An athletic and academic standout in Lee County said a lunchbox mix-up has cut short her senior year of high school and might hurt her college opportunities.
Ashley Smithwick, 17, of Sanford, was suspended from Southern Lee High School in October after school personnel found a small paring knife in her lunchbox.
Smithwick said personnel found the knife while searching the belongings of several students, possibly looking for drugs.
"She got pulled into it. She doesn't have to be a bad person to be searched," Smithwick's father, Joe Smithwick, said.
The lunchbox really belonged to Joe Smithwick, who packs a paring knife to slice his apple. He and his daughter have matching lunchboxes.
"It's just an honest mistake. That was supposed to be my lunch because it was a whole apple," he said.
A 17-year-old honor student says she has been kicked off campus for the rest of the school year, because of a mix-up with her lunch box.
In October, senior Ashley Smithwick says she got in trouble at school for the first time in her life after she mistakenly took her father's lunch container -- that's identical to hers -- to Southern Lee High School.
Her dad's container had a three-inch paring knife inside.
"And I had just grabbed my dad's lunch box," Smithwick said. "I didn't mean to. I really didn't. I just grabbed it and went out the door."
School leaders say during that day a faculty member discovered a student with marijuana on campus and Smithwick's paring knife was found during a random search.
According to a written statement received by ABC11 from Lee County Schools Superintendent Jeff Moss on Wednesday, the knife was found in Smithwick's purse, not her lunchbox.
This chart by Mercatus Center Senior Research Fellow Veronique de Rugy compares K-12 education expenditures per pupil in each of the world's major industrial powers. As we can see, with the exception of Switzerland, the United States spends more than any other country on education, an average of $91,700 per student between the ages of six and fifteen.
That's not only more than other countries spend but it is also more than better achieving countries spend - the United States spends a third more than Finland, a country that consistently ranks near the top in science, reading, and math testing.
The photos of triplets born into a billionaire family that were splashed across the front pages of local papers in October made for a great story.
Their proud grandfather, Lee Shau-kee, the 82-year-old chairman of property developer Henderson Land Development Ltd. and one of the richest men in Asia, held up the three baby boys swathed in blue. Next to him stood the father, Peter Lee, the bachelor vice chairman and heir apparent to the Henderson empire.
There was only one thing missing: their mother.
For those wanting a less colloquial explanation, the Big Society is an attempt to transform the relationship between the state and its citizens. Using the weapons of devolution and transparency, it seeks to empower individuals, improve public services that fail the most disadvantaged and reconnect the civic institutions that lie between the people and the state.
So why is the Big Society such a radical idea? As one of its leading proponents in government admits, it is a massive social experiment - stripping power from the state in the expectation that individuals, communities and enterprises will pick up the reins. "As in most such experiments, it is based upon instincts and understanding rather than empirical data," he says. "It will be two to three years before we begin to see if it is playing itself out properly. But the direction of change will be remorseless and I'm confident it will transform Britain."
This tussle between the responsibilities of state and citizens is at the centre of political struggles across the west, from France's battles over pensions to the backlash against Washington in the US. Unsurprisingly, the Big Society ideas - far removed from the rampant individualism of the Tea Party - are being watched with growing interest by moderate Republicans.
In Britain, they fit comfortably with a nation fed up with over-bearing statism and corporate irresponsibility. The latest British Social Attitudes survey revealed growing distrust of both state and big business, combined with a desire for smaller, more local institutions.
Three years ago, Congress stopped then-Education Secretary Margaret Spellings dead in her tracks. Cheered on by college leaders, Senator Lamar Alexander and other lawmakers -- irked by the Education Department's aggressive attempts to regulate higher education accreditation and by what they perceived to be the executive branch's encroachment on their turf -- took several legislative steps that effectively blocked the department from issuing new rules on student learning outcomes.
The players and the issues have changed, but signs are emerging that a similar showdown could unfold early next year over the Obama administration's plan to require for-profit colleges and other vocational programs to prove that they prepare their graduates for "gainful employment." Exactly how such a showdown would shake out is hard to predict, but the likelihood of it taking place grew significantly in recent days.
I had wanted to put this quote in from the governor of Pennsylvania, Ed Rendell, because it made me laugh. He made this remark after the NFL postponed the Sunday football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Minnesota Vikings (which was played last night and the Vikings won). The NFL called the game off because of the danger of fans getting safely to and from the stadium because of a huge snowstorm.
"We've become a nation of wusses. The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything," Rendell added. "If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down."
The "doing calculus on the way down" made me laugh. But then there was this interesting piece on NPR today about Chinese education. Basically, the point is that they are great at learning and memorizing facts but not very good at analytic, problem-solving thinking. Even their principals admit this but like many bureaucratic issues, it's recognized but no one knows what to do.
Public universities across the U.S. are arguing for freedom to reap more revenue and create more efficiencies to offset dwindling state dollars.
One way, they say, is to raise tuition. At California University of Pennsylvania, a 158-year-old state school serving 9,400 students, enrollment is rising for all but the poorest students, which, in part, has led to a novel idea: replace the "low tuition for all" policy with a market-rate policy.
University officials say students from wealthier families could afford to pay more than the average $5,804 annual tuition at the state's 14 universities. Fresh revenue from the higher tuition, they say, could be used to offer more scholarships to help the neediest students.
Gov. Mitch Daniels said Wednesday he will ask lawmakers to approve an education voucher system that would let low-income students use state money to help pay for private school tuition.
aniels provided few details about his proposal - including income levels at which families would qualify or the amount they could receive - but said it will be part of his larger education agenda for the 2011 session.
The governor and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett presented part of that agenda on Wednesday to the Indiana Education Roundtable, a group of education, business and labor leaders who advise the state on school issues.
But Daniels never mentioned the voucher program there. Instead, he and Bennett focused on only a few areas: Freeing schools of regulation, recognizing and rewarding high-quality teachers and limiting the issues for collective bargaining to teacher pay and benefits.
How much is a good teacher worth? Some would say they're priceless, but recent findings in the National Bureau of Economic Research's The Economic Value of Higher Teacher Quality, is a bit more exact. The report, written by Eric A. Hanushek, suggests that quality teachers with 20 students are worth $400,000 more in the future earnings of their students than an average teacher, annually.
Hanushek examines how the quality and effectiveness of a good teacher can impact a student's future success and how this achievement can effect future economic outcomes for the country as a whole.
According to his calculations, it isn't just that good teachers are worth a lot when considering our economic future as a country; alternatively, bad teachers are costing us trillions. Hanushek says that by exchanging the bottom 5-8 percent of crummy teachers with average teachers, the United States, as a country, could jump up the ranks to top in math and science, generating an astounding $100 trillion in present-day value.
The full report can be found at the NBER website.
Supporters of the proposal to develop charter schools in the Madison Metropolitan School District -- including "academies" segregated along lines of gender -- have made a lot of noise in recent weeks about how the School Board should radically rewrite rules, contracts and objectives.Our community is certainly better off with competitive school board races.
Fair enough. Let's have a debate.
Two School Board seats will be filled in the coming spring election -- those of incumbents Marj Passman and Ed Hughes.
Hughes and Passman have both commented thoughtfully on the Urban League's Madison Prep boys-only charter school proposal.
Hughes, in particular, has written extensively and relatively sympathetically about the plan on his blog.
Passman has also been sympathetic, while raising smart questions about the high costs of staffing the school as outlined.
But neither has offered the full embrace that advocates such as the Madison Urban League's Kaleem Caire and former Dane County Board member Dave Blaska -- now an enthusiastic conservative blogger -- are looking for.
In the version of history being taught in some Virginia classrooms, New Orleans began the 1800s as a bustling U.S. harbor (instead of as a Spanish colonial one). The Confederacy included 12 states (instead of 11). And the United States entered World War I in 1916 (instead of in 1917).
These are among the dozens of errors historians have found since Virginia officials ordered a review of textbooks by Five Ponds Press, the publisher responsible for a controversial claim that African American soldiers fought for the South in large numbers during the Civil War.
"Our Virginia: Past and Present," the textbook including that claim, has many other inaccuracies, according to historians who reviewed it. Similar problems, historians said, were found in another book by Five Ponds Press, "Our America: To 1865." A reviewer has found errors in social studies textbooks by other publishers as well, underscoring the limits of a textbook-approval process once regarded as among the nation's most stringent.
A new study finds that delayed marriage and childbearing are leading to increased stress for American men and women in balancing work and family obligations.
Noting that the median age for first marriage is 28 for men and 26 for women, the study, "Family Change and Time Allocation in American Families," says, "Delayed marriage and childbearing heighten the likelihood that the greatest child rearing demands come at the same time that job and career demands are great - particularly among the well-educated."
The study adds, "Delayed childbearing also increases the likelihood that one's parents may begin to suffer ill health and need assistance before one's children are fully launched." In other words, many men and women feel hugely stretched and stressed trying to help out their not fully independent 20-something children at the same time the health of their octogenarian parents is failing.
Bowling Green State University trustees justified recent sweeping changes to a key governing document as a necessary response to faculty unionization, but some professors there say the board is engaged in a retaliatory power grab.
Faculty voted in October to grant collective bargaining powers to the university's chapter of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and the board responded Dec. 10 with changes to the Academic Charter that eliminated numerous faculty committees and stripped professors of their existing roles in the evaluations of deans, directors and chairs.
"This set of changes is allegedly done in response to collective bargaining, but there are so many changes that go beyond that, that clearly something else is afoot," said David Jackson, president of Bowling Green State University's Faculty Association, the AAUP union. "It certainly appears, to us anyway, that the administration is using the collective bargaining election and the need to negotiate salaries and benefits to justify wholesale changes."
Also of concern to Jackson and others is the elimination of the faculty's role in determining financial exigency, which universities can invoke to dismiss tenured professors. Removing even the faculty's advisory function in this area, as the trustees have done, constitutes "a clear taking of power," Jackson said.
It's been well-documented that many high school grads are now too fat to meet the U.S. military's physical requirements. Now it turns out that many of those same kids may be too dumb.
The nonprofit Education Trust released a first-ever report this week showing that more than one in five young people don't meet the minimum standard required for Army enlistment. Among minority candidates the ineligibility rates are higher: 29 percent. In Minnesota, the disparity for black applicants was even more startling: 40 percent were found to be ineligible. Among Hispanics in Minnesota the rate was 20 percent, but among whites, it was 14.1 percent.
This is more a distressing indictment of the U.S. education system than it is a testament to today's Cheeto-eating, Xbox-playing youth, say the authors of the report. It strips away that illusion that the military can be an easy landing ground for those not bound for college, and it suggests that national security is at stake.
Gage Martindale, who is 8 years old, has been taking a blood-pressure drug since he was a toddler. "I want to be healthy, and I don't want things in my heart to go wrong," he says.
And, of course, his mom is always there to check Gage's blood pressure regularly with a home monitor, and to make sure the second-grader doesn't skip a dose of his once-a-day enalapril.
These days, the medicine cabinet is truly a family affair. More than a quarter of U.S. kids and teens are taking a medication on a chronic basis, according to Medco Health Solutions Inc., the biggest U.S. pharmacy-benefit manager with around 65 million members. Nearly 7% are on two or more such drugs, based on the company's database figures for 2009.
Doctors and parents warn that prescribing medications to children can be problematic. There is limited research available about many drugs' effects in kids. And health-care providers and families need to be vigilant to assess the medicines' impact, both intended and not. Although the effects of some medications, like cholesterol-lowering statins, have been extensively researched in adults, the consequences of using such drugs for the bulk of a patient's lifespan are little understood.
While pointing to some school governance problems that certainly need addressing, the recent Audit Commission report on Direct Subsidy Scheme (DSS) schools has triggered public condemnation of these schools in the absence of proper examination of the quality of education they provide. This risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
DSS schools stand somewhere between the traditional public sector and the private sector, and were part of education reform to create a more diverse schools landscape. They are subject to less government regulation and free to set their curriculum, fees and entrance requirements. Many middle-class parents unhappy with local schools find DSS an affordable substitute. They regard it as part of their taxpayer's right under the free education policy to attract some government subsidy for their children attending schools outside the government and aided sector.
The history of public debt is the very history of national power: how it has been won and how it has been lost. Dreams and impatience have always driven men in power to draw on the resources of others--be it slaves, the inhabitants of occupied lands, or their own children yet to be born--in order to carry out their schemes, to consolidate power, to grow their own fortunes. But never, outside periods of total war, has the debt of the world's most powerful states grown so immense. Never has it so heavily threatened their political systems and standards of living. Public debt cannot keep growing without unleashing terrible catastrophes.
Anyone saying this today is accused of pessimism. The first signs of economic recovery, harbingers of a supposedly falling debt, are held up to contradict him. Yet we wouldn't be the first to think ourselves uniquely able to escape the fate of other states felled by their debt, such as the Republic of Venice, Renaissance Genoa, or the Empire of Spain.
A Republican lawmaker wants to kill Madison's fledgling 4-year-old kindergarten program before it even begins.Much more on Madison's planned 4K program, here.
Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend, said Wednesday the state shouldn't encourage new 4K programs -- now in 85 percent of the state's school districts and with three times as many students as a decade ago -- because taxpayers can't afford them.
"We have a very difficult budget here," Grothman said in an interview. "Some of it is going to have to be solved by saying some of these massive expansions of government in the last 10 years cannot stand."
Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad called Grothman's proposal "very troubling."
"I don't know what the 4-year-olds in Madison did to offend the senator," Nerad said. "There are plenty of studies that have indicated that it's a good idea to invest as early as possible."
Last month the Madison School Board approved a $12.2 million 4K program for next fall with registration beginning Feb. 7. Madison's program is projected to draw $10 million in extra state aid in 2014 when the state's funding formula accounts for the additional students. Overall this year, school districts are projected to collect $223 million in state aid and property taxes for 4K programs, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
It appears that redistributed state tax dollars for K-12 are destined to change due to a significant budget deficit, not to mention the significant growth in spending over the past two decades.
The recent 9% increase in Madison property taxes is due in part to changes in redistributed state tax funds.
I spoke with a person active in State politics recently about 4K funding. Evidently, some lawmakers view this program as a method to push more tax dollars to the Districts.
Eighteen-year-old Monika Lutz had dreams of a career helping solve economic and social problems in poor nations. So after high school, she took a year off before college to work with a company, suggested by family friends, that is trying to bring solar power to a remote village in India.
A few weeks of living in a mud hut changed her mind. Exhausted by the obstacles, she says, she told herself, "I'm not ready. I can't dedicate my life to this yet."
When Ms. Lutz starts college in the fall, she plans to explore other careers. "If I hadn't gone on a gap year, I might have spent four years and $200,000 on tuition to end up in that same country and find out the same thing," says Ms. Lutz, of Boulder, Colo.
College-admission letters are starting to roll in, but a growing number of students will decide instead to take a year off to try out potential careers or broaden their horizons. Gap-year activities range from doing volunteer work or taking classes, to working for pay, traveling or tackling outdoor adventures.
Seeking to head off escalating scrutiny over Internet privacy, a group of online tracking rivals are building a service that lets consumers see what information those companies know about them.
The project is the first of its kind in the fast-growing business of tracking Internet users and selling personal details about their lives. Called the Open Data Partnership, it will allow consumers to edit the interests, demographics and other profile information collected about them. It also will allow people to choose to not be tracked at all.
When the service launches in January, users will be able to see information about them from eight data and tracking firms, including BlueKai Inc., Lotame Solutions Inc. and eXelate Inc.
Additional tracking firms are expected to join once the system is live, but more than a hundred tracking firms and big Internet companies including Google Inc. and Yahoo Inc. are not involved.
America spends far more on education than countries like Germany, Japan, Australia, Ireland, and Italy, both as a percentage of its economy, and in absolute terms. Yet despite this lavish government support for education, college tuition in the U.S. is skyrocketing, reaching levels of $50,000 or more a year at some colleges, and colleges are effectively rewarded for increasing tuition by mushrooming federal financial-aid spending. Americans can't read or do math as well as the Japanese, even though America spends way more (half again more) on education than Japan does, as a percentage of income, according to the CIA World Fact Book.
In light of this, it is easy to see why some education experts like Neal McCluskey are floating the idea of "draconian education cuts" to shake up a rotten educational establishment.
Children in an outdoor classroom at an East L.A. preschool use natural materials and the environment as a learning laboratory. It's part of a national campaign to connect youngsters to the outdoors.
On a visit to a Home Depot one day, Cynthia Munoz was surprised when her 4-year-old son began clamoring to plant flowers, trees and a strawberry patch at their La Puente home. She was taken aback again when he knew exactly what tools to use in their backyard garden.
But he'd already had plenty of practice at his preschool, the Brooklyn Early Education Center in East Los Angeles. The school has an outdoor classroom, part of a growing trend in California and other states of using natural materials and the environment as a learning laboratory.
When a student dies, the bill for his student loans often lives on - to the painful surprise and dismay of his co-signers. New Senate legislation seeks to change that, by requiring lenders to make clear the obligations of co-signers in the event of death.
Introduced yesterday, the "Christopher Bryski Student Loan Protection Act," sponsored by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.), is the culmination of a multi-year battle fought by the Bryski family, profiled by the Journal in August. In July 2006, Christopher Bryski died at the age of 25, after an accident left him with a brain injury that put him in a persistent vegetative state for two years. Today, his parents continue to make monthly payments on the $44,500 in private student loans that Mr. Bryski took out to attend Rutgers University. The legislation introduced yesterday would require lenders to provide students and parents with more information about what happens to loans in the event of death.
A first round of student loan and financial reform legislation already passed this year but did not address what happens to private student loans in the event of a student death. Federal student loans can generally be discharged if a student dies or becomes permanently disabled. But private student lenders, such as Sallie Mae, Citibank and Wells Fargo, are not required to discharge loans in the event of death or disability, leaving co-signers, typically parents, on the hook for the balance. Two years ago, Christopher's brother, Ryan Bryski, began talking to lawmakers about a bill. It's an amendment to the Truth in Lending Act and the Higher Education Act of 1965.
The American Academy for Liberal Education has withdrawn its petition for renewal of recognition by the U.S. Education Department's advisory panel on accreditation, which, after having been dismantled and reconfigured, held its first meeting in over two years Wednesday.
The accreditor's decision came as a surprise to many in attendance at the first day of meetings held by the new-look National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity. Earlier this week, AALE officials had vowed to fight the Education Department staff's recommendation that NACIQI urge Education Secretary Arne Duncan to deny recognition for their accreditation body because of its "continued noncompliance."
Ralph A. Rossum, chairman of the AALE board and Salvatori Professor of American Constitutionalism at Claremont McKenna College, told Inside Higher Ed that the agency decided to withdraw from the process of seeking renewed recognition because of the lack of time his agency was given by the Education Department to defend itself. He noted that AALE received the final report of Education Department staff members -- which contained 45 citations of noncompliance -- the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
Peking University, once the natural choice for China's elite students, launches its biggest recruitment campaign in recent years in Hong Kong today as it and other top institutions face growing competition from the region and the world.
In a hard-sell roadshow aimed at Hong Kong students and their parents, it will hold three recruitment sessions, starting with one tonight at the University of Hong Kong.
I am not a lawyer, but I can read policy documents. WI statutes were revised to permit single-sex schools and courses. DPI has a very good question and answer page about the law and how DPI is interpreting it, at: http://dpi.wi.gov/sped/pnd-singlesex.html
The page begins:
On April 14, 2006, the Governor approved Act 346, which allows school boards and charter schools to establish single-sex schools and courses. Act 346 amended §§ 118.13(1), 118.40(4)(b)2, 119.04(1), and 119.22, Wisconsin Statutes, and created §§ 118.40(4)(c) and 120.13(38), Wisconsin Statutes. You can access Act 346 online at http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2005/data/acts/05Act346.pdf.
When state schools Superintendent-elect Janet Barresi takes office, her first priority is going to be stepping up the difficulty and rigor in schools so that more kids are ready for college when they graduate.
Only 2.4 percent of students in Oklahoma's graduating class of 2009 scored in the upper tiers of national math exams, a ratio that places the state among recently industrialized nations such as Bulgaria, Uruguay and Serbia, according to a study released this month.
State schools Superintendent-elect Janet Barresi said the study, which also ranks Oklahoma among the worst 10 states in producing top-achieving math students, should be a wake-up call against the status quo.
"Let's quit making excuses," she said. "Let's accept it, and use it as a challenge, Oklahoma."
Call it the chicken/egg effect, but Apple's iPad, which has now sold over 1 million and is listed as this years most desired gift by kids (aka the chicken) has resulted in a dramatic demand for children's apps (aka the eggs). While this new iTunes-based $.99 per app publishing model has been a shock to publishers, it's great news for a curious child stuck in the back seat on a long trip. This year saw the release of zinc roe's Tickle Tap Apps (like Sound Shaker), and several new titles from Duck Duck Moose, like Park Math, with adjustable age levels. If you're interested in ebooks, have a look at two of our favorites: Bartleby's Book of Buttons and Nash Smasher! And any doubts about the validity of the iPad in the classroom have evaporated thanks to apps like Symmetry Shuffle, Cut the Rope and Motion Math. For dessert, save some room for Smule's Magic Piano.
Germany's main school teaching body has called for classroom weigh-ins and the enforced removal of ultra-overweight pupils to combat rising obesity in society.
Josef Kraus, the DL teaching federation president, said: "When parents don't make sure their children eat healthily and get enough exercise, then it can be the beginning of child abuse in extreme cases." He said school doctors should take a more active role and conduct regular consultations and weight measurements of students. The should also report problem cases to authorities.
"When parental notices about overweight children are thrown to the wind, then youth services must be contacted and as a last resort there should be cuts to their parental benefits or welfare," Mr Kraus said.
His remarks follow the release of official figures which showed that 51 per cent of Germans are considered overweight. Sixty per cent of men and 43 per cent of women have a Body Mass Index (BMI) - a measure calculated by body weight and height - of more than 25, up from 56 per cent and 40 per cent respectively in 1999.
Local educators say purse strings could tighten at both the state and federal levels when new Republican lawmakers take office in January.
And that has some school officials concerned about funding and revenue limits.
Mike Blecha, who sits on the Green Bay School Board and serves as its legislative liaison, noted that state rules limit school revenue increases to $200 per student, down from $275 in 2008-09. That means a school board's ability to raise property taxes becomes limited.
Blecha said he's heard the limit could be reduced to as little as $100 per student. Small, rural districts or districts with declining enrollment could be forced to shut down if levy limits fall that low, he said.
The sign on the classroom wall prohibits the use of handheld communication devices, yet on this December morning all 28 students in Lori Hunt's algebra II class are texting on their cell phones. But these Middleton High School students are not a defiant bunch of teens.
With Hunt's blessing, they're using their cell phones to text answers to math problems. Every answer appears, anonymously, on a wall-mounted, interactive, electronic whiteboard all students can see.
For Hunt, it provides an instant way of knowing how many students understand the problem and can calculate the answer. For the students, it allows them to use a familiar technology to explore challenging new concepts.
Mississippi had a problem born of the age of soaring student testing and digital technology. High school students taking the state's end-of-year exams were using cellphones to text one another the answers.
With more than 100,000 students tested, proctors could not watch everyone -- not when some teenagers can text with their phones in their pockets.
So the state called in a company that turns technology against the cheats: it analyzes answer sheets by computer and flags those with so many of the same questions wrong or right that the chances of random agreement are astronomical. Copying is the almost certain explanation.
Since the company, Caveon Test Security, began working for Mississippi in 2006, cheating has declined about 70 percent, said James Mason, director of the State Department of Education's Office of Student Assessment. "People know that if you cheat there is an extremely high chance you're going to get caught," Mr. Mason said.
Some of the biggest players in the Chapter 220 program will not accept new minority students for the coming school year, a move likely to continue the trend of declining participation in the school integration program.
School boards for Elmbrook, Menomonee Falls and Wauwatosa, which collectively enrolled more than a quarter of all Chapter 220 students last school year, have voted to not open up any new seats to the program in the 2011-'12 school year.
The action comes as districts have increasingly favored the state's open enrollment public school choice program as a way to attract out-of-district students - and increased state aid - to their schools.
"The reason is largely financially related," Elmbrook School District Superintendent Matt Gibson said.
While the money that districts collect for open enrollment students comes on top of the revenue limits allowed by the state, Chapter 220 aid does not raise extra revenue for school districts. Instead, the state aid that districts receive through Chapter 220 goes toward lowering district property taxes.
Want to know how much the University of South Carolina spends to mow the grass on the Horseshoe? What about how much Clemson University doles out to clean the carpet in its board room?
If legislation expected to be prefiled in the state House of Representatives passes, the answer to those questions and many, many others will be a few mouse clicks away for South Carolinians. The legislation, which will be called The Higher Education Transparency Act of 2011 and which was backed by House Speaker Bobby Harrell at a press conference Wednesday, will require that public colleges and universities post every penny of their expenditures online.
Much of the schools' spending is already posted on the Web, but Republican legislators have leaned on school officials to go further.
The spring election of 2011 is shaping up as one of the most exciting in years, with impressive fields of candidates for state Supreme Court, Dane County executive and mayor of Madison.
But that does not mean that there are enough candidates. Plenty of races for circuit judge, school board, city council and village and town government posts have attracted only incumbents. These positions form the fabric of local government. At a time when tough decisions have to be made about the scope and character of the operations these elected officials oversee, it's important that the best and brightest contenders step forward.
Luckily, Wisconsin maintains a low bar for getting on the ballot in local races.
This Issue Brief examines institutional graduation rates reported at 200 percent of normal time, a time frame that corresponds to completing a bachelor's degree in 8 years and an associate's degree in 4 years. The report compares these rates with those reported at 150 percent and 100 percent of normal time for all nine institutional sectors. The purpose is to determine whether the longer time frame results in higher institutional graduation rates.
Students are multitaskers who move through websites rapidly, often missing the item they come to find. They're enraptured by social media but reserve it for private conversations and thus visit company sites from search engines.
College students are an important target audience for many websites. They're young, they're about town, they spend whatever money they have (often online), and they frequently look for many different types of information. For sure, they're an online generation spending -- or squandering -- large amounts of time on the Web.
To learn how students use websites, we conducted observational research with 43 students in 4 countries (Australia, Germany, the UK, and the USA). Participants ranged in age from 18 to 24 years and included 18 men and 25 women. Our test participants attended the following educational institutions:
Remember Norman Rockwell's stark painting of the little African-American girl being escorted into a New Orleans schoolhouse by two deputy U.S. marshals? Today that little girl, Ruby Bridges, is working to open a public charter school in that same school building, which will house a civil rights museum as well.
Wouldn't it be strange for a civil rights figure like Bridges to join a movement that was "accelerating re-segregation by race," as charter schools were characterized in a recent Miller-McCune.com article? Yet that's what some critics would have us believe, though more than a million black and Latino parents have chosen charters as a way of opening doors for their own children.
Ted Kaptchuk at Harvard Medical School and colleagues at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center conducted a clinical trial and found a placebo pill without any active ingredient was better than no treatment at helping patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
The therapeutic effect observed in the IBS patients who received the placebo treatment was not the common placebo effect, which is something observed in patients who do not know they are taking a dummy pill in the first place.
In this study, the researchers actually told those on the placebo treatment that they were using a placebo pill, but not a medicine.
The study published on December 22 in PLoS ONE suggests that any placebo treatment (which at least won't cause adverse or side effect) can be better than no treatment.
Sarah, Mitt and several tea party groups say the tax compromise with Barack Obama is a bad idea, sells out the GOP's anti-spending promises and, worst of all, helps you-know-who's re-election chances. But Newt, Mike and Tim think it's a decent deal. Far be it from me to interrupt the GOP's holiday spirit. Let us stipulate, however, that the furtive, ragged tax bill being let out the back door of a lame duck Congress proves--officially and conclusively--that tax policy in the United States has hit the wall.
A compelling, even frightening article in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal about a tax system that is a morass of extenders, extrusions, loopholes, credits and bubble-gum fixes ended with the story of a grievously ill cancer patient balancing the benefits of taking an experimental drug against the estate-tax benefits to his family of an early death.
When President Obama announced a two-year stay of execution for taxpayers on Dec. 7, he made it clear that he intends to spend those two years campaigning for higher marginal tax rates on dividends, capital gains and salaries for couples earning more than $250,000. "I don't see how the Republicans win that argument," said the president.
Despite the deficit commission's call for tax reform with fewer tax credits and lower marginal tax rates, the left wing of the Democratic Party remains passionate about making the U.S. tax system more and more progressive. They claim this is all about payback--that raising the highest tax rates is the fair thing to do because top income groups supposedly received huge windfalls from the Bush tax cuts. As the headline of a Robert Creamer column in the Huffington Post put it: "The Crowd that Had the Party Should Pick up the Tab."
Arguments for these retaliatory tax penalties invariably begin with estimates by economists Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics and Emmanuel Saez of U.C. Berkeley that the wealthiest 1% of U.S. households now take home more than 20% of all household income.
From Examiner.com, courtesy of Hans Bader, counsel at the Competitive Enterprise Institute:Much of college "education" is a waste of time. I learned more practical law in six weeks of studying for the bar exam and a couple summers of working for law firms than I did in three years of law school. I spent much of my time at Harvard Law School watching "Married With Children" or arguing with classmates about politics, rather than studying (much of what I did study was useless). Even students who were high on drugs had no difficulty graduating.
(Higher education is no guarantee of even basic literacy. When I worked at the Department of Education handling administrative appeals, I was dismayed by the poor writing skills of the graduate students who lodged complaints against their universities).
They didn't seem to agree on anything during the gubernatorial election, but Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is hoping he and Governor-elect Scott Walker can find common ground on at least one issue in 2011.
Both leaders want to rein in public employee unions - just not the same ones.
Walker, who has tangled with Milwaukee County unions as county executive, is gearing up for a clash with state workers, seeking wage and benefit cuts and threatening legislation to weaken or eliminate state unions' bargaining rights if they won't agree to concessions.
Barrett, meanwhile, wants Walker's help to change another law that gives Milwaukee police unions extra bargaining leverage. The mayor also wants to block the police and firefighters' unions from winning one of their top legislative priorities: abolishing residency requirements.
While most public employee unions backed Barrett, the Democratic nominee for governor, the Milwaukee Police Association and the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association endorsed Walker, the Republican. Now both unions' presidents accuse Barrett of seeking retribution for those endorsements, a charge he denies.
School officials across the country are revisiting "zero-tolerance" disciplinary policies under which children are sometimes arrested for profanity, talking back to teachers or adolescent behavior that once would have been resolved in meetings with parents. The reappraisals are all to the good given that those who get suspended or arrested are more likely to drop out and become entangled in the criminal justice system permanently.
The New York City Council clearly had this link in mind when it passed a new law earlier this week that will bring long overdue transparency to the school disciplinary process. Under the Student Safety Act, which takes effect in 90 days, the New York Police Department's school security division will be required to provide clear and comprehensive data that show how many students are arrested or issued summonses at school and why. School officials will also have to provide similarly detailed information on suspensions.
The world's first technology for writing was invented not by poets or prophets or the chroniclers of kings; it came from bean counters. The Sumerian cuneiform script--made up of symbols incised on soft clay--grew out of a scheme for keeping accounts and inventories. Curiously, this story of borrowing arithmetical apparatus for literary purposes has been repeated in recent times. The prevailing modern instrument for writing--the computer--also began as (and remains) a device for number crunching.
Dennis Baron's extended essay A Better Pencil looks back over the entire history of writing technologies (clay tablets, pens, pencils, typewriters), but the focus is on the recent transition to digital devices. His title implies a question. Is the computer really a better pencil? Will it lead to better writing? There is a faction that thinks otherwise:
We all want more young people to attend college. Who would argue with that? Politicians and educators at all levels extol the obvious virtues, from enhanced earning potential to a greater satisfaction in life. One increasingly popular way to encourage college attendance is through dual enrollment, in which students take courses in high school for both high school and college credit.Related: Credit for non-Madison School District Courses.
In theory, dual enrollment enables high school students to accrue college credits for very little cost and imbues them with a sense of confidence that they can complete college work. If students can succeed in college classes while still in high school, conventional wisdom holds, they will be more likely to matriculate at the postsecondary level.
In Indiana, dual enrollment is encouraged at the highest levels, with state Education Secretary Tony Bennett maintaining that at least 25 percent of high school graduates should pass at least one Advanced Placement exam or International Baccalaureate exam, or earn at least three semester hours of college credit during high school.
In reality, though, dual enrollment may do more harm than good.
Caire believes the Madison community must first address its at-risk population in a radically different way to level the playing field before fundamental change can come.Much more on Kaleem, here.
"Madison schools don't know how to educate African Americans," says Caire. "It's not that they can't. Most of the teachers could, and some do, valiantly. But the system is not designed for that to happen."
The system is also not designed for the 215 annual school days and 5 p.m. end times that Madison Prep proposes. That, and the fact that he wants the school to choose teachers based on their specific skill sets and cultural backgrounds, is why Caire is seeking to proceed without teachers union involvement.
"Ultimately," he says, "the collective bargaining agreement dictates the operations of schools and teaching and learning in [the Madison school district]. Madison Prep will require much more autonomy."
Many aspects of Caire's proposed school seem rooted in his own life experience. Small class sizes, just like at St. James. Uniforms, just like the Navy. Majority African American and Latino kids, eliminating the isolation he grew up with. Meals at school and co-curricular activities rather than extracurricular, so that poor students are not singled out or left out.
Teachers the students can identify with. Boys only, in the hopes of fostering the sensitive, supportive male peer groups so critical to Caire's evolving sense of self over the years.
John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist, has a lifelong fascination with how the mind reacts to and organizes information. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School--a provocative book that takes on the way our schools and work environments are designed. His latest book is a must-read for parents and early-childhood educators: Brain Rules for Baby: How to Raise a Smart and Happy Child From Zero to Five You might ask, "What does this topic have to do with small business? Well, if you're having issues with your kids, you're not going to be on top of your game at the office.
Q: What's the gist of what one should do to foster emotionally health and intellectually successful kids?
Walker said an expansion of school choice likely would be included in the budget he introduces early next year. Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), co-chairwoman of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, said she would be interested in considering bills on choice even before that.
The other co-chairman, Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), said he would leave it to Walker to decide whether to include it in the budget, but he wants to address school choice at some point in the two-year legislative session.
Both legislators said they initially favored expanding the program to select areas before making it available statewide. They named Beloit, Racine and Green Bay as possibilities.
"I absolutely do not think we have the ability to expand across the state all at once," Vos said.
Vos in 2007 wrote a budget provision that would have expanded school choice to Racine County. The Assembly, then controlled by Republicans, approved a version of the budget with that provision but it was taken out in a deal reached with Democrats who ran the Senate.
Walker said an expansion of school choice likely would be included in the budget he introduces early next year. Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), co-chairwoman of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, said she would be interested in considering bills on choice even before that.
The other co-chairman, Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), said he would leave it to Walker to decide whether to include it in the budget, but he wants to address school choice at some point in the two-year legislative session.
Both legislators said they initially favored expanding the program to select areas before making it available statewide. They named Beloit, Racine and Green Bay as possibilities.
"I absolutely do not think we have the ability to expand across the state all at once," Vos said.
Vos in 2007 wrote a budget provision that would have expanded school choice to Racine County. The Assembly, then controlled by Republicans, approved a version of the budget with that provision but it was taken out in a deal reached with Democrats who ran the Senate.
Join Mattie and Josh, the sister-brother team who discover the mysterious Chaos Cave. Ghostly breezes chill their spines as they try to interpret strange petro glyphs and a note of warning. The kids stumble upon a skeleton whose bones rest around an ancient Chinese Puzzle Box. Inside the box they find a ring--a ring that will change their lives forever.
Chaos Cave transports Mattie and Josh on A Revolutionary Adventure as the kids travel through time to Boston, 1775. They encounter the evil Archie, who murdered his own brother and now seeks the ring for all the power it holds. While they desperately try to evade Archie, they must also find a way to return safely to their own time without altering the course of important historic events.
My daughter is with us for the holidays, having survived her first barrage of law school exams in California. The exams were longer and more difficult than anything I ever had as a graduate student in Chinese studies. But her professors allowed students to have notes with them. This got my attention because her boyfriend at a neighboring law school was forbidden to have notes in two of his exams.
At these two institutions dedicated to equality under the law, what my daughter did during exams at one could have been considered cheating if she attended the other. What are we to make of the uneven nature of such rules, just as unpredictable as those found in our public K-12 schools? Open-book exams are okay some places, not in others. Cooperating with friends on homework is encouraged by some teachers, denounced elsewhere as a sign of declining American moral fiber.
A school was at the centre of a patriotism row after the principal sent home permission slips allowing students to opt out of saying the Pledge of Allegiance.
The letter home sparked an outcry in Brookline, Massachusetts. Parents were asked to tick off whether or not they wanted their children to participate when the principal started reciting the pledge weekly over the school's public address system.
'It's PC ridiculousness,' said parent Sean Bielat. 'Remember when the presumption was that we were all good Americans and we all loved the country and we had no problem saying, "Yes, I pledge allegiance"?'
via a Brenda Baas email:
American 15-year-olds rank 35th out of 57 countries in math and literacy, behind almost all industrialized nations!Fascinating.
America shouldn't be 35th in anything. It's time to restore America's exceptionalism!
Americans for Prosperity Wisconsin will host an exciting town hall with Fox News Commentator Dick Morris.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Country Springs Hotel
2810 Golf Road
Pewaukee, WI 53072
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
You can register for this free-ticketed event under Milwaukee:http://www.eventbrite.com/directory?q=Education+revolution+&loc=United+States&page=1.
Be a part of the revolution to restore America's exceptionalism! Dick Morris will be taking your town hall questions at The Education Revolution - Restoring American Exceptionalism Town Hall!
North Carolina high school students soon must take and pass two American history courses to graduate.
The State Board of Education approved Thursday a revised social studies curriculum for public schools that will expand study of U.S. history from one year to two to ensure more material is covered.
They called it the "Canada effect" - the phenomenon in which students from a string of states along the country's northern border regularly beat the rest of the nation on academic tests.
As recently as 1992, only three states - all from northern climates - had significantly higher average scores than Wisconsin in fourth-grade reading and eighth-grade math. No states scored significantly better than Wisconsin in fourth-grade math national assessments.
By 2009, this effect was wiped out for Wisconsin's students. The state's fourth grade reading scores placed statistically ahead of only 12 states and the District of Columbia. On the fourth- and eighth-grade math tests, the state's students beat 26 states and the District of Columbia, results that could be considered slightly above average.
"We have lulled ourselves into thinking we're really, really good," said state Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon), who will become chairman of the Senate Education Committee. "We're OK, but we need to get better because other states are doing more at improving."
With research showing the most important school factor in student performance is the effectiveness of classroom teachers, Wisconsin's political and education leaders have called louder than ever for improving the quality of the state's educators.
The last Sunday of the year and time for our first, perhaps annual, awards for noteworthy things that hapened in education around here in 2010.
Unsung Hero of the Year Award: Robert Kattman, director of the Office of Charter Schools at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The soft spoken former North Shore superintendent has been both supportive and demanding in building a roster of a dozen charter schools authorized by the UW Board of Regents. The list includes some of the best schools in Milwaukee, such as Milwaukee College Prep, Bruce Guadalupe, Seeds of Health Elementary, Woodlands School, Veritas High School. If the charter movement was like this nationwide, there would be far less controversy about these independent, publicly funded schools. Kattman is retiring at the end of the school year. Thanks for all your efforts.
The High Standards Start Here Award: State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers. Evers quickly signed up Wisconsin to be part of the "core standards" effort to bring coherence to the mish mash of what different states want students to learn. If the follow-through is good, it will raise Wisconsin's expectations and, one hopes, student performance in years to come.
Most Important Data of the Year Award: The urban school district results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). This was the first time MPS took part and its students could be compared directly to those in 17 other central city school systems. The results were generally pretty distressing. Do we want our local education motto to be: "Thank God for Detroit - at least someone is worse than us"? The data should remain chastening and motivating to everyone involved in local education.
Shelby County suburban mayors are exploring options to escape the prospect of Memphis City and Shelby County schools consolidation.
"People are very clearly concerned about the integrity of the public schools that their children attend in Germantown," said Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy.
She and a few other mayors are considering creating independent school systems in their cities. Goldsworthy said they'd have to overcome a state prohibition on Tennessee municipalities starting school systems.
"Everything needs to be examined," Goldsworthy said. "... There are an enormous number of questions and very few answers at the moment about any of this. Our responsibility as elected officials is to get those answers as quickly as possible so we can identify the best course of action for our community."
Is your library out of your favorite book? Would you like to take your book home for break? Want to read your favorite book on a plane ride or road trip? University of South Florida is making this very easy now. iTunes and USF have started Lit2Go:a collaboration between the Florida Department of Education and the University of South Florida College of Education -- supports literacy by providing access to recordings of historically and culturally significant literature. The extensive collection of hundreds of audiobooks, stories, and poems, including classics such as Alice in Wonderland, Aesop's Fables, and A Tale of Two Cities -- all for free on iTunes.Now there is no reason for not finishing your book report! Schools are making it increasingly easy to access information from several sources. It is a more efficient, a green way of teaching and learning, not to mention for free. The iTunes U world instantly expands your reach to knowledge and information. There are options to research by subject, school, and company, all at the tip of your fingers!
Gov.-elect Rick Scott's education team laid out reform ideas that would give parents state money to pick schools for their children and authority to remove them from a subpar teacher's class.
That theme echoes throughout the 20 sprawling pages of reform ideas that Gov.-elect Rick Scott's education team unveiled this week.
Parents should get state money to pick their own schools, public or private. Parents should decide what reform model is best to jump-start their children's school. Parents should be able to remove their child from an underperforming teacher's class.
``The parent is the ultimate accountability,'' said Patricia Levesque, a close advisor to former Gov. Jeb Bush and a leader of Scott's education transition team. ``They know what's best for their child. To substitute someone else's judgment . . . is wrong.''
It has been exactly a month since Jeanie Meikle, a frequent reader of this blog, asked me this good question:
"In all the articles I have read about TJ [the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology, the most selective secondary school in the country] and its failures of inclusiveness, I have never seen the statistics as to how many (and %) of applicants were African American or Hispanic or what the acceptance rate of those applicants was. ... So do you by any chance know what the numbers are?"
I didn't, but I asked Fairfax County schools spokesman Paul Regnier and he got them for me. The delay in posting them is entirely my fault. All of the sports teams in Washington have been collapsing into shapeless mediocrity, and worse. I needed time to reflect on that.
The admissions statistics for the Jefferson class of 2014, this year's ninth-graders, show there were 3,119 applicants, of which 480, or 15.4 percent, were admitted. This included 272 boys (16.4 percent of those that applied) and 208 girls (14.2 percent of applicants.)
There was something strange in The Washington Post a week ago. A chart on page A16, using data provided by the D.C. public school system, showed that in late summer and fall 2009, Spingarn High School had by far the lowest number of assaults, thefts, threats and other crimes. There were just six incidents in four months compared with an average of 31 in the other eight high schools assessed.
At that time, teachers at this allegedly safest of all regular D.C. high schools were reporting a rash of crimes and classroom intrusions. The situation became so intolerable that by January they had persuaded D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle A. Rhee to replace the Spingarn principal.
How could the incidents being reported by security guards under school district rules be so different from what people at the school were experiencing? Why did Rhee ignore the data in changing the school's leadership and yet her successor, Kaya Henderson, used data from similar security incident reports last week to replace the principal at Dunbar High?
Cities across the nation are raising property taxes, largely citing rising pension and health-care costs for their employees and retirees.
In Pennsylvania, the township of Upper Moreland is bumping up property taxes for residents by 13.6% in 2011. Next door the city of Philadelphia this year increased the tax 9.9%. In New York, Saratoga Springs will collect 4.4% more in property taxes in 2011; Troy will increase taxes by 1.9%.
Property-tax increases aren't unusual, in part because the taxes are among the main sources of local revenue. But officials say more and larger increases are taking hold. "This year we have seen a dramatic increase in our cities and towns having to increase property taxes" for pensions and other expenses, said Jack Garner, executive director of the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities.
By outfitting students and teachers with wireless sensors, researchers simulated how the flu might spread through a typical American high school and found more than three-quarters of a million opportunities for infection daily.
Over the course of a single school day, students, teachers and staff came into close proximity of one another 762,868 times -- each a potential occasion to spread illness.
The flu, like the common cold and whooping cough, spreads through tiny droplets that contain the virus, said lead study author Marcel Salathe, an assistant professor of biology at Pennsylvania State University.
There is a major budget crunch for schools around southern Nevada. That is why some people are questioning whether teachers should be getting a bigger salary simply because they have a master's degree.
The U.S. Secretary of Education says there's little evidence students are getting any better education from teachers who have advanced degrees. Secretary Arne Duncan delivered a speech recently on how financially challenged districts could do more with less.
Teachers who have masters degrees typically earn $5,000 more in annual salary.
"We analyzed 20 systems from around the world all with improving but differing levels of performance and examined how each has achieved significant, sustained, and widespread gains in student outcomes, as measured by international and national assessments. The report was based on more than 200 interviews with stakeholders in school systems and an analysis of some 600 interventions they carried out two strands of research comprising what we believe is the most comprehensive database of global school system reform ever assembled. It identifies the reform elements replicable for school systems elsewhere, as well as those elements that are context specific, as they move from poor to fair to good to great to excellent performance.
Among other findings, the report shows that a school system can improve from any starting point and can become significantly more effective within six years. The research suggests that all improving systems implement similar sets of interventions to move from one particular performance level to the next, irrespective of culture, geography, politics, or history. A consistent cluster of interventions moves systems from poor to fair performance, a second cluster from fair to good performance, a third from good to great performance, and yet another from great to excellent performance. Although reaching each performance stage involves a common set of interventions, systems may sequence, time, and roll them out quite differently.
It's a holiday ritual as predictable as Santa showing up at your local mall: overheated rhetoric about the "War on Christmas." A lowlight this year was a feature on The O'Reilly Factor about a letter from the Tennessee chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union urging school districts to make holiday celebrations inclusive. Through O'Reilly's prism, the letter -- quoted selectively -- was an attempt to squelch Christmas. In reality, the letter just asked school districts to avoid celebrations focusing exclusively on a single religion. It was more common sense than state-coerced atheism.
Unfortunately, once you cut through the blather on cable news, there is a real, if much less discussed, problem in that public schools are skittish about teaching much about religion. Although there is little hard data, the consensus among those who study the issue is that to the extent world religions are taught, they are treated superficially, usually with the help of just a few textbook pages that have been heavily sanitized to avoid even the hint of controversy. And that's not good news if you believe a working knowledge of the world's religions and their history is an important aspect of a well-rounded education.
This is a season that begins with the story of a couple that wanted a family. Mary and Joseph had some high-profile intervention, of course. But when modern couples who want children find themselves frustrated, their first reaction these days is often to get to a fertility clinic.
Many couples pay tens of thousands of dollars for rounds of medical wizardry instead of adopting children who are already among us, crying for our love and support. I think some of the people who choose assisted fertility may be missing out on a miracle.
I know that the impulse to bear children is deep. My wife and I tried, in the time honored way, for many years, and then with the assistance and injections of fertility experts. But at some point, the costs began to match those of an adoption and prompted us to ask, "Why are we doing this? There are already so many millions of children out there."
Adoption is as old as Abraham-and-Sarah-style begetting. To sit at a Seder dinner holding daughters in your lap (our two girls were left along roadsides in China) and hear the story of a baby boy who was floated into the bulrushes along the Nile, reminds you that the instinct to care for castaway children is ancient and inborn. When disease, slaughter or smiting felled or scattered families, friends and even enemies took in and loved the children left behind.
MATTHEW CARTER, a type designer and the recipient of a MacArthur genius grant, was recently approached in the street near his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A woman greeted him by name. "Have we met?" Mr Carter asked. No, she said, her daughter had pointed him out when they were driving down the street a few days before. "Is your daughter a graphic designer?" he inquired. "She's in sixth grade," came the reply.
Mr Carter sits near the pinnacle of an elite profession. No more than several thousand type designers ply the trade worldwide, only a few hundred earn their keep by it, and only several dozens--most of them dead--have their names on the lips of discerning aficionados. Then, there is Mr Carter. He has never sought recognition, but it found him, and his underappreciated craft, in part thanks to a "New Yorker" profile in 2005. Now, even schoolchildren (albeit discerning ones) seem to know who he is and what he does. However, the reason is probably not so much the beauty and utility of his faces, both of which are almost universally acknowledged. Rather, it is Georgia and Verdana. Mr Carter conjured up both fonts in the 1990s for Microsoft, which released them with its Internet Explorer in the late 1990s and bundled them into Windows, before disseminating them as a free download.
Efforts to help US schools become more effective generally focus on improving the skills of current teachers or keeping the best and ejecting the least effective ones. The issue of who should actually become teachers has received comparatively little attention. Yet the world's top-performing systems--in Finland, Singapore, and South Korea--recruit 100 percent of their teaching corps from students in the top third of their classes.
A McKinsey survey of nearly 1,500 top-third US college students confirms that a major effort would be needed to attract them to teaching. Among top-third students not planning to enter the profession, for example, only 33 percent believe that they would be able to support a family if they did. The stakes are high: recent McKinsey research found that an ongoing achievement gap between US students and those in academically top-performing countries imposes the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession. To learn more, read "Attracting and retaining top talent in US teaching" (September 2010).
MARGARET WARNER: Now: making schools smaller, yet another plan to deliver better educations to urban schoolchildren.
Special correspondent John Tulenko reports from New York City, where the outgoing schools chancellor is a big supporter of the idea.
JOHN TULENKO: Two years ago, when Justin Martinez started ninth grade, he was one of 2,000 students at Bayard Rustin High School in New York City.
JUSTIN MARTINEZ, student: When you walk the halls, it's, like, so packed. And then, when you're in the classrooms, some kids don't even have a seat. So, it's like you're standing up, you're sitting on the floor, you're sitting on the teacher's desk. There are so many kids in the room that the teacher thinks you're doing good, and you may not even understand what's going on. That's how bad it was.
JOHN TULENKO: Justin's high school had a 50 percent graduation rate, but the problems there went deeper.
JUSTIN MARTINEZ: I almost got shot. I was going to my eighth period classroom, going up the stairs, and a gang came up to me, approached me, and asked me questions. And, at the end, he pointed put a gun in my face.
JOHN TULENKO: So, what did you do?
In a report based on the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), a test of half a million 15-year-old students in 65 countries, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warned Western countries of the prospect of losing their knowledge and skill base.
In contrast, several Asian countries such as South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore outperformed most other countries. China's Shanghai took the PISA test for the first time and ranked first in all three areas: reading, mathematics and science (The Jakarta Post, Dec. 9, 2010). The Chinese government has been lauded for its investment in human capital.
It is ironic that just as PISA is highly regarded as a prestigious measure and the world is impressed by Shanghai's achievement, insiders' perspectives reveal skeptical and critical thoughts of the results.
One critical response came from Jiang Xueqin, a deputy principal of Peking University High School and director of the International Division. Mr. Jiang is concerned that the "high scores of Shanghai's students are actually a sign of weakness".
In recent weeks, Vermont School boards have been putting together the budgets they'll submit to voters next year. This time around, though they were asked by the state to cut spending by an average of more than 2 percent. The cuts were needed to save $23 million as part of the Challenges for Change effort to close the overall state budget gap. But the results fell far short. Statewide, schools appeared to have made just over $4 million in cuts - far short of the $23 million.
Now the schools have a reprieve. Yesterday, Governor elect Peter Shumlin announced $19 million in federal stimulus money will go to the schools - which basically zeros out the needed cuts. But Vermont Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca says school districts will still face difficult budget decisions next year. And he suggests that, with student enrollment decreasing by 1 1/2% to 2% each year, districts should look at Act 153, the voluntary merger bill.
Language analysts, sifting through two centuries of words in the millions of books in Google Inc.'s growing digital library, found a new way to track the arc of fame, the effect of censorship, the spread of inventions and the explosive growth of new terms in the English-speaking world.
In research reported Thursday in the journal Science, the scientists at Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Google and the Encyclopedia Britannica unveiled a database of two billion words and phrases drawn from 5.2 million books in Google's digital library published during the past 200 years. With this tool, researchers can measure trends through the language authors used and the names of people they mentioned.
It's the first time scholars have used Google's controversial trove of digital books for academic research, and the result was opened to the public online Thursday.
Two more groups have won state approval to sponsor charter schools in Minnesota.
Authorizers don't actually run charters but a new law requires them to be more involved in the fiscal and academic oversight of the schools they sponsor. It also requires every current authorizer to re-apply to maintain their status.
The two newly-approved groups are the Northfield School District and Audubon Center of the North Woods. Northfield currently sponsors two charter schools, while Audubon is the state's largest authorizer with 23.
Fa la la la! Tis' the season. The kids are out of school, the days are cold, the museums are packed, the Legos are scattered under the couch, and Toy Story 3 has been memorized. It's time to refresh that most valuable tool in the modern parent's arsenal: the iPhone. Last year, I wrote about how the iPhone is a Swiss Army knife of digital parenting and asked for your best iPhone apps for kids. Let's do the same thing this year.
A lot has changed; a lot has not. On the scene there's now what my 5-year-old son calls a "big iPhone"--a.k.a. the iPad, which promises a larger, richer, smudged-screen experience. In general, I've found iPad apps for kids either disappointing or merely blown-up versions of already excellent iPhone apps. The iPhone itself has taken on a more social aspect, asking my 2-year-old-son to post his Fruit Ninja scores to Facebook. Another generalization: All of the GameCenter stuff just creates needless complication for a youngster looking to samurai chop some pineapple.
When I think of the holidays, I envision seeing the latest films with my wife, gorging on sweets and contemplating the wonder of the schlocky ceramic village I have set up on top of the piano, the result of many visits to Christmas shops.
You'll notice there aren't any children in this scenario. Nobody steals my chocolates or smashes the Sweet Shop from the Snow Village series. That is because only adults live in my house. Grandson No. 2 arrives next month, but he and his brother are stuck in L.A. because their very pregnant mother can't fly.
Local Living editor Liz Seymour, with two children at home, realized I was out of touch with her kind of winter vacation, so she more or less ordered me to gather expert advice on what parents can do during those daunting two weeks without school. Educators have fabulous ideas that I can put to use with my grandsons before long.
One recent night, Mackenzie Stassel was cramming for a quiz in her advanced math course in Montgomery County. Her review of the complicated topics followed hours of other homework. Eventually she started to nod off at the table.Related: Math Forum and Madison's Math Task Force.
It was 11:15 p.m. Mackenzie is a sixth-grader.
There will be fewer such nights in the future for many Montgomery students.
Last month, Maryland's largest school system announced that it would significantly curtail its practice of pushing large numbers of elementary and middle school students to skip grade levels in math. Parents had questioned the payoff of acceleration; teachers had said students in even the most advanced classes were missing some basics.
ENGLISH is the most successful language in the history of the world. It is spoken on every continent, is learnt as a second language by schoolchildren and is the vehicle of science, global business and popular culture. Many think it will spread without end. But Nicholas Ostler, a scholar of the rise and fall of languages, makes a surprising prediction in his latest book: the days of English as the world's lingua-franca may be numbered.The Last Lingua Franca: English Until the Return of Babel
Conquest, trade and religion were the biggest forces behind the spread of earlier lingua-francas (the author uses a hyphen to distinguish the phrase from Lingua Franca, an Italian-based trade language used during the Renaissance). A linguist of astonishing voracity, Mr Ostler plunges happily into his tales from ancient history.
Reason economics columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy appeared on Bloomberg TV last week to talk about education myths. We're spending ever-greater sums of money on historically high numbers of teachers per students, notes de Rugy, yet our high school graduates' test results have been absolutely flat. What can be done to help students, especially those trapped in the worst-performing schools?
The U.S. government fell deeper into the red in fiscal 2010 with net liabilities swelling more than $2 trillion as commitments on government debt and federal benefits rose, a U.S. Treasury report showed on Tuesday.
The Financial Report of the United States, which applies corporate-style accrual accounting methods to Washington, showed the government's liabilities exceeded assets by $13.473 trillion. That compared with a $11.456 trillion gap a year earlier.
They call themselves the "Christmas Sweater Club" because they wear the craziest ones they can find. They also sing Christmas songs at school and try their best to spread Christmas cheer.
Now all 10 of them are in trouble because of what they did at their school.
"They said, 'maliciously maim students with the intent to injure.' And I don't think any of us here intentionally meant to injure anyone, or did," said Zakk Rhine, a junior at Battlefield High School.
The boys say they were just tossing small two-inch candy canes to fellow students as they entered school. The ones in plastic wrap that are so small they often break apart.
A history of the humanities in the 20th century could be chronicled in "isms" -- formalism, Freudianism, structuralism, postcolonialism -- grand intellectual cathedrals from which assorted interpretations of literature, politics and culture spread.
The next big idea in language, history and the arts? Data.
Members of a new generation of digitally savvy humanists argue it is time to stop looking for inspiration in the next political or philosophical "ism" and start exploring how technology is changing our understanding of the liberal arts. This latest frontier is about method, they say, using powerful technologies and vast stores of digitized materials that previous humanities scholars did not have.
These researchers are digitally mapping Civil War battlefields to understand what role topography played in victory, using databases of thousands of jam sessions to track how musical collaborations influenced jazz, searching through large numbers of scientific texts and books to track where concepts first appeared and how they spread, and combining animation, charts and primary documents about Thomas Jefferson's travels to create new ways to teach history.
The Census is in. There are now 308.74 million Americans, an increase of 27 million, or 9.7%, since 2000. Americans are still multiplying, one of the best indicators that the country's prospects remain strong.
About 13 million of that increase were new immigrants. These newcomers brought energy, talent, entrepreneurial skills and a work ethic. Their continued arrival in such large numbers validates that the rest of the world continues to view the U.S. as a land of freedom and opportunity.
The Census figures also confirm that America is a nation in constant motion, with tens of millions hopping across state lines and changing residence since 2000. And more of them are moving into conservative, market-friendly red states than into progressive, public-sector heavy blue states.
In order the 10 states with the greatest population gains were Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Texas, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Colorado and South Carolina. Their average population gain was 21%. In the fast-growing states, the average income tax rate is 4% versus 6.9% in the slowest growing states.
Hi, I'm Kathy. I'm from UW-Madison. Do you mind if I join you?"
Those words, or some variation, provided an introduction at gas stations, coffee shops, cafes and churches across small-town Wisconsin.
While those of us ensconced in Madison scratch our heads about why so many in Wisconsin appear to dislike or distrust us, associate professor Katherine Cramer Walsh ventured out to hear it first-hand. So how did people respond? They were uniformly friendly, she says, but bewildered as to why she was there. "You should have seen their faces," she says, smiling.
What she found is a big disconnect. For example: "When you ask, 'What does hard work mean to you? Who does hard work?' I would give examples like a waitress or someone who works in the lumber industry. Then I would say 'professor' and people would just laugh. Like, 'give me a break.'"
Many Dane County residents are facing higher property tax bills this month as the growth of new property hasn't kept up with higher government spending.Michael Louis Vinson:
"We're in a falling value market," said David Worzala, Dane County treasurer. Taxpayers experienced similar conditions last year, but in this tax cycle "it's more pronounced," he said.
Before 2009, new construction and a growing tax base helped reduce the tax hit resulting from spending by schools, local governments and other taxing authorities.
The deadline for residents to pay at least half of their property taxes is Jan. 31.
In Dane County, bills cover municipal and county government, K-12 schools and Madison Area Technical College. Some municipalities add special charges for trash collection or recycling, improvements to streets or sidewalks, or unpaid bills.
School districts across the Green Bay and Appleton areas raised property taxes an average of 3.8 percent compared with last year, slightly higher than the 3.4 percent statewide average.
In Brown County school districts, increases range from 2.9 percent in De Pere and Pulaski to 12.3 percent in West De Pere, according to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, a government watchdog group that crunched the tax numbers and released them this week. Only the Ashwaubenon district didn't increase its tax levy.
Each of the six districts based in Brown County is taxing to the limit allowed by the state this year.
In 1991, Charlotte Johnson dropped a bomb on her parents. She accused her father, Charles Johnson, of sexually abusing her. Two years later she accused her mother, Karen Johnson, of being complicit in the sexual abuse and of being physically abusive to her. The abuse, she believes to this day, happened when she was a young child.
The painful memories, buried deep in Johnson's subconscious, surfaced in adulthood.
Charles and Karen Johnson, of St. Louis, say the abuse never happened and that mental health treatment providers encouraged and fostered false memories of abuse.
In 1996 the Johnsons sued Rogers Memorial Hospital, where their daughter was admitted for treatment. They also sued Heartland Counseling Services in Madison, Madison therapist Kay Phillips, Oconomowoc therapists Jeff Hollowell and Tim Reisenauer, and the defendants' insurers. The lawsuit has crept through the legal system for more than 14 years, including two trips to the state Supreme Court.
The paper can be found here.
"We also discovered that science is cool and fun because you get to do stuff that no one has ever done before."
This is the conclusion of a new paper published in Biology Letters, a high-powered journal from the UK's prestigious Royal Society. If its tone seems unusual, that's because its authors are children from Blackawton Primary School in Devon, England. Aged between 8 and 10, the 25 children have just become the youngest scientists to ever be published in a Royal Society journal.
Their paper, based on fieldwork carried out in a local churchyard, describes how bumblebees can learn which flowers to forage from with more flexibility than anyone had thought. It's the culmination of a project called 'i, scientist', designed to get students to actually carry out scientific research themselves. The kids received some support from Beau Lotto, a neuroscientist at UCL, and David Strudwick, Blackawton's head teacher. But the work is all their own.
My son Channing, the grinning eight year-old to the left, has too much homework. He attends one of the best schools in the state and they send him home every night with what the teachers say is one hour of homework but it looks like two hours to me. And since Channing would really rather be fishing or terrorizing his little brothers those two hours regularly turn into three hours or more. This is not only too much homework, it hurts rather than helps. It seems indicative of an educational system that's out of control.
Several years ago I gave a speech about technology to the Texas Library Association's big annual meeting. After the speech I was talking with a pair of elementary school librarians. Channing was back then just going off to pre-school so homework was the last thing on my mind but they brought it up. "The best thing you can do for your kids," they said, "is to not allow them to do homework until the third grade."
The Dec 8 event involving 200 females from six Jeddah private high schools broke ministry rules against girls' sports in schools, a ministry official said.
"We don't have any regulations that say that it's OK for girls' schools to hold sports classes or training," said Ahmed Al-Zahrani, director of girls' education in Jeddah.
"This tournament was held by these schools, something that has now led us to know about their illegal activities," he said.
America won the moon race. Can it win the higher education race?
A smart and innovative strategy will make this goal attainable, but too many in Washington fail to recognize that private-sector colleges and universities - sometimes referred to as career colleges - are an essential part of the answer. Now educating 12 percent of higher education students, these schools are the game-changer when a game-changer is badly needed.
In California, private-sector colleges and universities play crucial roles in educating students. More than 340,000 students in the state, 9 percent overall, attend career colleges. Two-thirds of these students are minorities, and almost 80 percent receive financial aid. These students are being armed with the skills needed to meet the demands of the 21st century economy.
Why has Britain managed to boldly go into fiscal territory which the US has hitherto ducked? That is the $800bn question hanging in the air in New York this weekend, after George Osborne, chancellor, visited the city.Financial Times:
During his whistle-stop tour, Mr Osborne met a host of Wall Street and New York luminaries, at a breakfast hosted by Tina Brown, the media icon, and a dinner arranged by Michael Bloomberg, the mayor. As he schmoozed he was greeted with emotions ranging from respect to rapturous applause.
What provokes respect is the way London has not only created a multi-year fiscal reform plan, entailing a striking £110bn worth of adjustment - but, more importantly, started to implement it.
In technology and science, more is better. Prefixes such as mega, tera, peta and yotta (1 followed by 24 zeros) come into use because technology gets better or scientists think bigger (the sun's luminosity is 385 yottawatts).
Numbers are also expanding in finance and economics. Trillions (1,000bn) are now unavoidable: Belgian banks have €1.3 trillion of assets and the 12 largest economies each have more than of $1 trillion of gross domestic product. The quadrillion (1,000,000bn) lurks: you need it to measure annual global volumes in the foreign exchange market.
Georgia took steps to become a national leader in cyber education Thursday with the approval of new charter schools and funding that could bring the possibility of online school to the home of every student.
The Georgia Charter Schools Commission authorized a new class of charter schools to open this fall, including a K-12 "virtual campus," two K-8 schools and a middle school. Its decision to free up funding will enable two other cyber schools to start up as well.
After months of research, the commission agreed to increase funding for cyber schools from $3,400 to $5,800 per pupil - a figure below the national average of $6,500, but one that operators say they can live with.
University of California regents approved controversial rollbacks in pension and retiree health benefits Monday, including raising the earliest retirement age for future employees to 55, to help plug huge financial gaps in the university's plans.
The changes now face tough bargaining with the unions that represent about half of UC's 115,000 employees. Labor leaders said they are most upset about UC creating a two-tier workforce and contend that the changes would disproportionately affect blue-collar laborers who tend to retire earlier and with more health problems than faculty.
Under the proposals, employees hired after July 2013 would see the minimum age for early retirement rise from 50 to 55 and the age to receive maximum benefits increase from 60 to 65. In addition, all employees would pay higher premiums for post-retirement health plans.
In response to a recent letter received by the parents of the Rome School District, the New York State Education Department notified the district that Rome Free Academy has recently received the status of "in need of improvement" for the academic year 2010-2011. The improvement derives from the assessment results of the 2009-1010 academic year. While the district met the requirements for all students, those students with disabilities did not meet graduation requirements. This forced the group to lose Safe Harbor status, which has ultimately caused the improvement status for Rome Free Academy.
Within this letter, the district stated that due to the No Child Left Behind guidelines within the current status, parents may request their child to be transferred to another high school within the district -- yet for these parents, there is no other option.
While currently administrators and teachers are receiving collaborative instructional practice from trained literacy coaches, the graduation rate has not been positively affected by the curriculum. So the question is what is the district really trying to work on?
Struggling to drum up dissipating ad revenue and to stay afloat in the sea of cable news slime, most media organizations have resorted to sloshing around in the infotainment gutter for shock and schlock. No surprise then that the issue of school reform has played out with all the depth and journalistic standards of an Ali G. interview. And while it's had innumerable opportunities to unravel the eternal conundrum of public education through exhaustive research and nuanced reporting, the press has all but ignored its obligation to offer the public a sober, informed, balanced discourse on a topic with such critical short- and long-term import.
Instead, the school reform debate screeches to its ignoble crescendo. The media has gone all STORM WATCH on us, opting for a sensational script over substance, and emphasizing the fear factor by manufacturing predictable boogie men. For the most part, the American public has jumped onboard for yet another ride on the self-righteous victimhood express.
A Kansas coroner confirmed Thursday that the brain injury that killed Spring Hill High School football player Nathan Stiles on Oct. 29 came from a part of the 17-year-old's brain that had bled earlier this year.
Michael Handler, the Johnson County corner and a neuropathologist, informed the Stiles family Thursday that the exact cause of death was a subdural hematoma, which Nathan Stiles likely suffered Oct. 1 during Spring Hill's game against Ottawa.
"[Handler] said it was a perfect example of a subdural hematoma," Connie Stiles said. "You could see where his brain had been healing. You could see where it was starting to get better. It seems like everything can be traced back to that first hit. That's what he thinks."
The morning after the Ottawa game is when Stiles, Spring Hill's homecoming king and team captain, first began complaining of headaches. Five days later Connie Stiles took her son to Olathe Medical Center, where he underwent a CT scan and was diagnosed with a concussion.
Madison School Board Member Arlene Silviera, via email:
The Board meeting to discuss the high school plan been set. Information is below.
Thursday, January 6
Doyle Administration Building
All are welcome to attend but there will not be public speaking.
The intent of the meeting is to provide the Board with a better understanding of the plan, process, timelines, budget, goals, etc. We will receive a presentation followed by Q&A.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
There sure are a lot of words used at Seattle Public Schools that have a special or specific meaning within the context of public K-12 education. The jargon of education. The professionals often use this jargon among themselves to speak precisely. At Seattle Public Schools the professionals often use this jargon to confuse or intimidate the public. The staff of Seattle Public Schools particularly like to MIS-use this jargon to confuse the public, or to tempt the public into mis-using the jargon to make them appear ignorant.
Of late, this trick has been practiced more by Dr. Cathy Thompson and Kathleen Vasquez than any other member of the staff.
A decade ago, almost any discussion about reforming the nation's public schools included vouchers. The idea of letting students use taxpayer dollars to attend private schools appealed to conservatives, who liked the notion of subjecting public schools to competition. Some Democratic mayors, frustrated with the slow pace of school improvement, also rallied behind vouchers.
Then, vouchers got overtaken by other ideas about how to shake up public schools. Unions vehemently opposed vouchers, arguing they would starve public schools of funding. Vouchers were left out of the 2002 federal No Child Left Behind law, making it difficult for programs to gain a foothold in school districts. More recently, the Obama administration left vouchers out of its Race to the Top grant program, even as it endorsed other reforms such as charter schools and pay-for-performance plans for teachers.
One day Kathy Ceceri noticed a tick on her arm and started to worry that it was the kind that carried Lyme disease. So she went to her home lab, put the tiny arachnid under her microscope, which is connected to her computer through a U.S.B. cable, and studied the image.
"It was," she said. "Then of course I Googled what to do when you've been bitten by a deer tick."
Ms. Ceceri's microscope, a Digital Blue QX5, is one of several pieces of scientific equipment that make up her home lab, which she has set up on her dining room table in Schuylerville, N.Y. Home labs like hers are becoming more feasible as the scientific devices that stock them become more computerized, cheaper and easier to use.
Before, during and even between classes at Hillbrook School this fall, seventh-graders have been spotted on the Los Gatos campus, sometimes burbling Spanish or Mandarin phrases into the glowing screen in their hands, other times staring into it like a looking glass.
iPads -- the Apple of almost every adolescent's eye -- are being provided to students at several Bay Area public and private schools this year, including Hillbrook, which claims to be the only K-8 school in America using tablet computers in class and sending them home. This has led to a lot of 12-year-olds swanning around the wooded hillside campus, talking to their iPads.
Summoning up a virtual keyboard recently, Sophie Greene quickly typed a note to herself in iCal, a calendar program, then played back an audio file in which she was speaking Spanish. "We record a conversation, e-mail it to our teacher, Señorita Kelly," she explained, "then she critiques the lesson in Spanish and sends that back to us."
What standards should career education programs have to qualify for federal student grants and loans? The U.S. Department of Education already has drafted a "gainful employment rule" that could limit the flow of taxpayer-backed student aid to some education and training programs. The for-profit education industry, however, has dug in to oppose the proposed regulation, which is still under review.
The commentaries on these pages offer two views of the controversy.
The goal of the Measures of Effective Teaching (MET) project is to help educators and policymakers identify and support good teaching by improving the quality of information available about teacher practice. With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, independent education researchers, in partnership with school districts, principals, teachers, and unions, will work to develop fair and reliable measures of effective teaching.
When art teacher Kandy Dea recently assigned fourth-graders in her Walnut, Iowa, classroom to create a board game to play with a friend, she was shocked by one little boy's response: He froze.
While his classmates let their imaginations run wild making up colorful characters and fantasy worlds, the little boy said repeatedly, "I can't think of anything," Ms. Dea says. Although she reassured him that nothing he did would be judged "wrong," he tried to copy another student's game, then asked if he could make a work sheet instead. She finally gave him permission to make flash cards with right-and-wrong answers.
Americans' scores on a commonly used creativity test fell steadily from 1990 to 2008, especially in the kindergarten through sixth-grade age group, says Kyung Hee Kim, an assistant professor of educational psychology at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. The finding is based on a study of 300,000 Americans' scores from 1966 to 2008 on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, a standardized test that's considered a benchmark for creative thinking. (Dr. Kim's results are currently undergoing peer review to determine whether they will be published in a scholarly journal.)
Rushing a student to a psychiatric emergency room is never routine, but when Stony Brook University logged three trips in three days, it did not surprise Jenny Hwang, the director of counseling.
It was deep into the fall semester, a time of mounting stress with finals looming and the holiday break not far off, an anxiety all its own.
On a Thursday afternoon, a freshman who had been scraping bottom academically posted thoughts about suicide on Facebook. If I were gone, he wrote, would anybody notice? An alarmed student told staff members in the dorm, who called Dr. Hwang after hours, who contacted the campus police. Officers escorted the student to the county psychiatric hospital.
Gov. Mike Rounds implied Tuesday that school districts could dig into their reserves to absorb proposed cuts to K-12 education funding.
In his final annual budget address, Rounds said the state faces a $75 million structural deficit and proposed unprecedented cuts to education, including a 5 percent reduction to state aid to school districts.
The education changes would result in $240 less per student to school districts, saving the state about $20 million.
House Minority Leader Bernie Hunhoff of Yankton predicted that the 5 percent cut will be modified by the time the final budget is presented, but any cut will hurt.
Being named to Oprah Winfrey's book club is a boon to working authors, but this week the talk show host dug into literary history and named as her latest pick two novels by Charles Dickens: "A Tale of Two Cities" and "Great Expectations."
Setting down our paged-through copy of Jonathan Franzen's "Freedom" for a bit, Speakeasy has been thinking about Dickens' legacy. Will modern readers relate to the impoverished 19th century social conditions that are so associated with Dickens' work -- is yesterday's chimney sweep today's downsized auto worker? We put the issue to two Dickens scholars: Michael Slater, author of a well-reviewed biography, "Charles Dickens" (Yale University Press) and Lillian Nayder, author of "The Other Dickens: A Life of Catherine Hogarth" (Cornell University Press) about the novelist's wife.
Back in 1997, I was an unhealthily driven Yale undergraduate in pleated khakis. An English major--I wanted above all to become a writer--I was rapidly losing my faith. Not only did the theory-laden literary scholarship that I encountered seem little more than jargonish, impenetrable sound and fury, but the sciences appeared to have much more to offer. I followed in real time as Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Dawkins engaged in ferociously exciting debates in places like The New York Review of Books. Here was a clarity, an urgency, and a series of battle cries that I, the grandson of a creationist-despising evolutionary biologist, could relate to.
Those were the days of the "Science Wars" in the academy, a clash between literary post-modernists ("po-mos") and scientists over whether the scientific process could lay claim to any truly objective means of describing reality. And thanks to people like Gould and Dawkins, I had slowly been turned. I was a mole within the humanities. That's not to say I'd stopped loving literature, but I felt I had to flee a ship that seemed without a rudder--and in the decade since then, it appears I'm hardly the only one.
While English is the most widely-spoken lingua franca in history, so-called common or working languages can be much less pervasive. Elamite, for example, was the submerged administrative language of the Persian Empire in the sixth century B.C.E. All official documents were written down in Elamite, but they were both composed and read out in Persian, the language of the illiterate ruling class. Then there is Pali, the language of Theravada Buddhism. No longer used in everyday conversation, Pali is written in different scripts in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Burma, and sounds different when read aloud by Thai and Burmese speakers. The identity of the language is almost obscured by its profusion of forms.
Pali is a tantalizing case for Nicholas Ostler, because it suggests to him the possibility of a "virtual" language. A "virtual language" would not be read or spoken itself. It would allow the user to understand what is being written or said without learning the original language--in much the same way that "virtual reality" allows the user to have an experience of something without actually doing it. Pali is not "one language" in the concrete sense that it has one set of words, but those who know any of its forms can access exactly the same information. Yet on closer inspection this is not because it is a "virtual language." It is because the differences between its forms are largely superficial. However the words are pronounced or written down, they mean the same thing. It is one language after all.
The authors of the Government Accountability Office's for-profit secret shopper investigation pulled off a statistically impressive feat in August. Let's set aside for the moment that on Nov. 30, the government watchdog quietly revealed that its influential testimony on for-profit colleges was riddled with errors, with 16 of the 28 findings requiring revisions. More interesting is the fact that all 16 of the errors run in the same direction -- casting for-profits in the worst possible light. The odds of all 16 pointing in the same direction by chance? A cool 1 in 65,536.
Even the most fastidious make the occasional mistake. But the GAO, the $570 million-a- year organization responsible for ensuring that Congress gets clean audits, unbiased accounting, and avowedly objective policy analysis, is expected to adhere to a more scrupulous standard. This makes such a string of errors particularly disconcerting.
In fact, the GAO is constituted precisely to avoid such miscues. Its report-vetting process entails GAO employees who are not involved with the project conducting a sentence-by-sentence review of the draft report, checking the factual foundation for each claim against the appropriate primary source. While the research is compiled and proofed, legislators who requested the investigation may keep in routine contact with the GAO to stay apprised of the inquiry.
It looks like Big Brother wants to put an end to child care fraud in Wisconsin.
The state has approved a $1 million pilot program to install fingerprint scanners in child care centers to combat fraud in the Wisconsin Shares subsidy program. It's the kind of cutting-edge technology already in use at airports and some hospitals for security purposes.
Although many Americans are concerned about technology's encroaching threats to their privacy, that doesn't seem to apply when it comes to black children in Milwaukee.
The Wisconsin Shares program was ripped off for millions of dollars by some corrupt child care providers who used state funds meant for poor children and families to line their own pockets.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Pulitzer Prize-winning series "Cashing in on Kids" pulled the covers off much of the abuse, including shoddy oversight by state bureaucrats that allowed the scandal to happen.
Friday's IHE did a story featuring a report by Douglas Harris and Sara Goldrick-Rab that's well worth reading in its entirety. In a nutshell, it measures the 'productivity' of various programs, using what boils down to dollars-per-graduate. Among other things, it suggests that call centers to nudge students into attending class have great bang for the buck, but that Upward Bound and similar programs are wildly expensive for what they achieve.
The goal of the study -- which is entirely to the good -- is to encourage colleges to base resource allocation decisions on actual effectiveness, rather than on what sounds good or what has usually been done. The authors break out two-year and four-year sectors -- thank you -- and actually define their variables. (Notably, the productivity decline over the past forty years has been far more dramatic in the four-year sector than in the two-year sector.) Even better, they acknowledge that most of the research done on various programs are done on those programs in isolation, rather than in comparison with each other. If we're serious about dealing with limited resources, we have to acknowledge that money spent on program A is money not available to be spent on program B. It's not enough to show that a given program helps; it needs to help more than its alternatives would have.
Desperate for clues to a 4-year-old's gut-destroying disease, doctors wonder whether a pioneering DNA technique could help.
On a Saturday morning in June, when his children are at piano lessons and the Whitefish Bay house is quiet, pediatrician Alan Mayer composes the e-mail he hopes will persuade a colleague to try a costly new technology. He has been shaping the argument in his mind - the chance to take the first steps into the future of medicine and maybe save the life of a very sick little boy.
"Dear Howard - I hope you are well," he writes, addressing Howard Jacob, director of the Medical College of Wisconsin's Human and Molecular Genetics Center. "I'm writing to get your thoughts on a patient of mine . . . "
Nicholas Volker is a short, blue-eyed4-year-old who loves Batman and squirt gun fights and steak - on the rare occasions when he's not restricted to a feeding tube.
Food has become his dream - and his curse. Severely underweight, he arrived at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in 2007 with the bony arms and distended belly of a famine victim. Yet when he ate, unusual holes would open between his intestine and skin, causing feces to leak into a large wound in his abdomen.
As a strong proponent of parental responsibility, it both amuses and angers me to see some parents lining up behind an initiative to sue McDonald's over the inclusion of toys in their Happy Meals.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest is leading the charge in this case by pushing the state of California to ban the toys. The group suggests that the toys in Happy Meals are inducing children to eat the burger and fries, thus contributing to the obesity epidemic in America.
As I asserted in a past column that supported first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative, I fully back efforts to end obesity among our children. But at what point do some folks use common sense?
Students from families with divorced or remarried parents pay twice the share of their college education as compared to their peers whose parents remain married to each other, according to recent research published online by the Journal of Family Issues.
"Divorced or separated parents contributed significantly less than married parents -- in absolute dollars, as a proportion of their income, and as a proportion of their children's financial need," Ruth N. López Turley, associate professor of sociology at Rice University, and Matthew Desmond, a junior fellow at Harvard University, say in their article, "Contributions to College Costs by Married, Divorced, and Remarried Parents."
This fall, work demands have put a serious crimp in my school meeting schedule -- and (to be honest) in my willingness to bang my head against the wall known as "public engagement" at Seattle Public Schools. But last Monday I decided it was time to get back into the ring -- or at least into the loop -- so after dinner (and a prophylactic rum cocktail) I headed down to South Lake High School to hear what Southeast Director Michael Tolley had to say about the District's recently released School Reports.
These reports represent the District's effort to track each school's progress on a variety of measures, from test scores to student absences to the teachers' feelings about their school's leadership. The schools have had annual reports before -- they're available online going back to 1998 -- but these new ones go into considerably more detail. They also include a one-page Improvement Plan for each school -- goals to raise achievement, or attendance, or whatever -- and a description of what the school is doing in order to reach those goals: instructional coaches, individual tutoring, more collaborative staff time, and so on. And every school has now been ranked on a five-point scale based on overall student performance and improvement on standardized tests, and the achievement gap between poor kids (those who qualify for free and reduced-price lunches) and everyone else.
With the help of a small army of researchers and associates (most importantly, Chris Matgouranis, Jonathan Robe, and Chris Denhart) and starting with help from Douglas Himes of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) has unearthed what I think is the single most scandalous statistic in higher education. It reveals many current problems and ones that will grow enormously as policymakers mindlessly push enrollment expansion amidst what must become greater public-sector resource limits.
Here it is: approximately 60 percent of the increase in the number of college graduates from 1992 to 2008 worked in jobs that the BLS considers relatively low skilled--occupations where many participants have only high school diplomas and often even less. Only a minority of the increment in our nation's stock of college graduates is filling jobs historically considered as requiring a bachelor's degree or more. (We are working to integrate some earlier Edwin Rubenstein data on this topic to give us a more complete picture of this trend).
U.S. Army Capt. David Brown knows education of Afghans is critical to the future of the country.
"We see it as stronger than guns and bombs. Schools and education are the foundation for the future of Afghanistan," the Connecticut native told a class of 50 Afghan youth at a graduation ceremony after they completed an eight-week course on computer skills and English. "Education is a powerful weapon."
It's so powerful that the Taliban have been actively working against it, even spraying acid on school girls that's blinded at least two girls. The Taliban have forced the closure of 75 out of 228 schools in one province alone after assassinating teachers and students and destroying school buildings. Just last month, they burned a girls' school in eastern Afghanistan with 850 Qurans inside. CARE International, a non-profit organization working in Afghanistan, documented 670-education related attacks in 2008.
An Eden Prairie school board vote on attendance zones may have broad impact on desegregation and neighborhood schools.
When Eden Prairie's seven school board members convene Tuesday night, the controversial decision they are set to make about redrawing school boundary lines will be of keen interest throughout the metro area.
Will they back a plan that will move 1,100 elementary students next fall to new schools, largely to reduce segregation in schools? Or will they scale back in response to a huge parental outcry and make fewer changes or nix the plan altogether?
Bloomington and other metro-area suburban school districts, which also face increasingly diverse student demographics, are watching Eden Prairie's move. Bloomington's school board chair attended Eden Prairie meetings to watch how feedback was handled.
Chicago children shouldn't have to compete for the chance to attend the city's best performing schools, mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun said Thursday.
And if she's elected, Braun said she plans to focus on improving neighborhood schools so parents won't have to send their kids to magnet and selective enrollment schools in other parts of town.
"It seems to me the opportunity for a quality education is not something we should have to compete for," Braun said.
"It ought to be available to every child in every neighborhood."
By late Friday, Patrice Robinson's favorite technology was Caller ID, a thin bit of insulation between her and dozens of arm-twisters wanting her ear.
"I've been inundated with e-mail and phone calls from high-ranking people on both sides," said the Memphis City Schools board member. "I am still deliberating.
"People keep calling with new information, then I'm over here. Then I get another call and I'm over there."
Robinson is one of three board members who said late last week that she was still undecided on whether to join four others committed to voting tonight for a resolution that would ask city voters if they want to surrender the MCS charter.
Kwanzaa comes once a year, but at Falk Elementary School it's a part of the lesson plan almost every day.
On Friday, the last day of school before the holidays, students in first, second and third grade came together for a weekly morning routine called Harambee, which in Swahili means "all pull together."
They form a circle as they dance, clap and chant in unison to a song about freedom. When the music ends, the children chatter with fresh energy for a moment, until teacher Kira Fobbs walks slowly to the center, demanding silence with her stare.
"I am somebody," she calls out.
"I am somebody!" the students respond.
Last school year, two UW-Madison journalism students walked into a campus library with a mission: See how fast they could score some Adderall, a popular prescription "smart drug" that users say improves their ability to study.
They were good to go in 56 seconds.
All it took was a tap on the shoulder of one woman, a stranger at a table of students studying in silence. Asked if she knew where someone could buy some Adderall, the woman offered to call her friend downstairs, who was selling it.
Experts say such easy access and casual acceptance is increasingly common on campuses, including UW-Madison, where students coping with academic demands are turning to illicit use of Adderall and other stimulants. Adderall is prescribed to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
We've been hearing a lot about high school dropouts because of a flurry of studies and reports that offer dire warnings about the drag dropouts can be on the economy and the nation's future. But if you want to understand why a million kids drop out of school every year, all you have to do is ask them -- which is what NPR's Claudio Sanchez did as part of a recent reporting assignment to Central Falls Rhode Island.
Thought I'd spend a few minutes looking at the website of my alma mater, Stephen F. Austin State University. A lot has changed in the past 20 years!
My crappy (that is being kind) old dorm was torn down a few years ago. This replaced it.
Months after winning $700 million in the federal Race to the Top competition, New York state's education department says it needs another $18 million, and is turning to foundations, hedge fund managers and other private donors for the money.
The $18 million will pay for systems, technology and research that will help ensure that the state spends the $700 million effectively, education department officials said. As part of its initiative, the state will use the bulk of the money to hire 13 fellows--experts in curriculum, student testing and teacher evaluation--to help implement the projects that were promised in federal application.
The Race to the Top competition was a nationwide contest by the Obama administration that offered states hundreds of millions of dollars in exchange for adopting certain education changes, such as holding teachers more accountable for student progress. New York made promises about tying teacher evaluations to student test scores, overhauling a lackluster statewide curriculum and developing a reliable state-test system.
When it comes to the public schools, Bay Area parents rarely illustrate the strident, progressive beliefs they apply to most political and social issues.
The phrase limousine liberal is not complimentary, but on this issue, it's a glove that fits a little too well.
Because whether it's fueled by economic privilege or simply a matter of choice, the rate at which Bay Area parents, regardless of ethnicity, send their children to private schools has historically been higher than most other places in the country, say researchers who have studied the issue.
And at inner-city schools, that migration has translated into an exodus of white students from the public school systems in both Oakland and San Francisco.
THE Nobel Prize in Literature was presented to Mario Vargas Llosa at an awards ceremony on Friday in Oslo. This reawakened the disappointment felt by many fans of African literature, who had hoped that this would be the year for the Kenyan writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o. But there's actually reason to celebrate Mr. Ngugi's loss. African literature is better off without another Nobel ... at least for now.
A Nigerian publisher once told me that of the manuscripts she reads from aspiring writers, half echo Chinua Achebe and half try to adopt Wole Soyinka's style. Mr. Achebe and Mr. Soyinka, who won the continent's first Nobel in literature in 1986, are arguably the most celebrated black African writers, especially in terms of Western accolades. But their dominance causes problems in a region where the common attitude is, "If it already works, why bother to improve on it?"
When she gave birth to her daughter last July, Cassie Friesen, of Broomfield, Colo., imagined she was inside a bubble and repeated the word "peace" with each contraction.
The 25-year-old former nanny learned these relaxation and visualization techniques in a hypnotherapy course she took in hopes of minimizing the pain of childbirth. "It's so corny-sounding," she says, and yet it worked. She describes her daughter Aster's July 7 arrival as "fun--even enjoyable," words not many other mothers use when describing the experience.
It comes as no surprise that Madison school districts are suffering. Public schools throughout the city struggle with a severe lack of state funding that only adds to the lack of authority figures--fueling the ideology of students who just don't give a shit. And when you combine this lack of resources and educational programs with a student attitude that cares little about achievement, you get the perfect recipe for a continual decrease in graduation rates.
After all, students who fail to complete their homework or who show respect for their teachers can reasonably argue that if the state doesn't show its support for education through monetary aid, why should they be expected to put in the extra effort? And while this argument lacks concrete support, a recent rise in poor behavior among middle school and high school students shows that they lust for learning and respect for fellow classmates is plummeting.
To be honest, kids just don't care anymore.
A company called Pearson publishes the Scott Foresman textbook used in my third-grader’s class, “Communities.”
I posted about this textbook recently, and I mentioned research on the authors of this book. Here are the results of this research:
Valerie Ooka Pang has written a book about the unmet needs of Asian Pacific American children. She teach courses in multicultural education, social studies methods, curriculum & instruction, and social foundations. She is interested in culturally meaningful teaching.
The use of acronyms by the Department of Defense is extensive. Many acronyms have multiple meanings and are not always well known outside a particular organization. Although using acronyms in written material is intended to make writing clearer, their misuse or abuse does the exact opposite.
Effective immediately, all written correspondence prepared for the Secretary or Deputy Secretary of Defense will minimize the use of acronyms or include a comprehensive glossary as the last tab of the package. Particular attention should be given to Read-Aheads and slide presentations, which can contain a large number of acronyms.
Michael L Bruhn
America's primary and secondary schools have many problems, but an excess of excellence is not one of them. Not only do our weak students fare poorly in international comparisons, so do our strong ones. Mediocrity is the national norm. The very best students are the ones most likely to do things of great benefit to the rest of us -- cure malaria, devise revolutionary inventions, start the next Apple or plumb the secrets of the universe. But we don't always put much importance on helping them realize their full potential.
A case in point is Evanston Township High School in Evanston, Ill., a racially and economically mixed suburb of Chicago that is home to Northwestern University. It recently decided to eliminate a high honors freshman English course aimed at challenging the top students. Henceforth, these youngsters will be grouped with everyone else in a regular "honors" class in humanities. Next year, the same may be done with biology. Your kid is an honor student at ETHS? Heck, everyone is an honors student at ETHS. It's hardly the only school in America where grouping students according to their ability is in disrepute. There is a widespread impulse to treat all kids as equally able and willing to learn. But the results often fall dismally short of the hopes.
When the Chicago public schools scrapped remedial classes for ninth graders and put everyone in college-prep courses, "failure rates increased, grades declined slightly, test scores did not improve and students were no more likely to enter college," according to a study by the Consortium on Chicago School Research at the University of Chicago. Among average and above-average students, absenteeism rose. The danger in putting the brightest kids in general classes is that they will be bored by instruction geared to the middle. But their troubles don't elicit much sympathy. Brookings Institution scholar Tom Loveless told The Atlantic magazine, "The United States does not do a good job of educating kids at the top. There's a long-standing attitude that, 'Well, smart kids can make it on their own.'"
But can they? Only 6 percent of American kids achieve advanced proficiency in math -- lower than in 30 other countries. In Taiwan, the figure is 28 percent.
School administrators in Evanston insist the change is aimed at making the curriculum more demanding, even as they make it less demanding for some students. Thanks to the abolition of this elite course, we are told, "high-achieving students" will profit from "experiencing multiple perspectives and diversity in their classes to gain cultural capital."
In other words, racial balance will take priority over academic rigor. Blacks and Hispanics make up nearly half of all students but only 19 percent of those in advanced placement courses and 29 percent of those in honors courses. This is because minority students at Evanston, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000, generally score lower on achievement tests. Putting all students together is supposed to give everyone an equal opportunity.
But if you have a fever, you don't bring it down by breaking the thermometer. The low numbers of black and Hispanic students are a symptom of a deeper problem, namely the failure of elementary and middle schools to prepare them for the most challenging course work. Evanston has had a big racial gap in academic performance for decades, and there is nothing to gain from pretending it doesn't exist. Schools that group (or "track") kids by ability generally get better overall results. Chester Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, notes in a recent report, "Middle schools with more tracks have significantly more math pupils performing at the advanced and proficient levels and fewer students at the needs improvement and failing levels."
Why would that be? Teaching is not easy, and teaching kids with a wide range of aptitude and interest is even harder. Grouping students by ability allows the tailoring of lessons to match the needs of each group. Putting them all together is bound to fail one group or another. Shortchanging gifted teens creates the risk of another unwanted effect: inducing their parents to leave. Families in Evanston can always move to neighboring suburbs with good schools, or they can opt for several fine private and parochial alternatives. Average students don't gain from being in the same classes as exceptional ones if the exceptional ones are not there.
We as a society have not been very successful at turning average students into high achievers. Maybe we'll have better luck doing the opposite.
I talked with Dave regarding his recent article:
Ed Kupka is taking a strong stand. As principal of Milwaukee's Bradley Tech High School, he wants to encourage the good ones, do something about the bad ones and make the school more successful.
I'm not talking about students, although that's been a hot subject. A recent gang fight at the school drew a massive police response, negative attention from Ald. Robert Donovan and new steps aimed at removing troublemakers from the school.
I'm talking about teachers. Kupka has taken a strong stand on removing teachers who he says are not succeeding in the classroom, so they can be replaced with teachers who can do better.
"I'm addicted to getting the best person in front of the students," he said. "It's the only way to get achievement up."
In an interview shortly before the fight, Kupka said that addressing ineffective performers on the staff was taking up much of his time. He thinks the school is making progress on that score, but setbacks last spring and summer were so serious that he considered quitting.
A few months ago I wrote up a list of secondary benefits that come with learning a foreign language, based on my own experience learning Arabic. It's a bit long, but I hope it will be of interest.
How to listen to other people's stories and perspectives. Being able to shut up and really listen to different opinions is a rare skill. If we want to make informed policy in cross-cultural contexts, we need to humanize and understand the "other" -- which includes both our allies and our enemies. We do not have to agree with each other, but we need to listen long enough to genuinely understand each other's narratives. Being in a foreign language environment forces you to concentrate and listen, especially because you probably lack the language skill to respond as you wish.
How to operate in an environment of constant uncertainty. When you arrive in a foreign culture, everything is uncertain. You feel a constant tightness in your chest because you don't know the rules for even the most trivial day-to-day tasks. Even something as simple as buying hummus and falafel or riding in a taxicab involves new processes, rituals, and vocabulary -- especially if you want to do it like the natives. You can't be a perfectionist, because you'll never get anything done otherwise. You learn to control negative emotional responses like fear, anger, or frustration. Fortunately, you do acclimate to this uncertainty. You learn to be patient, cool, and observant.
As I wrote here last week, newly compiled data shows that a great many college graduates have been settling into jobs that do not require higher education. The data, prepared and released by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP), show that a majority of the increased number of college grads since 1992---some 60 percent-- are "underemployed" or "overqualified" for the jobs they hold. Thus we have one-third of a million waiters and waitresses with college degrees. Some 17 percent of the nation's bellhops ands porters are college graduates. A new CCAP study From Wall Street to Wal-Mart: Why College Graduates Are Not Getting Good Jobs, released today along with this essay, carries even worse news: the proportion of college-educated Americans in lower-skilled jobs has more than tripled since the 1960s, going from 11 percent in 1967 to 34 percent today.
Why are more and more college graduates not entering the class of professional, technical and managerial workers that has been considered the main avenue of employment? Anyone who has read Charles Murray's great book Real Education (New York: Crown Forum, 2008) has good insights into why this problem has arisen. Truly, Murray argues, only a modest proportion of the population has the cognitive skills (not to mention work discipline, drive, maturity, integrity, etc.) to master truly higher education, an education that goes well beyond the secondary schooling experience in terms of rigor of presentation. Reading and comprehending 200- to 400-year-old literature is useful for advanced leadership -but difficult. Educated persons should read and understand Locke's "On Human Understanding" or Shakespeare's King Lear -they are insightful in many ways, but the typical person of average intelligence typically lacks both the motivation and ability to do so. Mastering complex forms of mathematics is hard -but necessary to function in some areas of science and engineering.
This report provides a detailed look at student performance on state tests and examines whether state-level results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) confirm the trends found on state tests. The report tracks data for all states and the District of Columbia in math and reading for grades 4, 8, and high school by student race, ethnicity, income, and gender from as early as 2002 through 2009, where three or more years of comparable data are available. Also available are 50 state profiles with detailed student achievement data and tables showing the performance of various student groups on 2009 state tests. Finally, also posted here are short video clips of CEP's President and CEO Jack Jennings explaining the main findings of this study.
We should offer every American family the good school promise-access to at least one effective school where most students are on grade level and make at least a year of progress. We should offer every American student best efforts at giving them a teacher that gives them a shot at making at least a one year gain.
In an EdWeek OpEd, The Brookings Brown Center Task Group on Teacher Quality makes the case:
A dip in state education aid will force many taxpayers to reach deeper into their pockets this year to help fund schools.
School districts across the Fox Cities raised property taxes by an average of 3.8 percent compared with last year, slightly higher than the 3.4 percent statewide average.
"Districts are kind of in a no-win situation," said Dale Knapp, a spokesman for Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance, a government watchdog group that crunched the tax numbers and released them this week. "The tax levy is a function of what happens with state aid."
When aid drops, schools turn to the taxpayers to make up the difference.
Melissa Hoistion was enjoying dinner with her husband and their three children at a restaurant in Freehold, N.J., recently--until the waiter disappeared for 20 minutes.
Her husband, Tim, began muttering. Ms. Hoistion braced herself. "Uh-oh, here it comes," she remembers thinking.
"EXCUSE ME!" he screamed across the room to another waiter, then stormed off to complain to the manager. When the original server finally returned to the table, her husband yelled, "Where the hell have you been for the last 45 minutes?" and continued berating him until the man walked away.
Maybe the IRS actually knows what it is doing. With any luck, they can look at the overwhelming number of athletic departments that are not earning a profit and realize that removing the NCAA's tax-exempt status would only have a nominal return. Perhaps the IRS realizes that the nominal return that such a tax would generate would have such a sweeping effect on collegiate athletics that it may actually hurt schools more than it would help. Whether they realize this or do not want to overturn a long-lived precedent, the IRS has not fumbled its duty concerning the tax-exempt status of the NCAA. At this point, there is no reason to disrupt the current tax-exempt status of the NCAA, and there is no evidence that points to a change being necessary in the near future.
JEB BUSH and BOB WISE, a Democrat who was West Virginia governor from 2001-2005, unveil the "10 Elements of High Quality Digital Learning," a "roadmap for local, state and federal officials to integrate digital learning in education. ... Technology has the power and scalability to customize education so each and every student learns in their own style at their own pace."
Now you can go to a new website, and see just how good or bad citizens in your state are at managing household finances.
Here's a small spoiler: if you aren't a citizen of New York, New Jersey or New Hampshire, you are less likely to be among the most financially adept individuals. Those three states were among the top five in at least three of five measures of financial capability, according to a survey of more than 28,000 people.
The interactive, clickable map of the U.S. is based on the State-by-State Financial Capability Survey released Wednesday that was developed in consultation with the Treasury Department and the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy. Find the full data here.
During a 40-year career in higher education, Stan Albrecht has seen his share of strategic plans emerge after interminable meetings and lots of sweat only to gather dust on the shelf.
The Utah State University president cautioned the Utah Board of Regents that its new 10-year road map -- hoped to pave Utah's way to a much more educated workforce -- might be destined for such a fate if the scope of its 52 recommendations is not narrowed.
On Thursday, the Regents approved the 100-page Higher Ed Utah 2020 Plan, crafted at the request of Gov. Gary Herbert, after months of meetings and consultations. The plan seeks to get more students into college and earning degrees -- currently less than 50 percent graduate -- while promoting the role of higher education in economic innovation and workforce development.
How? By expanding need-based aid, embracing instructional technology and conducting classes online, shoring up the community college mission at the state's regional universities, and subsidizing associate degree-seeking students, among dozens of other recommendations.
http://www.math.wisc.edu/~askey/Much more on 12th grade NAEP results here.
Last week it was announced that the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders removed 50% of the personality disorders currently on its list. However none of the excluded disorders have gotten as much attention as the removal of "narcissistic personality disorder," or NPD.
The uproar is unsurprising. Narcissism is one of the most obvious examples of a personality disorder. We see it everywhere in our culture. Narcissism can explain part of the motivation for participating in reality TV show antics, and Hollywood has always seemed a refuge for beautiful people who need to be the center of attention. We know that not much will change in Hollywood with this announcement. But will it change any other parts of our culture?
Over the last year, Save the Children emerged as a leader in the push to tax sweetened soft drinks as a way to combat childhood obesity. The nonprofit group supported soda tax campaigns in Mississippi, New Mexico, Washington State, Philadelphia and the District of Columbia.
At the same time, executives at Save the Children were seeking a major grant from Coca-Cola to help finance the health and education programs that the charity conducts here and abroad, including its work on childhood obesity.
The talks with Coke are still going on. But the soda tax work has been stopped. In October, Save the Children surprised activists around the country with an e-mail message announcing that it would no longer support efforts to tax soft drinks.
In interviews this month, Carolyn Miles, chief operating officer of Save the Children, said there was no connection between the group's about-face on soda taxes and the discussions with Coke. A $5 million grant from PepsiCo also had no influence on the decision, she said. Both companies fiercely oppose soda taxes.
8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS - 1895
Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of Capital Letters.
2. Name the Parts of Speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define Verse, Stanza and Paragraph.
4. What are the Principal Parts of a verb? Give Principal Parts of do, lie, lay and run.
5. Define Case, Illustrate each Case.
6. What is Punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of Punctuation.
7 - 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.
Arithmetic (Time, 1.25 hours)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50 cts. per bu., deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
4. District No. 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for incidentals?
5. Find cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20 per m?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per are, the distance around which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.
Some of Chris Christie's reform agenda has become law, but more work is left to be done -- including education reform, which the governor says is at the top of his agenda for 2011.
Christie discussed that and other topics Tuesday during his 17th town hall meeting at the Clinton Community Center on Halstead Street.
The governor said New Jerseyans are beginning to feel pride again in their state, and that there are some positive discussion topics for the public.
New Jersey has the highest tax burden in the nation, many anti-business regulations and an atmosphere where private-sector jobs are treated like the enemy, Christie said. But, he said, the Legislature is getting serious about passing his many reform initiatives, including property tax reform, education reform and the municipal tool kit.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has selected former New York City schools official Christopher Cerf to be his next commissioner of education, two sources close to the administration said.
Cerf will be nominated to lead a department that has been adrift since the sacking of its former commissioner, Bret Schundler, in the wake of the state's loss in a federal education grant. A spokeswoman for the governor would not confirm the selection.
Christie has spent the past year cutting school funding, tangling with teachers and superintendents, and trying to make New Jersey's schools do more with less. He has pointed to Newark and other cities as examples of school systems where more money has not led to education gains, leaving children "trapped" in failing schools.
Joel Klein, the outgoing chancellor of New York City schools, where Cerf served as a deputy chancellor until 2009, called Cerf "a man of enormous intellect, talent and deep understanding of K-12 education and would be a terrific leader."
Wisconsin two medical schools failed to improve their conflict of interest policies - one actually dropped a grade - according to the latest rankings by the American Medical Student Association.
The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health dropped from a B to a C, while the Medical College of Wisconsin maintained a B grade.
The association's PharmFree Scorecard is a national report on 152 medical schools, looking at a variety of measures, including gifts and meals from industry to doctors, paid promotional speaking for drug and device companies, acceptance of free drug samples, interaction with sales reps and drug company-funded education.
This is what AMSA said about UW:
UTLA leaders dispute criticisms from the mayor and others, but reiterate their firm opposition to furloughs, larger classes and use of students' test scores to evaluate teachers' performance.
The state's largest teachers union Wednesday fired an early salvo in contract negotiations, serving notice that it wouldn't accept pay cuts easily and that it won't consider linking teacher evaluations to student test scores in the Los Angeles Unified School District.
The afternoon news conference, at union headquarters in Koreatown, was a familiar exercise in rallying the rank and file. But it also marked a renewed effort to lead the public debate over school reform, coming shortly after L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa labeled United Teachers Los Angeles the primary obstacle to improving schools.
India faces a severe shortage of teaching staff as it rapidly expands it higher education system. At such top institutions as the Indian Institutes of Technology and the Indian Institutes of Management, the generation of academics who matured with these schools is now retiring and there isn't another cohort in the pipeline to take their places. Similarly, there are shortages of well-qualified staff in departments as most Indian universities responsible for graduate (post-graduate) degrees. The undergraduate colleges face fewer problems although they too have problems finding highly qualified teachers.
The pace of expansion at the top of the higher education sector has been remarkable--eight new IITs, 7 new IIMs, and 12 new central universities established in the past two years. It is not clear how these new institutions are being staffed--or for that matter paid for. Although the national government has increased its investment in higher education by 40 percent, to US$3.1 billion, this is nonetheless a modest amount given the degree of expansion taking place. While most of Indian higher education is the responsibility of state governments or the private sector, the institutions above are supported by the central government and although US$3 billion is a significant amount, it is not sufficient against the need resulting from the combined challenges of expansion and retirements.
From scholarships and training programmes for officers to promises of Green Cards and jobs for family members, America is doing whatever it takes to build a lobby for itself in India.
The loquacious charm employed by United States President Barack Obama during his India trip is merely one of the many force multipliers exercised by an economically beleaguered Washington seeking to sell New Delhi varied military equipment for billions of dollars, and affirming bilateral strategic ties as a hedge against a resurgent China.
The other more protracted and consequently effective inducements are the raft of scholarships to American universities handed out to the offspring of top Indian politicians, civil servants and defence and intelligence officers, and the patronage extended to Service officers under the long established Military Education and Training (IMET) programme.
So blatant, widespread and generous is Washington's largesse to the students -- facilitating and financing, as it does, their pursuit of eclectic disciplines like the liberal arts, English literature and, even, art and history in leading U.S. institutions -- that it is worth asking to what extent Indian policy on a range of issues of interest to America remains 'hostage' to the children of a growing number of Delhi's powerful decision-makers. The scholarship recipients' list is embarrassingly revelatory.
Gov.-elect Jerry Brown told education leaders in Los Angeles on Tuesday to "fasten your seat belt" for dramatic spending cuts to schools, while not rejecting their appeals for tax-revenue relief.
"This is really a huge challenge, unprecedented in my lifetime," the 72-year-old former governor said at UCLA, where he appeared with financial officials for his second budget forum in a week.
After speaking in generalities about California's budget crisis for months, Brown must make major decisions this week about the budget bill he will propose by the Jan. 10 constitutional deadline. He has estimated the deficit at as much as $28 billion over the next 18 months.
Brown has declined to say whether he plans ask voters to authorize a tax package, though many observers believe he will push for a special election to maintain higher vehicle, sales and income tax rates set to expire next year. He is also expected to propose shifting responsibility for some services to local governments.
California's budget gap may widen to $28.1 billion over 18 months, according to Governor-elect Jerry Brown, who takes charge of the most-populous U.S. state next month. A cash shortage may force the use of IOUs by July, Controller John Chiang said.
The deficit estimate takes into account a $2.7 billion drop in projected estate-tax receipts, and compares with the most recent forecast of a $25 billion gap for the period, Brown said today at a public meeting of state officials. The cash accounts may be short by $2.3 billion within eight months, Chiang said at the meeting in Sacramento.
"I don't want to say it, but this could mean IOUs and more tax-refund deferrals," Chiang said.
Marin County continues to have one of the lowest high school dropout rates in California and that rate fell in the past year, even as the state's overall dropout rate is on the rise.
The county's rate of 1.4 percent for 2008-09 -- the most recent year for which data are available -- fell from the previous year's rate of 1.8 percent, and is well below the state average of 4.5 percent, released Tuesday by the California Department of Education.
Marin school officials say they plan to continue working to eliminate the county's dropout rate altogether.
"One student who drops out of school is one too many," said Marin County Superintendent of Schools Mary Jane Burke. "The loss of any young person before their education is completed means a more difficult life for that student, and too often a loss of productivity and civic participation in our community."
Our family is very proud of the fact that five of the seven of us has graduated from the University of Wisconsin System and the other two attended for some time. We all attended public schools in our youth. We are very pro-education. Jean was a teacher for many years.
But, times have changed in the last 20 years or so. Spending on education has skyrocketed. Quality has gone down. Kids are forced to mortgage half of their lives to graduate from college and it takes five years. MPS is a total disaster with only a small number of kids being able to read in the 10th grade. Many businessmen consider high school degrees worthless.
School budgets are bloated with administrators as salaries and benefits far exceed what the average taxpayer makes. The unions have little interest beyond themselves. If left to their own, kids would continue to come out dumber per national average than when they went into the system. All of the advertising during Green Bay Packer games will not change that.
A recent post featured the highest-paid high school teachers in Illinois. Here's an update, with a chart above that compares the highest paid high school teachers in Illinois to their highest paid Ph.D. counterparts in the same academic field at the main campus of the University of Illinois (salary database here).
A few weeks ago at a conference, I listened to a distinguished political philosopher tell those in attendance that he would not be speaking before them had he not been the beneficiary, as a working-class youth in England, of a government policy to provide a free university education to the children of British citizens. He walked into the university with little knowledge of the great texts that inform modern democracy and he walked out an expert in those very same texts.
It goes without saying that he did not know what he was doing at the outset; he did not, that is, think to himself, I would like to be come a scholar of Locke, Hobbes and Mill. But that's what he became, not by choice (at least in the beginning) but by opportunity.
When art teacher Kandy Dea recently assigned fourth-graders in her Walnut, Iowa, classroom to create a board game to play with a friend, she was shocked by one little boy's response: He froze.
While his classmates let their imaginations run wild making up colorful characters and fantasy worlds, the little boy said repeatedly, "I can't think of anything," Ms. Dea says. Although she reassured him that nothing he did would be judged "wrong," he tried to copy another student's game, then asked if he could make a work sheet instead. She finally gave him permission to make flash cards with right-and-wrong answers.
Americans' scores on a commonly used creativity test fell steadily from 1990 to 2008, especially in the kindergarten through sixth-grade age group, says Kyung Hee Kim, an assistant professor of educational psychology at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. The finding is based on a study of 300,000 Americans' scores from 1966 to 2008 on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking, a standardized test that's considered a benchmark for creative thinking. (Dr. Kim's results are currently undergoing peer review to determine whether they will be published in a scholarly journal.)
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge on Tuesday stuck to a tentative ruling that would change the "last hired, first fired" rules that control which teachers get laid off during budget cutbacks in the L.A. Unified School District.
For the most part, Judge William F. Highberger continued to side with parties on a settlement meant to protect schools from suffering high teacher turnover during layoffs. Under the tentative agreement, reached in October, the district would apply seniority rules campus by campus to distribute layoffs more evenly across the nation's second-largest school system. That way, schools that depended heavily on inexperienced teachers would not be decimated. In addition, up to 45 at-risk schools could be protected completely from layoffs, as part of a plan that links this protection to academic improvement.
In past years the Madison School District might have expelled more than a dozen students in the first quarter.Watch a Madison School Board discussion of the Phoenix program, here (begins about 10 minutes into the video).
This year the number of expulsions in the first quarter -- zero.
The sharp reduction is the result of the district's new Phoenix program, an alternative to expulsion that district officials hope will allow students to focus on academics and improved behavior, rather than spend as long as a year-and-a-half falling behind their peers while disconnected from school services.
As of last week, 17 students who have committed expellable offenses were enrolled in the program. Rather than face an expulsion hearing, each has been given a second chance to continue learning in a classroom away from their peers. The district has expelled between 33 and 64 students a year in the last decade.
The test scores of students at independent charter schools in Milwaukee and those of MPS students are relatively equal in the areas of reading and math, a study released Thursday says.
The report, released by the School Choice Demonstration Project conducted by researchers at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Arkansas, compared the 2006-2007 reading and math scores of 2,295 students attending 10 of the 14 independent charter schools in grades 3-8 to a carefully matched sample of 2,295 students from MPS.
When controlling for factors such as switching schools, the scores from students at independent charter schools score the same in reading and math as their counterparts in MPS.
The football field at a public school here, in the second largest school district in the country, soon may be brought to students by Nike.
Facing another potential round of huge budget cuts, the Los Angeles school board unanimously approved a plan on Tuesday night to allow the district to seek corporate sponsorships as a way to get money to the schools.
The district is not the first to look for private dollars as a way to close public budget gaps -- districts in Sheboygan, Wis., and Midland, Tex., for example, have offered up naming rights for their stadiums for years. But the Los Angeles school district is by far the largest to do so, and officials say the plan could generate as much as $18 million for the schools.
Cuts to spending on education are likely to continue, Governor-elect Jerry Brown said Tuesday as he searches for ways to increase California's revenues to match its spending.
Faced with a $28.1 billion deficit for the next fiscal year, Brown is trying to give a crash-course to California voters about how disastrous that figure really is.
The self-described "happy warrior" appears headed down a path of asking voters to extend a handful of temporary tax increases, to raise other taxes and to accept more control over local affairs because cutting 20 to 25 percent from the budgets of state agencies won't alone solve the mess.
The news last week that Shanghai students achieved the top scores in math on the international PISA exam was for some of us not exactly a wake-up call (as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan characterized it) or a Sputnik moment (as President Obama called it).
We've seen this result before. We've seen the reactions and the theories and the excuses that purport to explain why the US does so poorly in math. In fact, there are three main variations used to explain why Chinese/Asian students do so well in international exams:
- Version 1: They are taught using rote learning and then regurgitate the results on exams that test how well they memorize the procedures of how to solve specific problems.
- Version 2: They are taught using the reform methods of a "problem based approach" that doesn't rely on drills, and instills critical thinking and higher order thinking skills
- Version 3: The teacher or the culture produces the proper conditions for learning.
Arguing that Chicago Public Schools are "broken'' and that parents deserve a "choice,'' mayoral challenger James Meeks said Wednesday he would offer $4,500-a-year vouchers to 50,000 low-and-middle-income Chicago families to use toward private school tuition.
If he is elected mayor, Meeks said he would also offer full-day kindergarten and character education in all Chicago Public Schools and double the time spent on reading and math in first through third grades. Full-day kindergarten would be financed in part by cutting bonus pay for teachers with master's degrees.
The 90 minutes of daily reading time -- up from 45 minutes currently -- is designed to make certain that students read at a third-grade level by the time they finish third-grade.
Cell phones will be banned from Bradley Tech High School when students return Jan. 3 in the aftermath of problems last month that resulted in the arrest of 18 people following a fight, Principal Edward M. Kupka said Wednesday.
At the second meeting of community leaders in two weeks to discuss how to improve conditions in and around the school, which sits in the heart of the Walker's Point community, Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Thornton reported that between four to six disruptive students have been reassigned to other educational facilities.
A second wave of students "who aren't focused around the theme of the school" also will be moved to other educational programs, he said.
And students who have to leave school early for a legitimate purpose will receive county bus passes instead of waiting for a yellow school bus, he said.
On Rick Scott's recent pre-take-office tour, Floridians got a peek at what issues his administration's agenda will be likely to favor. The results ranged from confusing to frightening, especially since the opposition party will be virtually powerless to stop him. Provided Scott's initiatives are supported by the Republican majority in the legislature, he will have the opportunity to make broad and sweeping changes and seems intent to do just that.
Among Scott's most troubling assertions was an idea he floated about giving school vouchers to practically any student that wanted one. No governor has ever publicly contemplated such widespread use of vouchers and such a move would be a change to the very foundation of how we view and deliver public education.
As with any political movement, I tend to look at who is pushing it, how it fits into their core ideology and what stands to be gained. In this spirit, the most troubling part about vouchers is that they seem to be most strongly favored by those who do not really believe in government funding of education in the first place. That's not to say that all supporters of such programs wish to abolish public education. Nonetheless, I still think that it is instructive to examine why those who do wish public education to suffer such a fate view vouchers as a vehicle toward that end.
Add this to Congress's year-end to-do list: Dealing with a potential $5.7 billion gap in grants for low-income students.
Federal Pell grants are a form of need-based aid typically given to low-income students. As part of student loan legislation passed in March, the amount of money that students can receive from a Pell grant maxes out at $5,550 for the 2010-2011 school year, and was scheduled to be the same amount for 2011-2012.
There's usually little political wrangling around funding for the Pell grant, but this year, lawmakers underestimated the surge in students going to college -- and their financial need -- helping to create the gap. Congress would need to authorize the additional billions to fully fund the program for all students who qualify for the aid. They've done so in the past, but the gap hasn't ever been this large and comes in the midst of a tense political climate.
"When need-based aid like Pell grants doesn't increase," says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org, "the gap between low income students and everyone else increases faster. It has a big impact."
Superintendent Daniel Nerad School Board President Maya Cole School Board Members Ed Hughes, James Howard, Lucy Matthiak,Clusty Search: Chris Ahmuty.
Beth Moss, Marjorie Passman & Arlene Silveira, and
Student Representative Wyeth Jackson
Madison Metropolitan School District
545 W Dayton St
Madison WI 53703-1967
RE: Opposition to Single Sex Charter School
Dear Superintendent Nerad, President Cole, and School Board Members:
We are writing on behalf of the ACLU of Wisconsin to oppose the proposal for an all-male charter school in Madison. Single sex education is inadvisable as a policy matter, and it also raises significant legal concerns.
The performance problems for children of color in Madison public schools cross gender lines: it is not only African-American and Latino boys who are being failed by the system. Many students of color and low income students - girls as well as boys - are losing out. Further, there is no proof that separating girls from boys results in better-educated children. What's more, perpetuating gender stereotypes can do nothing more than short-change our children, limiting options for boys and girls alike. For these reasons, the ACLU of Wisconsin opposes the effort to open a single-sex, publicly-funded charter school in Madison.
To be clear: the ACLU does not oppose the idea of providing a public charter school with a rigorous academic program and supplemental resources as an alternative to existing school programs in the Madison district. And we strongly encourage efforts to ensure that programming is available to children in underserved communities. Were this an effort to provide an International Baccalaureate program to both boys and girls in Madison - such as the highly- rated, coeducational Rufus King High School in Milwaukee, whose students are predominantly low-income children of color - we would likely be applauding it.
Much more on the proposed IB Charter School Madison Preparatory Academy, here.
The end-of-the-year Omnibus Appropriations bill includes approximately $8.3 billion and 6,714 earmarks.The Madison School District $500,000 earmark is in row 4380 of the .xls file. The description: Madison Metropolitan School District, Madison, WI, for educational programming and Elementary & Secondary Education (includes FIE) via the US Department of Education. Senator Kohl also supports a $20,000,000 Teach for America earmark (row 5497).
Click here for a working database of all the earmarks included in the Omnibus Appropriations bill. It's important to note that the database only refers to disclosed earmarks, not the billions in undisclosed earmarks.
I wonder what the $500,000 earmark, if it is realized, will be used for and how it ended up in the $1,100,000,000,000 spending bill?
Recipient: Madison Metropolitan School District
Amount Requested: $500,000
The AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) [SIS Links] program supports high school students who complete a college preparatory path and enroll in college. The program uses "small learning communities" and a rigorous curriculum to prepare students for college. The program places particular priority on serving students in the "academic middle," who are capable of success in college with some additional supports. AVID currently serves 240 students and will use this federal funding to expand access to the program to 800 students in all four Madison Metropolitan School District high schools.
Kelly Smith, Star Tribune
More Minnesota schools are turning to specialized programs to better address the needs of a small but struggling set of students -- the highly gifted -- and to bring new kids in their doors.
Eleven-year-old Benjamin Ogilvie reads a biology textbook for fun. But it wasn't long ago that he found school boring. "It just wasn't challenging," said the fast-talking fifth-grader. "If you can imagine a third-grader in a first-grade classroom, that's what it was like." That's why his Minnetonka school and others across Minnesota are focusing more on a unique group of struggling students: the highly gifted.
Despite shrinking budgets, a dozen Minnesota schools in the past eight years have started specialized programs for highly gifted elementary students who are often in the top 1 or 2 percentile for achievement. The state designated funding for gifted education for the first time in 2005. And just this year, the state launched an informal network to support these programs.
"It's really about the realization that one size doesn't fit all and for a highly gifted student, a specialized environment is the best," said Wendy Behrens, the state's gifted and talented education specialist. "We have made some amazing progress in our state." Increasingly tight school budgets may have actually spurred an increase in programs as districts fight harder than ever to attract and retain students -- and the state aid that comes with them.
At Inver Grove Heights' Atheneum Gifted Magnet Program, the first full-time gifted program in the state, more than half of the 120 students in second through fifth grades are from 28 other school districts. Other districts apparently have taken note. Since the Inver Grove Heights program was launched in 2002, about a dozen school districts from Bloomington to Brainerd have followed suit. Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose schools started a program this year, and Lakeville will launch one next fall.
Cutting other programs
While the trend is promising to advocates, there's still "an uphill battle" in gifted education, especially in terms of improving diversity, said Richard Cash, who oversees Bloomington's gifted programs. In the district's Dimensions Academy and Elements programs, 37 percent of students are non-white or low-income. "It's gotten better, but there's still a ways to go," he said.
Other school districts may face resistance to starting such specialized programs. "There's an embedded belief that [highly gifted] kids will make it on their own," said Bill Keilty, who runs Spring Lake Park's Lighthouse Program for gifted students and is president of the Minnesota Educators of Gifted and Talented.
Several gifted program directors say that although many districts think specialized gifted programs are costly, they're relatively cost-neutral because they're housed in schools and taught by current teachers. Transportation and training are the biggest expenses, they say, but the additional state revenue brought in by new students helps balance those costs. Other districts may fear accusations of inequality if they start gifted programs when other at-risk groups need help, said Atheneum's coordinator Erin Boltik. "That's what you end up fighting -- or the idea that they're gifted ... [and] they're going to get it on their own."
Keilty said the No Child Left Behind federal legislation puts pressure on schools to focus on struggling students at the other end of the spectrum. Other critics claim IQ is a fixed notion, he said, and that given enough time and studying, "anyone can be a rocket scientist."
'Not about elitism'
But advocates argue that many highly gifted students need help long before honors or Advanced Placement middle and high school classes. "Their unique needs as learners are evident early on," Boltik said.
For years, highly gifted elementary students such as Janette Boik's children were pulled out of the classroom for a couple hours a week, or clustered with a few gifted students in one class. It left them unchallenged, underachieving and unmotivated to stay in school, she said. Her daughter later enrolled in Atheneum even though it was 45 minutes away from their home.
"It's not about elitism," Boik said. "It's about providing appropriate education to every child. They need to have challenges just like the average child needs challenges." The last straw for Gina Doerner of Minnetonka was when her first-grade son, who was reading advanced books such as Harry Potter, was scolded for not sitting still while the teacher read a popular children's book. "He couldn't fake interest in something that was years below his level," said Doerner, who recognized her son needed the Lighthouse Program or "he would never have made it."
Finally challenging students
Although experts say that not every gifted student would benefit from these specialized schools, many profoundly gifted students -- those with IQs of 145 or higher -- do benefit.
"Kids aren't gifted for one hour a day, but all day long," Cash said. "They still deserve to learn every single day as well."
According to the National Association for Gifted Children, research shows that grouping gifted students together in a self-contained environment is the most effective setting. Behrens added that the highly gifted are at the highest risk for underachievement.
In Bloomington's highly gifted programs, Cash said that second- through eighth-graders achieve two or three times more than when they are in general education classes. While the dozen gifted programs in the state are structured differently, most have gifted-trained teachers, fast-paced classes and are set up as a school within a school.
At Minnetonka's Excelsior Elementary, Ali Alowonle's classroom for Navigators, an exceptionally gifted program, looks like any other. But her 19 fourth- and fifth-graders, who have IQs of about 145 or higher, learn high school- and college-level lessons and process information four times faster than their peers. They may breeze through one lesson in 10 minutes and spend two hours on another indepth lesson.
Not only does Navigators challenge them, Alowonle said, it provides a safe space for kids to relate to each other without fear of being singled out or even bullied. "Definitely these kids are at risk and if we don't do something to meet their needs, they could go as far as dropping out to being disinterested," she said. "Without a lot of this, these kids would be lost. For some of them ... it was a lifesaver."
ouston ISD employees have lots of ideas for trimming the district's $1.6 billion budget, including requiring employees to share rooms when traveling, making school administrators teach one course per semester, eliminating extra pay for master's degrees and moving to a four-day work week.
The district has been soliciting cost-cutting ideas from employees in anticipation of the state Legislature making deep cuts to public education funding over the next two years. Just how deep? That's the billion-dollar question.
HISD's chief financial officer, Melinda Garrett, said the state budget shortfall is expected to be between $11 billion and $25 billion, but no one will know for sure until Texas Comptroller Susan Combs releases revenue numbers. That's expected to happen in January.
A new report from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation says students' gains in test scores is one of the strongest predictors of teacher effectiveness, apparently validating D.C.'s controversial teacher evaluation tool and drawing fire from union critics.
The preliminary findings of the Measures of Effective Teaching Project say that teachers' past ability to raise student performance on state exams is one of the biggest predictors that the teacher would continue to oversee big test gains, and is "among the strongest predictors of his or her students' achievement growth in other classes and academic years."
Teachers with these high "value-added scores" -- named for increasing a student's achievement level
-- were also more likely to increase students' grasp of math concepts and reading comprehension through writing practices.
A lot of attention is being given to the idea of school "turnarounds" lately - the concept of taking a poorly performing school and drastically changing the staff, curricula, or other elements in an effort to make it much better.
But a study out Tuesday underlines just how hard it is to actually turn around a failing school.
The study, "Are Bad Schools Immortal?," examined more than 2,000 of the worst-performing district and charter schools in 10 states over five years. It found that very few of them closed, and even fewer - about 1 percent - truly "turned around."
One teacher learned in the Peace Corps how to sidestep bureaucrats to get things done, and he says educators with the most unconventional career tracks often make the best innovators.
Thirty years ago I was a Peace Corps volunteer drilling water wells in Liberia, West Africa. It was rough, dirty, sweaty work fraught with all the hazards and obstacles associated with operating dangerous machines in jungle environments. My overseers were generally low-level operatives working for USAID (and the CIA) or corrupt local politicians looking to maximize their status (or fill their pockets) through the successes of others.
As a young idealist, the Peace Corps taught me much about the strategies necessary to navigate past government bureaucrats to get a job done. My job was saving children's lives from the multitude of waterborne diseases prevalent in Africa.
He stood out at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Mich., an experimental school light on structure that was mockingly called "Commie High," and at Brown, the Ivy League university known for giving students free rein, and where one of his inspirations was an education dean who espoused flexibility in teaching.
Today, Shael Polakow-Suransky is the chief accountability officer of the New York City Department of Education, a job that is as institutional as they come. He traffics in hard numbers, overseeing a system that assigns grades to schools based on complex and fixed formulas, in which success depends largely on how students score on a single test.
Black Friday set off the sale of trinkets, capes, and magic wands, and Michelle Rhee bought a few of the latter. Before Thanksgiving, I would have pegged her for a neoliberal overbearing contessa. After the edu-world lauded Washington, DC's unseating of Mayor Adrian Fenty, and in turn Ms. Rhee, even those who didn't follow education news the way DC residents and interested thought leaders did got a glance at the former chancellor for what she really was. After essentially negotiating away DC teachers' due process or equity in their latest ratified contract, we knew she'd still find a job to do. Little did I know it'd be as the 21st century Mr. Mistoffelees.
How she's been promoted as a students first education reform is definitely a work of prestidigitation and legerdemain. She'll defy examination and deceive you again.
Three area school districts were among only 14 statewide that received the highest marks under the Colorado Department of Education's new accreditation system, which places emphasis on academic growth and preparing students for college and careers.
Nine other districts in the Pikes Peak region, including and Falcon School District 49 and Woodland Park RE-2, received the second highest ranking of "accredited." Five area districts received the mid-level "accredited with improvement plan" designation: Colorado Springs School District 11, Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8, Widefield School District 3, Harrison School District 2 and Cripple Creek-Victor School District RE-1.
Mark Hyman loves the case study; when one of his posts at Huffington Post deals with an almost magical healing he's engendered, well, chances are, there's gonna be a kid involved. This time up, it's Hyman curing autism cuz he's teh man.
Let's look at his first paragraph: "Imagine being the parent of a young child who is not acting normally and being told by your doctor that your child has autism, that there is no known cause, and there is no known treatment except, perhaps, some behavioral therapy."
Fortunately, I don't have to imagine this scenario; I can and do speak from experience. The whole assessment thing for Bobby was hell on wheels from 1994 when we first began the process through 1998 when we got a thorough assessment. We were never told there were no known causes. Even in the mid 90s there were known causes and tests to run, like Fragile X, so that right there is BS on Hyman's part. We were also, despite the crap we were told, never told there was no known treatment. Speech, OT, PT and therapy were begun in 1994, even as we went through a string of inaccurate diagnoses.
Dunbar High School Principal Stephen Jackson was fired at the end of the last school year by the private management group in charge of the school but put back in the job last week by interim D.C. Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson at the urging of parents, community leaders and teachers. Jackson seemed an unusually lively and energetic educator when I met him at the long-troubled Northwest Washington school a year ago. He may be the person who can finally straighten Dunbar out.
But the odds are against him because of the ingrown nature of the school's problems and the dispiriting message Henderson's decision sends to him and any other school leader she assigns to a low-performing school after this.
Given middle of the pack reading levels on PISA results, the National Journal asked the rediculous question, “what’s so awful about being average?” They seem to ignore that US math and science results are much worse and lag most of the developed world. As dumb as the prompt was, it got a few of us to write a response. Here’s mine.
Twenty years of prompting, investing, threatening and reforming have largely failed to dramatically improve education in American. There are pockets of excellence, but results from American schools are flatlined. While unions and school boards argue about contract minutes, the rest of the developed world passed us by in achievement, high school graduation and college completion rates.
Last week’s TIME column about the prospects for school spending occasioned some interesting responses. A common one, though, was the idea that the public is just clamoring to spend more on schools. You hear this a lot. Unfortunately, there are three problems with this argument:
Structural: The money just isn’t there (and annual increases are largely spoken for). The current trajectory of spending is simply not sustainable unless we’re prepared to made radical changes in policies, for example, affecting health care, senior citizens, or prisons. Whether or not we should make those changes is debatable. In many states all senior citizens get a break on property taxes, which are a key revenue source for schools. As the population ages this will ripple through public education budgets. Should these measures be means-tested for ability to pay? Perhaps. Given how politics works are they likely to be? Doubtful. Likewise, our correctional policies are a mess but most politicians are not lining up to fix them. So sure, today’s fiscal choices are just that, choices, but the implications of those decisions and prospects for change must be considered with an eye toward political and other realities realities. A second, related, structural constraint is how little discretionary money there is annually because of how much is tacked down for ongoing obligations. In practice this means that there are annual increases (excepting the last few years where in some places you’ve seen genuine reductions), which consume new money.
The Shanghai math (+1 SD) and science (+.75 SD) scores are almost a full SD above the OECD average of 500 (SD = 100). The top 10 percent of Shanghai math students are all above the 99th percentile for the US. See earlier post for links to Rindermann's work relating school achievement tests like TIMSS and PISA to national IQ estimates, and see here for earlier SD estimates using 2006 PISA data. (Finland has an anomalously low SD in the earlier data. A quick look at the 2009 data shows the following math SDs: Finland 82, USA 91, Korea 89, Japan 94, Germany 98, Shanghai 103, Singapore 104.)
Although Shanghai and Beijing are the richest cities in China, incomes are still quite low compared to the US. Average income in Shanghai is about $10k USD per annum, even PPP adjusted this is about $20k. People live very modestly by the standards of developed countries.
As noted in the comments, there are other places in China that score *higher* than Shanghai on college entrance exams or in math and science competitions. So while Shanghai is probably above the average in China, it isn't as exceptional as is perhaps implied in the Times article.
Taiwan has been moving to an American-style, less test-centric, educational system in the last decade. Educators and government officials (according to local media reports in the last 12 hours) are very concerned about the "low scores" achieved in the most recent PISA :-)
To see how individual states or ethnicities in the US score on PISA, see here and here.
NYTimes: ... PISA scores are on a scale, with 500 as the average. Two-thirds of students in participating countries score between 400 and 600. On the math test last year, students in Shanghai scored 600, in Singapore 562, in Germany 513, and in the United States 487.
In reading, Shanghai students scored 556, ahead of second-place Korea with 539. The United States scored 500 and came in 17th, putting it on par with students in the Netherlands, Belgium, Norway, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and several other countries.
In science, Shanghai students scored 575. In second place was Finland, where the average score was 554. The United States scored 502 — in 23rd place — with a performance indistinguishable from Poland, Ireland, Norway, France and several other countries.
The testing in Shanghai was carried out by an international contractor, working with Chinese authorities, and overseen by the Australian Council for Educational Research, a nonprofit testing group, said Andreas Schleicher, who directs the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s international educational testing program.
Mark Schneider, a commissioner of the Department of Education’s research arm in the George W. Bush administration, who returned from an educational research visit to China on Friday, said he had been skeptical about some PISA results in the past. But Mr. Schneider said he considered the accuracy of these results to be unassailable.
As the governor-elect prepares to take office, California's schools are confronted by a lack of funding that threatens to further harm pupils and a controversial reform movement that could dramatically reshape how classrooms are run.
As Gov.-elect Jerry Brown prepares to take office, major headwinds are buffeting the biggest component of his upcoming budget: California's schools. They are being confronted by a lack of funding that threatens to further harm pupils and a controversial reform movement that could dramatically reshape how classrooms are run.
Most immediate and pressing is the state's fiscal crisis -- a $28-billion gap is forecast for the next 18 months. How that will affect school districts already reeling from years of multibillion-dollar cuts will be the subject of Brown's second budget forum, which is scheduled for Tuesday in Los Angeles.
"Jerry Brown is entering office at a moment when the capacity of the system is weaker than any time in recent memory," said John Rogers, director of the Institute for Democracy, Education and Access at UCLA. "I worry we may be reaching a breaking point."
Current American education policy is built on these assumptions: The quality of American education has plummeted because our schools are filled with teachers who can't teach. Teachers' unions and contracts tie the hands of school administrators. And teachers' unions protect bad teachers. Here are a few reasons why these conclusions are leading our educational system in a bad direction.
First, these policies ignore the effects of poverty on educational outcomes. Given the increasing number of children growing up in poverty, we ignore its effects at our peril.
I know something about poverty and its effects because I grew up in an impoverished, single-parent home and attended a low-quality school through eighth grade. Despite those beginnings, I graduated from one of the top US law schools and am now a law professor. If I could make it, then poverty must not matter, right?
I only know of two K-12 schools that have come close to doing full 1-1 rollouts of iPads to their students. One is the Cedars School of Excellence outside of Glasgow, Scotland, whose 105-student deployment has captured most of the publicity due to the eloquence of its head of IT, Fraser Speirs. The one that gets less publicity is actually much more ambitious in many ways.
Saint Andrews School is a private school in Savannah, Georgia. It has deployed a total of 480 iPads to students, including one to all 440 students in the grades 1-12, and classroom sets for kindergarten and pre-kindergarten (so technically not 1:1, but pretty close).
The Everett School District recently invited a "Management and Operations Review" by an outside organization. The entity that performed the assessment, WASA, is the Washington Association of School Administrators. It is an organization of, by and for school administrators; an organization to which all higher level administrators in Everett (including Everett Superintendent Gary Cohn) belong and pay dues.
Having this organization assess the source of their income and calling it objective is akin to hiring the teachers' union to review the effectiveness of teachers for the district, or hiring a textbook publishing company to rate the effectiveness of the district's curricula. While this arrangement struck one board member as preposterous, four members of the board felt it made perfect sense.
At the union's convention last July in New Orleans, NEA President Dennis Van Roekel announced the creation of a Commission on Effective Teachers and Teaching, which would study teacher effectiveness and report its findings to the delegates of the 2011 convention.
"Let's demand to be the ones in charge," Van Roekel said, adding, "Imagine going beyond 'being at the table' to running the meeting."
He asked, rhetorically, "What would the profession look like if we - the union of practitioners - actually controlled teacher training, induction and licensure, evaluation and professional development?"
Today, NEA announced the 21 members of that commission, and while the press release described them as "diverse" and "independent," they seem committed to Van Roekel's goals - union control of teacher training, induction, licensure, evaluation and professional development.
Leonia School District Superintendent Bernard Josefsberg determines spending plans and decides when schools are closed for snow. He translates complex education jargon for parents and visits classrooms to read with elementary students, many of whom he knows by name in a district of about 1,800 students.
In June, Josefsberg is retiring, in part because of a pay cap imposed by Gov. Chris Christie that is set to take effect in February after the current required period of public comment ends.
The cap links a superintendent's salary to the size of a district, limiting pay for the largest school systems to a maximum $175,000, the governor's salary.
A French nursery school teacher who kept kids calm while a sword-wielding teenager took their classroom hostage is being hailed as a hero today.
French authorities say Nathalie Roffet kept the 17-year-old hostage-taker talking for hours so he didn't threaten the children and reasoned with him to secure their release from the school in Besancon, a small city near the Swiss border.
Roffet, who has been teaching at the Charles-Fourier school for five years, showed "remarkable sangfroid," Besancon Mayor Jean-Louis Fousseret told reporters today, according to The Telegraph. The four-hour standoff ended this morning when the teen released the final six children and the teacher. Then, GIGN, an elite French police force, stormed the building, shot him with a stun gun and arrested him.
In the race to replace Mayor Daley, Rahm Emanuel would like voters to be thinking about something other than those challenges to his residency, and he's talking about schools.
Sunday, he unveiled his plans for improving education in Chicago, includind giving principals more power over their individual schools, doubling the number of teacher training academies and getting parents more involved.
Emanuel wants parents to sign a contract with their child's teacher pledging to encourage learning at home.
"Our teachers simply cannot succeed without parents as partners. While government must do its part, it's no substitute for a committed parent," Emanuel said.
Monday, it's back to the residency challenge, when Emanuel and other witnesses will be called to testify at a Board of Elections hearing.
There's been plenty of buzz -- much of it positive -- surrounding a proposed single sex charter school aimed at improving the academic performance of Madison minority students. Yet a closer look at the financing projections for the Madison Preparatory Academy, starting with the $300,000 the proposal notes is coming from the Madison Community Foundation, raises some questions,Much more on the proposed Madison Preparatory Academy, here.
"I have no idea where they got that figure," says Kathleen Woit, president of the foundation, when asked about the funding. "No, we have not committed to that. We'll have to get this straightened out."
The preliminary proposal, presented to the Madison School Board's Planning and Development Committee Dec. 6, also notes that $1.35 million would be available in six grants of $225,000 through the state Department of Public Instruction's charter school federal start-up fund. That's more than twice what is allowable for a school of Madison Prep's size, and suggests the school would be receiving both implementation and planning grants in two of the four years the school is eligible for start-up money.
"It looks like they are double counting," says Robert Soldner, director of School Management Services for the Department of Public Instruction. Soldner says that DPI typically helps charters get up and running with several years of funding, starting with a planning grant the first year, an implementation grant the second year and extensions of the implementation grants possible in the next couple of years of operation. Charter schools are not eligible for planning and implementation grants at the same time.
The Chronicle had an interesting story in yesterday's paper (print-only until Tuesday) about the brain drain in the Oakland school district after the fifth grade.
According to this analysis by the Oakland school district, 28 percent of all fifth-graders -- and 40 percent of those who scored "advanced" on this year's reading test -- dispersed to non-OUSD middle schools this year.
At Lincoln Elementary School in Chinatown, the city's first public, non-charter school to win a National Blue Ribbon Award from the U.S. Department of Education, a staggering 77 percent of last year's fifth-graders left the district, up from 57 percent a few years ago.
Superintendent Tony Smith told Chronicle reporter Jill Tucker, whose son goes to Peralta Elementary in Rockridge (a school with the fifth-highest "leaving rate" in OUSD - 44 percent), that the loss of top students was one explanation for the drop-off in district test scores at the middle and high school level.
Educators at a small private Christian school in Olde Town Augusta are seeing results with a math curriculum imported from halfway around the world.Related: Math Forum Audio/Video.
In the first year the school adopted Singapore Math, all of its kindergarten and first-grade pupils met or exceeded proficiency standards on the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills, as did 80 percent of second-graders.
Why use math from Singapore?
In a more concerted effort to enhance the manner in which our students are taught to become contributing members of a global society, we would like our schools to emphasize:
It is our hope that all students are touched by this initiative, in all courses and at all levels of our curriculum. We appreciate any innovation that can be brought to our students to achieve this goal.
- The interconnectedness of the world's cultures, politics, and economics.
- Recognizing, analyzing, and evaluating trends in global relationships.
- Creative problem solving, critical thinking, and innovative thought processes.
- Understanding issues from cultural perspectives other than our own.
- Encouraging study and travel abroad.
- Technical competence and the critical impact that technology has had in our world.
- Technological innovation that can expand curriculum, opportunity, and our students' world view.
- Outreach to the community for resources and expertise to further global awareness.
- The role of world languages in preparing students for an international environment. Consideration of Chinese as a new curricular offering.
In a speech to state leaders, the mayor brands United Teachers Los Angeles as an obstacle to reform as the city stands at 'a critical crossroads.'Related: Marc Eisen:
With a hard-hitting speech that branded the city's teachers union as an unyielding obstruction to education reforms, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa set the stage this week for a new battle over control of the troubled Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second-largest.
In a Sacramento address to state leaders, Villaraigosa -- himself a longtime teachers union employee before launching a career in public office -- declared that education in Los Angeles stands at "a critical crossroads," and he assailed United Teachers Los Angeles for resisting change.
During the last five years, the mayor said, union leaders have stood as "one unwavering roadblock to reform." He called for change in contentious areas such as tenure, teacher evaluations and seniority -- all volatile arenas in which teachers unions have balked at proposals for reform as eroding their rights.
Public employee unions look increasingly out of touch and may be forced to swallow wage and benefit cuts.
Too bad a ball-peen hammer wasn't handy. If so, leaders of the embattled Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association might have walloped themselves over the head. Instead, they did something even more self-destructive, suing Milwaukee Public Schools for Viagra coverage of its members.
Union president Mike Langyel gamely defends the suit, saying Viagra is used to treat a bona fide medical problem. But even liberal supporters winced at the timing.
Here was a financially strapped school system struggling with an anticipated layoff of almost 500 teachers, and the clueless union was demanding insurance coverage of a sexual aid that could cost taxpayers more than $700,000 a year.
California's massive 2011-12 budget shortfall won't be closed without big cuts to public education.
The likely result doesn't look pretty.
"Schools will become more and more like prisons and less and less like schools," said David Plank, a professor of education at Stanford University. "You'll have huge classes, restive young people and overworked teachers."
Sound drastic? So is the budget crisis.
Soon after Gov.-elect Jerry Brown is sworn in next month, he will have to present a budget for 2011-12, a year that likely will be worse than any that California schools have endured in modern history.
On Wednesday, Brown noted the budget deficit over the next 18 months is likely worse than previously reported. He released figures showing California stands to lose another $2.7 billion from potential changes to the federal estate tax, swelling the shortfall through June 2012 to $28.1 billion.
In defending his selection for schools chancellor, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has called Cathleen P. Black, a publishing executive with no education experience, "exactly the right person for the job" and suggested that her skills as a manager were unrivaled.
Ms. Black, however, was not the first person the mayor asked to take the position. Mr. Bloomberg tried to persuade Geoffrey Canada, the prominent Harlem education leader and a friend of the mayor, to be chancellor, but Mr. Canada turned it down, according to two people with direct knowledge of the discussions.
The two people did not want to be identified because Mr. Bloomberg has sought to keep the process private.
Mr. Bloomberg has repeatedly declined to offer details about whom he consulted during the search process, or how he ultimately settled on Ms. Black, the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines.
new one-of-a-kind charter school in the city of Madison could soon become a reality, but an error in crunching numbers may mean more of a burden for city taxpayers.
The error was found just a few weeks ago, and it could put taxpayers on the hook for an additional $380,000 over the next five years.
But proponents of the proposed Badger Rock charter school have been scrambling to find ways to trim costs. And despite the bigger budget numbers, they said they hope the Madison School Board sees the bigger picture and not just dollar signs.
The year-round, agriculture- and green-based school on Madison's southwest side would start with 50 students in sixth grade. The school would add grades seven and eight in the following two years, for a total of 150 students.
Support for the school has been great until what's being called a "hiccup" two weeks ago.
As part of the conditions that passed, the board must execute a contract with the school no later than April 1 to operate it for a five-year period. Board member Lucy Mathiak added a sentence saying the contract shall define the district's financial obligations for each of the five years and shall contain language limiting the district's financial liability. Mathiak's amendment passed 6-1.Much more on Badger Rock here.
It would be interesting to see how the funding/review/political model compares with the ill-fated Studio School proposal and, how current public schools might fare as a "startup" today.
The government has confirmed it will give schools in England an extra £430 per child for poorer pupils enrolled there.
The pupil premium applies for each child aged between five and 16 who receives free school meals.
The chief executive of McDonald's has described critics of the company who have tried to curtail the sale of Happy Meals aimed at children as "food police" and accused them of undermining parents in making decisions for their families.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Jim Skinner responded to last month's vote by the San Francisco board of supervisors to forbid restaurants from offering toys with meals unless the food complied with limits on calories, sodium, sugar and fat.
"We'll continue to sell Happy Meals," said Mr Skinner, in the face of a ban that does not become effective until December 2011. The new rule "really takes personal choice away from families who are more than capable of making their own decisions".
If anyone has reason to overthrow the public school establishment, it's parents in the Compton Unified School District. Five of the district's 35 schools are listed among the worst 5% statewide. In July, an auditor reported that the schools were run to benefit adults more than students and that the district appeared incapable of fixing the problem. And the school board recently fired its superintendent for charging thousands of dollars of personal expenses to her district credit card.
So it's no great surprise that Compton Unified became the first school district targeted for the so-called parent trigger, which allows parents to force radical change at a particular school if 51% of them sign a petition. Among their options are replacing the school's management or most of its staff, or turning it into a charter school. Parents organized by the group Parent Revolution, the leading force behind the parent trigger movement, delivered their petition to district headquarters last week, demanding that McKinley Elementary School become part of the Celerity Education Group charter organization.
Liu Yang, a coal miner's daughter, arrived in the capital this past summer with a freshly printed diploma from Datong University, $140 in her wallet and an air of invincibility.
Her first taste of reality came later the same day, as she lugged her bags through a ramshackle neighborhood, not far from the Olympic Village, where tens of thousands of other young strivers cram four to a room.
Unable to find a bed and unimpressed by the rabbit warren of slapdash buildings, Ms. Liu scowled as the smell of trash wafted up around her. "Beijing isn't like this in the movies," she said.
One suggestion Severson offered that hasn't gained much traction in the past is to have board members represent geographic areas rather than the entire city, more like the Milwaukee School Board.
Ruth Robarts, who served on the board for 10 years, said a consequence of at-large seats like those in Madison is that races are more expensive -- hers cost $20,000 -- and it becomes impossible to campaign door-to-door.
That means candidates rely on the endorsements of Madison Teachers Inc., which Robarts said has "almost overwhelming influence" on local board elections, and other groups, which then tout candidates' qualifications and get members out to vote.
"However, the big unknown in my mind is whether School Board campaigns would become much more parochial," she added, referring to district-based elections. "If so, would that lead to good trade-offs needing to happen to get things done or would it lead to political gridlock at this very local level?"
The Obama administration could not have set the stage for a better demonstration of the power and priorities of Wisconsin's teachers unions.Related: WEAC tops lobbyist spending list
With its Race to the Top competition, the federal government dangled the prospect of a share of $4.35 billion for those states ready to enact reforms, especially related to improving teacher and principal performance.
Eyes on that prize, states launched plans tying teacher pay and promotions to student achievement, giving state officials more control over local schools and overhauling data tracking and assessment systems.
Then the game got tricky: Teachers unions had to be on board.
In the end, only 11 states and the District of Columbia ended up with money from the program this year. Wisconsin got nothing.
The Wisconsin Education Association Council had helped kill or watered down critical parts of the state's proposal, with the president of the teachers union attaching a letter to the application that one participant described as "grudging." In the end, only 12% of the union's local leaders endorsed a plan that might have brought in more than $250 million in school funding to Wisconsin.
The Wisconsin Education Association Council spent nearly twice as much as any other organization to lobby lawmakers in 2009, according to the Government Accountability Board.
The state's largest teachers union reported spending more than $1.5 million and 7,239 hours lobbying, almost twice as much as the Wisconsin Insurance Alliance, which spent the second-highest amount on lobbying in the state.
One aspect of the union's lobbying effort was largely successful, with the state Legislature repealing the 16-year-old qualified economic offer law that restricted teachers' pay and benefits.
Blaming teachers for low test scores, poor graduation rates and the other ills of American schools has been popular lately, but a new survey wags a finger closer to home.
An Associated Press-Stanford University Poll on education found that 68 percent of adults believe parents deserve heavy blame for what's wrong with the U.S. education system -- more than teachers, school administrators, the government or teachers unions.
Only 35 percent of those surveyed agreed that teachers deserve a great deal or a lot of the blame. Moms were more likely than dads -- 72 percent versus 61 percent -- to say parents are at fault. Conservatives were more likely than moderates or liberals to blame parents.
Those who said parents are to blame were more likely to cite a lack of student discipline and low expectations for students as serious problems in schools. They were also more likely to see fighting and low test scores as big problems.
Not all parents want to see the Parent Trigger Law pulled at McKinley Elementary School, according to Principal Fleming Robinson.
In a statement released Thursday, Robinson said despite recent outcry there are still a lot of parents who support the school and its administration, and a host of others have been misguided.
"Some have said they signed the petition but were harassed or signed under false pretenses, which included beautifying the school," Robinson said. "A lot of parents weren't given clear information on what the petition was for."
However, on Tuesday during a press conference where more than 50 parents, students, guardians and residents spoke before heading to Compton Unified School District headquarters to hand over a stack of parent-signed petitions, Elizabeth Hidalgo, the mother of a child attending McKinley, acknowledged that several parents were up in arms over their attempts and "have been spreading lies" about not receiving all the details.
Hundreds of students at Murry Bergtraum High School took a stand this week after being told they couldn't use the bathrooms at school.
Fed up with what some say are strict policies, crowds of angry teens rushed the Manhattan school's halls, creating chaos, reports CBS 2's Derrick Dennis.
It was literally a riot -- students crowded the hallways, screaming at the top of their lungs and protesting what they said was the principal's decision to close all the bathrooms to students.
"What happened was two students started fighting, and the principal got mad, and closed all the bathrooms, and then all the kids went crazy and just started a riot," one student said.
Classroom effectiveness can be reliably estimated by gauging students' progress on standardized tests, Gates foundation study shows. Results come amid a national effort to reform teacher evaluations.Much more on value added assessment, here.
Teachers' effectiveness can be reliably estimated by gauging their students' progress on standardized tests, according to the preliminary findings of a large-scale study released Friday by leading education researchers.
The study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, provides some of the strongest evidence to date of the validity of "value-added" analysis, whose accuracy has been hotly contested by teachers unions and some education experts who question the use of test scores to evaluate teachers.
The approach estimates a teacher's effectiveness by comparing his or her students' performance on standardized tests to their performance in previous years. It has been adopted around the country in cities including New York; Washington, D.C.; Houston; and soon, if local officials have their way, Los Angeles.
The $45-million Measures of Effective Teaching study is a groundbreaking effort to identify reliable gauges of teacher performance through an intensive look at 3,000 teachers in cities throughout the country. Ultimately, it will examine multiple approaches, including using sophisticated observation tools and teachers' assessments of their own performance
For two years, backed by a friendly Congress and flush with federal stimulus money, President Obama's administration enjoyed a relatively obstacle-free path for its education agenda, the focus of which is the $4 billion Race to the Top grant program.
But with Republican deficit hawks taking control of the House next month, Education Secretary Arne Duncan will no longer have billions of dollars to use at his discretion.
The administration is also having to recalibrate its goals for working with Congress to overhaul the main federal law on public schools. Fortunately for the administration, its ambitions for the law, the Bush-era No Child Left Behind effort, are shared by Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican who will be the chairman of the House education committee.
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan appeared in Tampa, Fla. alongside the presidents of the two major teachers unions: Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers and Dennis Van Roekel of the National Education Association.
Praising teacher evaluation, tenure, and pay reforms pursued through a partnership among the local school district, union and the Gates Foundation, Duncan lobbed a message of conciliation into an often-overheated debate over the role of unions in school improvement efforts.
"I don't think any of us like it when something is imposed on us," Duncan said. "I think there is so much the country can learn from what's happening here. You have elevated the profession."
The news conference - held in Hillsborough County, where it now takes up to four years to earn tenure and teachers are paid, in part, according to how well their students perform on standardized tests - was intended to extend an olive branch to the teachers unions in recognition of an important, though increasingly embattled, Democratic Party constituency.
Today, The Boston Globe published the latest in a long series of special "All-Scholastics" 14-page (12x22-inch) supplements on good local high school athletes from a variety of sports. These celebrations are produced three times a year (42 pages) with lots of pictures and little bios and lists of all-stars from the Boston area.
Again this Fall, there was no room for any mention by The Boston Globe of any noteworthy academic achievement by local students at the high school level. Christiane Henrich of Marblehead HS, in Marblehead, Massachusetts, wrote a 7,360-word Emerson-prize-winning history research paper on the quality (good for the day) of U.S. Civil War medicine. It was published in the only journal in the world for the academic papers of secondary students...No room in The Boston Globe for that to be mentioned. She is now at Stanford and doesn't mind, but I mind about all the Boston-area students who are fed a constant diet of praise for athletic achievement by their peers and at the same time are starved of any and all news of the academic achievements of their peers.
In fact, over the years I have published a good number of exemplary history papers by high school students from the Boston area and they did not and do not get mentioned in The Boston Globe, nor do the academic achievements of our high school students in foreign languages (e.g. National Latin Exam, etc.), AP subject tests in Calculus, Chemistry, European history or in any other field, receive any notice from the Globe.
International competitions reveal that we are below average in Reading, Math and Science. Perhaps we should just explain that we don't care about that stuff as much as we do about swimming, soccer, cross-country, football, golf, field hockey, and volleyball, because achievement by our high school students in those efforts are what we really like to pay attention to, (not that academic stuff), at least when it comes to The Boston Globe.
The Boston Globe (and its subscribers) are, in this way, sending a constant stream of clear messages (42 pages at a time in supplements, not to mention regular daily columns on HS sports) that in Boston (The Athens of America) what we care about is kids doing well in sports. If they do well in academics we don't think that is worth mentioning. Sick, sad, and self-destructive, but there we are.
"Teach by Example"
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review 
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes 
National Writing Board 
TCR Institute 
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
Newsweek reports this week on Michelle Rhee's new project StudentsFirst, but I have been thinking a lot lately about the fact that, while our High School students have spent some 12,960 hours observing teachers [6 hours x 180 days x 12 years] and giving at least some of their attention to other aspects of school reform that affect them, no one seems to show any interest in actually talking with them to discover what they have learned.
Tony Wagner of Harvard did conduct a focus group for recent grads of a suburban high school he was working with, and he was surprised and intrigued by what he learned from them during the course of the conversation. But he tells me he only knows of three high schools in the whole country (of 20,000 +) which conduct such efforts to learn from students what they have noticed about their schools.
When I left my job at the Space & Information Systems Division of North American Aviation to accept a new job with Pan Am in the early 1960s, they gave me an exit interview to find out why I was leaving, but also to discover what I might offer by way of observations about my tasks and the job environment.
Our high schools, I feel it is safe to claim, do not offer their students exit interviews, either as they finish graduation or a few years later. We pass up the chance to harvest knowledge from those thousands of hours of classroom observation, and from their "hands-on" experience of the educational system in which we placed them for 12 years.
What could be the reasons for this vacuum in our curiosity about education? I believe it comes in part from our attitude that, after all, students are merely students, and that they will not become thinking human beings until long after they leave our buildings.
This is a really stupid attitude, in my view. After all, some of these students have managed calculus, chemistry, Chinese and European history. I know some who have written very very good 11,000- to 15,000-word history research papers. So it should be obvious to us, if we take a moment to think, that not only are they fully capable of noticing something about the the instruction and the other schooling processes they have experienced, but also that they are fully capable of reporting to us some of what they have learned, if we can convince them that we really want to know.
Now, someone may point out that half our college freshman drop out before their sophomore year, that a million of our HS graduates are in remedial courses every year when they get to college, and so on. I know that, so let's, at least initially, not talk to poorly-performing students. Instead, to get our feet wet, let's give serious interviews to the ones who will graduate summa cum laude from Yale, Stanford, Princeton, MIT and Harvard. You know, the ones who will get the Nobel Prizes one day. Surely it is not so hard to identify the ten most academically promising and thoughtful of our HS seniors each year, and, after graduation, at least ask them if they would be willing to share some of their observations and thoughts in a conversation with us.
This would give us a small first step, and a fresh one, on the way to putting Students First, and start to put an end to our really dumb neglect of this rich resource for helping us understand how to do our education jobs better for their younger peers.
I can only hope that Mr. Gates, with his hopes to improve teacher training, and Michelle Rhee, with her new push to pay attention to students for a change, are listening to this.
"Teach by Example"
Will Fitzhugh [founder]
The Concord Review 
Ralph Waldo Emerson Prizes 
National Writing Board 
TCR Institute 
730 Boston Post Road, Suite 24
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776-3371 USA
As America starts to grapple with its out-of-control spending habits, we as a nation really should reckon with our education costs. Few federal education programs were targeted by President Obama's deficit-reduction commission, but that's because most school funding comes from the state and local levels. And that's where the big-time money problem is. According to a report issued jointly last week by the National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers, when federal stimulus funds run out in 2011, states -- and, by extension, schools -- will tumble off a fiscal cliff, and even an economic upturn won't bring state funding back up to where it was a few years ago.Related: Wisconsin K-12 spending growth far exceeds University pace.
The problem, however, is not just the struggling economy. In 1970 America spent about $228 billion in today's dollars on public schools. In 2007 that figure was $583 billion. True, some of the increase can be traced back to growing enrollments, better programs, and improved services for special-education and other students, but much of the increase is just a lot of spending without a lot to show for it. And given all the various pressures on state budgets (including our aging population, health care costs and the substantial obligations states and school districts owe for pensions and benefits), the golden age of school spending is likely coming to an end.
No sagging pants and grungy T-shirts will be allowed at this new Houston school.Related: The Proposed IB Charter Madison Preparatory Academy.
Neither will bad attitudes.
And neither will girls.
This school, approved by the Houston board of trustees Thursday, will open next fall with only male students. The campus will start with sixth- and ninth-graders, who will have to apply to attend, and will grow annually to become a full middle and high school.
The boys at this new school in Houston's Fifth Ward will have to wear blazers and ties. They will take advanced courses, learn a foreign language and- the biggest expectation -- go on to earn a college degree.
This will be the first all-boys school started directly by the Houston Independent School District, which last month announced plans to open an all-girls campus next year. The district has two other all-boys schools, but they are run by contractors and one is leaving HISD's umbrella to become a state charter school.
What education practices can high-performing nations learn from one another?PDF Report.
Learning With the World is an Asia Society initiative that focuses on common educational concerns worldwide, as well as international best-practice solutions. We work with education leaders from nations with the best and quickly improving education systems to discuss the key drivers of educational improvement and the lessons learned.
As the Madison School Board prepares to take a second shot Monday at approving an agriculture-themed charter school on Madison's South Side, board members remain divided on what was once thought to be a slam-dunk proposal.Madison Superintendent Dan Nerad 1.3MB PDF::
"I'm sold on the concept; I'm not sold on the budget," board member Lucy Mathiak said Friday. "I don't see anyone being jolly about spending $700,000 a year for 50 kids."
Badger Rock Middle School, expected to open next fall with 50 sixth-graders mostly from the Sennett Middle School attendance area, has a projected budget shortfall of $43,000 for 2011-12, with a projected budget of $668,600. The gap is projected to grow to $134,000 in the charter school's third year, when it has 150 sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders and is expected to cost $1.37 million to run.
On February 16,2010, MMSD received BRMS's PlanningMuch more on the proposed Badger Rock Middle School Charter initiative here.
Grant and Executive Summary of its proposed charter school. On August 16, 2010, the DPI approved the Planning Grant and provided BRMS with an award of $200,000.
(Please see communication from DPI attached as Appendix A).
The proposed charter school will be located on 4 acres of property on the grounds of the
Badger Resilience Center in South Madison. The designated site is adjacent to a 7 acre
Madison park that will also be used to foster BRMS' philosophy of cultural and
environmental sustainability. The site also currently has a working farm, a community
center, a cafe and a gardening and sustainability operation run by Growing Power.
In addition to the previously referenced planning grant, funding for BRMS, including a
school endowment, is being spearheaded by the Center for Resilient Cities. BRMS
reports that "close to a million dollars" has been committed to the project and these, and
future, funds are being provided by private contributors.
BRMS notes that the research-based instructional strategies upon which their pedagogy
will be established are Environmental-Based Education (EBE) and Place -Based
Education (PBE). As noted in BRMS Executive Summary, both EBE and PBE have
been subject to numerous research efforts and have demonstrated positive results for
involved students, and in particular, students at the middle school level. EBE in
particular is also consistent with PI 8.01 which mandates that "environmental education
objectives and activities shall be integrated into the kindergarten through grade 12
sequential curriculum plans." BRMS also proposes a "year-round" school which would
not increase the number of instructional days, but would lessen the traditional threemonth
BRMS has established numerous partnerships with community agencies. These
agencies are detailed in the Executive Summary and Detailed Proposal (See
Appendices B and D)
President Barack Obama said Monday in a speech about education that this is "our generation's Sputnik moment."
My first question is: How many high school students around here know what Sputnik is?
My second question is: Do you think there are things to be learned from the educational success in countries that are doing better overall than the United States?
The release last week of results from testing of 15-year-olds around the world, including in most of the world's industrial nations, was one of the main factors underlying Obama's statement. American students showed a bit of improvement, but overall were in the middle of the pack. That means, among the 34 countries at the center of the study, the U.S. was 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math. The U.S. standings were in line with other results in recent years.
While the rankings from the Program for International Student Assessment got a lot of attention, a set of accompanying reports got little. Among those was one focused on lessons for the United States.
In defending his selection for schools chancellor, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has called Cathleen P. Black, a publishing executive with no education experience, "exactly the right person for the job" and suggested that her skills as a manager were unrivaled.
Ms. Black, however, was not the first person the mayor asked to take the position. Mr. Bloomberg tried to persuade Geoffrey Canada, the prominent Harlem education leader and a friend of the mayor, to be chancellor, but Mr. Canada turned it down, according to two people with direct knowledge of the discussions.
The two people did not want to be identified because Mr. Bloomberg has sought to keep the process private.
Mr. Bloomberg has repeatedly declined to offer details about whom he consulted during the search process, or how he ultimately settled on Ms. Black, the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines.
More than half of Wisconsin residents are living paycheck-to-paycheck and have no "rainy day" fund that would cover thee months of unanticipated financial emergencies, a survey released this week says.
The Financial Capability Survey conducted by FINRA, the self-regulating agency of the investing industry, said 55% of Wisconsinites report spending all or a little more than their household income, which is similar to the rate nationwide. About 57% of Wisconsin resident don't have emergency money stashed away, slightly better than the national average of 60%.
A Colorado state senator told New Jersey lawmakers considering ways to fix tenure Thursday about a new law he pushed to make such job protection a "badge of honor."
Mike Johnston gave the Senate education committee details of a law passed in spring that requires teachers to get three consecutive years of effective evaluations before they earn tenure, called non-probationary status there. If they have two consecutive years of poor evaluations, they go back on probation. Those teachers can get help to improve and might eventually earn back tenure. If they don't, a district can dismiss them.
The recent figures released by the state Department of Education, which show a statewide public high school dropout rate of 37 percent among African American students, is a symptom of a broader social malaise and not an accurate measure of one group's performance.
Because when you hear some of the stories of children living in big city, high-crime neighborhoods, you come to understand that steering clear of troubled streets is in itself a full-time job.
I spoke with four young African American men on Thursday, all of them dropouts who returned to school. They attend Dewey Academy, the continuation high school in Oakland, where the high school dropout rate hovers around 40 percent.
Preliminary Milwaukee Public Schools budget predictions for fiscal 2012 include a slight dip in student enrollment and the loss of more than 300 full-time jobs, primarily because of a drop in federal stimulus and education jobs money, according to an analysis by the district's budget office.
But the head of the School Board's budget committee said Wednesday that it's too early in the budgeting process for any financial predictions to carry much weight, mostly because nobody knows how much money will be available for schools in the next state budget under the new governor.
Terry Falk, chair of the board's Committee on Strategic Planning and Budget, said at a committee meeting Tuesday that even the district's budget forecast for next year is less predictable than it's been at this point in the past several budget cycles.
"Any prediction at this point is not worth the paper it's printed on," Falk said, noting that the administration can only make projections based on what it knows right now, and that all that could change quickly.
State agencies are requesting an additional $3.94 billion in state and federal money - a 6.2% increase - over the next two years to fund priorities such as health care and education.
But with the state already facing a massive deficit in the 2011-'13 budget, Governor-elect Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature are unlikely to fill many of those requests. The report on the $67.43 billion in requests over two years - most by agencies in Gov. Jim Doyle's administration -was released Thursday by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.
The biggest share of the proposed increases would go to the state Department of Health Services for programs such as Medicaid health care for the poor - spending that Walker and other Republicans have pledged to rein in.
Probably the best teacher I ever had is a man I fondly call "Stein the Medievalist." He's a smart guy. He follows the news closely. He's an opera maven. He's multilingual. He's a full professor of language and literature at a fine university. He was my Latin teacher in college.
In our 30 years of friendship, we've generally found ourselves on the same side of any given civic or educational controversy. He still teaches me, and sometimes I even teach Stein, but when he, whom I have never known to forward such missives, forwarded to me a petition asking State of New York Education Commissioner David Steiner to deny Cathie Black the request for the waiver she would need to work as the head of the school system, I couldn't sign it.
I am the mother of three adolescent children. Each has attended NYC DOE (New York City Department of Education) schools. Two do so at present. Our family is deeply committed to public education, and two of my children have been, and are currently being well educated in DOE schools.
In the public appearances section of the meeting MGEA representative Kevin Mikelbank noted that in consideration of the status of the ongoing negotiations the teacher's union has suspended their "work to the contract" job action, and that teachers would now participate in activities such as writing student letters of recommendation.
After the remaining preliminaries, the board heard first from PMA financial consultants who perform a 5 year budget forcast for the district each year. This year's preliminary model assumes zero enrollment growth and $200/year increase in the revenue cap - in all likelyhood we will see a smaller increase. Even so, the preliminary projections show a deficit that increases $700K to $1M each of the next five years, and unless a miracle occurs in the state budget process it will quite probably be worse. Ugh.
Stop me if you've heard this one before.
The University of Wisconsin System argues its faculty and staff are in desperate need of pay raises in each of the next two years just so these in-demand folks can keep from falling further behind those at peer institutions.
Fiscal conservatives reflexively howl that those within the UW System simply don't understand the magnitude of the budgetary crisis facing Wisconsin and are out of touch for wanting more when everyone else is trying to make do with less.
The latest round of this perpetual battle took place Thursday afternoon at the Memorial Union when a Board of Regents committee voted unanimously to recommend most faculty and academic staff working across the UW System receive a 2 percent pay increase in each of the next two years. The decision by the regents' business, finance and audit committee to back the proposal from UW System President Kevin Reilly will almost certainly be approved by the full board Friday morning.
In a Newsweek article for November 28, 2010, Jonathan Alter, in the process of calling educational historian Diane Ravitch "jaundiced," and "the Whittaker Chambers of school reform," praises Bill Gates for his broad-minded views of the best way to evaluate teachers, including "student feedback," which Alter observes parenthetically, is "(surprisingly predictive of success in the classroom)..."
Now, who is it that could be surprised that students might be able to predict which teachers would be successful in the classroom, Mr. Alter? How could it be, he must assume, that young students, after their thousands of hours of classroom observations, might know something about what makes an effective teacher and who might do well at the job?
I find the combination of hubris, ignorance and condescension revealed by that parenthetical aside to be truly astonishing.
Recently Randi Weintgarten told Jay Mathews in an interview that in considering school reform it was important to start from the bottom up, that is with teachers.
Hasn't a single Edupundit or Union Leader noticed that "below" the teachers, if we want to start from the bottom up, are the students? You know, the ones who have always been there, observing and learning a lot about teachers, who they are, what they can do, and what it would take to make classrooms and schools do their job better. As John Shepard has pointed out to me: "Can we not--using W.C. Field's paraphrase--see the handwriting on the floor?"
But perhaps someone has indeed thought of asking them. Tony Wagner at Harvard conducted a focus group of recent graduates for a suburban high school and was quite surprised by much of what he learned, but when I asked him how many high schools he knew of which did conduct such inquiries to learn how they could improve, he said he only knew of three in the country.
We are not asking students, so they are not telling us, no surprise there. But perhaps we are not asking them because, don't you know, they are just kids. I know something about those kids because I was a teacher for ten years and for the last 23 I have been seeking out and publishing their serious academic expository writing. I know that some of my authors have graduated summa cum laude from Harvard, Princeton and Yale, that some of them have become Rhodes Scholars, Marshall Scholars, and doctors, lawyers, and chiefs of various kinds. Why is it so easy for us to forget that every Nobel Prize winner was once a high school student sitting there as an interested observer, learning about teachers, classrooms and schools?
But we don't think to ask them. We don't benefit from their years of experience studying the education we are offering them. This stupidity on our part has resulted in hundreds of billions of dollars and centuries of person-years deployed on education reform without making use of any of the knowledge students regularly accumulate about what we are trying to reform. What a sad thoughtless waste of money and time!
Japanese car makers had the sense to allow workers on the assembly line to stop the line if they saw a defect that needed correction, and they have led the world in quality work.
While it is no doubt impossible for us even to imagine giving students the power to stop a teacher who was doing a terrible job, why don't we at least give some thought, with all our heavy thinkers and all our research budgets, to trying to discover at least
a tiny bit of what some of our more thoughtful students have observed over their decades in our schools?
We could actually consider asking for and even taking some small bit of their advice on how to educate them and their peers better. After all, we landed on the Moon within a decade, didn't we? And brought the astronauts safely home...surely we could ask a few students a few questions, and listen to the answers, couldn't we?
f you want to get a sense of what's in store for the American workforce, just take a look at how our students match up against the rest of the world in math and science. After all, most of the professions within the U.S. economy that are growing -- healthcare, information technology, and biomedicine -- require extensive training in both subjects.
So how are we doing? Not well, at all.
American 15-year old students scored below average in math and were outperformed by 23 other countries and education systems, according to test results released Tuesday by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Program for International Student Assessment.
And they didn't do much better in science, ranking 19 among the lot of 65 participating countries and education systems (N.B. "educational systems" are individual cities within a country, like Shanghai).
Seven school districts and 23 charter schools are joining Minnesota's alternative system for evaluating and paying teachers -- the signature education initiative under Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who leaves office next month.
Pawlenty on Wednesday announced the largest one-year expansion of the Q Comp program since it began in 2006. With the addition of the new schools next year, nearly a third of Minnesota students will be taught by a teacher in the program.
Also, the Minnesota Department of Education has begun uploading state-approved lessons for teachers and preschool through high school students to the iTunes web site in collaboration with Apple Inc., Pawlenty said.
Green Bay-area school districts are beginning to change long-standing bans on handheld technology, such as cell phones and iPods, after realizing they are increasingly part of students' everyday lives.
The Pulaski School District, for example, now encourages middle and high school students to bring their cell phones to class. They're also welcome to carry other electronic gadgets such as netbooks, which are a bit smaller than laptop computers; iPads, handheld tablet computers; or electronic-book readers.
Pulaski school leaders said they decided to drop a ban on cell phone use because it wasn't practical. Students own the gadgets, administrators say, so why not use them as classroom tools?
The Government Accountability Office has revised portions of a report it released last summer on recruiting practices in for-profit higher education, softening several examples from an undercover investigation but standing by its central finding that colleges had encouraged fraud and misled potential applicants.
The revisions have come as the Obama administration and senior Democratic lawmakers are pushing for tougher regulation of the industry. A Republican senator said the revisions called into question some of the conclusions in the report.
The original report, issued Aug. 4 in testimony to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, examined recruiting practices at 15 for-profit colleges, including campuses operated by the Apollo Group, Corinthian Colleges and The Washington Post Co.'s Kaplan unit.
Mom's admonishment still rings true today, with only minor adjustment: "Starving children in North Korea would be happy to have that beef and bean burrito."
Or, as it's known in the Madison School District, the least popular lunch among students this past October and a poster child for the dilemma faced by lunch ladies across this land of plenty: How to get children to eat things that are good for their bodies, not just pleasing to their tongues.
The irony in trying to solve this problem -- also known as a "blessing" in food-deprived parts of the world -- is so old as to be left unmentioned. I mention it here only as a reminder that in our free-flowing-capital-and-consumer-products global economy, we still can't manage to keep kids from starving to death.
In any case, my first reaction to the healthy choices conundrum was simple: Let them go hungry.
A West High School student was arrested Tuesday afternoon after punching another student while wearing brass knuckles, according to the Madison Police Department. Police said the incident happened in the hallway of the school at about 12:20 p.m.
Governor-elect Scott Walker's campaign promise to lift the enrollment cap on Wisconsin's voucher and virtual schools could come to fruition soon, despite opposition from unions.
In an interview this week on the public affairs program "WisconsinEye," State Superintendent Tony Evers said that he is open to lifting the enrollment limits, something Republicans have pushed for in the face of resistance from unions and public school advocates who see the voucher program as draining resources from Milwaukee schools by diverting public funding to private voucher schools.
"I'm steeped in reality. I'm not sure if what I think makes a lot of difference," Evers said, alluding to the impending Republican control of the governor's office and both houses of the Legislature. "People have made clear what their positions are."
Removing the caps on virtual schools or the choice program would not "fundamentally change the way those programs operate, nor will it dramatically increase the enrollments," Evers said.
Texas Comptroller Susan Combs released a study Wednesday to help school districts and campuses identify cost-saving strategies schools can make without compromising academics.
The newly released study was required by House Bill 3 from the 2009 legislative session. It was conducted by researchers from the state's top institutions, including the University of Texas at Dallas, among industry experts.
The costs of Texas public education have increased significantly to nearly $55 billion, with per-pupil spending rising by 63 percent, Combs said, in a written letter. With cuts to state-funded budgets expected in the upcoming legislative session, school districts will need to operate more efficiently.
The Houston Independent School District is making above-average gains in student performance but isn't spending its money as efficiently as other districts, according to a new study released today by Texas Comptroller Susan Combs.Financial Allocation Study for Texas
The first-of-its-kind analysis, ordered by the Texas Legislature, rates the financial efficiency compared with students' academic progress for every district and school. Those boasting gains in student test scores and spending little money per pupil get the highest marks (5 stars in the rating system).
Houston ISD, the state's largest district, earned three stars. Dallas ISD, the second-largest district and the most comparable to Houston's, received two stars.
Statewide, 43 districts and charter school operators earned five stars. The list included Angleton, Clear Creek, Conroe, Cypress-Fairbanks, Friendswood, Katy and Pearland.
The Comptroller's office is leading the Financial Allocation Study for Texas (FAST) to examine how our school districts and campuses spend their money - and how this spending translates into student achievement. Our study is intended to identify cost-effective practices that promote academic progress.
In addition to presenting the FAST study findings, this website also allows you to run your own custom reports on school district finances and results. We hope that policymakers and the public alike will use this resource to see how our education dollars are working to prepare the next generation.
Much of the state's recurring deficit problems are due to short-term budget decisions made over the past 15 years. But revenue volatility has also played a role. During 1990-2000, annual growth in general purpose tax revenues (GPR) averaged 6.8%, and the average was still higher (7.0%) during 1995-2000. Even after the 2001 recession, state tax collections grew an average of 5.0% per year during 2003-2008. But that was followed by collections dropping 7.1% in 2008-09 and remaining stagnant the following year, despite tax increases.
How the 2011-13 budget ultimately fares depends in part on the revenue outlook. And the new forecast for 2010-13 shows tax revenues growing at annual (bars in graph above) and average (line) rates generally below the recent past. The table below provides forecast detail. Tax revenues are projected to grow 4.2% or less over the next biennium.
In its response to the Department of Public Instruction's request for information on its talented and gifted services, the Madison School District points out that the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) has recently updated its standards for TAG programming. Now, the District argues, the NAGC standards "actually serve as validation of the District's current practices," including West High School's claim that it meets the needs of talented and gifted students through differentiation within regular classrooms. We disagree.Lots of related links:
The NAGC issued its revised standards in September, around the same time West High School area parents filed a complaint against the Madison School District for allowing West High to deny appropriate programming to academically gifted students. West has refused for years to provide alternatives to its regular core curriculum for 9th and 10th graders who demonstrate high performance capabilities in language arts and social studies.
The District writes:
If there's one theme that emerges from the ongoing audit of Houston ISD's magnet schools, it's inconsistency. An interim report [pdf] from Magnet Schools of America, released today, finds that the funding, quality, entrance criteria and student diversity vary from school to school. This is not ground-breaking news for those who have followed the magnet school discussions and media coverage over the last several years. An HISD committee that evaluated the magnet schools in 2006 drew similar conclusions.
The interim report doesn't name schools or cite specific data, but here are a few of the general points — which shouldn't necessarily be taken as gospel because three of the auditors noted that "it appeared as though they were observing a specially designed day rather than feeling this is the way we do things at the school every day." [Editor's translation: The schools were putting on a dog and pony show for the auditors.]
Cathleen P. Black, the schools chancellor designee, is not a gusher. She is not an over-talker. She is a firm shaker of hands, a professional-grade eye-contact-maker and active listener. During an hourlong visit to Public School 33 in Chelsea on Monday morning, Ms. Black missed no opportunity to smile and say hello to school employees, from the office assistants to the person she later called the safety adviser (safety officer, but O.K., she is still new). Making the classroom rounds, she chatted with the children about pyramids and pets and greeted, but did not exactly bowl over, the teachers.
"Teachers need good knees," she observed about midway through the visit, rising from the crouch she had been in while listening to some students talk about why they liked "Diary of a Wimpy Kid."
It is all new to Cathie Black: the knees, the numbers, the needs of the nation's largest school system, where two-thirds of the students are poor enough to qualify for free meals. The current chancellor, Joel I. Klein, grew up in a housing project; Ms. Black, the chairwoman of Hearst Magazines, acknowledged Monday that she had never set foot in one. She and her children attended private schools.
The increases depend, to some extent on property assessments (if the assessed value declines, tax rates generally increase more to compensate for the reduced tax base and support spending growth), but a quick look reveals City of Madison and Dane County taxes are up in the 6% range, MATC over 10% and the Madison School District in the 9% range. Much more on the Madison School District's 2010-2011 budget, here.
Two Madison School Board seats will be on the April, 2011 spring election ballot. They are currently occupied by Ed Hughes and Marj Passman. I presume they are both seeking re-election, but I've not seen an announcement to that effect.
Governor Jim Doyle today announced that 18,264 students signed the Wisconsin Covenant Pledge in the fourth year of the program, bringing the total number of students who have signed the pledge and indicated that they plan to go on to college to more than 71,400 students across the state. The first class of students to sign the pledge are currently seniors in high school and preparing to make the transition to college next fall.
"I am encouraged that so many students have signed the Wisconsin Covenant and chosen the path to higher education that will help train them for the high-paying, technical jobs we need to compete in the global economy," Governor Doyle said. "Regardless of their family's economic background, their past academic behavior, and whether anyone in their family has a college degree, all students need to know that higher education is an option for them."
Students who participate in the Wisconsin Covenant sign a pledge affirming that they will earn a high school diploma, participate in their community, take a high school curriculum that prepares them for higher education, maintain at least a B average in high school, and apply for state and federal financial aid.
For months, there was nothing but enthusiastic buzz surrounding the proposal to start a green charter school in Madison. The organizers of Badger Rock Middle School have broad support throughout the community and have meticulously done their homework. The school district administration was enthusiastic about the school's focus on urban agriculture, and School Board members, who have the ultimate vote, were too.Much more on Dan Nerad, here. Watch a recent video interview.
Then, just days before the board was expected to give its final approval, the school district released new figures showing it would likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to staff and operate the new school. This was a reversal from earlier projections that showed Badger Rock would bring no extra costs to the district.
In the current era of pinched budgets and dreary financial prospects, this revelation threw a monkey wrench into the process and caused the board to delay final consideration of the project until later this month.
"I had planned to come in here tonight to vote for this most innovative project," board member Marj Passman said during the Nov. 29 meeting. "But at the last minute the Badger Rock people and the board were both hit broadside with new information that raises a lot of last-minute questions."
The election of a tough-talking new teachers' union head here could complicate efforts to turn around the capital's struggling school system, just as the fragile national effort to overhaul public schools faces a change in educational leaders in this and two other big cities.
Officials who took over in the wake of Michelle Rhee's departure as chancellor of Washington's school system said Friday they might refine her signature policies, but promised not to backtrack on closing low-performing schools and evaluating teachers based on student test scores.
But they face a new player in Nathan Saunders, who ousted Washington Teachers' Union President George Parker in an election last week. Mr. Saunders said he wanted to overhaul the teacher evaluation system Ms. Rhee put into place, and would fight to retain many of the 737 teachers termed low-performing by the school district who could lose their jobs at the end of the school year.
Healthier lunches are coming with a heftier price tag as school districts struggle to get students to buy meals rich in green produce and whole grains yet short on sugar, fat and salt.
The dilemma has added urgency as Madison and Dane County parents become increasingly vocal in urging better food in the lunch line. Districts are getting creative, making pizzas with wheat crusts and low-fat cheese, for example. But that only goes so far, officials said.
"Try as we might, there are some kids who are not going to eat raw broccoli," said Robyn Wood, food services director for the Oregon School District, which ran a $50,000 deficit last school year in its $1.5 million lunch program. "They're not going to buy an apple over a cookie. We serve apples at the high school and kids leave campus and buy cookies."
The Madison School District has experienced a 35 percent reduction in revenue for its a la carte menu in the past five years after healthier options were introduced as part of a new wellness policy, said Food Services Director Frank Kelly.
The majority of children participating in organized team-sports don't meet the federal recommendation of one hour a day of moderate-to-vigorous exercise, according to a study released Monday.
Federal-government guidelines recommend children and teens get at least 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each day. It is estimated that fewer than half of children and only about 10% of teenagers meet that goal.
Many parents might believe if their children participate in team sports, then they must be getting enough exercise. Researchers at San Diego State and the University of California, San Diego, showed that isn't necessarily the case.
The researchers looked at sports practices involving 200 children ranging in age from 7 to 14 years old, who were participants on a soccer, baseball or softball team in San Diego County. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Health, was published online Monday in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
One of the most important things a school district can do to improve student achievement is ensure that students have effective teachers. Recognizing that human resource management systems are often not up to the task, some urban school districts are reforming how they recruit, hire, develop, and retain teachers by streamlining processes and procedures and aligning them with the district's broader reform strategy.
This paper looks at how such reforms are playing out in two portfolio school districts: New York City and Washington, D.C. Though the districts' reform efforts differ, together they highlight four courses of action that portfolio--and perhaps traditional--districts can take to transform talent management from a bureaucratic staffing system into a core leadership function:
1. Assign talent strategy to a senior reform executive
2. Distinguish strategy from routine transactions
3. Redesign policies and practices to support flexibility and performance
4. Change the culture to focus on performance
With China's debut in international standardized testing, students in Shanghai have surprised experts by outscoring their counterparts in dozens of other countries, in reading as well as in math and science, according to the results of a respected exam.
American officials and Europeans involved in administering the test in about 65 countries acknowledged that the scores from Shanghai -- an industrial powerhouse with some 20 million residents and scores of modern universities that is a magnet for the best students in the country -- are by no means representative of all of China.
About 5,100 15-year-olds in Shanghai were chosen as a representative cross-section of students in that city. In the United States, a similar number of students from across the country were selected as a representative sample for the test.
Experts noted the obvious difficulty of using a standardized test to compare countries and cities of vastly different sizes. Even so, they said the stellar academic performance of students in Shanghai was noteworthy, and another sign of China's rapid modernization.
The results also appeared to reflect the culture of education there, including greater emphasis on teacher training and more time spent on studying rather than extracurricular activities like sports.
There is a new trend in education and frankly, I don't like it.Related: America's Outmoded Approach to Education Credentials
Unfortunately, you don't have to be an educator to be at the helm of an educational system.
Years ago, it was impossible for an educator to rise to the top of the system without having established degrees and qualifications such as a PhD, classroom experience, administrative experience and academic hours in educational management.
The new sense in big city governments is to treat education less as a profession and more as bean counting. The thinking is to manage the process while the children, teachers and parents become peons.
Stanford's Institute for Economic Policy Research has issued two recent reports on the condition of public employee pension funds in California. The first identified a $425 billion funding shortfall for three state pension systems: the California Public Employees' Retirement System, California State Teachers' Retirement System, and the University of California Retirement System. The second report found a nearly $200 billion shortfall for local government pension systems.
Both reports focused on the overall financial health of pension systems in California but did not touch on retiree benefit levels. It's time to begin that conversation.
Discussing public employee retirement benefits is dangerous politically. So let's start with the legal status of benefits owed to public employees.
They manage budgets that stretch into the hundreds of millions of dollars. They run organizations that rank among Home Depot and Kroger in terms of the number of people they employ locally. Perhaps most importantly, they are responsible for developing precious products, with the outcome impacting the future of the state and region.
Meet the metro school superintendent, a high-profile, well-compensated figurehead who's part of an elite -- but some say shrinking -- class of educators more often compared to corporate CEOs or celebrities than classroom teachers.
The role of these leaders is taking on a renewed relevance in metro Atlanta as three of the state's largest districts look to hire replacements in 2011. Those decisions will directly affect the lives of 250,000 students, 35,500 employees and countless others in the region, said Brad Bryant, state school chief.
Local attorney and former Wisconsin State Bar Association president Michelle Behnke spoke in favor of Madison Prep, saying both she and her now grown children attended Edgewood High School in preference over Madison public schools. "I am not a gambler," Behnke, who is black, said during her three minute appearance before the board. She noted that the statistics regarding academic success for minority students in Madison were so bleak that neither she nor her parents felt they could risk a public school education.Much more on the proposed IB Charter Madison Preparatory Academy and Kaleem Caire.
Steve Goldberg, representing CUNA Mutual, also testified in favor of the school, saying his organization was looking forward to being involved and supportive of Madison Prep.
According to Caire, extreme measures are needed to deal with the extreme problems facing area black and latino youth in public school settings, claiming that conventional efforts have not yielded significant results. Both the achievement gap and the incarceration rate for black males in Dane County are at the bottom of national statistics.
Caire believes Madison Prep could be an experimental laboratory for change, and that if successful it could be replicated across the Madison district and elsewhere.
"We've been trying various approaches for 30 or 40 years and it's still not working," he says.
American teenagers made modest progress on an international exam, but still performed below average in mathematics compared with their peers in other industrialized countries, according to results released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Education.Korea and Finland top OECD's latest PISA survey of education performance:
The test, called the Program for International Student Assessment, has been given every three years since 2000 to 15-year-old students. Last year, when the test was administered, 60 countries participated. It's coordinated worldwide by the Paris-based Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development.
The results for American students drew a lukewarm response from U.S. education officials as they seek to boost test scores among high-school and college students. "We're in the middle of the pack; that's not where we want to be," said Stuart Kerachsky, deputy commissioner at the National Center for Education Statistics, an arm of the Department of Education that administers the PISA test in the U.S.
Korea and Finland top the OECD's latest PISA survey of reading literacy among 15-year olds, which for the first time tested students' ability to manage digital information.
The survey, based on two-hour tests of a half million students in more than 70 economies, also tested mathematics and science. The results for 65 economies are being released today.
The next strongest performances were from Hong Kong-China, Singapore, Canada, New Zealand and Japan. Full results here.
The province of Shanghai, China, took part for the first time and scored higher in reading than any country. It also topped the table in maths and science. More than one-quarter of Shanghai's 15-year-olds demonstrated advanced mathematical thinking skills to solve complex problems, compared to an OECD average of just 3%.
The Urban League of Greater Madison's dramatic proposal for an all-male public charter school deserves open minds and fair consideration from the Madison School Board.Much more on the proposed IB Charter Madison Preparatory Academy and Kaleem Caire.
Don't dismiss this intriguing initiative just because the teachers union is automatically opposed. A new approach to helping more young black men get to college is justified, given the district's stark numbers:
- Only 7 percent of black students who took the latest ACT college preparation test were ready for college.
- Barely half of black students in Madison schools graduated in 2009.
- Almost three-quarters of the 3,828 suspensions last school year were black students, who make up less than a quarter of the student body
Madison Metropolitan School District leaders on Monday night learned more about a proposed boys-only charter school and heard from the public.
The school, which would have uniforms and be targeted toward minority students, would be the first of its kind in Wisconsin.
The idea is called Madison Prep, and it would be part of the Madison Metropolitan School District. The school's goal is for 100 percent higher education acceptance for its students, and to meet that goal it will have a longer school day and school year.
And while it's never been done here before, the person behind it said that's the idea. Kaleem Caire, president of the Urban League of Greater Madison, said it's time to think out of the box to help children be more successful in school -- specifically black middle-school children.
The only remotely classical thing about Pegasus Primary School on the Blackbird Leys estate in Oxford is the name and the school logo of a blue winged horse. The logo looks cuddlier than the Pegasus of Greek mythology, sprung from the blood of the gorgon Medusa when the hero Perseus cut off her head.
This is not the Oxford of the dreaming spires; the school is in one of the largest council estates in Europe, close to the former Morris car works at Cowley, where Minis are now made. My taxi driver points out the Blackbird pub, noted for fights, and a supermarket which he claims has been raided five times in the past year.
This well-run primary school in a tough area is doing something culturally counter-cyclical: it is teaching Latin and Greek under the auspices of the Iris Project, a volunteer-run scheme which brings classics to inner-city state schools. As someone who loved classics at public school in the 1970s, when the subject seemed out of date and doomed to oblivion, I find this both incredible and thoroughly heartening.
Ben Kemper, 19, plans to wear a frock coat with cuffs to the annual Jane Austen birthday tea in Boise, Idaho, on Saturday.
The outfit will be "the whole shebang," says Mr. Kemper, who hopes to scare up some yard work so he can pay for the new threads. He says his costume may include riding boots, a cane, gloves and a buttoned vest.
Mr. Kemper is among an unlikely set of fans of the long-dead Ms. Austen--young people. The English novelist best known for "Pride and Prejudice" and "Sense and Sensibility" has been dead since 1817, yet she is drawing a cultish pack of young people, especially young women, known as "Janeites" who are dedicated to celebrating all things Austen.
The State of Illinois is still paying off billions in bills that it got from schools and social service providers last year. Arizona recently stopped paying for certain organ transplants for people in its Medicaid program. States are releasing prisoners early, more to cut expenses than to reward good behavior. And in Newark, the city laid off 13 percent of its police officers last week.
While next year could be even worse, there are bigger, longer-term risks, financial analysts say. Their fear is that even when the economy recovers, the shortfalls will not disappear, because many state and local governments have so much debt -- several trillion dollars' worth, with much of it off the books and largely hidden from view -- that it could overwhelm them in the next few years.
"It seems to me that crying wolf is probably a good thing to do at this point," said Felix Rohatyn, the financier who helped save New York City from bankruptcy in the 1970s.
In the Nov. 28 Star, Matthew Tully contributed an insightful piece highlighting a significant disconnect between education reformers and those who will perhaps be most affected by reforms -- teachers ("Teachers hear something else in reform debate"). The article begs us to contemplate the forces underlying educators' distrust of state-directed education reforms. Teachers will be instrumental in implementation of these reforms. As such, the fracture between policymakers and practitioners demands our attention.
Tully captured the gestalt of the problem when noting that many good teachers think those of us pushing for education reform blame them for their schools' failures. We're not. We're actually making the opposite case: Good and great teachers are responsible for their schools' successes.
Principal Diana Oshiro of Myron B. Thompson Academy Public Charter School says she values "blind loyalty" and has hired several relatives -- including her sister and three nephews -- because she can count on them to do what she says.
Three out of four administrators at Thompson, one of the state's largest charter schools, are part of Oshiro's family. Her sister oversees the elementary school as vice principal and also works as a flight attendant.
Oshiro's nephew is the athletic director, although the school had no sports teams last year or this year, and he doesn't teach PE. He and his brother, the film teacher, were hired with just high school degrees, although public school teachers are supposed to have bachelor's degrees and teaching licenses.
A veteran educator, Oshiro was blunt when asked about her hiring practices at the online school, which has 517 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
Please join us to watch:Live Webcast on Tuesday, December 7, 8:45 a.m. EST
An announcement from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Angel Gurría, Secretary General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), on the standing of U.S. students in reading, math and science literacy compared to other countries around the world;
A two-way conversation with Secretary Duncan and students, teachers and administrators from Olin College of Engineering (Needham, Mass.) and the School of Science and Engineering Magnet (Dallas, TX);
Robert D. Atkinson, President of The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation discuss the results from a new report on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education released that morning; and
An interview with Thomas L. Friedman on U.S. competitiveness, innovation and economic growth.
Good mentoring can be learned.
In research universities and colleges, mentoring is one of the most important skills for faculty because it affects both research productivity and the quality of training for under- graduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers. Moreover, the diversity of science is dependent on the quality of mentored research, because this experience is a key to attracting underrepresented groups to science (1-5). In the past, many faculty learned skills such as mentoring on the job. In recent years, various organizations have developed training programs to help prospective and new faculty learn skills such as grant writing, laboratory management, and classroom teaching, but mentoring has been largely absent. In response to this need, we developed and evaluated a mentor-training seminar. The seminar is intended to improve mentors' skills and to enhance the research experiences of undergraduate students.
The countywide graduation rate for African-American students also showed a dramatic improvement, going from 64 to 90 percent in the past five years, although individual district graduation rates still lag, including Madison's.
What's happened to cause this? United Way began focusing on school dropout and graduation rates in recent years, after an intensive study on what factors cause kids to drop out and fail to graduate. The charitable agency has directed more funding to groups that attack school problems with the goal to get more kids to stay in and finish school.
The superintendents at the meeting also cited other factors, including better tracking of students and creating opportunities for problem students to get another chance to earn their diplomas.
It's good to know that efforts to solve some of those nagging problems facing our schools are being addressed -- and getting results, besides.
The "what will she do next" guessing game came to an end this week when Florida's Republican Governor-elect Rick Scott named Michelle Rhee," the former chancellor of the District of Columbia school system, to an 18-member transition team on education.
Scott said the transition team would help him "find innovative ways to create a new education system for a new economy."
What Michelle brings to public education in Florida, according to Julie Young, President and Chief Executive Officer of Orlando-based Florida Virtual School (FLVS), "is a new perspective and drive for change."
"Michelle was controversial, but she has a clear passion for what is best for kids and making sure kids have the highest quality education and the highest quality teacher," said Young.
The last Talented and Gifted (TAG) Education Plan was adopted by the MMSD Board of Education in 1991. With state statute and policy reform, alignment with current District strategic planning, and a desire to utilize research in exemplary practice, approval of a comprehensive Talented and Gifted Plan has become a District priority.
This document is meant to be a guide as the Division aims to achieve its mission in alignment with the MMSD Strategic Plan, the State of Wisconsin statutes and administrative rules for gifted and talented education, and the National Association for Gifted Children standards.
There will be a review of the Plan, with status reports issued to the Board of Education, in January and June 2010. Adjustments to the Plan will be documented at that time.
Wisconsin State Statute 121.02(1) (t), and Administrative Rule PI 8.01(2)(t).2 require school districts to identify those students who give evidence of high performance capability as talented and gifted and provide those students with access to appropriate systematic and continuous instruction. The National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) standards complements the Wisconsin framework and provides a guide for quality educational programming.
The Plan below identifies the following categories as areas in need of improvement in MMSD Talented and Gifted Programming. The primary focus in developing this Plan has been in the areas of identification, programming, and professional development.
Is the College Debt Bubble Ready to Explode?
by Laura Rowley
Friday, December 3, 2010
Kelli Space, 23, graduated from Northeastern University in 2009 with a bachelor's in sociology -- and a whopping $200,000 in student loan debt. Space, who lives with her parents and works full-time, put up a Web site called TwoHundredThou.com soliciting donations to help meet her debt obligation, which is $891 a month. That number jumps to $1,600 next November.
In creating the site, Space, of course is hoping to ease her financial burden, but it's "mainly to inform others on the dangers of how quickly student loans add up," she said. So far she's raised $6,671.56, according to her site.
Space is just one example -- albeit an extreme one -- of a student loan bubble that may be about to burst. Over the last decade, private lenders, abetted by college financial aid offices, eagerly handed young people hundreds of thousands of dollars to earn bachelor's degrees. As a result of easy credit, declining grants and soaring tuitions, more than two-thirds of students graduated with debt in 2008 -- up from 45 percent in 1993. The average debt load is $24,000, according to the Project on Student Debt.
STEVE: "Cellphone," came the one-word email the other day. "Cellphone," said the handwritten sticky note on my desk when I got home.
They were subtle messages from Levi, and he had a point: After years of resisting, Karen and I in June told him he could have a cellphone when school began. School had begun.
There are good reasons not to give a teen a cellphone. It's an addictive time sponge. The teen will text all night long and will mess with the phone at the dining table. The phone will magically be juiceless or out of range when Dad's calling on a Friday night.
On June 14, 2010, the Board was presented with a Document entitled Disciplinary Alternatives: Phoenix Program.
That Document outlined the foundation for the current Phoenix Program, an alternative to expulsion that allows a student's expulsion recommendation to be held in abeyance while the student participates in a half-day program tailored to the student's academic, emotional and behavioral needs. At the time of presentation, the Board voted to implement the Phoenix Program.
The June 14, 2010 document did not provide all the details related to the Phoenix Program and contemplated that further details would be provided to the Board as the Program was implemented. This memo is intended to advise the Board of the current state of the Phoenix Program, provide further details of its operation and advise the Board of changes to prior practices that have been made in the process of implementing the Phoenix Program.
For ease of reference, this Update will follow the structure of the June 14, 2010 Document. Also for !he Board's reference the following documents are attached to this Update: Phoenix Program Participation Agreement, the "Knowledge" analysis form, and a chart that compares and contrasts the old practices versus the new practices.
As the Board will recall, the Phoenix Program was recommended and adopted in order to provide an alternative toexpulsionforstudentswhocommittedcertainexpellableoffenses. Theintentoftheprogramistoprovide academic, social and emotional interventions to students who engage in certain behavior in order for students to remain connected to the school environment and improve their prosocial skills and not repeat the same or similar behavior.
What are Charter Schools?Read the initial proposal, here.
- Charter schools are public schools that have more freedom to innovate because they are exempt from many (but not all) policies that govern traditional public schools. There are more than 200 public charter schools in Wisconsin and two in Madison.
- Charter schools employ fully qualified teachers and participate in statewide testing programs just like traditional public schools do.
- Wisconsin has two kinds of charter schools: instrumentality (staff employed by a school district) and non-instrumentality (staff not employed by a school district, but by a nonprofit organization).
A child nutrition bill on its way to President Barack Obama -- and championed by the first lady -- gives the government power to limit school bake sales and other fundraisers that health advocates say sometimes replace wholesome meals in the lunchroom.
Republicans, notably Sarah Palin, and public school organizations decry the bill as an unnecessary intrusion on a common practice often used to raise money.
"This could be a real train wreck for school districts," Lucy Gettman of the National School Boards Association said Friday, a day after the House cleared the bill. "The federal government should not be in the business of regulating this kind of activity at the local level."
Is the College Debt Bubble Ready to Explode?," asks Laura Rowley at Yahoo! Finance. College tuition has skyrocketed much more than housing did during the housing bubble, in percentage terms. One hundred colleges charge $50,000 or more a year, compared to just 5 in 2008-09. College tuition has surged along with federal financial-aid spending, which effectively rewards colleges for increasing tuition. College financial-aid policies punish thrifty families, so that "parents who scrimp and save to come up with the tuition are in effect subsidizing the others."
"University administrators are the equivalent of subprime mortgage brokers," notes Facebook investor Peter Thiel, "selling you a story that you should go into debt massively, that it's not a consumption decision, it's an investment decision. Actually, no, it's a bad consumption decision. Most colleges are four-year parties," he says, an assessment shared by prominent law professor Glenn Reynolds.
My wife is French. She spent twice as much time in class at her second-tier French university as I did in my flagship American university (the University of Virginia), and more time studying, too (even though I was studious by American standards, and as a result, later went on to attend Harvard Law School). France spends less per student on higher education than we do, to produce a more literate and knowledgeable citizenry.
A blurb in the Chronicle of Higher Education notes that the Iowa legislature, in the face of shrinking budgets, is rattling swords at faculty sabbaticals, stating that it is unfair that academics would get paid semester or year leaves while other employees feel the budget pain. This statement caught my eye and get my mind swirling:
1. It's almost impossible to explain a sabbatical to nonacademics and have it seem necessary. Sabbaticals are fairly unknown in most professions. I've heard of ministers getting sabbaticals and a million years ago a few law firms mentioned having sabbaticals, but they definitely aren't part of the average American worker's salary and benefits package.
2. The name "sabbatical" sounds like a rest. Making the argument that folks that do no physical labor need periodic rest is tough.
3. If a university expects faculty to apply for a sabbatical by proposing doing research or scholarly project during the sabbatical, then it is not a paid rest. In that case, a sabbatical is merely a research leave. If faculty are required to produce scholarship, and this is explicit in tenure, promotion and raise standards, then a sabbatical is merely time given to meet the requirements of the job. Perhaps re-branding is necessary: a "research intensive"? If sabbaticals are used for mere relaxation, travel or outside work, then they seem more "cut-worthy" in an era of shrinking budgets.
When I was growing up, a vacation meant two weeks in Florida visiting my grandparents. Delray Beach, with its palm trees, warm beaches in midwinter, poolside restaurants and hibiscus hedges, seemed like another planet to this suburban NY kid. Most of my friends also visited relatives over school breaks; some of the more affluent went skiing in Vermont or Colorado, or on a Caribbean cruise. Only occasionally did we hear about someone going to Europe or Israel. Africa and Asia really were like other planets, as far as we were concerned.
Partly as a result, I grew up without a very developed sense of how the rest of the world worked. Of course I read books, studied French and Spanish, and saw the occasional foreign film, but in terms of actual human interaction or understanding, I was as provincial as they come. Examples:
I was once arranging to meet my friend Julie, who was originally from Taiwan. Going down a list of mutually convenient restaurants in my head, I said to her, "Do you like Chinese food?" (There was a thoughtful silence followed by cackling.)
Thanks to the Kaleem Caire his Urban League team for shining a spotlight on the very troubling issue of the lack of success experienced by so many of our students of color. Thanks even more for proposing a charter school intended to help address this problem. I want the proposal to succeed. But I need to know more about the legality of the proposal's single-gender approach, a lot more about the projected finances for the school and the extent of the School District's expected contribution, and more about how the school intends to remain true to its vision of serving Madison's disadvantaged African-American boys before my sympathetic disposition can grow into active support.Much more on the proposed IB Charter: Madison Preparatory Academy, here.
Gov. Chris Christie didn't mention Superintendent of Schools LeRoy Seitz in his town meeting speech Friday afternoon at the Morris County Public Safety Training Academy.
But it didn't take him long to get around to the subject.
When it was time for the audience to ask questions, Parsippany Township resident Hank Heller came to the microphone and asked if the board's approval of Seitz's contract made him consider stripping local school boards of their power.
"Since we've seen the results in Parsippany of home rule run amok with the superintendent's contract, any thought of changing home rule to county rule or state rule?'' asked Heller, who was first line at the event, which drew a crowd of more than 200.
Christie chuckled, then said, "All night, and the first question we get is about Lee Seitz.''
Ivelisse Cruz can barely watch the video footage from her first time teaching a math lesson.
The video shows Cruz, a first-semester sophomore at Alverno College at the time, hesitantly starting her lesson seated with a group of seventh-grade students around a small table at Fairview Charter School in Milwaukee. She doesn't quite explain what the focus of their math lesson will be, looks slightly uncertain and speaks in what she would later criticize as a monotone voice.
"It was terrible, I don't even know how these kids were even paying attention," Cruz, now in her senior year at Alverno, said as she watched the video.
Fast forward through three more semesters, learning the art of teaching and spending time working with students.
Now the video shows a more confident woman standing at the front of her class, reviewing her work with the students from the week before, forecasting what the next lesson will be, calling a student to stand beside her at an overhead projector to walk through a practice problem.
Victorians were enamored of the new science of statistics, so it seems fitting that these pioneering data hounds are now the subject of an unusual experiment in statistical analysis. The titles of every British book published in English in and around the 19th century -- 1,681,161, to be exact -- are being electronically scoured for key words and phrases that might offer fresh insight into the minds of the Victorians.
This research, which has only recently become possible, thanks to a new generation of powerful digital tools and databases, represents one of the many ways that technology is transforming the study of literature, philosophy and other humanistic fields that haven't necessarily embraced large-scale quantitative analysis.
"YOU ARE the backbone of a new movement. This is a movement that is capable of changing Britain, Europe and the world," bellowed the student representative from University College, London (UCL), standing on the plinth at the base of Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square this afternoon. His claim was manifestly false.
I am sure he believed it, as a megaphone carried his words into a horizontal-sleet-laden wind. I suspect many of the crowd of a few hundred freezing young protestors gathered below wanted to believe it. They clutched placards denouncing plans by the Coalition government to raise a cap on student tuition fees to abour £9000 a year, and they were genuinely, sincerely angry. Today's day of action was the third major demonstration by students in central London, and the foul weather had not deterred a good number of students from showing up, though they were outnumbered by chilly-looking police.
There were signs of troublemaking here and there: hairy, middle-aged Trots handing out tracts called things like Proletarian Struggle or words to that effect. Lots of ready-made signs distributed by the Socialist Workers' Party, a hardline outfit. A few gaggles of scary youths in hooded tops with scarves over their faces, roaming the crowd in search of trouble. An Iranian television news crew filming the scene.
Consider this a thought that could change the way schools operate throughout the Milwaukee area:
Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce, special orders don't upset us ...
Or, to put the 1970s Burger King jingle into education jargon:
Individualize and customize within a standardized system. (OK, that's not quite as catchy. )
The promise of Burger King was that they would come up with the best thing for you as an individual. You weren't just another customer. This would make your experience at Burger King more engaging and more successful. Yet you could count on consistent standards of quality in the outcomes.
Now replace all the food references with educational references and you get at a key to a campaign by area school leaders that aims to bring major change to the basic structures of schooling. They don't have small goals - the title of the report at the heart of their effort is Transforming Public Education: A Regional Call to Action.
In most American schools, teachers are evaluated by principals or other administrators who drop in for occasional classroom visits and fill out forms to rate their performance.
The result? More than 9 out of 10 teachers get top marks, according to a prominent study last year by the New Teacher Project, a nonprofit group focusing on improving teacher quality.
Now Bill Gates, who in recent years has turned his attention and considerable fortune to improving American education, is investing $335 million through his foundation to overhaul the personnel departments of several big school systems. A big chunk of that money is financing research by dozens of social scientists and thousands of teachers to develop a better system for evaluating classroom instruction.
The effort will have enormous consequences for the movement to hold schools and educators more accountable for student achievement.
Twenty states are overhauling their teacher-evaluation systems, partly to fulfill plans set in motion by a $4 billion federal grant competition, and they are eagerly awaiting the research results.
Over the past eight years, I've been privileged to serve as chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, the nation's largest school district. Working with a mayor who courageously took responsibility for our schools, our department has made significant changes and progress. Along the way, I've learned some important lessons about what works in public education, what doesn't, and what (and who) are the biggest obstacles to the transformative changes we still need.
First, it is wrong to assert that students' poverty and family circumstances severely limit their educational potential. It's now proven that a child who does poorly with one teacher could have done very well with another. Take Harlem Success Academy, a charter school with all minority, mostly high-poverty students admitted by lottery. It performs as well as our gifted and talented schools that admit kids based solely on demanding tests. We also have many new small high schools that replaced large failing ones, and are now getting outsized results for poor children.
While China's economy keeps growing at a rapid pace, the dim employment prospects of many of its college graduates pose a potential economic problem.
According to recent statistics, the average Chinese college graduate makes only 300 yuan, or about $44, more a month than the average Chinese migrant worker. In recent years, the wages of college graduates have remained steady at about 1,500 yuan a month. Migrant workers' wages, however, have risen to 1,200 yuan.
If China's graduates are unable to capitalize on their costly investment in education, then is it worthwhile for students to obtain a college degree? What does the imbalance say about China's education system and its economy in general?
Educational professionals have enacted initiatives to help high school students improve writing skills critical to success in higher education. In recent years university scholars and high school teachers have invested significant time and resources to better prepare students for college writing.
This project will develop, field test, and scale an interactive, on-line writing lab to help high school juniors and seniors complete school assignments and help prepare them for college level writing.
Using new media technologies, the I-OWL writing lab will help students improve specific writing strategies, transfer writing skills to assignments across three academic disciplines - science, social studies and language arts, and assess their skills in relation to college-level writing.
In September I had a post about the 2010 Math SAT test results, and reported on the gender differences in favor of males, who scored 34 points higher on average this year than their female counterparts. This follows a persistent 30+ point differential in favor of male high school students that goes back to at least the early 1970s.
This is a follow-up to that post, and the chart above (click to enlarge) displays the results of the 2010 Math SAT test by gender for all scores between 580 and 800 by 10-point intervals. Notice that:
As tertiary education becomes more popular and marketable, and investment in human capital a topic of attention, education is today often equated to vocational preparation. As a result, a number of leading academics have raised the alarm. Professor Steven Schwartz, vice-chancellor of Macquarie University in Australia, lamented that universities nowadays focus too much on imparting knowledge and not wisdom. Living in the age of money, modern universities are trying their best to fit in, he said, so that university education is being reduced to vocational training. He urged universities to "wise up".
In a recent book, Not For Profit, Martha Nussbaum, a professor of law and ethics at the University of Chicago, observed that modern tertiary education has lost its way. She said that if society wants to produce graduates who can empathise as a "citizen of the world", then it should reverse the current skew towards economic productivity and restore liberal and critical values at universities.
A surprising trend among working parents in recent years has been that they are actually spending more time with their kids. But this intense parenting comes with a cost.
Since 1965, married fathers' time caring for children nearly tripled to an average 7.0 hours a week from 2.5; married moms' child-care time also rose, by 36%-to 13.9 hours from 10.2 hours, based on research released at a conference Tuesday in Washington, D.C. The child-care hours include only the time parents were focused mainly on the child, such as feeding, clothing, bathing, playing with or reading to the child. It excludes time spent with children present when the parent's primary focus was something else, such as cooking dinner or watching TV.
Parents are paying for the increase in other realms of life, says the author, Suzanne Bianchi, a sociology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. Married mothers spend less time on grooming - 8.2 hours a week, down from 10.1 hours in 1965, her data show; moms are also doing less housework.
Professors routinely complain about students who spend class time on Facebook or texting their friends or otherwise making it clear that their attention is elsewhere. But is it acceptable for a faculty member to deal with these disruptions by walking out of class?
Two years ago, a Syracuse University professor set off a debate with his simple policy: If he spots a student texting, he will walk out of class for the day.
Now two faculty members at Ryerson University, in Toronto, sparked discussion at their institution with a similar (if somewhat more lenient) policy -- and their university's administrators and faculty union have both urged them to back down, which they apparently have.
Parents can take their children's public schools to court to force educators to provide the minimum amount of physical education required by state law, the California Court of Appeal ruled in Sacramento on Tuesday, which could spell trouble for a lot of state schools.
California's education code requires elementary schools to offer 200 minutes of physical education every 10 days, an amount that rises to 400 minutes in middle or high schools, not including lunch or recess. A small-scale survey of state schools a few years ago found more than half failed to provide the required minutes of physical activity.
Throughout our nation's history, Americans have found the courage to do right by our children's future. Deep down, every American knows we face a moment of truth once again. We cannot play games or put off hard choices any longer. Without regard to party, we have a patriotic duty to keep the promise of America to give our children and grandchildren a better life.
Our challenge is clear and inescapable: America cannot be great if we go broke. Our businesses will not be able to grow and create jobs, and our workers will not be able to compete successfully for the jobs of the future without a plan to get this crushing debt burden off our backs.
Ever since the economic downturn, families across the country have huddled around kitchen tables, making tough choices about what they hold most dear and what they can learn to live without. They expect and deserve their leaders to do the same. The American people are counting on us to put politics aside, pull together not pull apart, and agree on a plan to live within our means and make America strong for the long haul.
As members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, we spent the past eight months studying the same cold, hard facts. Together, we have reached these unavoidable conclusions: The problem is real. The solution will be painful. There is no easy way out. Everything must be on the table. And Washington must lead.
We come from different backgrounds, represent different regions, and belong to different parties, but we share a common belief that America's long-term fiscal gap is unsustainable and, if left unchecked, will see our children and grandchildren living in a poorer, weaker nation. In the words of Senator Tom Coburn, "We keep kicking the can down the road, and splashing the soup all over our grandchildren." Every modest sacrifice we refuse to make today only forces far greater sacrifices of hope and opportunity upon the next generation.
Over the course of our deliberations, the urgency of our mission has become all the more apparent. The contagion of debt that began in Greece and continues to sweep through Europe shows us clearly that no economy will be immune. If the U.S. does not put its house in order, the reckoning will be sure and the devastation severe.
The President and the leaders of both parties in both chambers of Congress asked us to address the nation's fiscal challenges in this decade and beyond. We have worked to offer an aggressive, fair, balanced, and bipartisan proposal - a proposal as serious as the problems we face. None of us likes every element of our plan, and each of us had to tolerate provisions we previously or presently oppose in order to reach a principled compromise. We were willing to put our differences aside to forge a plan because our nation will certainly be lost without one.
We do not pretend to have all the answers. We offer our plan as the starting point for a serious national conversation in which every citizen has an interest and all should have a say. Our leaders have a responsibility to level with Americans about the choices we face, and to enlist the ingenuity and determination of the American people in rising to the challenge.
The 2002 American Community Survey, taken by the US Census Bureau, indicated that 52.7 percent of the American population has some sort of college education; however, only 27.2 percent of Americans actually continue their education long enough to obtain a college degree. These numbers seems pretty dismal when compared with countries like Finland and the Netherlands where the percentage of people with college degrees range from 34 to 40 percent. Fortunately, the number of people taking online classes continues to rise, increasing the percentage of people working towards obtaining a degree. When you take into consideration the benefits online classes offer it's easy to see why the popularity of online education has grown immensely over the past few years.
Former D.C. schools chancellor Michelle A. Rhee has joined the education transition team of Florida Gov.-elect Rick Scott (R), according to a statement from the Scott's office.The full text of the statement, after the jump.
FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - Calling the members of his latest transition team "Champions for Achievement," Governor-elect Rick Scott announced an experienced and distinguished team of education experts, including nationally recognized education reformer, Michelle Rhee, to help him find innovative ways to create a new education system for a new economy.
As the newly hired "repurposer" of the Kansas City School District's closed schools, Shannon Jaax will try to do what no one has been able to do for a long time.
Her job: Lead a successful campaign to turn vacant school properties back into community assets.
Jaax, a lead planner with the city's planning department, inherits a landscape littered with decaying buildings, some of them having stood empty for more than a decade.
The effort takes on more urgency since the district has added 21 buildings to a closure list that now totals 35.
The district will be engaging all the community and city resources it can to make the process work, she said.
Sally Blount is getting down to business. As the newly appointed dean of the Kellogg school at Northwestern University near Chicago, the chic 48-year-old professor is taking the school back to its roots as one of the few top US business schools that focuses on teaching management rather than finance and economics.
Fast-talking and forthright, and a specialist in negotiation and behavioural decision-making, Prof Blount says she is perplexed about how MBAs have been hijacked by the finance industry.
On November 29, 2010, the Madison School District responded to a request for information from the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) about Madison's services for talented and gifted students.
The DPI initiated an audit of Madison's talented and gifted programming after West High School area parents filed a complaint on September 20, 2010, arguing that West refuses to provide appropriate programs for ninth and tenth grade students gifted in language arts and social studies. West requires all freshmen and sophomores to take regular core English and history courses, regardless of learning level.
(All three of Madison's other comprehensive high schools-East, LaFollette, and Memorial-provide advanced sections of core subjects before 11th grade. East and LaFollette offer advanced and/or honors sections starting in ninth grade, while Memorial offers English 10 honors and AP World History for tenth graders.)
As part of a Small Learning Community Initiative phased in over the past decade, West implemented a one-size-for-all English and social studies program to stop different groups of students from following different courses of study. Some groups had typically self-selected into rigorous, advanced levels while others seemed stuck in more basic or remedial levels. Administrators wanted to improve the quality of classroom experience and instruction for "all students" by mixing wide ranges of ability together in heterogeneous classrooms.
Bill Gates is raising his arm, bent at the elbow, in the direction of the ceiling. The point he's making is so important that he wants me and the pair of Gates Foundation staffers sitting in the hotel conference room in Louisville, Ky., to recognize the space between this thought and every lower-ranking argument. "If there's one thing that can be done for the country, one thing," Gates says, his normally modulated voice rising, "improving education rises so far above everything else!" He doesn't say what the "else" is--deficit reduction? containing Iran? free trade?--but they're way down toward the floor compared with the arm above that multibillion-dollar head. With the U.S. tumbling since 1995 from second in the world to 16th in college-graduation rates and to 24th place in math (for 15-year-olds), it was hard to argue the point. Our economic destiny is at stake.
Gates had just finished giving a speech to the Council of Chief State School Officers in which he tried to explain how administrators could hope to raise student achievement in the face of tight budgets. The Microsoft founder went through what he sees as false solutions--furloughs, sharing textbooks--before focusing on the true "cost drivers": seniority-based pay and benefits for teachers rising faster than state revenues.
Seniority is the two-headed monster of education--it's expensive and harmful. Like master's degrees for teachers and smaller class sizes, seniority pay, Gates says, has "little correlation to student achievement." After exhaustive study, the Gates Foundation and other experts have learned that the only in-school factor that fully correlates is quality teaching, which seniority hardly guarantees. It's a moral issue. Who can defend a system where top teachers are laid off in a budget crunch for no other reason than that they're young?
In most states, pay and promotion of teachers are connected 100 percent to seniority. This is contrary to everything the world's second-richest man believes about business: "Is there any other part of the economy where someone says, 'Hey, how long have you been mowing lawns? ... I want to pay you more for that reason alone.' " Gates favors a system where pay and promotion are determined not just by improvement in student test scores (an idea savaged by teachers' unions) but by peer surveys, student feedback (surprisingly predictive of success in the classroom), video reviews, and evaluation by superiors. In this approach, seniority could be a factor, but not the only factor.
President Obama knows that guaranteed tenure and rigid seniority systems are a problem, but he's not yet willing to speak out against them. Even so, Gates gives Obama an A on education. The Race to the Top program, Gates says, is "more catalytic than anyone expected it to be" in spurring accountability and higher standards.
Gates hardly has all the answers: he spent $2 billion a decade ago breaking up big high schools into smaller ones and didn't get the results he'd hoped for. Today, he's too enamored of handheld devices for tracking student performance. They could end up as just another expensive, high-tech gimmick. But you've got to give Gates credit for devoting so much of his brain and fortune to this challenge. [BIG BIAS ALERT HERE!] His biggest adversary now is Diane Ravitch, a jaundiced former Education Department official under George H.W. Bush, who changed sides in the debate and now attacks Gates-funded programs in books and articles. Ravitch, the Whittaker Chambers of school reform, gives intellectual heft to the National Education Association's campaign to discredit even superb charter schools and trash intriguing reform ideas that may threaten its power. When I asked Gates about Ravitch, you could see the Micro-hard hombre who once steamrolled software competitors: "Does she like the status quo? Is she sticking up for decline? Does she really like 400-page [union] contracts? Does she think all those 'dropout factories' are lonely? If there's some other magic way to reduce the dropout rate, we're all ears." Gates understands that charters aren't a silver bullet, and that many don't perform. But he doesn't have patience for critics who spend their days tearing down KIPP schools and other models that produce results.
There's a backlash against the rich taking on school reform as a cause. Some liberals figure they must have an angle and are scapegoating teachers. But most of the wealthy people underwriting this long-delayed social movement for better performance are on the right track. [BIG BIAS ALERT HERE!] Like the rest of us, they know that if we don't fix education, we can kiss our future goodbye.
Jonathan Alter is also the author of The Promise: President Obama, Year One and The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope.
The Seattle Public Schools Job Board has two jobs posted for people to work for the School Board.
Administrator, Board Office pays from $45,573.00 - $62,920.00
Manager, Board Office pays $68,474.00 - $94,578.00
Here's the scoop on the Administrator job:This position is designed to provide a high level of staff support for the School Board Directors and the School Board Office. This position provides both secretarial and administrative services including: serving as the public representation of the Board office; serving as a liaison between the Directors and staff; providing School Board Directors with documents and other information they need prior to Board or Committee meetings; creating and maintaining a variety of databases, including historical policy archives and meeting archives; creating and maintaining a tracking system for Board Director requests for information from staff; creating and maintaining a tracking system for constituent correspondence with the Board; creating and maintaining the School Board, Policy, and Government Relations internal and external web pages; and ensuring that School Board meetings run smoothly and on time.
Position reports to: Manager, Board Office
Stephanie Findley was not just some carpetbagger looking for a job when she decided to run for the Assembly earlier this year.
She had a job -- a few of them, actually. She worked as an office manager for Milwaukee District Council 48, a large and politically active labor group. She owned a small business, Fast & Accurate Business Solutions. She taught classes at the Spanish Center in Milwaukee and at Bryant & Stratton College.
A single mother who says she was already pregnant when she walked across the stage to get her Milwaukee Public High School degree some 20 years ago, Findley had overcome poverty and earned a master's degree from Cardinal Stritch. She was also active in the Democratic Party, was head of the City of Milwaukee's Election Commission and volunteered for too many organizations to count.
She was a 20-year resident of the 10th Assembly District, which has long been the province of retiring lawmaker Annette Polly Williams -- a woman many still call "the mother of school choice" -- when she decided to run for the seat herself. Findley, after all, had many of the same struggles and worries her neighbors did -- including the high cost of health care, taxes, and the quality of MPS schools.
My books have moved with me from Maine to Connecticut to San Francisco to New York, to Iowa to New York to Los Angeles to Rochester to Amherst and now to New York once again. I'm a writer, also the child of two people who were each the ones in their family to leave and move far away, and the result is a life where I've moved regularly, and paid to ship most of my books so often I'm sure I've essentially repurchased them several times over. Each time I move, my books have grown in number. Collectively, they're the autobiography of my reading life. Each time I pack and unpack them, I see The Phoenicians, a picture history book my father gave me as a child, and will never sell; the collection of Gordon Merrick paperbacks I shoplifted when I was a closeted teenager, stealing books no one would ever let me buy. The pages still retain the heat of that need, as does my copy of Joy Williams's Breaking and Entering, bought when I was a star-struck college student at the Bennington Summer Writers' Workshop 20 years ago. Each time they were all necessary, all differently necessary.
In the life of a New Yorker, a new book is a crisis the exact size of one new book. I spent three hours scrutinizing the shelves for weak links that could go to the used bookstore, projecting either into the past--When had I read this book and why?--or the future--Would I ever read this again, or even read it?--and filled three bags. I held my two mass-market paperback editions of Joan Didion's Play It As It Lays, bought at Church Street Books in San Francisco in 1990--one to own and one to lend--and after all this time, put the second into the bag. The one remaining now a reminder that I once had two.
AUTISM is a puzzling phenomenon. In its pure form it is an inability to understand the emotional responses of others that is seen in people of otherwise normal--sometimes above normal--intelligence. However, it is often associated with other problems, and can also appear in mild and severe forms. This variability has led many people to think of it as a spectrum of symptoms rather than a single, clear-cut syndrome. And that variability makes it hard to work out what causes it.
There is evidence of genetic influence, but no clear pattern of inheritance. The thought that the underlying cause may be hereditary, though, is one reason for disbelieving the hypothesis, which gained traction a few years ago but is now discredited, that measles vaccinations cause autism.
One suggestion that does pop up from time to time is that the process which leads to autism involves faulty mitochondria. The mitochondria are a cell's powerpacks. They disassemble sugar molecules and turn the energy thus liberated into a form that biochemical machinery can use. Mitochondrial faults could be caused by broken genes, by environmental effects, or by a combination of the two.
On the way to their new elective class, the seventh- and eighth-graders walked under the fluorescent cafeteria lights and past bagged lunches on tables, awaiting the first lunch shift.
What they saw on the other side of the wall at Concordia University School made many whisper and cast surprised looks at their friends: candles amid a 15-piece table setting, white tablecloth, silver platters and fine china, soup bowls and a centerpiece.
Presentation is everything in Camille Monk's etiquette class. The 29-year-old has started a business bringing classic social training to urban schools, in the hopes that teaching tolerance and respect will help the students successfully navigate future social situations. The payoff for students who complete the class: a formal five-course lunch or dinner at Bacchus restaurant downtown.
But at a time when budget cuts have eliminated long-established specials such as gym, art and music in many school buildings, financial support for manners training is a struggle, even though experts say soft skills - from properly eating at a dinner table to managing a Facebook page - are critical for today's students.
Bernie Nikolay should be happy. His school district - he's the superintendent in Milton - had a good November.
The girls swim team won the state title, a first for Milton girls athletics. And an arbitrator said the district could switch health coverage away from the insurer owned by the teachers union. That'll save the district as much as a million bucks a year.
For a district with a $33 million budget, that's cheery. For the rest of the state, it means a tide may have turned.
It could mean the end to the costly market dominance of WEA Trust, the health insurer owned by the Wisconsin Education Association Council. Just under two-thirds of Wisconsin districts use WEA Trust, a puzzling preference since its coverage is so costly.
Districts that buy WEA Trust plans average $1,665 a month for family premiums, according to their state association, while those choosing other carriers average $1,466. The difference is greatest where taxpayers cover the whole premium.
By Chicago Public Schools' own reckoning, about a quarter of its elementary schools and more than 40 percent of its high schools are failing, according to internal documents obtained by the Tribune.
Each year, district officials score each school based on academic performance. Last year, they assigned grades A through F based on the numeric scores, and schools chief Ron Huberman talked of publicly releasing them so school and community members would know where they stood. But he never did.
An analysis of the grades shows that a disproportionate number of schools scored in the D range or worse, including 48 percent of elementaries and 68 percent of high schools.
In Kalamazoo, Mich., a program supported by a group of anonymous donors ensures that graduates of the city's public schools can attend college for free or at a big discount, depending on how many years they've spent in Kalamazoo Public Schools.
Now, a group of volunteers in Milwaukee is trying to replicate the Kalamazoo Promise, which has helped send 1,250 Kalamazoo graduates to college since the program was unveiled in 2005, according to the nonprofit's executive director.
The Milwaukee Promise initiative, which aims to provide post-secondary tuition for graduates of Milwaukee Public Schools, is at the beginning stages of its journey. Milwaukee Promise Inc. just became a nonprofit in August, and it still needs a permanent board of directors, a full-time director and funding.
But organizers said they've come far enough in the planning process to present the idea to stakeholders Monday at the Milwaukee County Cooperative Extension offices, 9501 W. Watertown Plank Road, Wauwatosa.
Based on current education and social conditions, the fate of boys of color is uncertain.Links: Madison Preparatory Academy and Kaleem Caire (interview).
African American and Latino boys are grossly over-represented among youth failing to achieve academic success, are at grave risk of dropping out of school before they reach 10th grade, are disproportionately represented among adjudicated and incarcerated youth, and are far less likely than their peers in other subgroups to achieve to their dreams and aspirations. Likewise, boys in general lag behind girls in most indicators of student achievement.
Research indicates that although boys of color have high aspirations for academic and career success, their underperformance in school and lack of educational attainment undermine their career pursuits and the success they desire. This misalignment of aspirations and achievement is fueled by and perpetuates a set of social conditions wherein men of color find themselves disproportionately represented among the unemployed and incarcerated. Without meaningful, targeted, and sustainable interventions and support systems, hundreds of thousands of young men of color will never realize their true potential and the cycle of high unemployment, fatherless homes, overcrowded jails, incarcerated talent, deferred dreams, and high rates of school failure will continue.
Madison Preparatory Academy for Young Men (Madison Prep) will be established to serve as a catalyst for change and opportunity among young men, particularly young men of color and those who desire a nurturing educational experience for young men.
Madison Prep's founders understand that poverty, isolation, structural discrimination, lack of access to positive male role models and achievement-oriented peer groups, limited exposure to opportunity and culture outside their neighborhood or city, and a general lack of understanding - and in some cases fear - of Black and Latino boys among adults are major contributing factors to why so many young men are failing to achieve to their full potential. However, the Urban League of Greater Madison - the "founders" of Madison Prep - also understand that these issues can be addressed by directly countering each issue with a positive, exciting, engaging, enriching, challenging, affirming and structured learning community designed to exclusively benefit boys.
Madison Prep will be a non-instrumentality charter school - authorized by the Madison Metropolitan School District Board of Education - that serves an all-male student body in grades 6-12. It will be open to all males residing in Dane County who apply, regardless of previous academic performance. The school will provide a world class secondary education for young men that prepares them for leadership, service, and success at a four-year college or university.
Madison Prep will employ seven Educational Strategies to achieve this mission: an all-male student body, the International Baccalaureate curriculum, a College Preparatory educational program, Harkness Teaching, an extended school day and year, mentoring and community support, and the "Prep Year."
Madison Prep will also use four key Operational Strategies in order to support the educational strategies: adequate staffing, target student population, appropriate facilities/location, and sufficient funding.
Eight Core Values and Four Leadership Dimensions will additionally serve as underpinnings for the success of Madison Prep and Madison Prep students. These Core Values - Excellence & Achievement, Accountability, Teamwork, Innovation, Global Perspective, Perseverance, Leading with Purpose, and Serving Others - will also root Madison Prep in the Educational Framework of the Madison Metropolitan School District. The Four Leadership Dimensions - Personal, Team, Thought, and Results Leadership - will serve as criteria for student and staff evaluations.
Madison Prep's educational program will be bolstered by partnerships with businesses, government agencies, professional and membership associations, colleges and universities, and scholarship-providing organizations that have the capacity to bring talent, expertise and resources into the school community to benefit Madison Prep students, faculty, staff, and parents. Madison Prep will also host special activities to engage parents, family members, and the community in the education of their young men. Invitations will be extended to parents, community leaders, and experts to join young men at the Harkness Table to add to their learning and to learn with them.
Seed funding for the establishment of Madison Prep will come from public and private sources, including planning and implementation grants from charter school investment funds, charitable foundations, government agencies, and individuals. Ideally, Madison Prep will be located in a business or higher education environment with access to quality classroom, athletic and laboratory facilities or the ability to create such facilities.
The Urban League of Greater Madison (ULGM or Urban League) will submit a Detailed Proposal for Madison Prep in 2011 to the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) Board of Education to receive approval to open the school in 2012. If approved, the school will open in August 2012 serving 90 boys in grades 6 and 7. The school will grow by one grade level each year until it offers a full complement of secondary grades (6 -12). At maturity, Madison Prep will serve 315 students and graduate its first class of seniors in 2017-18.
This plan will be presented at the 12/6/2010 Madison School Board meeting.
In many ways, the outcome of this initiative will be a defining moment for our local public schools, particularly in terms of diffused governance, choice, a different curricular approach (potentially a movement away from the one size fits all model), economics and community engagement. If it does not happen in Madison, I suspect it will with a neighboring district.
The Madison Prep Difference
Although it is clear that Madison Prep can and will support MMSD objectives, there is no doubt that Madison Prep will be unique. Madison Prep will be the only all-male public school option in Dane County serving young men when it opens in 2012. Furthermore, the school will be the only IB school in the city offering the full continuum of the IB Programme at the secondary level. Young men enrolled in Madison Prep in 6th grade will begin their education in the IB Middle Years Programme and continue in the curriculum until they move into the rigorous two- year Diploma Programme beginning in 11th grade, thereby increasing their likeliness of success. Finally, while MMSD offers after school activities and care, no school in the district offers a significant amount of additional instructional time through an extended school day and extended school year, as Madison Prep will.
In mathematics classrooms, generalization is an important part of the curriculum.
When students know how to generalize they can identify commonality across cases, extend their reasoning beyond the range in which it originated, and derive broader results from particular cases. But generalization remains difficult for students to do, and for teachers to support.
UW-Madison education professor Amy Ellis studies the processes that support students' productive generalizing in their math classrooms. She considers generalization a dynamic social process as well as an individual cognitive activity.
In a recent study she studied an 8th-grade math class during a 3-week unit on quadratic growth. The class sessions focused on relationships between the height and area of growing rectangles (see illustration). As they grew, the rectangles retained the same height-to-length ratio.
In the decade since educators launched a nationwide campaign to improve schools and stop students from dropping out, progress has been made, according to a new report, but more than 1 million public high school students failed to graduate with their class this year and 2 million attend so-called "dropout factory" schools where their chance of graduating is only 50-50.
Being able to read in third grade is an early indicator of whether a student will stay in school.
In the first half of the decade, at least one out of every four public high school students and almost 40 percent of minority students (defined as African-Americans, Hispanics and American Indians) did not successfully graduate with their class. In 2008, the high school graduation rate was about 75 percent, a three-point increase from 2001.
Students can lose interest in school early, according to education experts. Studies show that you can tell who is most at risk for dropping out from third grade reading scores. Half of all low-income fourth-graders who could not read on grade level were put on a "drop out" track, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
As soon as a doctor, lawyer, or plumber walks into any social setting, it seems as if they are the sole representatives of their respective professions. Can you help me treat this sore shoulder, sue the person that injured it, and unplug the drain under my sink? With all the press lately on education reform, most of which related to the hoopla enveloping the "Superman" film, I certainly become the local representative of both teachers and higher education most everywhere I go. Questions arise. What did you think of that latest Friedman column in The New York Times? How can my child transfer to a different public school? The kicker: What is wrong with our education system anyway?
The more questions I'm asked, the fewer answers reached than expected by both myself and others. It's fitting that I'm bringing this up around the holiday season because this is the time families are visited and new acquaintances are made. So, what do you do for a living? I teach teachers. Ah, so how do we get rid of all these crap teachers?
Enrollment in local Catholic preschool classes this year is up nearly 14 percent over last year and 22 percent over five years ago, as elementary schools in the Boston Archdiocese have added programs for 3- and 4-year-olds and freestanding Catholic preschools have sprung up in response to surging demand.
Principals and administrators say the preschools are attracting working parents, including many non-Catholics, by providing high-quality programs for a lower price than full-time day care, which can easily run more than $10,000 a year.
"For working parents, there is going to be a cost, regardless of whether it's an academic program or a child-care program,'' said Russ W. Wilson, regional director of Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy, which offers prekindergarten through eighth grade at multiple campuses in Dorchester and Mattapan. "So parents are doing some simple math and realizing that, for an affordable price, they are able to send their child to . . . a full day of academics, socialization, computer skills.''
Prince George's County Executive-elect Rushern L. Baker III endorsed longer school days for the county's elementary and middle school students, who now have among the shortest instruction times in the state.
"You extend the days, we will talk about [funding] it," Baker told a gathering of school officials and incoming County Council members at Prince George's Community College Monday. "As a parent, I support this."
The average school day in Maryland is seven hours for elementary and middle schools, State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick said. In Prince George's, the school day is six hours and 15 minutes.
Neither Baker nor any of the officials estimated the cost of extending the school day in the county's 131 elementary schools, 29 middle schools and sevencombined elementary-middle schools.
As an unidentified first-year law student comes to grips with the reality of his situation--a likely $150,000 in debt by the time he graduates, with no guarantee of a legal job that will make it easy for him to repay this money--he is thinking about dropping out now.
Owing only $21,000 in law school debt at this point, he tells Above the Law, he would probably be better off to call it quits now. That way, he will not only be better off financially, with far less to repay, but happier, since he won't have to work as hard.
About four out of five responders to an ATL reader survey seeking input about what the 1L should do agree that dropping out is the best option.
But his focus on finances in analyzing the situation shows exactly what the problem is, says Brian Tannebaum in a response to the ATL post on his My Law License blog:
Becky Ploense's job was eliminated in 2002, so she figured it was a good time to raise her chances of re-employment and get the high school diploma she never finished.
As the mother of a teenager, she liked the convenience of an online program that allowed her to work from her Hartland home. She enrolled with her credit card, was assessed monthly payments totaling about $500, was sent study materials by mail and completed her work online. It took her about four months to finish the courses in math, reading, social studies, science and English.
But she did not get what she thought she had paid for - her GED, or General Educational Development credential.
She went back to work for another seven years but, last December, lost her job as a team leader when Maysteel LLC in Menomonee Falls closed. Ploense, now 44, approached Anthem College, formerly High-Tech Institute, in Brookfield with hopes of studying massage therapy.
Kaiser Permanente will pour $7.5 million into Oakland schools over the next three years, a donation aimed at expanding health care and other school-based programs, district and Kaiser officials announced Monday.
The amount offered was "extraordinary," Superintendent Tony Smith said.
The grant will pay for new wellness centers in middle schools and a vision program, including exams and much-needed glasses for elementary school children, among other things, he said.
In addition, some of the funding will be used to support the district's African-American Male Achievement Program, which helps address the needs of the district's most at-risk students.
The House of Representatives today delayed a vote on the $4.5 billion child nutrition bill that would ban greasy food and sugary soft drinks from schools. The legislation has triggered criticism for its hefty price tag and new nutritional requirements that some say shouldn't come from the federal government.
The bill is expected to be brought up later this week.
The legislation has the support of the White House and first lady Michelle Obama, who has made childhood obesity a central focus.
The Senate bill, which passed with unanimous bipartisan consent in August, would expand eligibility for school lunch programs, establish nutrition standards for all school meals, and encourage schools to use locally produced food. It would also raise the reimbursement rate to six cents per meal, marking the first time in over 30 years that Congress has increased funding for school lunch programs.
"Caught in the hurricane of hormones," the Toronto Star began a 2008 story about students in the Canadian capital's middle schools. Suspended "between childhood and the adult world, pre-teens have been called the toughest to teach."
"The Bermuda triangle of education," former Louisiana superintendent Cecil Picard once termed middle schools. "Hormones are flying all over the place."
Indeed, you can't touch middle school without hearing about "raging hormones."
Says Diane Ross, a middle-school teacher for 17 years and for 13 more a teacher of education courses for licensure in Ohio, "If you are the warm, nurturing, motherly, grandmotherly type, you are made for early childhood education. If you love math or science or English, then you are the high school type. If you love bungee jumping, then you are the middle school type."
Even in professional journals you catch the drift of "middle-school madness." Mayhem in the Middle was a particularly provocative study by Cheri Pierson Yecke published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in 2005. American middle schools have become the places "where academic achievement goes to die," wrote Yecke.
FOR YEARS, POOR PERFORMANCE BY STUDENTS IN AMERICA RELATIVE TO THOSE IN OTHER COUNTRIES HAS BEEN EXPLAINED AWAY AS A CONSEQUENCE OF OUR NATIONWIDE DIVERSITY. BUT WHAT IF YOU LOOKED MORE CLOSELY, BREAKING DOWN OUR RESULTS BY STATE AND SEARCHING NOT FOR AN AVERAGE, BUT FOR EXCELLENCE?Emphasis added.
Stanford economist Eric Hanushek and two colleagues recently conducted an experiment to answer just such questions, ranking American states and foreign countries side by side. Like our recruiter, they looked specifically at the best and brightest in each place--the kids most likely to get good jobs in the future--using scores on standardized math tests as a proxy for educational achievement.
We've known for some time how this story ends nationwide: only 6 percent of U.S. students perform at the advanced-proficiency level in math, a share that lags behind kids in some 30 other countries, from the United Kingdom to Taiwan. But what happens when we break down the results? Do any individual U.S. states wind up near the top?
Incredibly, no. Even if we treat each state as its own country, not a single one makes it into the top dozen contenders on the list. The best performer is Massachusetts, ringing in at No. 17. Minnesota also makes it into the upper-middle tier, followed by Vermont, New Jersey, and Washington. And down it goes from there, all the way to Mississippi, whose students--by this measure at least--might as well be attending school in Thailand or Serbia.
ANUSHEK, WHO GREW UP outside Cleveland and graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1965, has the gentle voice and manner of Mr. Rogers, but he has spent the past 40 years calmly butchering conventional wisdom on education. In study after study, he has demonstrated that our assumptions about what works are almost always wrong. More money does not tend to lead to better results; smaller class sizes do not tend to improve learning. "Historically," he says, "reporters call me [when] the editor asks, 'What is the other side of this story?'"
Charter school management organizations (CMOs) have emerged as a popular means for bringing charter schooling to scale. Advocates credit CMOs with delivering a coherent model of charter schooling to a growing number of children across numerous sites. Skeptics have wondered whether CMOs constitute an effective management approach, whether they won't merely re-create the pathologies of school districts as they grow in size and scale, and whether they are well-suited to make use of new technological tools. In this forum, Robin Lake of the University of Washington's Center on Reinventing Public Education (CRPE) and Charter School Growth Fund (CSGF) CEO Kevin Hall discuss what we know about the strengths and frailties of CMOs, what the future holds, and what promising alternatives might be.
A controversial plan to open a Hebrew-immersion charter school in Bergen County might have its best chance at state approval this year as the Christie administration looks to expand school choice throughout the state.
The application for Shalom Academy -- thrice rejected by the state and opposed by local school administrators -- is also buoyed by the opening this year of a similar school in East Brunswick, which already has a waiting list for the next school year.
Single-gender classes in public schools have had a positive effect on students' performance, attitude and ambitions, according to a survey released Tuesday by the South Carolina Department of Education.
Two-thirds of about 7,000 students in South Carolina's single-gender programs who responded to the annual survey said the classes have improved their academic performance and classroom attitude, 79 percent reported increases in their classroom effort, and 83 percent said they were more likely to finish high school.
The survey also included responses from 1,120 of their parents and 760 teachers in 119 elementary, middle and high schools. Ninety-four percent of parents said their children were more likely to graduate from high school, and 85 percent of teachers saw increases in effort with school work.
After publishing essay on addiction to war, Charles Whittington must obtain psychological evaluation before returning to classes
By writing the paper, Charles Whittington thought he would confront the anxieties that had tormented him since he returned from war.
He knew it wasn't normal to dwell on the pleasure of sticking his knife between an enemy soldier's ribs. But by recording his words, maybe he'd begin to purge the fixation.
So Whittington, an Iraq veteran, submitted an essay on the allure of combat for his English class at the Community College of Baltimore County in Catonsville. He called war a drug and wrote that killing "is something that I do not just want but something I really need so I can feel like myself."
Has your kid had a checkup for heart disease lately?
The vast majority of heart attacks happen to people well past middle age, so a potential problem a half-century away may not be high on your list of child health-care worries. But it is well-established that heart disease begins to develop in childhood. Now, two new studies add to a burgeoning body of evidence that developing heart-healthy habits as a youngster or adolescent may have lasting benefits in adulthood.
One of the reports, based on a pooling of data from four major studies that tracked people from early childhood into their 30s and 40s, suggests that the presence of such risk factors as high blood pressure and abnormal cholesterol by about age 9 strongly predicts a thickening of the walls in the carotid or neck arteries in early adulthood. Experts consider this condition, called carotid intima media thickness, a precursor to heart attacks and strokes.
SEVEN YEARS AGO, Maria Goodloe-Johnson declined to apply for the job as superintendent of Seattle Public Schools and instead took the same job with the Charleston County School District in South Carolina. "The [Seattle] school board was very confused," she says. "And I wasn't interested in confusion." She won't get more specific than that when describing the district circa 2003, but it couldn't have been drastically different than the situation she inherited when she accepted the Seattle school district's top spot in 2007.Melissa Westbrook has more.
Attendance at South Seattle schools was sinking. The school board had adopted a new student assignment plan without any idea of how to implement it. Schools were teaching to vastly different standards. Heck, the district's computer system was so outdated, prospective teachers had no means for applying online for jobs at multiple schools at once. SPS lacked accountability and administrative oversight, and Goodloe-Johnson whipped out her ruler and started rapping knuckles almost immediately.
My high school alma mater, Waubonsie Valley High School, was diverse in every sense of the term, but the most striking difference I noticed was the vast disparity in achievement that existed within each classroom.
While some students graduated and went to top universities like MIT, Brown and UW-Madison, others continued to struggle with writing complete sentences or finishing an algebra test in their senior year. A handful of students did not receive the learning experience they needed to prepare them for the future.
This glaring achievement gap is present in the city of Madison--most notably in the African-American population--where only 52 percent of students graduated from high school in 2009.
Fortunately, Kaleem Caire of the Urban League is stepping up and proposing a way to increase graduation rates and overall academic achievement among Madison students.
Caire plans to build an all-male, mostly African-American charter school called Madison Prep for sixth through 12th graders. Madison Prep will take several departures from the normal school model that many students find sufficient, but will focus additional attention on students who need extra help--a necessary resource that is often lacking in Madison schools.
The makers of the popular Firefox Web browser are exploring ways to create a do-not-track mechanism that could offer Internet users a way to avoid being monitored online.
The effort comes just months after Firefox's creator, Mozilla Corp., killed a powerful and new tool to limit tracking under pressure from an ad-industry executive, The Wall Street Journal has learned. Mozilla says it didn't scrap the tool because of pressure, but rather out of concern it would force advertisers to use even sneakier techniques and could slow down the performance of some websites.
ALLOWING teachers, parents, charities and religious groups to open new schools funded by the state, but independent of local authorities, is a central plank of the government's plans for improving education in England. Despite the enthusiasm of the education secretary, Michael Gove, for such radical reform, take-up has been lacklustre: he has approved just 25 "free-school" proposals so far. Likewise his bid to encourage existing state schools to become academies--again, funded by the state but independent of local authorities--has failed to take off.
On November 24th Mr Gove unveiled his latest plan for curing ailing schools, this time by changing what is taught in them, and who does the teaching. He is thus revisiting the policy terrain on which the previous Labour government focused (arguing that "standards, not structures" were what mattered) until its final term in office.
Britain's best independent schools attract pupils from around the world. But most British families cannot afford the steep fees such schools charge. Just 7% of British children are educated privately; the rest attend state schools, where standards are generally much lower. The Labour government doubled school spending in real terms during its 13 years in power; despite the splurge, the attainment gap between the two systems has widened.
One day after MPS Superintendent Dr. Gregory Thornton said that Milwaukee businesses and schools need to partner together to improve the success of students, business leaders sat down to discuss how that can come to fruition.
Teach for America Milwaukee director Garrett Bucks and Schools That Can Milwaukee Co-chair Abby Ramirez brought the education side to the table while Mike Mervis, Vice-President of Zilber, Ltd. and Eileen Walter, Director of Global Community Relation at Rockwell Industrial Automation discussed the business perspective on education.
The discussion was hosted by TEMPO Milwaukee, a professional women's networking group. The women are in leadership positions at businesses and non-profit organizations through Southeastern Wisconsin and feel education is one of the most important issues facing Milwaukee's business community.
Although the mood was decidedly positive, all of the panelists agreed that the partnership between businesses and schools desperately needs to be rebuilt, and that this discussion is long overdue.
Eleven years ago, Florida chose sweeping reforms to improve the dire state of education affecting their children. Today, these changes are still paying dividends, and don't show signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Florida's graduation rate, once amongst the worst in America, has risen steadily over the past five years, capping off at 79 percent for the 2009-2010 school year. This is over ten percentage points more than in 2005-2006, when the rate held at 68.9, and a 20-point increase from Manhattan Institute estimates of the rate in 2000-2001. Over this span, the state has gone from straggling behind the national average to becoming an above-average performer when it comes to graduating their high school students.
Most encouraging, however, are the state's results when it comes to the matriculation of minority students. African-American and Hispanic students have made the strongest gains of any group since 2005-2006. These two groups have improved their rates by 13.1 and 13.3 percent, respectively, to become the driving force behind Florida's overall improvement. Comparatively, white students have only bettered their graduation rate by eight percent over the same time frame. Through the past decade, Florida has proven that the achievement gap can be conquered through dynamic solutions in the classroom.
There has been surprisingly little discussion about why Wisconsin did not win a Race to the Top grant. A look at the points awarded for each section of Wisconsin's application and the accompanying reviewer comments makes it clear that the failure to use student achievement data to inform decisions was the most important contributor to Wisconsin's loss. More aggressive use of these data would have put Wisconsin within striking distance of winning.
The irony of Wisconsin's loss is that its largest district, Milwaukee Public Schools, was one of the pioneers of the value-added movement. Ten years ago, it started work on a value-added model that has since spread to other cities and states, including some Race to the Top winners.
This reluctance to use data seems deeply ingrained in Wisconsin's education culture.
For example, the state defines "highly qualified teachers" in very traditional terms, such as degrees, certifications, courses taken, and years of experience. Unfortunately, most research has found little correlation between these traditional measures and student achievement gains, which Wisconsin ignores.
Remember that telephone game we played as children?
We all sat in a circle and the first person whispered a simple statement such as, "She is a girl" into a person's ear. By the time the phrase was whispered to everyone in the circle it would turn into "She is a nice gorilla."
It was funny at the time, but now when our friends say, "Did you hear about ____" our ears perk up and an audience is born.
Gossip hurts people, but most of us love to hear it anyway. Tabloids make a mint writing about celebrities and people getting their hearts smashed to smithereens. Gossip tends to hold a bottomless well of interest, yet when you are talking about someone when they are not around, ask yourself if you would feel comfortable sharing the same information if they were standing right in front of you?