania and a candidate in the May 18 Democratic primary for governor.
Why? Because the $400 million grant Pennsylvania now seeks represents less than half of 1% of the $23 billion spent annually in my state's public school system. Given the thousands of dollars already being spent per student, an additional $56 per child will be insignificant--unless it is accompanied by comprehensive school-choice reform.
Pennsylvania should adopt reform based on the same premise as the Race to the Top initiative: that competition for taxpayer dollars improves the quality of education.
"I hope we will criticize the many reform ideas that rest upon false assumptions about the differences between "us" (especially middle- and upper-class whites) and "them" ... spouted by folks ... whose solutions support the continuation of schools with a test-prep curriculum and military/prison-style behavioral norms ... I want all kids to have a chance to go to schools of the sort where Arne Duncan and President Obama send their own kids." - Deborah Meier
If you're interested in public education, take a look at this exchange between reknowned inner-city principal and writer Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch, author most recently of The Death and Life of the Great American School System. It's a terrific back-and-forth. Meier, by the way, had this to say about the selection of Arne Duncan in a discussion that occurred right after he was picked:
The public has a right to know if Ivan Mateo-Lozenzo, 21, attended West High School or any other Madison schools and for how long.
School district officials are stubbornly refusing to say.
Nor will they disclose if the district followed its own policies for screening new students when (or if) Mateo-Lozenzo enrolled at West using a fake name and age.
Police say Mateo-Lozenzo pulled the trigger in the shooting death of gang rival Antonio Perez, 19, on Madison's East Side late last month.
Mateo-Lozenzo was an illegal immigrant from Mexico. But that's not the central issue here because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that school districts can't withhold public education because of immigration status.
The real issue here is school safety.
NJEA's website has a new feature: an analysis NJ's RTTT application. While its censorious tone is no surprise, there's a few factual misrepresentations. As a public service, we offer these annotations.
1) The proposal will call "for more and more testing, in all subject areas, in all grades." Actually, the DOE is most likely going to eliminate statewide assessments in all grades except for 4th, 8th, 11th. New district assessments will be web-based and easily integrated into classroom instruction. (By the way, anyone want to figure out how much time and money was spent on developing our new grade 3, 5,6,7, and 9 assessments?)
2) "while NJEA was vilified for weeks by Christie when the poorly conceived and hastily written Phase RTTT application was rejected by the Obama Administration, Schundler told reporters he didn't think NJEA's support was central to approval in Phase II." Actually, Schundler is echoing U.S. Ed Sec. Arne Duncan, who has explained that he prefers strong reforms without buy-in over weak reforms with union support.
On May 11, the UFT, NYSUT and the State Education Department reached a new agreement -- subject to legislative approval -- to create a teacher evaluation and improvement plan. Under the new agreement, which would take effect in September 2011, the evaluation process will be more objective, be based mostly on qualitative measures and limit the role of test scores.
How will the teacher evaluation system change?
The current evaluation system doesn't work for us as a profession. It is totally subjective and too dependent on the whims of administrators. The new system, which would move us forward as a profession, will establish specific criteria that incorporate multiple measures of evaluating teacher performance. The new system embeds professional development in the evaluation system. Teacher evaluation was never meant to be a gotcha system. It was supposed to allow teachers to grow and develop professionally throughout their careers.
How will teachers be judged under the new system?
The 34 schools deemed Minnesota's persistently lowest performing are working with state officials on plans to turn them around.
Each school stands to gain a lot of money for that effort. But the leaders of some of those schools say they don't want to be on the list, no matter how much money they stand to receive.
A prime example is tranquil Butterfield School, which stands across the street from a poultry processing plant. Every now and then, a chicken escapes from the plant, and crosses the road to wander through the school hallways.
Under President Obama's new $4.35 billion Race to the Top program, states can compete for funds by creating programs that improve the quality of their schools. The idea of rewarding school reform initiatives is good, but one-time grants from the federal government will not improve our public education system by itself.
Why? Because the $400 million grant Pennsylvania now seeks represents less than half of 1% of the $23 billion spent annually in my state's public school system. Given the thousands of dollars already being spent per student, an additional $56 per child will be insignificant--unless it is accompanied by comprehensive school-choice reform.
Pennsylvania should adopt reform based on the same premise as the Race to the Top initiative: that competition for taxpayer dollars improves the quality of education.
Let's suppose you have spent your career as a professor at an American education school, training future teachers. Then suppose that your state decided that teachers could get certified without attending an education school at all.
That's called "alternative certification," and most of my school of education colleagues are outraged by it.
I take a different view. These new routes into teaching could transform the profession, by attracting the type of student that has eluded education schools for far too long. We should extend an olive branch to our competitors, instead of circling the wagons against them.
The biggest challenger at the moment is Teach for America (TFA), which recruits graduating seniors, mostly from elite colleges, and places them as teachers in public schools following a five-week training course. Last year, a whopping 11% of all Ivy League seniors applied to TFA. It was the No. 1 employer at several other top colleges, including Georgetown and the University of Chicago.
Over the past 40 years or so, child advocates have given a good amount of lip service to the view that adults, especially educators, should respect children's "individual differences."
In theory, this recognizes the fact that every trait is distributed in the general population in a manner represented by the bell-shaped curve. Whether the issue is general intelligence, sociability, optimism, musical aptitude, artistic ability, or mechanical skill (to mention but a few), relatively few people are "gifted" and relatively few people are disadvantaged.
Whatever the characteristic, most folks are statistically "normal." That is, they possess an adequate amount, enough to get by.
People gifted in more than a couple of areas are rare, and people gifted in one area but lacking in another are not unusual. A person with outstanding musical aptitude, for example, may be noticeably lacking in social skills, and a person with outstanding verbal skills may be mechanically inept.
Four of the Mt. Diablo school district's lowest-achieving schools will present their plans Tuesday for boosting student performance by applying for federal grants of up to $2 million a year to reform their campuses.
"It really could be an opportunity to make big changes," said Tom Carman, principal of Bel Air Elementary in Bay Point, among the schools that will apply for the money.
"A lot of what the teachers are going to be talking about is looking at data and finding out the best way to teach 'x, y or z,'" said Carman, who will retire this year. "So, we're going to be better educators."
Six district schools landed on that state's list of low-achieving campuses, identified as testing among the bottom 5 percent statewide.
'Throw away your dictionaries!' is the battle cry as a simplified global hybrid of English conquers cultures and continents. In this extract from his new book, Globish, Robert McCrum tells the story of a linguistic phenomenon - and its links to big money.
Globalisation is a word that first slipped into its current usage during the 1960s; and the globalisation of English, and English literature, law, money and values, is the cultural revolution of my generation. Combined with the biggest IT innovations since Gutenberg, it continues to inspire the most comprehensive transformation of our society in 500, even 1,000, years. This is a story I have followed, and contributed to, in a modest way, ever since I wrote the BBC and PBS television series The Story of English, with William Cran and Robert MacNeil, in the early 1980s. When Bill Gates was still an obscure Seattle software nerd, and the latest cool invention to transform international telephone lines was the fax, we believed we were providing a snapshot of the English language at the peak of its power and influence, a reflection of the Anglo-American hegemony. Naturally, we saw our efforts as ephemeral. Language and culture, we knew, are in flux. Any attempts to pin them down would be antiquarianism at best, doomed at worst. Besides, some of the experts we talked to believed that English, like Latin before it, was already showing signs of breaking up into mutually unintelligible variants. The Story of English might turn out to be a last hurrah.
After nearly five weeks of interagency finger-pointing and discord, District officials announced late Monday that they have found a way to finance the proposed teachers contract, paving the way for a vote by union rank-and-file on the $140 million pact.
Appearing together on the steps of the John A. Wilson Building on Monday evening, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee and District Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi said they had devised a $38.8 million package of budget cuts and reallocations to close the $10.7 million funding gap in the contract and $28 million in projected overspending in other parts of the school budget.
The funding package delivers exactly what Gandhi had insisted upon in D.C. Council testimony and private deliberations with Rhee and Fenty before he would certify the pact as fiscally sound: a contract funded exclusively by public funds available without condition.
Students are not the only ones at Adelante Dual Language Academy in San Jose who are graded on their classroom participation. Parents are, too.
Parents of children attending the public elementary school receive a check, plus or minus based on how much they volunteer in class. If mom and dad slack off they even might get a call from the principal.
Inspired by Adelante, now San Jose's Alum Rock Union Elementary School District is at work on a proposal to require the families of all its 13,000 students to do 30 hours of volunteering per school year. Many of the schools in the district, where 88 percent of the students are poor, do not even have a Parent-Teachers Association.
"We are trying to create a culture of strong parent-guardian-family participation," trustee Gustavo Gonzalez, whose children attend Adelante, told The San Jose Mercury News.
In the 19th century, Illinois was the land of Lincoln. In the 20th, it was the birthplace of Ronald Reagan. In the 21st, Illinois has given us a new breed of Republican: Roger Eddy.
Mr. Eddy is what they call a downstater, an assemblyman who serves an east-central Illinois district hugging the Indiana border. His day job turns out to be in government as well, as a public schools superintendent.
Last week Mr. Eddy became the face of the Republican failure to get a voucher bill through the Illinois assembly. The bill had passed the Senate. Yet despite being pushed by a remarkable coalition involving fellow Republicans, a free-market state think tank, and a prominent African-American leader, only 25 Republicans in the House voted yes. That was 12 votes short. Mr. Eddy was one of 23 Republicans who killed it by voting no.
"Last week was a missed opportunity for children in Chicago's worst and most overcrowded schools, and it was a missed opportunity for Republicans," says Collin Hitt, who handles education issues for the Illinois Policy Institute. "It's not often that a minority Republican party has the chance to advance cornerstone policy with key African-American support. The good news is that the legislation remains alive, and this bill has another chance."
via a kind reader:
Dear Parents and Guardians,I've not seen any additional comments from the Madison School District beyond this brief statement from Superintendent Dan Nerad:
Last week we informed you of the heightened security measure at Middleton High School due to the gang-related homicide in Madison. The Middleton High School student involved in the incident was last seen in Texas and police do not believe he will return to the Madison area. As a result, security will be back to normal at the high school on Monday.
You have also likely seen the news in the media regarding the true identity and age of the student involved in the incident. The individual attending Middleton High School as Arain Gutierrez was later identified by police as 21-year old Ivan Mateo-Lozenzo. Once we were made aware of the suspect's identity and age we immediately began to investigate how he was enrolled at Middleton High School. Federal privacy laws prevent us from releasing the specific information or documents that are provided for an individual student. It does appear that our enrollment policies and procedures were correctly followed for his admission to our school district. To enroll in our school district the following must be provided for the student:
- A completed enrollment form
- Proof of residency in our district, such as a MGE or Alliant Energy bill, a signed apartment lease or accepted offer to purchase a home
- Proof of age is asked for but only required for children entering kindergarten
- Immunization record, if available
- Transfer of records request from the previous school district, if applicable
We also rely on information in the Wisconsin Student Locator system. This is a database with information on every student who has attended public school in Wisconsin. Arain Gutierrez was in this system as he previously attended Madison West High School before coming to Middleton. School districts throughout the state use this database to transfer student information from one district to another for thousands of students. There would be no reason to question the legitimacy of a student name or date of birth. We also have no record of an adult ever falsifying documents to gain entrance in our school district as a minor.
As a result of this incident, we are reviewing our current policies and procedures to determine what, if any, changes will be made to our enrollment process. We also continue to work with law enforcement to assess the impact this student may have had on others in the school district. The security of our schools is our highest priority. We will continue to take all measures to ensure the safety of our students and staff.
Dr. Don Johnson
Still, Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad said the district will review its enrollment policies.
"I cannot tell you where this will lead, but we will have conversations about it," Nerad said.
At 12:03:50 on 05/10/10 firefighters were dispatched for fire alarm at West high school.Several readers noted that there have been a number of recent incidents in and around West High School:
On location, students had evacuated. Staff directed firefighters to a bathroom on the 3rd floor of the building where rolls of toilet paper had been burned.
Strobes were operating; alarm had been silenced. Firefighters found a moderate haze of smoke in the area and there was an odor of burned plastics. The fire was out, the toilet roll dispenser was smoldering and melted.
A fan was used from Engine 4 to start clearing the smoke.
The fire had been reported to a staff member by a student. The staff member used an extinguisher to put the fire out. Another student had been attempting to extinguish the fire with water from the sink.
The scene was turned over to a fire investigator.
April 26User's may wish to search local high school addresses on the crimereports.com website. The site supports date range searching. You must enter an address and enter a date range (see below) as the site only links to zip code area searches. The data is provided by the City of Madison, UW-Madison and the Madison Police Department. I don't know if all incidents are provided to this site.
1 Block Ash St.
Battery (under general heading "Assault")
The fight outside the school last week was:
Chadbourne Av and Ash St
Time: 12:47 (lunchtime)
Fight Call (under general heading "Disorder")
1 Block Ash St. (looks like this one was in the school)
Chadbourne and Allen
2100 Block Regent
Madison East High
2222 E. Washington Ave.
Madison WI 53704
Madison Edgewood High School
2219 Monroe Street
Madison, WI 53711-1999
Madison LaFollette High School
702 Pflaum Rd.
Madison WI 53716
Madison Memorial High School
201 S. Gammon Rd
Madison, WI 53717
Madison West High School
30 Ash Street
Madison, WI 53726
For most of us, college donations entail little more than occasionally dropping a small check in the mail after receiving repeated pleas for cash from our alma maters. Some people, though, tend to be a bit more individualistic with their generosity. Let's take a look at some of the quirkier donations schools have received:
1. Bequest Puts Jocks on the Ropes
swarthmoreIn 1907, fledgling Swarthmore College received a bequest that was estimated to be worth somewhere between $1 and $3 million. If the school wanted the cash, though, it would have to stop participating in intercollegiate sports. Swarthmore badly needed the cash--its entire endowment was only in the $1 million range--but in the end, the school turned down the gift and the sports survived.
The reform efforts at Sam Houston High School, once the worst-ranked campus in Texas, have drawn high-profile praise, from Gov. Rick Perry to U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
"Sam Houston is proof that positive change is possible," Perry said at a celebratory news conference in October. "After six years of underperformance, this school has not only met state standards, it is now a recognized campus."
Perry is correct: Sam Houston last year did break its streak of "academically unacceptable" ratings from the state, but that is only part of the statistical picture. Duncan's visit last month to Sam Houston -- where he applauded the turnaround efforts -- has reignited debate about the high school's transformation: Is it the success story that Houston ISD and elected officials claim?
The answer is complicated. But in the final analysis, one thing is clear: Despite an improvement in student test scores, Sam Houston benefited from the state's easier rating system last year.
In the summer of 2008, the Houston Independent School District was under orders from Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott to make major changes at Sam Houston, which was the longest-running unacceptable school in the state. State guidelines required HISD to replace the principal and rename the school. In addition, at least 75 percent of the teaching staff had to be replaced, and half the students were supposed to be new.
In late 2000, Wes Moore, an ex-military officer and soon-to-be Rhodes scholar, came across a series of articles in the Baltimore Sun that caught his attention. They chronicled the aftermath of a robbery gone awry: A few months earlier a group of armed men had broken into a Baltimore jewelry store, and in the process of making their escape, shot and killed an off-duty police officer named Bruce Prothero. It wasn't just the violence of the act that shocked Moore, it was the name of one of the suspects: Wes Moore.
Several years later, when Moore (the Rhodes scholar) returned from his studies at Oxford, the story continued to haunt him. Here were two men with the same name, from the same city, even the same age, and two dramatically different trajectories. In the hopes of finding out why, Moore began writing and visiting the man (who had since been sentenced to life in prison). The result is "The Other Wes Moore," Moore's vivid and richly detailed new book about both men's childhoods in Baltimore and the Bronx.
Infants aged 5 months react very differently to a fearful face than those aged 7 months. "At the age of 7 months babies will watch a fearful face for longer than a happy face, and their attentiveness level as measured by EEG is higher after seeing a fearful than a happy face. By contrast, infants aged 5 months watch both faces, when they are shown side by side, for just as long, and there is no difference in the intensity of attention in favour of the fearful face," said Mikko Peltola, researcher at the University of Tampere, at the Academy's Science Breakfast this week.
It seems that at age 6 months, important developmental changes take place in the way that infants process significant emotional expressions. A fearful face attracts intense attention by the age of 7 months. In addition, it takes longer for infants to shift their attention away from fearful than from happy and neutral faces.
"Our interpretation of this is to suggest that the brain mechanisms that specialise in emotional response and especially in processing threatening stimuli regulate and intensify the processing of facial expressions by age 7 months," Peltola said.
When Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo wanted to meet certain members of the hedge fund crowd, seeking donors for his all-but-certain run for governor, what he heard was this: Talk to Joe.
That would be Joe Williams, executive director of a political action committee that advances what has become a favorite cause of many of the wealthy founders of New York hedge funds: charter schools.
Wall Street has always put its money where its interests and beliefs lie. But it is far less common that so many financial heavyweights would adopt a social cause like charter schools and advance it with a laserlike focus in the political realm.
The Madison and Middleton-Cross Plains school districts are reviewing their enrollment policies after a 21-year-old man who police said shot and killed a rival gang member successfully enrolled this fall as a Middleton High School student under an alias.
"As a result of this incident, we are reviewing our current policies and procedures to determine what, if any, changes will be made to our enrollment process," said district spokeswoman Michelle Larson.
Middleton records show the man, Ivan Mateo-Lozenzo, had previously attended West High School in Madison. But Madison district officials last week would not confirm he ever attended the school.
Still, Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad said the district will review its enrollment policies.
"I cannot tell you where this will lead, but we will have conversations about it," Nerad said.
Without giving too much away, I'll just say that my college uses one format for final exams, and is considering switching to another in a couple of years.
I've been thinking about the relative advantages of different formats, and would love to hear from my wise and worldly readers about their experiences with the different schedules. I'll admit being pretty agnostic on this one.
The various formats I've seen:
1. Run the regular class schedule right up to the bitter end; let each class schedule its own final, if any.
Advantages: No schedule conflicts, no issue with some classes preferring papers or projects instead of exams.*
Disadvantages: Doing 'common' finals across multiple sections of the same class becomes impossible, and exams are limited to the length of a class period.
Anyone who has worked with Jill Jokela during her fifteen years as a parent of children in the Madison schools would agree that this Distinguished Service Award is long overdue. Administrators, teachers, parents and fellow concerned citizens hold Jill Jokela in the highest regard for her deep and altruistic commitment to our public schools.
Since 1995 when her first child entered kindergarten, Jill has been a generous PTO leader at Mendota Elementary, Black Hawk Middle and East High Schools. Her ability to ask very tough questions, closely examine data and work constructively through challenging issues such as school equity, boundary changes, funding and curriculum have demonstrated, time and time again, the invaluable role of the effective parent activist in a great school district.
Leaders and backers of the handful of high-energy "no excuses" schools in Milwaukee are launching efforts aimed at tripling the number of children attending such schools in the city.
The goal proclaimed by leaders of four efforts that have sprung up almost simultaneously is to raise the number of students in such demanding schools from about 6,000 now to 20,000 by 2020.
If the efforts succeed, they will dramatically change the education landscape in Milwaukee and, backers hope, make widespread the high achievement levels of the schools that are at the center of the new effort.
But for the effort to succeed, major political, institutional and financial hurdles will need to be jumped. People on both sides of the longstanding, giant chasm between partisans for Milwaukee Public Schools and partisans for charter schools and private voucher schools will need to cooperate and focus on matters of improving the quality of education where they might actually find common ground.
It began for Alyssa Pometta, as these habits so often do, with the soft stuff. We are talking, of course, about lip gloss. She began wearing it in fourth grade - Bonne Bell's Lip Smackers, a girl's rite of passage - after yearsof wearing ChapStick and pretending it was Revlon. But the thrill of flavoured lip gloss was fleeting, and in January, 11-year-old Alyssa asked her mother, Phyllis Pometta, if she could graduate to the hard stuff: lipstick, eyeliner and mascara.
Pometta's first instinct was to send her daughter to her room, but she reconsidered. Instead, she took her for a makeover.
"I'm using the choose-your-battles kind of parenting," Pometta, an independent publicist, reasons. "I figured, better that she's informed and has the right tools than she goes into it blindly with her friends in the bathroom and comes out looking like a clown."
In any profession, you need a flow of ideas so the conversation around any particular subject doesn't become stale. But we also need a common understanding of the profession's fundamentals. For example, who wouldn't want our doctors and pilots to understand the basics of medicine and flying? If they don't, we're all in a heap of trouble.
A new National Council of Teacher Quality study suggests that Texas education schools are approaching the heap-of-trouble designation in teaching fundamentals. The report takes a look at 67 schools across the state in such areas as preparing teachers to instruct students in math and reading.
The study finds that the only consistency among them is their inconsistency.
Three-year contract likely to be accepted for $1,800 raise in first year.Anchorage Education Association.
The contract raises the school district's wage and benefit costs by:
• $12.7 million, or 4.1 percent, the first year.
• $10.4 million, or 3.2 percent, the second year.
• $11.7 million, or 3.4 percent, the third year.
The School District plans to decrease its budget next year by about 5 percent to $789 million and is expected to make more cuts the year after that.
Approving the contract gives the School District a better ability to budget for the next three years, Comeau said.
The district faced a $3 million revenue shortfall for the coming fiscal year when it began. The board elected to cover the shortage by taking $2 million out of the district's $5.5 million fund balance and the remaining $1 million through spending cuts.
"Every decision at this point is tougher than the last," superintendent Paul Durand told the board as it began weighing the fate of historically popular and successful programs and student activities.
Most of the cuts came $2,000 or $3,000 at a time from a list of programs prepared by district administrators.
Challenged to find a way to reduce the music budget without doing away with fourth-grade orchestra, music department staff and district principals managed to trim more than $13,000 by cutting travel and other expenses from the marching and pep band programs. The savings still put the marching bands on the street for local parades and the Minnesota State Fair and puts the pep band in the stands for sporting events.
The number of children born outside marriage in the United States has increased dramatically to four out of ten of all births.
Figures show that 41 per cent of children born in 2008 did not have married parents - up from 28 per cent in 1990.
Researchers have concluded that although Christian values still play an important role in American society, public attitudes have changed.
Having a child out of wedlock does not carry the stigma and shame it once did, they say.
The study also found that in America there is a declining number of teenage mothers and rising numbers of older parents.
The University of Wisconsin-Parkside is considering suspending admission to the school's teacher certification program and dissolving the teacher education department.
The Journal Times in Racine reports that Chancellor Deborah Ford is recommending the action.
If the proposal passes the Faculty Senate next week, officials say students enrolled in the certification program would be able to finish their degrees and student teaching, but no new students would be admitted.
Ford said she hopes a new education program will be in place in three years. Her announcement comes about a year after a Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction investigation found that the university's education program had "serious deficiencies and noncompliance issues."
Celebrity English tutor Karson Oten Fan Karno, also known as K. Oten, was arrested for suspected infringement of copyright of public examination papers along with seven people in a raid by customs officers on tutorial centres.
K. Oten and the tutorial company through which he delivered video lessons both denied they had breached copyright rules in offering lessons to around 60 Form Six students at two centres in Admiralty and Yau Ma Tei.
The tutorial firm, Advanced Contemporary Education Centre, said yesterday it had never copied exam papers. "The handouts used in tutorial classes offered by us were written, printed and distributed to students by the tutors themselves," it said.
It had suspended classes taught by Oten and refunded cash to students. It said it would reserve the right to pursue damages.
Kudzu, (Pueraria lobata), I learn from Wikipedia, was "...introduced from Japan into the United States in 1876 at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition, where it was promoted as a forage crop and an ornamental plant. From 1935 to the early 1950s, the Soil Conservation Service encouraged farmers in the southeastern United States to plant kudzu to reduce soil erosion... The Civilian Conservation Corps planted it widely for many years. It was subsequently discovered that the southeastern US has near-perfect conditions for kudzu to grow out of control--hot, humid summers, frequent rainfall, and temperate winters with few hard freezes...As such, the once-promoted plant was named a pest weed by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1953."
We now have, I suggest, an analogous risk from the widespread application of "the evidence-based techniques and processes of literacy instruction, k-12." At least one major foundation and one very old and influential college for teachers are now promoting what I have described as "guidelines, parameters, checklists, techniques, rubrics, processes and the like, as props to substitute for students' absent motivation to describe or express in writing something that they have learned."
Most of these literacy experts are psychologists and educators, rather than historians or authors of literature. Samuel Johnson, an 18th century author some may remember, once wrote that "an author will turn over half a library to produce one book." A recent major foundation report suggests that Dr. Johnson didn't know what he was talking about when it comes to adolescents:
"Some educators feel that the 'adolescent literacy crisis' can be resolved simply by having adolescents read more books. This idea is based on the misconception that the source of the problem is 'illiteracy.' The truth is that adolescents--even those who have already 'learned how to read'--need systematic support to learn how to 'read to learn' across a wide variety of contexts and content." So, no need for adolescents to read books, just give them lots of literacy kudzu classes in "rubrics, guidelines, parameters, checklists, techniques, and processes..."
Other literacy kudzu specialists also suggest that reading books is not so important, instead that: (to quote a recent Washington Post article by Psychologist Dolores Perin of Teachers College, Columbia) "many students cannot learn well from a content curriculum because they have difficulty reading assigned text and fulfilling subject-area writing assignments. Secondary content teachers need to understand literacy processes and become aware of evidence-based reading and writing techniques to promote learners' understanding of the content material being taught. Extended school-based professional development should be provided through collaborations between literacy and content-area specialists."
E.D. Hirsch has called this "technique" philosophy of literacy instruction, "How-To-Ism" and says that it quite uselessly tries to substitute methods and skills for the knowledge that students must have in order to read well and often, and to write on academic subjects in school.
Literacy Kudzu has been with us for a long time, but it has received new fertilizer from large private foundation and now federal standards grants which will only help it choke, where it can, attention to the reading of complete books and the writing of serious academic papers by the students in our schools.
Writing in Insidehighereducation.com, Lisa Roney recently said: "But let me also point out that the rise of Composition Studies over the past 30 or 40 years does not seem to have led to a populace that writes better."
Educrat Professors and Educrat Psychologists who have, perhaps, missed learning much about history and literature during their own educations, and have not made any obvious attempt to study their value in their education research, of course fall back on what they feel they can do: teach processes, skills, methods, rubrics, parameters, and techniques of literacy instruction. Their efforts, wherever they are successful, will be a disaster, in my view, for teachers and students who care about academic writing and about history and literature in the schools.
In a recent issue of Harvard Magazine an alum wrote: "Dad ( a professional writer) used to tell us what he felt was the best advice he ever had on good writing. One of his professors was the legendary Charles Townsend Copeland, A.B. 1882, Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory. Copeland didn't collect themes and grade them. Rather, he made an appointment with each student to come to his quarters in Hollis Hall to read his theme and receive comments from the Master..."Dad started reading his offering and heard occasional groans and sighs of anguish from various locations in the (room). Finally, Copeland said in pained tones, 'Stop, Mr. Duncan, stop.' Dad stopped. After several seconds of deep silence, Copeland asked, 'Mr. Duncan, what are you trying to say?' Dad explained what he was trying to say. Said Copeland, 'Why didn't you write it down?'"
This is the sort of advice, completely foreign to the literacy kudzu community, which understands that in writing one first must have something to say (knowledge) and then one must work to express that knowledge so it may be understood. That may not play to the literacy kudzu community's perception of their strengths, but it has a lot more to do with academic reading and writing than anything they are working to inflict on our teachers and students.
I hope they, including the foundations and the university consultant world, may before too long pause to re-consider their approach to literacy instruction, before we experience the damage from this pest-weed which they are presently, perhaps unwittingly, in the method-technique-process of spreading in our schools.
Arne Duncan, the U.S. secretary of education, has asked the National Center for Education Statistics and the Office of Postsecondary Education to conduct a study of "restrictive" policies that make it more difficult for students to transfer credits from one institution to another. Higher-education experts have argued that loosening such policies would help the nation reach President Obama's goal of increasing the number of college graduates.
The hastened retirement of thousands of Michigan teachers and other school employees hung in the balance Thursday, but lawmakers again failed to agree on legislation to allow it.
That pushed a possible agreement on a retirement incentive plan to next week at the earliest, leaving school districts and teachers wondering how -- or if -- they would cope with a summer surge of retirements and new hires.
And it left unresolved a $415-million shortfall next year in the state School Aid Fund that largely pays for public schools. The retirement plan could save school districts more than $680 million next year, and $3.1 billion over 10 years. School employees who don't retire would pay an additional 3% of wages into the retirement system.
Illinois lawmakers were in disarray Thursday as they groped for stopgap measures to address a $13 billion deficit equaling nearly half of the state's general-fund revenue.Related: How States Fail (Fiscally).
The state faces one of the nation's worst budget crises, spilled over in part from the broader national economic crunch, and its current bond ratings lag only California's. But the confusion in the legislature indicates that serious steps to fix state finances won't be taken until after the November elections--if then.
Most states have addressed or still face gaps in their budgets totaling $196 billion for fiscal year 2010, while tax revenue declined in the final quarter of 2009 in 39 of the states for which data is available.
Illinois lawmakers have little appetite for drastic spending cuts. An income-tax increase proposed by Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn is going nowhere. Even temporary steps, such as borrowing to make pension payments, have stalled. Illinois is months late on many of its bills and has no plan for catching up.
The legislature may push the problem to the governor's office by granting Mr. Quinn emergency budget powers and adjourning Friday, about three weeks earlier than usual. A bill under consideration in the state House would give Mr. Quinn greater leeway to shift money among state funds and to require agencies to set aside part of their budgets now in case of future cuts.
The Great Depression did not have too many silver linings, but it did change the way Americans thought about education, clearly for the better. In 1930, only 30 percent of teenagers graduated from high school. By 1940, after a decade in which there often was nothing better to do than stay in school, the number had jumped to 50 percent. The Depression didn't just make Americans tougher. It made them smarter.
In the years that followed, these newly skilled workers helped create an economic colossus. They were the factory workers, office clerks and managers who built up General Motors, U.S. Steel, R.C.A. and I.B.M. So when our own Great Recession began more than two years ago, it was reasonable to hope that something similar, if less extreme, might take place.
The idea of a tangent line is central to many aspects of mathematics. In geometry, we study when a line rests on another figure at just one point, the point of tangency. In calculus, the slope of the line tangent to a curve at a point becomes the "derivative" of that curve at that point. One can even think of tangencies in more than one dimension. Imagine an (x,y) plane drawn on a table with a three dimensional object resting on it. One can therefore find a point of tangency in the x direction, and also one in the y direction. I found myself thinking of this recently when two dates almost coincided this past week. This past week, I celebrated my birthday and in a few days I will celebrate Mother's Day. In many ways, these two dates are tangential in two dimensions.
They are tangential in the sense that this year they both appear in the same week, with my birthday on Tuesday and Mother's Day on Sunday. In the years in which we wanted to be parents but could not, Mother's Day was a painful day that I often wished would just go away. I was most disturbed when the church I went to focused on mothers and Mother's Day, leaving those of us without children feeling like second class citizens. I would often leave crying, with my heart even more broken.
It was during those years that I discovered the true history of Mother's Day, which made the pain of the day seem less stinging. For, despite what the people at the greeting card companies want us to believe, Mother's Day began as a day of Peace, with a call to all mothers to pause for a minute to work to create a world in which peace could thrive. I have a copy of the original declaration of Mother's Day, written in 1870 by Juliet Ward Howe, hanging on my office door. It invites mothers to take a day away from their chores to help build a better world for all of our children. The celebration on Sunday is therefore much more than an excuse to buy flowers or chocolate (but I will still happily take the chocolate, thank you!)
Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee is more than doubling the number of senior managers who oversee the city's 123 public schools, a move intended to put more muscle behind her efforts to raise teacher quality and student achievement.
Openings for 13 new "instructional superintendents" were posted on the D.C. schools Web site last week, at annual salaries of $120,000 to $150,000. Instructional superintendents directly supervise school principals, overseeing academic performance while troubleshooting personnel and student discipline issues.
The move comes as the school system deals with serious budget pressures. Rhee and District Chief Financial Officer Natwar M. Gandhi continue to search for an additional $10.7 million to fully fund the proposed $135.6 million teachers' contract. Rhee also faces, according to Gandhi, about $30 million in projected overspending, some of it produced by salaries of school-based special education aides, overtime and severance payments.
"Medical school is the wrong place to train psychiatrists," writes Daniel Carlat in his new book, Unhinged: The Trouble with Psychiatry - A Doctor's Revelations About a Profession in Crisis. In place of the sort of education that makes psychiatrists fifteen-minutes-per-patient pill dispensers, and gives them little in the way of slower, psychotherapeutic skills, he proposes something like a "doctor of mental health" program: Perhaps "two years of combined medical and psychological courses, followed by three years of psychiatric residency."
An ego- and money-driven need to be the equal of other MD's will, as Carlat knows, probably keep this from happening any time soon; indeed, a need to feel that one's clinical activity has the same empirical warrant as a heart surgeon's will also keep the pills flowing.
Yet I lost track of the number of times Carlat, in the course of this book, cautions the reader that
new diagnoses are based on votes of committees of psychiatrists, rather than neurobiological testing. Because diagnosis in psychiatry is more art than science, the field is vulnerable to 'disease-mongering,' the expansion of disease definitions in order to pump up the market for medication treatment.
The Ann Arbor school district has ended a controversial black-student only program at Dicken Elementary School.
"Lunch Bunch is no longer," district spokeswoman Liz Margolis said in an e-mail to AnnArbor.com. "It will be discussed among staff and some parents and be reworked. It has a valuable goal of assisting children who are not performing well on the MEAP, and this effort will continue."
Dicken Principal Mike Madison drew criticism from parents following his decision last week to take members of the African-American Lunch Bunch on a field trip to hear a black rocket scientist at the University of Michigan speak. Only black students were invited on the trip.
After the trip, classmates who were excluded booed those who went. Madison went into the class, and parents have complained he berated the students. District officials have said he was just having a "passionate" discussion about race issues.
Driving through some of this city's neighborhoods is like driving through an alternate, horrifying universe, a place where no one thinks it's safe to be a child.
You follow a map in which the coordinates are laid out in blood. Over there, in front of that convenience store, is where Fred Couch, 16, was shot to death last December. The Couch boy went to the same school, Christian Fenger Academy, as Derrion Albert, an honor student who was beaten with wooden planks and kicked to death three months earlier in a broad daylight attack that was recorded on a cellphone by an onlooker.
Right there, on South Manistee Avenue, is where a 7-year-old girl riding her scooter was shot in the head and critically injured a few weeks ago.
And here, on East 92nd Street, is where a toddler, just 20 months old, was shot in the head and killed in the back seat of her father's car.
A growing number of school districts are trying to break up concentrations of poverty on their campuses by taking students' family income into consideration in school assignments.
Some of the districts replaced race with socioeconomic status as a determining indicator after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2007 that using race as the primary factor in assigning students to schools violates the Constitution. Other districts that take family income into account never included race as a factor.
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.
These lines from Romeo and Juliet are often quoted to indicate the triviality of naming. But anyone who has read or seen the play through to its end knows that the names Montague and Capulet indicate a complex web of family relationships and enmities that end up bringing about the tragic deaths of our protagonists.
Lore also has it that Shakespeare's lines were perhaps a coy slam against the Rose Theatre, a rival of his own Globe Theatre, and that with these lines he was poking fun at the stench caused by less-than-sanitary arrangements at the Rose.
Rep. Joy Hearn (D-Dist. 66, Barrington, East Providence) is cosponsoring legislation developed by the Department of Education to enact a formula that will determine each school district's state funding. She said education aid from the state must be equitable, predictable and reflect the needs of students and their communities.
The legislation (2010-H 8094), which was introduced Wednesday, May 5 by House Finance Chairman Steven M. Costantino, would put an end to Rhode Island's status as the only state without a statewide education funding formula, where state aid is usually based on the previous year's amount and does not reflect changes in districts' student populations and needs.
"School funding is far too important for the state to be apportioning it arbitrarily or politically. Rhode Island has limited funding. We aren't spending it wisely if we aren't carefully sending it where the students and the needs are today. This formula will help the state get the most value for its education dollar while finally treating students equitably," said Rep. Hearn, who has pushed for the formula throughout her freshman term in the Rhode Island General Assembly.
The release of every new national literacy report is a cause for the heart to sink.
Although there are small gains here and there, the reading and writing levels among our nation's schoolchildren are very low for an advanced industrial society (now an information society) that not only provides twelve years of publicly-funded education but requires postsecondary course work.
The educational system is rich in its teaching workforce. Most teachers are dedicated to the needs of children, and willing to work in the trenches where it really matters.
However, these strengths are often undermined by a lack of understanding of the reading and writing process, and strategies to teach students how to perform the intricate procedures needed to comprehend written text and produce meaningful writing.
The Obama administration's proposal for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, A Blueprint for Reform, is on the right track in its literacy goals.
New Jersey Left Behind:
a href="http://www.nje3.org/blitz/crisisandhope.pdf">Yesterday’s conference at Princeton University,“Crisis and Hope: Transforming America’s Urban Schools,” featured a star-studded roster of speakers: Ed. Comm. Bret Schundler, Martin Perez (President of the Latino Leadership Alliance of NJ), Rev. Reginald Jackson (Black Ministers Council of NJ), Dr. Marcus Winters of The Manhattan Institute, Dana Rone, Joe Williams (Democrats for Education Reform), Dr. Marc Porter Magee (ConnCan), Lisa Graham Keegan (Former Superintendent of the State of Arizona), Ryan Hill (Founder of TEAM Charter Schools), Patricia Bombelyn (Co-Counsel for the plaintiffs in Crawford v. Davy). The conference was sponsored by Excellent Education for Everyone, Citizens for Successful Schools, and
Greece is only the beginning. The world's leading economies have long lived beyond their means, and the financial crisis caused government debt to swell dramatically. Now the bill is coming due, but not all countries will be able to pay it. By SPIEGEL staff.
Savvas Robolis is one of Greece's most distinguished economics professors. He advises cabinet ministers and union bosses. He is also a successful author and a frequent guest on the country's highest-rated talk shows. But for several days now, it has been clear to Robolis, 64, the elder statesman of Greece's left-wing academia, that he no longer has any influence.
His opposite number, Poul Thomsen, the Danish chief negotiator for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is currently something of a chief debt inspector in the virtually bankrupt Mediterranean country. He recently took three-quarters of an hour to meet with Robolis and Giannis Panagopoulos, the president of the powerful trade union confederation GSEE. At 9 a.m. on Tuesday of last week, the men met behind closed doors in a conference room in the basement of the Grande Bretagne, a luxury hotel in Athens. The mood, says Robolis, was "icy."
Ivan Mateo-Lozenzo, the man Madison police say shot and killed a gang rival last week, is known to local authorities as a 21-year-old illegal immigrant from Veracruz, Mexico, who worked as an area roofer in 2008.
Middleton High School officials thought he was an 18-year-old junior named Arain Gutierrez who had previously attended West High School in Madison.
So how did the man police still have not captured enroll in area schools?
Criteria for enrollment
The Madison School District requires the parents or guardians of a student present a utility bill, a mortgage document or a lease with their address to enroll their child in school. Under district policy, school officials are directed to "verify age and name" of a student using a birth certificate or "other documentation provided by parent."
The policy states that if a student's previous school was in a foreign country, school officials should ask to see a visa. If the student doesn't have a visa, the student is still enrolled and given an "undocumented visa notice."
Middleton-Cross Plains also requires a parent or guardian to show residency through a utility bill, lease or mortgage document, said district spokeswoman Michelle Larson. The district requires proof of age and identification through a birth certificate or passport when a student enrolls in kindergarten, but does not require it for later grades, she said.
A rift has developed between teachers' unions over a controversial bill that aims to improve teacher effectiveness.
The American Federation of Teachers Colorado signed onto Sen. Michael Johnston's, D-Denver, Senate Bill 191 yesterday, arguing that amendments expected to be introduced today in the House Education Committee send the bill in a "new direction."
The amendments include providing for a due process system in which teachers would be able to appeal evaluations that result in an educator being returned to probationary status; providing laid off teachers with preference in rehiring; and providing for a system in which two teachers would provide input on so-called "mutual consent" hiring decisions when a teacher applies to transfer between schools.
But the state's largest teachers' union, the Colorado Education Association, which represents about 40,000 teachers, does not put much stock in the approval given by the AFT of Colorado. They argue that the AFT Colorado is a much smaller union that represents mostly Douglas County teachers, and therefore does not have the interest of teachers across the state in mind.
The recession has not been kind to many private schools.
Nationally, public school enrollment is rising as the recession has forced many parents to pull their kids from private schools. In Wisconsin, the number of students enrolled in private schools fell more than 2 percent from 2007 to 2009, according to the state Department of Public Instruction.
But Edgewood High School of the Sacred Heart, under the leadership of President Judd Schemmel, seems to be bucking the trend. Enrollment at the nearly 130-year-old school during Schemmel's five-year tenure has risen a little over 5 percent, from 626 to 660 this year; Schemmel has his eye on an optimal enrollment of between 700 and 725 students.
The school, not traditionally known as an academic powerhouse, has also seen improved academic performance under Schemmel; elite universities from Harvard to Stanford and Princeton to Yale accepted Edgewood students from the class of 2009. It is also on more stable financial footing than it was five years ago, with its debt shrinking from just under $1 million to about $335,000 today, despite a number of building improvements and classroom renovations.
One of the two states chosen by Education Secretary Arne Duncan as a winner in the first round of the $4 billion Race to the Top competition has academic standards that earned the grade of 'F' in a new study by Harvard University researchers, while the other state got a 'C minus.'
The Education Next report by researchers Paul E. Peterson and Carlos Xabel Lastra-Anadón also shows that standards in most states remain far below the proficiency standard set by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. NAEP is known as the nation's report card because it tests students across the country by the same measure and is considered the testing gold standard. States have their own individual student assessments designed to test students' knowledge of state academic standards, which are all different.
This study, available on the Education Next website, comes on the heels of another analysis done by the Washington D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute, which concluded that the two first-round winning states, Tennessee and Delaware, were chosen through "arbitrary criteria" rather than through a rigorous scientific process.
The Washington Post Co. announced Wednesday that it's putting Newsweek up for sale. The magazine is losing money, and its paid weekly subscriptions have dropped below 2 million.
But although the Washington Post Co.'s flagship newspaper is also losing money, the company is surprisingly profitable because of a shrewd acquisition it made more than 20 years ago in a growing sector of the economy: for-profit higher education.
What Is Kaplan University?
In 1984, Stanley Kaplan - who pioneered standardized test prep courses -- sold his business to The Washington Post Co. In 2000, Kaplan Higher Education bought a company called Quest. One of Quest's properties was Hagerstown Business College in Hagerstown, Md., which then became Kaplan College and later part of Kaplan University.
After the abolition of slavery in the United States, three Constitutional amendments were passed to grant newly freed African Americans legal status: the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery, the Fourteenth provided citizenship, and the Fifteenth guaranteed the right to vote. In spite of these amendments and civil rights acts to enforce the amendments, between 1873 and 1883 the Supreme Court handed down a series of decisions that virtually nullified the work of Congress during Reconstruction. Regarded by many as second-class citizens, blacks were separated from whites by law and by private action in transportation, public accommodations, recreational facilities, prisons, armed forces, and schools in both Northern and Southern states. In 1896 the Supreme Court sanctioned legal separation of the races by its ruling in H.A. Plessy v. J.H. Ferguson, which held that separate but equal facilities did not violate the U.S. Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment.
Beginning in 1909, a small group of activists organized and founded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). They waged a long struggle to eliminate racial discrimination and segregation from American life. By the middle of the twentieth century their focus was on legal challenges to public-school segregation. Two major victories before the Supreme Court in 1950 led the NAACP toward a direct assault on Plessy and the so-called "separate-but-equal" doctrine.
The case for PowerPoint:
- Ubiquitous Microsoft presentation software now a fixture of high-level military planning efforts. Junior officers spend hours distilling complex issues into PowerPoint. Top commanders skeptical, NYT reports.
- Pentagon = tip of iceberg. Military's use of PowerPoint pales next to corporate America's.
- Radically simplifies decision-making.
- Offers ready alternative when elegant prose, hard numbers, clear thinking are in short supply.
- Ideal format for identifying "paradigm shifts,'' "synergies,'' "value-adds.'
For legions of 4- and 5-year-olds and their parents, the test known as the E.R.B. is the entree into the world of private schooling, its pressure and price a taste of the expensive years to come.
Gabriella Rowe, head of the Mandell School, which has dropped the test. "None of us can truly trust the E.R.B. results because the prepping materials are so accessible," she said.
But parents who grumble about a test that they fear could determine their children's educational future now have company: some of the private schools themselves.
At least two schools in Manhattan have dropped the exam as a requirement for admission starting this fall, bucking a trend of more widespread use of such tests. More broadly, a powerful coalition of New York schools is contending that pretest preparation, which they believe skews the results, has become so widespread as to cast doubt on the value of the test.
The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind--creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning makers. These people--artists, inventors, designers, storytellers, caregivers, consolers, big picture thinkers--will now reap society's richest rewards and share its greatest joys." --Daniel Pink, A Whole New Mind
I remember when my twins entered kindergarten at our community public school. All of the parents were invited to the school for an introductory presentation on the teachers' goals for learning in the upcoming year. Everything sounded wonderful. The 25 children in the classroom would be organized into small groups. Creating art would introduce them to science and math concepts. They would be exposed to different cultures by learning songs in different languages. Time would be allotted for daily storytelling followed by discussion. The teachers described an interdisciplinary, imaginative and stimulating year ahead, complete with field trips and physical, active play.
While listening to the teachers' presentation at my twins' school, I had a moment of clarity: The kindergarten classroom is the design studio. All of the learning activities that take place inside the kindergarten classroom are freakishly similar to the everyday environment of my design studio in the "real world." In an architectural design studio, we work as an interdisciplinary global team to solve the complex problems of the built environment in a variety of different cultural contexts. We do this most effectively through storytelling--sharing personal experiences--with the support of digital media and tools. A variety of activities--reflective and collaborative, right-brain and left-brain--happen simultaneously in an open environment. Like the design studio, the kindergarten environment places human interaction above all else.
Loyola law students are having trouble getting jobs. The economy, it would seem, is bad. So administrators and faculty are on the case. They care about their students. They are going to make everything right. They are going to retroactively raise every grade on every transcript by one third (a "B-" become a "B"; a "B" becomes a "B+"; etc.). Because cooking the transcripts is just the sort of thing that's called for in these tough economic times.
Here's how Loyola law dean Victor Gold spins it:
Just over a week. That's all the time the Colorado state house has to get a controversial education bill to the Governor's office-- or to stop it.
The legislative session is set to end next Wednesday.
Teachers aren't very happy with the bill many are saying will only help students.
"What we're out to ensure is that every child across Colorado has access to the most effective teachers and principals possible," said Lindsay Neil with Stand for Children Colorado.
But is eliminating teacher tenure the answer?
A spokesman for District 51 teachers says 'No.'
"It's not fair," Jim Smyth with the Mesa Valley Education Association.
As DeKalb County's school system is cutting $115 million from its budget, it's looking to hire a public relations firm to help improve the troubled district's image.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned that the school board is soliciting bids for a company to provide "professional communication services" starting on July 1.
"The district is looking to retain a public relations specialist to be used as needed in critical situations which go beyond what a public school system is equipped to handle," board Chairman Tom Bowen told the AJC on Tuesday. "All large organizations, including school districts, need to be able to quickly and properly communicate critical information internally to employees and externally to the public."
There are five education directors who have all been laid off. The elimination of their positions are part of the reduction of central administration staff and expenses. Please, dry your eyes. Their jobs will be slightly re-defined and brought back. It is disingenuous of the Superintendent to claim that the jobs were cut in the first place.
Right now the five Education Director positions include one for high schools, one for middle schools and K-8s, and three for elementaries. My understanding is that when the jobs come back they will be re-organized geographically instead. So there will be an Education Director for West Seattle, for the south-end, for the Central Region, and two for the north-end. The divisions are likely to be along the lines of the old middle school regions.
Personally, I think this is a stupid idea. How can we believe that there is parity across the District if the people responsible for it are regionalized? Will you believe that the north-end schools and the south-end schools offer similar academic opportunities if they don't share administrators? In addition, the issues of high schools are sufficiently different from those of middle schools and elementary schools that specialization is called for. Right now there is one person to turn to for high school credit or high school graduation issues. To whom will they turn in future?
To show good faith, teachers throughout New Jersey needed to agree to a wage freeze as proposed by Gov. Chris Christie. It's time the New Jersey Education Association started functioning less like a labor union and more like a professional organization committed to partnering with school districts to improve the quality of education and reduce wasteful spending.
However, teachers are only part of the education system. As someone who has worked with numerous school administrators and board of education members, I know many have big egos and lack the qualifications to fulfill the requirements of their respective positions.
THE latest evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, the oldest and most extensive system of vouchers and charter schools in America, came out last month, and most advocates of school choice were disheartened by the results.Jay Greene:
The evaluation by the School Choice Demonstration Project, a national research group that matched more than 3,000 students from the choice program and from regular public schools, found that pupils in the choice program generally had "achievement growth rates that are comparable" to similar Milwaukee public-school students. This is just one of several evaluations of school choice programs that have failed to show major improvements in test scores, but the size and age of the Milwaukee program, combined with the rigor of the study, make these results hard to explain away.
So let's not try to explain them away. Why not instead finally acknowledge that standardized test scores are a terrible way to decide whether one school is better than another? This is true whether the reform in question is vouchers, charter schools, increased school accountability, smaller class sizes, better pay for all teachers, bonuses for good teachers, firing of bad teachers -- measured by changes in test scores, each has failed to live up to its hype.
Murray wants to be clear that he still favors choice, but not to improve test scores. Instead, he favors choice because it satisfies the diversity of preferences about how schools teach and what they teach. Standardized test scores impose a uniform concept of higher achievement on students, and so cannot capture the improved satisfaction of the diversity of tastes that choice can more efficiently satisfy.
There is a kernel of truth in Murray's argument. We should support school choice simply because it allows us the liberty of providing our children with the kind of education that we prefer.
An Ann Arbor elementary school principal used a letter home to parents tonight to defend a field trip for black students as part of his school's efforts to close the achievement gap between white and black students.
Dicken Elementary School Principal Mike Madison wrote the letter to parents following several days of controversy at the school after a field trip last week in which black students got to hear a rocket scientist.
"In hindsight, this field trip could have been approached and arranged in a better way," Madison wrote. "But as I reflect upon the look of excitement, enthusiasm and energy that I saw in these children's eyes as they stood in the presence of a renowned African American rocket scientist in a very successful position, it gave the kids an opportunity to see this type of achievement is possible for even them.
"It was not a wasted venture for I know one day they might want to aspire to be the first astronaut or scientist standing on the Planet Mars.
"I also think it's important that you know that I have talked to the children who did not go on the field trip, and I think they have a better understanding of the purpose of the AA Lunch Bunch now, as I hope you do. I'm sorry if any kids were upset by the field trip or my discussion afterwards with them, and I have let them know that.
How much would it cost to solve some of the world's biggest problems? King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia says about $10 billion -- that's the endowment he's given to the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, or KAUST, a huge research facility devoted to solving some of the major problems facing the planet.
The brand new school -- it opened just this past fall -- rises from the desert north of Jeddah like the secret research lab in a James Bond movie. The desert blooms here, thanks to a private desalination plant and an army of gardeners. With a private Red Sea beach, knock-your-socks-off architecture and world-class labs, KAUST hopes to lure the world's brainiest scientists to this Xanadu for nerds.
This isn't a university in the traditional sense, says KAUST President Choon Fong Shih.
Via Chris Lydon at Open Source, Thomas Oboe Lee, a conductor on faculty at Boston College and a founding member of Composers in Red Sneakers, has filmed his own five-year-old conducting Rite of Spring. The kid has clearly seen some conductors at work; his body language is all in his knees and at the center of his tiny frame, not waving around in his hands. Sometimes he'll casually bring a section in without looking. He may need a sturdy rail at the back of his podium, as you can see if you scroll forward to 2:10 or so.
via a Judy Reed email:
Dear Alternative Supporters,
Although DCTS is an option, we need more alternative programs! DCTS is only one RESOURCE that works for students' at-promise. With 700 to 900 dropouts a year in Dane County, we need to do something. Because of all those students whose needs are not being met by the traditional school, we are holding a SPEAK OUT. The Speak Out will be held in Madison at the top of State Street on the Capitol steps to give everyone the opportunity to voice their thoughts. All who would like to speak will be given 2 to 5 minutes.
We are very excited to have this opportunity to voice our concerns about the direction our schools have taken and continue to take. Please share this event with others who are concerned too.
Place: The STEPS of the CAPITOL - STATE Street Corner
Date: Saturday, May 15, 2010
RSVP: please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Check in will be at the STATE Street Corner. We will start the speaker list at 11:30 EVEN if you have RSVP'd! You will receive a t-shirt and number upon signing up.
Every 26 seconds, a student in our nation drops out of school. Let's change this number by getting active and taking a stand for non-traditional education.
Please send all interests, inquiries and responses to email@example.com. Also, check out our blog at http://dctseducation.blogspot.com/, and our website,
DCTS Students and Staff
Nearly one-third of the 54 scholarships awarded to Wisconsin students went to seniors at Madison public high schools. Those scholars include Nelson Auner of East High School; Laurel Hamers, Lindsey Hughes, Jane Lee, Sarah Prescott, Valerie Shen and Hyeari Shin of Memorial High School; and Timothy Choi, Bryna Godar, Samuel Greene, Benjamin Klug, Sarah Maslin, Bennett Mortensen, Eric Swaney, Xinhui Wang, Jacob Wolbert and Zachary Wood-Doughty of West High School.
Other area honorees include Miranda Torkelson of Middleton High School; Justin Bloesch, Bethany Flaherty and Robert Rice of Monona Grove High School; Daniel Kitson and Jakob Olandt of Verona High School; Jacob Steiner of Lodi High School; Madeline Arnold of Monroe High School; Haley Hunt of Sauk Prairie High School and Axel Adams of Waterloo High School.
Heather Kirn Lanier, via a kind reader's email:
"Serious reform like Escalante's cannot be accomplished single-handedly in one isolated classroom; it requires change throughout a department and even in neighboring schools."
In real life, though, Escalante didn't teach the calculus course until his fifth year. In his first attempt, five students completed the course and two passed the AP test. A critic might write "just five students" or "only two," though anyone familiar with both the difficulty of the exam and the extent of math deficiencies in an underperforming school recognizes this as a laudable feat.
Still, it took Escalante eight years to build the math program that achieved what "Stand and Deliver" shows: a class of 18 who pass with flying colors. During this time, he convinced the principal, Henry Gradillas, to raise the school's math requirements; he designed a pipeline of courses to prepare Garfield's students for AP calculus; he became department head and hand-selected top teachers for his feeder courses; he and Gradillas even influenced the area junior high schools to offer algebra. In other words, to achieve his AP students' success, he transformed the school's math department. Escalante himself emphasized in interviews that no student went the way of the film's Angel: from basic math in one year to AP calculus in the next.
Mike Mandel, via a kind reader:
The top line tracks the real compensation of all state and local government workers-wages and benefits, adjusted for inflation. The lower line tracks the real compensation of all private sector workers. The data comes from the Employment Cost Index data published by the BLS.
The chart shows that public and private sector pay rose in parallel from 2001 to 2004. Then the lines diverged. Since early 2005, public sector pay has risen by 5% in real terms. Meanwhile, private sector pay has been flat.
An innovative study of 17 schools along the East Coast suggests that putting literacy coaches in schools can help boost students' reading skills by as much as 32 percent over three years.
The study, which was presented here on May 1 during the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, is as notable for its methods as for its results. It's among the first of what many scholars hope will be a new generation of studies that offer solid clues not only to what works but also when, under what conditions, and to some extent, why.
The study finds that reading gains are greatest in schools where teachers receive a larger amount of coaching. It also finds that the amount of coaching that teachers receive varies widely and is influenced by an array of factors, including relationships among staff members and how teachers envision their roles.
Students at Northern Arizona University will have a hard time skipping large classes next fall because of a new attendance monitoring system.
The new system will use sensors to detect students' university identification cards when they enter classrooms, according to NAU spokesperson Tom Bauer. The data will be recorded and available for professors to examine.
Bauer said the university's main goal with the sensor system is to increase attendance and student performance.
"People are saying we are using surveillance or Orwellian [tactics] and, boy, I'm like 'wow,' I didn't know taking attendance qualified as surveillance," Bauer said.
University President John Haeger is encouraging professors to have attendance be a part of students' grades, but he added it is not mandatory and up to each professor to decide, Bauer said.
We recently wrote about a new study on grade inflation, and how it has been especially rampant at private colleges. The post prompted a lot of interesting questions and comments about the reasons behind changing G.P.A.'s.
Stuart Rojstaczer, an author of the study, responded to some of the reader reaction on his blog. He has agreed to take your questions, which you can submit below.
"SO, what are you doing after graduation?"
In the spring of my last year in college I posed that question to at least a dozen fellow graduates-to-be at my little out-of-the-way school in Vermont. The answers they gave me were satisfying in the extreme: not very much, just kick back, hang out, look things over, take it slow. It was 1974. That's what you were supposed to say.
My classmates weren't, strictly speaking, telling the truth. They were, one might even say, lying outrageously. By graduation day, it was clear that most of my contemporaries would be trotting off to law school and graduate school and to cool and unusual internships in New York and San Francisco.
But I did take it slow. After graduation, I spent five years wandering around doing nothing -- or getting as close to it as I could manage. I was a cab driver, an obsessed moviegoer, a wanderer in the mountains of Colorado, a teacher at a crazy grand hippie school in Vermont, the manager of a movie house (who didn't do much managing), a crewman on a ship and a doorman at a disco.
Ed Note: Aaron Moore was the winner of the National Financial Capability Challenge, an awards program announced in December by Treasury Secretary Geithner and Education Secretary Duncan, designed to promote financial education among high school students across the country. He has made several speaking engagements and national media appearances discussing the topic of financial literacy and serves as the president of Future Business Leaders of America for the state of Maryland. He will enter Villanova University in the fall to study Business Administration.
Students are given opportunities and choices; I was given an opportunity like no other, to speak at the Treasury Department along side of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. From beginning to end I was engaged, enlightened, and excited. The halls of the Treasury truly represented what it means to be American, full of marble, wood, and gold, the building materials of our founding fathers.
The PI had an interesting story this morning about an incident at Washington Middle School in early April. Apparently 3 students were expelled for 15-days for aiming/having a toy gun at school. However, none of the staff told the Seattle Police School Emphasis Officer about the incident and she found out when she saw one student riding a bike during school hours. He told her about the expulsion.
From the story:
In an April 21 meeting with a school staff member, in which the officer asked why she was not contacted and the incident was not reported, the staff member did not have an answer, according to a police incident report. About 15 minutes later, the staff member "stated to me it wasn't reported because 'it was a clear, plastic gun and not used with malice,'" School Emphasis Officer Erin Rodriguez wrote in the report.
The owner of a $250,000 Madison home would pay $224.46 more in school property taxes next winter under a budget still under discussion by the Madison School Board.A Madison home assessed at $257,000 paid 2186.35 in Madison School District taxes last year. A $224.46 increase is about 10%......
In what many -- including three board members -- thought would be a wrap-up Tuesday night of the board's two-month process to close an initial $30 million budget gap, the board voted to save most of the district jobs still on the chopping block, largely with the help of $794,491 in employee health insurance savings.
But it left several items on the table until a final vote on the preliminary budget June 1, including:
Much more on the 2010-2011 budget here.
No disrespect intended towards the 71,000 members of the facebook page "New Jersey Teachers United Against Gov. Christie's Pay Freeze," but the zeitgeist of NJ seems to be in step with Gov. Christie, Ed Sec Schundler, and the New Jersey School Boards Association's call for local unions to agree to salary concessions. A recent Rasmussen poll showed that only 28% of New Jersey residents oppose pay freezes, not to mention that school budgets failed two weeks ago at an unprecedented rate; however, 2/3 of school districts that won salary freezes won budget approval. (Here's a complete list).
There is no doubt a cadre of teachers out that who would happily accept pay freezes, especially with the added incentive that agreements signed within the month will delay implementation of the 1.5% base pay contribution towards health benefits. (Translation: a one-year pay freeze adopted before May 22nd is really a 1.5% pay increase.) However, we're starting to hear reports of districts where local union leadership is bypassing membership and declining to put such an agreement to a vote. One example: in Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School District, a large Somerset County district with a 1,360 member teacher union, the president of BREA explained to the Star-Ledger why he didn't allow a formal vote after the School Board asked for one: "We truly believe that the executive committee(s) has a handle on how members feel. We talked to people and teachers and we listened."
via a kind reader:
Following is a message from the Superintendent of VASD, Dean Gorrell. Any inquiries should be directed to Superintendent Gorrell.
Dear Verona Area School District Parents,
A Verona Area High School student has been charged today with First Degree Intentional Homicide - Party to a crime in connection with the murder of Antonio Perez. The student, Victor Prado-Velasquez, is currently incarcerated in the Dane County jail. While we have no information of potential issues with students at the Verona Area High school, we have taken and will continue to take measures to increase security and surveillance. This includes:
Working with the Verona Police Department (VPD) and our VPD Police School Liaison to increase patrols in and around campus throughout the school day.
Having members of the VAHS administrative team increase their presence outside the school building during the school day.
Working with VAHS staff to make sure that they are vigilant and report any suspicious activities at once to the Administration and the VPD Police School Liaison.
Again, we have no reason to believe any Verona Area High School student was or is at risk related to this incident. We will continue these measures until such time as all suspects have been apprehended or until we receive notification from the Police that we can discontinue these measures.
We are providing you this information so that you are informed. If you have any questions regarding this, please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 608-845-4310.
As California's public schools have increasingly poured attention and resources into the state's struggling students, high academic learners - the so-called gifted students - have been getting the short shrift, a policy decision that some worry could leave the United States at a competitive disadvantage.
Critics see courses tailored for exceptional students as elitist and not much of an issue when compared with the vast number of students who are lagging grades behind their peers or dropping out of school. But a growing chorus of parents and advocates is asking the contentious question: What about the smart kids?
"We have countries like India, Singapore, China, and they realize the future productivity of their country is an investment in their intellectual and creative resources," said gifted education expert Joseph Renzulli.
Slow food stirs up battle in heartland.
Agricultural establishment fighting back at movement.
From Pennsylvania church ladies to Iowa dairymen, the locavore, small-is-good, organic food movement born in Northern California has penetrated America's heartland, where it is waging a pitchfork rebellion, much of it on the Internet, against the agricultural establishment.
After long dismissing the new food movement as a San Francisco annoyance, the establishment is fighting back.
"Alice should drown in her own waters," said High Plains Journal's Larry Dreiling of Berkeley food guru Alice Waters.
I was asked recently, by a leader up the food chain, what I would do to improve community engagement. Here's what I would do but do let us know what you would like to see.
- I would go with the George Costanza method. Do the opposite of what you are currently doing.
- Shorter but more specific presentations.
- Take ALL questions from the general audience. (I do believe there is a place for small group discussions but not on every subject.)
- As long as it is within the topic, lead but don't tell people what they can and can't discuss .
- Have the meetings not all in one week but over a series of weeks.
The Instructional Technology Council recently released a report on the trends in distance education and online learning at community colleges. Among its findings: Enrollment in distance education courses increased by over 20%, while overall community college enrollment increased by less than 2%. Clearly online learning offers many opportunities to students, teachers and academic institutions. But what are the opportunities for entrepreneurs?
The Case for OpenCourseWare
Of course, entrepreneurs can benefit themselves from taking online classes. As Bill Gates said in a recent speech at M.I.T., he's a "super happy user" of the university's OpenCourseWare program, which offers free online courses, noting that he "retook physics" along with over a dozen of the other online offerings. Gates praised OpenCourseWare for offering a blend of the best of video technology, professional instruction and testing, and argued that accreditation too should be separated from place-based learning. Gates stated that "What's been done so far has had very modest funding. This is an area we need more resources, more bright minds, and certainly one that I want to see how the foundation could make a contribution to this."
As a former administrator, I have had the good fortune to visit a significant number of classrooms over the years. Because I have been witness to bad or indifferent teaching, there has always been a special feeling of excitement during those times I was able to witness the talents of a true professional at work in the classroom. It also has encouraged me to be reflective on my years in the classroom.
Having begun teaching in the 1970's at the high school level, my approach in the early years was very traditional. My classroom would have been best described as teacher-centered and my organizational skills combined with my ability to relate to students created a room that earned me high marks from my administrators.
In the early nineties though, it became increasingly clear that my methods were growing less popular with students. In addition, I found myself less and less successful on the most important element, student achievement. My classroom was well-managed and discipline issues seldom arose, but my students seemed to be losing interest in the subjects that I taught.
Journalist-turned-documentarian Bob Bowdon saw something very wrong with the New Jersey public education system. More than $400,000 of public money was earmarked for each classroom, yet an alarming rate of students were not proficient in reading or math.
Once he dug deeper, Bowdon found a flawed system that embraced cronyism, squandered money and frowned upon alternative education options such as charter schools. Bowdon spent three years pointing his camera at New Jersey administrators, teachers, unions, students and parents and the result is the documentary "The Cartel," opening at Kendall Square in Cambridge today. The film focuses on his home state of New Jersey, but Bowdon assures it is a case study likely evident across the country. As the film points out, in 12 percent of U.S. schools, less than 60 percent of freshmen make it to senior year.
Q: Did you ever think you'd be a documentary filmmaker?
A: Well, it wasn't some sort of lifelong dream. I got a film certificate from New York University, but it really wasn't to become a filmmaker. This issue wasn't well covered by traditional media. Education is an emerging national disaster and that story needed long-form treatment.
New York City teachers get 10 sick days during their 184-day school year, and most stick to that number. But 20% of teachers take more than that amount -- and a small percentage take 30 or more days off, according to Department of Education figures.Ron Isaac:
The data show that for some of the poorest districts, like the South Bronx and Brooklyn's Brownsville neighborhood, more than 20% of the teachers are out two weeks or more during the school year. The teachers union cautions that the absence data includes all types of absences, including things like professional development and jury duty over which teachers have no control. And not all poor districts have high-absentee teachers.
Still, in districts like the one that contains the Upper East Side, the percentage of teachers absent two weeks or more is below the average.
The Wall Street Journal, attack dog for the righteous marketplace, apostle of "bang for the buck" for civil servants, and conscience of the all-day businessman's lunch for dividends gluttons, decried in an April 28 piece the alleged statistic that public school teachers tend to exhaust their annual ten-day "sick bank," especially in poorer areas of the city.
They suspect that teachers' claim of sickness is often a ploy and mask for their contemptuous attitude towards professional duty. They see teachers who get sick as slackers who if they cared about kids would have immune systems better able to repel microbes. They plainly feel that unions are the enablers of teachers' audacity.
Perhaps it's true about teachers burning through their ten days over ten months. But a fragment of truth without context is no truth at all, but as an instrument to exploit the public's gullibility, it's more serviceable than an out and out lie.
Art From the Start The current rage in education is STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. But creative types are working valiantly to turn STEM into STEAM - with the A standing for the arts. At the Boston Arts Academy, for instance, the arts are infused in every subject. While creative pursuits are often the first to go when budgets are cut, this high school continues to innovate as it engages students through the arts. The ninth grade just wrapped up a unit on African civilization with a multimedia celebration called "Africa Lives." The students got their hands dirty. And they mastered the material.
"High school shouldn't be a preparation for life," says co-headmaster Linda Nathan. "It should be life."
Nathan is not alone in her belief that the arts foster deep learning. Young Audiences of Massachusetts, a nonprofit that brings artists into schools, is inaugurating an arts integration program at the Salemwood Elementary School in Malden this fall. Visiting artists will help teachers incorporate the arts into the literacy and social studies curriculums. If the pilot program takes off, Young Audiences hopes to make it a model for other Extended Learning Time schools like Salemwood. Explains executive director Diane Michalowski Freedland: "We need to think big."
If someone asked you for a memory from elementary school, what would come to mind?
Fourth-grader Maggie Lombardi remembers way back to first grade at Randall Elementary School in Waukesha. PJ Day. Popcorn and reading. She got to bring a blanket and a stuffed animal and watch "Finding Nemo." Even her teacher wore pajamas.
"It was super cool," she wrote.
Maggie's dad, Jim Lombardi, an electrical engineer who attended the same school between 1969 and 1976, has memories, too, if a bit more vague. Happiness. A great learning experience from great teachers. Fun times with friends.
He still stays in touch with some of those friends who've settled in the same diverse neighborhood around Carroll University. Now his kids go to school with some of their kids, he wrote.
Maggie's grandmother, former Waukesha mayor Carol Lombardi, walked the same hallways as a student in the early 1940s.
"I was a very good student, and usually the teacher's pet," she said. "I got to ring the bell in the morning. I got to answer the school phone. A lot of the kids hated me because I was doing all those things, but I learned so much responsibility."
When Duke University's Cathy Davidson announced her grading plan for a seminar she would be offering this semester, she attracted attention nationwide. Some professors cheered, others tut-tutted, and others asked "Can she do that?"
Her plan? Turn over grading to the students in the course, and get out of the grading business herself.
Now that the course is finished, Davidson is giving an A+ to the concept. "It was spectacular, far exceeding my expectations," she said. "It would take a lot to get me back to a conventional form of grading ever again."
Davidson is becoming a scholar of grading. She's been observing grading systems at other colleges and in elementary and secondary schools, and she's immersed herself in the history of grading. (If you want to know who invented the multiple choice test, she'll brief you on how Frederick J. Kelly did so at Emporia State University and how he later renounced his technique.)
But it was her own course this semester -- called "Your Brain on the Internet" -- that Davidson used to test her ideas. And she found that it inspired students to do more work, and more creative work than she sees in courses with traditional grading.
If education reform was easy, we would have done it long ago and, like the mythical Lake Wobegon, all of our children would be performing above average. In the real world, reform happens when adults put aside differences, embrace the challenge of educating all children, and work together toward a common vision of success.
The theory behind the Race to the Top competition is that with the right financial incentives and sensible goals, states, districts and other stakeholders will forge new partnerships, revise outmoded laws and practices, and fashion far-reaching reforms. Despite the fact that the $4 billion Race to the Top program represents less than 1 percent of overall K-12 funding in America, it has been working.
Since the competition was announced last summer, more than a dozen states changed laws around issues like teacher evaluation, use of student data and charter schools. Meanwhile, 48 governors and chief state school officers raised learning standards, and a number of school districts announced progressive, new collective bargaining agreements that are shaking up the labor-management status quo.
Closing arguments were expected on Monday morning in federal court in Philadelphia in a redistricting lawsuit brought against the Lower Merion School District.
US District Judge Michael Baylson is hearing from both sides on Monday and says he will render a quick verdict, although he says that decision may not come on Monday.
Nine parents from South Ardmore are suing the school district alleging that Lower Merion used race as a factor in a redistricting plan.
When you see a cluster of elementary schoolchildren at a bus stop or street-crossing, struggling with bristling backpacks full of textbooks and school papers, it's hard to imagine that kids in distant lands are carrying even weightier tomes, slogging through more homework and spending longer hours in class. But many of them are. That's among the reasons that American children consistently post lower test scores than children in several other countries.
Education activists -- from mega-wealthy wise men such as Bill Gates to policy experts such as Education Secretary Arne Duncan -- believe the nation's economic competitiveness depends on lifting our academic standards. Some even worry that the current generation of schoolchildren may be the first whose level of educational attainment falls below that of their parents.
Given widespread fears about the nation's ability to maintain its leadership in a world growing smaller and flatter, should we allow school systems to go broke as a result of the recession? Is this any time for widespread teacher layoffs, overcrowded classrooms and shorter school days?
Students sick of getting their lockers broken into and having their money disappear set up a cell phone camera to hopefully catch the crook in the act.
Deputies said the video showed the crook was Steven Simmons, 49, their PE teacher.
It's news that spread quickly at North Marion High School.
"There's videos going around and forwarded messages of his mug shot, and it's crazy," said Shelby Revels, a North Marion High student.
Deputies said at first Simmons denied going into the lockers.
However, when confronted with the video, they said he confessed to stealing money from students for years.
This year, it totaled around $400.
As school systems grapple with almost certain budget cuts, they should passionately resist taking significant bites out of programs that challenge bright students to reach higher.
New Hanover County school officials are considering cuts to the county's program for academically gifted students as one way to cope with a dire budget outlook. One proposal, if adopted, would force small schools to share gifted-education teachers. A few years ago, the board took the bold step of insisting that each school have its own specialized teacher for students identified as Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG, not to be confused with the bailed-out insurance giant).
Parents and some teachers naturally fear that changes could affect the quality and the reach of gifted education.
No Child Left Behind and other accountability mandates focus mainly on bringing all students to an acceptable minimum level. When a teacher's time is consumed with bringing students up to grade level, often the quick learners go unchallenged.
This is the story the teachers unions wish never happened. This is the story that proves all their hysterical demands for more money are nothing but a sham. This is the story that makes the unions and education bureaucrats sick to their stomachs. This is the personal story of my daughter Dakota Root.
In each of the books I've written, I've taken great care to acknowledge my beautiful and brilliant little girl, Dakota. I often noted that Dakota and her parents were aiming for her acceptance at either Harvard or Stanford and would accept nothing less. The easy part is aiming for gold. The hard part is achieving it. "Homeschool to Harvard" is a story about turning dreams into reality.
Dakota has been home-schooled since birth. While other kids spent their school days being indoctrinated to believe competition and winning are unimportant, and that others are to blame for their shortcomings and failures, Dakota was learning the value of work ethic, discipline, sacrifice and personal responsibility. While other kids were becoming experts at partying, Dakota and her dad debated current events at the dinner table. While other kids shopped and gossiped, Dakota was devouring books on science, math, history, literature, politics and business. I often traveled to business events and political speeches with my home-schooled daughter in tow. While other kids came home to empty homes, Dakota's mom, dad, or both were there every day to share meals and a bedtime kiss and prayer. Despite a crazy schedule of business and politics, I'm proud to report that I've missed very few bedtime kisses with my four home-schooled kids.
Ben Bromley, via a kind reader:
It's 6:30 p.m., that after-dinner time slot when my daughter and I play our least-favorite game show, "Are You Smarter Than A Third-Grader?"
Claire's homework often consists of a page of math problems. And when a math-averse third-grader teams with her writer father to tackle the evening's homework, what typically results is math problems.
My daughter is a bookworm and, like her father, a bit of a right-brainer. We are the type of people who can conjugate verbs in multiple languages, sketch the image of a long-lost friend from memory, or summarize the day's events in haiku. But we couldn't balance a checkbook if the Earth's fate depended on it.
A sheet of math problems gives us a cold chill, like when someone walks over your grave, or you accidentally walk in on your grandmother in the bathtub. Claire already is being asked to multiply and divide double-digit figures, and last week she brought home a worksheet requiring her to compute the area and volume of prisms. I don't remember being asked to handle such concepts in third grade. But maybe I blocked it out, just like the mental image of Grandma in the tub.
Dr. Mary Sue Coleman, president of the prestigious University of Michigan, Dr. Teresa Sullivan, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Deborah Loewenberg Ball, dean of the School of Education, faculty, students, family, and friends of the graduating class of 2010. I am most grateful and honored to address the 2010 graduating class on the 88th commencement celebration of the school of education. I applaud you for your tenacity, endurance, stamina, and perseverance in commanding the intellectual rigor, knowledge, and skills to fulfill the requirements for the degree that you are about to receive. This commencement celebration culminates the final milestone of a long and arduous journey in preparation for your career as educators, practitioners, researchers, analysts, and advocates in the field of education. When the jubilation of this moment ends, and the last farewell is bided, brace yourself for the dawning challenges that tomorrow holds for you in the practice of your profession. The struggle and fortitude to mold, shape, cultivate, motivate, and invigorate young inquiring minds are surmountable challenges that you must endure to guarantee our children the right of passage to a well-rounded education. I know you are eager with anticipation and enthusiasm to meet the challenges of helping our children reach their greatest potential in mastering the art, science, knowledge, and skills of learning. Your zeal, passion, and ardent interest to make a difference in meeting the educational needs of children are admirable; and, I laud you for choosing a career path in education. Allow me to be among the first to congratulate you for your dedication, preparation, and commitment to tackle the myriad of problems that plague our educational system. This commencement exercise serves to remind you of your accomplishments and the challenges in the field of education that await you.Clusty Search: Robert Bobb.
There's a Shakespearean echo in the reform-minded pronouncements about education emanating from the media these days.
"Why We Must Fire Bad Teachers," urged a headline in the March 15 issue of Newsweek. A secondary headline observed: "In no other profession are workers so insulated from accountability." Another thundered: "Bad Teachers: Reform Them or Retire Them?" The story pondered whether "educators are born or made."
Although I'm a teacher, I can't claim to know the answer to that question. But it does remind me of the moment in "Henry VI" in which Jack Cade, a pretender to the throne, boasts about the utopia he'll create if he becomes king, saying he'll slash the price of bread and encourage the drinking of beer.
A Republican lawmaker put out a news release at the end of this year's legislative session boasting that lawmakers approved more local control and funding flexibility for schools.
Just try to convince members of your local school board that's the case.
In the wake of a $297 million reduction in education spending statewide, school districts struggle to cut costs without laying off teachers, eliminating programs or shuttering schools. But the minimal leeway they once enjoyed is gone - stripped along with the small percentage of local property tax levy they controlled and handed over to the state in exchange for an increase in the sales-tax rate.
"What local control?" quips Diana Showalter, superintendent of Manchester Community Schools. "When the state assumed control of the general fund, they took control of the major financial source for the schools. ... When we can't control our own destiny through the collection of property taxes, we are setting ourselves up for a difficult time."
Most employers and recruiters agree that the top reason that makes them reject a resume is spelling mistakes. Some mistakes are so funny that we couldn't let recruiters have all the fun and put together this list for your enjoyment.
If you don't want to end up on this list, there is a simple rule to follow: proofread, proofread again, and then have someone else proofread your resume and your cover letter. For more tips, make sure to read Resume Tips Everyone Needs to Know and Cover Letter for Your Resume - How to Write One that Doesn't Get Thrown Away?
Reasonable people may disagree as to whether it's appropriate for middle-school-age children to have a Facebook page or belong to any other online social network.
Anthony Orsini, principal at the Benjamin Franklin Middle School in Ridgewood, N.J., does not seem to be a reasonable person, at least not based upon my reading of an e-mail he sent to parents that all but accuses them of child abuse should they allow their youngsters to use such networks. From a local CBS television station's Web site:
"It is time for every single member of the BF Community to take a stand! There is absolutely no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! ... Let me repeat that - there is absolutely, positively no reason for any middle school student to be a part of a social networking site! None."
School reform: D-
Gov. Jim Doyle and the Democratic-run Legislature failed to overhaul an outdated and unfair school financing system. And they made school budgets harder to balance in the future by lifting limits on teacher pay hikes. Even with Sen. Mark Miller, D-Madison, and Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, chairing the state budget committee, Madison schools were stung by a huge and unforeseen cut in state aid.
Wisconsin was out of shape and finished way behind the pack in the first round of President Barack Obama's "Race to the Top" competition, which is steering billions of dollars for education innovation to other states.
Despite Doyle's best efforts, the Legislature also failed to shake up failing Milwaukee Public Schools. A meager bill giving the state schools superintendent some additional but limited power to force change in Milwaukee saves our leaders from an "F."
"Seeing that the status quo is untenable, countries are embarking on fiscal consolidation plans. In the United States, the aim is to bring the total federal budget deficit down from 11% to 4% of GDP by 2015. In the United Kingdom, the consolidation plan envisages reducing budget deficits by 1.3 percentage points of GDP each year from 2010 to 2013 (see eg OECD (2009a)).TJ Mertz reflects on the Madison School District's 2010-2011 budget and discusses increased spending via property tax increases:
"To examine the long-run implications of a gradual fiscal adjustment similar to the ones being proposed, we project the debt ratio assuming that the primary balance improves by 1 percentage point of GDP in each year for five years starting in 2012. The results are presented as the green line in Graph 4. Although such an adjustment path would slow the rate of debt accumulation compared with our baseline scenario, it would leave several major industrial economies with substantial debt ratios in the next decade.
"This suggests that consolidations along the lines currently being discussed will not be sufficient to ensure that debt levels remain within reasonable bounds over the next several decades.
"An alternative to traditional spending cuts and revenue increases is to change the promises that are as yet unmet. Here, that means embarking on the politically treacherous task of cutting future age-related liabilities. With this possibility in mind, we construct a third scenario that combines gradual fiscal improvement with a freezing of age-related spending-to-GDP at the projected level for 2011. The blue line in Graph 4 shows the consequences of this draconian policy. Given its severity, the result is no surprise: what was a rising debt/GDP ratio reverses course and starts heading down in Austria, Germany and the Netherlands. In several others, the policy yields a significant slowdown in debt accumulation. Interestingly, in France, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States, even this policy is not sufficient to bring rising debt under contro
[And yet, many countries, including the US, will have to contemplate something along these lines. We simply cannot fund entitlement growth at expected levels. Note that in the US, even by "draconian" estimates, debt-to-GDP still grows to 200% in 30 years. That shows you just how out of whack our entitlement programs are.
Sidebar: This also means that if we - the US - decide as a matter of national policy that we do indeed want these entitlements, it will most likely mean a substantial VAT tax, as we will need vast sums to cover the costs, but with that will come slower growth.]
I was at a meeting of Wisconsin Alliance for Excellent Schools people yesterday. Some of the people there were amazed at the hundreds of Madisonians who came out to tell the Board of Education that they preferred tax increases to further cuts. Some of the people were also perplexed that with this kind of support the Board of Education is cutting and considering cutting at the levels they are. I'm perplexed too. I'm also disappointed.We'll likely not see significant increases in redistributed state and federal tax dollars for K-12. This means that additional spending growth will depend on local property tax increases, a challenging topic given current taxes.
What worries investors now is whether the Greeks will stand for it. Will Greek society resist the imposition of savage cuts in salaries and public services, and will the government's efforts to reform the public administration and improve tax collection (while raising taxes) actually work?
The answer at this point is that nobody knows. On the plus side, the current Greek government is led by the left-wing PASOK party. The trade unions and civil service unions not only support PASOK; in a very real way they are the party. Although the party's leader George Papandreou is something of a Tony Blair style 'third way' politician who is more comfortable at Davos than in a union hall, the party itself is one of Europe's more old fashioned left wing political groups, where chain-smoking dependency theorists debate the shifting fortunes of the international class war. The protesters are protesting decisions made by their own political leadership; this may help keep a lid on things. If a conservative government had proposed these cuts, Greece would be much nearer to some kind of explosion.
On the minus side, the cuts are genuinely harsh, with pay cuts for civil servants of about 15% and the total package of government spending cuts set at 10 percent of GDP. (In the United States, that would amount to federal and state budget cuts totaling more than $1.4 trillion, almost one quarter of the total spending of all state and local governments plus the federal government combined.) The impact on Greek lifestyles will be even more severe; spending cuts that severe will almost certainly deepen Greece's recession. Many Greeks stand to lose their jobs and, as credit conditions tighten, may face losing their homes and businesses as well.
Much more on the Madison School District's 2010-2011 budget here.
In the world of education, it was the equivalent of the cool kids' table in the cafeteria.
Executives from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, McKinsey consultants and scholars from Stanford and Harvard mingled at an invitation-only meeting of the New Schools Venture Fund at a luxury hotel in Pasadena, Calif. Founded by investors who helped start Google and Amazon, this philanthropy seeks to raise the academic achievement of poor black and Hispanic students, largely through charter schools.
Many of those at the meeting last May had worried that the Obama administration would reflect the general hostility of teachers' unions toward charters, publicly financed schools that are independently run and free to experiment in classrooms. But all doubts were dispelled when the image of Arne Duncan, the new education secretary, filled a large video screen from Washington. He pledged to combine "your ideas with our dollars" from the federal government. "What you have created," he said, "is a real movement."
Reading the information released Thursday about the Milwaukee Public Schools budget for next year, with its grim warnings about hundreds of job cuts and swelling benefit costs, my mind wandered.
I had a vision of the new governor of Wisconsin unveiling his budget proposals in February and deciding (this is the most fanciful part) that he was going to break with established positions of whichever political party he represents. He decided to give a speech to the Legislature like this:
Folks, we need to stop posturing, and we all know that's one of our most striking talents here in the Capitol. Man, the legislators the last two years should have made commercials for Posturepedic. Lots of talk, little dealing with the real issues. No more, people. Things are too serious.
From Superior to Kenosha - and especially in Milwaukee - we've got a really deep education problem. That goes in some serious ways for just plain education. But it goes especially for paying for education. If the school system in your hometown isn't financially broken, it's under huge stress and it's going to be broken soon. Show me figures that say I'm wrong.
The National Council on Teacher Quality has come out with an assessment of how Texas' schools of education prepare instructors for the classroom. The bottom line is some of our schools need a lot of work.
In this Viewpoints piece, David Chard, dean of SMU's Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, is honest about the shortcomings of his program, which actually does okay on this survey. As we talk here about quality teachers, I hope we have more voices like Chard's saying this is what we need to do to improve. Better that, than defensive reactions.
If you have time over the weekend, I encourage you to read Chard's piece and this accompanying DMN story. The way in which teachers are prepared - or not prepared - directly affects the classroom.
Not very many -- if you believe the principals' evaluations, which even teachers concede aren't very good. The Houston school board heard a presentation Thursday from the New Teacher Project, and it included some fascinating data -- from HISD's own records and from surveys of teachers and principals. One slide (No. 14 below) particularly stood out: It showed that only 3.4 percent of teachers in the Houston Independent School District were rated "below expectations" or "unsatisfactory" on any domain on their appraisals between the 2005-06 school year and last school year. Looking at the domain ratings on all the evaluations from that time period, only 1 percent were below proficient.
A Boston High School Senior, Chrismaldy Morgado, writing an Op-Ed in The Boston Globe today, has claimed that students have some responsibility for their own academic achievement.
The Boston Globe may be forgiven for printing such a heretical claim, because it is trying to give a "voice" to young people, and the high school student may not be aware that his suggestion goes against the settled wisdom of the vast majority of U.S. Edupundits.
Our Edupundits are in substantial agreement, often repeated, that "the principal variable in student academic achievement is teacher quality." I have nowhere found much interest in my own argument that the principal variable in student academic achievement is student academic work.
Yet here is a high school Senior, writing that: "students seem to socialize more than they should. In hallways, stairwells, and bathrooms, students sit and talk to their friends after the late bell rang for classes." He adds that: "My friends agree that new teachers alone are not going to solve the problems at Burke [Jeremiah Burke High School in Boston is one of 35 schools in the state that is asking its staff to re-apply for their jobs]. Jussara Sequeira, a Junior, said: "Some of us students are not trying hard enough and I don't think the school's teachers should pay the consequences."
Paul Zoch, a high school Latin teacher, in Doomed to Fail  points out that: "the United States looks to its teachers and their efforts, but not to its students and their efforts, for success in education. That being the accepted wisdom, students are free to do nothing more than wait for the teachers to create success for them. Education reform literature rarely contains the thought that our students are primarily failing because they do not study enough." Another heretic!
Many thanks to Paul Zoch, Diane Ravitch, Chrismaldy Morgado, and Jussara Sequeira for pointing out the egregious folly of leaving student effort out of the analysis of those things which make for academic success in the schools.
It is hard to understand how so many Edupundits miss this essential sine qua non of good learning outcomes for our schools. One possibility is that their view is so lofty and unfocused that they never take the academic work of mere students into account.
Tony Wagner at Harvard has found that only three high schools in the country, for instance, ever sit down in a focus group with their graduates and ask them for their thoughts about their education while they were at the school.
This still does not completely explain why students' academic responsibility gets so routinely overlooked in all the multi-billion-dollar efforts at school reform.
Paul Zoch writes: "In reading about Japanese education, one is repeatedly struck by the expectation that the students must work hard for success, in contrast to the United States, where the teacher is expected to work hard to find a way for the students to succeed...Effort and self-discipline are considered by the Japanese to be essential bases for accomplishment. Lack of achievement, then, is attributed to the failure to work hard."
What chance is there that the voices of Chirsmaldy Morgado and Jussara Sequeira will be heard in their call for more student academic effort in Boston high schools? It is hard to say. So much attention and concern, on the part of parents and the rest of us, seems to be on whether our students have friends and are having a good time in school, rather than whether they are working as hard as they can academically. It is far easier to blame teachers if student academic achievement is too low.
If we listened to those two public high school students, we should surely inform our students at the start of every school year, that they have the responsibility to pay attention, do their homework, read books and write papers, and in general give their very best efforts to making the most out of the free public education which has been provided them. Let's tell them that their academic success is their job. It is up to them how much they learn and how much they grow in competence through their own work in school.
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ithin the 242 pages of Diane Ravitch's lightning rod of a book, "The Death and Life of the Great American School System," there appear exactly three references to Catholic education. Which makes sense, given that Ms. Ravitch is addressing and deploring recent efforts to reform public schools with extensive testing and increasing privatization.
Yet what subtly informs both her critique and her recommendations for improving public schools is, in significant measure, her long study of and admiration for Roman Catholic education, especially in serving low-income black and Hispanic students.
In that respect, Ms. Ravitch and her book offer evidence of how some public-education scholars and reformers have been learning from what Catholic education is doing right. What one might call the Catholic-school model is perhaps the most unappreciated influence on the nation's public-education debate.
Bob Braun at the Star-Ledger writes of renowned education scholar Linda Darling-Hammond’s lecture in New Brunswick this week in which she lauds New Jersey’s success in closing the achievement gap among White, Black, and Hispanic students. “She listed measures of success in New Jersey — higher graduation rates, higher test scores, higher national rankings. Darling-Hammond drew gasps of appreciation by noting that, on one national exam, the average scores of black and Latino students in New Jersey were as high as the average scores of all students in her home state, California.”
Let’s put aside graduation rates for the moment (though just for the moment) and look more closely at the data that Darling-Hammond cites. There’s only one national test that NJ and California students take: the National Assessment of Educational Progress, fondly known as the NAEP. And while it’s true that average scores in California for all 4th and 8th graders (the two age groups tested by NAEP) are comparable to average scores for Black and Latino students in NJ, there’s one piece of data missing from Dr. Darling-Hammond's analysis: 53% of California’s students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, the metric for establishing economic disadvantage.
Jacqueline Byrne developed the creative teaching techniques that form the basis of the academic and verbal test prep curricula at Ivy Educational Services. Her SAT prep book, "SAT Vocabulary Express" (McGraw Hill, 2004), introduces students to a new strategy for improving their functional vocabulary and raising their SAT and ACT verbal scores. In addition, Ms. Byrne designed Ivy Educational Services' college essay writing program.
ACT scores came out this week, and sophomores are starting to think about college tests for next year, so this is a good time to talk about options.
Every college in the United States accepts the ACT (with the optional essay) and the SAT equally, so students now have a choice about which test to take. While the choice is wonderful, it can create more stress for families because there are more options:
Take both tests in alternating months: February ACT, March SAT, April ACT, May SAT, June SAT and ACT.
Bill Gates is amazed at what he sees happening at KIPP charter schools. Bill has no idea those same things happen at Francis Lewis High School, and countless other public schools, each and every day. Because Bill believes in the very same “reforms” that have caused Francis Lewis, my school, to balloon to 250 percent capacity, he surreptitiously funded the Learn NY campaign to preserve mayoral control (in practice, mayoral dictatorship). So I don’t trust him, and I don’t think he knows much about education, despite the millions he throws around imposing his pet projects on us. Still, I withheld judgment when he sent his new program to my school. I did not participate, but I said nothing to those who chose otherwise.
The Measures of Effective Teaching program, sponsored by the Gates Foundation, is now at my school and many others across the city. Teachers were told this study would show what worked and did not work in the classroom. They hoped it would give them ideas on how to reach their students more effectively. How long should you pause after posing a question? Did certain seat arrangements promote more interaction? Is group work always more effective than lecturing?