New York City principals are getting tougher: They denied tenure or continued the probation of a record 11% of teachers in the school year just ended, according to Department of Education data released Thursday.
Five years ago, less than 1% of teachers found themselves in the same predicament. Principals this year also gave hundreds more teachers "unsatisfactory" ratings.
The results come amid a push by schools chancellor Joel Klein for greater teacher accountability and a harder stance on tenure. In a letter to teachers in February, he said tenure had become "an expectation more than an honor." He had also called on principals for the first time to consider student test scores when making tenure decisions, and the latest results show that they did.
"Our principals are retaining top teachers and they are dismissing low-performing teachers," said John White, a deputy chancellor. "They are doing it as part of a culture shift of using evidence of student learning."
In a recent poll a majority of Americans said they thought Barack Obama, president, was a socialist. It is safe to say that America's teachers were not among them. At the annual convention earlier this month of the National Education Association, America's largest teachers' union, the body's president accused Mr Obama and Arne Duncan, his high-profile education secretary, of spearheading the most "anti-educator, anti-union and anti-student" administration he could recall.
To a degree that almost nobody anticipated 19 months ago, Mr Obama, who will on Thursday give a set piece address in Washington on education reform, has alienated the largest single historical provider of cash and volunteers to the Democratic party - namely the teachers' unions.
Yet Mr Obama's reforms, which have been taking place at the state level and often in the teeth of union opposition, have brought about what even critics concede is the most rapid school reforms America has seen in a generation.
"You do not interest me. No man can say these words to another without committing a cruelty and offending against justice," writes philosopher Simone Weil. To turn a deaf ear is an offence not only to the ignored person but also to thinking, justice and ethics. Coleridge's Ancient Mariner is cursed because no one will listen to his story. The Italian chemist-turned-writer Primo Levi was preoccupied with this fable because of his fear that on returning from Auschwitz people like him would be either ignored or simply disbelieved. Regardless, listening gets a very mixed press amongst critics and intellectuals. There is a suspicion of "wistful optimism" or the quasi-religious appeal to "hold hands" and play priest at the confessional. These qualms miss the centrality of listening to a radical humanism which recognises that dialogue is not merely about consensus or agreement but engagement and criticism. This is something that Primo Levi understood.
A new study finds that babies raised by working mothers don't necessarily suffer cognitive setbacks, an encouraging finding that follows a raft of previous reports suggesting that women with infants were wiser to stay home.
Researchers at Columbia University say they are among the first to measure the full effect of maternal employment on child development -- not just the potential harm caused by a mother's absence from the home, but the prospective benefits that come with her job, including higher family income and better child care.
In a 113-page monograph, released this week, the authors conclude "that the overall effect of 1st-year maternal employment on child development is neutral."
The report is based on data from the most comprehensive child-care study to date, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Study of Early Child Care. It followed more than 1,000 children from 10 geographic areas through first grade, tracking their development and family characteristics.
"This transformation is both essential and urgent if we are to accelerate achievement for all children and accomplish the goals of Imagine 2014," she said in a statement, referring to the district's five-year improvement plan.
Regional office facilities, which generally served as buffers between schools and the central office, will reopen this fall as parent- and family-resource centers designed to provide support services for parents.
Along with the changes to the regional offices, Ackerman has appointed three associate superintendents.
Tomas Hanna, Ackerman's former chief of staff who was recently given the job of associate superintendent of academics, will serve as the associate superintendent of academic support.
David Weiner, former chief of accountability, will become the associate superintendent of academics and curriculum.
A South Florida superintendent has been graded on his performance during the past school year.
The Broward County School Board gave Broward Schools Superintendent James Notter a grade of "C" in his annual evaluation, Wednesday morning. Notter received a 7.7 on a 10-point scale for his performance, an average grade for the year.
According to the school board, Notter needs to improve his communication with staff members and the general public; improve relations with the teachers union in Broward and cut administrative costs. "With all the complications we went through, I believe it is a fair and valid assessment of how the superintendent worked with the board, worked with his leadership team to do the right thing for our children," said Notter.
Mike Ritzius works with students at the Integrated Studies Program, a project-based pilot program inside the Camden County Technical School, in New Jersey. Students work to master state content with the help of teacher-advisors and project-management applications, primarily Project Foundry.Related: Small Learning Communities.
Chad: Would you please describe your school for us?
Mike: The Integrated Studies Program (ISP) is a pilot at Camden County Technical School (CCTS). The school as a whole is a county-wide technical school, serving 32 sending districts with the largest being the city of Camden, NJ. The majority of the students come from challenging socio-economic situations, making the entire school eligible for Title 1 funds. Students choose to come to CCTS to pursue a trade but recently, the district has been adding more professionally minded career areas. As a whole, the district delivers content through very traditional means.
The ISP approach is 180 degrees different from the rest of the school. The program was piloted in the 2009-2010 school year with five advisors and 100 students, now down to 87. The attrition rate for the rest of the district is 27% due mostly to the high mobility of the student body and the rigorous demands of CCTS as a whole when compared to the larger sending districts.
And now Bronson has turned his fertile imagination to the act of creativity itself. In a Newsweek cover story early this month, Bronson and his co-author Merryman write about the crisis of creativity now affecting American schools and children. According to Bronson, the results of creativity tests for American kids has been falling since 1990 - a particularly worrying statistic given that these test scores have been rising over the past twenty years in most other industrialized countries around the world.
So it was a real honor to have Po come into the Techcrunch.TV studio last week to talk about Silicon Valley creativity, its role in the broader economy, his own creativity and why, exactly, there's a creativity crisis today in American schools. This may be the single most important issue facing not only the American economy, but also our culture and society. And there are few, if any, writers around today who can discuss creativity with the same erudition, imagination and wit as Po Bronson.
The Clinical Legal Education Association accuses the committee of sandbagging the process by posting some of the material only three days in advance of the meeting:
I write for the executive committee of the Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) to express our concerns regarding the document entitled "Draft, Security of Position, Academic Freedom, and Attract and Retain Faculty" dated July 15, 2010, which was posted on the web site of the Standards Review Committee on July 20, only three days in advance of the Committee's meeting to begin to discuss the issues it raises. This "Draft" proposes the elimination of the longstanding provisions in Standard 405 addressing tenure and other forms of security of position for law faculty.
First, it is troubling that this proposal, which raises issues that are fundamental to the structure of legal education, is posted so late that interested persons and organizations cannot provide comments prior to the Committee beginning its deliberations on those issues. ...
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown unveiled an education reform plan Wednesday that calls for a wholesale restructuring of California's public school system, from changing the way schools are funded to revamping the state's higher education system.
The eight-page plan touches upon the major issues facing the state's education system, from the increasing cost of college to the state's dismal dropout rate. Some of the proposals, such as changing the way schools are funded, would take years. Brown urged patience.
"There is no silver bullet that will fix everything," he wrote. "Education improvement takes time, persistence and a systematic approach."
McGill University's medical school may have an Ivy League reputation, but it no longer has something that most of the top medical schools on the continent do -a requirement for all students to write the Medical College Admission Test.
Beginning this month, Canadian students who studied at a Canadian university before applying to McGill medical school will no longer be required to write the MCAT -the widely used admissions test that measures students in physical sciences, verbal reasoning, biological sciences and a written sample. Students typically spend about three months studying for the exam.
In making the decision, McGill is aligning itself with francophone or bilingual universities here and elsewhere in Canada that also don't require the MCAT because the test has no French equivalent. Students from outside the country will still have to write the MCAT.
The big question in the final days of Alabama's runoff election for the GOP gubernatorial nomination isn't just who is going to win the tight race between Bradley Byrne and Robert Bentley. It's the mystery of who's behind a largely bogus TV ad attacking Byrne.
A group calling itself the "Conservative Coalition for Alabama" is airing an ad that falsely accuses Byrne of a host of offenses. It says Byrne "took a 500 percent pay raise" (that's misleading); steered government contracts to "cronies" (there's no evidence of that); lost millions of dollars in the state's prepaid college savings plan (so did nearly all other state plans); and ran up the taxpayers' tab drinking "expensive wines" (false) and traveling in "style" (not entirely true).
Byrne suspects that the Conservative Coalition is a front group for the Alabama Education Association. He has good reason. AEA Executive Director Paul Hubbert (who also is co-chairman of the state Democratic party) admitted that he used "True Republican PAC" as a front group to attack Byrne during the June 1 primary fight.
It's true, in a sense, that all that happened Wednesday was the state reported test scores using a higher cut-score. It was just like they'd moved the goalpost further down the field, one Buffalo educator (and apparent football fan) explained. More kids failed because they graded the tests harder.
But a lot more happened than that.
As State Education Commissioner David Steiner explained at the state's press conference, the state tests have not simply become too easy. They have become bad tests.
They have been assessing only a very narrow band of state standards and virtually ignoring the rest of the state curriculum. They have repeated questions from year to year, making it easy to game the tests. And they do not reflect what students need to succeed in college and careers.
That is going to change. Over the next three years, the tests will become longer. They will test more material, have more open-ended questions and require more writing. They will aim to assess not whether students learned "test-taking tricks," in Steiner's words, but whether they can apply knowledge and explain their answers. By 2014-15 the goal is that our state tests will be able to tell students honestly if they are on track to succeed in college and beyond.
Students in Sun Prairie are preparing to enter a new state-of-the-art high school this year, but some residents of the city are upset with the amount their taxes could go up.
There's no doubt Sun Prairie has been growing. School district enrollment has gone from nearly 4,800 to almost 6,800 in 10 years, WISC-TV reported.
Now, the district has a high school to fit those students, but the taxpayers will be footing the bill.
Teacher Scott Kloehn's chemistry room just got a lot more high-tech with one of the many interactive whiteboards that are now in every Sun Prairie High School classroom.
"My job is to educate my kids the best way possible with the best means possible, and if that means using the technology in my room that I'll have easy access to, it's certainly what, as a good teacher, I'm going to go ahead and do," said Kloehn.
I received some interesting news recently from two Washington area high schools, Washington-Lee in Arlington County and the Friendship Collegiate Academy in the District. W-L, as it is often called, is a regular public school. Friendship is a public charter school. About 34 percent of the W-L students are low-income. That figure is twice as high, 70 percent, at Friendship.
W-L graduates about 400 seniors a year, Friendship about 250. They both have dedicated teachers and ambitious programs to give as many students as possible exposure to college-level courses. W-L has both Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses. Friendship also has AP, plus access to a significant number of University of Maryland and University of District of Columbia courses.
Friendship has fewer affluent, college-educated families than W-L does. (Arlington, where W-L is, has just been declared by the Brookings Institution as having the largest portion of adults with bachelor's degrees, 68 percent, of any U.S. county.) Friendship students mostly come from D.C. schools with standards not as high as those in Arlington. So they start high school, on average, at a lower level.
Barack Obama on Thursday said education was "the economic issue of our time", linking America's declining public schools with its struggles to remain competitive. Pointing out that America has been dropping steadily down the international league tables, particularly in mathematics and the sciences, Mr Obama made a coded plea for America's teachers' unions to comply with the controversial "Race to the Top" reforms he is pushing.Frederick Hess has more.
He pointed out that America now ranks 12th in the proportion of its people who graduate from college compared to first place a generation ago. "If we want success for our country, we can't accept failure in our schools," Mr Obama told the National Urban League in a speech. "I know some argue that during a recession, we should focus solely on economic issues. But education is an economic issue - if not the economic issue of our time."
The president's address comes amid a growing restlessness among ordinary Americans, who tell pollsters they fear the recovery from the recession will fail to create the high-paying jobs to which people were accustomed in earlier decades. Mr Obama's economic advisers concede it will take years to build "new foundations" for the American middle class who were suffering their own "personal recessions" - in terms of stagnant or declining incomes - way before the 2008 financial meltdown.
In Chicago, dozens of lunch ladies are leaving the schools they've worked at--sometimes for years. That's because those schools are being "turned around"--a strategy that involves removing the entire staff at failing schools to "reset" the culture there. It's a strategy Education Secretary Arne Duncan is now pushing nationwide. But a question is: Is it necessary to remove lunch ladies, janitors, and security guards to create better schools?
In mid-June, the lunch ladies at Deneen Elementary School on the city's south side were serving up one of their last meals.
LUNCH LADY: How are you? What do you want? Carrots or salad?
Fewer than half of kids meet standards here on state tests, so Deneen is being forced to start over. As a "turnaround," every adult has to leave, from the principal to the teachers to the seven lunch ladies. Veronica Fluth was Deneen's cook. After insisting I put on a hair net, she gave me a tour of her spotless kitchen.
A state appeals court strengthened the authority of local school boards over charter schools Monday by making it harder for California education officials to approve statewide charters with campuses in multiple counties.
Charter schools are publicly funded and tuition-free but operate independently of local school districts and their union contracts, though districts are supposed to monitor their performance. They have been proliferating both in California and nationwide.
State law allows the state Board of Education, appointed by the governor, to let a company establish charter schools in far-flung counties without local approval or monitoring. Groups of school boards, administrators and teachers claimed the board was overstepping its authority, and on Monday, the First District Court of Appeal in San Francisco agreed.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Student Association is grumbling about the decision to send the school's basketball players, staff and some guests on a trip to Italy next month.
The association - the same organization that backed a $25 per student per semester fee to raise money to renovate the Klotsche Center or build a new arena - argues this is no time to be heading overseas while the Athletic Department has a deficit as high as $8 million.
The trip is expected to cost $160,000.
"The fact that the UWM Athletics Department continues to spend outside of its means is troubling. The department simply cannot afford to go on such an extravagant trip regardless of where the money is from," said Travis Romero-Boeck, president of the Student Association.
In August 1818, Thomas Jefferson authored a report for the Virginia Legislature that laid out the topics to be included in the curriculum of his newly founded University of Virginia. Like so many foundational documents, Jefferson's report resonated with such clear and specific language that it serves to this day as an accurate summation of his educational vision -- and a blueprint upon which his intellectual heirs may continue to build.
Massachusetts, like Virginia, is among the great pioneers in American education, from Colonial times to the present. But last week's decision by the state Board of Education to adopt national Common Core standards is an object lesson in how not to pursue education reform. It's stuff that would have driven Jefferson to laughter or scorn, and should provoke nothing less among Massachusetts taxpayers.
What was approved, and how, make clear that this state's educational leaders need refresher courses in the pursuit of educational excellence.
“You do not interest me. No man can say these words to another without committing a cruelty and offending against justice,” writes philosopher Simone Weil. To turn a deaf ear is an offence not only to the ignored person but also to thinking, justice and ethics. Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner is cursed because no one will listen to his story. The Italian chemist-turned-writer Primo Levi was preoccupied with this fable because of his fear that on returning from Auschwitz people like him would be either ignored or simply disbelieved. Regardless, listening gets a very mixed press amongst critics and intellectuals. There is a suspicion of “wistful optimism” or the quasi-religious appeal to “hold hands” and play priest at the confessional. These qualms miss the centrality of listening to a radical humanism which recognises that dialogue is not merely about consensus or agreement but engagement and criticism. This is something that Primo Levi understood.
They see life as a game. They enjoy nothing more than outsmarting the system. They don’t trust politicians, medias, nor brands. They see corporations as inefficient and plagued by an outmoded hierarchy. Even if they harbor little hope of doing better than their parents, they don’t see themselves as unhappy. They belong to a group — several, actually — they trust and rely upon.
“They”, are the Digital Natives.
The French polling institute BVA published an enlightening survey of this generation: between 18-24 years of age, born with a mouse and a keyboard, and now permanently tied to their smartphone. All of it shaping their vision of an unstable world. The study is titled GENE-TIC for Generation and Technology of Information and Communication. Between November 2009 and February 2010, BVA studied hundred young people in order to understand their digital habits. Various techniques where used: spyware in PCs , subjective glasses to “see what they see”, and hours of video recording. (The 500 pages survey is for sale but abstracts, in French, are here ; BVA is considering a similar study for the US market). Here are the key findings:
Erasing years of academic progress, state education officials on Wednesday acknowledged that hundreds of thousands of children had been misled into believing they were proficient in English and math, when in fact they were not.Related: The WKCE.
The bar for what it means to be "proficient" has now been set substantially higher. For instance, last year more than 77% of New York state students in grades three through eight reached proficiency in state English exams. Under the new standards, only 53% were considered proficient this year. The difference amounts to nearly 300,000 students across the state.
"We are facing the hard truth that the gains in the past were simply not as advertised," said Merryl Tisch, the chancellor of the state Board of Regents, during a news conference announcing the new standards.
In New York City, the number of students scoring proficient in English fell to 42% this year from 69% in 2009. In math, 54% of city children scored proficient this year, down from 82%.
The huge drops across the state raised questions about how much of the academic gains touted in the past several years were an illusion.
The latest state audit of Seattle Public Schools didn't tell me anything I didn't already know: The district is stuck in a culture of lax indifference when it comes to taxpayers' money.There's a great deal of citizen activism underway in Seattle, including: a successful lawsuit that overturned the District's adoption of Discovery Math, a recall drive for 5 of the 7 school board members and a lawsuit regarding the New Student Assignment Plan. Melissa Westbrook offers additional comments.
Despite the last decade's phalanx of highly paid budget and money managers overseeing the district, few inroads have been made in transforming this culture.
Let's start with the audit's biggest discovery for the 2008-09 school year. The district overpaid at least 83 employees to the tune of $228,860. The district says the number of accidentally overpaid employees could be as high as 144.
Repayment plans have been set up for most of the employees. But others left the district, requiring costly measures, including collection agencies, to recover the money. Expect this debacle to reverberate as tax implications and impacts to the state retirement system unfold.
Spending and governance questions are not unique to Seattle.
As Neal McCluskey revealed (and Greg highlighted), Checker made an excellent case against national standards… in 1997. The Weekly Standard has now allowed non-subscribers to link to the piece, so everyone can read it for him or herself.
Many of Checker’s arguments against national standards and assessments back in 1997 are remarkably similar to those of current critics.
If Education Secretary Arne Duncan has his way, kids would be spending a lot more time at school -- and a three-month summer would be a thing of the past.Abby Phillip has more.
Duncan joked with attendees at a luncheon at the National Press Club Tuesday in Washington that he would like schools to stay open 13 months out of the year. Then he told the audience of over 100 that he seriously supports longer school hours.
"In all seriousness, I think schools should be open 12, 13, 14 hours a day, seven days a week, 11-12 months of the year," Duncan said. "This is not just more of the same. There would be a whole variety of after-school programs. Obviously academics would be at the heart of that. But you top it off with dancing, art, drama, music, yearbook, robotics, activities for older siblings and parents, ESL classes."
He continued by explaining that the American school calendar is antiquated and must be modified so that American students can compete at the highest levels internationally.
Publisher Pearson is hoping to profit from the government's 'free schools' initiative, sparking a fresh debate about the privatisation of education.
Chief executive Marjorie Scardino, 63, revealed the group's continuing push into the education market as she dropped a strong hint that she was preparing a successor to replace her.
One of the longest-serving bosses at a FTSE 100 company, Scardino said that while she still enjoyed her role at Pearson, there were 'multiple candidates' for her job.
Finance director Rona Fairhead and FT chief executive John Ridding are seen as the leading internal candidates.
On the 'free schools' move, Scardino said: 'One of [Education Secretary] Michael Gove's biggest programmes is free schools and we would seek to help those schools, help train the teachers, write the curriculum for them, help these choose what books they want to buy.'
A few weeks ago I was asked to a friend's son's christening. "We haven't found God, just a really good church school" she scrawled across the bottom of the invitation. In days gone by I might have huffed and puffed about the hypocrisy of it all. But now I'm a parent myself and school admission is hovering on the horizon.
We share the dilemma faced by thousands of families across London. Our home is just about equidistant between a fairly average Church of England school and a local primary that has been in special measures for the past two years. The idealist in me says stand by your principles -- I believe in community and the impact supportive parents can have on a school. The parent in me says: do whatever is best for your child's education.
But the choice, such as it is, also makes me cross. Why are so many inner London schools still so poor that parents feel they have to lie about religion, compromise their principles, or even -- and most can't afford this option -- move house to secure a half-decent place? We're not even on to secondary yet.
Education Secretary Michael Gove claims he gets it. His academies bill -- passed in the Commons last night-- allows schools to opt out of local authority control and be directly funded by government. They will have greater freedom over the curriculum and teachers' pay and access to extra funds currently administered by councils.
The nation's education czar joined a growing chorus of public officials who believe residents should decide whether Detroit Public Schools is placed under the mayor's control.
For that to happen, however, the City Council has to place the question on the November ballot. The council will weigh the matter during its meeting today.
On the eve of the meeting, and a week after Gov. Jennifer Granholm supported such a move, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said he also favored the ballot initiative, said a spokesman.
"We don't see it for every city," said spokesman Peter Cunningham. "But Detroit has struggled for a long time."
As the new city school board president, Freda Williams is the keel on a boat that is suddenly in new water.
At the same time, the school district awaits a state Supreme Court ruling on city funding of schools, and may face a possible referendum on who will pay for schools.
If the funding issue goes to the voters this fall, expect a campaign for funding led by the school board, Williams said.
"I think most people understand in order to reduce crime, we are going to have to invest in education," she said. "You can pay now or pay later. It's a lot less expensive to educate a child than to pay a year for a person in the criminal justice system."
Kaleem Caire, via email:
Greetings Home Team,
Before you read any further, please view our video message to you by clicking here (or cutting and pasting this into your web browser: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFpEFFWljR4). Also, join the Urban League of Greater Madison on Facebook, show your support, and stay up-to-date on our activities by clicking here.
Our Community Engagement Initiative is well underway! We began training volunteers and canvassing the Burr Oaks and Bram's Addition Neighborhoods last week. We will soon visit the Capital View and Leopold Neighborhoods, and then make our way to the Village of Shorewood, Glenn Oaks, and Hill Farms Neighborhoods. We are continuing to recruit volunteers and organizational partners to get out on the streets with us and talk with residents and business owners about their vision for the future of our city and region.
If you want to know what the community thinks first hand and want to develop connections with members of our extended family of 500,000+ who reside in greater Madison, come join us. Our next Community Outreach training will be held Tuesday, August 3, 2010 from 5:30pm - 7:00pm at our new Urban League Center for Economic Development and Workforce Training headquarters located at 2222 South Park Street, Madison, 53713. Participation in a training session is required in order to participate in our campaign, so if at all possible, please plan on joining us for this session. If you can't make it, there will be additional sessions held in the future.
We will conclude our campaign on October 15, 2010, and soon thereafter will share the outcomes of our 3-month community engagement effort with all organizations and individuals who get involved. Please contact Andrew Schilcher at firstname.lastname@example.org or (608) 729-1225. We're already learning a lot about the dynamics and make-up of our neighborhoods that can only be learned by putting boots on the ground!
In August 2010, the CEOs of the Boys & Girls Club and YMCA of Dane County will join me on a community walk with Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz through South Madison to talk with residents and business owners, and discuss community development needs and interests. We will also host a public hearing on the City Budget at the Urban League and a seminar for individuals interested in serving on City of Madison Commissions and Boards. We are particularly interested in increasing diversity on these Boards and Commissions and look forward to working with County leaders to accomplish the same.
All events listed below are located at our Urban League headquarters in Madison at 2222 South Park Street, 53713 in our first floor Evjue Conference Room. To RSVP for either of the activities below, please contact Ms. Isheena Murphy at email@example.com or 608-729-1200.
We are working with the Dane County leadership to provide similar forums as well.
Last night, we completed the first of two Leadership Summits with young professionals ages 25 - 45 that we are hosting aboard the Betty Lou Cruises on Madison's local treasurer, Lake Monona. What a great group of professionals we had join us - 32 leaders who are making a positive difference in our community and who have committed themselves to do more to establish greater Madison as the BEST place to live in the Midwest for EVERYONE. We would like to give special thanks to our Corporate Sponsor for tonight's Cruise, Edgewood College. We also want to thank Wisconsin State Senator Lena Taylor for giving an inspiring and motivational talk, and for challenging us to get more deeply involved with local and state affairs. We sincerely thank everyone who participated and look forward to our 2nd cruise next week, August 3rd!
Stay tuned for information regarding our plans for a 46 and older "Mentors and Coaches" event, which we are planning for early 2011.
A book recommended to me by
Neil Heinen, Editorial Director, Channel 3000 (Madison, WI)
Caught in the Middle: America's Heartland in the Age of Globalization
By Richard C. Longworth
Book Description: The Midwest has always been the heart of America - both its economic bellwether and the repository of its national identity. Now, in a new, globalized age, the Midwest faces dire challenges to its economic vitality, having suffered greatly before and as a result of the recent market collapse. In Caught in the Middle, veteran journalist Richard C. Longworth explores how globalization has battered the region and how some communities are confronting new realities. From vanished manufacturing jobs to the biofuels revolution, and from the school districts struggling with new immigrants to the Iowa meatpacking town that can't survive without them, Longworth surveys what's right and wrong in the heartland, and offers a tough prescription for survival.
David Leonhardt, via a Rick Kiley email:
How much do your kindergarten teacher and classmates affect the rest of your life?Complete PDF Report.
Economists have generally thought that the answer was not much. Great teachers and early childhood programs can have a big short-term effect. But the impact tends to fade. By junior high and high school, children who had excellent early schooling do little better on tests than similar children who did not -- which raises the demoralizing question of how much of a difference schools and teachers can make.
There has always been one major caveat, however, to the research on the fade-out effect. It was based mainly on test scores, not on a broader set of measures, like a child's health or eventual earnings. As Raj Chetty, a Harvard economist, says: "We don't really care about test scores. We care about adult outcomes."
Early this year, Mr. Chetty and five other researchers set out to fill this void. They examined the life paths of almost 12,000 children who had been part of a well-known education experiment in Tennessee in the 1980s. The children are now about 30, well started on their adult lives.
Hey Madison parents, teachers and students, get ready for some changes.Gena Kittner has more.
I wrote about a letter sent to teachers several weeks ago, but snags in transporation had the plan still tentative until today.
Now it's official: A plan for teacher collaboration at the Madison middle and high school levels beginning this fall will alter daily and weekly schedules for all eleven local middle schools and four high schools.
The most immediate change will be early release most Wednesdays for both high school and middle school students; middle school classes (except at Wright Middle School) will end on Wednesdays at 1:37 p.m. School will end at Wright at 2:15 p.m.
How much do your kindergarten teacher and classmates affect the rest of your life?
Economists have generally thought that the answer was not much. Great teachers and early childhood programs can have a big short-term effect. But the impact tends to fade.
There has always been one major caveat, however, to the research on the fade-out effect. It was based mainly on test scores, not on a broader set of measures, like a child's health or eventual earnings. As Raj Chetty, a Harvard economist, says: "We don't really care about test scores. We care about adult outcomes."
Early this year, Mr. Chetty and five other researchers set out to fill this void. They examined the life paths of almost 12,000 children who had been part of a well-known education experiment in Tennessee in the 1980s. The children are now about 30, well started on their adult lives.
When Mr. Chetty and his colleagues took another look at the students in adulthood, they discovered that the legacy of kindergarten had re-emerged.
Students who had learned much more in kindergarten were more likely to go to college than students with otherwise similar backgrounds. Students who learned more were also less likely to become single parents. As adults, they were more likely to be saving for retirement. Perhaps most striking, they were earning more.
Wisconsin lost its bid for $250 million in federal education reform grant money Tuesday, as 18 other states and Washington, D.C., were named finalists in the second round of the Race to the Top competition.
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced the finalists for $3.4 billion in funding during a speech to the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Those finalists were Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Washington, D.C.
This was Wisconsin's final chance to win a piece of the $4.35 billion education reform competition, unless a proposed third round of $1.35 billion in 2011 is approved.
Gov. Jim Doyle criticized the federal government's system for reviewing state applications, while several outside groups criticized Wisconsin for passing weak reform efforts or failing to show it could dramatically change the course of the troubled Milwaukee Public Schools.
"With the blind judging system used by the federal government, it's hard to know how the applications were scored, but it's pretty clear that the quality of a state's education system was not taken into account," Doyle said in a statement. "The states in the upper Midwest - Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan - are nationally recognized as having the best education systems in the country, and not a single one was a finalist in either round for Race to the Top funding," he said.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan was being too modest when he said in a speech Tuesday at the National Press Club that the Obama administration is playing a "modest role" in sparking a "quiet" revolution in education.
There is nothing modest about the administration's role in driving reform, and there is nothing "quiet" about the change process, not in Washington or in state legislatures that rushed to change laws for a chance to win federal dollars.
The administration is Bigfoot, driving change with billions of dollars in the Race to the Top competition. In fact, Race to the Top, which started with $4.35 billion, is doling out the largest pot of discretionary federal education money ever. How's that for modest?
Duncan announced the finalists for Round 2 -- 18 states and the District of Columbia -- each of which will send teams to Washinton, D.C., in August to explain why they deserve to be on top.
As the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina approaches, the superintendent brought in to revive New Orleans' troubled public schools is bidding farewell after turning many of the schools into charters. Before his departure, Paul Vallas speaks with John Merrow about where things stand with the city's school reform efforts.
JOHN MERROW: For Paul Vallas, the veteran superintendent Louisiana hired in 2007 to do the job, the pressure was on.
PAUL VALLAS, superintendent, Recovery School District of Louisiana: We need to move now. We need to start building buildings now. We need to modernize those classrooms now.
JOHN MERROW: Almost from the time he arrived in New Orleans, Paul Vallas began making promises, talking publicly about all the big changes he intended to make in the schools. Well, it's been three years. Time for Paul Vallas' report card.
PAUL PASTOREK, Louisiana State Superintendent of Education: I give Paul very high marks.
JOHN MERROW: State Superintendent Paul Pastorek hired Paul Vallas.
PAUL PASTOREK: If you would tell people five years ago what is happening today, no one would have believed it was possible.
Do the languages we speak shape the way we think? Do they merely express thoughts, or do the structures in languages (without our knowledge or consent) shape the very thoughts we wish to express?
Take "Humpty Dumpty sat on a..." Even this snippet of a nursery rhyme reveals how much languages can differ from one another. In English, we have to mark the verb for tense; in this case, we say "sat" rather than "sit." In Indonesian you need not (in fact, you can't) change the verb to mark tense.
In Russian, you would have to mark tense and also gender, changing the verb if Mrs. Dumpty did the sitting. You would also have to decide if the sitting event was completed or not. If our ovoid hero sat on the wall for the entire time he was meant to, it would be a different form of the verb than if, say, he had a great fall.
In Turkish, you would have to include in the verb how you acquired this information. For example, if you saw the chubby fellow on the wall with your own eyes, you'd use one form of the verb, but if you had simply read or heard about it, you'd use a different form.
Donald Trump is not the only one who knows how to get attention with the words, "You're fired." Michelle Rhee, chancellor for the District of Columbia schools, has just done a pretty nifty job of it herself.
On Friday, Ms. Rhee fired 241 teachers--roughly 6% of the total--mostly for scoring too low on a teacher evaluation that measures their performance against student achievement. Another 737 teachers and other school-based staff were put on notice that they had been rated "minimally effective." Unless these people improve, they too face the boot.
The mass dismissals follow a landmark agreement Ms. Rhee negotiated with the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) at the end of June. The quid pro quo was this: Good teachers would get more money (including a 21.6% pay increase through 2012 and opportunities for merit pay). In exchange, bad teachers could be shown the door.
At the time, many gave the teachers union credit for approving this deal. Here's how another New York-based newspaper described the contract:
"You do not interest me. No man can say these words to another without committing a cruelty and offending against justice," writes philosopher Simone Weil. To turn a deaf ear is an offence not only to the ignored person but also to thinking, justice and ethics. Coleridge's Ancient Mariner is cursed because no one will listen to his story. The Italian chemist-turned-writer Primo Levi was preoccupied with this fable because of his fear that on returning from Auschwitz people like him would be either ignored or simply disbelieved. Regardless, listening gets a very mixed press amongst critics and intellectuals. There is a suspicion of "wistful optimism" or the quasi-religious appeal to "hold hands" and play priest at the confessional. These qualms miss the centrality of listening to a radical humanism which recognises that dialogue is not merely about consensus or agreement but engagement and criticism. This is something that Primo Levi understood.
At one school district in New Jersey, "D" now stands for for "dropped."
Starting this September, middle and high school students in Mount Olive won't be getting D's anymore -- because the board has dropped that letter from its grade system. Now, any score below 70 percent is an F.
The move passed the the Mount Olive School board in an 8-1 vote Monday.
Superintendent Larrie Reynolds, who proposed the new policy last month, says it will raise the bar for Mount Olive students.
"I'm tired of kids coming to school and not learning and getting credit for it," Reynolds told the Daily Record. "We intend to be the beacon of excellence in Morris County, and to do that, we have to fix it."
The group today reported that pre-tax profits were £94m in the first half compared with a loss of £7m in the same period in 2009. Sales at the group climbed to £2.34bn from £2.14bn.
"The 2010 finish line isn't yet in sight, but this is as good a start to our years as I've seen," chief executive Marjorie Scardino said. "That boosts our confidence in the full year, enabling us to brighten our outlook and raise our guidance."
Among the top international MBA programs, a berth at London Business School (London Full-Time MBA Profile), is among the most coveted in all of Europe. As a result, the competition to get in is getting fiercer. During a live chat on July 21, Oliver Ashby (screen name: OliverAshbyLBS), manager of recruitment and admissions at LBS, fielded questions from the audience and Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Francesca Di Meglio (screen name: FrancescaBW) about what it takes to get accepted at LBS and what career opportunities lie in store for graduates. Here are edited transcripts of the chat:
Kwabena: What does LBS look at when it comes to selecting candidates for its programs?
OliverAshbyLBS: This is a very good question. At London Business School we take a holistic view when assessing applications. All our programs require a GMAT score, references, and some form of essay. We also believe that cultural fit is hugely important.
It took an offer to appear on a national TV show for Wade Warren to reluctantly give up what he calls his "technology" for a week.
That was the only way, his mother says, that he would ever pack his 2006 MacBook (with some recent upgrades, he'll tell you), his iPad tablet computer, and, most regretfully, his Nexus One smart phone into a cardboard box and watch them be hustled out the door of his room to a secret hiding place.
Wade, who's 14 and heading into ninth grade, survived his seven days of technological withdrawal without updating his 136 Twitter followers about "wonky math tests" and "interesting fort escapades," or posting on his photography product review blog, or texting his friends about... well, that's private. But he has returned to his screens with a vengeance, making up for lost time.
Children who take part in musical training have an advantage in learning that spills over to skills that include language, speech, memory, attention, and even vocal emotion.
Research on the effects of music training on the nervous system has strong implications for education, says Nina Kraus, the Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences and Neurobiology at Northwestern University and director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory.
Scientists use the term neuroplasticity to describe the brain's ability to adapt and change as a result of training and experience over the course of a person's life, Kraus
I'm a broke writer who can't find a gig in the recession, so I decided to save myself -- by helping students cheat
My clients never fail to amuse.
"Can I have a military discount?" one asked.
"Do you give student discounts?" asked another.
No and no, I thought, hitting Delete on those e-mails. In the business of doing other people's homework, there are no discounts of any kind. (Who needs my services besides students, anyway?) All sales are final, and all payment is upfront. No one gets free credit -- well, they get credit from their instructors, plus high grades and lots of compliments.
I entered this business purely by accident. A victim of the craptastic economy, I've done all sorts of things for money. I've cleaned maggots out of other people's kitchens. I've scraped cat poop off carpets. I've watched small screaming children for hours at a time. But doing college homework for cash? That one took me by surprise. It began innocently. Having tutored writing at a small private school, I decided to offer my services to the larger market via Craigslist. Soon, a prospect contacted me.
There are numerous schools in Milwaukee where you can receive an art-centric education. Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, Marquette University, UWM, Mt. Mary College, and Milwaukee Area Technical College are some schools that offer creative degrees in the area.
So do we need another school offering degrees in fields like Advertising, Film making, Graphic Design, Culinary Arts, Fashion Marketing, Interior Design, Media Arts and Animation and Interactive Media?
"Yes, because this is a great market," Art Institute of Milwaukee President Bill Johnson said. "We feel there is a need for more educational opportunities here. We will fill a different niche than MIAD; we'll be complementary and provide a valuable education."
AI-Milwaukee (one of 48 Art Institutes across the nation) will enroll its first students in October at a 35,000 sq. ft. campus on Buffalo Street in the Third Ward. It will offer baccalaureate degrees in the aforementioned disciplines, along with an associate degree in Graphic Design. Johnson said degrees are designed to attract students with an "art bent" and prepare them for entry-level jobs in their selected fields.
It was a course for the true economic elite. Hundreds of children from the mainland's wealthiest families gathered to hear words of wisdom from the people who advise the country's top leaders.
The topics ranged from ancient emperors' secrets about managing the succession of power to the strategies used by the People's Liberation Army to keep its soldiers loyal.
The course, sponsored by the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce in Beijing, caught the nation's attention and quickly turned into a hot internet discussion topic because it was tailored for what Xinhuanet called "the second generation of the rich", whose family companies have blossomed since the nation embraced capitalism in 1979.
mention on what was going on in the contract talks between SPS and SEA. I received this e-mail from the SEA. I post without comment.
SEA Bargaining Update July 23, 2010
SEA and District Far Apart in Negotiations
Your SEA Negotiations Team met with the District team on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. We continue to be far apart on issues that you have told us matter most to you. The district is holding fast to their major proposals on:
• tying student growth based on MAP scores, MSP scores, and end-of-course assessments to certificated employees evaluations;
• use of evaluations as the lead factor in reduction in force, as opposed to strict seniority.
There has been very little to no movement on what you have told us are your two most important issues:
Respondents focus their brief on arguing that no reasonable school board would adopt "inquiry-based" high school mathematics textbooks instead of "direct instruction" textbooks. There are "dueling experts" and other conflicting evidence regarding the best available material for teaching high school math, and the Seattle School Board ("the Board") gave due consideration to both sides of the debate before reaching its quasi legislative decision to adopt the Discovering series and other textbooks on a 4-3 vote.Much more on the successful citizen lawsuit overturning the Seattle School District's use of Discovery Math, here. http://seattlemathgroup.blogspot.com/. Clusty Search: Discovery Math.
The trial court erred by substituting its judgment for the Board's in determining how much weight to place on the conflicting evidence. Several of the "facts" alleged in the Brief of Respondents ("BR") are inaccurate, misleading, or lack any citation to the record in violation of RAP l0.3(a)(4). The Court should have an accurate view of the facts in the record to decide the important legal issues in this case. The Board is, therefore, compelled to correct any misimpressions that could arise from an unwary reading of respondents' characterization of the facts.
A tussle over the Jersey City schools superintendent's $280,000-a-year contract is headed for a showdown involving New Jersey's education commissioner, putting a spotlight on one of the state's most troubled school districts.
Charles Epps has been superintendent for the past 10 years. Twenty-six of his 37 schools failed last year to make "adequate yearly progress," according to federal standards, and one middle school---where only 32% of children are proficient in English and 25% proficient in math--has fallen short of the federal goal nine years straight.
Late last month, the local school board voted to forgo an outside search for a new superintendent and to begin negotiating a new three-year contract with Mr. Epps. That enraged some local activists, who have filed a petition with the state to overturn the board's vote.
"There's a window of opportunity to stop rewarding failure," said Steven Fulop, a Jersey City council member who is helping to spearhead the opposition. "Nobody in their right mind would rehire someone who has failing performance without even a cursory look at who else is out there." The petition accuses the school board of failing to give 30 days' notice and opportunity for the public to voice their opinions before the vote.
New Jersey's largest school district will create a special enterprise zone for education in September, bringing together seven low-performing schools for an ambitious program of education and social services provided through a coalition of colleges and community groups led by New York University.
The Newark schools -- Central High School and six elementary and middle schools -- will be part of a Global Village School Zone stretching across a poor, crime-ridden swath of the city known as the Central Ward. The zone is modeled after the Harlem Children's Zone, a successful network of charter schools and social service programs, and represents the latest in a growing number of partnerships between urban school districts and colleges.
While the Newark zone will remain part of the city's long-troubled school system, which has been under state control since 1995, its schools will be largely freed from district regulations and will be allowed to operate like independent charter schools. Decisions about daily operations and policies will be turned over to committees of principals, teachers, parents, college educators and community leaders, and the schools will be allowed to modify their curriculum to address the needs of students.
Online grading platform LearnBoost has raised $975,000 in seed funding from an impressive roster of venture capital firms and angel investors including Bessemer Venture Partners,Charles River Ventures, RRE Ventures, Atlas Ventures,Othman Laraki, Bill Lee, James Hong, Naval Ravikantand Karl Jacob.
LearnBoost offers teachers an easy-to-use, web-based gradebook. The startup's software allows for real time collaboration around grades between teachers and parents. But LearnBoost is also trying to create a realtime CRM-type of application for teachers. A LearnBoost gradebook account allows teachers to essentially manage their classroom in one place by keeping track of student grades, tracking attendance, maintaining schedules, importing Google calendars, creating and managing lesson plans and curriculum, tagging standards to assignments and lesson plans, and more. The app is still in private beta and will be released to the public in August.
The recent layoff of 80 police officers in Oakland could be the harbinger of things to come as government officials find that public employee pension deals made when the stock market was booming are helping bust their budgets today.
"It's regrettable, but we had no choice," said City Council President Jane Brunner of the layoffs that were Oakland's response to a growing public pension crisis.
Forced to make a $30.5 million budget cut - Brunner said that's more than the city's discretionary spending - Oakland had asked police officers to pay 9 percent of their salaries toward their pensions and accept a later retirement age for new hires.
California's public school system has finally found itself at the top of a list. According to a new report, its academic standards are the highest in the country. But in less than two weeks, California's State Board of Education will vote on whether or not to swap them out for new national standards-and there may be good reason to do so.
California's academic rigor may be high, but its student proficiency rates still trail behind many states with less stringent standards. Consider the state of Maryland. According to a study released by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank, Maryland's standards are less rigorous than California's. But a separate report by Education Week ranked Maryland first in the country for overall quality, with high marks for the indicators that measure academic achievement and a student's success from school to the workforce.
Supporters of the switch to the Obama administration's so-called "Common Core Standards," including Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, say that the new framework makes more sense because it focuses on building critical grade skills and abilities rather than touching on a long list of academic materials.
Centenary College is closing its satellite business schools in China and Taiwan after discovering rampant cheating among local students, campus officials said.
The cheating was so extensive that the Hackettstown college is withholding degrees from all 400 Chinese-speaking students in its master's of business administration programs in Beijing, Shanghai and Taiwan, said Debra Albanese, Centenary's vice president for strategic advancement.
The students were told they have until the end of the month to decide whether to take a comprehensive exam to earn their degree or accept a full tuition refund So far, school officials said, most students have opted for the refund of their $1,200-to-$1,400 tuition.
A more rigorous high school curriculum is paying off in better college entrance scores for state students.
Michigan's tough, new high school curriculum is passing the test. Scores for state high school students on the Michigan Merit Examination, which includes the ACT, climbed by half a percentage point, meaning students will enter college better prepared.
The results, released Thursday by the Michigan Department of Education, show high school students have improved their ACT scores for the third year in a row.
The steady improvement, from an average score of 18.8 in 2008 to 19.3 this year, demonstrates the rigorous high school graduation requirements adopted in 2006 are gradually paying off.
Four prominent Pennsylvania Republicans are earning more than a combined $1 million a year as directors on three boards connected with the Milton Hershey School, one of the state's wealthiest charities and the nation's largest residential school for disadvantaged children.
LeRoy Zimmerman, a former two-term attorney general who has headed the charity since 2006, earned the most, $499,996, according to the group's latest tax filing with the Internal Revenue Service.
The others are:
James Nevels, a Philadelphia investment manager, who was compensated $325,359 on two Hershey-related boards.
Former Gov. Tom Ridge, who is earning $200,000 a year on the Hershey Co. board.
Lynn Swann, former gubernatorial candidate and Pittsburgh Steeler star, who is making $100,000 a year on the board of the company that operates Hersheypark.
The Madison School District will ask for proof of age when registering students who live with people other than their parents or guardians or those who are 18 years or older and are enrolling themselves for school.
The district disclosed the new procedure -- which goes into effect next month for the 2010-11 school year -- in a statement to the State Journal dated July 23 and received Monday.
The announcement comes three months after the revelation that a 21-year-old gang member charged in a fatal April shooting had enrolled in Madison's West High School and later transferred to Middleton High School under a fake name and age.
Ivan Mateo-Lozenzo, 21, was enrolled at Middleton High School as 18-year-old junior Arain Gutierrez at the time of the shooting. Middleton officials have said Mateo-Lozenzo, who police have identified as an illegal immigrant from Veracruz, Mexico, had transferred from Madison's West High School.
Few U.S. citizens would agree to cutting special education funds. After all, students with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) obviously learn differently and need increased time and attention from educators in order to ensure they are attending to and learning the academic standards. However, another group of students who learn differently and need time and attention to guide their learning of the academic standards are being denied this year. These are the gifted students.
According to the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) Policy Insider, the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee met to draft the Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 budget for the Department of Education. Although the budget has increased 3.2% since FY 2010, the budget completely eliminates the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Student program. "The 20 year-old Javits program is the only federal program that supports the unique learning needs of America's three million students with gifts and talents."
Portland schools may not feel an immediate impact from the loss of the Javits Program. However, this program provides scholarships to the disadvantaged gifted student and research support in the area of effective instructional practices for these students who learn differently than their peers.
People in other big-city school districts around the country have a hard time thinking of Portland Public Schools as a truly urban district.Portland's 2010-2011 budget is $653,796,298 = $13,910.55 per student. Madison spent $15,241 per student during the 2009/2010 budget.
Not only is Portland tiny (47,000 students, compared with 700,000 in Los Angeles), but only 43 percent of its students are poor (in Chicago, 85 percent are). A majority are white (in Philadelphia, 13 percent are). What's more, middle- and upper-income professionals in Portland do something their counterparts in Detroit, L.A. or Washington, D.C., rarely consider: They send their children to central-city public schools.
But there is one way in which our small, mostly white, heavily middle-class school system is statistically right in line with some of the grittiest urban districts in the nation: A shockingly low share of Portland's high school students earn diplomas.
As The Oregonian reported on the front page recently, just 53 percent of Portland's high school students graduate in four years.
In his much-discussed recent Wall Street Journal op ed, Virginia Senator James Webb makes some good points about affirmative action and race, but also some key mistakes and omissions. On the plus side, Webb's article highlights the contradictions between the "diversity" and compensatory justice rationales for affirmative action. He also correctly suggests that slavery and segregation inflicted considerable harm on southern whites as well as blacks; it is therefore a mistake to view these injustices as primarily a transfer of ill-gotten wealth from one race to another. On the negative side, Webb is very unclear as to his own position on affirmative action. He also seems to blame racism and the historic economic backwardness of the South on the machinations of a small elite. The reality was more complicated. Low-income southern whites were often much more supportive of racism and segregation than economic elites were, and Jim Crow might have been less virulent without their support.Clusty Search: James Webb, Ilya Somin.
I. Competing Rationales for Affirmative Action.
One of Webb's best points is that affirmative action has resulted in preferences for groups that cannot claim to be victims of massive, systematic injustices inflicted in the United States:
Over the last several months I have been in many meetings with HR and L&D professionals talking about the enormous power of formalized informal learning. As we walk through out enterprise learning framework and talk with people about the need to expand their concept of training, I am reminded of the work we did back in 2003 and 2004 when I wrote The Blended Learning Book® (which is just as important to understand today as ever before).
Here are a few of the jewels I want to remind everyone to consider.
1. Mastery Means Being Able to Apply Knowledge
Ten candidates filed this month to run for five open at-large seats on the Rockingham County Board of Education.
Voters will chose among them during the November general election to address Rockingham County Schools' biggest issues and opportunities. These include an expected tough budget in 2011-12, academic performance and technology in schools.
Corey Brannock, 32, of Eden, works as a wastewater treatment plant operator in Mayodan.
He has never run for elected office but decided to after volunteering at Central Elementary and witnessing crowded classrooms and stressed teachers.
"I just want to know if I can help change that," he said about his decision to file. "I'm just trying to make a difference."
Thanks to a dual credit program at her high school, Casey Hahney, of Hammond, was able to transfer her credits and enroll at Ivy Tech Community College Northwest.Related: Janet Mertz's tireless effort: Credit for non-MMSD courses.
Dual credit is designed for high school juniors and seniors, enabling them to earn college credits while fulfilling high school requirements.
Educators say dual credit may not mean that students will finish college in less than four years but it may reduce the number of students finishing in six years.
Local colleges and universities recently reported six-year graduation rates in 2008 well below 50 percent, also less than the national average of 55.9 percent.
Not every high school graduate will go on to college. But for those who do, a basic high school diploma may not give them the preparation they need. Dual credit classes range from English to anatomy or engineering. It saves times and money, and gives students a leg up, helping to prepare them for a successful college career.
Today marks the first anniversary of Congress's decision to raise the federal minimum wage by 41% to $7.25 an hour. But hold the confetti. According to a new study, more than 100,000 fewer teens are employed today due to the wage hikes.
Economic slowdowns are tough on many job-seekers, but they're especially hard on the young and inexperienced, whose job prospects have suffered tremendously from Washington's ill-advised attempts to put a floor under wages. In a new paper published by the Employment Policies Institute, labor economists William Even of Miami University in Ohio and David Macpherson of Trinity University in Texas find a significant drop in teen employment as a direct result of the minimum wage hikes.
While some kids played baseball this summer, some put on a musical based on the history of the sport.
In fact, participation in the Village of DeForest Parks and Recreation Department Musical Theater doubled this summer when 25 children ages 7 to 11 signed up. Normally, the program draws about a dozen participants.
"Each year is more fun than the last," said 10-year-old Chloe Janisch, who is entering fifth grade at DeForest Area Middle School and returned to the theater program for her fourth year. "It is a very fun atmosphere."
Pam Smith, who teaches music at Yahara and Morrisonville elementary schools, proposed the idea to the parks and recreation department more than five years ago. Each year she has participants put on a musical with a different theme.
"The Inside Pitch," a musical composed by Michael and Jill Gallina, was performed this year.
Pearson, which also owns Penguin Books, has agreed to buy the "learning systems" division of Sistema Educational Brasilerio (SEB), as part of the FTSE 100 company's plan to expand its presence in south America.
The deal will more than double the size of Pearson's education business in Brazil and includes an agreement that will ensure that SEB's remaining schools and higher education institutions remain "major customers" of Pearson.
The acquisition comes after Dame Marjorie Scardino, Pearson's chief executive, pledged to reinvest the company's £900m windfall from the sale of its majority-stake in market data provider IDC into expanding its education business in fast-growing economies.
Pearson said Brazil is one of the world's largest education markets with 56m students and an educational materials market valued at about $2bn. Pearson said it expects the new division to generate sales of about 160m reais this year.
The first finding of the Audit Report is "The Seattle School District did not comply with state law on recording meeting minutes and making them available to the public". Id., p. 6. The auditor found: "We determined the Board did not record minutes at retreats and workshops in the 2008 - 2009 school year. Id. These retreats and workshops were held to discuss the budget, student assignment boundaries, school closures and strategic planning". [Emphasis Supplied] Id., p. 6. The school board's decisions regarding student assignment boundaries and school closures are the subject of the Commissioner's ruling denying review in the Briggs and Ovalles discretionary review proceedings and in this original action.Related: Recall drive for 5 of 7 Seattle School Board members.
The Auditor described the effect of these violations to be: "When minutes of special meetings are not promptly recorded, information on Board discussions is not made available to the public". Id., p. 6. The Auditor recommended "the District establish procedures to ensure that meeting minutes are promptly recorded and made available to the public." Id., p. 6. The District's response was: "The District concurs with the finding and the requirement under OPMA that any meeting of the quorum of the board members to discuss district business is to be treated as a special or regular meeting of the OPMA." Id. p. 6. Thus, the school board admits the Transcripts of Evidence in the Ovalles and Briggs appeals contains no minutes of the discussions relating to student assignments and school closures, even though the law required otherwise. Additionally, there is no indication of what evidence the school board actually considered with regard to the school closures and the new student assignment plan at retreats and workshops devoted to these specific decisions.
The fifth finding of the Auditor's Report was: "5. The School Board and District Management have not implemented sufficient policies and controls to ensure the District complies with state laws, its own policies, or addresses concerns raised in prior audits". Id., p. 25. In a section entitled "description of the condition" the report states: "In all the
areas we examined we found lax or non-existent controls in District operations. ..." Id., p. 25. With regard to the Open Meetings Act the Auditor noted continuing violations of state law and that "the District did not develop policies and procedures to adequately address prior audit recommendations." Id, at p. 27.
Time is on my side, the Rolling Stones sang in the 1960s.
Seems like it was. They're still rich and famous four decades later.
But what about millions of school kids, especially those on the short end of educational good fortune? What if time - namely, too little of it in constructive educational situations - is working against them?
The way time is and is not used to give kids valuable educational experience is a good subject here at the height of the summer, when a large number of kids, especially those with the biggest challenges in school, are likely going backward educationally.
"Summer learning loss" is the term for the well-documented problem of kids coming back to school around Labor Day with erosion in their skills.
Should something be done about the classic school schedule - 180 days a year, usually not more than seven hours from the time a student walks in the door until dismissal, with 10 weeks or more off in the summer?
The current calendar became the norm more than a century ago, and many trace its origins to an economy that leaned heavily toward agriculture. Kids were needed to help out during the growing season.
Since the start of American public schools, both well-meaning and not so well-meaning people have tried to reform them. Movements have ranged from the introduction of "teaching machines" to the current political cry for increased testing, market-model accountability and school choice.
Until recently, most reform efforts have been relatively benign, with no serious threat to the concept of public education. That was changed during the George W. Bush administration and it continues under President Obama. His plans are punitive, counter-productive to real reform and insidious in intent. They do pose serious threats to the very existence of the American public school system.
Fresh from his hard-earned, well-deserved victories in health-care reform and financial regulation, Obama is now redirecting his energy toward education reform. This time, though, he is acting on bad advice, misinformation about education and denial of valid research that rebuts the plan he supports. Race to the Top (RTTT) is the name of President Obama's plan, spearheaded by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Under it, states submit an application to the federal government with their "best blueprint" for reform. Duncan has devised a model for the states to follow that's composed of several elements, each given a point value. The total number of points possible, if all criteria are met, is 500.
The model includes provisions for taking over "failing schools" and encouraging the establishment of charter schools, many of which are funded by such organizations as the self-serving Gates Foundation. Recent national studies have found no significant difference between the education students receive in charter schools and public schools -- but the studies are ignored.
Let's get one thing straight, right from the start: We love $100,000 teachers. We wish Illinois had more of them.More here.
You wouldn't know it to listen to Ken Swanson, president of the Illinois Education Association, who didn't like Tribune reporter Diane Rado's story about the concentration of teachers earning $100,000 a year in some suburban school districts. Swanson is urging teachers to write letters to the editor or cancel the paper because he believes the news story was driven by the editorial board.
"From the first sentence of the article, it was apparent that this was another education-bashing Tribune editorial, thinly disguised as a news story," Swanson wrote in a letter to members.
Attending school in California and becoming an engineering major can really pay off for college graduates -- by thousands of dollars a year.
According to a report released Thursday from salary-tracker PayScale.com, petroleum engineering majors and graduates of Harvey Mudd College are taking home the biggest paychecks.
While mid-career salaries fell 1.5% overall between 2009 and 2010, engineers, scientists and mathematicians continued to rake in the big bucks, as well as students who graduated from Ivy League schools.
The state's public worker unions are at war with Gov. Chris Christie, but they have not ramped up their political spending.The Wisconsin Education Association Council is the top lobbying organization in the state, outspending #2 by more than two to one.
The New Jersey Education Association's political action committee spent $234,788 in the first half of this year, according to reports released today by the state Election Law Enforcement Commission. At this point last year, when there were far more state-level political races, the union had spent $426,200. This year, the NJEA has raised $797,841 and has $1.2 million on hand.
The PAC for New Jersey's largest state workers union, the Communications Workers of America, has taken in $77,000 so far this year and has spent $78,169, the reports show.
An infant's intelligence is shaped more by family environment than by the amount of omega 3 fatty acid from breast milk or fortified formula, new research shows.
Scientists followed 241 children from birth until they reached four years of age to investigate the relationship between breastfeeding and the use of DHA-fortified formula in infancy and performance in tests of intelligence and other aspects of brain function.
Details appear in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.
After taking into account the influence of mothers' intelligence and level of education, researchers found no relationship between the estimated total intake of DHA in infancy and a child's IQ.
College students study a lot less now than in the 1960s, yet they get better grades.
For students, these trends must seem like marvelous developments. But they raise questions about both declining rigor and potential grade inflation in higher education.
In a forthcoming study in the journal Economic Inquiry, economist Philip Babcock finds the trends linked. As Babcock related in an e-mail, when the instructor "chooses to grade more strictly, students put in a lot more effort." And when the professor gives easy A's, students expend less effort.
The finding relates to an earlier study, cited in a previous post here, showing that professors who get high ratings from their students tend to teach those students less. (The minimal effort required in those classes apparently fuels the professor's popularity.)
Babcock, an economist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, reviewed two sets of research literature that document crisscrossing trends.
Nia Lozano, a middle school parent, tells us about a new group that's building support for Oakland High School.
An interesting new group has formed in the Crocker and Glenview neighborhoods of Oakland. It was formed by some parents from Edna Brewer who would like other neighborhood parents to consider Oakland High.
This is truly the first time I have ever heard families musing about Oakland High, even among the die-hard, Edna Brewer, go public, local school advocates. The communities of Crocker and Glenview have been relatively silent about Oakland High, which is interesting given that the last time I checked their scores were only marginally lower than Oakland Tech and Skyline (and may have been better in some areas of math, I can't recall right now.)
What I gather is that the new principal is well regarded and that may have sparked the interest, besides the fact that if parents could raise the community profile of Edna Brewer, they should be able to do the same with O High.
When David Brewer III was on the outs - but had not yet been ousted - as superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District, he appointed Ramon Cortines as senior deputy superintendent. It was a bogus title, and everyone knew it.
Cortines had decades more experience than Brewer, a former Navy admiral who had never worked in a school district before. Cortines had been Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's deputy mayor of education and head of the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Before that he had run some of the nation's largest districts, including New York and L.A. Unified. So, who was whose deputy?
The arrangement was a way for the district to have a competent leader while the Board of Education figured out a graceful exit for Brewer. Eight months later, in January 2009, the transition was formalized.
Wisconsin's approach to funding schools relies on a confusing and frequently misunderstood formula under which the state picks up the bulk of costs while capping how much districts can collect in state aid and local property taxes combined.Wisconsin K-12 spending via redistributed taxes has grown substantially over the past 20+ years, as this WISTAX chart illustrates:
Districts have complained the caps, which are based largely on the number of students a district has, have not kept pace with expenses. In recent years, the state has reduced its share of aid to schools from two-thirds of total costs to slightly less than that, forcing districts to choose between two unpopular options: Cutting programs and services or raising property taxes.
MMSD is one of the most expensive public school districts in the state (per pupil spending is highest among the largest school districts). It has been for decades. However, the annual rate of increase in per pupil spending has been very close to the Wisconsin average. While per pupil spending for the average Wisconsin public school district has increased at an annual rate of 5.10%, it has increased by an annual rate of 5.25% in MMSD (see table below). That MMSD costs have risen more should be no surprise, because of cost of living, the loss of students to the growing suburbs (subsidized by state taxes), and the relative portion of special education needs and classroom support needs have risen significantly.The "great recession" has certainly affected many organizations, including public school districts via slower tax collection growth and flat or reduced property values (which further increases taxes, such as the 2010-2011 Madison School District budget, which will raise them by about 10%).
On Thursday at 10:30 AM an appeal of the Superintendent's one-year contract extension to June 30, 2013 will be filed at the King County Courthouse.Related: Governance, or Potted Plant? Seattle School Board To Become More Involved In District Operations and a view from Madison.
At 1:30 PM filings initiating the recall and discharge of each of five Seattle School Directors will be filed at the King County Elections Office. Directors Sundquist, Maier, Martin-Morris, Carr, and DeBell are the subjects of these five recalls. Directors Smith-Blum and Patu are not subjects of recall.
If you wish to volunteer to collect signatures...
please contact: .. firstname.lastname@example.org
using the subject line "RECALL".
We expect to receive authorization to begin collecting signatures within 30 days of initial filing. Signatures will be gathered from voters registered in the City of Seattle. We hope that most voters will choose to sign all 5 petitions. Approximately 32,000 valid signatures will be needed for each director to bring about a recall election. A 180 day maximum for signature gathering is allowed and the election is scheduled 45 to 60 days after the required number of signatures has been submitted and verified.
A new study has claimed that good school leadership is critical to good education.
Researchers Kyla Wahlstrom and Karen Seashore Louis from the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development and Kenneth Leithwood and Stephen Anderson from the University of Toronto, have broad implications for the understanding of how leadership affects learning across the United States.
"Leadership is important because it sets the conditions and the expectations in the school that there will be excellent instruction and there will be a culture of ongoing learning for the educators and for the students in the school," said Wahlstrom.
The report Learning from Leadership: Investigating the Links to Improved Student Learning, found that student achievement is higher in schools where principals share leadership with teachers and the community.
A proposal from Gov. Chris Christie to overhaul teacher contract negotiations has gained support from management while further angering the state teachers union.More here:
As part of his proposed toolkit to reduce property taxes statewide, Christie is calling for the move back to allowing "last offer/best offer" in negotiations. The system would allow Boards of Education to unilaterally impose a contract on a local union in the event negotiations broke down. The system was allowed in New Jersey until banned by law in 2003.
Frank Belluscio, a spokesman for the New Jersey School Boards Association, said the proposal would provide assistance to school boards by allowing them to impose final offers when negotiations drag on. Current policy allows boards and teachers unions to go to a binding arbitration, which Christie and municipal leaders have said resulted in larger compensation awards to unions.
Associations representing state teachers and school boards have expressed opposition to a proposal in Gov. Chris Christie's property tax toolkit to increase state oversight to contracts negotiated between school districts and local unions.
The proposal would set a four point criteria for county executive superintendents of schools to review local contracts, with the governor's goal to keep property taxes below the two percent cap Christie signed into law earlier this month.
The criteria, as outlined in a preliminary proposal to the New Jersey School Boards Association from the governor's office earlier this month, would include county executive superintendents reviewing all contracts that have the total compensation and benefits exceeding the cap, did not allow subcontracting of such services as food and maintenance, did not allow employee contributions to health benefits and did not set a minimum number of instructional hours and days. The proposal was drafted when the cap was the two and a half percent constitutional amendment and not the two percent statutory cap, Christie negotiated with the legislature.
"SCHOOL reform chaos?" asked a frowning satchel depicted on posters plastered around Hamburg. "No thank you." The sorrowful satchel was the mascot of a citizens' rebellion against a proposed school restructuring in the city-state. Voters rejected the plan in a referendum on July 18th. The stinging defeat for Hamburg's government, a novel coalition between the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and the Green Party, has national consequences, as it may make the CDU-Green alliance a less appealing model for a future federal government. Ole von Beust, Hamburg's mayor, announced his resignation before the result, saying he had done the job for long enough. He is the sixth CDU premier to leave office this year. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who leads the CDU, must now promote a new generation of leaders.
More important are the implications for schools. Hamburg's plan was a bold attempt to correct a German practice that many think is both unjust and an obstacle to learning. In most states, after just four years of primary school children are streamed into one of several types of secondary school: clever kids attend Gymnasien, middling ones Realschulen and the slowest learners Hauptschulen, which are supposed to prepare them for trades. (A few go to Gesamtschulen, which serve all sorts.) Early selection may be one reason why the educational achievement of German children is linked more closely to that of their parents than in almost any other rich country. Children at the bottom often face low-wage drudgery or the dole.
When Desiree Lunsford didn't know the answer to a question in school, she felt embarrassed.
"But now I don't," the 10-year-old said.
That's because Lunsford is getting a jump start on the fifth grade. As one of more than 650 elementary school students participating in Red Clay Consolidated School District's summer enrichment program, she is learning the math and English concepts she would learn in the fall during a 23-day summer course ending Friday. Students are rising third to sixth graders.
This is the second year for the program, which has doubled in size and length.
The program runs at Marbrook, Baltz and and Warner elementary schools from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and is open to all Red Clay students. The program is federally funded, with breakfasts and lunches provided through the federal Summer Food Service Program.
A team from Penn Manor High School, in Millersville, Pa., beat out student rocketeers from France and the United Kingdom to win the Third Annual Transatlantic Rocketry Challenge Friday in Farnborough, England.
Horsforth School, in Leeds, England, placed second, while technical problems grounded the French rocket.
"We are so excited that we won," team member Brendan Stoeckl said in a news release from the Aerospace Industries Association, which sponsors the contest. "We succeeded because of practice, good data analysis and teamwork.
Christina Garcia had her heart set on going to the University of Washington in Seattle.
But with annual out-of-state tuition topping $25,000, the recent Cedarburg High School graduate and her family calculated it would cost more than $40,000 per year to go to school at her first college choice. In the end, it only made sense to head to another UW -- the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
That decision came as a pleasant surprise to Garcia's father, a dentist in suburban Milwaukee, who has been "putting money aside" over the years with the idea of helping his two children get through college. Likewise, Garcia's grandmother had also been saving.
"It's funny, because grandma said, 'Don't worry, I've got enough to pay for college,'" says Daniel Garcia, Christina's father. "But she was thinking about when I went to college. I'm like, 'That won't cover one semester today.' "
Susan Engel & Marlene Sandstrom, via a Rick Kiley email:
HERE in Massachusetts, teachers and administrators are spending their summers becoming familiar with the new state law that requires schools to institute an anti-bullying curriculum, investigate acts of bullying and report the most serious cases to law enforcement officers.
This new law was passed in April after a group of South Hadley, Mass., students were indicted in the bullying of a 15-year-old girl, Phoebe Prince, who committed suicide. To the extent that it underlines the importance of the problem and demands that schools figure out how to address it, it is a move in the right direction. But legislation alone can't create kinder communities or teach children how to get along. That will take a much deeper rethinking of what schools should do for their students.
It's important, first, to recognize that while cellphones and the Internet have made bullying more anonymous and unsupervised, there is little evidence that children are meaner than they used to be. Indeed, there is ample research -- not to mention plenty of novels and memoirs -- about how children have always victimized one another in large and small ways, how often they are oblivious to the rights and feelings of others and how rarely they defend a victim.
Numerologists may have to be called in to explain the historic magnitude of the year 2010. After 60 years of doubling down on their spending, 2010 became the year governments from Greece to California hit the wall. (That Athens became the symbol of the democracies' compulsion to spend themselves into oblivion is an eeriness we'd rather not ponder.)
In the distant future, some U.S. historian in kindergarten today will write about Congressman David Obey's contribution to the splitting apart of American liberalism's assumptions about the purpose of government. Mr. Obey of Wisconsin is chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, the spenders. People have said for years that government robs Peter to pay Paul. Now brother is ripping off brother. Mr. Obey plans to send $10 billion to school districts to avoid teacher layoffs and will pay for it in part by taking money from several school reform programs, such as Race to the Top.
Brian Rodriguez, a history teacher at Alameda's Encinal High School, once taught at the old Elmhurst Middle School in East Oakland. Though he left the Oakland school district, he's still teaching lots of Oakland kids. He worries that a "witch hunt" for out-of-district transfers is about to happen. -Katy
I have taught at Encinal High School in Alameda since the 1996-97 school year, when I left Oakland following the teacher strike. I left reluctantly, because I loved teaching at Elmhurst Middle School, but like many union reps, I was the subject of illegal disciplinary action following the month-long teacher's strike and left in disgust.
To my delight, I still was able to teach many Oakland students who also left OUSD following the strike, and to work with fine educators who left then, too. It's estimated that 400 out-of-district students attend Alameda schools.
Nina Bernstein, via a Rick Kiley email:
Three decades after the Supreme Court ruled that immigration violations cannot be used as a basis to deny children equal access to a public school education, one in five school districts in New York State is routinely requiring a child's immigration papers as a prerequisite to enrollment, or asking parents for information that only lawful immigrants can provide.Local school enrollment policies have been in the news recently due to an accused murderer (and apparent illegal immigrant) using a false identity to enroll in the Madison West and Middleton High Schools.
The New York Civil Liberties Union, which culled a list of 139 such districts from hundreds of registration forms and instructions posted online, has not found any children turned away for lack of immigration paperwork. But it warned in a letter to the state's education commissioner on Wednesday that the requirements listed by many registrars, however free of discriminatory intent, "will inevitably discourage families from enrolling in school for fear that they would be reported to federal immigration authorities."
For months, the group has been pushing the State Education Department to stop the practices, which range from what the advocates consider unintentional barriers, like requiring a Social Security number, to those the letter called "blatantly discriminatory," like one demanding that noncitizen children show a "resident alien card," with the warning that "if the card is expired, it will not be accepted."
Adding to a drumbeat of concern about the nation's dismal college-completion rates, the College Board warned Thursday that the growing gap between the United States and other countries threatens to undermine American economic competitiveness.The complete 3.5MB PDF report is available here.
The United States used to lead the world in the number of 25- to 34-year-olds with college degrees. Now it ranks 12th among 36 developed nations.
"The growing education deficit is no less a threat to our nation's long-term well-being than the current fiscal crisis," Gaston Caperton, the president of the College Board, warned at a meeting on Capitol Hill of education leaders and policy makers, where he released a report detailing the problem and recommending how to fix it. "To improve our college completion rates, we must think 'P-16' and improve education from preschool through higher education."
Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker proposed a plan he says would potentially save school districts and local units of government more than $300 million in health care costs.Locally, the Madison School District's use of WPS has long been controversial due to its high cost versus alternatives, such as GHC, among others.
Walker, a Republican candidate for governor, said his proposal would allow local units of government to switch from health plans that have high premiums to the state's lower-cost employee health plan.
Walker said his proposal could save school districts $68 million and local governments up to $242 million annually in health care costs.
He cautioned, however, that the savings estimate for local units of government is impossible to estimate because there is no central database of what municipalities pay for health care. To make his projections, he used data of the potential savings at school districts and applied those figures to the state's more than 200,000 local public employees.
Walker said the biggest reduction would come from Milwaukee Public Schools, which he said could realize $20 million a year in savings.
In the school district where I teach, we do a moderate amount of within-grade-level ability-grouping with our students, particularly in reading and math. Occasionally I hear a teacher bemoan this practice as "tracking," despite the fact that the groups are rather flexible and, particularly in reading, the students are re-grouped often (every few weeks) according to their learning needs. It is not "tracking" in the way groupings were created decades ago in our district in which students were irreversibly placed into, or rather locked into, a track. These are flexible groupings far more than they are tracks.
Ironically, the grade-level, whole-class groupings apparently preferred by these teachers who bemoan ability-grouping are the most restrictive form of tracking, that by age. For a century (-ish), schools have "tracked" students based on when they were born, not based on what they are ready and able to learn. "Born between September 1, 2003, and August 31, 2004? You belong to the Class of 2022." That is how it works in nearly every school in our country. It's tracking by age, but no one calls it that.
Of course, many teachers, especially those of us in the realm of gifted education, recognize that age-tracking (particularly in the absence of any differentiation) does little to help schools meet the learning needs of gifted and advanced learners who are academically years ahead of their age-peers.
The story about Provost Academy and the rise of online learning initiatives in South Carolina should be a pretty good indicator of the benefit that alternative learning methods have for today's youth. Here is a stretch of text from the story. You can read the whole story online by visiting the site. Everyone has his or her own learning style.
Washington's mother, Alice Peterson, said she knew her daughter was headed down the wrong path.
"I might have been in jail and she might have been in the funeral home somewhere," Peterson said.
Instead, the cousins heard about Provost Academy, a free public online high school for South Carolina residents. They meet at Refuge Outreach Ministry in Lake City to take their lessons.
Years later, Grace Dunham still remembers a typical sixth-grade day at St. Ann's School: She played guitar, made papier-mâché aliens for Jupiter's moon Europa, went to puppetry, had some lunch and then dropped an egg off a balcony for a project that involved creating protective covers to prevent eggs from breaking.
She recalls feeling like a very lucky 12-year-old. "It was an amazing feeling," she said.
Ms. Dunham, now 18, has just graduated from St. Ann's, the private school in Brooklyn Heights that has no grades, few rules and exceptionally good admissions to some of the country's most elite colleges. (Ms. Dunham is headed to Brown University.)
But around the time she was figuring out how to build a better eggshell, the school's board was coming to the conclusion that what St. Ann's possessed in creativity, it lacked in professional management. It ushered out its founding headmaster and defining figure, Stanley Bosworth, and brought in new help.
Most of the great iterative tech changes to education have happened in higher education. But those changes are starting to drift down into K12, and take on their own shape and meaning. Here is a list we found online that charts those changes and pinpoints the evolutionary steps you should be looking to track to stay ahead of the curve. The clearest example of iterative change is the rise of mobile computing tied to the cloud. I have taken a few paragraphs from a recent report to show you how accelerated the changes will be.
From the ConvergeMagazine report:
In the past two years, netbooks have arrived on the scene, but their sales are already growing more than 200 percent per year. K-12 schools adopt them at a higher rate because many of them provide devices for their students. Netbook trends include 10-inch screens, faster processors, longer battery life and built-in wireless wide area networks.
An overhaul in the admissions process for Chicago's selective public schools had little impact on overall diversity, but individual buildings show much more variance -- in some cases growing more segregated for the 2010-11 school year, CPS officials said Tuesday.
Chicago Public Schools chief Ron Huberman cautioned that the data are very preliminary and could change when the school year starts. Among other things, a budget crisis may force cuts in transportation to and from these schools, which could prompt enrollment changes.
He conceded that some schools are losing diversity.
California typically lands at or near the bottom in virtually every measure of public school performance nationally, but the academic content taught to the state's schoolchildren is second to none, according to a study released Tuesday. That status has left the Golden State with a conundrum. To be more competitive for federal Race to the Top funds, the state must adopt common standards in English, math and other subjects to be in sync with most other states.
But that would mean replacing the academic standards that were recognized in the study conducted by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a think tank based in Ohio.
Critics are concerned the national standards could dumb down California classrooms, discarding the state's superior academic framework adopted 13 years ago for students from kindergarten through high school.
Poets writing in English have six centuries' worth of forms at their disposal. During the Renaissance, Shakespeare and Milton made blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter) the standard mode for narrative and dramatic verse, while in the eighteenth century Dryden and Pope preferred the urbane rhythms of the heroic couplet. Then there are the adopted forms, not quite domesticated from their French or Italian originals: rhyme royal, sestinas, triolets. Recently, American poets have become fond of the pantoum, an originally Malay form that involves a cyclical repetition of lines. But none of these is as vigorous, even in the generally lawless and anti-formal world of contemporary American poetry, as that most conventional and classical of forms, the sonnet.
Reading and math learning goals for Hawaii public schools are "mediocre" and "often vague," says a new national report that gives the state a "C" for its educational standards.
But the report points out that when Hawaii adopts common national standards in the 2011 school year, its standards will improve. The report gives the national standards a B-plus for English and an A-minus for math.
"Hawaii has raised the bar by adopting the common core," said Michael Petrilli, vice president for national programs and policy at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which was scheduled to release its standards report today. "There are going to be much higher expectations."
The state Department of Education said yesterday it agreed with the report's findings.
Spending in California classrooms declined as a percentage of total education spending over a recent five-year period, even as total school funding increased, according to a Pepperdine University study released Wednesday.Complete study: 1.1MB PDF.
More of the funding increase went to administrators, clerks and technical staff and less to teachers, textbooks, materials and teacher aides, the study found. It was partially funded by a California Chamber of Commerce foundation.
Total K-12 spending increased by $10 billion over the five-year period ending June 30, 2009, from $45.6 billion to $55.6 billion statewide. It rose at a rate greater than the increase in inflation or personal income, according to the study. Yet researchers found that classroom spending dipped from 59 percent of education funding to 57.8 percent over the five years.
Spending on teacher salaries and benefits dropped from 50 percent of statewide spending to 48 percent over the same period. Spending on administrators and supervisors, staff travel and conferences all increased faster than teachers' pay.
This is not a big surprise, given the increasing emphasis on, ironically, in the K-12 world, adult to adult spending, often referred to as "Professional Development". Yippy Search: "Professional Development".
The report mentions that California's average per student expenditure is just under $10,000 annually. Madison's 2009/2010 per student spending was $15,241 ($370,287,471 budget / 24,295 students).
he K-12 academic standards in English language arts (ELA) and math produced last month by the Common Core State Standards Initiative are clearer and more rigorous than today's ELA standards in 37 states and today's math standards in 39 states, according to the Fordham Institute's newest study. In 33 of those states, the Common Core bests both ELA and math standards. Yet California, Indiana and the District of Columbia have ELA standards that are clearly superior to those of the Common Core. And nearly a dozen states have ELA or math standards in the same league as Common Core. Read on to find out more and see how your state fared.Wisconsin's standards (WKCE) have often been criticized. This year's study grants the Badger State a "D" in Language Arts and an "F" in Math.
As Massachusetts nears decision time on adopting national education standards, the Boston Herald takes state leaders to task for their support of the Common Core standards, which some analysts say are inferior to current state standards. But fear not, says Education Secretary Paul Reville. If the national standards are inferior, the Bay State can change them. "We will continue to be in the driver's seat."
If only national standardizers -- many of whom truly want high standards and tough accountability -- would look a little further than the ends of their beaks.
Here's the reality: Massachusetts will not be in the drivers seat in the future. Indeed, states aren't in the driver's seat right now, because it is federal money that is steering the car, and many more DC ducats will likely be connected to national standards when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is eventually reauthorized. And this is hardly new or novel -- the feds have forced "voluntary" compliance with its education dictates for decades by holding taxpayer dollars hostage.
The charter-school movement appears to be catching up to the teachers union in political giving to Albany.
With the help of hedge-fund managers and other Wall Street financiers, charter-school advocates gave more than $600,000 to Albany political candidates and party committees since January, according to the latest campaign filings. That's more than twice as much as in prior reporting periods, according to allies of charter schools, which are publicly funded but privately run.
Pro-charter donations appear to have surpassed the $500,000 or so that candidates raised from teachers unions during the six-month period.
Increased housing commitments swelled U.S. taxpayers' total support for the financial system by $700 billion in the past year to around $3.7 trillion, a government watchdog said on Wednesday.The Wisconsin Budget Project ("An Initiative of the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families").
The Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program said the increase was due largely to the government's pledges to supply capital to Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB) and to guarantee more mortgages to the support the housing market.
Increased guarantees for loans backed by the Federal Housing Administration, the Government National Mortgage Association and the Veterans administration increased the government's commitments by $512.4 billion alone in the year to June 30, according to the report.
The Wisconsin Budget Project is a WCCF initiative engaged in analysis and education on the state budget and tax issues, particularly those relating to low and moderate income families. The budget project seeks to broaden the debate on budget and tax policy through public education and the encouragement of civic engagement on these issues.Clusty Search: Wisconsin Budget Project & WISTAX (Wisconsin Taxpayer's Alliance).
Quick Facts about the Wisconsin Budget:
- Based on the most recent national data (from 2007), Wisconsin ranked 29th in total state and local spending (measured as a percentage of income).
- Contrary to the perception that our state has a large government bureaucracy, Wisconsin ranked 44th (7th lowest) in 2008 in the number of state employees relative to population, and 41st (10th lowest) in total state and local government employees relative to population.
Setting a great example for our political class, British Prime Minister David Cameron flew commercial on a recent trip to the United States. Congressional use of military jets continues to be controversial (to his credit, US Senator Russ Feingold can often be seen flying commercial).
We know that Massachusetts students scored below the national average on SATs in the early 1990s and barely broke the top 10 on national assessments. We know that Massachusetts students have become the best students in the nation on these same assessments, and are among the best "nations" in math and science.
We know that implementing standards in Massachusetts took years of public debate and hard work, and, spending over $90 billion since 1993 on K-12 education, that it came at no small cost to the Commonwealth and its communities.
We know that there are ways to improve our current standards and our performance across all demographics and geographies of the Commonwealth.
We know that our education reforms distinguish us from the rest of the country and are critical to business and job creation.
We know that having state flexibility allows us to improve faster than the rest of the nation and to make adjustments that are good for the people and children of Massachusetts.
Americans have never had national education standards. Goals for what public schools should teach are set by state and local school boards. Their members are often elected.
But some Americans say the lack of national standards is wrong in a competitive global economy. Former president Bill Clinton said it was as if somehow school boards "could legislate differences in algebra or math or reading."
President George W. Bush and Congress expanded federal intervention. His education law, still in effect, required states to show yearly progress in student learning as measured by the states' own tests.
Social networks are made up of different types of social interactions. This multi-relational aspect is usually neglected in the analysis of large social networks. A monochrome representation, such as provided by mobile phone data (see figure 1), leads to a gross representation of the system. The richness of the interactions can only be uncovered by identifying the nature of the links between people (represented by the different colours in figure 2). Because players are immersed in a virtual world in online games, all their actions/communications are stored in log files, resulting in rich data.
A new study analysing interactions between players in a virtual universe game has for the first time provided large-scale evidence to prove an 80 year old psychological theory called Structural Balance Theory. The research, published today in PNAS, shows that individuals tend to avoid stress-causing relationships when they develop a society, resulting in more stable social networks.
Gifted and Talented Education is a broad term for special practices used in the education of children who have been identified as intellectually gifted. There is no common definition for exactly what that means. GATE supporters argue that the regular curriculum fails to meet their special needs. Therefore, these students must have modifications that will enable them to develop their full potential.
In Virginia, each school division establishes procedures for the identification of gifted students and for the delivery of services to those students. GATE funding comes from the state with a local match. Consequently, there is some variation between school divisions in the strength of their GATE programs.
Each Virginia school division must develop a GATE plan. The larger school systems often have separate GATE teachers and classrooms. Others use the regular classroom teacher (often specially trained) to practice what is called differentiation within the classroom.
Differentiation is not providing the GATE student with an extra worksheet. It might be more like, for example, having the GATE students write a novella while the other students are writing a short report. The GATE students may also work together in small groups to solve teacher-generated problems related to the curriculum the whole class is working on.....
But GATE has long struggled with an educational system that has been much more focused on the children struggling to reach a certain level of proficiency. This became more pronounced with the advent of SOL tests and No Child Left Behind. GATE also suffers from charges that it is elitist and focuses on economically advantaged and non-minority children. Any time children and academic labels come together, it can make for a highly-charged environment.
There is no doubt that some children's academic skills put them in a very different category from the majority of students. And who could argue with the concept that public education should try to provide specialized programs to meet each student's specific needs. I think advocates of gifted education would get more public support if they used different terminology. Special education is defined by the type of curriculum not the intellectual capabilities of the students. The identification process can be arbitrary in defining who is "gifted" and who is not. And everyone has the capability to be talented at something....
Seattle Public Schools has a number of slogans. Among them is "Every School a Quality School". The District claims to be working towards this goal, but the District has no definition of a Quality School, so those claims lack credibility. Rather than clucking at the District for not having a definition of a Quality School, our time would be more productively used helping them to find one.
What is a Quality School? We need to be clear that we separate the idea of a Quality School from the students in the school. If we were to rely on student achievement, for example, as our definition of a Quality School, then we might conclude that Bryant is good school and that Hawthorne is a struggling school. But does anyone believe that if the Hawthorne students were all transferred to Bryant and if the Bryant students were all transferred to Hawthorne that the outcomes for the students would be much different? Would the Hawthorne students suddenly start to achieve because they are now at a good school and the Bryant students suddenly start to under-perform because they are now at a struggling school? I doubt it.
With the latest batch of charter-school approvals likely to be announced soon by the state Department of Education, some state lawmakers are beginning a push for a bill that could expand the alternative public schools' movement in New Jersey.
The proposal would permit Rutgers University to approve charter schools, in addition to the Department of Education. It also would end deadlines for organizers to apply for charters, allowing applications to be filed at any time and requiring decisions on them within five months.
The proposal would also expand the types of charter schools allowed in New Jersey, allowing virtual or e-charter schools, charter schools with students of only one gender and charter schools catering to students with behavioral needs or disorders, such as autism.
The legislation is sponsored by five Democrats but seems likely to receive a warm welcome from pro-charter Republican Gov. Chris Christie and his education commissioner, Bret Schundler, who helped found a Jersey City charter school in the 1990s.
A majority of Northwest Indiana schools districts fell behind the state's average in the percentage of dollars spent in the classroom, according to an annual school expenditures report released by the state's Office of Management and Budget this month.
But at least seven school districts were above the state average of 58 percent. Gary Community School Corp. was among the highest in the region with 66 percent of its overall budget tied to student achievement compared to other operational and overhead expenses, such as salaries and costs for transportation and construction.
Lake Station Community Schools and the School City of Hammond routed 65 percent and 63 percent to district classrooms, respectively, during the 2008-2009 school year.
Those numbers include teacher salaries, textbooks as well as guidance counselors, social workers and other expenses tied to instructional support. While the state average is comparable to previous years, Indiana lags 5 percentage points behind the national average. Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett challenged school districts to not only meet the national average but to push more dollars to classrooms than any other state.
Stand on the promenade of any British seaside resort on a summer's afternoon, and you will hear the full, remarkable range of accents of this small island pass by soon enough.
Stand on the seafront in Brighton, and the experience is rather different. The accents come from all over the planet. Most people seem to be speaking English, which is what they are meant to be doing. But it may not be English as we know it.
For if English is now the language of the planet, Brighton might be the new centre of the universe. There are about 40 language schools operating within the city. And at the height of the season - which is right now - about 10,000 students crowd into town, thronging the bars and cafés, practising their fragile English skills.
It's great business for the locals. This trade seems to be recession-proof; it is certainly weather-proof - these visitors arrive in even the wettest south-coast summers; and the weak pound is a bonus. The students' presence spreads cash round all corners of the area, since most of them stay with host families - and anyone with a decent spare room can earn some pocket money.
This is the second in a series of essays by Gelernter commissioned by Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The German translation was published on June 22nd ("Ein Geist aus Software").
DAVID GELERNTER is a professor of computer science at Yale and chief scientist at Mirror Worlds Technologies (New Haven). His research centers on information management, parallel programming, and artificial intelligence. The "tuple spaces" introduced in Nicholas Carriero and Gelernter's Linda system (1983) are the basis of many computer communication systems worldwide. He is the author of Mirror Worlds, and Drawing a Life: Surviving the Unabomber.
Tuition inflation has always been a subject that has fascinated me. How can our political system stand idly by as our public universities increase tuition at double the rate of inflation? How could a trend that is so harmful to the middle-class (I'm not even talking working class -- nobody cares about them) stand stronger against the will of the people than even the most powerful Wall Street banks?Craver makes an excellent point. It seems that higher education is spending more and more on expensive student facilities. One might refer to it as an "arms race" for student dollars.
What is more fascinating is that nobody seems to have a definitive explanation for why students have to pay more and more every year. Liberals blame declining state support, while conservatives tend to place the blame on wasteful administration and high professor salaries.
All of these points inevitably show up in every discussion of the issue, in addition to an unavoidable observation about campus life these days: It's a lot nicer.
Victory Schools Inc., a for-profit charter-school operator, has hired away New York City's charter-schools chief and is considering converting into a nonprofit.
Michael Duffy, the director of the Department of Education's Charter School Office, will join Victory, according to representatives for both the DOE and the company. Victory helps manage 16 charter schools with 7,000 students in New York, Philadelphia and Chicago.
Mr. Duffy, whose title hasn't yet been decided, is widely credited for accelerating charter-school growth in the city. He couldn't be reached for comment.
The future of Victory has been the subject of interest since the spring, when the New York legislature passed a law that essentially prevents for-profit charter schools from growing. The law, which also doubled the number of charter schools allowed in the state, said no more than 10% of the state's charter schools can be for-profit. Victory operates nine such schools in the state.
The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, apprehensive about a new state law that allows public schools to operate almost entirely in cyberspace, will consider imposing limits on the growth of these "virtual schools,'' much to the dismay of supporters.
The goal of the proposed regulations, which the board is scheduled to vote on tomorrow, is to allow some experimentation in Massachusetts with these kinds of schools, while not allowing them to grow unfettered without knowing what works and what doesn't, said Jeff Wulfson, an associate education commissioner.
Among the proposed limits: capping enrollment at each virtual school at 500 students and requiring at least 25 percent of those students to reside in the school district that is operating the virtual school, according to the proposed regulations.
"We're trying to find the right balance,'' Wulfson said.
New York State education officials acknowledged on Monday that their standardized exams had become easier to pass over the last four years and said they would recalibrate the scoring for tests taken this spring, which is almost certain to mean thousands more students will fail.Wisconsin's WKCE has been criticized for its lack of rigor, as well.
While scores spiked significantly across the state at every grade level, there were no similar gains on other measurements, including national exams, they said.
"The only possible conclusion is that something strange has happened to our test," David M. Steiner, the education commissioner, said during a Board of Regents meeting in Albany. "The word 'proficient' should tell you something, and right now that is not the case on our state tests."
When Kim Lecus heard that the Fritsche Middle School program would move into Bay View High School in the fall of 2010, she immediately was concerned about the impact on her daughter, who just finished seventh grade at Fritsche.
The emerging middle/high model at Bay View may offer student Lindsey Lecus a greater variety of accelerated courses, but in her mother's eyes, it comes with a serious price: the mixing of vulnerable adolescents with older teenagers.
The Milwaukee School Board has approved an increasing number of sixth through 12th grade schools in the city. Board members think it will improve the transition for students from middle to high school and will consolidate space in the district.
The "best" way to serve children in the delicate and hormonally charged years between ages 11 and 13 - something national researchers have wrestled with for years - is still unclear. Underscoring that point is Milwaukee, where the emergence of more 6-12 schools is coming just a few years after former superintendent William Andrekopoulos championed moving middle schoolers in with elementary students in K-8 schools.
"It's not like any other time period in life," said Trish Williams, executive director of EdSource, a non-profit group that recently studied the effects of grade design on middle schoolers at more than 300 schools in California.
Of all the vows made at the coalition's May marriage, one stood out: the vow for a new politics. Out, so it seemed, was the divisive tub-thumping positioning, along with the legislate-first-think-later style of government. In its place was the prospect of cross-party public administration which was deliberative, consultative and calm. No Conservative seemed more in tune with the new times than Michael Gove. What a shame, then, that the same Mr Gove was yesterday defending a decision to ram schools reforms through without full parliamentary scrutiny on the basis that Labour had once displayed similar haste.
The education secretary's bill will allow schools to turn themselves into academies without consulting the council. Where the issue is the removal of extra-parliamentary consultation it is surely especially important for ministers to provide the time for a thoroughgoing consultation with parliament itself. Yet instead of a white paper, which invites responses on detailed proposals and gives the select committee time to get its teeth into principles, we have a bill which may be law before Mr Gove has even met that committee. And instead of line-by-line scrutiny in a standing committee - with scope to consider representations, and time for parliamentary alliances to be formed - the detailed drafting of the law will be finessed on the floor of the House, a procedure ordinarily reserved for responding to emergencies.
The decision to switch to neighborhood schools has been a divisive one in Wake County, and although the school board has already voted to shift to the new model, groups like "Great Schools In Wake" said they will still plan to have a presence and a voice at the meetings as the board hashes out the specifics of the new policy.
"Give our input and have some influence," said Yevonne Brannon with the Great Schools in Wake Coaltion. "I still hope, think, there's room for negotiation and still hope there's room for reconsideration."
That's the hope for many who oppose neighborhood schools. It's also why the NAACP will hold a protest before the meeting in down town Raleigh Tuesday morning. The organization will call school board leaders to stop what they say is segregation and promote diversity.
I know that I'm inviting trouble with this, but something that Reader wrote in a comment on another thread piqued my interest. I would like to discuss only a narrow question. Please don't expand the discussion.Related: Math Forum audio/video links.
Here's my question: can problem-solving be taught?
I mean this in the nicest possible way and I don't have an answer myself. I'm not sure, I'm asking. Can people be taught or trained in problem-solving techniques or is it a talent that some people just natively have more than others? Problem solving requires a certain amount of creativity, doesn't it? It can require a flexibility of perspective, curiosity, persistence, and pattern recognition. Can these things be taught or trained?
Has endlessly skimming short texts on the internet made us stupider? An increasing number of experts think so - and say it's time to slow down . . .
If you're reading this article in print, chances are you'll only get through half of what I've written. And if you're reading this online, you might not even finish a fifth. At least, those are the two verdicts from a pair of recent research projects - respectively, the Poynter Institute's Eyetrack survey, and analysis by Jakob Nielsen - which both suggest that many of us no longer have the concentration to read articles through to their conclusion.
The problem doesn't just stop there: academics report that we are becoming less attentive book-readers, too. Bath Spa University lecturer Greg Garrard recently revealed that he has had to shorten his students' reading list, while Keith Thomas, an Oxford historian, has written that he is bemused by junior colleagues who analyse sources with a search engine, instead of reading them in their entirety.
Many parents are frustrated these days by a feeling of entitlement by today's youth. Whether it's getting almost anything they ask for or expecting everything to be done for them, today's kids have learned how to get their way and the problem is out of control like a run-away train.Amy McReady.
So who's to blame? It's easy to point to Hollywood and Madison Avenue, but while they may contribute to the issue, the real problems start at home.
Pampering and overindulging
The biggest culprits of the entitlement epidemic are parents who pamper and overindulge their kids. No parent intends to raise a child who feels the world owes him a living; instead, the problem starts small and continues to fester. A toddler throws a tantrum at the store and her tired, overworked mom buys a toy to keep her happy and quiet. Years later, Dad is eventually worn down by his teenager's dramatic threat that her "life will come to an end" if she doesn't get the latest and greatest Smartphone. The "quick fix" does nothing to solve the challenge at hand -- it only sets the stage for the next incident.
BUDGETS across the state and nation are being slashed, forcing education leaders to confront economic shortfalls unseen in recent memory and make do with less.There has been an increasing emphasis on "adult to adult" expenditures within our public schools, as Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman noted last summer.
One area especially hard hit by the cuts is professional development -- the process by which we ensure our educators are well equipped to meet constantly evolving demands of helping students succeed. Often overlooked, high-quality professional learning is indispensable in generating the outcomes -- like better test scores and higher graduation rates -- that should be expected of our schools.
Absent high-quality professional learning and support for professional growth, the ability of teachers to meet new challenges becomes compromised and their practices habitual. This makes it more difficult to achieve higher outcomes and is not what we want for our teachers or students.
at its meeting on May 11, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) adopted a bland-sounding motion that henceforth, "unless an instructor officially informs the Registrar by the end of the first week of the term" of the intention to end a course with a formal, seated exam, "the assumption shall be that the instructor will not be giving a three-hour final examination" and no slot will be reserved for it in the schedule. Previously, the faculty members' handbook specified that courses were assumed to end with examinations unless instructors petitioned for an exemption. That procedure has been uniformly ignored: dean of undergraduate education Jay M. Harris told colleagues he had never received such a form.
It's been a tough year for the Detroit Board of Education.
So tough, it appears nobody wants the job.
The Detroit News reported this weekend that not a single candidate has filed to run for two open seats on the 11-member board. As a result, the race will not appear on the city's Aug. 3 primary ballot.
But really, can you blame potential candidates for seeking other opportunities?
The popularity of the board hit perhaps an all-time low last month when then-president Otis Mathis resigned amid allegations he fondled himself during meetings with Superintendent Theresa Gueyser. He's since been charged criminally.
Therapists for years have listened to patients blame parents for their problems. Now there is growing interest in the other side of the story: What about the suffering of parents who are estranged from their adult children?
While there are no official tallies of parents whose adult children have cut them off, there is no shortage of headlines. The Olympic gold medal skier Lindsey Vonn reportedly hasn't spoken to her father in at least four years. The actor Jon Voight and his daughter, Angelina Jolie, were photographed together in February for the first time since they were estranged in 2002.
A number of Web sites and online chat rooms are devoted to the issue, with heartbreaking tales of children who refuse their parents' phone calls and e-mail and won't let them see grandchildren. Some parents seek grief counseling, while others fall into depression and even contemplate suicide.
Joshua Coleman, a San Francisco psychologist who is an expert on parental estrangement, says it appears to be growing more and more common, even in families who haven't experienced obvious cruelty or traumas like abuse and addiction. Instead, parents often report that a once-close relationship has deteriorated after a conflict over money, a boyfriend or built-up resentments about a parent's divorce or remarriage.
Students graduating from high school this spring may be collecting their diplomas just in time, leaving institutions that are being badly weakened by the nation's economic downturn.
Across the country, mass layoffs of teachers, counselors and other staff members -- caused in part by the drying up of federal stimulus dollars -- are leading to larger classes and reductions in everything that is not a core subject, including music, art, clubs, sports and other after-school activities.
Educators and others worry the cuts could lead to higher dropout rates and lower college attendance as students receive less guidance and become less engaged in school. They fear a generation of young people could be left behind.
New Jersey's defined benefit pension systems are underfunded by more than $170 billion, an amount equivalent to 44 percent of gross state product (GSP) and 328 percent of the state's explicit government debt. Depending on market conditions, the state will begin to run out of money to pay benefits between 2013 and 2019. The state's five defined benefit pension plans cover over 770,000 workers, and more than a quarter million retirees depend on state pensions paying out almost $6 billion per year in benefits. Nationwide, state pensions are underfunded by as much as $3 trillion, approximately 20 percent of America's annual output.
This path is not sustainable. In order to avert a fiscal crisis and ensure that future state employees have dependable retirement savings, New Jersey should follow the lead of the federal government and the private sector and move from defined benefit pensions to defined contribution pensions. While significant liabilities will remain, the first step to addressing the pension crisis is capping existing liabilities and providing new employees with more sustainable retirement options.
But signing Wisconsin on to the nationwide standards campaign may trump all of those. Wisconsin's current standards for what children should learn have been criticized in several national analyses as weak, compared with what other states have. The common core is regarded as more specific and more focused on what students really should master.
Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the generally conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington, is a big backer of the new standards. "There is no doubt whatsoever in Wisconsin's case that the state would be better off with the common core standards than what it has today," he said in a phone interview.
But standards are one thing. Making them mean something is another. Evers said that will be a major focus for him ahead.
"How are we going to make this happen in the classrooms of Wisconsin?" he asked.
The answer hinges on making the coming state testing system a meaningful way of measuring whether students have learned what they are supposed to learn. And that means teaching them the skills and abilities in the standards.
Does that mean Wisconsin will, despite its history, end up with statewide curricula in reading and math? Probably not, if you mean something the state orders local schools to do. But probably yes in terms of making recommendations that many schools are likely to accept.
"We will have a model curriculum, no question," Evers said. He said more school districts are looking to DPI already for answers because, with the financial crunches they are in, they don't have the capacity to research good curriculum choices.
Educational statistics expert Joseph Hawkins, one of my guides to the mysteries of test assessment, is impatient with the way the Montgomery County Public School system, as he puts it, "is always telling the world how better it is than everyone else." He finds flaws in its latest celebration of college success by county graduates, particularly minorities.
As a senior study director with the Rockville-based research firm Westat, Hawkins' critique has regional and national importance because it deals with the National Student Clearinghouse. This little-known information source may become the way school raters like me decide which school families and taxpayers are getting their money's worth and which aren't.
The clearinghouse has a database of more than 93 million students in more than 3,300 colleges and universities. It originally specialized in verifying student enrollment for loan companies. Now it tells high schools how their alums are doing.
Yeah, sure, says Hawkins, but "data from the Clearinghouse is not completely accurate, especially if social security numbers for students are not obtained." Also, he says, some of the numbers Montgomery County brags about don't look so good when compared to others.
A handful of administrators at the University of California are spearheading an effort to create an ambitious online educational program for undergraduates. The idea is that UC could become the first top-tier American university to offer a bachelor's degree over the Internet. It's a thought-provoking, fascinating and innovative concept. It's also a highly risky experiment.
Online education has a place - even in the university system. For students, it's impossible to beat the convenience and the accessibility of online learning. For workers, it can be a great way to expand their knowledge base without having to leave their jobs. Corporations, small businesses, even traffic schools - all of these institutions have shown that there's a positive place for online education in our society.
But that doesn't mean that the UC should jump into the fray.
Almost every state has been slashing budgets trying to balance expenses with shrinking revenues. A few governors have asked for creative ways to stretch education funding while improving learning and operating productivity. Here's a few ideas:
Promote blended learning
Require all students to take at least one online course each year of high school and negotiate a 10-20% discount with multiple online providers and give students/schools options.
Provide statewide access to multiple online learning providers and reimburse at 80% of traditional schools (with performance incentives for serving challenging populations).
Encourage K-8 schools to adopt a Rocketship-style schedule with 25% of student time in a computer learning lab and a tiered staffing model that makes long day/year affordable. A loan program to upgrade to a 1:3 computer ratio would support adoption of a blended model could be repaid out of savings.
have an article in this Sunday's Ideas section of the Boston Globe entitled Hard to find: Why it's increasingly difficult to make discoveries - and other insights from the science of science. It discusses a scientific paper of mine published recently in Scientometrics, which is the journal of the "science of science". The journal article entitled Quantifying the Ease of Scientific Discovery (also freely available on the arXiv), discusses how to think mathematically about how scientific discovery becomes more difficult over time.
The debate over control of Detroit Public Schools is intensifying. Last week three important events happened.
First, the elected school board selected community activist Elena Herrada to join them. Herrada brings vision and passion to the board and a long history of working on behalf of the community.
Second, citizens under the name of We the People testified before the Detroit City Council, objecting to the very idea of mayoral control of the schools.
Finally, Council President Charles Pugh, who appears to be at least willing to listen to new thinking, indicated to Rochelle Riley that he is not necessarily in favor of mayoral control.
The Mayor's effort to seize control of public schools is wrongheaded and dangerous. It is part of a larger scheme, backed by corporate interests, to destroy the democratic responsibilities of public education and to make money off the bodies of our children while limiting their minds.
This is a life's work," says Jay Kenton, the Oregon University System's vice chancellor for finance and administration. "I've been working to change this for 30 years."Flexibility for higher ed.
"This" is not Oregonians' understanding of the importance of a national-class higher education system, why some states regard their universities as economic engines, why it's a problem to be among the lowest higher-ed-funding states in the country. Changing that could be more than a life's work; it could take at least until Oregon State wins a Rose Bowl.
Kenton's goal, expressed in a proposal from the State Board of Higher Education earlier this month, is to loosen the Legislature's control over the state universities' budgets, control that has not lightened an ounce while the state's fiscal contribution has become almost weightless.
The expenses can be daunting even to parents who've saved since their child was little. Here are some things you can do before freshman year and beyond.
About 19 million kids head to college next month, which is likely to have their parents in a mild panic about how to pay the bills. Even if you saved religiously from the time your child was a toddler, the stock market has worked against you over the last decade, leaving many families short.
Worse, college isn't a one-time expense. One of my friends likens it to buying a luxury car, then driving it off a cliff. "Repeat that four times," he said. "Then you can imagine what it's like to pay for college."
Of course, the hope is that college will pay off in increased earnings for your child. But that's only if your child goes to the right school and manages to graduate and get a job. What can you and your child do to boost that chance and reduce out-of-pocket costs in the meantime?
I was contacted by a reporter working on a story for Gannett News Service about the economy and its impact on public schools. At my kids' former school (AS#1) we got hit with the triple whammies of the budget cuts, drop in enrollment, and a decline in parent involvement, so I feel that my experience isn't exactly typical. I thought this blog would be a great place to get a broad response. Here is a modified version of the email the reporter sent me (edited to fit a public forum). If you'd rather contact the reporter directly to give a quotable account of your experience, you can email me at email@example.com.
Here's the story overview:
So I like to check in regularly with other blogs. I look at LEV's blog, the Alliance's blog and Harium's blog. One interesting thing I've noticed is that, when challenged or asked about information on their threads, you can rarely get an answer. Charlie asks a lot of pertinent questions in a respectful, albeit blunt, manner and rarely gets an answer. Harium does occasionally but most of his replies are that he supports the staff. I noticed that when Charlie started asking questions at LEV, there stopped being replies.
So what are these people afraid of? I can get Harium being busy and not able to reply to everything (but then, why have a blog?). But LEV and the Alliance say they want to engage and talk and yet there's silence. I think there are two issues.
When I arrived at the Crossways Community in Kensington, I felt as if I had discovered a little-known gem.
Nestled on several acres behind an older neighborhood is an integrated learning environment that spans generations. It's a place families can go to become healthy, single mothers can go to reshape their lives and become effective parents, children from all backgrounds can join in a diverse Montessori community and school, and people of all races and ethnicities can advance their education, language skills and more.
It is a place where one woman's enrollment in the family education program while her daughter attended the early education program yielded her child a full ride to the private Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart and later a Posse Scholarship to Grinnell College in Iowa.
"When they see their children really improving, they start seeing a future for themselves," Crossways President Kathleen Guinan told me.
If it seems as if the tax code was conceived by graphic artist M.C. Escher, wait until you meet the new and not improved Internal Revenue Service created by ObamaCare. What, you're not already on a first-name basis with your local IRS agent?
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, who operates inside the IRS, highlighted the agency's new mission in her annual report to Congress last week. Look out below. She notes that the IRS is already "greatly taxed"--pun intended?--"by the additional role it is playing in delivering social benefits and programs to the American public," like tax credits for first-time homebuyers or purchasing electric cars. Yet with ObamaCare, the agency is now responsible for "the most extensive social benefit program the IRS has been asked to implement in recent history." And without "sufficient funding" it won't be able to discharge these new duties.
That wouldn't be tragic, given that those new duties include audits to determine who has the insurance "as required by law" and collecting penalties from Americans who don't. Companies that don't sponsor health plans will also be punished. This crackdown will "involve nearly every division and function of the IRS," Ms. Olson reports.
The grants were approved during a special meeting Wednesday so schools could implement sweeping reforms this summer, state schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett said.
"This could really be transformative for urban districts," Garrett said.
Oklahoma City Public Schools received $12.1 million for three schools: U.S. Grant High School, Douglass Middle School and F.D. Moon Elementary School.
Tulsa Public Schools received $22.6 million for six schools: Clinton and Gilcrease middle schools, and Central, East Central, Nathan Hale and Will Rogers high schools.
And Crutcho Elementary School in northeast Oklahoma County will receive $2.24 million.
Robert Lane Greene is an international correspondent for The Economist, currently covering American politics and foreign policy online. His book on the politics of language around the world, "You Are What You Speak", will be published by Bantam (Random House) in the spring of 2011.
Monitors of language-usage are often seen as either scolds or geeks. Which book do you recommend to convey what is fascinating about language?
After years of reading about language for pleasure and then researching for my own book, I'd still refer anyone who asks back to the book that lit a fire for me a decade or so ago: Steven Pinker's "The Language Instinct" (written about by The Economist here). You can take or leave Mr Pinker's case that all human languages share a few common features, and that those features are wired into our grey matter (rather than, say, an extension of our general intelligence). But whatever your views on this subject, it's hard to read the book and then happily go back to seeing language as a set of iron-bound rules that are constantly being broken by the morons around you. Instead, you start seeing this human behaviour as something to be enjoyed in its fascinating variability.
This week, State House News broke a story on the "cozy relationship" between Health Care for All and the Patrick Administration. HCFA is an effective organization, but when an HCFA official writes to the state's Insurance Commissioner: "If you expect to do anything 'newsworthy' [on insurance premium caps], can we be helpful with our blog or media at all?" well, then you have to take their positions with a brimming cup of salt.
Surrogate relationships are very much a fact of life in a state where one party is dominant, like Massachusetts. Next up to bat in this age-old game, Education Commissioner Mitch Chester and Secretary Paul Reville. In anticipation of the important debate over whether to adopt weaker K-12 national standards, they have to all appearances lined up their surrogates.
Via two trade organizations, the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the Obama Administration and the Gates Foundation have decided to get all states to "voluntarily" adopt national standards. They are working closely with longtime national standards advocates, such as Achieve, Inc., and are funded with tens of millions of dollars from the Gates Foundation. As Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution notes in an article by Nick Anderson of the Washington Post:
More than one in three American physicians say that they do not always feel a responsibility to report colleagues who are impaired or incompetent, according to a new report from researchers at the Mongan Institute for Health Policy at Massachusetts General Hospital. The findings, published in the July 14 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, are based on the survey responses of 1,900 physicians throughout the U.S. specializing in internal medicine, pediatrics, cardiology, general surgery, family medicine, psychiatry and anesthesia. Of those who responded, only 64% said that it was their professional obligation to report any colleagues who were significantly impaired -- due to substance abuse or mental illness -- or incompetent.
The findings suggest that self-regulation in the medical profession may not be enough to ensure that ill-equipped physicians aren't potentially harming patients, the researchers say. For example, of the doctors who responded to the poll, 17% said they knew of physicians who were practicing despite impairment or incompetence in the previous three years, yet of those who witnessed sub-par performance, only two thirds said they had taken steps to report it.
A research group led by Dr. Li-Huei Tsai from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had recently discovered that the psychiatric risk gene, Disrupted in Schizophrenia-1 (DISC1), is an essential regulator of the proliferation of early brain cells (known as neural progenitor cells) via inhibition of a molecule called GSK3? and modulation of the Wnt signaling pathway. Disruptions in the Wnt pathway, which is critical for embryonic development, have previously been linked with developmental defects and with various human diseases.
"Our recent finding was particularly interesting because one of the actions of lithium, the most common mood disorder drug, is to inhibit GSK3?." explains Dr. Tsai. "Although DISC1 was one of the first psychiatric illness risk genes to be identified and we know that it plays a key role in brain development, the mechanisms by which DISC1 is regulated remain unknown." In this study, Dr. Tsai and colleagues built on earlier work and investigated how DISC1 is regulated during cortical development by looking for novel DISC1-interacting proteins.
It's been two years since Bill Gates left his day-to-day role at Microsoft to concentrate on supervising the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation--and his new enterprise is booming. Headquartered in a converted check-processing center in Seattle's Eastlake neighborhood, the 10-year-old foundation plans to move into a 900,000-square-foot campus and visitors' center near the city's Space Needle next spring. The Gates Foundation opened a London office this year; it also has offices in Washington, Delhi, and Beijing, and 830 employees around the world, up from about 500 in 2008. With assets of $33.9 billion as of Dec. 31, 2009, and America's two richest people--Gates and Warren Buffett--as trustees, the foundation plans to spend $3 billion in the next five to seven years on education. If there's such a thing as a charity behemoth, the Gates Foundation is it.
Alexander S. Szalay is a well-regarded astronomer, but he hasn't peered through a telescope in nearly a decade. Instead, the professor of physics and astronomy at the Johns Hopkins University learned how to write software code, build computer servers, and stitch millions of digital telescope images into a sweeping panorama of the universe.
Along the way, thanks to a friendship with a prominent computer scientist, he helped reinvent the way astronomy is studied, guiding it from a largely solo pursuit to a discipline in which sharing is the norm.
One of the most difficult tasks has been changing attitudes to encourage large-scale collaborations. Not every astronomer has been happy to give up those solo telescope sessions. "To be alone with the universe is a very dramatic thing to do," admits Mr. Szalay, who spent years selling the idea of pooling telescope images online to his colleagues.
It's been two years since Bill Gates left his day-to-day role at Microsoft (MSFT) to concentrate on supervising the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation--and his new enterprise is booming. Headquartered in a converted check-processing center in Seattle's Eastlake neighborhood, the 10-year-old foundation plans to move into a 900,000-square-foot campus and visitors' center near the city's Space Needle next spring. The Gates Foundation opened a London office this year; it also has offices in Washington, Delhi, and Beijing, and 830 employees around the world, up from about 500 in 2008. With assets of $33.9 billion as of Dec. 31, 2009, and America's two richest people--Gates and Warren Buffett--as trustees, the foundation plans to spend $3 billion in the next five to seven years on education. If there's such a thing as a charity behemoth, the Gates Foundation is it.Related: Small Learning Communities and English 10.
While its efforts in global health are widely applauded, its record in America's schools has been more controversial. Starting in 2000, the Gates Foundation spent hundreds of millions of dollars on its first big project, trying to revitalize U.S. high schools by making them smaller, only to discover that student body size has little effect on achievement.
he total federal budget for 2010 came in at just a hair under $3.6 trillion. In some weird sort of perspective that means $800 million equals less than three hundredths of one percent (.00022 percent) of the total amount. So why is Education Secretary Arne Duncan fighting so hard to keep it?
According to media reports, the $800 million comes out of his "Race to the Top" and other education reform programs to help offset a $10 billion package to protect education jobs in the House supplemental appropriations bill, which includes $33 billion for the wars.
Leading House Democrats proposed the offset in response to public school teachers who oppose some of the provisions of the "Race to the Top" program.
While they appreciate the administration's commitment to educate, teachers say the "Race to the Top" reforms specifically emphasize testing and school privatization over a needed bigger commitment to professional development and financial support for ailing schools. Under the reform, teachers argue, schools are forced to teach to tests or face closure and mass firings of school personnel.
School may be out for the summer, but the topic of education reform has certainly not gone on vacation. Both nationwide and right here at home there are several different ideas on the table that, if implemented, could go a long way tdsoward improving educational outcomes for our students.Clusty search: Alberta Darling.
Under the guidance of Governor Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin was once a nationwide leader in educational innovation. Unfortunately, bold, reform-minded leadership has been absent from the Governor's office for the last eight years. The most recent failures of Governor Jim Doyle and legislative Democrats were their unsuccessful efforts to grab federal Race to the Top dollars and their blundering attempt at a mayoral takeover of the Milwaukee Public Schools.
Usually we look to our nation's capital for examples of how not to do business, but the new collective bargaining agreement Washington D.C. School Chancellor Michelle Rhee struck with her teachers' union is just the sort of thing we need here in Milwaukee. The contract includes teacher pay for performance, lessens the weight of seniority if layoffs become necessary and ends "job for life" tenure for ineffective teachers.
Another reform MPS sorely needs is the elimination of the teacher residency requirement, a completely arbitrary barrier that discourages quality educators from teaching at MPS. Only two of the nation's fifty largest school systems, Milwaukee and Chicago, still require its teachers to live within the city limits. No other school district in Wisconsin has a residency requirement.
As always, there will be some who maintain the cure for all that ails K-12 public education is just to keep throwing more money at it. There are some holes in that logic. First, one need look no further than MPS for an example of high spending and low results. Second, aid to public schools is already the biggest chunk of the state budget by far and spending per pupil is over $11,000. Even if simply putting a lot more money into the system were the answer, the state doesn't have it and taxpayers are already stretched to the limit.
To paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald, the morning people are different from you and me - or so says new research.
Early birds are more proactive than evening people - and so they do well in business, says Christoph Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany.
"When it comes to business success, morning people hold the important cards," Randler told the Harvard Business Review of his research, some of which originally appeared in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. "[T]hey tend to get better grades in school, which gets them into better colleges, which then leads to better job opportunities. Morning people also anticipate problems and try to minimize them. They're proactive." (Not that evening people are life's losers: They're smarter and more creative, and have a better sense of humor, other studies have shown.)
When kids act out, it's often the parents who get the blame.
Whether they're getting in trouble in school or misbehaving with family, many parents worry they're doing something wrong. But that may not always be the case.
Po Bronson, author of NurtureShock
A Department of Education investigation into the drowning of sixth grader Nicole Suriel during a class trip to Long Beach slammed Columbia Secondary School for poor planning that led to the tragedy. The beach had numerous signs noting there were no lifeguards on duty; there were three adults supervising the 24 students. The DOE fired first-year teacher Erin Bailey and disciplined assistant principal Andrew Stillman and Principal Jose Maldonado-Rivera.
The Daily News runs down some of the findings, including how "Assistant Principal Andrew Stillman decided at the last minute not to go, staying behind to do administrative work. Bailey's boyfriend - former teacher Joseph Garnevicus, 28 - went in Stillman's place, but couldn't swim." Also, "There weren't specific permission slips, just 'blanket' slips from the start of the year that didn't include swimming." The "blanket slips" were only for trips in Manhattan; instead of issuing a permission slip to parents, Stillman simply emailed them, "We're headed to the beach tomorrow."
Calling education "the civil rights issue of our generation," U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on Wednesday issued a national challenge for whole communities to get involved in improving public education.
"The only way to achieve equality in society is to achieve it in the classroom," Duncan told NAACP delegates meeting in Kansas City for the group's annual convention.
"This is not just a moral obligation; it is our economic imperative," he said. "Everyone has a responsibility. Every one can step up. Education is our national mission. Education is our best hope."
He said community leaders "must be at the table when decisions are made about how to improve struggling schools."
The Obama administration is making $4 billion available to improve the 5 percent worst-performing schools in the country, Duncan said.
House Democrats are moving forward on first lady Michelle Obama's vision for healthier school lunches, propelling legislation that calls for tougher standards governing food in school and more meals for hungry children.
A bill approved by the House Education and Labor Committee Thursday would allow the Agriculture Department to create new standards for all food in schools, including vending machine items. The legislation would spend about $8 billion more over 10 years on nutrition programs.
"This important legislation will combat hunger and provide millions of schoolchildren with access to healthier meals, a critical step in the battle against childhood obesity," Mrs. Obama said in a statement after committee passage.
Some Republicans on the committee expressed concern about how the bill would be paid for, but three of them ended up voting for it. The legislation was approved on a 32-13 vote.
Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung has warned schools hit by dwindling student numbers to accept the government's options "or face the consequences."
The Education Bureau has urged secondary schools facing closure due to under-enrollment to adopt relief measures, including the voluntary reduction of Secondary One classes from five to four.
Suen admitted at a tea gathering that secondary schools were not very responsive to the scheme.
The bureau issued a circular on June 30, calling on schools to either operate three Secondary One classes, merge with other schools, or launch specialized schools.
When asked what the government will do if schools resisted, Suen said they would have to "accept it or face the consequence" of closure.
New research paints a decidedly mixed picture when it comes to mandatory drug testing for high school students trying out for sports or other extracurricular activities: While testing seems to reduce self-reported drug use in the short term, it has virtually no effect on teens' plans to use drugs in the future.
A U.S. Department of Education study, out today, surveyed students at 36 high schools that got federal grants to do drug testing. Half of the schools had already begun testing for marijuana, amphetamines and other drugs; the other half had not.
As a kid, I spent my summers with my grandparents on their ranch in Texas. I helped fix windmills, vaccinate cattle, and do other chores. We also watched soap operas every afternoon, especially "Days of our Lives." My grandparents belonged to a Caravan Club, a group of Airstream trailer owners who travel together around the U.S. and Canada. And every few summers, we'd join the caravan. We'd hitch up the Airstream trailer to my grandfather's car, and off we'd go, in a line with 300 other Airstream adventurers. I loved and worshipped my grandparents and I really looked forward to these trips. On one particular trip, I was about 10 years old. I was rolling around in the big bench seat in the back of the car. My grandfather was driving. And my grandmother had the passenger seat. She smoked throughout these trips, and I hated the smell.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie proposed salary caps on public school superintendents to help rein in the highest property taxes in the U.S., a move he said may slice pay for 70 percent of the top district administrators.Notes and links via New Jersey Left Behind and the Associated Press.
Christie, 47, announced the limit today as part of a package to control rising real estate tax bills. The proposal would cut salaries for 366 school superintendents when their current contracts expire, the governor's office said in a statement.
More than 50 school administrators had base salaries of $200,000 or more last year, the state Education Department reported last month. The governor's salary is $175,000.
LEONARDO DA VINCI had many talents, including the ability to read (and write) mirror-writing fluently. Most adults find this extremely difficult, but new evidence suggests that recognising mirror images comes naturally to children. The 7th Forum of European Neuroscience, held in Amsterdam this week, heard that learning to read requires the brain's visual system to undergo profound changes, including unlearning the ancient ability to recognise an object and its mirror image as identical.
Stanislas Dehaene, a cognitive neuroscientist at the French medical-research agency, INSERM, believes that skills acquired relatively recently in people's evolutionary past must have piggybacked on regions in the brain that originally evolved for other purposes, since there has not been time for dedicated neural systems to develop from scratch..
"I don't know what I've done wrong," the patient told me.
She was an intelligent and articulate woman in her early 40s who came to see me for depression and anxiety. In discussing the stresses she faced, it was clear that her teenage son had been front and center for many years.
When he was growing up, she explained, he fought frequently with other children, had few close friends, and had a reputation for being mean. She always hoped he would change, but now that he was almost 17, she had a sinking feeling.
I asked her what she meant by mean. "I hate to admit it, but he is unkind and unsympathetic to people," she said, as I recall. He was rude and defiant at home, and often verbally abusive to family members.
Contrary to Leo Tolstoy's famous observation that "happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way," a new psychology study confirms that unhappy families, in fact, are unhappy in two distinct ways. And these dual patterns of unhealthy family relationships lead to a host of specific difficulties for children during their early school years.
"Families can be a support and resource for children as they enter school, or they can be a source of stress, distraction, and maladaptive behavior," says Melissa Sturge-Apple, the lead researcher on the paper and an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Rochester.
"This study shows that cold and controlling family environments are linked to a growing cascade of difficulties for children in their first three years of school, from aggressive and disruptive behavior to depression and alienation," Sturge-Apple explains. "The study also finds that children from families marked by high levels of conflict and intrusive parenting increasingly struggle with anxiety and social withdrawal as they navigate their early school years."
The three-year study, published July 15 in Child Development, examines relationship patterns in 234 families with six-year-old children. The research team identified three distinct family profiles: one happy, termed cohesive, and two unhappy, termed disengaged and enmeshed.
The government signalled the biggest shakeup of Britain's universities in a generation today, with a blueprint for higher education in which the highest-earning graduates would pay extra taxes to fund degrees, private universities would flourish and struggling institutions would be allowed to fail.
Vince Cable, the cabinet minister responsible for higher education, also raised the prospect of quotas to ensure state school pupils were guaranteed places at Britain's best universities, breaking the private school stranglehold on Oxbridge.
Comparing the existing system of tuition fees to a "poll tax" that graduates paid regardless of their income, the skills secretary argued it was fairer for people to pay according to their earning power.
He said: "It surely can't be right that a teacher or care worker or research scientist is expected to pay the same graduate contribution as a top commercial lawyer or surgeon or City analyst whose graduate premium is so much bigger."
In the days following his inauguration, President Obama included a package of educational reforms in his stimulus bill that offered states financial incentives to make dramatic improvements in their education systems. About 10% of the $100 billion allocated for education was used to create competitive grants. States could only win them by drafting comprehensive and aggressive plans to, for example, adopt higher academic standards, turn around chronically low-performing schools, and redesign teacher evaluation and compensation systems.
Although it has received much less attention than health care and financial regulatory reform, this measure may ultimately be one of Mr. Obama's most profound and lasting achievements. In just one year, we've already seen more reforms proposed and enacted around the country than in the preceding decade.
Yet on July 1, with little warning, the House of Representatives watered down these reform efforts by approving an amendment to the emergency supplemental appropriations bill, proposed by Rep. David Obey (D., Wis.). It takes away $800 million that has already been committed to three critical parts of the president's education reform package--Race to the Top, the Teacher Incentive Fund, and the Charter Schools Program. This breaks a promise to the states, districts and schools that are doing the most important work in America. The funds are to be redirected to a $10 billion "Edujobs" bill to prevent teacher layoffs.
In many third-grade classrooms in California, students are taught -- briefly -- about obtuse and acute angles. They have no way to comprehend this lesson fully. Their math training so far hasn't taught them the concepts involved. They haven't learned what a degree is or that a circle has 360 of them. They haven't learned division, so they can't divide 360 by 4 to determine that a right angle is 90 degrees, and thus understand that an acute angle is less than 90 degrees and an obtuse angle more.Clusty Search: Common Core Standards.
It makes no pedagogical sense, but California's academic standards call for third-graders to at least be exposed to the subject, and because angles might be on the standardized state test at the end of the year, exposed they are.
Now, that might change. In June, a yearlong joint initiative by 48 states produced a set of uniform but voluntary educational standards in English and math. Urged on by the Obama administration, the initiative's main purpose was to encourage states with low academic standards to bring their expectations into line with those of other states. Twenty states have already adopted the standards; 28 more, including California, are considering them. Texas and Alaska are the only states that declined to participate in the project.
Rural schools are being left out of pivotal policy changes being tried out in the nation's education system, say some rural advocates, and that goes for reform experiments bankrolled with private dollars from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
"The [Gates] Foundation funded work around smaller schools in mostly urban places--a sort of ironic phenomenon, given the consolidation of rural schools. And they funded some early-college initiatives in places like rural Appalachian Ohio," said Caitlin Howley, senior manager, education and research, for ICF International in Charleston, W.Va., an educational research firm. "But I don't think rural is part of what they've been thinking about."
A Washington Post report this week tracked the influence of some $650 million the Gates Foundation has pledged for key reforms in the nation's schools in the past two and one-half years. The story also noted the close relationship between the Gates Foundation and the Obama administration (a number of Gates Foundation employees have assumed key roles in the administration) as well as similarities in the educational priorities pushed by Gates and the Obama White House.
A Times article this week described the stiff competition among graduates from top colleges for jobs with Teach for America. "Teach for America has become an elite brand that will help build a résumé, whether or not the person stays in teaching," writes Michael Winerip, the On Education columnist for The Times.
But, Mr. Winerip noted, the 20-year-old program has gotten mixed reviews from education experts, who complain that the recruits do not stay long enough to gain the experience to make them effective teachers. T.F.A.'s proponents point out that the poorest schools don't attract the top career teachers to begin with. Does Teach for America's popularity among top students raise the status of the teaching profession? Or is there a risk that it makes teaching seem more like a personal steppingstone, rather than a lifetime career?
Kate Simpson is a full-time English professor at the Middletown, Va., campus of Lord Fairfax Community College. She saw my column about Prince George's County history teacher Doris Burton lamenting the decline of research skills in high school, as changing state and local course requirements and grading difficulties made required long essays a thing of the past.Will Fitzhugh has been discussing this issue for decades....
So Simpson gave her freshman English students a writing assignment.
Simpson noted my complaint that few American high-schoolers, except those in International Baccalaureate programs, were ever asked to do a research project as long as 4,000 words. Was I right or wrong? Did her students feel prepared for college writing? The timing was good because her classes had just finished a three-week research writing project in which they had to cite sources, do outlines, write and revise drafts.
She said she discovered that 40 percent of her 115 students thought that their high schools had not prepared them for college-level writing. Only 23 percent thought they had those writing skills. Other responses were mixed.
Taking online college courses is, to many, like eating at McDonald's: convenient, fast and filling. You may not get filet mignon, but afterward you're just as full.Matthew Ladner has more.
Now the University of California wants to jump into online education for undergraduates, hoping to become the nation's first top-tier research institution to offer a bachelor's degree over the Internet comparable in quality to its prestigious campus program.
"We want to do a highly selective, fully online, credit-bearing program on a large scale - and that has not been done," said UC Berkeley law school Dean Christopher Edley, who is leading the effort.
The Obama Administration is successfully orchestrating one of the largest federal overreaches into education policy since the Great Society programs of the mid-1960s. If this news is coming as a surprise, it's because the Administration is maneuvering outside of normal legislative procedure, by way of Trojan-horse programs such as Race to the Top and the suggestive power of their "blueprint" to reauthorize No Child Left Behind.
The Administration's push for national standards and tests, which is moving quickly, is an historic federal overreach. By August 2, 2010, states must submit "evidence of having adopted common standards" in order to increase their chances of winning a Race to the Top grant. For states not enticed by the $4.35 billion grant competition, the Administration has already laid the groundwork in their blueprint for tying the $14.5 billion in Title I funding for low-income districts to the adoption of national standards--a deal that states will likely be unable to turn down.
The denationalization of higher education - the process whereby developmental logics, frames, and practices, are increasingly associated with what is happening at a larger (beyond the nation) scale continues apace. As alluded to in my last two substantive entries:
this process is being shaped by new actors, new networks, new rationalities, new technologies, and new temporal rhythms. Needless to say, this development process is also generating a myriad of impacts and outcomes, some welcome, and some not.
While the denationalization process is a phenomenon that is of much interest to policy-making institutions (e.g., the OECD), foundations and funding councils, scholarly research networks, financial analysts, universities, and the like, I would argue that it is only now, at a relatively late stage in the game, that the higher education media is starting to take more systematic note of the contours of denationalization.
The objectives of the drug-testing trial scheme in Tai Po schools were made abundantly clear at the outset. It was meant to strengthen the resolve of students to stay away from drugs. With the support of their parents, more than 12,400 students have joined the scheme voluntarily to make that pledge. Now they are in a better position to say "no" to their peers when tempted to try drugs.
The scheme is also meant to assist students troubled by drugs and to motivate them to seek help. Since the scheme was announced last summer, the Counselling Centres for Psychotropic Substances Abusers serving Tai Po have received some 80 self-referral cases involving youngsters, more than double the number over the same period in the previous year.
The League of Education Voters is trying to co-opt dissent by creating a campaign called Education Revolution and using a lot of incendiary language and images, but not taking any action.Well worth reading.
It got me thinking about what the Revolution really is or should be. Help me clarify my thinking on this.
I think that the Revolution is about re-defining and re-purposing the District's central functions and responsibilities. The change will come when the role of the central administration is defined. What do we want the District's central administration to do? And what DON'T we want them to do?
Ideally, the District's headquarters will take responsibility for everything that isn't better decided at the school building level. They should relieve the school staff of those duties. They should:
1) Provide centralized services when those services are commodities and can achieve economies of scale. For example, HR functions, facilities maintenance, data warehousing, contracting, food service, procurement, accounting, and transportation.
A proposed sex education program that teaches fifth graders the different ways people have intercourse and first graders about gay love has infuriated parents and forced the school board to take a closer look at the issue.
Helena school trustees were swamped Tuesday night at a hearing that left many of the hundreds of parents in attendance standing outside a packed board room. They urged the school board in this city nestled in the Rocky Mountains to take the sex education program back to the drawing board.
The proposed 62-page document covers a broad health and nutrition education program and took two years to draft. But it is the small portion dealing with sexual education that has drawn the ire of many in the community who feel it is being pushed forward despite its obvious controversial nature.
Most people I've spoken with about California's school finance system, regardless of their political views, seem to think it's a mess. The researchers on the Governor's Committee on Education Excellence described it as "the most complex in the country, lacking an underlying rationale and transparency."
Mike Kirst, the Stanford University education Professor Emeritus I interviewed today, said he wouldn't even call it a system. He called it "an accretion of incremental actions that don't fit together and that make no sense."
Will the courts finally force the deadlocked state Legislature to overhaul the formulas and regulations that dictate how California allocates money to its schools (and how much)? The nonprofit Public Advocates law firm hopes so. It filed suit today in Alameda Superior Court on behalf of a coalition of advocacy groups, students and parents, saying the status quo denies students the right to a meaningful education.
In his three years as president of George Washington University, Steven Knapp has tried nearly everything to bond with undergraduates.
He moved onto campus, right across the street from a freshman dorm known for its party culture. He hired a graduate student to tell him which events to attend. He helped students haul their stuff into the dorms, created a Facebook account, danced at parties, judged a pie-eating contest and drummed with a basketball player.
Still, many students thought he was boring and out of touch.
For as long as exams and term papers have existed, cheating has been a temptation. But with Web technology, it's never been easier. College professors and high school teachers are engaged in an escalating war with students over cutting and pasting articles from the Internet, sharing answers on homework assignments and even texting answers during exams. The arms race is now joined between Web sites offering free papers to download and sophisticated software that can detect plagiarism instantly
Interesting article in last week's Times about the Superintendent over in Bellevue. First, she's never been a superintendent before; Bellevue got to her come from her consulting business in California. Two, she says she's doing this one gig and then going back to consulting. (She was allowed to still keep that job as president something that seems to bother some. The State Auditor found no issue with her hiring of a colleague to work as an education consultant.)
What makes her most interesting is this:The first-time superintendent is engaged in a bold move to change the teaching culture in a district that has already gained a reputation for excellence, with all five of its high schools regularly winning national acclaim.
But it's that very reputation, the school board believes, that has masked an important failure: reaching students at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder in a district that's far more diverse than many may realize.
Cudeiro believes a philosophy she honed over eight years of consulting work could close the divide.
There's a scene from the legendary HBO show The Wire that I think about when I consider this increasingly divisive issue of mayoral control of Detroit Public Schools: In the scene (which I decided against posting here because it's graphic), young drug runner Namond is urged by his friend and fellow dealer Michael to confront a kid who has run off with Namond's drugs. When Namond and Michael find the young thief, the kid starts to insult the obviously intimidated Namond. Michael steps in and beats the kid bloody.
"Take ya pack," Michael then says to Namond, motioning for him to retrieve his stolen drugs from boy. But Namond, who never wanted to be a dealer in the first place, recoils and rushes off into the night, leaving Michael and the drugs behind. "I don't want it," he sobs as he scurries away.
If DPS is the coveted "pack," Bing reminds me of Namond. Everyone else may think this is worth battling over and some may be egging him on to take over the troubled Detroit school district. But it seems that deep down, the mayor doesn't want it.
Local libraries were recently the subject of a deliberate and calculating attack -- of the bookmark variety.
Volunteers and staff at the Dover Public Library spent 30 hours in May collecting more than 5,000 bookmarks secretly placed inside books at the library sometime before May.
The bookmarks contained information about the beliefs of two organizations, the School Sucks Project and Freedomain Radio.
The School Sucks Project is focused on a call to end publicly funded education because of what the group calls an attempt to stifle creativity and a valuing of order and obedience over all else in the school system, according to the group's website.
Darci Hemleb Thompson had been on the lookout for Alice D'Addario for many years. From her home in Hampton, Va., Ms. Thompson, 49, who is married and has a 12-year-old daughter, was determined to find Ms. D'Addario on the Internet. She tried every search engine and networking site she could find.
About 18 months ago she hit the jackpot.
"Nice to see one of the greatest teachers of all time on Facebook!" Ms. Thompson wrote on Ms. D'Addario's wall. "I love to go to your page just to see your smiling face. Even your eyes still smile. You are an amazing person!"
Ms. D'Addario was Ms. Thompson's Advanced Placement history teacher at Walt Whitman High School in Huntington Station, on Long Island, in 1977.
The credit scores of millions more Americans are sinking to new lows.
Figures provided by FICO Inc. show that 25.5 percent of consumers -- nearly 43.4 million people -- now have a credit score of 599 or below, marking them as poor risks for lenders. It's unlikely they will be able to get credit cards, auto loans or mortgages under the tighter lending standards banks now use.
Because consumers relied so heavily on debt to fuel their spending in recent years, their restricted access to credit is one reason for the slow economic recovery.
"I don't get paid for loan applications, I get paid for closings," said Ritch Workman, a Melbourne, Fla., mortgage broker. "I have plenty of business, but I'm struggling to stay open."
On a rainy May morning in 2008, my research team assembled at the Italian Community Center in downtown Milwaukee for focus-group sessions with the parents of students enrolled in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.
After a long morning of listening to parents vent about the aspects of their children's schools that disappointed them, the tone of the meeting suddenly changed when we concluded with an "open mike" session.
"We may complain a lot about our children's schools," one of the parents told us, "but please, please, please don't take our school choice away."
Parents like this concerned mother have played a starring role in the long-running policy debate over the school-choice program, which enables parents to select a school for their child other than the assigned neighborhood public school. Charter schools, for example, offer choices within the public school system. School-choice programs like Milwaukee's notably include private schools and are often called voucher programs.
It is just minutes before the bell rings to end Tom Schalmo's eighth-grade reading class at Milwaukee's Burbank Elementary School, and the first-year teacher is trying hard to keep the 29 kids in his room focused.
He is reviewing the answers to a test on the book Holes by Louis Sachar. But a warm breeze floats through the window, carrying the sounds of kids on the playground three stories below. Schalmo's students are restless, and he has to tell them to "Sit down" repeatedly. He does it firmly, without saying "Please," and without raising his voice.
A tall, gangly kid in the second row keeps getting to his feet and edging toward the door. In the third row, another boy and a girl poke and slap at each other. Schalmo holds his hand up and says in a flat, warning tone, "Five, four, three..." The kids settle.
"These grades are important to you," he says, holding a handful of test papers aloft.
"I have recorded them. Now pay attention."
The students take turns answering the questions aloud, until Schalmo asks what offense Kissin' Kate Barlow had committed that caused her to be cursed. The answer: "She kissed a Negro." This causes about half the class -- the black kids -- to burst into giggles.
Paul Hill & Marguerite Roza, via a Deb Britt email:
Public schools in most areas of the U.S. are caught in the vise of declining revenues and rising costs.420K PDF Report.
Policymakers talk about innovating to do more with less, but to date no one knows what that looks like in education. The truth is that dramatically more productive schooling models simply have not emerged in the last two decades, even amidst cost pressures that drove spending up faster than inflation or GDP.
While education differs in important ways from other service sectors, improvement in productivity in other economic sectors may hold important lessons for understanding how the education system can become more efficient and effective.
This paper first explores the past and future outlook for education absent productivity gains. The authors then discuss several areas in which labor-intensive businesses have improved productivity: information technology, deregulation, redefinition of the product, increased efficiency in the supply chain, investments by key beneficiaries, production process innovations, carefully defined workforce policies, and organizational change. They conclude with a five-step agenda for finding the cure for Baumol's* disease in public education.
*In the 1960s, economist William Baumol observed that productivity (defined as the quantity of product per dollar expended) in the labor-intensive services sector lagged behind manufacturing. Because labor-intensive services must compete with other parts of the economy for workers, yet cannot cut staffing without reducing output, costs rise constantly. This phenomenon, of rising costs without commensurate increases in output, has been labeled Baumol's cost disease.
In his first address to Congress in February 2009, when the nation teetered on the brink of economic collapse, President Obama declared that "dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It's not just quitting on yourself, it's quitting on your country--and this country needs and values the talents of every American." Since then, the administration has made a major commitment to increasing America's high school graduation rate, which was once the highest in the developed world and is now among the lowest. Leading researchers now agree that 25 to 30 percent of students who enroll in American high schools fail to graduate. In many of the country's largest urban school districts, such as Detroit, Cleveland, and Indianapolis, the dropout rate is as high as 60 percent, and rates are similarly high in many rural areas. A generation ago, high school dropouts could still join the military, or get work on assembly lines, and had a fair chance of finding their way in the world. President Obama does not exaggerate when he implies that today's America has little use for dropouts and cannot expect to flourish so long as their numbers remain so high.
The administration has proposed nearly $1 billion in its latest budget specifically for the dropout problem. And it has already put $7.4 billion on the table, including its famous Race to the Top grants, which states and districts can get only if they agree to overhaul their worst-performing high schools. These are the 2,000 or so high schools that Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan refer to as "dropout factories"--schools that graduate fewer than 60 percent of their students and account for more than half the nation's dropouts.
This level of financial commitment to fixing America's underperforming high schools is unprecedented. The 1983 Nation at Risk report, which marked the start of the modern era of education reform, did not so much as mention the dropout problem even as it called for higher graduation requirements. Between 1988 and 1995, only eighty-nine school districts won federal grants for dropout prevention programs. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 applied mostly to grades three through eight. While it nominally required states to hold high schools accountable for dropout rates, it ended up allowing them to lowball the problem. Generally, the thought among educational reformers has been to concentrate on preschool and grade school education, and hope that success there would result in better student performance in high school.
Canadians, particularly those of conservative persuasion, love to compare Canada with the United States, which has a lot to learn in the key area of K-12 education. As the United States struggles with mounting deficits and debt, Americans would be well served to look north if they want to raise student performance while saving money. Canadians would be equally well served to understand their own success and expand it.
Little known to most Canadians is how well the country's students perform on international tests, particularly when compared to the United States. The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) is an internationally standardized test administered by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Every three years PISA tests 15-year-olds in reading; mathematical and scientific literacy; and general competencies -- that is, how well students apply the knowledge and skills they have learned at school to real-life problems.
The San Diego Unified District Board of Education will be voting Tuesday, July 13th, at 5pm in the evening to place a temporary parcel tax up for voter approval on the November ballot. While this move on the surface is a response to the "funding cliff" that public education systems state-wide are facing as Federal stimulus dollars expire next year, the reality is that much larger stakes are in play here.
The school district is facing the prospect of $127 million in projected cuts for the school year beginning in September 2011 after cutting more than $370 million from its budget over the last four years. They have tentatively proposed a long list of budget reductions, from eliminating librarians and counselors to halving the school day for kindergartners. More than 1,400 employees - ten per cent of school district employees - will be facing layoffs if those cuts become reality.
Here's NJEA President Barbara Keshishian on yesterday's Assembly approval of legislation to cap property tax increases at 2%:This is a devastating day for children and public education in New Jersey. On the heels of more than $1.3 billion in cuts to public education, the Legislature and the governor have put an ill-conceived and shortsighted policy in place that will prevent our public schools from ever climbing out of the hole that has been dug for them by the state.An understandable reaction, if a bit histrionic. The hole we're in doesn't have a lot to do with any sort of property tax cap, but to an expensive, inefficient, and unsustainable public school system.
Female twins who shared the womb with a brother are better at visualizing shapes being rotated than those who shared the womb with a sister, according to a study in Psychological Science. Sex differences in mental rotation tasks--in which participants try matching rotated versions of 3-D block figures--have been linked to testosterone levels, with males outperforming females from an early age. Previous studies have reported that female twins from opposite-sex pairs are exposed to higher levels of testosterone in the womb than those from same-sex pairs. That degree of testosterone exposure appears to masculinize certain physiological features, such as finger-length ratios. In the present study, 804 twins, the average age of which was 22 years old, performed a mental rotation test in which they matched figures that were identical but rotated. Out of a maximum score of 24, females with a twin sister scored 9.01 on average, while females with a twin brother scored 10.26--a statistically significant difference after the researchers factored in age, birthweight and other variables. Male twins from same-sex pairs scored 12.87, while those from opposite-sex pairs averaged 13.74, but the difference between the two groups wasn't statistically significant.
Caveat: Environmental differences between same-sex and opposite-sex twins might have influenced rotation test scores.
School may be out for the summer, but the topic of education reform certainly has not gone on vacation. Both nationwide and here at home, there are several different ideas on the table that, if implemented, could go a long way toward improving educational outcomes for our students.
Under the guidance of Gov. Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin was once a nationwide leader in educational innovation. Unfortunately, bold, reform-minded leadership has been absent from the governor's office for the past eight years. The most recent failures of Gov. Jim Doyle and legislative Democrats were their unsuccessful efforts to grab federal Race to the Top dollars and their blundering attempt at a mayoral takeover of the Milwaukee Public Schools.
Usually, we look to our nation's capital for examples of how not to do business, but the new collective bargaining agreement Washington, D.C., School Chancellor Michelle Rhee struck with her teachers union is just the sort of thing we need in Milwaukee. The contract includes pay for performance, lessens the weight of seniority if layoffs become necessary and ends "job for life" tenure for ineffective teachers.
Another reform MPS sorely needs is the elimination of the teacher residency requirement, an arbitrary barrier that discourages some quality educators from teaching at MPS. Only two of the nation's 50 largest school systems, Milwaukee and Chicago, still require its teachers to live within the city limits. No other school district in Wisconsin has a residency requirement.
When Ann and Jonathan Binstock started shopping for an apartment in Manhattan in 2007, their first call was not to a real estate broker. Instead, they hired an educational consultant, to show them where the best schools for their daughter, Ellen, were. After the consultant suggested the most desirable zones , they chose a two-bedroom apartment near Public School 87 on the Upper West Side. Public records show it cost $1.975 million.
Ms. Binstock said the family's apartment "was a stretch financially."
"We ended up buying the apartment that we live in now based on the schools," she added. "All of our money is in our little two-bedroom apartment."
Now Ellen is entering second grade, and the Binstocks are finding that plenty of other parents shared their real estate strategy: P.S. 87 has become so overcrowded with students that, in first grade, Ellen had no gym class, and her lunch started before 11 a.m. It has a waiting list. The Binstocks heard that a neighboring school, P.S. 199, was also crowded, with its own waiting list.
At-risk children who depend on Head Start should not have their futures jeopardized by a study that leaves many questions unanswered or by decision-makers who seem to be ignoring the study's very first conclusion: Head Start children outperformed the control group "on every measure of children's preschool experiences."
Head Start's value has been affirmed by people who experience the outcomes. Just ask police chiefs who know that people who began in Head Start commit fewer crimes and go to jail less often. Just ask school administrators. For example, Montgomery County Public Schools in Maryland recently found that kindergarteners with special needs who had been in Head Start needed 3.7 hours of special education per week on average, versus 9.8 hours for non-Head Start children -- a huge financial saving.
A friend who teaches at a well-known eastern university told me recently that plagiarism was turning him into a cop. He begins the semester collecting evidence, in the form of an in-class essay that gives him a sense of how well students think and write. He looks back at the samples later when students turn in papers that feature their own, less-than-perfect prose alongside expertly written passages lifted verbatim from the Web.
"I have to assume that in every class, someone will do it," he said. "It doesn't stop them if you say, 'This is plagiarism. I won't accept it.' I have to tell them that it is a failing offense and could lead me to file a complaint with the university, which could lead to them being put on probation or being asked to leave."
Not everyone who gets caught knows enough about what they did to be remorseful. Recently, for example, a student who plagiarized a sizable chunk of a paper essentially told my friend to keep his shirt on, that what he'd done was no big deal. Beyond that, the student said, he would be ashamed to go home to the family with an F.
The co-chairs of President Obama's debt and deficit commission offered an ominous assessment of the nation's fiscal future here Sunday, calling current budgetary trends a cancer "that will destroy the country from within" unless checked by tough action in Washington.
The two leaders -- former Republican Senator Alan Simpson of Wyoming and Erskine Bowles, White House chief of staff under former President Bill Clinton -- sought to build support for the work of the commission, whose recommendations due later this year are likely to spark a fierce political debate in Congress.
"There are many who hope we fail," Simpson said at the closing session of the National Governors Association meeting. He called the 18-member commission "good people with deep, deep differences" who know the odds of success "are rather harrowing."
The Obama administration is pressuring Congress to spend $23 billion to rehire the more than 100,000 teachers who have been laid off across the country. Before Congress succumbs, it should know about the unfolding fiasco in Milwaukee. Wisconsin is a microcosm of the union intransigence that's fueling the school funding crisis in so many cities and states and leading to so many pink slips. It also shows why a federal bailout is a mistake.
Because of declining tax collections and falling enrollment, Milwaukee's school board announced in June that 428 teachers were losing their jobs--including Megan Sampson, who was just awarded a teacher-of-the-year prize. Yet the teachers union, the Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, had it within its power to avert almost all of the layoffs.
The average pay for a Milwaukee school teacher is $56,000, which is hardly excessive. Benefits are another matter. According to a new study by the MacIver Institute, a state think tank, the cost of health and pension benefits now exceeds $40,000 a year per teacher--bringing total compensation to $100,500.
When Stanford University School of Medicine became the first medical school in the nation this summer to offer a course to teach students how to interpret genetic tests, the 50 people who signed up to take it were asked to make a controversial choice: whether to study their own genotypes.
The course has proved popular. It has a waiting list for admission - unheard of for a summer class - but it took a yearlong debate before it was introduced.
Its originator, a grad student, said the course was conceived to fill a growing discipline in the field of medicine.
When college presidents and academic administrators pay their usual obeisance to "diversity" you know they are talking first and foremost about race. More specifically, they are talking about blacks. A diverse college campus is understood as one that has a student body that -- at a minimum -- is 5 to 7 percent black (i.e., equivalent to roughly half the proportion of blacks in the general population). A college or university that is only one, two, or three percent black would not be considered "diverse" by college administrators regardless of how demographically diverse its student body might be in other ways. The blacks in question need not be African Americans -- indeed at many of the most competitive colleges today, including many Ivy League schools, an estimated 40-50 percent of those categorized as black are Afro-Caribbean or African immigrants, or the children of such immigrants.
As a secondary meaning "diversity" can also encompass Hispanics, who together with blacks are often subsumed by college administrators and admissions officers under the single race category "underrepresented minorities." Most colleges and universities seeking "diversity" seek a similar proportion of Hispanics in their student body as blacks (since blacks and Hispanics are about equal in number in the general population), though meeting the black diversity goal usually has a much higher priority than meeting the Hispanic one.
Asians, unlike blacks and Hispanics, receive no boost in admissions. Indeed, the opposite is often the case, as the quota-like mentality that leads college administrators to conclude they may have "too many" Asians. Despite the much lower number of Asians in the general high-school population, high-achieving Asian students -- those, for instance, with SAT scores in the high 700s -- are much more numerous than comparably high-achieving blacks and Hispanics, often by a factor of ten or more. Thinking as they do in racial balancing and racial quota terms, college admissions officers at the most competitive institutions almost always set the bar for admitting Asians far above that for Hispanics and even farther above that for admitting blacks.
As the population of Muslims in the United States continues to grow, so too does the number of Islamic schools serving Muslim families across the nation.
American Muslims see these schools as a way to provide their children with a combination of good, mainstream education and training in the essentials of their faith. But critics fear some of these schools might expose Muslim children to radical Islamist views.
Education has always been very important to the Muslim community in the United States. And like many other families, Muslim parents have educational options. They can send their children to secular, county-administered public schools or private academies while providing religious training at home or on weekends.
It still looks like a happy, thriving school: child-size chairs in the cafeteria, yellow buses in the parking lot, a marquee sign that declares "Tomorrow's Leaders Begin Here."
But unless things change before next month, this city is going to close its top-ranked school, Nichols Elementary, to save about $400,000 a year -- less than 1 percent of the school district's $50 million budget. Worse than that, say residents of the poor and largely black east side of Biloxi, the neighborhood is losing one of its chief sources of pride and cohesion.
The question of whether closing the school is an act of fiscal prudence or discrimination has become an explosive subject in Biloxi, reopening age-old racial divides. Nearly 90 percent of the school's students are black or Asian, while the four School Board members who voted in April for the closing are white.
The corruption and mismanagement storm that hit Detroit Public Schools has been likened, on occasion, to Hurricane Katrina and its impact on New Orleans' schools.Interesting approach to the governance problem.
So it shouldn't be surprising that Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Flanagan has been meeting with New Orleans education officials as he plans to open a new statewide school district in 2011 for Michigan's poorest performing schools.
But what Flanagan discovered while analyzing schools was that an academic hurricane had hit more than Detroit.
Over at least the next year, the state will distribute about $119 million in federal funds to schools across the state, not just in Detroit, to improve academic performance.
In today's paper, Margo Rutledge Kissell writes that Dayton Public Schools is moving toward 7-12 high schools with K-6 elementary schools. The editorial page also weighed in on this issue, cautioning Superintendent Lori Ward not to get distracted by issues that won't have a deep impact on academics.
The core question for those who want the district to improve should always be the same -- will this help kids learn better? Unfortunately, the evidence says the answer to that question is most likely "no" when it comes to moving away from K-8 schools.
Let's start with a quick history lesson.
MIDDLE SCHOOL students are champion time-wasters. And the personal computer may be the ultimate time-wasting appliance. Put the two together at home, without hovering supervision, and logic suggests that you won't witness a miraculous educational transformation.
Still, wherever there is a low-income household unboxing the family's very first personal computer, there is an automatic inclination to think of the machine in its most idealized form, as the Great Equalizer. In developing countries, computers are outfitted with grand educational hopes, like those that animate the One Laptop Per Child initiative, which was examined in this space in April. The same is true of computers that go to poor households in the United States.
Economists are trying to measure a home computer's educational impact on schoolchildren in low-income households. Taking widely varying routes, they are arriving at similar conclusions: little or no educational benefit is found. Worse, computers seem to have further separated children in low-income households, whose test scores often decline after the machine arrives, from their more privileged counterparts.
The boy, a dark-haired 6-year-old, is playing with a new companion.
The two hit it off quickly -- unusual for the 6-year-old, who has autism -- and the boy is imitating his playmate's every move, now nodding his head, now raising his arms.
"Like Simon Says," says the autistic boy's mother, seated next to him on the floor.
Yet soon he begins to withdraw; in a video of the session, he covers his ears and slumps against the wall.
But the companion, a three-foot-tall robot being tested at the University of Southern California, maintains eye contact and performs another move, raising one arm up high.
We don't need no edukashon - so you will be pleased to know that I am thinking about opening my own school.
After all, I only need to write 500 words (shorter than this piece) to apply to do so.
My school will have its own 'special' ethos. We can do it in one of those fashionable 'pop-up' shops or really any old unused building.
And we won't have to bother with that dreary old national curriculum.
As I haven't the time or the inclination to bother with employment law, management, recruiting teachers, CRB checks, admin or training anyone, I will probably have to get some kind of firm to sort it all out and pay them a fee.
Still, sounds great, doesn't it? My free school.
An idea from the 1930's is being used to inspire 21st century girls to stay in school. The original idea of a children's travel club belonged to Merze Tate, a woman from rural Michigan, who was the first African-American to graduate from Oxford University. Today, another Michigan woman has revived that travel club concept to widen the world of sixth-grade girls.
In nine districts, taxes went up by more than double the state inflation rate, and in three - Upper Dublin, Southeast Delco, and Bristol Borough - they went up by more than 10 percent. The 2010-11 property-tax increase for all 63 suburban districts averaged slightly more than 4 percent, up from 2.9 percent in 2009-10, even though the education inflation rate for this year was higher, at 4.1 percent.Locally, the 2010-2011 Madison School District budget will increase property taxes by about 10%. The increase is due to spending growth, a reduction in redistributed state tax dollars and a decline in property values (assessments).
In Bucks County's Bristol Borough district, one of the smallest in the area with an enrollment of about 1,225, taxes are going up 15 percent. School Board President Ralph DiGuiseppe III, who was elected in November, said almost the entire increase is because of a 2009-10 deficit, when the board did not raise taxes.
To keep from going even higher, DiGuiseppe said, the board has cut some teaching jobs, and will reduce administrative pay by having the superintendent double as high school principal for part of the coming school year. Another administrator will teach part time. Three sports teams also were eliminated.
From the start, the governor served notice that he saw the public employees' unions as a central part of the state's problems, and that he meant to take them on. His first day in office, he signed an executive order, later struck down in court, to limit their ability to finance campaigns. The first bills he signed limited spending on pensions and benefits. He relished months of verbal sparring with the teachers' union, and analysts say he got the upper hand.
Mr. Christie said there was no plan to put the unions front and center, though some of his aides say privately that it was quite intentional.
But on controlling local government spending and taxes, he acknowledged that "yes, absolutely," there was a political strategy to doing things in a particular order. The governor's budget reduced school aid, leading to predictions that districts would raise property taxes. He blamed the teachers' union for any increases and proposed capping property tax increases. Now he is using that cap as leverage for a package of bills, which has met union opposition, to help towns and school districts control spending.
Michael Winerip, via a Rick Kiley email:
Alneada Biggers, Harvard class of 2010, was amazed this past year when she discovered that getting into the nation's top law schools and grad programs could be easier than being accepted for a starting teaching job with Teach for America.
Ms. Biggers says that of 15 to 20 Harvard friends who applied to Teach for America, only three or four got in. "This wasn't last minute -- a lot applied in August 2009, they'd been student leaders and volunteered," Ms. Biggers said. She says one of her closest friends wanted to do Teach for America, but was rejected and had to "settle" for University of Virginia Law School.
Will Cullen, Villanova '10, had a friend who was rejected and instead will be a Fulbright scholar. Julianne Carlson, a new graduate of Yale -- where a record 18 percent of seniors applied to Teach for America -- says she knows a half dozen "amazing" classmates who were rejected, although the number is probably higher. "People are reluctant to tell you because of the stigma of not getting in," Ms. Carlson said.
Across the country, public education is in the midst of a quiet revolution. States are embracing voluntary national standards for English and math, while schools are paying teachers based on student performance.The Gates Foundation funded a Small Learning Community initiative at Madison West High School
It's an agenda propelled in part by a flood of money from a billionaire prep-school graduate best known for his software empire: Bill Gates.
In the past 2 1/2 years, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged more than $650 million to schools, public agencies and other groups that buy into its main education priorities.
The largest awards are powering experiments in teacher evaluation and performance pay. The Pittsburgh school district landed $40 million, Los Angeles charter schools $60 million and the Memphis schools $90 million. The Hillsborough County district, which includes Tampa, won the biggest grant: $100 million. That has set the nation's eighth-largest school system on a quest to reshape its 15,000-member teaching corps by rewarding student achievement instead of seniority.
The National Merit Scholarship Corp. announced 16 more local recipients of its college-sponsored Merit Scholarships on Monday.Congratulations!
This announcement revealed the second half of this year's college-sponsored scholarship recipient group, with the first wave being released in late May. These winners will receive between $500 and $2,000 per year for up to four years to study at the university or college granting the scholarship.
Approximately 4,900 high school students nationwide received the college-sponsored scholarships from 201 higher education institutions this year.
Winners from Memorial High School in Madison are Brendan Caldwell (University of Minnesota), Yang Liu (Northwestern University), Sarah Percival (Rice University) and Andrea Rummel (University of Chicago).
From Madison West High School, Anya Vanecek (Grinnell College) and Aileen Lee (Northwestern) are scholarship recipients, as are Eric Anderson (New York University) and Amy Oetzel (Wheaton College) of Middleton High School.
Monona Grove's two recipients are Olivia Finster (Grinnell College) and Madeline Stebbins (University of Oklahoma).
Other area winners are Emily Busam (Lawrence University) of Beloit Memorial High School, Nicolas Heisig (University of Houston) of Madison Country Day High School, and David Bacsik (New College of Florida) of Cambridge High School.
Jesse Vogeler-Wunsch (Marquette University) of Oregon High School, Eric Biggers (Macalester College) of Verona Area High School and Kari Edington(Michigan State) of Sun Prairie are also scholarship winners.
The Washington State Auditor told the district this week it has problems managing its money. They're the same problems he's told them about before. The school board oversees the district. And auditors for the state say it's time for board members to get more involved.Washington State Auditor's Office:
Carr: "To the State Auditors' point, we have work to do. And they're right: we do."
Sherry Carr chairs the audit and finance committee of the Seattle School Board. She says the board needs to do more to make sure problems that are found in audits don't pop up again.
Carr: "We haven't always had the check in prior to the start of the next audit. So, I think that's the key."
The Washington State Auditor's Office released an audit report this week about the Seattle School District's accountability with public resources, laws and regulations.Documents:
We found the School Board and the District's executive management:
* Must improve oversight of District operations.
* Are not as familiar with state and federal law as the public would expect.
We identified instances of misappropriation and areas that are susceptible to misappropriation. We also found the School Board delegated authority to the Superintendent to create specific procedures to govern day-to-day District operations.
The Board does not evaluate these procedures to determine if they are effective and appropriate. Consequently, we identified 12 findings in this report and in our federal single audit and financial statement report.
Seattle Public Schools establishes rigorous process for addressing financial year 2008-09 audit findings.
As part of the Washington State Auditor's Office annual audit process, an Accountability Audit of Seattle Public Schools was issued on July 6, 2010. The audit's emphasis on the need for continued improvement of internal controls and District policies for accountability is consistent with multi-year efforts under way at Seattle Public Schools to strengthen financial management.
"Because we are deeply committed to being good stewards of the public's resources, we take the information in this audit very seriously," said Superintendent Maria L. Goodloe-Johnson, Ph.D. "We acknowledge the need to take specific corrective actions noted in the report. It is a key priority to implement appropriate control and accountability measures, with specific consequences, for situations in which policies are not followed."
The School Board will work closely with the Superintendent to ensure corrections are made. "We understand and accept the State Auditor's findings," said School Board Director Sherry Carr, chair of the Board's Audit and Finance Committee. "We accept responsibility to ensure needed internal controls are established to improve accountability in Seattle Public Schools, and we will hold ourselves accountable to the public as the work progresses."
After reading this item, I sent this email to Madison Board of Education members a few days ago:
I hope this message finds you well.I received the following from Lucy Mathiak:
The Seattle School Board is going to become more involved in District operations due to "problems managing its money".
I'm going to post something on this in the next few days.
I recall a BOE discussion where Ed argued that there are things that should be left to the Administration (inferring limits on the BOE's oversight and ability to ask questions). I am writing to obtain your thoughts on this, particularly in light of:
a) ongoing budget and accounting issues (how many years has this been discussed?), and
b) the lack of substantive program review to date (is 6 years really appropriate, given reading and math requirements of many Madison students?).
I'd like to post your responses, particularly in light of the proposed Administrative re-org and how that may or may not address these and other matters.
A GENERAL NOTE: There is a cottage industry ginning up books and articles on board "best practices." The current wisdom, mostly generated by retired superintendents, is that boards should not trouble themselves with little things like financial management, human resources, or operations. Rather, they should focus on "student achievement." But what that means, and the assumption that financial, HR, and other decisions have NO impact on achievement, remain highly problematical.Ed Hughes:
At the end of the day, much of the "best practices" looks a lot like the role proposed for the Milwaukee School Board when the state proposed mayoral control last year. Under that scenario, the board would focus on public relations and, a distant second, expulsions. But that would be a violation of state statute on the roles and responsibilities of boards of education.
There are some resources that have interesting info on national trends in school board training here:
I tend to take my guidance from board policy, which refers back to state statute without providing details; I am a detail person so went back to the full text. When we are sworn into office, we swear to uphold these policies and statutes:
"The BOARD shall have the possession, care, control, and management of the property and affairs of the school district with the responsibilities and duties as detailed in Wisconsin Statutes 118.001, 120.12, 120.13, 120.14, 120.15, 120.16, 120.17, 120.18, 120.21, 120.40, 120.41, 120.42, 120.43, and 120.44."
Because board policy does not elaborate what is IN those statutes, the details can be lost unless one takes a look at "the rules." Here are some of the more interesting (to me) sections from WI Statute 120:
120.12 School board duties.
The school board of a common or union high school district shall:
(1)MANAGEMENT OF SCHOOL DISTRICT.
Subject to the authority vested in the annual meeting and to the authority and possession specifically given to other school district officers, have thepossession, care, control and management of the property andaffairs of the school district, except for property of the school dis-trict used for public library purposes under s. 43.52.
(2)GENERAL SUPERVISION. Visit and examine the schools ofthe school district, advise the school teachers and administrative staff regarding the instruction, government and progress of the pupils and exercise general supervision over such schools.
(3)TAX FOR OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE.
(a) On or before November 1, determine the amount necessary to be raised to operate and maintain the schools of the school district and public library facilities operated by the school district under s. 43.52, if the annual meeting has not voted a tax sufficient for such purposes for the school year.
(5)REPAIR OF SCHOOL BUILDINGS.
Keep the school buildings and grounds in good repair, suitably equipped and in safe and sanitary condition at all times. The school board shall establish an annual building maintenance schedule.
(14)COURSE OF STUDY.
Determine the school course of study.
(17)UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN SYSTEM TUITION.
Pay the tuition of any pupil enrolled in the school district and attending an institution within the University of Wisconsin System if the pupil is not participating in the program under s. 118.55, the course the pupil is attending at the university is not offered in the school district and the pupil will receive high school credit for the course.
Thanks for contacting us. Can you be a bit more specific about what you are looking for? A general statement about the appropriate line between administration and Board responsibilities? Something more specific about budgeting and accounting, or specific program reviews? And if so, what? I confess that I haven't followed whatever is going on with the Seatte school board.My followup:
I am looking for your views on BOE responsibilities vis a vis the Administration, staff and the community.Marj Passman:
Two timely specifics, certainly are:
a) ongoing budget problems, such as the maintenance referendum spending, and
b) curricular matters such as reading programs, which, despite decades of annual multi-million dollar expenditures have failed to "move the needle".
The Seattle District's "problems managing its money" matter apparently prompted more Board involvement.
Finally, I do recall a BOE discussion where you argued in favor of limits on Administrative oversight. Does my memory serve?
Here is the answer to your question on Evaluation which also touches on the Board's ultimate role as the final arbiter on District Policy.
Part of the Strategic Plan, and, one of the Superintendants goals that he gave the Board last year, was the need to develop a "District Evaluation Protocol". The Board actually initiated this by asking for a Study of our Reading Program last February. This protocol was sent to the Board this week and seems to be a timely and much needed document.
Each curricular area would rotate through a seven year cycle of examination. In addition, the Board of Education would review annually a list of proposed evaluations. There will be routine reports and updates to the Board while the process continues and, of course, a final report. At any time the Board can make suggestions as to what should be evaluated and can make changes in the process as they see fit. In other words, the Board will certainly be working within its powers as Overseer of MMSD.
This Protocol should be on the MMSD web site and I recommend reading it in
I am particularly pleased with the inclusion of "perception" - interviews, surveys with parents and teachers. I have been leery of just masses of data analysis predetermining the success or failure of children. Our children must not be reduced to dots on a chart. Tests must be given but many of our students are succeeding in spite of their test scores.
I have a problem with a 7 year cycle and would prefer a shorter one. We need to know sooner rather than later if a program is working or failing. I will bring this up at Monday's Board meeting.
I will be voting for this Protocol but will spend more time this weekend studying it before my final vote.
Rowdy delegates to a national teachers convention Saturday gave several standing ovations to Bill Gates, whose billions in foundation grants for experimental-education-overhaul efforts over more than a decade have sparked widespread controversy and debate.
There were scattered boos and hisses among the 3,400 attendees at the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) convention in Seattle, and a small group of dissident teachers walked out on Gates' speech, but many at the Washington State Convention Center seemed to welcome the Microsoft co-founder's message that teachers must be partners in any efforts to improve student achievement.
"If reforms aren't shaped by teachers' knowledge and experience, they're not going to succeed," Gates told the delegates.
Randi Weingarten, AFT president, said she welcomed the dialogue with Gates, whose Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has led efforts to improve education, including charter schools, which while public are largely nonunion and run by autonomous management organizations.
Bill Gates sure is a popular guy. He is appearing this afternoon at the national conference of the American Federation of Teachers in Seattle, after having recently been the keynote speaker at the annual National Charter School convention.
Just this week, Warren Buffett announced he was giving an additional $1.6 billion to the Gates Foundation, which already had a $35 billion endowment; by far the largest in the nation.
In the past eight years, the foundation has spent nearly $4 billion promoting his personal education agenda; at first providing subsidies to districts that would agree to close down large neighborhood high schools and start small schools in their place; and now encouraging the rapid and widespread proliferation of charter schools. Gates also is aggressively promoting efforts to create programs that link teacher evaluation and compensation to standardized test scores.
By four years from now, either the teachers unions or the pack of education policies that are hot these days is going to be a lot less relevant. The American education world doesn't seem big enough for both of them.
Frankly, I don't know if I'm right about that, but it is certainly an interesting prediction to consider, given what is happening nationally and locally.
It would seem smart to bet on the teachers unions - they're still pretty strong, they're politically powerful, and their bargaining rights are established by law. Education fads come and go, but unions stay on.
But there are some reasons to bet the other way.
The overall economic troubles of the nation, the rapidly escalating financial problems facing school systems, and the popularity of ideas union leaders generally hate, such as factoring student performance into teachers' pay, are putting unions on the defensive in ways similar to what has happened in other sectors of the economy.
Whatever the future, the collision between teachers unions and the forces of change is pretty amazing. For one thing, it pits Democrats against Democrats in a battle that may have major repercussions on the 2012 presidential race.
"I will state that there will be a polarization of society here in the United States. People who are using their brains are moving up. Then you have another part of society that is doing services. These services will not be paid well. But you would need services. You would need restaurants, you would need cooks, you would need drivers et cetera. You will be losing your middle class.
"This I would not see in the same fashion in Europe, because the manufacturing base there today can compete anywhere, anytime with China or India. Because their productivity and skill sets more than offset their higher costs. You don't see this everywhere, but it's Germany, it's France, it's Sweden, it's Austria, it's Switzerland.... So I feel Europe still will have a middle level of people. They also have people who are very rich, they also have people doing services. But there is a balance. I don't see the balance here in the US."
The recommendation by the Santa Clara County civil grand jury to consolidate school districts is the kind of out-of-the-box thinking long overdue in this county. The report suggests that aligning K-8 districts with high school districts would improve education and produce savings in the neighborhood of 7 percent, or $51 million annually. That's a lot of teachers and specialists at a time when cutbacks are threatening irreparable harm to our students.
The recommendations are a good start for schools, but the same thing needs to be done in other service areas in the Bay Area. For example, Santa Clara County has 11 local police departments plus the Sheriff's Office, and seven fire departments plus the Santa Clara County Fire Department. Why, in a mostly urban, compact environment, must we endure such duplication? The answer is we shouldn't.
Reasons offered for school consolidation are equally valid for police and fire departments. To quote the grand jury report, "The current organization [of school districts] is an outgrowth of the county's origins. Until the 1960s, the county was largely a collection of agricultural communities separated by miles of open space. "... The communities have become small cities, San Jose has become a large city, and the open land has disappeared.
David Cameron has admitted that he is "terrified" by the prospect of trying to find a good state secondary school for his children in London.
Mr Cameron said that, living in central London, he sympathised with parents in areas across Britain where there was no choice of decent schools.
"I've got a six-year-old and a four-year-old and I'm terrified living in central London," he said in an interview with a Sunday newspaper. "Am I going to find a good secondary school for my children? I feel it as a parent, let alone as a politician."
Mr Cameron, who was educated at Eton, said he remained determined to send his children to state schools despite rejecting 15 primary schools for his six-year-old daughter Nancy, before sending her to St Mary Abbots, Church of England primary in Kensington.
Jacob Zuma, South Africa's president, urged fresh efforts to bring millions of children in the developing world into the school system at a summit of African leaders held on Sunday before the World Cup final.
"We convened this summit because of our strongly held view that the first soccer World Cup tournament on African soil should have a lasting legacy," Mr Zuma said at the meeting in Pretoria, which was also attended by UN and international sporting officials.
The head of Atlanta Public Schools promised an impartial inquiry into reports of cheating on state achievement tests. Recusing herself, Superintendent Beverly Hall declared the investigation would be conducted by "a respected outside organization."
Five months later, the investigation remains incomplete, and questions have emerged that challenge its independence.
The "blue-ribbon" commission appointed to oversee the investigation is populated with business executives and others who have done business with the school district or who have other civic or social ties to the district or to Hall.
One of the firms chosen to run the inquiry also is a school district vendor, having collected $1.7 million for other work performed as recently as 2008.
Kaleem Caire, via email:
The Urban League of Greater Madison's Learning Department, which oversees Schools of Hope and other educational initiatives for middle and high school youth, is currently seeking dedicated, energetic and qualified candidates for various positions. Please click the position titles below or visit www.ulgm.org for a detailed job description and instructions on how to apply. Deadline for application is July 21, 2010 at 5:00pm.
I am contacting you today because our President & CEO, Kaleem Caire, our Board of Directors, and our team would like to extend an invitation to you and your agency to get involved with the Urban League of Greater Madison's Community Outreach Campaign. The campaign is aimed at gathering information about the current needs of its residents and the vision of its residents for the future of Madison. Madison's Mayor Dave Cieslewicz has pledged to work in partnership with the Urban League on establishing a vision for the city that includes ideals, interests, needs, and values of all residents. The campaign is just the beginning of this process.
The outreach campaign will enable us to go much deeper and further than telephone or electronic polling of registered voters offers. Instead, this boots-on-the-ground campaign will involve volunteers discussing with residents, business owners, and passers-by issues and topics that define the community's outlook on the present and future. Organizations and individuals who participate in the campaign will have the benefit of getting out into communities to talk with residents and build a sense of community. All individual and agency volunteers will receive a full report on what we learned at the end of the campaign.
By participating in this campaign, you will not only actively help to develop a deep understanding of our Greater Madison community, but also shape the future of our community as well. To support this effort, volunteers are needed to do the door-to-door and business outreach in targeted neighborhoods and commercial districts. Training and a t-shirt will be provided free of charge, and volunteers are only needed to commit to one (3 hour) shift every week for as many weeks as you can participate. This campaign is scheduled to run from the middle of July through the end of September 2010.
I hope that you and your agency will be able to join us in our efforts to enhance the sense of community, inclusion, and common understanding of our city's value and purpose among all who live and work in the capital of the Badger State, and improve the quality of life and for all of our city's children and families.
Please forward this call for volunteers to any service committees or engaged employees or patrons of your agency. We need all the support we can get to help shape Madison into a welcoming, supportive, and prosperous place for all people who make this their home.
If you, or any member of your agency have any questions, or wish to get involved, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608.729.1225.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Urban League of Greater Madison
2222 South Park Street, Suite 200
Madison, WI 53713
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In the spring of 1989 Wendy Kopp was a senior at Princeton University who had her sights set on being a New York City school teacher. But without a graduate degree in education or a traditional teacher certification, it was nearly impossible to break into the system. So she applied for a job at Morgan Stanley instead.
Thinking back to the bureaucratic hurdles of getting a job in a public school, Ms. Kopp tells me it "seemed more intimidating than starting Teach for America." Which is exactly what she did as soon as she graduated.
What began as a senior thesis paper has since grown into a $180 million organization that this fall will send 4,500 of the best college graduates in the country to 100 of the lowest-performing urban and rural school districts. A few months ago, Teach for America (TFA) received an applicant pool that Morgan Stanley recruiters would drool over. Their 46,000 applicants included 12% of all Ivy League seniors, 7% of the graduating class of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, and 6% from U.C. Berkeley. A quarter of all black seniors at Ivy League schools and a fifth of Latinos applied to be teachers in the 2010 corps. It is, I'm told by some recent grads, one of the coolest things you can do after college.
A Chinese IT outsourcing company that has started hiring new U.S. computer science graduates to work in Shanghai requires prospective job candidates to demonstrate an IQ of 125 or above on a test it administers to sort out job applicants.
In doing so, Bleum Inc. is following a hiring practice it applies to college recruits in China. But a new Chinese college graduate must score an IQ of 140 on the company's test.
An IQ test is the first screen for any U.S. or Chinese applicant.
The lower IQ threshold for new U.S. graduates reflects the fact that the pool of U.S. talent available to the company is smaller than the pool of Chinese talent, Bleum said.
In China, Bleum receives thousands of applications weekly, said CEO Eric Rongley. Rongley is a U.S. citizen who founded Bleum in 2001; his career prior to that included stints working in offshore development in India and later in China.
College students today are spending less time studying than they did in the past, according to a recent report. The University of California study finds that the average student at a four-year college in 1961 studied about 24 hours a week. Today's average student hits the books for just 14 hours. That downward trend has been consistent across all kinds of schools, majors, and students. But why is this happening? Here are a few thoughts and theories, many of them courtesy of the very thoughtful commenters at Mother Jones, where blogger Kevin Drum asked "professors and current students" to suggest explanations.
- Study Leaders Cite Professor Apathy The Boston Globe's Keith O'Brien writes, "when it comes to 'why,' the answers are less clear. ... What might be causing it, they suggest, is the growing power of students and professors' unwillingness to challenge them."
- Modern Technology Not to Blame The Boston Globe's Keith O'Brien says the study leaders don't think so. "The easy culprits -- the allure of the Internet (Facebook!), the advent of new technologies (dude, what's a card catalog?), and the changing demographics of college campuses -- don't appear to be driving the change, Babcock and Marks found." Why so sure? "According to their research, the greatest decline in student studying took place before computers swept through colleges: Between 1961 and 1981, study times fell from 24.4 to 16.8 hours per week (and then, ultimately, to 14)."
Dan was hired in 2008, after a long tenure as Superintendent of the Green Bay public schools.
We come not to praise or bury LeBron James, but only to note that by moving to Miami he's going to save a bundle on taxes. We'll take the King of ESPN's word that he's jumping to the Miami Heat from the Cleveland Cavaliers mainly for basketball reasons, but it is also true that Florida has no income tax. The rate in Akron, Ohio is a little over 7%
Mr. James figures to earn close to $100 million in salary over five seasons in Miami. According to an analysis by Richard Vedder, an economist at Ohio University, Mr. James's net present value tax savings on his salary are between $6 million and $8 million by living in Miami versus his home town of Akron. Professional athletes do have to pay other state taxes for the dates they play in visiting team arenas, but most of Mr. James's considerable endorsement income would be taxed at Florida rates.
The tax comparisons looked even worse for two other teams in the LeBron bidding, the New York Knicks and New Jersey Nets. The New York Post estimated that New York City and state taxes of 12.85% on high income earners would have taken more than $12 million from Mr. James. New Jersey's rate is nearly 9%. Both of those teams are lousy, but it can't help their free-agent sales pitch to start out $9 billion to $12 billion in the after-tax hole.
In 2003, the Harvard Educational Review published a controversial article by Roy Freedle that claimed bias against African American students in the SAT college admissions test. Freedle's work stimulated national media attention and faced an onslaught of criticism from experts at the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the agency responsible for the development of the SAT. In this article, Maria Veronica Santelices and Mark Wilson take the debate one step further with new research exploring differential item functioning in the SAT. By replicating Freedle's methodology with a more recent SAT dataset and by addressing some of the technical criticisms from ETS, Santelices and Wilson confirm that SAT items do function differently for the African American and White subgroups in the verbal test and argue that the testing industry has an obligation to study this phenomenon.The College Board responds:
The Harvard Educational Review has published a research article by Maria Veronica Santelices (Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile) and Mark Wilson (University of California, Berkeley) that is critical of the Differential Item Functioning (DIF) analyses used in the construction of the SAT®. Unfortunately, this work is deeply flawed. It utilizes only partial data sets, focuses on a student sample that lacks representation and diversity, and draws conclusions that do not match the data. Simply stated, this research does not withstand scrutiny.
The SAT is a fair assessment, and many years of independent research support this. It is the most rigorously researched and designed test in the world and is a proven, reliable measure of a student's likelihood for college success regardless of student race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status. There is no credible research to suggest otherwise. While a few critics have promoted the notion that the test results indicate bias in the tests themselves, this theory has been by and large debunked and rejected by the psychometric community.
In reviewing this article, our researchers identified a number of fundamental flaws in the data analysis, and they also expressed serious concerns about the conclusions reached by the authors. Key concerns with this study include the following:
While performance differences between boys and girls have narrowed considerably, boys still outnumber girls by more than about 3-to-1 at extremely high levels of math ability and scientific reasoning.
At the same time, girls slightly outnumber boys at extremely high levels of verbal reasoning and writing ability.
Those are the findings of a recent study that examined 30 years of standardized test data from the very highest-scoring seventh graders. Except for the differences at these highest levels of performance, boys and girls are essentially the same at all other levels of performance.
The findings come from a study performed by Duke University's Talent Identification Program, which relies on SAT and ACT tests administered to the top 5 percent of 7th graders to identify gifted students and nurture their intellectual talents. There were more than 1.6 million such students in this study.
The state's yawning budget hole has swelled to $2.5 billion, underscoring the massive challenge that awaits the next governor and Legislature, a new report shows.The Madison School District released a memorandum on expected redistributed state tax dollars last week 119K PDF. Superintendent Dan Nerad:
The projections by the Legislature's non-partisan budget office show the expected shortfall for the 2011-2013 budget has grown by $462 million from the just over $2 billion that was expected a year ago.
As you can see over the past five years, equalization aid for MMSD has been slightly erratic, increasing for two years and then decreasing drastically over the past 2 years as the State of Wisconsin removed $147 million of funding from the equalization aid formula.John Schmid: Study says state is a 'C' student
The 2009-10 school year was the first time over the last 10 years that MMSD saw a maximum decrease in funding from the State of Wisconsin, which statutorily is set at 15%, For MMSD this was a decrease in the State's connnitment to public education in Madison of over $9.2 million when compared with funds received in 2008-09.
When planning for the 20I0-11 school year budget, Administration openly planned for another reduction in equalization aid funding of 15% or approximately $7.8 million. The early aid estimate that was released on July I, 2010 shows MMSD in a better situation than was first projected through the budget process for one reason. The breakdown ofequalization aid for MMSD in 2010-11 as projected by the DPI is as follows:
Two Allen County school districts rank above the state average in the percentage of their budgets spent on classroom expenses, according to a report released Friday by the Indiana Office of Management and Budget.Complete 5.6MB PDF report.
The annual report - which includes revisions to the formula used to categorize spending - shows that statewide schools spent 57.8 percent of their funding on student instructional expenditures in the 2008-09 school year.
This is also known as the percentage of dollars going to the classroom.
"I encourage school board members, administrators, teachers and citizens across the state to closely examine the way dollars are currently allocated and evaluate whether their budgets truly put students first," Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett said. "I will only be satisfied once we have driven every possible dollar toward increasing student achievement and success."
American colleges are spending a declining share of their budgets on instruction and more on administration and recreational facilities for students, according to a study of college costs released Friday.
The report, based on government data, documents a growing stratification of wealth across America's system of higher education.
At the top of the pyramid are private colleges and universities, which educate a small portion of the nation's students, while public universities and community colleges, where tuitions are rising most rapidly, serve greater numbers and have fewer resources.
The study of revenues and spending trends of American institutions of higher education from 1998 through 2008 traces how the patterns at elite private institutions like Harvard and Amherst differed from sprawling public universities like Ohio State and community colleges like Alabama Southern.
This is a project whereby the University of Washington's Center for Educational leadership (CEl) will support the District in its central office transformation by:
a. developing a theory of action to guide how central office leaders and principals work together to improve instructional leadership and to provide support to schools.
b. designing and implementing school cluster support teams with a focus on developing a common understanding of quality instruction and in developing stronger relationships between central office leaders and principals that are focused on growing principal instructional leadership.
This project began when the Board of Education approved the contract with Durrant Engineering in April of2009. Durrant was hired to provide a full condition assessment of all school district buildings to identify long and short-term repair needs.Bold added.
The vision of this project was to deliver to the school district a living database that would aid in the budgeting and planning process into the future.
The study focused primarily on all engineering systems and equipment, but also included an in-depth study of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) issues our school district faces. The study didn't include roofing projects, as that work has already been completed and is continually updated on an annual basis. For the assessment, trained professional engineers visited every site within the school district, evaluating systems and conditions, while also taking actual photographs to integrate into the report. This work transitioned into a grading system that has become part of the database delivered to the school district for future planning.
All of the information gathered and organized into the database format provides a lot of functionality for the school district moving forward.
Each item has actual digital photos attached for reference, cost ranges are summarized for each item, and the ability to sort the information in various ways are examples o f the functionality of the database.
Four individuals from Durrant Engineering will be present to provide a more in-depth review of the work that was completed. This presentation will also include a demonstration ofthe database that was created to show the functionality provided to the district with this tool.
D. Describe the action requested of the BOE - Administration is looking for the Board of Education to accept the maintenance project study with the database which is the planning tool to be used for future maintenance projects.
Next Steps - It is the intent of Administration to work toward creating a multi-year project plan, along with projected funds necessary to implement this plan each year. This work will begin upon approval by the Board ofthe information and data within the database, and will become important work of the new Director for the division of Building Services. Our goal is to return to the Board in May/June 2011 to present this multi-year plan with projected sources of funding.
The District has apparently been unable to account for $23,000,000 spent via the 2005 "maintenance referendum". Additional commentary here. Notes and links on the 2005 maintenance referendum (two out of three MMSD questions failed).
Attached is the report summarizing progress after the first year from the community organizations receiving funding from the Madison Metropolitan School District. Also attached are the full end-of-year status reports from each organization, except the Urban League; their report will be provided in August. MMSD funding is now ended for . / African-American Ethnic Academy, Inc. . / Kajsiab House ./ Urban League of Greater Madison: Project Bootstrap 21st Century Careers Program"Fund 80" taxes (and spending) may increase beyond State of Wisconsin school district limits. Fund 80 spending growth has long been a source of controversy.
Funding, at this point, will continue for one more year for the other nine community organizations.
The Star-Ledger reports that 2,900 NJ high school seniors failed the Alternative High School Assessment, the replacement for the long-discredited Special Review Assessment, which almost no one failed. The AHSA, which replaced the SRA just this year, is administered to students who failed the traditional assessment (the HSPA) three times.
The reason for the change in passage rate - 96% for the SRA and now about 36% for the AHSA (8,000 kids took it) is due to the change in scoring. The SRA was scored by the teachers within the child's district who administered the test. The AHSA is scored by Measurement, Inc., an outside vendor.
It is clear to anyone who looks at the state of textbooks today that the system is broken. It does not work well for anyone, but it is especially hard on students, who typically pay $1,000 a year or more for textbooks.
Everyone with a financial stake in the textbook business is looking for a new model. That is especially true for publishers, but also for bookstores and authors. Macmillan's recent announcement of its DynamicBooks program, which provides a high degree of customization with electronic and print-on-demand capabilities, is typical. Most major textbook publishers have or are planning something similar.
Several textbook-rental companies, including Chegg.com, CollegeBookRenter.com, and BookRenter.com, have made inroads into college campuses, and major college-bookstore operators are exploring rental programs as well. Start-ups like Flat World Knowledge offer their textbooks free on the Web and sell a variety of versions of the text (print-on-demand books, printable PDF's of chapters, and MP3 files) and support materials. Connexions and numerous other groups provide platforms for a growing number of open textbooks.
Efforts by one of Metro Detroit's largest suburban school districts to recruit more minority teachers and administrators have renewed debate over the use of race in hiring decisions.
A recent directive in the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools urges administrators to scan resumes for "cues" that applicants are from a minority racial group. Tip-offs can include job-seekers' residence, college attendance, fraternity or church membership and employment history.
Nearly a quarter of Plymouth-Canton's nearly 19,000 students are minorities, compared with less than 3 percent of its educational staff. District officials say they want to close that gap while hiring the most-qualified candidates.
Children in Everett will be walking up to a mile to get to school next year. The budget saving plan has some parents worried about traffic and safety.
The school board says the plan will save the district more than $400,000.
Before hurricane Katrina ravaged the city in 2005, New Orleans had one of the worst performing public school districts in the nation. Katrina forced nearly a million people to leave their homes and caused almost $100 billion in damages. To an already failing public school system, the storm seemed to provide the final deathblow. But then something amazing happened. In the wake of Katrina, education reformers decided to seize the opportunity and start fresh with a system based on choice.
Content from Sternberg, R. (1994). In search of the human mind. New York: Harcourt Brace.
1. Lack of motivation. A talent is irrelevant if a person is not motivated to use it. Motivation may be external (for example, social approval) or internal (satisfaction from a job well-done, for instance). External sources tend to be transient, while internal sources tend to produce more consistent performance.
2. Lack of impulse control. Habitual impulsiveness gets in the way of optimal performance. Some people do not bring their full intellectual resources to bear on a problem but go with the first solution that pops into their heads.
3. Lack of perserverance and perseveration. Some people give up too easily, while others are unable to stop even when the quest will clearly be fruitless.
4. Using the wrong abilities. People may not be using the right abilities for the tasks in which they are engaged.
As far as failing schools are concerned, Custer High School has been on the watch list for years.
The north side Milwaukee institution on Sherman Blvd. has one of the highest populations of special education students in the district, mostly for behavioral problems. Since 2002, no more than 20% of its 10th-graders have tested proficient or higher in either reading or in math on state tests. Student enrollment has been in a freefall.
As part of President Barack Obama's push to turn around the worst performing 5% of schools in the country, Custer is in the crosshairs. The government ordered states to identify their lowest performers through a new formula earlier this year and then increased the pot of improvement grant money available to them, provided those schools implement federally approved reforms such as contracting with management companies or replacing principals.
But will those be enough to improve Custer and the other turnaround schools, where previous reform efforts have failed?
Milwaukee Public Schools - where all of Wisconsin's lowest-performing schools are located - is on its way to finding out. Last week it applied for $45 million in school improvement grants that the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is authorized to distribute. The application asked for grants worth from $50,000 to $2 million for 47 schools, and the district expects to hear by the end of this week if its plans are approved, Marcia Staum, MPS director of school improvement, said Tuesday.
Some time this fall, the U.S. Education Department will publish a report that documents the death of tenure.
Innocuously titled "Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2009," the report won't say it's about the demise of tenure. But that's what it will show.
Over just three decades, the proportion of college instructors who are tenured or on the tenure track plummeted: from 57 percent in 1975 to 31 percent in 2007. The new report is expected to show that that proportion fell even further in 2009. If you add graduate teaching assistants to the mix, those with some kind of tenure status represent a mere quarter of all instructors.
Friedman is wrong. Startups are a wonderful thing, but they cannot by themselves increase tech employment. Equally important is what comes after that mythical moment of creation in the garage, as technology goes from prototype to mass production. This is the phase where companies scale up. They work out design details, figure out how to make things affordably, build factories, and hire people by the thousands. Scaling is hard work but necessary to make innovation matter.There has been quite a bit of commentary on Grove's Bloomberg article online: Bing, Clusty, Google and Yahoo.
The scaling process is no longer happening in the U.S. And as long as that's the case, plowing capital into young companies that build their factories elsewhere will continue to yield a bad return in terms of American jobs.
Most Americans would not pay higher taxes for specific public services in their states, but they are more supportive of paying for education and staffing law enforcement than supporting state employees and entitlement programs.The Economist:
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey of Adults shows that only 19% would be willing to pay higher taxes to avoid layoffs of state employees. Sixty-nine percent (69%) say they would not be willing to pay more in taxes for this reason. Another 11% are undecided.
Adults feel similarly when it comes to funding entitlement programs. Twenty-two percent (22%) would pay higher taxes to prevent cuts in entitlement programs for low-income Americans. Sixty-three percent (63%) say they would not pay more to keep these programs afloat. Another 15% are undecided.
This is because it would begin the undoing of a policy disaster dating back to 1999. That was when the Democratic legislature and the then governor, Gray Davis, a Democrat elected with union support, thanked the unions by giving state workers pension increases of between 20% and 50%. Many highway-patrol officers, for example, were allowed to retire at 50 with 90% of their final salary. All told, California now has probably the most generous public-sector benefits in the country.
That, however, is not what outrages Mr Schwarzenegger, a Republican, or his brainy economic adviser David Crane, a Democrat. Rather, it is that the pension plans--above all the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS), the largest such scheme in America--pretended that this generosity would not cost anything. In 1999 the dotcom bubble was still inflating, and the plans' actuaries predicted that their retirement funds would gain enough value to pay the increased pensions. By implication, they assumed that the Dow Jones Industrial Average would reach 25,000 in 2009 and 28m in 2099. It is currently at around 10,300.
The common-sense arguments for and against providing students with slide handouts before a lecture are well rehearsed. Having the handouts means students need take fewer notes, therefore allowing them to sit back and actually listen to what's said. Withholding the handouts, by contrast, entices students to make more notes, perhaps ensuring that they're more engaged with the lecture material rather than mind-wandering.
Elizabeth Marsh and Holli Sink began their investigation of this issue by surveying university students and lecturers. The student verdict was clear: 74 per cent said they preferred to be given slide handouts prior to the lecture, the most commonly cited reason being that having the handouts helps with note-taking. The lecturers were more equivocal. Fifty per cent said they preferred to provide handouts prior to the lecture, but 21 per cent said they never gave out handouts and 29 per cent preferred to distribute afterwards. The most common lecturer reason for retaining handouts was students wouldn't pay attention if they had the handouts.
Millions of dollars annually from Potawatomi Bingo Casino proceeds will end this month as the school prepares to lean on its endowment and investments
When casino money started flowing 20 years ago, the first changes at Indian Community School of Milwaukee were relatively modest: Grades that had been cut because of budget concerns were restored. The school started paying employees' health and dental insurance. Staffing was increased.
Later came building repairs and salary increases.
Today, the school has moved to 177 acres in this southwestern suburb, in an architecturally stunning building that honors the environment but has at least six computers, a Smart Board display and an audio system in every classroom.
The big question: Can it be sustained?
The governor will be expected to reverse the financial tsunami that forced local school districts to lay off teachers, shorten the school year and eliminate academic programs. He or she will play a major role in updating the popular HOPE scholarship, as falling revenues jeopardize its future. The governor will also help decide hot-button issues, such as whether illegal immigrants should be allowed to attend the state's public colleges.
While education leaders -- such as the state superintendent, State Board of Education and State Board of Regents -- set policies and make decisions that affect the state's public schools and colleges, the governor wields enormous power and influence over the quality of education in Georgia.
The gubernatorial candidates agreed education was either the No. 1 issue or just behind jobs and economic development.
Dr. Patrick Wolf spoke to a packed audience in the Capitol Visitors Center last Monday.
The seats were full and people stood all along the edges of the room, even spilling out into the hallway. We all came to hear him explain his latest research on the tiny education program that has caused a national uproar--arousing so much passion that African-American leaders from around the country recently gathered downtown to engage in an act of civil disobedience.
The Department of Education commissioned Wolf to conduct a series of detailed studies on the results of the Washington DC Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP). Established in 2004 as a five-year pilot program, OSP is among the most heavily researched federal education programs in history.
OSP targeted about 2,000 of the poorest kids in DC who were stuck in some of the worst schools in the country. It gave their parents a $7,500 scholarship to attend a private school of their choice.
The response was immediate. Four applications were filled out for every slot available. Parents loved the program, considering it a lifeline for their children, a way to escape failing schools and enter safe, functional schools.
As state and local budgets collapse around the country, the axe is coming down on teachers. One, two, three hundred thousands layoffs in schools from coast to coast.
The axe is falling first on younger teachers who would be - should be - the next generation of American educators. And of course, fewer teachers means bigger classes alongside less of much else: band, sports, languages, labs ... you name it.
A couple of weeks ago, in the course a long post about how we came to live in a post-NCLB world, I wrote:Why did this happen? First, because NCLB didn't work very well. The federal government is good at distributing money. It can fund research, provide information, and set standards. It has a significant if limited capacity to prohibit people from doing bad things. But it is very difficult for the federal government to make state and local governments do good things they don't want to do. And that's where NCLB fell down. You cannot create a regulatory apparatus that mandates, via adherence to enforceable rules, the transformation of bad schools into good ones.I've been thinking about this some more and thought it would be worth elaborating.
Brown v. Board was a case of the federal government prohibiting people from doing bad things. It hasn't been easy-the civil rights division of the Justice Department is still overseeing and litigating numerous related cases today-but it worked, in large part because both the problem and the solution were easy to identify. If a small, angry man is standing in the entrance of the local high school swearing eternal fealty to segregation, it's not hard to figure out what needs to change. The remedy is also straightforward: send in the national guard to remove the segregationist and unchain the high school doors.
After Brown, the next big judicial push for educational justice came in school funding. Because the Rodriguez case closed off the federal courts, this battle was fought state by state. Again, it wasn't easy. There were numerous losses, some cases dragged out for decades, and recalcitrant legislatures reneged on their constitutional obligations to poor children. But there were also many victories, in large part because, again, the problems and solutions were straightforward. Money is easy to count. If poor districts get much less of it than rich districts, there's only so much states can do to defend themselves. If subsequent counting shows persistent financial disparities, you get hauled back into court.
Since the small schools movement in the '90s, the Bay Area has been something of a petri dish for alternative academics in K-12 education. Oakland, for example, boasts 34 charter schools of various themes and sizes (as well as graduation rates), the first of which was founded in 1993. But until now, Berkeley hasn't joined the experiment.
Now, to the outcry of some community members and the cheers of others, Berkeley will open its first charter schools, after a proposal for the schools was approved by the Board of Education last month. With a starting budget of just over $3 million, the Revolutionary Education and Learning Movement middle and high schools will open in the fall of 2011. REALM seeks to integrate alternative ways of learning into its curricula, including computer programming, game design and other technology-based projects.
There was a day a few weeks ago when I found my 2½-year-old son sitting on our building doorstep, waiting for me to come home. He spotted me as I was rounding the corner, and the scene that followed was one of inexpressible loveliness, right out of the movie I'd played to myself before actually having a child, with him popping out of his babysitter's arms and barreling down the street to greet me. This happy moment, though, was about to be cut short, and in retrospect felt more like a tranquil lull in a slasher film. When I opened our apartment door, I discovered that my son had broken part of the wooden parking garage I'd spent about an hour assembling that morning. This wouldn't have been a problem per se, except that as I attempted to fix it, he grew impatient and began throwing its various parts at the walls, with one plank very narrowly missing my eye. I recited the rules of the house (no throwing, no hitting). He picked up another large wooden plank. I ducked. He reached for the screwdriver. The scene ended with a time-out in his crib.
As I shuffled back to the living room, I thought of something a friend once said about the Children's Museum of Manhattan--"a nice place, but what it really needs is a bar"--and rued how, at that moment, the same thing could be said of my apartment. Two hundred and 40 seconds earlier, I'd been in a state of pair-bonded bliss; now I was guided by nerves, trawling the cabinets for alcohol. My emotional life looks a lot like this these days. I suspect it does for many parents--a high-amplitude, high-frequency sine curve along which we get the privilege of doing hourly surfs. Yet it's something most of us choose. Indeed, it's something most of us would say we'd be miserable without.
Fewer low- and moderate-income high school graduates are attending college in America, and fewer are graduating.
Enrollment in four-year colleges was 40% in 2004 for low-income students, down from 54% in 1992, and 53% in 2004 for moderate-income students, down from 59% over the same period, according to a report recently submitted to Congress by the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance.
If that trend has continued, low- and moderate-income students who don't move on to college face an even darker outlook. The unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year olds averaged 17% in 2004, the jobless rate for people over age 25 with just a high school diploma averaged 5% the same year. So far this year, those figures have jumped to 25.8% and 10.6%, respectively.
Something's not right about this school funding reform stuff. State Superintendent Tony Evers last month introduced "Fair Funding for Our Future," which is supposed to "make it fairer for districts [and] provide them with more financial stability"... so that every Wisconsin child can graduate ready to succeed in further education and the workplace....Fair, sustainable, and transparent funding also requires education leaders at all levels to commit to investing taxpayer dollars in programs that show results.Evers - and many others - seem to be honing in on the bucks when it's much more critically important to hone in on that "showing results" part.
Heritage does great work on countering the "Education Spending Fallacy," i.e., that more money means better performance. The latest piece countered Paul Krugman's plea to throw more money at the system.
Today's Star-Ledger looks at the increasing cost of educating children with special needs in out-of-district placements, and districts' efforts to create in-district classrooms. Fact from the article: Bedminster's Somerset Hills Learning Institute for autistic children costs more than $116,000 per student this year.
Here's another fact (not from the article): New Jersey classifies children as eligible for special education services at a higher rate than any other state in the country. In fact 18%, almost 1 in 5, of our children are diagnosed with either learning disabilities or other handicaps. To round out the picture, we classify minority children at a much higher rate than white kids. From a 2007 report from the Harvard School of Education:
It was final exam day in Anthony Skokna's classroom, and his students scanned textbooks and old exams for inspiration as they scribbled answers.
Such assistance was standard practice in Skokna's economics class, but on this June day it was not enough. Halfway through the period, one student asked the teacher outright for the answer to a true/false question. Skokna complied, and a flood of questions and answers ensued like some twisted game show.
"Skok, you might get your job back," yelled one excited student. "It look like we're learning."
Mickey Mouse might not be the most obvious choice as a language teacher but he and Donald Duck are being put to work in China by Walt Disney as part of a rapid expansion of a schools programme that aims to teach English to 150,000 children a year by 2015.
Disney, which has identified Shanghai as the location of its next theme park, is the first western media company to operate schools in China. It owns a handful in Shanghai and recently opened its first in Beijing.
Announcing the move, Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, described the Building Schools for the Future programme as bureaucratic and wasteful, saying that in some cases schools had taken longer to build than an airport in Hong Kong.
He accused the last Labour government of failing to fund the £55 billion scheme, which was due to see new classrooms and other buildings constructed at more than 700 schools.
The announcement came as Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, announced a further £1.5 billion in cuts, including £1 billion from the Department of Education.
Labour had been relying on "unrealistic" end of year underspending to fund projects including the school building programme, creating a "black hole" which Mr Gove said the new Coalition Government would not allow to continue.
Here is the opening paragraph, which includes a pretty big number, but I don't know what this writer means by "the educational community", or what he means by "support and services for open source software by 2012″:The educational community has discovered open source tools in a big way. Analysts predict that schools will spend up to $489.9 million on support and services for open source software by 2012, and that only includes charges related to operating systems and learning management systems. Teachers, professors and home schoolers are using open source applications as part of their educational curriculum for a wide variety of subjects.There is no link to the number or to the analysts, so I don't know from where the information comes. I'd like to say right away that I don't like that the writer of this blog post is saying that these open source tools "replace" existing tools or software. I don't think there is any way for one person to measure that. I think it is helpful, though, to say that these open source tools may work well in cooperation with existing software, or as accents for software that already exists.
The last time documentary film director Davis Guggenheim was in the San Francisco Ritz-Carlton, he was asking Al Gore to be in his new movie about global warming.Watch the trailer here.
"An Inconvenient Truth" won Guggenheim an Academy Award and put Gore on the fast track for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Guggenheim, 46, now had the Hollywood clout to pursue any project he wanted. He chose to take on the country's public school system.
Back at the Ritz-Carlton, the director was just starting the promotional tour of his new film, "Waiting for Superman," a documentary that follows five families who reject the assigned path into an inferior public school and embark on a quest to gain admission into quality public schools - all public charter schools, including Summit Preparatory Charter High School in Redwood City.
Guggenheim, who sends his own children to private school, takes on the teachers unions, bureaucracy and a status quo that denies children the opportunity a public education is supposed to give them.
One way rural school districts in Minnesota try to save money is by sharing superintendents, usually with one person becoming the leader of two districts.
But a man in southern Minnesota is getting ready to become the superintendent of three districts, and officials say he probably won't be the last to take on so many districts.
Jerry Reshetar has been the superintendent of the Lyle School District since 1999. The town sits right on the Minnesota-Iowa border and its school has about 230 or so students. The district had already been working on sharing resources with two nearby districts, Glenville-Emmons and Grand Meadow.
Breach of contract action focuses on written contract requiring divorced father to cover daughter's school costs until age 25
It's not news that some children, especially as they hit their teenage and college years, don't get along with their parents. But even experienced attorneys say it's rare when the disagreements grow to a point where litigation is required.
So consider the odd case of Dana Soderberg, who went to court to force her father to live up to a deal to pay her tuition at Southern Connecticut State University. Hamden family lawyer Renee C. Berman handled the lawsuit for Soderberg.
Sensing a business and cultural opportunity, Scholastic carefully translates English-language books like "Heidi" and "The Magic School Bus" to be used at schools in several Arab-speaking countries.
The publisher was on a rare and delicate mission to translate and mass-market books from America for a part of the world that often rails against American values.
Carol Sakoian, a vice president of Scholastic Inc., brought a small group of Arab officials into a conference room to screen a stack of stories. They read and read, about caterpillars, volcanoes, Amelia Earhart, and a big red dog named Clifford.
In a recent Seattle Times interview, Dr. Maria Goodloe-Johnson said:"We don't have charter schools. So let's put that over there, and let's talk about something else. How about kids being successful, how about kids being challenged? How about providing interventions to close the achievement gap?"Okay. Let's talk about those things.
How about kids being successful and challenged? Under Dr. Goodloe-Johnson's administration, what changes have we seen? On the good side we have seen more AP classes in the high schools that didn't have many before. We have certainly seen more students taking AP classes. That's in the high schools. What have we seen in K-8? More schools have been designated as ALOs, but there is no quality assurance so we don't know if there is anything there beyond the official designation. That's particularly true with Spectrum programs.
It's not unusual for government agencies with budget problems to start outsourcing services to private industry.
Computer maintenance, prison management, landscaping -- all are among the services that state or local bureaucrats have handed off to private firms over the years.
What about college education? It turns out that California is trying to outsource our public higher education system to the for-profit college industry. What is surprising is that this is happening without any evidence that the affected students would be well served.
Giving teens 30 extra minutes to start their school day leads to more alertness in class, better moods, less tardiness, and even healthier breakfasts, a small study found.
"The results were stunning. There's no other word to use," said Patricia Moss, academic dean at the Rhode Island boarding school where the study was done. "We didn't think we'd get that much bang for the buck."
The results appear in July's Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. The results mirror those at a few schools that have delayed starting times more than half an hour.
Researchers say there's a reason why even 30 minutes can make a big difference. Teens tend to be in their deepest sleep around dawn -- when they typically need to arise for school. Interrupting that sleep can leave them groggy, especially since they also tend to have trouble falling asleep before 11 p.m.
The frontier in the battle to defeat student cheating may be here at the testing center of the University of Central Florida.
No gum is allowed during an exam: chewing could disguise a student's speaking into a hands-free cellphone to an accomplice outside.
The 228 computers that students use are recessed into desk tops so that anyone trying to photograph the screen -- using, say, a pen with a hidden camera, in order to help a friend who will take the test later -- is easy to spot.
Scratch paper is allowed -- but it is stamped with the date and must be turned in later.
When a proctor sees something suspicious, he records the student's real-time work at the computer and directs an overhead camera to zoom in, and both sets of images are burned onto a CD for evidence.
I have had the pleasure of handing diplomas to some unusual people at commencement. Still, it was startling to see the child walk toward me. He was 9. He looked younger.
He wasn't accepting the diploma for himself, of course. It was for his dad, on active duty in Iraq. He'd sent his son, living on a base in Germany, to get it for him.
"Congratulations," I said. He and his dad deserved it.
At University of Maryland University College (UMUC), our graduates are America's adult learners. Almost all work full time. Half are parents. Their diplomas often reflect the work, sacrifice -- and triumph -- of an entire family.
However, a new study of what parents from the nation's sixth largest metropolitan area want for their children's education tilts favorably to a growing national preference for private and charter schools.Pew Trusts:
And charter schools win the horse race for school choice, according to the Pew Charitable Trusts' Philadelphia Research Initiative.
"This trend has developed in the face of evidence that many charters perform no better than district schools and of a constant drumbeat of news reports and investigations regarding alleged and proven improprieties in the way charters operate," the report's authors say.
So why are an estimated 420 million students on waiting lists for charter schools?
Frustration with the struggling direction and results of traditional public schools is a leading cause.
A comprehensive new study from The Pew Charitable Trusts' Philadelphia Research Initiative finds that K-12 education in Philadelphia is undergoing a sweeping transformation that has given parents a new array of choices about where to send their children to school but has left families thinking they still do not have enough quality options.
The study, "Philadelphia's Changing Schools and What Parents Want from Them," finds that the three largest educational systems in the city--traditional public schools, charter schools and Catholic schools--have changed dramatically in size and composition during the past decade. Only one of them, the charter schools, has been growing. Indeed, charters, which have been in existence for only 13 years, now have more students than the Catholic school system.
Germany's left has its own tales of abuse. One of the goals of the German 1968 movement was the sexual liberation of children. For some, this meant overcoming all sexual inhibitions, creating a climate in which even pedophilia was considered progressive.
In the spring of 1970, Ursula Besser found an unfamiliar briefcase in front of her apartment door. It wasn't that unusual, in those days, for people to leave things at her door or drop smaller items into her letter slot. She was, after all, a member of the Berlin state parliament for the conservative Christian Democrats. Sometimes Besser called the police to examine a suspicious package; she was careful to always apologize to the neighbors for the commotion.
The students had proclaimed a revolution, and Besser, the widow of an officer, belonged to those forces in the city that were sharply opposed to the radical changes of the day. Three years earlier, when she was a newly elected member of the Berlin state parliament, the CDU had appointed Besser, a Ph.D. in philology, to the education committee. She quickly acquired a reputation for being both direct and combative.
The briefcase contained a stack of paper -- the typewritten daily reports on educational work at an after-school center in Berlin's Kreuzberg neighborhood, where up to 15 children aged 8 to 14 were taken care of during the afternoon. The first report was dated Aug. 13, 1969, and the last one was written on Jan. 14, 1970.
At South Philadelphia High School on Dec. 3, when the school dissolved in racial violence, the community-relations liaison not once, but twice, put herself in harm's way protecting Asian American students from being pummeled by rampaging mobs.
Seven students were hospitalized, though not one of the charges Sutton-Lawson so vigorously defended.
Citizens sent her thank-you cards. Elected officials offered commendations. Business leaders presented gift certificates.
The Philadelphia School District, she says, did virtually nothing.
Two weeks ago, Sutton-Lawson received the ultimate indignity. She was laid off.
"I was totally shocked. I felt like I was trying to make a difference in that school," says Sutton-Lawson, 58, who worked with students who were pregnant and new mothers. "I got nervous. I got sick inside. I got scared about losing my health insurance."
Earlier this week I hopped on the Red Line in the middle of the afternoon to attend a screening of the education reform documentary Waiting for Superman at the Gallery Place movie theater downtown. It's a resonant, skillfully made film, a pitch-perfect representation of education reform in 2010. And arguably the most striking aspect was the near-total absence of No Child Left Behind, which is mentioned only in passing as one more failed federal plan.
This reinforced an idea that's been nagging me for a while now: Some time in the last two or three years, we moved into the post-NCLB era of education reform.
It didn't used to be that way. When I began working on education policy full-time in the early 2000's, the center of gravity in education reform sat with the coalition of civil rights advocates, business leaders, and reform-minded governors of both parties who pushed NCLB through Congress in 2001. To find that same hum of ideas and influence today, you'd head straight for the annual New Schools Venture Fund Summit and its confluence of charter school operators, TFA alumni, urban reformers, philanthropies, and various related "edupreneurs." It's a different world with a different mindset, and this has real implications for public schools.
Forget about students spending one year in each grade, with the entire class learning the same skills at the same time. Districts from Alaska to Maine are taking a different route.
Instead of simply moving kids from one grade to the next as they get older, schools are grouping students by ability. Once they master a subject, they move up a level. This practice has been around for decades, but was generally used on a smaller scale, in individual grades, subjects or schools.
Now, in the latest effort to transform the bedraggled Kansas City, Mo. schools, the district is about to become what reform experts say is the largest one to try the approach. Starting this fall officials will begin switching 17,000 students to the new system to turnaround trailing schools and increase abysmal tests scores.
I hope the White House is paying attention to the latest annual Congressional Budget Office Long-Term Budget Outlook, which offers a truly frightening picture of the scale of America's national debt, with huge implications for the country's future prosperity. According to the non-partisan CBO, "the federal government has been recording the largest budget deficits, as a share of the economy, since the end of World War II":
As a result of those deficits, the amount of federal debt held by the public has surged. At the end of 2008, that debt equaled 40 percent of the nation's annual economic output (as measured by gross domestic product, or GDP), a little above the 40 year average of 36 percent. Since then, large budget deficits have caused debt held by the public to shoot upward; the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that federal debt will reach 62 percent of GDP by the end of this year--the highest percentage since shortly after World War II.
In its report, the CBO also offers two alternative long-term scenarios. The first long-term budget scenario, the more conservative extended baseline scenario, is worrying enough:
Just three days after returning to Beijing from New York, I had to leave again, this time to a series of conferences in Torino, Italy, so it is hard to do much writing for my blog, especially since I won't spend my free time in the hotel when there is so damned much food out here that urgently needs sampling. Still, I did want to write a hurried note about a topic of conversation that came up a lot while I was in the US and even more here in Italy.
For the next several years, as Keynes reminded us in the 1930s, savings is not going to be a virtue for the world economy. It is more likely to be a vice. In order to regain growth the world desperately needs less savings and more private consumption, but I think it is not going to get nearly enough to generate growth. Why? Because in all the major economies the banking systems are largely insolvent, or about to become so, and desperately need to rebuild capital. For reasons I discuss below, this will have a large adverse impact on private consumption.
Let's go through the major banking systems. First, the crisis started in the US and, perhaps as a consequence, US banks have already identified a lot of their problem loans and have been the most diligent about rebuilding their capital bases. They nonetheless still have a long ways to go, even though a large part of the bad loan problem was directly or indirectly transferred to the US government. By the way, transferring bad loans to the government may be good for the banks but will have the same adverse impact on consumption. I try to explain why below.
Here's a good quick read: Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America (Teachers College, 2009), Allan Collins & Richard Halverson. Doug's post on three evolutions reminded me of chapter 6 of Rethinking: The Three Eras of Education. With some additions here's a summary of the current industrial-era education, what was before, and what's next.
State and local debt in Wisconsin grew faster than federal debt over the last 19 years. State debt rose 316%, an average of 7.8% per year, from $2.71 billion in 1990 to $11.25 billion in 2009. Local general obligation debt was up 284%, a 7.3% average, from $3.41 billion in 1989 to $13.1 billion in 2008. Federal debt held by the public averaged annual increases of 6.2% per year for a total increase of 212.8% from 1990 through 2009. The figures come from a new study from the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX), a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization dedicated to citizen education.
Governments borrow for many reasons, including buildings, roads, sewers, and environmental cleanup. However, WISTAX researchers found that about 40% of the state increase was due to $1.6 billion of tobacco bonds issued in fiscal 2002 that were funded by a stream of payments from tobacco companies, as well as $1.8 billion in appropriation bonds issued in fiscal 2004 to pay unfunded state pension and sick-leave liabilities. The tobacco bonds were issued to help balance the 2001-03 state budget. The bonds were refinanced in fiscal 2009, generating an additional $300 million that was used to balance the 2008-09 general fund. Originally expected to be paid off in 2018, the refinanced bonds will not be paid off until 2029.
t is time to end the childhood obesity epidemic once and for all.
Obesity decreases a child's quality of life and longevity. It contributes to a host of medical conditions and costs our country millions each year. Childhood obesity is preventable and our country should take responsibility for helping all children achieve a healthy weight.
My proposal will guarantee that no child will be obese by the time they graduate from high school. This will be accomplished by simply holding schools as well as health and physical education teachers accountable for insuring that all students reach or maintain a healthy weight before graduating high school.
Before I begin, let's address all the naysayers whose excuses will be endless.
via a Kaleem Caire email:
Greetings.Related: Poverty and Education Forum.
We want to remind you that the Urban League of Greater Madison is hosting a forum with members of Dane County's African American community on Thursday, July 8, 2010 from 5:30pm - 7:30pm CST at our new headquarters (2222 South Park Street, Madison 53713) to discuss ways the Urban League can support the education and employment needs and aspirations of African American children, youth, and adults in greater Madison. We would like to hear the African American community's opinions and ideas about strategies the Urban League can pursue to dramatically:
· Increase the academic achievement, high school graduation, and college goings rates of African American children and youth;
· decrease poverty rates and increase the number of African American adults who are employed and moving into the middle class; and
· increase the number of African Americans who are serving and employed in leadership roles in Dane County's public and private sector.
If you have not already RSVP'd, please contact Ms. Isheena Murphy of the Urban League at 608-729-1200 or via email at email@example.com. We will serve light refreshments and begin promptly at 5:30pm CST.
We look forward to listening, learning, and helping to manifest opportunity for all in Dane County.
President & CEO
Urban League of Greater Madison
2222 South Park Street, Suite 200
Madison, WI 53713
Thirty-seven states have some sort of mandate to address the needs of gifted and talented students in public schools. While many parents and teachers have mixed views about the tests used to identify talent and "giftedness," the programs are strongly supported by many parents who cannot afford to send their children to private schools. They are hard to overhaul, for various reasons.
In New York City, officials are seeking a new exam for admissions of gifted students that may involve testing children as young as 3. The city says it is responding to complaints that minorities are underrepresented in the current selection process and that many parents have learned to game the system. Is New York's approach a step forward or backward? What does the latest research show in identifying gifted and talented students?
For decades, parents have shelled out a real estate premium to take advantage of Alameda public schools, spending more money for rent or a mortgage for the peace of mind that comes with solid standardized test scores and a seat at the school down the block.Related: "Measure E, What Went Wrong" and "No on Measure E". More here. The Alameda School District's website.
That's what Heather Genschmer did.
She wanted her son Myles, 3, to have the public school experience she had as a child, one filled with art, music, gifted programs, field trips, sports and high-quality academics.
Alameda's enrollment was 9,612 in 2009/2010. Spending was 92,010,693 in 2009/2010 = $9,572 per student. Locally, Madison spent $15,241 per student, based on the 2009/2010 Citizen's budget ($370,287,471 expenditures for 24,295 students), 37% more than Alameda.
This is despite ex-chief inspector of UK schools, Chris Woodhead, estimating some 15,000 are not up to the job.
Some bad teachers are moved between schools, rather than having their competency challenged, it has emerged.
Teaching unions dispute the claims. The General Teaching Council for England, which investigates complaints, says the number of poor teachers is "not clear".
However, the GTC admits the suggestion that the 18 struck off represented the total number of incompetent teachers in the system is not credible.
Two years ago, its chief executive Keith Bartley said there could be as many as 17,000 "substandard" teachers among the 500,000 registered teachers in the UK.
Bill Cosby used his trademark humor and storytelling style to chide hundreds gathered Saturday at the Essence Music Festival's empowerment seminars into talking to their children about real life and, in the process, keeping it simple.
"We've got to lay it out for them," Cosby said when asked about how to help cut the rate of teen pregnancies in America. "Let's tell them about life. You're 14 and having sex. OK. So, what kind of job do you have?"
Cosby, who received a standing ovation when he walked on stage, said the African-American community must get involved if change is going to occur in any area.
According to a front-page story in the local daily, the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) could lay off as many as 482 teachers, mostly young staff, "while other large districts are predicting far fewer cuts." Rhetorical explanations for why this is happening abound. But published statistics point to concrete reasons for the pending actions.
Key political players in the controversy offered quick explanations for the layoffs. The MPS school board president cited union reluctance to switch to lower-cost health insurance. Union leaders blamed inadequate state and federal funding. And young teachers complained they were laid off "because of experience, and not performance." Most union contracts have seniority provisions requiring that the last teacher hired--often a young teacher--is the first fired.
Halfway through his Presidency, George W. Bush called on the country to build "an ownership society." He trumpeted the soaring rate of U.S. homeownership, and extolled the virtues of giving individuals more control over their own financial lives. It was a comforting vision, but, as we now know, behind it was a bleak reality--bad subprime loans, mountains of credit-card debt, and shrinking pensions--reflecting a simple fact: when it comes to financial matters, many Americans have been left without a clue.
The depth of our financial ignorance is startling. In recent years, Annamaria Lusardi, an economist at Dartmouth and the head of the Financial Literacy Center, has conducted extensive studies of what Americans know about finance. It's depressing work. Almost half of those surveyed couldn't answer two questions about inflation and interest rates correctly, and slightly more sophisticated topics baffle a majority of people. Many people don't know the terms of their mortgage or the interest rate they're paying. And, at a time when we're borrowing more than ever, most Americans can't explain what compound interest is.
Financial illiteracy isn't new, but the consequences have become more severe, because people now have to take so much responsibility for their financial lives. Pensions have been replaced with 401(k)s; many workers have to buy their own health insurance; and so on. The financial marketplace, meanwhile, has become a dizzying emporium of choice and easy credit. The decisions are more numerous and complex than ever before. As Lusardi puts it, "It's like we've opened a faucet, and told people they can draw as much water as they want, and it's up to them to decide when they've had enough. But we haven't given people the tools to decide how much is too much."
NBI 6 - "NEA shall seek a cease and desist agreement from AFT instructing its local Affiliates in Alabama to stop their attempted raids each year."Fascinating....
NBI 20 - "NEA requests Arne Duncan and the Department of Education to immediately implement the decade old recommendation that the 'achievement levels' of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) not be published this year.
Related, by Sam Dillon: Teachers' Union Shuns Obama Aides at Convention
We education watchers are gradually waking up to the fact that a very small but growing number of educators are using Advanced Placement, originally designed for only the best high schools, as a shock treatment to improve instruction at some of our worst high schools.
This is not, to say the least, a well-understood trend. Some of the smartest AP people in the country do not like it. Others do. I think it has great potential benefits, but it is too soon to draw solid conclusions. So I have appointed myself the unofficial scorekeeper for such schools, and have created a special category for them -- what I call the Catching Up schools -- in my annual Challenge Index ratings. This includes my ranked list of all public high schools in the Washington area, published in The Washington Post, and a separate list of schools nationally that have the highest AP test participation rates, best known as America's Best High Schools in Newsweek.com.
I am giving this such attention because when I have looked at schools using this wild approach, it seems to be working for them. Students and parents like the challenge and don't care if they are unlikely to pass many of the tests. The teachers are energized. The fears of critics that using AP with low-performing students will create false expectations and low self esteem seem unfounded.
There's good news for American education. About three-quarters of residents -- 74% -- know the U.S. declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776. The bad news for the academic system -- 26% do not. This 26% includes one-fifth who are unsure and 6% who thought the U.S. separated from another nation. That begs the question, "From where do the latter think the U.S. achieved its independence?" Among the countries mentioned are France, China, Japan, Mexico, and Spain.Valerie Strauss has more.
The National Indian Education Study (NIES) is a two-part study designed to describe the condition of education for American Indian and Alaska Native students in the United States. The study is sponsored by the Office of Indian Education (OIE) and conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics for the U.S. Department of Education. A Technical Review Panel, whose members included American Indian and Alaska Native educators and researchers from across the country, helped design the study.
NIES was authorized under the 2004 Executive Order 13336. The purpose of this order was to assist American Indian/Alaska Native students in meeting the challenging student achievement standards set forth in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorized in 2001.
Part I of the NIES provides in-depth information on the academic performance of fourth- and eighth-grade American Indian and Alaska Native students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in mathematics and reading.
It is agreed, then, that bad eating habits are a government problem. Up to now, you would have been forgiven for thinking that all social ills are to be cured by television presenters. Then this week, the Health Secretary took Jamie Oliver and his well-intentioned - if sadly ineffective - efforts to reform school dinners to task. Take-up of meals is down, argued Andrew Lansley, suggesting that Jamie's formula for school dinner reform is not working. I would suggest Andrew Lansley aims his guns in a different direction.
Oliver has often talked of his frustration and, indeed, has even burst into tears at the refusal of sinners to convert to his way of eating, or stay faithful afterwards. But their diets are not his fault, or his responsibility. He valiantly highlighted an important issue. Millions watched; the previous government made a lot of the right noises, but they never ran with Oliver's campaign.
School Turnaround is a dramatic intervention in a low-performing school that both produces significant achievement gains within two years and prepares the school for long-term transformation into a high-performance organization.
The School Turnaround Group (STG) believes that the problem of chronically failing schools is massive, and therefore cannot be addressed by either incremental change within districts, or by completely abandoning the existing school system. Instead, we advocate a hybrid approach, creating carve-out "Partnership Zones" of low-performing schools that remain within the district but offer more flexible operating conditions.
Kudzu? Who dares compare Wisconsin's education policies to kudzu?Clusty Search: Christopher P. Brown.
Christopher Brown, a professor in curriculum and instruction at the University of Texas at Austin, that's who.
Kudzu is a plant that originated in Asia. Agriculture officials in the U.S. encouraged its use, starting in the 1930s, as a low cost way to stem soil erosion. But, especially in the South, it spread rapidly and far beyond intended areas. It became regarded as a weed.
Hmm. Launched with good intentions, appealing as an easy option, it grew rapidly and accomplished little. That sums up Brown's analysis of Wisconsin education policy from the late 1980s to the early 2000s. In his observations there lie major lessons for those who want to raise the expectations of students in Wisconsin and see more students meet those expectations.
Someone recently pointed me to Brown's analysis, which started as a doctoral dissertation while he was at the University of Wisconsin-Madison a few years ago. Just the title of the version published in 2008 in the academic journal Educational Policy made me laugh - and wince:
For more than 40 years, Rep. David Obey of Wisconsin, the third-ranking member of the House, has been a fiery and highly effective legislator. Any history of how the country avoided another depression must include Obey, who shepherded the $787 billion Recovery Act through Congress last year with great skill (and no earmarks). He has been an inspiring antiwar liberal dating back to Vietnam and a rare man of conscience in Washington.
But Obey, who is retiring at the end of the year, is in danger of going out as a water carrier for the teachers' unions--the man who gutted President Obama's signature program on education, Race to the Top.
At issue is a $10 billion bill (down from $23 billion) to help states prevent devastating teacher layoffs. (The House approved the bill after this column was written on Thursday.) Without the money, we'll see larger class size, four-day school weeks in more areas, and about 100,000 lost jobs, which in turn will strain services and harm the economy. As if the politics weren't byzantine enough, the anti-layoff money has been attached to a bill funding the war in Afghanistan. This was meant to make it easier to win the support of war supporters, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now has to deal with House liberals who like the money for teachers, but not for the war.
"We are a fiscal poster child for what not to do," said Ralph Martire of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability, a liberal-leaning policy group in Illinois. "We make California look as if it's run by penurious accountants who sit in rooms trying to put together an honest budget all day."Sara Lenz:
The state pension system is a money sinkhole and the most immediate threat. The governor and legislature have shortchanged the pensions since the mid-1990s, taking payment "holidays" with alarming regularity.
The state's last elected governor, Rod R. Blagojevich, is on trial for racketeering and extortion. But in 2003, he persuaded the legislature to let him float $10 billion in 30-year bonds and use the proceeds for two years of pension payments.
That gamble backfired and wound up costing the state many billions of dollars. Illinois reports that it has $62.4 billion in unfunded pension liabilities, although many experts place that liability tens of billions of dollars higher.
Some Illinois districts give up middle school idealsMore from Ms. Cornelius.
The preliminary budget for the 2010-11 school year was passed without any discussion by the Somerset Board of Education at its June 21 meeting.
In a discussion with District Administrator Randy Rosburg following the meeting, he said the board has good intentions with its next budget.
The preliminary budget that was passed included a tax levy that would increase from $8.049 million to $8.097 million, an increase of six-tenths of a percent. Rosburg said it is the board's intent to keep working on the budget.
"We should be able to go forward and maintain the same mil rate and same budget," Rosburg said.
There are several variables that have not been set yet that make it impossible for the board and administration to be more firm with their numbers.
The first of those unknowns is enrollment. State funding is based on each school district's enrollment on the third Friday in September.
Detroit Public Schools Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb says he has a balanced budget for next year, but many parents are angry that the district's deficit is growing.
Detroit public school students are enjoying summer vacation. Their thoughts are likely far from the classroom, but when they return in the fall, there will be budget related changes such as school closings, teacher layoffs and larger class sizes -- up to 38 students for grades six through twelve.
"That's based on cuts across the administrative areas, a great deal of sacrifice on the part of our employees, our bargaining units, our teachers," said DPS spokesperson Steve Wasko.
"Inspirational" is the best word to describe the American Library Association's annual summer conference, at least for lovers of children's and teen literature.Melissa Westbrook has more.
For the ALA's summer meeting is the time when the authors and illustrators who have won the organization's top awards -- the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, as well as a host of others -- come and give their acceptance speeches.
The speeches are consistently thought-provoking and thoughtful, as authors and illustrators assess how the creative process, coupled with their life experiences, have brought them to the point of winning a top children's-literature award.
Two of the best speeches are invariably given by the winners of the Caldecott and Newbery Medals, and this year was no exception.
Inspired by the realist style of Edward Hopper, recent Century High School graduate Ali Sifuentes snapped a few nighttime photographs of Silver Lake Foods on north Broadway hoping to recreate the scene in an oil painting.
"I've been by there many times and after studying the building I thought I'd try to recreate the cinematic contrast between light and dark colors," Sifuentes said. "The building has a fantasy sort of feel and it seemed ideal for this style of painting."
Sifuentes believes Hopper, a well-known American artist that often focused on urban and rural scenes depicting modern American life, was sending a message about himself and people of his time.
"I'm basically trying to do the same thing, only I'm showing what the present looks like," Sifuentes said.
Imagine that after paying $17,000 for a brand new car you found out that it cannot take any fuel that is available at gas stations and that modifying the car so it can use regular gasoline will cost almost about half what the card did. You'd be pretty upset right?
Well that's the exact situation students find themselves in when they enroll in at an accredited university only to find out later that their course of study doesn't have program accreditation or state approval.
There are two types of accreditation. The most common kind is regional or national accreditation, in which an entire institution is reviewed to check its finances, academic programs, and other things. Winning approval under this process allows a school to participate in the federal student aid programs. It also lends a strong degree of credibility to an institution since it indicates an outside acknowledgment of legitimacy.
While general institutional accreditation works for most subject areas, some technical or vocational offerings also require their own programmatic or specialized, accreditation. Graduating from an accredited program is frequently a requirement for taking the recognized licensing test in that field. For example, with most law schools need to be accredited by the American Bar Association so that students can sit for the bar exam and be practicing lawyers. It's a similar story with medical and dental school.
A state appellate court ruled unanimously on Thursday that New York City must keep open 19 schools it wanted to close for poor performance, blocking one of the Bloomberg administration's signature efforts to improve the educational system.
The ruling, by the Appellate Division, First Department, in Manhattan, upheld a lower court finding that the city's Education Department did not comply with the 2009 state law on mayoral control of the city schools because it failed to adequately notify the public about the ramifications of the closings.
Because many eighth graders assumed the schools would be closed and the Education Department discouraged them from attending the schools, few applied. Some of the schools could begin September with just a few dozen freshmen. School officials said they expected enrollment to grow with students who move into the city, but the number will still likely be far smaller than in past years.
Benjamin Franklin was a printer, politician, diplomat and journalist. But, despite only two years of schooling, he was also an ingenious scientist. Nobel Prize-winning chemist Dudley Herschbach and Franklin biographer Philip Dray discuss the achievements of America's first great scientist.
In a close vote Thursday night, the Board of Education approved a one-year contract extension for schools Superintendent Joshua Starr.
The agreement increases the remaining two years on Starr's current contract to three, and provides no salary increase in the current year, with pay bumps to $220,000 in 2011-12 and $225,000 in 2012-13, Board of Education President Jackie Heftman said. Starr currently earns a base salary of $215,000.
In addition, the contact calls for the Board of Education to reimburse Starr on a portion of his retirement contributions and eliminates his use of a city vehicle in favor of a $600 monthly transportation stipend. It also allows the board to terminate Starr's employment at any time upon a majority vote.
Starr, who had pushed for the extension, said he was pleased with the outcome. He has said he will move his family from Brooklyn, N.Y. and enroll his two children in Stamford schools if the contract was granted.
The recession is forcing states to raise taxes and cut budgets, including education budgets, which is a wildly stupid national policy both on short-term economic grounds and in terms of investing in future human capital. The responses to this crisis have been maddeningly short-sighted. On the right, and even the center, you have self-styled deficit hawks cheering state-level Hooverism. (The Washington Post editorial page opposes any federal aid to cushion education firings unless states first overhaul their hiring practices, which is of course impossible in that time frame.)Diane Marrero has more along with Valerie Strauss.
Now on the left you're seeing an equally maddening response. House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey proposes to fund money for saving teachers by cutting back funding for the Obama administration's wildly effective "Race to the Top" program, which provides incentives to states that reform their education policy. Obey's spokesman explains:"Mr. Obey has said, 'When a ship is sinking, you don't worry about redesigning a room, you worry about keeping it afloat,' " Brachman said. "He is not opposed to education reform. But he believes that keeping teachers on the job is an important step."
California's school finance system is broken, and our students are paying the consequences. As a result of this irrational finance system, students are being denied the opportunity to master the educational program the state requires.
Now, 60 students and parents, nine school districts, the California School Boards Association, the Association of California School Administrators and the California State PTA have filed a lawsuit, Robles-Wong vs. California, which argues that the California Constitution requires the state to provide a school finance system that supports the educational program students are entitled to receive.
The district is inviting bidders to run poorly performing and new campuses with 35,000 students. More than 80 groups submitted letters of intent for new or low-achieving schools for fall 2011.
The nation's second-largest school system is once again inviting bidders to take over poorly performing and new campuses, in a school-control process that is, once again, pitting teachers and their union against independently operated charter schools, most of which are nonunion.
Teachers working for the Los Angeles Unified School District put in bids for every school. And charters are vying for all but one.
At stake is the education of more than 35,000 students who will attend those schools.
Trying to put the finishing touches on a series of education policy victories in the recently concluded legislative session, Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed into law a hotly debated plan to let local schools seek waivers from a range of state rules and regulations.
But as soon as the ink was dry on House Bill 1368, one of the state's major teachers unions delivered on its promise to challenge the act as unconstitutional.
The teachers group wants a Baton Rouge district court to rule that the Legislature cannot abdicate its law-making authority by effectively allowing the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to pick and choose which laws local schools have to follow.
The new program topped Jindal's K-12 education agenda for the session that ended June 21. The governor pitched waivers as a way to give schools more flexibility, much like public charter schools that have proliferated in New Orleans and elsewhere since Hurricane Katrina.
The alphabet soup of college admissions is getting more complicated as the International Baccalaureate, or I.B., grows in popularity as an alternative to the better-known Advanced Placement program.The Madison Country Day School has been recently accredited as an IB World School.
The College Board's A.P. program, which offers a long menu of single-subject courses, is still by far the most common option for giving students a head start on college work, and a potential edge in admissions.
The lesser-known I.B., a two-year curriculum developed in the 1960s at an international school in Switzerland, first took hold in the United States in private schools. But it is now offered in more than 700 American high schools -- more than 90 percent of them public schools -- and almost 200 more have begun the long certification process.
Rick Kiley emailed this link: The Truth about IB
What happens when you force kids to eat healthy food at school? They find a way to down junk food anyway. That's what the U.K.'s health minister is accusing celebrity chef Jamie Oliver of causing with his attempt to rid cafeterias of unhealthy lunches. (via Wellness)
Oliver is best known in the U.S. for his show Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, in which he attempted to get a West Virginia town to eat more healthfully. He had previously started a program in the U.K. called School Dinners, with a similar goal. Unfortunately, the result may not have worked out as planned. Wellness sums it up:
Calling the Fenty administration's approach to education reform "shortsighted, narrow and sometimes secretive," D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray unveiled a blueprint Thursday to guide education policy if he is elected mayor.
The plan promises more transparency, funding equity for public charter schools, tax credits for early-childhood programs and greater support for the city's neighborhood high schools.
Educators, students and supporters filled the library at Thurgood Marshall Academy, a public charter high school in Southeast, where Gray outlined an ambitious plan and tried to further distinguish himself from Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who has made public schools one of his priorities.
Gray, who is challenging Fenty for the Democratic nomination for mayor, said he gives "tremendous credit" to Fenty for calling attention to the need for education reform. But "what we've learned over the past three years is that it's not enough to have mayoral control. What we need, ladies and gentlemen, is mayoral leadership," he said to hearty applause.
President Barack Obama's education-overhaul agenda was dealt its first major setback after the U.S. House of Representatives diverted money from charter schools, teacher merit pay and the Race to the Top competition to help fund a jobs bill that would stave off teacher layoffs.TJ Mertz offers a number of comments, notes and links on congressional efforts to reduce "Race to the Top" funding and increase federal redistributed tax dollar assistance for teacher salaries.
Even a last-minute veto threat by Mr. Obama late Thursday couldn't prevent the diversion of $800 million, including a $500 million cut from Race to the Top, the president's showcase initiative that rewards states for adopting innovative education redesigns.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Education vowed Friday to keep the president's education agenda intact and find other places to make budget trims.
"We're grateful they passed a jobs bills but not at the expense of the reform efforts we need for our long-term economic interests," said Peter Cunningham, spokesman for the Education Department.
It is difficult to see the governance and spending approaches of the past addressing the curricular, teacher and student challenges of today, much less tomorrow.
Does online learning help you with your strengths and weaknesses? Rick says, "I needed help with writing, and it works very well."
What makes people choose one school over another? Or, choose to go to virtual school? Sydney, "As a general statement, when anyone esee the world laptop, they say 'I want to go to that school.' Besides that, I like it because it's a new school. We were going into a new setting, nobody knew each other."
How do laptops help you learn? Sydney: "It's obvious that laptops and textbooks are two different things. Time is evoloving and so is technology. You can look up so much more. You can see more than what you are already given."
Aaron, "We are able to check our grades 24/7. I can see what I scored immediately."
Labor economists have an interesting way of looking at leisure time, and it should not come as a surprise to anyone at this time of the year. We call most things that we can buy "normal goods", because more income generally leads us to buy more of such things. Along these lines, we recognize that leisure is actually a "normal good", and something that is desired and, in a sense, "purchased" when we take time out to enjoy ourselves rather than use that time to work and earn money. Such a view of leisure leads to the result that it is possible that, as wages increase, people will use that increased income to buy more leisure. Thus, while one normally thinks of increasing wages as leading to people working more, it is possible that higher wages could actually cause people to work less, as the potentially increased income from higher wages is used to "purchase" more leisure time. This is a theoretical possibility called the "backward bending labor supply curve." I found myself thinking of this last weekend as I splashed in the city pool with my daughter, and could well imagine a world in which I would want to use every extra penny to buy such warm summer weekends with my family.
When we adopted my daughter, we put together a CD of songs that had special meaning to us and called it "Waiting for our Daughter", with the intention of giving it to her some day, so she could capture some of the emotion of that moment. Included in it were songs that were popular in the months leading up to her adoption, as well songs that had special meaning to us, such as "Return to Pooh Corner", which still makes me, a lifelong Pooh fan, cry. Also included in the CD was the song "I Hope You Dance". Its refrain sings "when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance". I see it as a song that reflects the life affirming joy that I want to pass on to my child.
Things have changed since Caire was raised by an aunt across the street from Penn Park at a time when adults didn't hesitate to scold neighborhood kids who got out of line, and parents took on second jobs to make ends meet. Today, there is more "hard core" poverty, more crime, and much less sense of place, says Caire, who still can recite which families lived up Fisher Street and down Taft.Caire recently attended the Madison Premiere of "The Lottery", a film which highlights the battle between bureaucratic school districts, teacher unions and students (and parents).
The supportive community of his boyhood began disappearing in the 1980s, as young parents moved in from Chicago to escape poverty and could not find the training and jobs they needed, Caire says. People started to lose their way. In a speech this month to the Madison Downtown Rotary, Caire said he has counted 56 black males he knew growing up that ended up incarcerated. "Most of 'em, you would never have seen it coming."
Caire, once a consultant on minority education for the state and advocate for voucher schools, left Madison a decade ago and worked with such national nonprofit organizations as the Black Alliance for Educational Options and Fight for Children. Later he worked for discount retailer Target Corp., where he was a fast-rising executive, he says, until he realized his heart wasn't in capitalism, despite the excellent managerial mentoring he received.
The sense of community that nurtured his youth has disappeared in cities across the country, Caire remarks. So he's not trying to recreate the South Madison of the past, but rather to build connections that will ground people from throughout Madison in the community and inform the Urban League's programs.
I had lunch recently with two rising 12th-graders at the Potomac School in McLean. They are very bright students. They told me they had signed up for a course in column-
writing in the fall.
Naturally, I was concerned. There is enough competition for us newspaper columnists already: bloggers, TV commentators, former presidential advisers, college professors. Many of them write well and make us look unnecessary. The idea that 17-year-olds are getting graduation credit to learn how to do my job fills me with dread.
But I think I know what the Potomac School is up to. They aren't teaching these kids to write columns. Their real purpose is to show students how to write their college application essays.
Charter schools are not the magic bullet that will transform urban minority public schools. As you peel away layers of the charter onion, the inevitable problems come to the surface.
Locke High School in Los Angeles has been touted as a charter school miracle. I wish it were true, but it's not. In 2008, Locke was notorious as one of the worst failing schools in the United States. It had a high crime rate and a low graduate rate, the opposite of what schools should be. At one point a race riot involving 600 students made the national news.
According to The New York Times, two years after a charter school group named Green Dot, which also operates a charter school in the Bronx, took over management of the school, gang violence was down, attendance was improved, and performance on standardized tests was inching up. The school has become one of the number one stops on the charter school reform bandwagon tour, as corporate and government "education reformers," including federal Department of Education bigwigs, get photo-ops in its newly tree lined courtyard and issue pronouncements about how wonderful everything has become.
Jr. Canest, via a Kris Olds email:
This animation is for a startling documentary called, "Waiting For 'Superman'" that highlights some very serious issues in America today and it made us feel good to make it.
The education measure provoked fierce debate, especially because it would reduce by $500 million the award money available to three dozen states that have submitted proposals in Round 2 of the Obama initiative, the Race to the Top competition.
To become law, the legislation needs Senate approval. The White House said in a statement that if the final bill included cuts to education reforms, Mr. Obama would most likely veto it.
"It would be short-sighted to weaken funding for these reforms," the White House said.
Using stimulus money voted on last year, the Department of Education awarded $500 million to Tennessee and $100 million to Delaware in March, and has promised to distribute the $3.4 billion that remains among additional winning states this year. The House bill would reduce the money available to $2.9 billion.
Teachers' unions lobbied for weeks for federal money to avert what the administration estimates could be hundreds of thousands of teacher layoffs.
Several dozen charter school and other advocacy groups lobbied fiercely against cutting Race to the Top, which rewards states promising to overhaul teacher evaluation systems and shake up school systems in other ways.
The new test works by extracting the DNA of the foetus from the mother's blood and screening it for Down's syndrome and other abnormalities.
At present, pregnant women are given the odds on whether they are carrying a child with Down's syndrome, and if they want to know for certain they have to undergo one of two invasive processes; either amniocentesis or chorionic villus sampling. The first involves taking a sample of fluid from around the foetus and can, in some cases, cause a miscarriage even if the woman is carrying a healthy foetus. The second requires taking a fragment of the placenta.
The new test involves the same equipment needed for amniocentesis testing, but uses blood instead of amniotic fluid and is not invasive.
So far, researchers have been able to prove the technique works in principle and have described the results as "promising". They hope to use the same method to detect other abnormalities in an unborn child's DNA such as Edwards' syndrome, which causes structural malformations in the foetus, and Patau's syndrome, which can result in severe physical and mental impairment and is often fatal.
In 2006, An Inconvenient Truth shined a light on global warming, bringing images of collapsing ice sheets and drowning polar bears to multiplexes nationwide.
Could 2010 be the year moviegoers get the angry urban parent with a hand-drawn placard, demanding more high-quality charter schools and an end to teacher tenure?
This summer, no fewer than four new documentaries, most of them independently produced, tackle essentially the same question: Why do so many urban public schools do such a bad job -- and what can be done to help kids trapped in them?
Among the new films:
School committee members across the state will now also have to attend six hours of training each year on how to perform their community responsibilities.An obvious next step, given the growing "adult to adult" expenditures of our K-12 public schools, while, simultaneously, reducing "adult to child" time. Wow.
Bill sponsor Sen. Hanna M. Gallo, D-Cranston, said the legislation's genesis came from "a lot of people expressing concern that not all school committee members are aware of all the [educational] issues they should."
Issues, such as how schools are financed, labor relations, teacher-performance evaluations, strategic planning and opening meetings laws that require members do their business in public, will be addressed.
"They need to be educated," said Gallo. "It's a big responsibility being on the school committee. It's our children, our students and our future, and we have to make sure we do the job to the best of our ability."
The school committee members will attend a program at Rhode Island College offered by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary education in cooperation with the Rhode Island Association of School Committees.
Related: Ripon Superintendent Richard Zimman:
"Beware of legacy practices (most of what we do every day is the maintenance of the status quo), @12:40 minutes into the talk - the very public institutions intended for student learning has become focused instead on adult employment. I say that as an employee. Adult practices and attitudes have become embedded in organizational culture governed by strict regulations and union contracts that dictate most of what occurs inside schools today. Any impetus to change direction or structure is met with swift and stiff resistance. It's as if we are stuck in a time warp keeping a 19th century school model on life support in an attempt to meet 21st century demands." Zimman went on to discuss the Wisconsin DPI's vigorous enforcement of teacher licensing practices and provided some unfortunate math & science teacher examples (including the "impossibility" of meeting the demand for such teachers (about 14 minutes)). He further cited exploding teacher salary, benefit and retiree costs eating instructional dollars ("Similar to GM"; "worry" about the children given this situation).
For a time in the mid-2000s, small schools were booming. They were supposed to transform the large, failing American high school, to engage students and boost their achievement to ready them for college.High School of the Future and Science Leadership Academy, four-year-old Phila. high schools just graduated their first classes. Their experiences differ greatly..
But the results have been mixed, national and local research shows. Students at small high schools were more likely to graduate, have positive relationships with their teachers, and feel safer. Still, they did no better on standardized tests than did their peers at big schools.
In Philadelphia, where 26 of the 32 small high schools have been opened or made smaller in the last seven years, some schools have thrived. Their presence has transformed the high school mix.
Among the district's current 63 high schools, the 32 small schools enroll roughly a quarter of the 48,000 total enrollment. The rest attend large neighborhood high schools.
A CAREFULLY MANICURED soul patch graces Jordan Kavoosi's lower lip. His polo shirt exposes tattoos on both forearms--on his right, a Chinese character; on his left, a cover-up of previous work. Curling his mouth up into a sideways grin, the 24-year-old sinks back into his brown leather chair.
"I mean, anybody can do anything," he says, gazing out a window that overlooks the strip-mall parking lot. "You just have to do whatever it takes to get there."
Kavoosi is in the business of plagiarism. For $23 per page, one of his employees will write an essay. Just name the topic and he'll get it done in 48 hours. He'll even guarantee at least a "B" grade or your money back. According to his website, he's the best essay writer in the world.
Kavoosi's business, Essay Writing Company, employs writers from across the country. Most of the customers are high school or college students, but not all. In one case, an author asked Kavoosi's crew to write a book to be published in his own name.
To be sure, there are ethical implications to running a business that traffics in academic fraud. The services Kavoosi offers are the same as those exposed in the University of Minnesota's 1999 basketball scandal, during which an office manager admitted to doing homework for players.
"Sure it's unethical, but it's just a business," Kavoosi explains. "I mean, what about strip clubs or porn shops? Those are unethical, and city-approved."
One day this year, one of my elementary gifted students went home and proclaimed (in obvious distress) to his mom that he didn't want to be a "smarty" anymore. Turns out the kids in his class had been teasing him about his very-apparent intelligence. In his meltdown, he expressed that he just wanted to be normal, that he wanted to know what it was like to not worry about everything so much, that he just wanted to be a regular kid and not "stick out" so much all the time.
I wondered how many of my other students wished at times that they weren't so intelligent. What were their thoughts on the "love/hate" relationship gifted individuals sometimes have with their giftedness? As a means of offering you some insight into the mind of a gifted child, here are their responses to the prompt, "Sometimes I wish I wasn't so smart because..." [To their credit, about half of the kids said they were glad they were intelligent. I'll post those responses separately.] [All names are student-chosen pseudonyms.]
"I get taken advantage of. People ask to be my partner or work with me on a paper and I am stuck doing all the work. The only thing they do is make sure their name is on the paper or project." Charlotte, 8th grade
On Monday, June 21st, we filed our "Brief of Respondent" in the School District appeal of Judge Spector's decision. (Sorry to be late in posting it to this blog; our attorney left town after sending me hard copy, but neglected to email an electronic version of the document we filed.) A link to the brief can be found in the left-hand column, below, under "Legal Documents in Textbook Appeal."5.4MB PDF file.
There's no new information, either in the District's brief or our response. You might notice that, rather than acknowledge the catalog of unrelated miscellany in the Seattle Public School District's brief, our attorney, Keith Scully, chose to essentially restate our original case, upon which Judge Spector ruled favorably. He did emphasize certain statements which pertained to claims in the District's brief.
I think Keith has, once again, done a masterful job.
School Superintendent Carol R. Johnson will tap a charter school management organization to run one of the district's low-achieving middle schools, a first for the state, under a plan she will present tonight to the Boston School Committee.
Johnson has not decided which middle school would be overseen by Unlocking Potential Inc., a new Boston nonprofit management organization founded by a former charter school principal.
A key part of the proposal calls for converting the middle school into an in-district charter school, which would enable the management organization to operate under greater freedom from the teacher union's contract as it overhauls programs, dismisses teachers, and makes other changes.
Private, nonprofit colleges will hike tuition and fees by an average of 4.5 percent in the coming academic year, outpacing inflation while still holding close to last year's nearly 40-year low increase rate, according to a survey released Tuesday by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.
The 4.5 percent increase for 2010-11 follows a 4.3 percent increase for 2009-10, which was the smallest increase since 1972-73.
"I think it's a pretty fundamental adjustment that we're seeing here," said David L. Warren, NAICU president. "What we've got is a recession, which has indefinite future to it, and recognition all around that colleges want to hold their expenses as low as they can, and that includes of course the tuition they're charging."
Detroit's ailing public schools suffered an unexpected setback Thursday when the district announced its budget deficit would balloon in the fiscal year beginning Thursday.
The news comes despite deep cut backs by an emergency financial manager hired by the Michigan governor last year to repair the system's finances.
The district, which serves about 84,000 students--half the population of 10 years ago--is projecting the deficit to rise 66% to $363 million from the fiscal year that ended Wednesday.
The district also has lost per-pupil state funding as its student population dwindles. And the state budget, pressured by Michigan's economic woes, also cut funding by several hundred dollars per pupil in the past year.
The U.S. taxpayer has unwittingly been the lead underwriter of the tremendous marketing success of the for-profit higher education sector but bearing most of the downside risks with few rewards.
Over the past three decades, for-profit colleges have designed a most successful business model, growing their enrollment at six times the rate of all universities.
Our future economy will need at least 40 percent of its citizens to earn college diplomas, but we are producing graduates at a rate of less than 30 percent of the population - and taking six years to do so. To their credit, the for-profits have made important progress in addressing the nation's graduation gridlock by catering to working adult students while traditional universities have made only modest efforts to accommodate them.